“I’m trying to see through,” she explained, after a moment. “I can see nothing, only something black. I see. It is your horse; you are on horseback. Is it the Moor? Have you ridden the dear old Moor up here to see me? Please bring his nose near so that I can stroke it.”
And her fingers came through the flowers again, feeling the empty air.
“I wonder if he knows my hand,” she said. “Oh, Marcos! is there no one to take me away from here? I hate the place; and yet I am afraid. I am afraid of something, Marcos, and I do not know what it is. It was all right when papa was alive. For I felt that he would certainly come some day and take me away, and all this would be over.”
“All—what?” inquired Marcos, the matter-of-fact, at the other side of the wall.
“Oh, I don’t know. There is a sort of strain and mystery which I cannot define. I am not a coward, you know, but sometimes I am afraid and feel alone in the world. There is Leon, of course; but Leon is no good, is he?”
“No, he is no good,” replied Marcos.
“And, Marcos, do you think it is possible to be in the world and yet be saved; to be quite safe, I mean, for the next world, like Sor Teresa?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Does Uncle Ramon think so?”
“Yes,” replied Marcos.
“What a bother one’s soul is,” she said, with a sigh. “I’m sure mine is. I am never allowed to think of anything else.”
“Why?” asked Marcos, who was a patient searcher after remedies, and never discussed matters which could not be ameliorated by immediate action.
“Oh! because it seems that I am more than usually wicked. No one seems to think it possible that I can save my soul unless I go into religion.”
“And you do not want to do that?”
“No, I never want to do it. Not even when I have been a long time in Retreat and we have been happy and quiet, here, inside the walls. And the life they lead here seems so little trouble; and one can lay aside that nightmare of the world to come. I do not even want it then. But when I go into the world, like last Sunday, Marcos, and see the shops, and Uncle Ramon and you, then I hate the thought of it. And when I touched the dear old Moor’s soft nose just now, I felt I couldn’t do it at any cost; but that I must go into the world and have dogs and horses, and see the mountains and enjoy myself, and leave the rest to chance and the kindness of the Virgin, Marcos.”
He did not answer at once, and she thrust her hand through the woodbine again.
“Where are you?” she asked. “Why do you not answer?”
He took her hand and held it for a moment.
“You are thinking,” she said, with a little laugh. “I know. I have seen you think like that by the side of the river, when one of the trout would not come out of the Wolf and you were wondering what more you could do to try and make him. What are you thinking about?”