The Voyage of the Hawk
Pedro stood at the aft railing of his ship and watched as a small craft made its way towards him. He smiled to himself as the occupant of the craft became visible to his gaze. It was Ernesto, his uncle's major-domo and right hand man and from the expression on his face, Pedro could tell that the man was not happy. That didn't bother Pedro at all. In the years of knowing the faithful retainer, Pedro had rarely seen a smile on Ernesto's face. The man was perpetually unhappy even at the best of times and even more so when he had to come and speak to Pedro.
Pedro de la Vega was a young man of sixteen years. He was tall and strong in body and handsome. He had short, dark curly hair upon his head and a clean shaven face. Unlike other noble sons he wore the garments of a sailing man. His shirt was open-necked and made of white linen. The sleeves ballooned where they were tied off at his wrists. He wore dark leather britches and calf-skin boots that came to his knees. The boots had a hard sole to them. About his waist he wore a black sash that held his pistol and his sword and a long bladed knife. He also wore a black leather vest that was both padded and lined with mail. It was one of the few concessions that he accepted to take towards protecting his life. In his business life could be very dangerous.
"Ahoy the ship," came a voice from below, "permission to come aboard?"
The voice came from the man sitting at the helm of the small craft. The craft was barely twenty feet in length from bow to stern and it was being rowed by six men. The helmsman had just ordered his men to ship their oars as the little boat came along side Pedro's ship.
"Permission granted," responded Bartholomew, Pedro's first mate. The man was standing on the main deck of Pedro's vessel watching the approaching craft with as much interest and with much more concern than Pedro had shown. He had already had a hand remove a section of port railing where he was standing so that a ladder could be lowered down to the approaching nobleman. When Dom Ernesto Dias finally scrambled up the ladder a few moments later, Bartholomew extended a hand to help him up.
"Take me to him," Ernesto snapped as his feet hit the deck of Pedro's ship.
Pedro's ship was called the Hawk. The Hawk was a small xebec of Moorish design that carried two lateen sails and ten guns. The guns were mounted with two in the bow and six in the waist and two more in the stern in the aft castle just below the poop deck. It was a fine craft and Pedro was proud of it and the crew that sailed it.
"Dom Ernesto," Pedro called out joyfully as the older man ascended the steps from the main deck to the poop deck, "How are you?"
"Disappointed with you, Dom Pedro," Dom Ernesto spat out without pause to greet the young man, "and very annoyed."
"No," Pedro responded in a shocked manner, "that can not be good friend. Why would you be disappointed and annoyed with me Dom Ernesto? I have but returned this hour from being away for a month. What have I done to receive such a greeting?"
"Do not play with me Pedro," Dom Ernesto replied dropping all impression of formality between him and Pedro. "I am not a fool and neither is your uncle. More importantly neither is the King and it will be him that you answer to for what has brought me here. A royal launch is already beating a course towards the Hawk and the man sitting in its bow has orders to arrest you."
"But why so my good friend?" Pedro inquired, still speaking as if this news surprised him.
"Because of that ship there," Dom Ernesto growled in an accusatory manner, "and the fact that your pennant flies from its masthead."
The ship that Dom Ernesto Dias pointed to was a galley. The craft stood on the starboard side of the Hawk and it rode at anchor no more than two hundred feet away. The craft had two banks of oars although they had been shipped over an hour ago and it was twice the size of the Hawk. To the eye of any sailing man it was obvious that the ship had taken damage recently although not as badly as one might have suspected and although it was clearly a Spanish vessel, its colours had been struck and in their place flew the pennant and heraldry of House de la Vega.
"That my good friend is my prize," Pedro responded in a dismissive manner to the words of Dom Ernesto. "The fool captain of the vessel thought to tangle with the Hawk and he paid the price for his stupidity. I took the vessel on the high seas not two days ago and I have brought it home to sell it and to collect its value to pay off my valiant crew."
"Pedro," Dom Ernesto uttered in an exasperated manner, "that vessel belongs to the Condor and he has laid the claim of piracy against you before the king."
"Then the man is a liar," Pedro said with a shrug of his shoulders. "The vessel may have belonged to the Condor but it is now mine. The captain of the craft fired the first shot in our meeting upon the ocean and it was he who struck his colours not me."
