“No, my child, no,” answered Sarrion, stroking her hair, with a tenderness unusual enough to be remembered afterwards. “I think not. The stick must have been stolen from him and found its way back to Saragossa in the hand of the thief. I picked it up in the street yesterday. It is a coincidence, that is all. I will write to your father and tell him of it.”
Sarrion turned away, so that the shade of the lamp threw his face into darkness. He was afraid of those quick, bright eyes—almost afraid that she should divine that he had already telegraphed to Cuba.
“I only came to ask you whether you had heard from your father and to hear that you were well. And now I must go.”
She stood looking at him, thoughtfully pulling at the delicate embroidery of her sleeves, for all that she wore was of the best that Saragossa could provide, and she wore it carelessly, as if she had never known other, and paid little heed to wealth—–as those do who have always had it.
“I think there is something you are not telling me,” she said, with the ever-ready laugh twinkling beneath her dusky lashes. “Some mystery.”
“No, no. Good-night, my child. Go back to your bed.”
She paused with her hand on the door, looking back, her face all shaded by her tumbled hair hanging to her waist.
“Are you sure you have not heard from papa?”
“Quite sure—! I wish I had,” he added when the door was closed behind her.
The Jade—chance The same evening, by the light of his solitary lamp, in the small room—which had been a lady’s boudoir in olden days—the Count de Sarrion sat down to write a letter to his son. He despatched it at once by a rider to Torre Garda, far beyond Pampeluna, on the southern slope of the Pyrenees.
“I am growing too old for this work,” he said to himself as he sealed the letter. “It wants a younger man. Marcos will do it, though he hates the pavement. There is something of the chase in it, and Marcos is a hunter.”
At his call a man came into the room, all dusty and sunburnt, a typical man of Aragon, dry and wrinkled, burnt like a son of Sahara. His clothing, like his face, was dust-coloured. He wore knee-breeches of homespun, brown stockings, a handkerchief that had once been coloured bound round his head, with the knot over his left ear. He was startlingly rough and wild in appearance, but his features, on examination, were refined, and his eyes intelligent.
“I want you to go straight to Torre Garda with this letter, and give it into the hand of my son with your own hand. It is important. You may be watched and followed; you understand?”
The man nodded. They are a taciturn people in Aragon and Navarre—so taciturn that in politely greeting the passer on the road they cut down the curt good-day. “Buenas,” they say, and that is all.