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Scotchman, was their officer, and a brave man whom they loved much. Now,
if they attack him, as they will, there must be a brawl, for Peter
fights well, and if there is a brawl, though Peter and the English get
the best of it, as very likely they may, Peter will certainly be hanged,
for so the King has promised."
"Before they leave the land? When do they leave it?"
"De Ayala sails within a month, and his folk with him, for his
co-ambassador, the Doctor de Puebla, will bear with him no more, and has
written from the country house where he is sulking that one of them
"Then I think it is best, Senor, that Peter should travel for a month."
"Friend Castell, you are wise; I think so too, and, I counsel you,
arrange it at once. Hush! here comes the lady, your daughter."
As he spoke, Margaret appeared descending the broad oak stairs which led
into the ante-room. Holding a lamp in her hand, she was in full light,
whereas the two men stood in the shadow. She wore a low-cut dress of
crimson velvet, embroidered about the bodice with dead gold, which
enhanced the dazzling whiteness of her shapely neck and bosom. Round her
throat hung a string of great pearls, and on her head was a net of
gold, studded with smaller pearls, from beneath which her glorious,
chestnut-black hair flowed down in rippling waves almost to her knees.
Having her father's bidding so to do, she had adorned herself thus that
she might look her fairest, not in the eyes of their guest, but in those
of her new-affianced husband. So fair was she seen thus that d'Aguilar,
the artist, the adorer of loveliness, caught his breath and shivered at
the sight of her.
"By the eleven thousand virgins!" he said, "your daughter is more
beautiful than all of them put together. She should be crowned a queen,
and bewitch the world."
"Nay, nay, Senor," answered Castell hurriedly; "let her remain humble
and honest, and bewitch her husband."
"So I should say if I were the husband," he muttered, then stepped
forward, bowing, to meet her.
Now the light of the silver lamp she held on high flowed over the two of
them, d'Aguilar and Margaret, and certainly they seemed a well-matched
pair. Both were tall and cast by Nature in a rich and splendid mould;
both had that high air of breeding which comes with ancient blood--for
what bloods are more ancient than those of the Jew and the
Eastern?--both were slow and stately of movement, low-voiced, and
dignified of speech. Castell noted it and was afraid, he knew not
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