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"Out with Cortes!" echoed Vane. "Then we have a link in common, Sir Fulke. I have some Mexican trifles that one of our family, who was a friend of Velasquez de Leon, brought from the conquest. So a Vane and an Erceldoune fought side by side at Otumba and in the temple of Huitzitopotchli? We most be friends after such an augury?"

Erceldoune bowed in silence, neither accepting nor declining the proffered alliance.

The sunlight poured throng the scarlet creepers round the oriel windows into the chamber, on to the red pile of the fruit in its glossy leaves, the rich-hued plumage of the dead birds where they were hastily flung down, the gold and antique plate that was in strange contrast with the simplicity of the fare served on it; and on the dark martial head of the border-laird, where he sat with his great hounds couched about him in attitudes for Landseer. He looked, on the whole, more to belong to those daring, dauntless, fiery, steel-clad Cavaliers of the Cross, who passed with Cortes through the dark belt of porphyry into the sunlit valley of the Venice of the West, than to the present unheroic, unadventurous, unmoved, unadmiring age. Near him sat Victor Vane, a man of not more than thirty