“What did I say to you, Don Luis?” inquired the secretary. “Did I not suggest that these Gringos would not be easily controlled?”
“Wait!” advised Don Luis Montez. “Wait! You have not yet seen what my Gato will do. He is not a baby.”
“These Gringos will balk at every hour of the day and night,” predicted Dr. Tisco.
“Wait until you have seen my good Gato tame them!” chuckled Don Luis, softly.
GATO STRIKES THE UP TRAIL
“When you speak to me, Gringo,” bellowed Pedro Gato, “you will—”
“Stop, Greaser!” shot back Tom, sternly, though he did not even stir or raise his hands.
“Greaser?” bellowed Pedro Gato. “That is foul insult!”
“Not more so than to call me a Gringo,” Tom Reade went on coolly. “So we are even, though I feel rather debased to have used such a word. Gato, if you make the mistake, again, of using an offensive term when addressing me, I shall—well, I may show a somewhat violent streak.”
“You?” sneered Gato. Then something in the humor of the situation appealed to him. He threw back his head and laughed loudly.
“Gringo,” he began, “you will—”
“Stop that line of talk, fellow,” commanded Tom quietly. “When you address me, be good enough to say either ‘senor’ or ‘sir.’ I am not usually as disagreeable as this in dealing with my fellow men, but you have begun wrong with us, Gato, and the first thing you’ll have to learn to do will be to treat us with proper courtesy.”
From the shaft entrance showed the faces of four grinning, wondering Mexicans of the usual type. The talk had proceeded in Spanish, and they had been able to follow it.
As for the mine manager, his bronzed face was distorted with rage. The veins near his forehead were swelling. With a sudden roar, Pedro Gato sprang forward, aiming a blow with his open right hand at Reade’s face.
Bump! That blow failed to land. It was Gato, instead, who landed. He went down on his back, striking the ground with jarring force.
“What did I say?” whispered Dr. Tisco.
“Wait!” responded Don Luis, with a shrug of his shoulders.
Well-nigh frothing at the mouth, Pedro Gato leaped to his feet. All was red now before his eyes. He rushed forward bellowing like a bull, intent on crushing the young American who had dared to treat him thus.
Tom’s left fist drove into the fellow’s unguarded face. His right followed, and Gato, big as he was, staggered back. Tom’s right foot performed a trip that sent the big Mexican bully to earth again.
“Now get up, Gato, like a man of intelligence, and behave yourself,” advised Reade coolly. “Just because we have had a bad introduction is no reason why we should continue enemies. You treat me with proper respect and I’ll do as much for you.”