“I trust you will consider well and carefully on that point,” retorted the Mexican.
“No; we simply can’t and won’t remain here unless—well, unless—”
“What are you trying to say, senor?”
“Then possibly you have overlooked building any dungeons under the house? Dungeons, I understand, were a part of the housekeeping scheme in old Mexico.”
“There are no dungeons here,” said Don Luis icily.
“You relieve me, sir. Then the last obstacle is removed to our departure. We shall go at once. Come on, Harry.”
Tom turned to leave the room, Hazelton at his heels. But Montez, with an angry exclamation, leaped to the doorway, barring their exit.
“Caballeros, you shall not leave like this!”
“No?” Tom inquired. “Harry, our late host wishes us to leave by the windows.”
“All right,” nodded Hazelton, smiling. “I used to be something of an athlete.”
“You shall not leave me in any such childish spirit,” Don Luis insisted, stubbornly.
“If you are going to try to reopen the proposition that you made us,” said Reade, “you may as well stop.”
“You will come to your senses presently.”
“We are in full possession of them at present.”
“We shall yet come to a sensible arrangement of the matter,” Montez continued, coaxingly. Indeed, the Mexican had suddenly come to see that he was absolutely dependent upon the young Americans if he hoped to sell his mine in the near future.
“You are wrong, Don Luis,” Reade continued. “We can come to no understanding. Matters have now gone so far that we are no longer bound by the rules of courtesy. Nor do the laws of hospitality weigh with us, for you have chosen to bully and threaten us under your own roof. I will therefore be frank enough to tell you that we regard you as a mere rogue. Am I right, Harry?”
“Wholly right,” nodded Hazelton. “Don Luis, I cannot see that you are one whit more honest, or in any sense more of a gentleman, than any of the outlawed bandits who roam these mountains. Therefore, as Americans and gentlemen, we find it wholly impossible for us to remain either your employs or your guests. There can be no hope whatever that we shall consent to serve you, even in the most innocent way.”
Don Luis heard them with rising anger, which, however, he kept down with a fine show of self-control.
“Caballeros, you are young. You have not seen much of the world. You are mere boys. You have not even, as yet, developed good manners. Therefore I overlook in you what, in men, might arouse my anger. Take my advice. Go to your rooms. Think matters over. When you have cooled we will talk again. No—not a word, now.”
Don Luis stepped aside. Tom bowed, very stiffly, in passing the Mexican. Harry merely gazed into the Mexican’s eyes with a steadiness and a contempt that made the mine owner wince.