H. RIDER HAGGARD
_Author of "King Solomons Mines" "She" "Jess" etc._
WITH 15 ILLUSTRATIONS BY J. R. SKELTON
London: HUTCHINSON & CO.
Paternoster Row 1907.
HOW PETER MET THE SPANIARD
PETER GATHERS VIOLETS
NEWS FROM SPAIN
THE MEETING ON THE SEA
THE ADVENTURE OF THE INN
INEZ AND HER GARDEN
PETER PLAYS A PART
BETTY SHOWS HER TEETH
THE HOLY HERMANDAD
BETTY PAYS HER DEBTS
ISABELLA OF SPAIN
BETTY STATES HER CASE
THE DOOM OF JOHN CASTELL
FATHER HENRIQUES AND THE BAKER'S OVEN
THE FALCON STOOPS
HOW THE _MARGARET_ WON OUT TO SEA
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS;
"A DOVE COMRADES!--A DOVE!"
CASTELL DECLARES HIMSELF A JEW
"YOU MEAN THAT YOU WISH TO MURDER ME"
MARGARET APPEARED DESCENDING THE BROAD OAK STAIRS
IN ANOTHER MOMENT THAT STEEL WOULD HAVE PIERCED HIS HEART
THE GALE CAUGHT HIM AND BLEW HIM TO AND FRO
"LADY" HE SAID "THIS IS NO DEED OF MINE"
A CRUEL-LOOKING KNIFE AND A NAKED ARM PROJECTED
THROUGH THE PANELLING
"MY NAME IS INEZ. YOU WANDER STILL SE?OR"
"THERE ARE OTHERS WHERE THEY CAME FROM"
"TO-DAY I DARE TO HOPE THAT IT MAY BE OTHERWISE"
"WAY! MAKE WAY FOR THE MARCHIONESS OF MORELLA!"
"I CUT HIM DOWN AND BY MISFORTUNE KILLED HIM"
"WE ARE PLAYERS IN A STRANGE GAME MY LADY MARGARET"
"YOU WILL HAVE TO FIGHT ME FIRST PETER"
HOW PETER MET THE SPANIARD
It was a spring afternoon in the sixth year of the reign of King Henry
VII. of England. There had been a great show in London for that day his
Grace opened the newly convened Parliament and announced to his
faithful people--who received the news with much cheering since war is
ever popular at first--his intention of invading France and of leading
the English armies in person. In Parliament itself it is true the
general enthusiasm was somewhat dashed when allusion was made to the
finding of the needful funds; but the crowds without formed for the
most part of persons who would not be called upon to pay the money did
not suffer that side of the question to trouble them. So when their
gracious liege appeared surrounded by his glittering escort of nobles
and men-at-arms they threw their caps into the air and shouted
The king himself although he was still young in years already a weary-
looking man with a fine pinched face smiled a little sarcastically at
their clamour; but remembering how glad he should be to hear it who
still sat upon a somewhat doubtful throne said a few soft words and
sending for two or three of the leaders of the people gave them his
royal hand and suffered certain children to touch his robe that they
might be cured of the Evil. Then having paused a while to receive
petitions from poor folk which he handed to one of his officers to be
read amidst renewed shouting he passed on to the great feast that was
made ready in his palace of Westminster.
Among those who rode near to him was the ambassador de Ayala
accredited to the English Court by the Spanish sovereigns Ferdinand and
Isabella and his following of splendidly attired lords and secretaries.
That Spain was much in favour there was evident from his place in the
procession. How could it be otherwise indeed seeing that already four
years or more before at the age of twelve months Prince Arthur the
eldest son of the king had been formally affianced to the Infanta
Catherine daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella aged one year and nine
months? For in those days it was thought well that the affections of
princes and princesses should be directed early into such paths as their
royal parents and governors considered likely to prove most profitable
At the ambassador's left hand mounted on a fine black horse and
dressed richly but simply in black velvet with a cap of the same
material in which was fastened a single pearl rode a tall cavalier. He
was about five-and-thirty years of age and very handsome having
piercing black eyes and a stern clean-cut face.
