Across the end of the Calle San Gregorio, and commanding that narrow street, stood the Palacio Sarrion—an empty house the greater part of the year—a vast building, of which the windows increased in size as they mounted skywards. There were wrought-iron balconies, of which the window embrasures were so deep that the shutters folded sideways into the wall instead of swinging back as in houses of which the walls were of normal thickness.
The friar was probably accustomed to seeing the Palacio Sarrion rigidly shut up. He never, in his quick, humble scrutiny of his surroundings glanced up at it. And, therefore, he never saw a man sitting quietly behind the curiously wrought railings, smoking a cigarette—a man who had witnessed the whole incident from beginning to end. Who had, indeed, seen more than the friar or the two quiet men-servants. For he had seen a stick—probably a sword-stick, such as nearly every Spanish gentleman carries in his own country—fly from the hand of Don Francisco de Mogente at the moment when he was attacked, and fall into the gutter on the darker side of the street, where it lay unheeded. Where, indeed, it still remained when the friar with his swinging gait had turned the corner of the Calle San Gregorio.
Evasio Mon There are some people whose presence in a room seems to establish a mental centre of gravity round which other minds hover uneasily, conscious of the dead weight of that attraction.
“I have known Evasio all my life,” the Count de Sarrion once said to his son. “I have stood at the edge of that pit and looked in. I do not know to this day whether there is gold at the bottom or mud. I have never quarreled with him, and, therefore, we have never made it up.”
Which, perhaps, was as good a description of Evasio Mon as any man had given. He had never quarreled with any one. He was, in consequence, a lonely man. For the majority of human beings are gregarious. They meet together in order to quarrel. The majority of women prefer to sit and squabble round one table to seeking another room. They call it the domestic circle, and spend their time in straining at the family tie in order to prove its strength.
It was Evasio Mon who, standing at the open window of his apartment in the tall house next door to the Posada de los Reyes on the Paseo del Ebro, had observed with the help of a field-glass, that a traveler was crossing the river by the ferry-boat after midnight. He noted the unusual proceeding with a tolerant shrug. It will be remembered that he closed his glasses with a smile—not a smile of amusement or of contempt—not even a deep smile such as people wear in books. It was merely a smile, and could not be construed into anything else by any physiognomist. The wrinkles that made it were deeply marked, which suggested that Evasio Mon had learnt to smile when he was quite young. He had, perhaps, been taught.