“No. Not unless it is her own wish,” he said.
Sarrion made no answer. In human difficulties there is usually nothing to be said. There is nearly always one clear course to steer and the deviations are only found by too much talk and too much licence given to crooked minds. If happiness is not to be found in the straight way nothing is gained by turning into by-paths to seek it. A few find it and a great number are not unhappy who have seen it down a side-path and have yet held their course in the straight way.
“Will you keep him in the library—make the excuse that the sun is too hot on the verandah—until I am gone?” said Marcos. “I will follow and, at all events, see that she arrives safely at Pampeluna.”
Sarrion gave a curt laugh.
“We may be able,” he said, “to turn to good account Evasio’s conviction that you are ill in bed, when in reality you are in the saddle.”
“He will soon find out.”
“Of course—but in the meantime...”
“Yes,” said Marcos with a slow smile ... “in the meantime.” He left the room as he spoke, but turned on the threshold to look back over his shoulder. His eyes were alight with anger and the smile had lapsed into a grin.
Sarrion went down to the verandah to entertain the unsought guest.
“They have given us coffee,” he said, “in the library. It is too hot in the sun, although we are still in March! Will you come?”
“And what has Juanita decreed?” asked Mon, when they were seated and Sarrion had lighted his cigarette.
“The verdict has gone against you,” replied Sarrion. “Juanita has decreed most emphatically that you are not to be allowed to see Marcos.”
Mon laughed and spread out his hands with a characteristic gesture of bland acceptance of the inevitable. The man, it seemed, was a philosopher; a person, that is to say, who will play to the end a game which he knows he cannot win.
“Aha!” he laughed. “So we arrive at the point where a woman holds the casting vote. It is the point to which all men travel. They have always held the casting vote—ces dames—and we can only bow to the inevitable. And Juanita is grown up. One sees it. She is beginning to record her vote.”
“Yes,” answered Sarrion with a narrow smile. “She is beginning to record her vote.”
With a Spanish formality of manner, Sarrion placed his horse at the disposition of Evasio Mon, should the traveller feel disposed to pass the night at Torre Garda. But Mon declined.
“I am a bird of passage,” he explained. “I am due in Pampeluna again to-night. I shall enjoy the ride down the valley now that your hospitality has so well equipped me for the journey——”
He broke off and looked towards the open window, listening.
Sarrion had also been listening. He had heard the thud of Marcos’ horse as it passed across the wooden bridge below the village.