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When Castell, having shut the secret door and drawn the tapestry,
hurried from the chapel, it was to find that the marquis had departed.
He went back to his office much disturbed, and sat himself down there to
think. Truly Fate, that had so long been his friend, was turning its
face against him. Things could not have gone worse. D'Aguilar had
discovered the secret of his faith through his spies, and, having by
some accursed mischance fallen in love with his daughter's beauty, was
become his bitter enemy because he must refuse her to him. Why must he
refuse her? The man was of great position and noble blood; she would
become the wife of one of the first grandees of Spain, one who stood
nearest to the throne. Perhaps--such a thing was possible--she might
live herself to be queen, or the mother of kings. Moreover, that
marriage meant safety for himself; it meant a quiet age, a peaceable
death in his own bed--for, were he fifty times a Marano, who would touch
the father-in-law of the Marquis de Morella? Why? Just because he had
promised her in marriage to Peter Brome, and through all his life as a
merchant he had never yet broken with a bargain because it went against
himself. That was the answer. Yet almost he could find it in his heart
to wish that he had never made that bargain; that he had kept Peter, who
had waited so long, waiting for another month. Well, it was too late
now. He had passed his word, and he would keep it, whatever the
cost might be.
Rising, he called one of the servants, and bade her summon Margaret.
Presently she returned, saying that her mistress had gone out walking
with Betty, adding also that his horse was at the door for him to ride
to the river, where he was to pass the night on board his ship.
Taking paper, he bethought him that he would write to Margaret, warning
her against the Spaniard. Then, remembering that she had nothing to fear
from him, at any rate at present, and that it was not wise to set down
such matters, he told her only to take good care of herself, and that he
would be back in the morning.
That evening, when Margaret was in her own little sitting-chamber which
adjoined the great hall, the door opened, and she looked up from the
work upon which she was engaged, to see d'Aguilar standing before her.
"Senor!" she said, amazed, "how came you here?"
"Senora," he answered, closing the door and bowing, "my feet brought me.
Had I any other means of coming I think that I should not often be
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