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Next morning she was up early, clothed in her riding-dress, for the day
was very fine, and by seven o'clock d'Aguilar appeared, mounted on a
great horse. Then the Spanish jennet was brought out, and deftly he
lifted her to the saddle, showing her how she must pull but lightly on
the reins, and urge or check her steed with her voice alone, using no
whip or spur.
A perfect beast it proved to be, indeed, gentle as a lamb, and easy, yet
very spirited and swift.
D'Aguilar was a pleasant cavalier also, talking of many things grave and
gay, until at length even Castell forgot his thoughts, and grew cheerful
as they cantered forward through the fresh spring morning by heath and
hill and woodland, listening to the singing of the birds, and watching
the husbandmen at their labour. This ride was but the first of several
that they took, since d'Aguilar knew their hours of exercise, even when
they changed them, and whether they asked him or not, joined or met them
in such a natural fashion that they could not refuse his company.
Indeed, they were much puzzled to know how he came to be so well
acquainted with their movements, and even with the direction in which
they proposed to ride, but supposed that he must have it from the
grooms, although these were commanded to say nothing, and always denied
having spoken with him. That Betty should speak of such matters, or even
find opportunity of doing so, never chanced to cross their minds, who
did not guess that if they rode with d'Aguilar in the morning, Betty
often walked with him in the evening when she was supposed to be at
church, or sewing, or visiting her aunt upon the wharf at Westminster.
But of these walks the foolish girl said nothing, for her own reasons.
Now, as they rode together, although he remained very courteous and
respectful, the manner of d'Aguilar towards Margaret grew ever more
close and intimate. Thus he began to tell her stories, true or false, of
his past life, which seemed to have been strange and eventful enough; to
hint, too, of a certain hidden greatness that pertained to him which he
did not dare to show, and of high ambitions which he had. He spoke also
of his loneliness, and his desire to lose it in the companionship of a
kindred heart, if he could find one to share his wealth, his station,
and his hopes; while all the time his dark eyes, fixed on Margaret,
seemed to say, "The heart I seek is such a one as yours." At length,
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