An accident Marcos recovered consciousness at daybreak. It was a sign of his great strength and perfect health that he regained all his faculties at once. He moved, opened his eyes, and was fully conscious, like a child awakening from sleep. As soon as his eyes were open they showed surprise; for Juanita was sitting beside him, watching him.
“Ah!” she said, and rose at once to give him some medicine that stood ready in a glass. She glanced at the clock as she did so. The room had been rearranged. It was orderly and simple like a hospital ward.
“Do not try to lift your head,” she said. “I will do that for you.”
She did it with skill and laid him back again with a gay laugh.
“There,” she said. “There is one thing, and one only, that they teach in covents.”
As she spoke she turned to write on a sheet of paper the exact hour and minute at which he recovered consciousness. For her knowledge was fresh enough in her mind to be half mechanical in its result.
“Will that drug make me sleep?” asked Marcos, alertly.
“That depends upon how stale the little apothecary’s stock-in-trade may be,” answered Juanita. “Probably a quarter of an hour. He is a queer little man and unwashed. But he set your collar-bone like an angel. You have to do nothing but keep quiet. I fancy you will have to be content with a quiet seat in the background for some weeks, amigo mio.”
She busied herself as she spoke, with some duties of a sick-nurse which had been postponed during his unconsciousness.
“It is nearly six o’clock,” she said, without appearing to look in his direction. “So you need not try to peep round the corner at the clock. Please do not manage things, Marcos. It is I who am manager of this affair. You and Uncle Ramon think that I am a child. I am not. I have grown up—in a night, like a mushroom, and Uncle Ramon has been sent to bed.”
She came and sat down at the bedside again.
“And Cousin Peligros has not been disturbed. She has not left her room. She will tell us to-morrow morning that she scarcely slept at all. A real lady never sleeps well, you know. She must have heard us but she did not come out of her room. For which we may thank the Saints. There are some people one would rather not have in an emergency. In fact, when you come to think of it—how many are there in the world whose presence would be of the slightest use in a crisis—one or two at the most.”
She held up her finger to emphasise the smallness of this number, and withdrew it again, hastily. But she was not quick enough, for Marcos had seen the ring and his eyes suddenly brightened. She turned away towards the window, holding her lip between her teeth, as if she had committed an indiscretion. She had been talking against time slowly and continuously to prevent his talking or thinking, to give the apothecary’s soothing drug time to take effect. For the little man of medicine had spoken very clearly of concussion and its after-effects. He had posted off to Pampeluna to fetch a doctor from there, leaving instructions that should Marcos recover his reason he should not be permitted to make use of it.