Sarrion was the first to speak.
“Poor Mon,” he said, half addressing Juanita. “He was never a fortunate man. He took the wrong turning years ago. He abandoned the Church in order to ask a woman to marry him. But she had scruples. She thought, or she was made to think, that her duty lay in another direction. And Mon’s life ... well ...!”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“I know,” said Juanita quietly ... “all about it.”
The casting vote
There is in one corner of the little churchyard of Torre Garda a square
mound which marks the burial-place, in one grave, of four hundred
Carlists. The Wolf, it is said, carried as many more to the sea.
General Pacheco completed his teaching at the mouth of the valley where the Carlists had left in a position (impregnable from the front) a strong detachment to withstand the advance of any reinforcements that might be sent from Pampeluna to the relief of Captain Zeneta and his handful of men. These were taken in the rear by the force under General Pacheco himself and annihilated. This is, however, a matter of history as is also the reputation of Pacheco. “A great general—a brute,” they say of him in Spain to this day.
By sunset all was quiet again at Torre Garda. The troops quitted the village as unobtrusively as they had come. They had lost but few men and half a dozen wounded were left behind in the village. The remainder were moved to Pampeluna. The Carlist list of wounded was astonishingly small. General Pacheco had the reputation of moving quickly. He was rarely hampered by his ambulance and never by the enemy’s wounded. He was a great general.
Cousin Peligros did not appear at dinner. She had an attack of nerves instead.
“I understand nerves,” said Juanita lightly when she announced that Cousin Peligros’ chair would remain vacant. “Was I not educated in a convent? You need not be anxious. Yes—she will take a little soup—a little more than that. And all the other courses.”
After dinner Cousin Peligros notified through her maid that she felt well enough to see Marcos. When he returned from this interview he joined Sarrion and Juanita in the drawing-room, and he looked grave.
“You have seen for yourself that there is not much the matter with her,” said Juanita, watching his face.
“Yes,” he answered rather absent-mindedly. “There is not much the matter with her.”
He did not sit down but stood with a preoccupied air and looked at the wood-fire which was still grateful in the evening at such an altitude as that of Torre Garda.
“She will not stay,” he said at last. “She says she is going to-morrow.”
Sarrion gave a short laugh and turned over the newspaper that he was reading. Juanita was reading an English book, with a dictionary which she never consulted when Marcos was near. She looked over its pages into the fire.