By daylight Marcos returned to the Palacio Sarrion without having discovered the driver of the second carriage or the whereabouts of Juanita in Saragossa. But he had learnt that a carriage had been ordered by telegraph from a station on the Pampeluna line to be at Alagon at four o’clock in the morning. He learnt also that telegraphic communication between Pampeluna and Saragossa was interrupted.
The Carlists again.
At the inn of the two trees At dawn the next morning, Marcos and Sarrion rode out of the city towards Alagon by the great high road many inches deep in dust which has always been the main artery of the capital of Aragon.
The pace was leisurely; for the carriage they were going to meet had been timed to leave Alagon fifteen miles away at four o’clock. There was but one road. They could scarcely miss it.
It was seven o’clock when they halted at a roadside inn. Sarrion quitted the saddle and went indoors to order coffee while Marcos sat on his tall black horse scanning the road in front of him. The valley of the Ebro is flat here, with bare, brown hills rising on either side like a gigantic mud-fence. Strings of carts were making their way towards Saragossa. Far away, Marcos could perceive a recurrent break in the dusty line. A cart or carriage traveling at a greater than the ordinary market pace was making its laborious way past the heavier traffic. It came at length within clearer sight; a carriage all white with dust and a pair of skinny, Aragonese horses such as may be hired on the road.
The driver seemed to recognise Marcos, for he smiled and raised his hand to his hat as he drew up at the inn, a recognised halting-place before the last stage of the journey.
Marcos caught sight of a white cap inside the carriage. He leant down on his horse’s neck and perceived Sor Teresa, who had not seen him looking out of the carriage window towards the inn. He rode round to the other door and dropped out of the saddle. Then he turned the handle and opened the door. But Sor Teresa had no intention of descending. She leant forward to say as much and recognised her nephew.
“You!” she exclaimed. And her pale face flushed suddenly. She had been a nun for many years and was no doubt a conscientious one, but she had never yet learnt to remove all her love from earth to fix it on heaven.
“How did you know that I should be here?”
“I guessed it,” answered Marcos, who was always practical. “You will like some coffee. It is ordered. Come in and warm yourself while the horses rest.”
He led the way towards the inn.
“What did you say?” he asked, turning on the threshold; for he had heard her mutter something.
“I said, ’Thank God’!”