“Yes,” answered he with a laugh. “Do not tell it to the wrong people as Joseph did.”
“No, your reverence,” she said. She stood looking at him with grave eyes.
“Is there going to be a battle?” she asked, curtly.
He pointed down into the valley with his pen.
“Just above the bridge if it all comes off as they have planned.”
She went out on to the terrace and looked down into the valley, which was peaceful enough in the morning light. The thin smoke of the pine wood-fires rose from the chimneys in columns of brilliant blue. The sheep on the slopes across the valley were calling to their lambs. Then Juanita returned to the library window and stood on the threshold, with brooding eyes and a bright patch of colour in her cheeks.
“Will you do me a favour?” she asked.
He lifted his pen from the paper, but did not look up.
“If there is a battle—if there is any fighting, will you take great care of yourself? It would be so terrible if anything happened to you ... for Uncle Ramon I mean.”
“Yes,” answered Marcos, gravely. “I understand. I promise to take care.”
Juanita still lingered at the window.
“And you always keep your promises, don’t you? To the letter?”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
“No, of course not. It is characteristic of you, that is all. Your promise is a sort of rock that nothing can move. Women, you know, make a promise and then ask to be let off; you would not do that?”
“No,” answered Marcos, quite simply.
In Navarre the hours of meals are much the same as those that rule in England to-day. At one o’clock luncheon both Marcos and Sarrion were at home. The valley seemed quiet enough. The soldiers of Juanita’s dream seemed to have vanished like the shadows to which she compared them.
“I am sure,” said Cousin Peligros, while they were still at the table, “that the sound of firing approaches. I have a very delicate hearing. All my senses are very highly developed. The sound of the firing is nearer, Marcos.”
“Zeneta is retreating slowly before the enemy, with his small force,” explained Marcos.
“But why is he doing that? He must surely know that there are ladies at Torre Garda.”
“Ladies are not articles of war,” said Juanita with a frivolous disregard of Cousin Peligros’ reproving face. “And this is war.”
As she spoke Marcos rose and quitted the room after glancing at his watch. Juanita followed him.
“Marcos,” she said, in the hall, having closed the dining-room door behind her. “Will you tell me what time it will begin?”
“Zeneta is timed to retreat across the bridge at three o’clock. The enemy will, it is hoped, follow him.”
“And where will you be?”
“I shall be with Pacheco and his staff on the hill behind Pedro’s mill. You will see a little flag wherever Pacheco is.”