“I feel and acknowledge this, dearest; though one of the class whose power must be diminished to accomplish it;” he continued, “I am too anxious for the internal prosperity of my country to quarrel with any measures which minds so enlightened as its present sovereigns may deem requisite. But this is but a grave theme for thee, love. Knowest thou that her Grace reproached me with not bringing thee to join the Arragonese festivities? When Donna Emilie spoke of thee, and thy gentle worth and feminine loveliness, as being such as indeed her Grace would love, my Sovereign banished me her presence as a disloyal cavalier for so deserting thee; and when I marked how pale and thin thou art, I feel that she was right; I should have borne thee with me.”
“Or not have left me. Oh, my husband, leave me not again!” she replied, with sudden and involuntary emotion, which caused him to throw his arm round her, and fondly kiss her brow.
“Not for the court, dearest; but that gentle heart must not forget thou art a warrior’s wife, and as such, for his honor’s sake, must sometimes bear the pang of parting. Nay, thou tremblest, and art still paler! Ere such summons come, thou wilt have learned to know and love thy Queen, and in her protecting favor find some solace, should I be called to war.”
“War! talk they of war again? I thought all was now at peace?”
“Yes, love, in our sovereign’s hereditary dominions; but there can be no lasting peace while some of the fairest territory of Spain still dims the supremacy of Castile, and bows down to Moorish masters. It is towards Grenada King Ferdinand looks, yearning for the day when, all internal commotions healed, he can head a gallant army to compel subjection; and sad as it will be to leave thee, sweet, thou wilt forgive thy soldier if he say, would that the day were come!”
“And will not their present extent of kingdom suffice the sovereigns? When they recall their former petty domains, and compare them with the present, is it not enough?”
Morales smiled. “Thou speakest as a very woman, gentle one, to whom the actual word ‘ambition’ is unknown. Why, the very cause thou namest urges our sovereigns to the conquest of these Moors. They are the blot upon a kingdom otherwise as fair and great as any other European land. They thirst to raise it in the scale of kingdoms—to send down their names to posterity, as the founders of the Spanish monarchy—the builders and supporters of a united throne, and so leave their children an undivided land. Surely this is a glorious project, one which every Spanish warrior must rejoice to aid. But fear not a speedy summons, love; much must be accomplished first. Isabella will visit this ancient city ere then, and thou wilt learn to love and reverence her as I do.”
“In truth, my husband, thou hast made me loyal as thyself; but say they not she is severe, determined, stern?”