“Expect? why that he must have become Spanish born and bred since he has been in King Ferdinand’s service so long, and was such a boy when he left England.”
“Stuff, woman; there’s no taking the foreign blood out of him, try as you will,” growled the old man, who in common with many of his class, was exceedingly annoyed that a foreigner should possess so much of the King’s confidence, and not a little displeased that his dwelling should have been fixed on for the young officer’s quarters. “It would not have been Isabella, God bless her! to have chosen such a minion; she tolerates him for Ferdinand’s sake; but they will find him out one day. Saint Iago forbid the evil don’t fall first.”
“Now that is all prejudice, Viego Pedro, and you know it. Bless his beautiful face! there is no thought of evil there, I’d stake my existence. He is tormented in his mind about something, poor youth; but his eyes are too bright and his smile too sad for any thing evil.”
“Hold your foolish tongue: you women think if a man is better looking than his fellows, he is better in every respect—poor fools as ye are; but as for this Englisher, with such a white skin and glossy curls, and blue eyes—why I’d be ashamed to show myself amongst men—pshaw—the woman’s blind.”
“Nay, Viego Pedro, prejudice has folded her kerchief round your eyes, not mine,” retorted the old dame; and their war of words concerning the merits and demerits of their unconscious lodger continued, till old Pedro grumbled himself off, and his more light-hearted helpmate busied herself in preparing a tempting meal for her guest, which, to her great disappointment, shared the fate of many others, and left his table almost untouched.
To attempt description of Stanley’s feelings would be as impossible as tedious; yet some few words must be said. His peculiarly enthusiastic, perhaps romantic disposition, had caused him to cling tenaciously to the memory of Marie, even after the revelation of a secret which to other men would have seemed to place an impassable barrier between them. To Arthur, difficulties in pursuit of an object only rendered its attainment the more intensely desired. Perhaps his hope rested on the conviction not so much of his own faithful love as on the unchangeable nature of hers. He might have doubted himself, but to doubt her was impossible. Conscious himself that, wrong as it might be, he could sacrifice every thing for her—country, rank, faith itself, even the prejudice of centuries, every thing but honor—an ideal stronger in the warrior’s mind than even creed—he could not and would not believe that her secret was to her sacred as his honor to him, and that she could no more turn renegade from the fidelity which that secret comprised, than he could from his honor. She had spoken of but one relation, an aged father; and he felt in his strong hopefulness, that it was only for that father’s sake she had striven to conquer her love, and had told him they might never wed, and that when that link was broken he might win her yet.