Stirring times, too, were nearer at hand across the Mediterranean. For things were approaching a deadlock on the Tiber, and that river, too, must, it seemed, flow with blood before the year ran out. For the greatest catastrophe that the Church has had to face was preparing in the new and temporary capital of Italy; and all men knew that the word must soon go forth from Florence telling the monarch of the Vatican that he must relinquish Rome or fight for it.
Spain, in her awkward search for a king hither and thither over Europe, had thrown France and Germany into war. And Evasio Mon probably knew of the historic scene at Ems as soon as any man in the Peninsula; for history will undoubtedly show, when a generation or so has passed away, that the latter stages of Napoleon’s declaration of war were hurried on by priestly intrigue. It will be remembered that Bismarck was the deadliest and cleverest foe that Jesuitism has had.
Mon knew what the talkers in the market-place were saying to each other. He probably knew what they were afraid to say to each other. For Spain was still seeking a king—might yet set other nations by the ears. The Republic had been tried and had miserably failed. There was yet a Don Carlos, a direct descendant of the brother whom Ferdinand the beloved cheated out of his throne. There was a Don Carlos. Why not Don Carlos, since we seek a king? the men in the Phrygian caps were saying to each other. And that was what Mon wanted them to say.
After dark he came out into the streets again, cloaked to the lips against the evening air. He went to the large cafe by the river, and there seemed to meet many acquaintances.
The next morning he continued his journey, by road now, and on horseback. He sat a horse well, but not with that comfort which is begotten of a love of the animal. For him the horse was essentially a means of transport, and all other animals were looked at in a like utilitarian spirit.
In every village he found a friend. As often as not he was the first to bring the news of war to a people who have scarcely known peace these hundred years. The teller of news cannot help telling with his tidings his own view of them; and Evasio Mon made it known that in his opinion all who had a grievance could want no better opportunity of airing it.
Thus he traveled slowly through the country towards Montserrat; and wherever his slight, black-clad form and serene face had passed, the spirit of unrest was left behind. In remote Aragonese villages, as in busy Catalan towns where the artisan (that disturber of ancient peace) was already beginning to add his voice to things of Spain, Evasio Mon always found a hearing.
Needless to say he found in every village Venta, in every Posada of the towns, that which is easy to find in this babbling world—a talker.
And Evasio Mon was a notable listener.