In every man it is said there can be found a resemblance often far
off and fanciful enough to some beast or bird or other creature and
certainly in this case it was not hard to discover. The man resembled an
eagle which whether by chance or design was the crest he bore upon
his servants' livery and the trappings of his horse. The unflinching
eyes the hooked nose the air of pride and mastery the thin long
hand the quick grace of movement all suggested that king of birds
suggested also as his motto said that what he sought he would find
and what he found he would keep. Just now he was watching the interview
between the English king and the leaders of the crowd whom his Grace had
been pleased to summon with an air of mingled amusement and contempt.
"You find the scene strange Marquis" said the ambassador glancing at
"Se?or here in England if it pleases your Excellency" he answered
gravely "Se?or d'Aguilar. The marquis you mentioned lives in Spain--an
accredited envoy to the Moors of Granada; the Se?or d'Aguilar a humble
servant of Holy Church" and he crossed himself "travels abroad--upon
the Church's business and that of their Majesties'."
"And his own too sometimes I believe" answered the ambassador drily.
"But to be frank what I do not understand about you Se?or d'Aguilar
as I know that you have abandoned political ambitions is why you do not
enter my profession and put on the black robe once and for all. What
did I say--black? With your opportunities and connections it might be
red by now with a hat to match."
The Se?or d'Aguilar smiled a little as he replied.
"You said I think that sometimes I travel on my own business. Well
there is your answer. You are right I have abandoned worldly
ambitions--most of them. They are troublesome and for some people if
they be born too high and yet not altogether rightly very dangerous.
The acorn of ambition often grows into an oak from which men hang."
"Or into a log upon which men's heads can be cut off. Se?or I
congratulate you. You have the wisdom that grasps the substance and lets
the shadows flit. It is really very rare."
"You asked why I do not change the cut of my garments" went on
d'Aguilar without noticing the interruption. "Excellency to be frank
because of my own business. I have failings like other men. For
instance wealth is that substance of which you spoke rule is the
shadow; he who has the wealth has the real rule. Again bright eyes may
draw me or a hate may seek its slaking and these things do not suit
robes black or red."
"Yet many such things have been done by those who wore them" replied
the ambassador with meaning.
"Aye Excellency to the discredit of Holy Church as you a priest
know better than most men. Let the earth be evil as it must; but let the
Church be like heaven above it pure unstained the vault of prayer
the house of mercy and of righteous judgment wherein walks no sinner
such as I" and again he crossed himself.
There was a ring of earnestness in the speaker's voice that caused de
Ayala who knew something of his private reputation to look at him
"A true fanatic and therefore to us a useful man" he thought to
himself "though one who knows how to make the best of two worlds as
well as most of them;" but aloud he said "No wonder that our Church
rejoices in such a son and that her enemies tremble when he lifts her
sword. But Se?or you have not told me what you think of all this
ceremony and people."
"The people I know well Excellency for I dwelt among them in past
years and speak their language; and that is why I have left Granada to
look after itself for a while and am here to-day to watch and make
report----" He checked himself then added "As for the ceremony were I
a king I would have it otherwise. Why in that house just now those
vulgar Commons--for so they call them do they not?--almost threatened
their royal master when he humbly craved a tithe of the country's wealth
to fight the country's war. Yes and I saw him turn pale and tremble at
the rough voices as though their echoes shook his throne. I tell you
Excellency that the time will come in this land when those Commons will
be king. Look now at that fellow whom his Grace holds by the hand
calling him 'sir' and 'master' and yet whom he knows to be as I do a
heretic a Jew in disguise whose sins if he had his rights should be
purged by fire. Why to my knowledge last night that Israelite said
things against the Church----"
"Whereof the Church or its servant doubtless made notes to be used
when the time comes" broke in de Ayala. "But the audience is done and
his Highness beckons us forward to the feast where there will be no
heretics to vex us and as it is Lent not much to eat. Come Se?or!
for we stop the way."
