When the meal was over, one of the men, who appeared to be the leader, rose and come to the boys. Pointing to himself, he said, “Pedro,” to another “Sancho,” to a third “Garcia.”
“He wants to know our names,” Jack said, and pointing to his companion, he said, “Hawtry,” and to himself “Archer.”
The Spaniard nodded and resumed his seat, when an animated conversation took place. Jack, in the meantime, began to enact the part which he had arranged, turning over upon his face, and at times making a loud, sobbing noise.
Hawtry, after hesitating for some time, seconded his efforts by burying his face in his hands, and appearing also to give way to violent grief.
Shortly after the meal was over, the brigands rose. The boys were again bound, and were laid down on the ground near the fire. One of the brigands then took his seat beside them, and the others, rolling themselves in their cloaks, were soon asleep at the fire. The boys, tired as they were by the long and fatiguing day through which they had passed, were some time getting off to sleep. Indeed, with their arms bound by their side, the only way of doing so was by lying flat upon their backs.
With the early dawn they were awake.
“I expect they are getting up steam on board the ‘Falcon,’” Hawtry said, “and no doubt there is a nice row over our being missing. I’d give a good sum, if I had it to give, to be back on her decks again.”
The band was soon astir, but for some hours nothing was done. They were evidently waiting for the arrival of some one, as one or other of the bandits went frequently to the edge of the plateau and looked down.
At last one of them announced to his comrades that the person expected was in sight, and shortly afterwards the muleteer of the previous day appeared. Over his shoulder hung a heavy skin of wine. In his hand he carried a large basket, in which were several loaves of coarse bread. His arrival was hailed with a shout. A fresh supply of meat had been placed on the fire immediately his coming was reported, and in a short time the meal was prepared, the meat being washed down by horns of the rough wine of the country.
The lads had been again unbound when the band awoke, and were, as before, invited to share the meal. They continued to maintain their forlorn and downcast attitude. The rascally guide of the day before gave the company an account of the proceedings, and roars of laughter were excited by his tragic imitation of the defiant way in which the boys had drawn their dirks, a proceeding which was rendered the more ludicrous from its contrast with their present forlorn attitude.
“But mind,” he continued, “they can run like hares. Going up a hill, no doubt, any of you would soon overtake them, but along a straight road, I would back them against the best of us.”