“Ah, but your friends are Marcos’,” said Mon, with a suggestion of raillery in his voice.
“And his enemies are mine,” she retorted, looking straight in front of her.
“Of course—is it not written in the marriage service?” Mon laughingly turned in his chair and cast a glance up at the windows as he spoke. They were beyond earshot of the house. “But why should I be an enemy of Marcos de Sarrion?”
Then Juanita unmasked her guns.
“Because he outwitted you and married me,” she answered.
“For your money—”
“Yes, for my money. He was quite honest about it, I assure you. He told me that it was a matter of business—of politics. That was the word he used.”
“He told you that?” asked Mon in real surprise.
Juanita nodded her head. She was looking at her own slipper again and the moving foot within it. There was a mystic little smile at the corner of her lips which tilted upwards there, as humorous and tender lips nearly always do. It suggested that she knew something which even Evasio Mon, the all-wise, did not know.
“And you believed him?” inquired Mon, dimly groping at the meaning of the smile.
“He told me that it was the only way of escaping you ... and the rest of them ... and Religion,” answered Juanita—without answering the question.
“And you believed him?” repeated Mon, which was a mistake; for she turned on him at once and answered,
Mon shrugged his shoulders with the tolerant air of one who has met defeat time after time; who expected naught else perhaps.
“Then there is nothing more to be said,” he observed carelessly. “You elect to remain at Torre Garda. I bow to your decision, my child. I have warned you.”
Mon shrugged his shoulders a second time.
“And in reply to your warning,” said Juanita slowly. “I will tell you that Marcos has never done or said anything unworthy of a Spanish gentleman—and there is no better gentleman in the world.”
Which statement all men will assuredly be ready to admit.
Mon turned and looked at her with an odd smile.
“Ah!” he said. “You have fallen in love with Marcos.”
Juanita changed colour and her eyes suddenly lighted with anger.
“I am not afraid of anything you may say or do,” she said. “I have Marcos. Marcos has always outwitted you when you have come in contact with him. Marcos is cleverer than you. He is stronger.”
She paused. Mon was slowly drawing his gloves through his hands which were white and smooth.
“That is the difference between you,” she continued. “You wear gloves. Marcos takes hold of life with his bare hand. You may be more cunning, but Marcos outwits you. The mind seeks but the heart finds. Your mind may be subtle—but Marcos has a better heart.”
Mon had risen. He stood with his face half turned away from her so that she could only see his profile. And for a moment she was sorry for him; that one moment which always mars an earthly victory.