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absent from our side."
"Spare me your fine words, I pray you, Senor," answered Margaret,
frowning. "It is not fitting that I should receive you thus alone at
night, my father being absent from the house." And she made as though
she would pass him and reach the door.
D'Aguilar, who stood in front of it, did not move, so perforce she
stopped half way.
"I found that he was absent," he said courteously, "and that is why I
venture to address you upon a matter of some importance. Give me a few
minutes of your time, therefore, I beseech you."
Now, at once the thought entered Margaret's mind that he had some news
of Peter to communicate to her--bad news perhaps.
"Be seated, and speak on, Senor," she said, sinking into a chair, while
he too sat down, but still in front of the door.
"Senora," he said, "my business in this country is finished, and in a
few days I sail hence for Spain." And he hesitated a moment.
"I trust that your voyage will be pleasant," said Margaret, not knowing
what else to answer.
"I trust so also, Senora, since I have come to ask you if you will share
it. Listen, before you refuse. To-day I saw your father, and begged your
hand of him. He would give me no answer, neither yea nor nay, saying
that you were your own mistress, and that I must seek it from
"My father said that?" gasped Margaret, astonished, then bethought her
that he might have had reasons for speaking so, and went on rapidly,
"Well, it is short and simple. I thank you, Senor; but stay
"Even that I would be willing to do for your sake Senora, though, in
truth, I find it a cold and barbarous country."
"If so, Senor d'Aguilar, I think that I should go to Spain. I pray you
let me pass."
"Not till you have heard me out, Senora, when I trust that your words
will be more gentle. See now I am a great man in my own country.
Although it suits me to pass here incognito as plain Senor d'Aguilar I
am the Marquis of Morella, the nephew of Ferdinand the King, with some
wealth and station, official and private. If you disbelieve me, I can
prove it to you."
"I do not disbelieve," answered Margaret indifferently, "it may well be
so; but what is that to me?"
"Then is it not something, Lady, that I, who have blood-royal in my
veins, should seek the daughter of a merchant to be my wife?"
"Nothing at all--to me, who am satisfied with my humble lot."
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