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Historical Tales, Vol. 4 (of 15) by Charles Morris

The infanta was evidently annoyed


Yet

all this merrymaking and clemency, and all the negotiations which proceeded in the precincts of the palace, did not expedite the question at issue. Charles had no thought of becoming a Catholic. Philip had little thought of permitting a marriage under any other conditions. The infanta hated the idea of the sacrifice, as she considered it. The authorities at Rome refused the dispensation. The wheels of the whole business seemed firmly blocked.

Meanwhile, Charles had seen the infanta again, somewhat more closely than in a passing glance from a carriage, and though no words had passed between them, her charms of face strongly attracted his susceptible heart. He was convinced that he deeply loved her, and he ardently pressed for a closer interview. This Spanish etiquette hindered, and it was not until April 7, Easter Day, that a personal interview was granted the ardent lover. On that day the king, accompanied by a train of grandees, led the English prince to the apartments of the queen, who sat in state, with the infanta by her side.

Greeting the queen with proper respect, Charles turned to address the lady of his love. A few ceremonial words had been set down for him to utter, but his English heart broke the bonds of Spanish etiquette, and, forgetting everything but his passion, he began to address the princess in ardent words of his own choice. He had not gone far before there was a sensation. The persons present

began to whisper. The queen looked with angry eyes on the presuming lover. The infanta was evidently annoyed. Charles hesitated and stopped short. Something seemed to have gone wrong. The infanta answered his eager words with a few cold, common-place sentences; a sense of constraint and uneasiness appeared to haunt the apartment; the interview was at an end. English ideas of love-making had proved much too unconventional for a Spanish court.

From that day forward the affair dragged on with infinite deliberation, the passion of the prince growing stronger, the aversion of the infanta seemingly increasing, the purpose of the Spanish court to mould the ardent lover to its own ends appearing more decided.

While Charles showed his native disposition by prevarication, Buckingham showed his by an impatience that soon led to anger and insolence. The wearisome slowness of the negotiations ill suited his hasty and arbitrary temper, he quarrelled with members of the State Council, and, in an interview between the prince and the friars, he grew so incensed at the demands made that, in disregard of all the decencies of etiquette, he sprang from his seat, expressed his contempt for the ecclesiastics by insulting gestures, and ended by flinging his hat on the ground and stamping on it. That conference came to a sudden end.

As the stay of the prince in Madrid now seemed likely to be protracted, attendants were sent him from England that he might keep up, some show of state. But the Spanish court did not want them, and contrived to make their stay so unpleasant and their accommodations so poor, that Charles soon packed the most of them off home again.

"I am glad to get away," said one of these, James Eliot by name, to the prince; "and hope that your Highness will soon leave this pestiferous Spain. It is a dangerous place to alter a man and turn him. I myself in a short time have perceived my own weakness, and am almost turned."

"What motive had you?" asked Charles. "What have you seen that should turn you?"

"Marry," replied Eliot, "when I was in England, I turned the whole Bible over to find Purgatory, and because I could not find it there I believed there was none. But now that I have come to Spain, I have found it here, and that your Highness is in it; whence that you may be released, we, your Highness's servants, who are going to Paradise, will offer unto God our utmost devotions."


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