"That does not matter Pedro," Dom Ernesto responded with a shake of his head. As he spoke he glanced back towards the shore and saw that the royal galley was quickly approaching the Hawk. Time was running out for his master's nephew. "See, even now the king's man approaches. Soon you will be arrested and brought before him."
"Then I should prepare myself to greet him with the honour due the man and his office," Pedro said with a smile, brushing past Dom Ernesto as he spoke. A moment later he was down off the poop deck of his vessel and he was speaking to his first mate.
"Bartholomew," Pedro muttered as he approached the older man, "it appears that our fears are about to be proved. That launch carries a man ordered to arrest me for piracy of the Santa de Luna."
"Then should we slip anchor and leave," Bartholomew asked, glancing towards the approaching craft, "or should we greet it with pistols and blades in our hands."
"We'll do neither my good friend," Pedro responded with a chuckle. "Instead I think we will trust in the actions of new acquaintances."
"Do you really trust her that much?" Bartholomew inquired looking a little doubtful about it. "You've only known the woman for two days and it has been under stressful conditions."
"True my friend," Pedro admitted, "but I believe the fair lady will be our best hope in this matter."
"Well she had better be," Bartholomew stated sternly as Dom Ernesto walked over to join them, "for it is not only your life that is at risk in this matter."
"What is this that you talk about Pedro," Dom Ernesto asked having heard only a portion of the conversation. "Who is this lady that Bartholomew speaks of and what part in this matter does she play."
"The lady is a witness to our innocence," Pedro responded with a wave of his hand and a smile on his lips, "and now I must go and fetch her before the king's man boards this craft. Once here I am certain that he will demand I leave with him immediately."
With that Pedro left Dom Ernesto and Bartholomew standing at the railing. Quickly Pedro headed aft once more, but this time he slipped into the passageway that ran the length of the aft castle. He was gone for no more that a couple of minutes. By the time he returned, the royal launch was tied to the side of the Hawk and the king's man was standing on the main deck asking for Pedro to present himself. The king's messenger was tall, thin, elegantly dressed, and even older that Dom Ernesto. He did not appear to be in a good mood.
"He will be with you in a moment," Bartholomew stated coldly to the richly attired man. As he spoke his hand fell to the blade that he carried at his belt.
"Well he had best make his presence known immediately," the other man declared sternly, "or the king will hear of it."
"He will be here in a moment," Dom Ernesto declared in a firm voice, "so try and be patient man. It is not as if Dom Pedro is trying to hide."
"Nor should I even want to hide," Pedro voiced loudly before the other man was able to respond to Dom Ernesto's word, announcing his presence to everyone waiting upon him. "After all, I have no reason to do so."
The man started at the sound of Pedro's voice and his sudden appearance from the doorway that led into the aft castle. The man started again when he spotted the companion that was with the young man. The companion was a very pretty young woman who was dressed all in black and who was adorned with finery and jewels. She was young and pretty and very elegant in her appearance and very desirable to look at. Her hair was as black as her attire and her matching eyes. It actually took Dom Fernando a moment to note that behind Pedro and the comely young woman stood another older woman. That woman was attired in the habit of a nun.
"What is this?" the man barked once he had regained his composure.
"Who asked?" Pedro inquired sternly gazing questioningly at the other man.
The man huffed at the question and turned red in the face in response. Bartholomew just sighed and shook his head and the young woman on his arm simply giggled. Fortunately for everyone but in particular for Pedro, Dom Ernesto kept his head.
"Dom Pedro de la Vega," Dom Ernesto intoned in a formal voice that showed years of culture and diplomacy, "may I present, Dom Fernando de Gama of the King's Court. He is here upon your vessel at the behest of our sovereign liege, King Manuel. Dom Fernando may I present Dom Pedro de la Vega, the captain of this vessel and the nephew of my master the Count of Alverez."
"Dom Fernando," Pedro muttered in response, speaking before the other man had a chance to open his mouth, "I am honoured to meet you and to welcome you upon my ship. Now if I may I will introduce this lovely lady to you. Please allow me to introduce the Dona Isabella de Cordoba, the niece of his Excellency the Count of Cordoba and her maid Sister Angelique."
With that both the lady and the nun curtsied to Dom Fernando who now stood opened mouthed in response to what he just heard. It actually took him a second or two to recover his wits and to respond. In that time Pedro took the time to introduce the lady to Dom Ernesto who unlike Dom Fernando was able to greet the young woman with all due courtesy and respect.
