“Go with God,” said the Count, and the messenger left the room noiselessly, for they wear no shoe-leather in this dry land.
There was a train in those days to Pampeluna and a daily post, but then, as now, a letter of any importance is better sent by hand, while the railway is still looked upon with suspicion by the authorities as a means of circulating malcontents and spreading crime. Every train is still inspected at each stopping place by two of the civil guards.
The Count was early astir the next morning. He knew that a man such as Marcos, possessing the instinct of the chase and that deep insight into the thoughts and actions of others, even into the thoughts and actions of animals, which makes a great hunter or a great captain, would never have let slip the feeble clue that he had of the incident in the Calle San Gregorio. The Count had been a politician in his youth, and his position entailed a passive continuance of the policy he had actively advocated in earlier days. But as an old sailor, weary with the battle of many storms, learns at last to treat the thunder and the tempest with a certain tolerant contempt, so he, having passed through evil monarchies and corrupt regencies, through the storm of anarchy and the humiliation of a brief and ridiculous republic, now stood aside and watched the waves go past him with a semi-contemptuous indifference.
He was too well known in the streets of Saragossa to wander hither and thither in them, making inquiry as to whether any had seen his lifelong friend Francisco de Mogente back in the city of his birth from which he had been exiled in the uncertain days of Isabella. Francisco de Mogente had been placed in one of those vague positions of Spanish political life where exile had never been commuted, though friend and enemy would alike have welcomed the return of a scapegoat on their own terms. But Mogente had never been the man to make terms—any more than this grim Spanish nobleman who now sat wondering what his next move must be.
After his early coffee Sarrion went out into the Calle San Gregorio. The sound of deep voices chanting the matins came to him through the open doors of the Cathedral of the Seo. A priest hurried past, late, and yet in time to save his record of services attended. The beggars were leisurely making their way to the cathedral doors, too lazy to make an earlier start, philosophically reflecting that the charitable are as likely to give after matins as before.
The Count went over the ground of the scene that he had witnessed in the fitful moonlight. Here the man who might have been Francisco de Mogente had turned on his heel. Here, at the never opened door of a deserted palace, he had stood for a moment fighting with his back to the wall. Here he had fallen. From that corner had come aid in the person—Sarrion was sure—of a friar. It was an odd coincidence, for the Church had never been the friend of the exiled man, and it was in the days of a priest-ridden Queen that his foes had triumphed.