“It is very kind of Leon to exercise his mind on my account,” said Juanita steadily. “But I can manage my own affairs.”
“Those are my own words,” answered Mon soothingly. “I said to him: ’Juanita is no longer a child; Marcos is honest, he will not have deceived her; he must have told her that such a marriage is a mere question of politics; that there is no thought of love.’”
He glanced sharply at her. It was almost prophetic; for Marcos had used the very words. It is not difficult to be prophetic if one can sink self sufficiently to cloak one’s thoughts with the mind of another and thus divine the workings of his brain. Juanita remembered that Marcos had told her that this was a matter of politics. Mon was only guessing; but he guessed right. The greatest men the world has produced only guessed after all; but they did not guess wrong.
“Such a fortune as yours,” he said, with an easy laugh, “would make or mar any cause you see. Your fortune is perhaps your misfortune—who knows?”
Juanita laughed also, as at a pleasant conceit. The wit that had baffled Father Muro was ready for Evasio Mon. A woman will take her stand before her own heart and defy the world. Juanita’s eyes flashed across the man’s gentle face.
“But,” she said, “if the fortune is my own; if I prefer that Marcos should have it—to the church?”
Evasio Mon smiled gently.
“Of course,” he murmured. “That is what I said to Leon, and to Sor Teresa also, who naturally is troubled about you. Though there are other alternatives. Neither Marcos nor the Church need have it. You could have it yourself as your father, my old and dear friend, intended it.”
“How could I have it myself?” asked Juanita, whose curiosity was aroused.
Mon shrugged his shoulders.
“The Pope could annul such a marriage as yours by a stroke of the pen if he wished.” He paused, looking at her beneath his light lashes. “And I am told he does wish it. What the Pope wishes—well, one must try to be a good Catholic if one can.”
Juanita smiled. She did not perhaps consider herself called upon to admit the infallibility of his Holiness in matters of the heart. She knew better than the Pope. Mon saw that he had struck a false note.
“I am a sentimentalist myself,” he said, with a frank laugh. “I should like every girl to marry for love. I should like love to be treated as something sacred—not as a joke. But I am getting to be an old man, Juanita. I am behind the times. Do I hear Sarrion in the passage?”
He rose as he spoke and went towards the door. Sarrion came in at that moment. The Spanish sense of hospitality is strongly Arabic. Mon had ridden many miles. Sarrion greeted him almost eagerly.