"Impossible," Dom Fernando finally gasped once he could say another word. "I do not believe it."
"What do you not believe Dom Fernando?" Pedro inquired with a raised eyebrow and a look of concern upon his face.
"That you dare to sail into harbour with a pirated ship in your wake," Dom Fernando declared forcefully, "and now you present me with the kidnapped niece of the man who you have plundered. Your audacity is beyond belief."
"Kidnapped?" Pedro exclaimed in protestation. "Who dares to accuse me of kidnapping this fair lady and her companion? I will face that man and teach him a lesson in manners."
"I accuse you Dom Pedro in the king's name," Dom Fernando stated firmly, "and do not deny the facts. I stand here by King Manuel's order to escort you to the palace where he will confront you with this accusation."
"Then it would be best that we all went to the palace with you," Pedro responded in a calm but firm voice, "so that I may explain things to the king before more lies can spread about me and my actions."
The palace of King Manuel of Portugal stood on the cliffs that overlooked the harbour of Lisbon. From those heights visitors to the palace could see for leagues. The view was incredible and it was well worth the trek through the city and past the fortifications just to have a chance to see it. Of course only the nobles and the men of standing ever got beyond the gates in the palace's walls.
It took time for Dom Fernando to find a carriage and a driver to transport the lady and her companion up to the palace and the presence of the king. He had not known of the woman's presence aboard the Hawk or the other vessel and he had not been prepared for the inconvenience that the woman presented. He had mounts for his men and Dom Pedro but that was it. It annoyed him to no end, especially since Dom Pedro refused to leave the woman's side. Still a carriage was found that could carry the lady and her companion. By the time it was found, the day was late and he knew that the king would not be happy.
As he rode Dom Fernando fumed. Not only was he now escorting a noble woman and her companion but his party had been joined by Dom Ernesto and men belonging to the house of the Count of Alverez. That too would upset the king.
King Manuel of Portugal was an old man. He looked frail when looked upon by others but he was not. He was stern in his dealings with ambassadors and with those who curried favours from him and he was brutal with anyone who crossed him. While his hair was grey and his beard was long his mind was still sharp and more importantly he could still hold a sword if need be. None in his kingdom challenged him openly although some like to whisper about him behind his back. At most times he let them whisper for he knew that his spies would hear the whisperings and he would find them out. Still today had come as a bit of a surprise to him.
"Where is that fool," King Manuel demanded to know of from his chamberlain, "and where is that whelp that has upset my court?"
"Your Majesty," the chamberlain muttered apologetically in reply, "I am told that they are on their way at this very moment. Unfortunately Dom Fernando ran into some unexpected problems and that has delayed him."
"What problems," King Manuel asked sternly. "Did that boy try and resist Dom Fernando?"
"No your Majesty," the chamberlain answered quickly, "Dom Pedro did not resist; however he did insist on bringing someone to vouch for him in this matter."
"The boy wanted to bring a witness," King Manuel gasped in surprise, "and Dom Fernando allowed it? I can not believe the audacity of the boy. I will have him flogged for this once I am done with him if I do not chose to do something worse. So tell me why that fool Dom Fernando allowed this young man to delay him. Who is this all important witness?"
In a whisper the chamberlain told the king. In response the king simply smiled and then he began to laugh. His laughter rang out through the palaces halls to be heard by all who were in attendance including the Count of Alverez and the Count of Cordoba.
"Dom Fernando de Gama and party," the court herald sang out fifteen minutes later informing the entire court that the guests of honour had finally arrived.
The grand court of King Manuel the 1st of Portugal fell silent as Dom Fernando de Gama led his party into the chamber. Those in attendance, both courtiers and foreign emissaries stood in silence and watch the procession with interest. All noted that Dom Pedro was not alone as he trailed after Dom Fernando and some even smiled with good humour at the sight of the pretty woman that held Dom Pedro's arm so daintily. The only one to frown on seeing the woman was the Count of Cordoba.
"Your Majesty," Dom Fernando uttered upon approaching his sovereign. He paused upon speaking those words and then bowed with a flourish before continuing. "I have returned as ordered with Dom Pedro in my charge."
"I can see that you old fool," King Manuel snarled in response stepping forward as he did. Then with a flick of his wrist and a wave of his hand he dismissed his messenger. In an instant the startled nobleman stepped aside with a parting bow.
