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be returned. Senor, I am already affianced. Therefore, put me out of
your mind and find some other love."
He rose and stood in front of her.
"Affianced," he said, "I knew it. Nay, I will say no ill of the man; to
revile one more fortunate is poor argument. But what is it to me if you
are affianced? What to me if you were wed? I should seek you all the
same, who have no choice. Beneath me? You are as far above me as a star,
and it would seem as hard to reach. Seek some other love? I tell you,
lady, that I have sought many, for not all are so hard to win, and I
hate them every one. You I desire alone, and shall desire till I be
dead, aye, and you I will win or die. No, I will not die till you are my
own. Have no fear, I will not kill your lover, save perhaps in fair
fight; I will not force you to give yourself to me, should I find the
chance, but with your own lips I will yet listen to you asking me to be
your husband. I swear it by Him Who died for us. I swear that, laying
aside all other ends, to that sole purpose I will devote my days. Yes,
and should you chance to pass from earth before me, then I will follow
you to the very gates of death and clasp you there."
Now again Margaret's fear returned to her. This man's passion was
terrible, yet there was a grandeur in it; Peter had never spoken to her
in so high a fashion.
"Senor," she said almost pleadingly, "corpses are poor brides; have done
with such sick fancies, which surely must be born of your
"It is your blood also, who are half a Jew, and, therefore, at least you
should understand them."
"Mayhap I do understand, mayhap I think them great in their own fashion,
yes, noble even, and admire, if it can be noble to seek to win away
another man's betrothed. But, Senor, I am that man's betrothed, and all
of me, my body and my soul, is his, nor would I go back upon my word,
and so break his heart, to win the empire of the earth. Senor, once more
I implore you to leave this poor maid to the humble life that she has
chosen, and to forget her."
"Lady," answered d'Aguilar, "your words are wise and gentle, and I thank
you for them. But I cannot forget you, and that oath I swore just now I
swear again, thus." And before she could prevent him, or even guess what
he was about to do, he lifted the gold crucifix that hung by a chain
about her neck, kissed it, and let it fall gently back upon her breast,
saying, "See, I might have kissed your lips before you could have stayed
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