“But you have to reckon with the man. This son of Victor Emmanuel is clever and capable. One can never tell what may arise in a brain that works beneath a crown.”
“We have reckoned with him. He is honest. That tells his tale. No honest king can hope to reign over this country in their new Constitution. It needs a Bourbon or a woman.”
The quick, colourless eyes rested on Mon’s face for a moment, and—who knows?—perhaps they picked up Mon’s secret in passing.
“Something dishonest, in a word,” put in the Pole.
But nobody heeded him; for the word was with the leader.
“When last we met,” he said at length, “and you received a large sum of money, you made a distinct promise; unless my memory deceives me.”
He paused, and no one suggested that his memory had ever made slip or lapse in all his long career.
“You said you would not ask for money again unless you could show something tangible—a fortress taken and held, a great General bought, a Province won. Is that so?”
“Yes,” answered Mon.
“Or else,” continued the speaker, “in order to meet the very just complaint from other countries, such as Poland for instance, that Spain has had more than her share of the common funds—you would lay before us some proposal of self-help, some proof that Spain in asking for help is prepared to help herself by a sacrifice of some sort.”
“I said that I would not ask for any sum that I could not double,” said Mon.
The little man sat blinking for some minutes silent in that absolute stillness which is peculiar to great heights—and is so marked at Montserrat that many cannot sleep there.
“I will give you any sum that you can double,” he said, at length.
“Then I will ask you for three million pesetas.”
All turned and looked at him in wonder. The fat man gave a gasp. With three million pesetas he could have made a Polish republic. Mon only smiled.
“For every million pesetas that you show me,” said the little man, “I will hand you another million—cash for cash. When shall we begin?”
“You must give me time,” answered Mon, reflectively. “Say six months hence.”
The little man rose in response to the chapel bell, which was slowly tolling for the last service of the day.
“Come,” he said, “let us say a prayer before we go to bed.”
The alternative The letter written by the Count de Sarrion to his son was delivered to Marcos, literally from hand to hand, by the messenger to whose care it was entrusted.
So fully did the mountaineer carry out his instructions, that after standing on the river bank for some minutes, he deliberately walked knee-deep into the water and touched Marcos on the elbow. For the river is a loud one, and Marcos, intent on his sport, never turned his head to look about him.