"So Dom Pedro," King Manuel mouthed in a less that cordial l manner, "you have decided to honour my summons by bringing me a fair lady to act as your champion."
"Nay your Majesty," Pedro protested with all earnestness, "I would never do such a thing."
"No boy?" the king muttered with a raised eyebrow and a question on his lips. "Then perhaps you would be so kind as to explain why you have brought this young woman before me when I have summoned you to answer some very serious accusations?"
"I will explain with great pleasure your Majesty," Dom Pedro responded with a smile and a nod of his head, "in but a moment, but first with your permission, may I introduce the young lady to you my liege."
"You may boy," the king told him without hesitation, "although I know the girl's name already. Still you have brought her to my court and I will receive her properly with all due respect and honour."
"Thank you, your Majesty," Pedro replied before turning to the young woman who still stood holding his arm. "Your Majesty, may I present the Dona Isabella de Cordoba of Spain and the niece of your illustrious guest, his Excellency the Count of Cordoba."
"Majesty," Dona Isabella stated softly as she curtsied to the king.
"Dona Isabella," the old king responded with a smile, "I welcome you to my court and I hope you will find it to your liking."
"I hope so as well Majesty," Dona Isabella answered politely, still curtsying before the king.
"Well we will see about that," King Manuel murmured half to himself and half to the Dona Isabella, "however at this moment I have matters to put before your escort that are serious in nature. Rise girl and go to your uncle and when I am done with Dom Pedro I may speak to you again."
With the king's dismissal Dona Isabella rose up once more. Then before releasing her hand off of Dom Pedro's arm she curtsied again but this time to Dom Pedro.
"Thank you Dom Pedro," Dona Isabella whispered softly in farewell, "for both your service to me and my companion and for your friendship. It will be remembered with pleasure."
"Farewell sweet lady," Pedro said in response, smiling as he did. "I hope that we will meet again under better circumstances."
With that Dona Isabella released her touch upon the arm of Dom Pedro and immediately stepped away from him. As she did, her uncle the Count of Cordoba stepped forward to take up the honour of escorting his niece.
"Now then Dom Pedro," the king said loudly, "you promised me an explanation as to why you have brought Dona Isabella to our court when I had summoned you to stand account on charges of piracy."
"Your Majesty," Pedro began with an equally loud voice, speaking so all in the court could hear him, "I brought the fair lady before you for she was in my care and under my protection and I was loath to leave the lady and her companion alone in an unknown port with no one to succour her. Knowing that her uncle would be here awaiting upon your Majesty in his capacity as the noble and honourable ambassador of the King and Queen of Spain, I decided that I was honour bound to bring the lady here so that she could be safely returned to the bosom of her family."
"Oh you did, did you?" the king asked in an amused manner. "So tell me Dom Pedro by what misfortune did the Dona Isabella fall into your honoured care?"
"By the stupidity of the captain of the Santa de Luna," Pedro replied firmly, "and by the forwardness of his crew."
"How is this boy?" the king asked with true surprise in his voice and interest in his aged face. "Tell me all."
For the next half hour Pedro related to the king and all those in attendance his recent adventure. He informed the king that he had been sailing northward towards Lisbon when his ship the Hawk was set upon by the galley, the Santa de Luna.
"My lookout spotted it in the morning Majesty," Pedro stated plainly, "but I took no great note of the craft for the man said that it bore the flags of Spain and the pennant of his Excellency the Count of Cordoba. Regrettably by noon I was forced to think differently. By that time the Santa de Luna had closed with us and it had opened its gun ports."
"A lie," muttered the Count of Cordoba, a little louder than he should have.
"Be quiet your Excellency," snapped the king in response, eyeing the man sternly. "I will tolerate no further interruptions."
"Of course Majesty," the Count responded, bowing as he did.
"Go on boy," the king ordered turning his attention back to Pedro. "You were saying that the Santa de Luna came upon you with guns ready?"
"Yes Majesty," Pedro continued, "they did indeed even though I flew the flags of Portugal and my father's pennant at my masthead. On seeing their approach I ordered my crew to make ready for action, which they quickly did. I also ordered my first mate to hail the craft and to learn what purpose the captain of the vessel had with us. When my man hailed the craft from the forecastle of the Hawk, he was not answered with a courteous reply but by the blast of cannon fire."
"A lie," growled the Count of Cordoba again, unable to curb his tongue.
"Enough," the king shouted sternly, "or I will have you removed your Excellency."
