She waited with her blue eyes upon him. He said, and said quietly, “It was long ago, Madam, when I was a young man and careless. I will do all that lies in me to do. But Spain is wide and there are ships to Africa and other shores.”
She said, “Yes, I do not see such an one daring to come to Santa Fe! But they say that ten demons possess a heretic, and that he crosses streams upon a hair or walks edges of high walls.”
With her ringed hand she made gesture of dismissal. He bowed low and stepped back to his former place.
The sun flooded in at window. Manuel Rodriguez painted steadily. The Queen sat still, with lifted face and eyes strained into distance. She sighed and came back from wastes where she would be Christian, oh, where she would be Christian! and began with a tender, maternal look to talk with her daughter.
The door giving upon the great corridor opened. One said, “The King, Madam!” King Ferdinand entered quietly, in the sober fashion of a sober and able man. He was cool and balanced, true always to his own conception of his own dues. The Queen rose and stepped to meet him. They spoke, standing together, after which he handed her to her chair and took beside her the other great chair which the pages had swiftly placed. After greeting his daughter and the Archbishop he looked across to the painter. “Master Manuel Rodriguez, good day!”
There fell a moment of sun-drenched quiet in which they all sat for their picture. Then said the King, “Madam, we are together, and here are those who have been our chief advisers in this affair of discoveries. Master Christopherus is below. We noted him in the court. Let us have him here and see this too-long-dragging matter finished! Once for all abate his demands, or once for all let him go!”
They sent a page. Again there was sunny silence, then in at the door came the tall, muscular, gray-eyed, silver-haired man whom I had met the day King Boabdil surrendered
He made reverence to the Queen and the King and to the Archbishop. It was the Queen who spoke to him and that gently.
“Master Christopherus, we have had a thousand businesses, and so our matter here has waited and waited. Today comes unaware this quiet hour and we will give it to you. Here with us are the Archbishop and others who have been our counsellors, and here is Don Alonzo de Quintantella who hath always stood your friend. In all the hurly-burly we yet took time, two days ago, to sit in council and come to conclusion. And now we give you our determination. In all reason it should give you joy!” She smiled upon him. “How many years since first you laid your plan before us?”
He answered her in a deep voice, thrilling and crowded with feeling. “Seven years, Madam your Highness! Like an infant laid at your feet. And winter has blown upon it, and sunshine carrying hope has walked around it, and then again the cold wind rises—”