The stormy petrel As Juanita quitted the room she heard Sarrion ask Evasio Mon if he had lunched. And Mon admitted that he had as yet omitted that meal. Juanita shrugged her shoulders. It is only in later life that we come to realise the importance of meals. If Mon was hungry he should have said so. She gave no further thought to him. She hated him. She was glad to think that he should have suffered, even if his pain was only hunger. What was hunger, she asked herself, compared with a broken heart? One was a passing pang that could be alleviated, could be confessed to the first comer, while a broken heart must be hidden at any cost from all the world.
She met Cousin Peligros coming towards the drawing-room in her best black silk dress, and in what might have been called a fluster of excitement at the thought of a visitor, if such a word had been applicable to her placid life of self-deception. Juanita made some small jest and laughed rather eagerly at it as she passed the pattern lady on the stairs.
She was very calm and collected; being a determined person, as many seemingly gay and light-hearted people are. She was going to leave Torre Garda and Marcos, who had married her for her money. It is characteristic of determined people that they are restricted in their foresight. They look in front with eyes so steady and concentrated that they perceive no side issues, but only the one path that they intend to tread. Juanita was going back to Pampeluna, to Sor Teresa at the convent school in the Calle de la Dormitaleria. She recked nothing of the Carlists, of the disturbed country through which she had to pass.
She had never lacked money, and had sufficient now for her needs. The village of Torre Garda could assuredly provide a carriage for the journey; or, at the worst, a cart. Anything would be better than remaining in this house—even the hated school in the Calle de la Dormitaleria. She had always known that Sor Teresa was her friend, though the Sister Superior’s manner of indicating friendship had not been invariably comprehensible.
Juanita took a cloak and what money she could find. She was not a very tidy person, and the money had to be collected from odd trinket-boxes and discarded purses. Marcos was still talking politics with his friend from the mountains when she passed beneath his window. Sarrion and Evasio Mon had gone to the dining-room, where, it was to be presumed, Cousin Peligros had followed them. She professed a great admiration for Evasio Mon, who was on familiar terms with people of the highest distinction. An hour’s start would be sufficient. In that time she could be half-way to Pampeluna. Secrecy was of course out of the question.
The drawing-room window was open. Juanita paused on the threshold for a moment. Then she went into the room and scribbled a hurried note—not innocent of blots—which she addressed to Marcos. She left it on the writing-table and carrying her cloak over her arm she hurried down a zigzag path concealed in a thicket of scrub-oak to the village of Torre Garda.