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On Louis approaching her, and on his being named, bending his knee to the ground, she rose, and threw
her veil. “ Marquis de Montemar,” said she, with a smile, and extending her hand; “ the Duchess Tarrazona bas prevailed, and thus I promise my patronage to her client!”
Louis had entered in some agitation, and knelt with more at the feet of the Sovereign, who, he believed, held the honour and fate of his father in her hand. He now recognised the Duchess in the Queen ; and every anxious doubt flying before the glad surprize, the sentiment of his heart shone out in his complexion and eyes.
She translated this flush of hope, into a tribute to her charms; and graciously repeated her smile when he put her hand to his lips.
“ Who will you serve, de Montemar," said she, “ Elizabeth and Countess Altheim ? or Isabella, and the Duchess
Tarrazona ? Chuse freely, for I love not bondage.”
Conscious complacency beamed in her looks, as she spoke.
My duty, and my heart," replied he, “ are alike at Your Majesty's feet.”
His heart was in his words and his countenance. The devotion of Ripperda had been reserved and stately ; but in
; the animated answer of his son, there was a youthful fervour, a chivalric gal. lantry; which, being her soul's passion, subdued her at once to his interest. All her pre-determined caution vanished be. fore it. She looked towards Santa Cruz.
“ Give de Montemar your cross of the Amaranth," said she; “ I will re
" place it to-morrow.
When he returns from Gibraltar, he may wear it openly; now, it must be nearer the seat of truth."
Santa Cruz drew from his neck the purple ribbon, at which the brilliant cross was suspended, and buckled it under the vest of his young friend. Again
Louis kissed the hand of the condescending Isabella ; who continued to regard his graceful person with increasing favour, while she communicated the result of her mediation between him and the King
So many baffled negociations for the restoration of Gibraltar had worn out the patience of Philip; and, as the fortress was evidently strengthening itself on the Spanish side, he had ordered similar lines of intimidation to be constructed at San Roque. But this did not awe the English, whose sovereign seemed on the eve of a quarrel with the new ministers of Spain ; and therefore, Isabella seized the occasion to represent to her husband, the danger of allowing the British cabinet the incalculable benefit of Ripperda’s discoveries and counsels. In pursuance of these arguments, she gradually gained her object with the King; and now informed Louis that she had obtained the royal command for him
to go direct to Gibraltar, to lay before Ripperda all that was alledged against him, to offer him a fair and open trial, or a general amnesty; and which-ever he would prefer, should follow his election.
The trial was what Louis demanded.
“ Grant my father that,” said he, “ and we ask no more.”
Bring him from Gibraltar," returned the Queen, " and nothing shall be withheld, that can gratify the honou. rable ambition of his son."
She then told him, that as it was necessary to keep these preliminaries from the knowledge of the ministry, he must neither visit the British Ambassador, nor the Val del Uzeda, nor even allow his name, nor his errand to be known, until he should have obtained the object of his mission.
“ When you return, it will be with a companion,” added she, “ to whom, meanwhile, I pledge my restored confidence."
She smiled, and disappeared. Louis looked gratefully after her. The Marquis would not trouble the hopes of his heart, by warning him that all this revered goodness arose from the dreams of vanity; and that both father and son must preserve its illusions, if they would continue in the favour she so largely promised. Louis gave
his arm to his friend; and with heads too full of busy thoughts, to give them immediate utterance, they repaired in silence to Santa Cruz's residence in Madrid.
A few hours completed every preparation for Louis's journey to Gibraltar ; and the next morning, by day-break, accompanied by the faithful Lorenzo, he set forth on his momentous pilgrimage.