“Give us at all events a Spaniard,” muttered those who had cried “Down with liberty,” when that arch-scoundrel, Fernando the Desired, returned to his own.
“Give us money and we will give you Don Carlos,” returned the cassocked canvassers of that monarch in a whisper.
It was evening when Marcos arrived at Madrid, and the station, like all the trains, was crowded. All who could were traveling to Madrid to meet the king—for one reason or another.
Marcos was surprised to see his father on the platform among those waiting for the train from the capitals of the North.
“Come,” said Sarrion, “let us go out by the side door; I have the carriage there, the streets are impassable. No one knows where to turn. There is no head in Spain now; they assassinated him last night.”
“Whom?” asked Marcos.
“Prim. They shot him in his carriage, like a dog in a kennel—five of them—with guns. One has no pride in being a Spaniard now.”
Marcos followed his father through the crowd without replying.
There seemed nothing, indeed, to be said; nothing to be added to the simple observation that it was a humiliation for a man to have to admit in these days that he was a Spaniard.
“He was a Catalonian to the last,” said Sarrion, when they were seated in their carnage. “He walked dying up his own stairs, so that his wife might be spared the sight of seeing him carried in. Stubborn and brave! One of the best men we have seen.”
“And the king?”
“The king lands at Carthagena to-day—lands with his life in his hand. He carries it in his hand wherever he goes, day and night, in Spain, he and his wife. Without Prim he cannot hope to stand. But he will try. We must do what we can.”
The carriage was making its careful way across the Puerta del Sol, which had been cleared by grape-shot more than once in Sarrion’s recollection. It looked now as if only artillery could set order there.
“Viva el Rey! viva Don Carlos!” a loafer shouted, and waved his hat in Sarrion’s grim and smiling face.
“I do not understand,” he said to Marcos, as they passed on, “why the good God gives the Bourbons so many chances.”
“I cannot understand why the Bourbons never take them,” answered Marcos. For he was not a pushing man, but one of those patient waiters on opportunity who appear at length quietly at the top, and look down with thoughtful eyes at those who struggle below. The sweat and strife of some careers must tarnish the brightest lustre.
Father and son drove together to the apartment in a street high above the town, near the church of San Jose where the Sarrions lived when in Madrid, and there Sarrion gave Marcos further details of that strange adventure which Amedeo of Spain was about to begin.
In return Marcos vouchsafed a brief account of affairs in the valley of the Wolf. He never had much to say and even in these stirring times told of a fine harvest; of that brilliant weather which marked the year of the Napoleonic downfall.