"My apologies Majesty," the Count murmured through clenched teeth.
"Go on boy," the king demanded of Pedro, turning his attention back on him. "Your tale makes the delay in your arrival palatable. Tell me more."
"I will your Majesty," Pedro replied with a smile. "As I said my man's query was answered by cannon fire. Thankfully the gunner on the Santa de Luna was ill-trained and his shot flew high and across our bow and it ended up in the ocean rather in us. However it was not the last ball fired upon us. Thankfully God blesses the innocent and protects them; the fire of the Santa de Luna fell short as we swept past her. More fortunate for me and my crew, my guns proved more accurate. Although we had but three guns to bring to bear against the ten carried by the Santa de Luna, my men demonstrated great skill in the handling of their weapons. Their first salvo tore into the waist of the Santa de Luna knocking out one cannon and ripping through the first bank of rowers. We then raked the stern of the Santa de Luna as we slipped by it using my stern cannon."
"Then what happened boy?" the king demanded to know impatiently.
"We came about your Majesty," Pedro said with a broad grin upon his face, "and pressed hard against the Santa de Luna to show them the strength of Portugal. My bow cannons struck the stern of the vessel as we approached it. The Santa de Luna replied but to no affect. I then brought my craft along the port side of the other ship and I struck it again with my cannons. To my amazement the crew of the Santa de Luna did not return fire."
"They did not?" the king questioned out of curiosity.
"No your Majesty," Pedro continued, "they did not. It was then that my lookout reported fighting on the main deck of the Santa de Luna. It quickly became clear to me that the crew of the vessel was otherwise occupied and that they could no longer engage us. I learnt afterwards that one of my cannonballs actually freed the slaves that rowed the Santa de Luna and the rowers had risen up in rebellion while my guns pounded the other craft unopposed."
"Fantastic," muttered the king in amazement.
"Indeed Majesty," Pedro acknowledged before going on. "So it was that I was able to bring the Hawk along side the Santa de Luna and board her with very little effort. A few stalwart souls tried to oppose us but they were too few. As for the remainder of the ship's company, those not engaged in trying to put down the slaves rebellion were found hiding in their quarters."
"And the slaves?" questioned the king. "Did they try and oppose you?"
"No your Majesty," Pedro responded, "they did not. Amongst their number were men from Portugal who had been taken by Moorish pirates and then sold to the Spaniards as galley slaves. On seeing our flag they spoke to their fellows and they quickly brought an end to the conflict. They did however treat with me for their freedom which I willingly gave them in exchange for what they had to offer me."
"And what was it that they offered you, Dom Pedro?" the king inquired.
"They held the Dona Isabella and her companion, Majesty," Pedro told his king in a blunt manner. "In the flight of the captain and his officers to their cabin and safety they abandoned the lady and the good sister to the passions of the rebellious slaves. The slaves traded the lady and the sister to me along with the ship and its contents in exchange for their freedom. As I have said some of the men were Portuguese and subjects of your Majesty. Others were Moors, Frenchmen, and Englishmen. I saw no wrong in setting these men free so long as they vowed no further acts of disorder."
"Very interesting story indeed Dom Pedro," the king stated, stroking his long grey beard as he spoke, "from which I take it that you claim not to be a pirate but a rescuer, do you not?"
"I do indeed your Majesty," Pedro replied bowing as he did.
"And what do you say Excellency?" the king now said to the Count of Cordoba.
"A lie Majesty," the man declared without any hesitation in a voice filled with venom. "This boy is a pirate and a murderer and a violator of the good will between your kingdom and my masters, the King and Queen of Spain."
"Uncle," Dona Isabella exclaimed in protest of her uncle's words, "that is not true."
"Silence girl," the Count of Cordoba snarled at his niece, "and do not interrupt me again. This is a matter between me and the King of Portugal."
"And as such," the king stated loudly, "I desire to hear what the young lady has to say on the matter."
"Your Majesty," the Count of Cordoba protested, "Dona Isabella is my niece and a member of my household and I object to her being called forward in this matter. The word of a woman has no bearing on matters of state and law and all men know it."
"Do you presume to preach to me Senor Ambassador?" the king asked angrily.
"No your Majesty," the Count of Cordoba responded quickly and in an apologetic manner, "I would never dream of doing that. I am only pointing out that I alone speak for my household."