Three hours had gone by and the sun sank redly for even at that spring
season it was cold upon the marshy lands of Westminster and there was
frost in the air. On the open space opposite to the banqueting-hall in
front of which were gathered squires and grooms with horses stood and
walked many citizens of London who their day's work done came to see
the king pass by in state. Among these were a man and a lady the latter
attended by a handsome young woman who were all three sufficiently
striking in appearance to attract some notice in the throng.
The man a person of about thirty years of age dressed in a merchant's
robe of cloth and wearing a knife in his girdle seemed over six feet
in height while his companion in her flowing fur-trimmed cloak was
for a woman also of unusual stature. He was not strictly speaking a
handsome man being somewhat too high of forehead and prominent of
feature; moreover one of his clean-shaven cheeks the right was marred
by the long red scar of a sword-cut which stretched from the temple to
the strong chin. His face however was open and manly if rather stern
and the grey eyes were steady and frank. It was not the face of a
merchant but rather that of one of good degree accustomed to camps and
war. For the rest his figure was well-built and active and his voice
when he spoke which was seldom clear and distinct to loudness but
cultivated and pleasant--again not the voice of a merchant.
Of the lady's figure little could be seen because of the long cloak that
hid it but the face which appeared within its hood when she turned and
the dying sunlight filled her eyes was lovely indeed for from her
birth to her death-day Margaret Castell--fair Margaret as she was
called--had this gift to a degree that is rarely granted to woman.
Rounded and flower-like was that face most delicately tinted also
with rich and curving lips and a broad snow-white brow. But the wonder
of it what distinguished her above everything else from other beautiful
women of her time was to be found in her eyes for these were not blue
or grey as might have been expected from her general colouring but
large black and lustrous; soft too as the eyes of a deer and
overhung by curling lashes of an ebon black. The effect of these eyes of
hers shining above those tinted cheeks and beneath the brow of ivory
whiteness was so strange as to be almost startling. They caught the
beholder and held him as might the sudden sight of a rose in snow or
the morning star hanging luminous among the mists of dawn. Also
although they were so gentle and modest if that beholder chanced to be
a man on the good side of fifty it was often long before he could forget
them especially if he were privileged to see how well they matched the
hair of chestnut shading into black that waved above them and fell
tress upon tress upon the shapely shoulders and down to the
Peter Brome for he was so named looked a little anxiously about him at
the crowd then turning addressed Margaret in his strong clear voice.
"There are rough folk around" he said; "do you think you should stop
here? Your father might be angered Cousin."
Here it may be explained that in reality their kinship was of the
slightest a mere dash of blood that came to her through her mother.
Still they called each other thus since it is a convenient title that
may mean much or nothing.
"Oh! why not?" she answered in her rich slow tones that had in them
some foreign quality something soft and sweet as the caress of a
southern wind at night. "With you Cousin" and she glanced approvingly
at his stalwart soldier-like form "I have nothing to fear from men
however rough and I do greatly want to see the king close by and so
does Betty. Don't you Betty?" and she turned to her companion.
Betty Dene whom she addressed was also a cousin of Margaret though
only a distant connection of Peter Brome. She was of very good blood
but her father a wild and dissolute man had broken her mother's heart
and like that mother died early leaving Betty dependent upon
Margaret's mother in whose house she had been brought up. This Betty
was in her way remarkable both in body and mind. Fair splendidly
formed strong with wide bold blue eyes and ripe red lips such was
the fashion of her. In speech she was careless and vigorous. Fond of the
society of men and fonder still of their admiration for she was
romantic and vain Betty at the age of five-and-twenty was yet an
honest girl and well able to take care of herself as more than one of
her admirers had discovered. Although her position was humble at heart
she was very proud of her lineage ambitious also her great desire
being to raise herself by marriage back to the station from which her
father's folly had cast her down--no easy business for one who passed as
a waiting-woman and was without fortune.
