“Are they all Sarrions?” she exclaimed. “Oh mi alma! What a fierce company. That old gentleman with a spike on top of his hat is a crusader I suppose. And there is a helmet hanging on the wall beneath the portrait, with a great dent in it. But I expect he hit him back again. Don’t you think so, Uncle Ramon, if he was a Sarrion?”
“I dare say he did,” answered the Count.
“I wish I was a Sarrion,” said Juanita, looking up at the armour with a light in her eyes.
“You are one,” replied Sarrion, gravely.
She stopped and glanced back over her shoulder at him. Marcos was some way behind, and took no part in the conversation.
“So I am,” she said. “I forgot.”
And with a little sigh, as of a realised responsibility, she continued her way up the wide stairs. The sight of Cousin Peligros, upright on a chair, dispelled Juanita’s momentary gravity, however.
“Oh, Cousin Peligros,” she cried, running to her and taking both her hands. “Just think! I have left school. No more punishments—no more grammar—no more arithmetic!”
Cousin Peligros had risen and endeavoured to maintain that dignity which she felt to be so beneficial an example to the world. But Juanita emphasised each item of her late education with a jerk which gradually deranged Cousin Peligros’ prim mantilla. Then she danced her round an impalpable mulberry bush until the poor lady was breathless.
“No more Primes at six o’clock in the morning,” concluded Juanita, suddenly allowing Cousin Peligros to sit again. “Do you ever go to Primes at six o’clock in the morning, Cousin Peligros?”
“No,” was the grave answer. “Such things are not expected of ladies.”
“How thoughtful of Heaven!” exclaimed Juanita, with a light laugh. “Then I do not mind being grownup—and putting up my hair—if you will lend me two hairpins.”
She fell on Cousin Peligros’ mantilla and extracted two hairpins from it despite the resistance of the soft white hands. Then she twisted up the heavy plait that hung to her waist, threw back her mantilla and stood laughing before the old lady.
“There—I am grown-up! I am more grown-up than you, you know; for I am...”
She broke off, and turning to Sarrion, asked,
“Does she know ... does she know the joke?”
“No,” said Sarrion.
“We are married,” she said, standing squarely in front of Cousin Peligros.
“Married ...” echoed the disciple of etiquette, faintly. “Married—to whom?”
“Marcos and I.”
But Cousin Peligros only gasped and covered her face with her hands.
Marcos came into the room at this moment and scarcely looked at Cousin Peligros. Those white hands played so large a part in her small daily life that they were always in evidence, and it did not seem out of place that they should cover her foolish face.
“I found all your clothes ready packed at the school,” he said, addressing Juanita. “Sor Teresa brought them with her from Pampeluna. You will find them in your room.”