The standing figure, shimmering in the glare, drew back and disappeared.
Waring eased his tense muscles. “Now they’ll go back for their horses,” he said to himself. “They’ll ride up to the next ridge, where they can look down on this pocket, but I won’t be here.”
Waring planned every move with that care and instinct which marks a good chess-player. And because he had to count upon possibilities far ahead he drew Ramon’s saddle to him and cut the stirrup-leathers, cinchas, and latigos. If Ramon got one of their horses, his own jaded animal would be left. Eventually the rurales would find the saddle and Ramon’s horse. And every rural out of the riding would be a factor in their escape.
The sun blazed down until the pocket of rock was a pit of stagnant heat. The silence seemed like an ocean rolling in soundless waves across the hills; a silence that became disturbed by a faint sound as of one approaching cautiously. Waring thought Ramon had shown cleverness in working up to him so quietly. He raised on his elbow and turned his head. On the eastern edge of the pocket stood a rural, and the rural smiled.
Waring, who had known the man in Sonora, called him by name. The other’s smile faded, and his eyes narrowed. Waring thrust up his hands and jokingly offered to toss up a coin to decide the issue. He knew his man; knew that at the first false move the rural would kill him. He rose and turned sideways that the other might take his gun. “You win the throw,” he said. The Mexican jerked Waring’s gun from the holster and cocked it. Then he whistled.
From below came the faint clatter of hoofs. The rural seemed puzzled that his call should have been answered so promptly. He knew that his companions had gone for their horses, picketed some distance from the pocket. He had volunteered to surprise the gunman single-handed.
Waring, gazing beyond the rural, saw the head of a horse top the rise. In the saddle sat Ramon, hatless, his black hair flung back from his forehead, a gun in his hand. Waring drew a deep breath. Would Ramon bungle it by calling out, or would he have nerve enough to make an end of it on the instant?
Although Waring was unarmed, the rural dared not turn. The gringo had been known to slip out of as tight a place despite the threat of a gun almost against his chest. With a despondent shrug, Waring lowered his arms.
“You win the throw,” he said hopelessly.
Still the Mexican dared not take his eyes from Waring. He would wait until his companions appeared.