"And I will point out that you are in my court, Senor Ambassador," the king stated coldly, "and I decide who speaks and who does not. Now bring your niece forward so I can hear her side of this tale."
"Of course Majesty," the Count of Cordoba muttered in response, bowing his head in submission as he did. Then with a glaring gaze at his niece he led her before King Manuel.
"Speak child," the king told Dona Isabella, "and in the name of the lord, speak only the truth. Is what young Dom Pedro saying the truth or should I accept your uncle's accusation that Dom Pedro is a murderous pirate and a betrayer of my trust?"
Dona Isabella hesitated for a moment. Her face became pale when she glanced towards the scowling visage of her uncle. It however grew lighter when she looked earnestly into the smiling calm of Dom Pedro's face. Finally she sighed with resignation and acceptance as she looked to her companion in this matter and found that she smiled warmly and with serenity when their eyes finally met.
"Forgive me your Majesty," Dona Isabella began apologizing for what she was about to say, "but in God's name I must confess that what Dom Pedro has stated to your Majesty is the truth. Captain Armando of the Santa de Luna chose to attack the Hawk of his own accord even though the flags of Portugal flew clearly upon the vessel."
"Isabella!" the Count of Cordoba exclaimed in indignation and annoyance.
"Silence Senor Ambassador," the king chided the Count, "or I will have you removed. I wish to hear more."
"But your Majesty," the Count of Cordoba pleaded in vain, "my niece is a child and she does not know what she speaks of."
"Personally Senor Ambassador," the king responded loudly and with a voice filled with annoyance, "I believe that your niece knows more than you do in this matter and I will hear it from her lips and not yours. Speak again and I will send you back to Spain and inform my dear cousins, your king and queen of your insults."
"Please forgive me Majesty," the Count of Cordoba pleaded in response. "I will say not another word."
"See to it your Excellency or prepare to pack your luggage," the king growled. "Now Dona Isabella I wish to hear the rest."
Hesitantly Dona Isabella told the tale as she had seen it. She told the King of Portugal that she and her companion, the young Sister Angelique had been taking a turn about the poop deck of the galley when the lookout of the Santa de Luna spotted the Hawk. She had even been there when Captain Armando ordered his ship to prepare for action. When he did so, Dona Isabella had questioned the Captain's actions noting openly that the vessel that they were bearing down upon was flying the flags of Portugal. Dona Isabella then went on to state that the Captain had dismissed her concerns stating that the vessel belonged to an enemy of her uncle and that her uncle would thank him kindly and with generosity for seizing the vessel and for vanquishing it.
These words caused a great stir in the audience chamber of the King of Portugal. The King glanced at the Spanish ambassador and the Spanish ambassador looked away pale and in discomfort. Other voices in the audience room could be heard murmuring with discord.
"Tell me more Dona Isabella," the king demanded after a moment's pause.
"I was still on the poop deck," Dona Isabella declared when the action started. "The Captain showed no concern for me or my safety even though he was under orders to escort me to Lisbon and to my uncle. Instead he was focused on his greed and the actions of the moment. I watched as the guns of the Santa de Luna spoke and the guns of the Hawk replied. I was there when a lucky strike severed the chain that held the slaves at their stations. The ball struck causing injury amongst both the crew and the oarsmen and it threw splinters into the air. When the debris had finally fallen the slaves rose up in rebellion. Before anyone could react, a number of slaves had armed themselves with the blades and weapons of the crew who had been injured in the blast. They also liberated the keys held by the coxswain and they turned the rest of their number free. Captain Armando stood his ground for only a moment and then he fled the poop deck with a number of his men and officers into the aft castle where he took refuge, leaving me and my companion at the mercy of the slaves. If it had not been for the fact Dom Pedro boarded the Santa de Luna, I doubt that I would be standing here today to answer your Majesty's questions."
"I believe so as well, my dear lady," the king stated in a grave and serious manner, first looking at the pale and discomforted figure of the Spanish ambassador and then over to the young man who had been the centre of this conversation, "and I truly believe that we all owe Dom Pedro here our thanks, for without his courageous action my court would have been deprived of your beauty and honesty. Do you not think the same, Senor Ambassador?"
"Yes Majesty," responded the Count de Cordoba in a cold, low voice that was slightly strained, "I must agree with you on this matter. From this day forward I will forever be in the debt of Dom Pedro. Hopefully I will find a way to pay him back."