The room recomposed itself. Out of silence came the King’s voice, chill and dry. “We abate so vast a claim for so vast reward! But we would be naught else but just, and in our ability lavish. Read now what we will do!”
The secretary read. It had a certain largeness and goodliness, as go rewards for adventure, even for great adventure, what the sovereigns would do. The room thought it should answer. The King spoke, “We can promise no more nor other than this. It contents you, Master Christopherus?”
The long-faced, high-nosed, gray-eyed man answered, “No, my lord King.”
“Your own terms or none?”
“Mine or none, your Highness.”
The King’s voice grew a cutting wind. “To that the Queen and I answer, `Ours or none!’ " Pushing back his chair, he glanced at sun out of window. “It is over. I incline to think that it was at best but an empty vision. You are dismissed, Master Christopherus!”
The Genoese, bowing, stepped backward from the table. In his face and carriage was nothing broken. He kept color. The Queen’s glance went after him, “What will you do now, Master Christopherus?”
He answered, “My lady, your Highness, I shall take horse to-morrow for France.”
The King said, “France?—King Charles buys ever low, not high!”
The Sovereigns and the great churchmen and the less great went away together. After them flowed the high attendance. All went, Don Enrique among the last. Following him, I turned head, for I wished to observe again two persons, the painter Manuel Rodriguez and the Admiral of the Ocean-Sea. The former painted on. The latter walked forth quite alone, coming behind the grinning pages.
In the court below I saw him again. The archway to street sent toward us a deep wedge of shadow. He had a cloak which he wrapped around him and a large round hat which he drew low over his gray-blue eyes. With a firm step he crossed to the archway where the purple shadow took him.
Juan Lepe must turn to his own part which now must be decided. I walked behind Don Enrique de Cerda through Santa Fe. With him kept Don Miguel de Silva, who loved Don Enrique’s sister and would still talk of devoir and of plans, now that the war was ended. When the house was reached he would enter with us and still adhere to Don Enrique. But at the stair foot the latter spoke to the squire. “Find me in an hour, Juan Lepe. I have something to say to thee!” His tone carried, “Do you think the place there makes any difference? No, by the god of friends!”
I let him go thinking that I would come to him presently. But I, too, had to act under the god of friends. In Diego Lopez’s room I found quill and ink and paper, and there I wrote a letter to Don Enrique, and finding Diego gave it to him to be given in two hours into Don Enrique’s hand. Then Juan Lepe the squire changed in his own room, narrow and bare as a cell, to the clothing of Juan Lepe the sailor.