“Because you never pretended that you cared. If you had pretended that you cared for me, I should never have forgiven you.”
Marcos did not answer. He looked up slowly, expecting perhaps to find her looking elsewhere. But her eyes met his and she shrank back with an involuntary movement that seemed to be of fear. Her face flushed all over and then the colour faded from it, leaving her white and motionless as she sat staring into the flickering wood-fire.
Presently she rose and walked to the edge of the plateau upon which the hut was built. She stood there looking across to the mountains.
Marcos busied himself with the simple possessions of his host, setting them in order where he had found them and treading out the smouldering embers of the fire. Juanita turned and watched him over her shoulder with a mystic persistency. Beneath her lashes lurked a smile—triumphant and tender.
Le Gant de velours They accomplished the rest of the journey without accident. The old spirit of adventure which had led them to these mountains while they were yet children seemed to awaken again, and they were as comrades. But Juanita was absent-minded. She was not climbing skilfully. At one place far above trees or other vegetation she made a false step and sent a great rock rolling down the slope.
“You must be careful,” said Marcos, almost sharply. “You are not thinking what you are doing.”
And Juanita suffered the reproof with an unwonted meekness. She was more careful while they passed over a dangerous slope where the snow had softened in the morning sun, and came to the topmost valley—an oval basin of rocks and snow with no visible outlet. Immediately below them, at the foot of a slope, which looked quite feasible, lay huddled the body of a man.
“It is a Carlist,” explained Marcos. “We heard some time ago that they had been trying to find another way over to Torre Garda. That valley is a trap. That is not the way to Torre Garda at all; and that slope is solid ice. See, his knife lies beside him. He tried to cut steps before he died. This is our way.”
And he led Juanita rather hastily away. At nine o’clock they passed the last shoulder and stood above Torre Garda, and the valley of the Wolf lying in the sunlight below them. The road down the valley lay like a yellow ribbon stretched across the broad breast of Nature.
Half an hour later they reached the pine woods, and heard Perro barking on the terrace. The dog soon came panting to meet them, and not far behind him Sarrion, whose face betrayed no surprise at perceiving Juanita.
“You would have been safer at Pampeluna,” he said with a keen glance into her face.
“I am quite safe enough here, thank you,” she answered, meeting his eyes with a steady smile.