“We were never so glad before to see a naval officer, Mr. Darrin,” responded the older man, heartily. “Tom and I had only our revolvers with which to defend ourselves. Permit me. I am Jason Denman. This is my wife, this our daughter, and this our son.”
Dave stepped closer to acknowledge the introduction. When, in the darkness, his gaze rested on the young woman, Ensign Darrin gave a gasp of surprise.
“You are wondering if we have met before,” smiled the young woman, sadly. “Yes, Mr. Darrin, we have. You thrashed that bully, Mr. Cantor, one night in New York.”
“I did not know, then, that he was a brother officer,” murmured Dave, “but I would have struck him even if I had known.”
“He was here to-night, with the Mexicans whom you drove away,” continued the young woman.
“With Mexican soldiers?” gasped Darrin.
“There were but a few soldiers,” Miss Denman continued. “The rest were Mexican civilians, brigands, I believe.”
“Before I can discuss matters,” Darrin replied quickly, “I must get you to a place of safety. You will please march in the middle of this small command. Fall in, men, by fours.”
As quickly as possible the line was in motion. Dave marched back to the Hotel Diligencia, where he made instant report to his superior.
“This is the worst news possible!” gasped Lieutenant Trent. “I must send word to the commanding officer downtown, and will do so by Dalzell, who will take thirty men and escort the Denmans to safety.”
“As to Lieutenant Cantor, sir,” Dave asked his commander. “He is to be arrested wherever found, I suppose?”
“He is to be arrested,” replied Trent, between closed teeth. “If be resists arrest, or if he fires upon our party, he is to be shot at once.”
“Shot?” gasped Dave Darrin.
“You have your orders, Darrin, and they are proper, legal orders.”
“And I shall obey the order, if need arise.”
From across the street, as Darrin finished speaking, a window was raised and several rifles were aimed directly at him. Then shots rang out.
PLAYING BIRDMAN IN WAR
Unconsciously Ensign Dave Darrin swayed slightly, so close did the shower of bullets pass him.
Then the reports of more than a score of American rifles rang out just as Danny Grin reached his chum’s side.
“Hurt, David, little giant?” asked Dan.
“Not even touched, so far as I know,” smiled Darrin.
“Boatswain’s mate, take a dozen men and leap into that house through the open window!” Lieutenant Trent called, sternly.
Then the senior officer hurried over to the subordinate.
“Did the rascals get you, Darrin?” demanded the lieutenant, anxiously.
“I don’t think so, sir,” was the reply. “I don’t believe I’ve a scratch.”