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Published on 2023-12-02 22:53:36 source:Spring Breeze and Summer Rain

The Queen's smile grew broader; the King began to grin. Some of the circle, watching them closely, ventured to smile also. "Come, my friend," Henry said, almost with good humour, "this is all very well. But this inmate of yours--was a very recent one."

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"Was, in fact, I suppose, the rebellious little wench of whom you knew nothing yesterday!" the Queen cried harshly, and with an air of open triumph. "There can be no stealing of stolen goods, sir; and if M. Pimentel, who had at least as much right as you to the girl--and more, for I am her guardian--has carried her off, you have small ground to complain,"

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"But, Madame," I said, with an air of bewilderment, "I really do not--it must be my fault, but I do not understand."

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Two or three sniggered, seeing me apparently checkmated and at the end of my resources. And the King laughed out with kindly malice. "Come, Grand Master," he said, "I think that you do. However, if Pimentel has carried off the damsel, there, it seems to me, is an end of the matter."

"But, sire," I answered, looking sternly round the grinning circle, "am I mad, or is there some mystery here? I assured your Majesty yesterday that Mademoiselle D'Oyley was not in my house. I say the same to-day. She is not; your officers may search every room and closet. And for the woman whom M. Pimentel has carried off, she is no more Mademoiselle D'Oyley than I am; she is one of my wife's waiting-maids. If you doubt me," I continued, "you have only to send and ask. Ask the Portuguese himself."

The King stared at me. "Nonsense!" he said, sharply. "If Pimentel has carried off anyone, it must be Mademoiselle D'Oyley."

"But it is not, sire," I answered with persistence. "He has broken into my house, and abducted my servant. For Mademoiselle, she is not there to be stolen."

"Let some one go for Pimentel," the King said curtly.

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