For the rest she loved and admired her cousin Margaret more than any
one on earth while Peter she liked and respected none the less perhaps
because try as she would--and being nettled she did try hard
enough--her beauty and other charms left him quite unmoved.
In answer to Margaret's question she laughed and answered:
"Of course. We are all too busy up in Holborn to get the chance of so
many shows that I should wish to miss one. Still Master Peter is very
wise and I am always counselled to obey him. Also it will soon
"Well well" said Margaret with a sigh and a little shrug of her
shoulders "as you are both against me perhaps we had best be going.
Next time I come out walking cousin Peter it shall be with some one
who is more kind."
Then she turned and began to make her way as quickly as she could
through the thickening crowd. Finding this difficult before Peter could
stop her for she was very swift in her movements Margaret bore to the
right entering the space immediately in front of the banqueting-hall
where the grooms with horses and soldiers were assembled awaiting their
lords for here there was more room to walk. For a few moments Peter and
Betty were unable to escape from the mob which closed in behind her and
thus it came about that Margaret found herself alone among these people
in the midst indeed of the guard of the Spanish ambassador de Ayala
men who were notorious for their lawlessness for they reckoned upon
their master's privilege to protect them. Also for the most part they
were just then more or less in liquor.
One of these fellows a great red-haired Scotchman whom the priest-
diplomatist had brought with him from that country where he had also
been ambassador suddenly perceiving before him a woman who appeared to
be young and pretty determined to examine her more closely and to this
end made use of a rude stratagem. Pretending to stumble he grasped at
Margaret's cloak as though to save himself and with a wrench tore it
open revealing her beautiful face and graceful figure.
"A dove comrades!--a dove!" he shouted in a voice thick with drink
"who has flown here to give me a kiss." And casting his long arms about
her he strove to draw her to him.
"Peter! Help me Peter!" cried Margaret as she struggled fiercely in his
"No no if you want a saint my bonny lass" said the drunken
Scotchman "Andrew is as good as Peter" at which witticism those of the
others who understood him laughed for the man's name was Andrew.
Next instant they laughed again and to the ruffian Andrew it seemed as
though suddenly he had fallen into the power of a whirlwind. At least
Margaret was wrenched away from him while he spun round and round to
fall violently upon his face.
"That's Peter!" exclaimed one of the soldiers in Spanish.
"Yes" answered another "and a patron saint worth having"; while a
third pulled the recumbent Andrew to his feet.
The man looked like a devil. His cap had gone and his fiery red hair
was smeared with mud. Moreover his nose had been broken on a cobble
stone and blood from it poured all over him while his little red eyes
glared like a ferret's and his face turned a dirty white with pain and
rage. Howling out something in Scotch of a sudden he drew his sword and
rushed straight at his adversary purposing to kill him.
Now Peter had no sword but only his short knife which he found no
time to draw. In his hand however he carried a stout holly staff shod
with iron and while Margaret clasped her hands and Betty screamed on
this he caught the descending blow and furious as it was parried and
turned it. Then before the man could strike again that staff was up
and Peter had leapt upon him. It fell with fearful force breaking the
Scotchman's shoulder and sending him reeling back.
"Shrewdly struck Peter! Well done Peter!" shouted the spectators.
But Peter neither saw nor heard them for he was mad with rage at the
insult that had been offered to Margaret. Up flew the iron-tipped staff
again and down it came this time full on Andrew's head which it
shattered like an egg-shell so that the brute fell backwards dead.
For a moment there was silence for the joke had taken a tragic turn.
Then one of the Spaniards said glancing at the prostrate form:
"Name of God! our mate is done for. That merchant hits hard."
Instantly there arose a murmur among the dead man's comrades and one of