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paid you all we owe, and go to some place where you will be forgotten
for a while, since that bloodhound d'Aguilar, for so he calls himself,
after his mother's birthplace, has not tracked you to London for
nothing. As yet, thanks be to God, no suspicion has fallen on any of us;
perhaps because we have many in our pay."
When Castell had finished transcribing all this passage he read it
through carefully. Then he went into the hall, where a fire burned, for
the day was cold, and threw the translation on to it, watching until it
was consumed, after which he returned to his office, and hid away the
letter in a secret cupboard behind the panelling of the wall. This done,
he sat himself in his chair to think.
"My good friend Juan Bernaldez is right," he said to himself;
"d'Aguilar, or the Marquis Morella, does not nose me and the others out
for nothing. Well, I shall not trust myself in Spain, and the money,
most of it, except what is still to come from Spain, is put out where it
will never be found by him, at good interest too. All seems safe
enough--and yet I would to God that Peter and Margaret were fast
married, and that we three sat together, out of sight and mind, in the
Old Hall at Dedham. I have carried on this game too long. I should have
closed my books a year ago; but the trade was so good that I could not.
I was wise also, who in this one lucky year have nearly doubled my
fortune. And yet it would have been safer, before they guessed that I
was so rich. Greed--mere greed--for I do not need this money which may
destroy us all! Greed! The ancient pitfall of my race."
As he thought thus there came a knock upon his door. Snatching up a pen
he dipped it in the ink-horn and, calling "Enter," began to add a column
of figures on a paper before him.
The door opened; but he seemed to take no heed, so diligently did he
count his figures. Yet, although his eyes were fixed upon the paper, in
some way that he could not understand he was well aware that d'Aguilar
and no other stood in the room behind him, the truth being, no doubt,
that unconsciously he had recognised his footstep. For a moment the
knowledge turned him cold--he who had just been reading of the mission
of this man--and feared what was to come. Yet he acted well.
"Why do you disturb me, Daughter?" he said testily, and without looking
round. "Have not things gone ill enough with half the cargo destroyed by
sea-water, and the rest, that you must trouble me while I sum up my
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