“Do you hear the Gringo, my good Carlos?” laughed Don Luis, derisively.
“I hear the fellow,” indifferently replied Dr. Tisco, from the other end of the room.
“Will you furnish us with transportation from here?” Tom inquired.
“I will not,” hissed Montez, allowing his rage to show itself now at its height. “You Gringo fools! Do you think you can defy me—that here, on my own estates, you can slap me in the face and ride away with laughter?”
“I haven’t a desire in the world to slap your face,” Tom rejoined, dryly. “All I wish and mean to do is to get back to my work in life.”
“Then listen to me, Gringos,” said Don Luis Montez, in his coldest tones. “Your work here is to sign that report. If you do not, then you shall never leave these mountains! Your lives are in my hands. If you do not serve me as I have ordered, then I shall feel obliged—in self-defense—to destroy you!”
THE SPIRIT OF A TRUE ENGINEER
“Do you know, Don Luis,” drawled Tom, “that you have one fine quality?”
“What do you mean?” demanded the Mexican.
“You are very explicit. You are also extremely candid! You don’t leave the other fellow guessing.”
Don Luis Montez frowned. He felt certain that fun was being poked at him.
“I am trying to make you young men understand that you must do exactly what I wish of you,” he returned, after a moment.
“And we have tried to make it plain, sir, that we haven’t, any idea of doing what you want,” Tom Reade answered him.
“You will change your minds,” retorted the mine owner.
“Time will show you that, sir. In the meantime, since we cannot live here, what do you expect us to do?”
“I have said nothing about your not living here,” uttered Don Luis, looking astonished. “You are very welcome to all that my poor house affords.”
“Thank you; but we can’t live here, just the same.”
“And why not, caballeros?”
“Because we shall henceforth be on the most wretched sort of terms with the owner of this house.”
“There is no need of that, caballeros. You will, I think, find me extremely courteous. My house is open to you, and there is no other place that you can go.”
“Nowhere to go but out,” mimicked Harry Hazelton, dryly.
“You will find yourselves unable to get out of these hills,” Don Luis informed them, politely, though with an evil smile. “You may decide to leave us, and you may start at any time, but you will assuredly find yourselves stopped and brought back. You simply cannot leave me, caballeros, until I give my consent. Remember, no king could rule in these hills more absolutely than I do. No one may enter or leave this part of the state of Bonista without my consent.”
“As to that, of course we shall know more later, Don Luis,” Tom returned. “However, we cannot and shall not remain longer as guests in your house.”