Marcos turned in his saddle and looked up at these as they rode down the slope. Sarrion saw the action and glanced at Marcos and then at the towering walls. But he made no comment and asked no questions.
There are two old monasteries on the Villaba road; huge buildings within a high wall, each owning a chapel which stands apart from the dwelling-house. It is a known fact that the Carlists have never threatened these buildings which stand far outside the town. It is also a fact that the range of them has been carefully measured by the artillery officers, and the great guns on the city walls were at this time trained on the isolated buildings to batter them to the ground at the first sign of treachery.
Marcos pulled the bell-rope swinging in the wind outside the great door of the monastery, while Sarrion tied the horses to a post. The door was opened by a stout monk whose face fell when he perceived two laymen in riding costume. Humbler persons, as a rule, rang this bell.
“The Marquis de Mogente is here?” said Marcos, and the monk spread out his hands in a gesture of denial.
“Whoever is here,” he said, “is in Retreat. One does not disturb the devout.”
He made a movement to close the door, but Marcos put his thickly booted foot in the interstice. Then he placed his shoulder against the weather-worn door and pushed it open, sending the monk staggering back. Sarrion followed and was in time to place himself between the monk and the bell towards which the devotee was running.
“No, my friend,” he said, “we will not ring the bell.”
“You have no business here,” said the holy man, looking from one to the other with sullen eyes.
“So far as that goes, no more have you,” said Marcos. “There are no monasteries in Spain now. Sit down on that bench and keep quiet.”
He turned and glanced at his father.
“Yes,” said Sarrion, with his grim smile, “I will watch him.”
“Where shall I find Leon de Mogente?” said Marcos to the monk. “I do not wish to disturb other persons.”
The monk reflected for a moment.
“It is the third door on the right,” he said at length, nodding his shaven head towards a long passage seen through the open door.
Marcos went in, his spurred heels clanking loudly in the half-empty house. He knocked at the door of the third cell on the right; for in his way he was a devout person and wished to disturb no man at his prayers. The door was opened by Leon himself, who started back when he saw who had knocked. Marcos went into the room which was small and bare and whitewashed, and closed the door behind him. A few religious emblems were on the wall above the narrow bed. A couple of books lay on the table. One was open. It was a very old edition of a Kempis. Leon de Mogente’s religion was of the sort that felt itself able to learn more from an old edition than a new one. There are many in these days of cheap imitation of the mediaeval who feel the same.