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But if he did not accompany them himself, Castell, without their
knowledge, sent two of his stoutest servants, bidding these keep near to
them and see that they came home safe.
Now, when they left the church, Peter saw two Spaniards, whose faces he
thought he knew, who seemed to be watching them, but, as he lost sight
of them presently in the throng, said nothing. Their shortest way home
ran across some fields and gardens where there were few houses. This
lane, then, they followed, talking earnestly to each other, and noting
nothing till Betty behind called out to them to beware. Then Peter
looked up and saw the two Spaniards scrambling through a gap in the
fence not six paces ahead of them, saw also that they laid their hands
upon their sword-hilts.
"Let us pass them boldly," he muttered to Margaret; "I'll not turn my
back on a brace of Spaniards," but he also laid his hand upon the hilt
of the sword he wore beneath his cloak, and bade her get behind him.
Thus, then, they came face to face. Now, the Spaniards, who were
evil-looking fellows, bowed courteously enough, and asked if he were not
Master Peter Brome. They spoke in Spanish; but, like Margaret Peter knew
this tongue, if not too well, having been taught it as a child, and
practised it much since he came into the service of John Castell, who
used it largely in his trade.
"Yes," he answered. "What is your business with me?"
"We have a message for you, Senor, from a certain comrade of ours, one
Andrew, a Scotchman, whom you met a few nights ago," replied the
spokesman of the pair. "He is dead, but still he sends his message, and
it is that we should ask you to join him at once. Now, all of us
brothers have sworn to deliver that message, and to see that you keep
the tryst. If some of us should chance to fail, then others will meet
you with the message until you keep that tryst."
"You mean that you wish to murder me," said Peter, setting his mouth and
drawing the sword from beneath his cloak. "Well, come on, cowards, and
we will see whom Andrew gets for company in hell to-day. Run back,
Margaret and Betty--run." And he tore off his cloak and threw it over
his left arm.
So for a moment they stood, for he looked fierce and ill to deal with.
Then, just as they began to feint in front of him, there came a rush of
feet, and on either side of Peter appeared the two stout serving-men,
also sword in hand.
"I am glad of your company," he said, catching sight of them out of the
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