“One sees,” he said, “that he has a nun to care for him.”
He smiled faintly, so that his features fell into the lines that hunger draws. But Juanita looked at him with grave eyes and did not answer to his pleasantry.
Then he turned to Sarrion.
“It was only by the kindness of a mere acquaintance,” he said, “that I was enabled to get here so soon. My own horses were tired out with a hard day yesterday, and I was going out to seek others in Pampeluna—no easy task on market-day—when I met a travelling carriage on the Plaza de la Constitution Its owner must have divined my haste, for he offered assistance, and on hearing my story, and whither I was bound, he gave up his intended journey, decided to remain a few days longer in Pampeluna and placed his carriage at my disposal. I hardly know the man at all—though he tells me that he is an old friend of yours. He lives in Saragossa.”
“Ah!” said Sarrion, who was listening with rather marked attention.
Juanita had moved away, but she was standing now, listening also, looking back over her shoulder with waiting eyes.
“It was the Senior Evasio Mon,” said the doctor. And in the silence that followed, Marcos stirred in his sleep, as if he, too, had heard the name.
Kind inquiries For the next fortnight Juanita remained in supreme command at Torre Garda, exercising that rule which she said she had acquired at the convent school. It had, in reality, come to her straight from Heaven, as it comes to all women. Is it not part of the gentler soul to care for the helpless and the sick? Just as it is in a man’s heart to fight the world for a woman’s sake.
Marcos made a quick recovery. His broken bones knit together like the snapped branch of a young tree. His cuts and bruises healed themselves unaided.
“He has no nerves,” said Juanita. “You should see a nun when she is ill! St. Luke and all the saints have their hands full, I can tell you.”
With returning health came energy. Indeed, the patient had never lost his grip of the world. Many from the valley came to make inquiry. Some left a message of condolence. Some departed with a grunt, indicative of satisfaction. A few of the more cultivated gave their names to the servant as they drank a glass of red wine in the kitchen.
“Say it was Pedro from the mill.”
“Tell him that Three Fingered Thomas passed by,” muttered another, grudgingly.
“It is I, so-called Short Knife, who came to ask,” explained a third, tapping the sheath of his baptismal weapon.
“How far have you come?” asked Juanita, who found these gentlemen entertaining.
“Seventeen miles from the mountain,” was the reply.
“All your friends are calling to inquire after your health,” said Juanita to Marcos. “They are famous brigands, and make one think fondly of the Guardia Civile. There are not many razors in the valley, and I am sure there is no soap.”