“Will you warn him?” inquired Sarrion.
“Yes,” replied Marcos, rising. “He may be here in Pampeluna. I think it likely that he is. They are hard pressed. If they get the dispensation from Rome they will hurry events. They will try to rush Juanita into religion at once. And Leon’s presence is indispensable. They are probably ready and only awaiting the permission of the Vatican. They are all here in Pampeluna, which is better than Saragossa for such work—better than any city in Spain. They probably have Leon waiting here to give his formal consent when required.”
“Then let us go and find out,” said Sarrion.
The Plaza de la Constitucion is the centre of the town, and beneath its colonnade are the offices of the countless diligences that connect the smaller towns of Navarre with the capital, which continued to run even in time of war to such places as Irun, Jaca, and even Estella, where the Carlist cause is openly espoused. Marcos made the round of the diligence offices. He had, it seemed, a hundred friends among the thick-set muleteers in breeches, stockings, and spotless shirt, who looked at him with keen, dust-laden eyes from beneath the shade of their great berets. The drivers of the diligences, which were now arriving from the mountain villages, paused in their work of unloading their vehicles to give him the latest news.
They were soft spoken persons with a repressed manner, which characterises both men and women of their ancient race, and they spoke to him in Basque. Some freed their hands from the folds of the long blanket, which each wore according to his fancy, to shake hands with him; others nodded curtly. Men from the valley of Ebro muttered “Buenas”—the curt salutation of Aragon the taciturn.
Marcos seemed to know them by their baptismal names. He even knew their horses by name also, and asked after each, while Perro, affable alike with rich and poor, exchanged the time of day with traveled dogs, all lean and dusty from the road, who limped on sore feet and probably told him of the snow while they lay in the sun and licked their paws. Like his master, he was not proud, but took a wide view of life, so that all varieties of it came within his field of vision.
Then master and dog took a walk down the Calle del Pozo Blanco, where the saddle and harness-makers congregate; where muleteers must come to buy those gay saddle-bags which so soon lose their bright colour in the glaring sun; where the guardias civiles step in to buy their paste and pipe-clay; where the great man’s groom may chat with the teamster from the mountain while both are waiting on the saddler’s needle.
Finally Marcos passed through the wide Calle de San Ignacio to the drawbridges across the double fosse, where the rope-makers are always at work, walking backwards with an ever decreasing bundle of hemp at their waists and one eye cocked upwards towards the roadway so that they know all who come and go better even than the sentry at the gate. For the sentries are changed three or four times a day, while the rope-maker goes on forever.