She looked at Castelar, who was a fat little man with a big moustache and a small forehead, and she said: “Let us have a king!”
Prim was better. He was a man at all events, and not a word-spinner. He was from Cataluna, where they make hard men with clear heads. And he knew his own mind. And he also said: “Let us have a king.”
One cried for Don Carlos, and another for Espartero. Cataluna said there was no living with Andalusia. Aragon wanted her own king and wished Valencia would go hang. Navarre was all for Don Carlos.
And when Marcos de Sarrion rode into Saragossa they were calling in the streets that only a republic was possible now.
He went home to that grim palace between the Cathedral and the Ebro and found his father gone. A brief note told him that Sarrion had gone to Madrid where a meeting of notables had been hastily summoned—and that he, Marcos, must hurry back to Torre Garda—that the Carlists were up for their king.
Marcos returned the same night to Pampeluna, and the next day rode to Torre Garda by the high road that winds up the valley of the Wolf. In his own small kingdom be soon made his iron hand felt. And these people who would pay no taxes to king or regent remained quiet amid the anarchy that reigned all over Spain.
Thus a week passed and rumours of strange doings at Madrid reached the quiet valley. All over the country, bands of malcontents calling themselves Carlists had risen in obedience to the voice of Don Carlos’ grandson, the son of that Don Juan who had renounced a hopeless cause. To meet a soldier with his cap worn right side foremost was for the time unusual in the cities of the north. For the army no longer knew a master; and the Spanish soldier has a naive and simple way of notifying this condition by wearing the peak of his cap behind.
Marcos heard nothing of his father at Madrid, but surmised that there the talkers still held sway. The postal service of Spain is still almost mediaeval. In the principal cities the post-offices are to-day only opened for business during two hours of the twenty-four. In the year of the Franco-Prussian war there was no postal service at all to the disaffected parts of the northern provinces.
At the end of a week, Marcos rose at three o’clock and rode sixty miles before sunset to keep his word with Juanita. He did not trust the railway, which indeed was in constant danger of being cut by Carlist or Royalist, but performed the distance by road where he met many friends from Navarre and one or two from the valley of the Wolf. A thousand reports, a hundred rumours and lies innumerable, were on the roads also, traveling hither and thither over Spain. And Marshall Prim seemed to be the favoured god of the moment.
Marcos was at his post outside the convent school wall at seven o’clock. He heard the clock of San Fernando strike eight. In these Southern latitudes the evenings are not much longer in summer than in winter. It was quite dark by eight o’clock when Marcos rode away. He was not given to a display of emotion. He was an eminently practical man. Juanita would have come if she could, he reflected. Why could she not keep her appointment?