She was a strong woman who would go directly to the heart of things. Always she would learn from the man himself. She asked me this and I answered; that and the other and I answered. “Don Pedro—?” I told the enmity there and the reason for it. “The Jewish rabbi, my great-grand father?” I avowed it, but by three Castilian and Christian great-grandfathers could not be counted as Jew! Practise Judaism? No. My grandmother Judith had been Christian.
She drove to the heart of it. “You yourself are Christian. What do you mean by that? What the Queen means? What the Grand Cardinal and the Archbishop of Granada means? What the Holy Office means?”
I kept silence for a moment, then I told her as well as I might, without fever and without melancholy, what I had written and of the Dominican.
“You have been,” she said, “an imprudent cavalier.”
The fountain flashed below us, a gray dove flew over garden. I said, “There is a text, `With all thy getting, get understanding.’ There is another, `For God so loved the world’—that He wished to impart understanding.”
She sat quiet, seeming to listen to the fountain. Then she said, “Are you ready to avow when they ask you that in every particular to which the Grand Inquisitor may point you are wrong, and that all that Holy Church through mouth of Holy Office says is right?”
I said, “No, Madam! Present Church is not as large as Truth, nor as fair as Beauty.”
“You may think that, but will you say the other?”
“Say that church or kingdom exactly matches
“That is what I am sure you will have to say.”
“I do not see,” she said, “that I can do anything for you.”
There was a chair beside her. She sat down, her chin on her hand and her eyes lowered. Silence held save for the fountain plashing. Don Enrique stood by the railing, and Jayme de Marchena felt his concern. But he himself walked just then—Don Jayme or Juan Lepe—into long patience, into greater steadfastness. Into the inner fields came translucence, gold light; came and faded, but left strength.
Dona Beatrix raised her eyes and let them dwell upon me. “Spain breeds bold knights,” she said, “but not so many after all who are bold within! Not so many, I think, as are found in Italy or in France.” She paused a moment, looking at the sky above the roofs, then came back to me. “It is hopeless, and you must see it, to talk in those terms to the only powers that can lead the Holy Office to forget that you live! It is hopeless to talk to the Queen, telling her that. She would hold that she had entertained heresy, and her imagination would not let her alone. I see naught in this world for you to do but to go out of it into another! There are other lands—”
A damsel hurried to her from the door. “There’s a stir below, Madam! Something has brought the Queen home earlier than we thought—”