“But we would have had revolvers, at least in our baggage, if you hadn’t always been so dead set against carrying them,” Harry complained.
“I’m just as much set against firearms as ever,” Tom answered, dryly. “Revolvers are made for killing people. Now, why any sane man should desire to kill any one goes beyond me.”
“Humph! We’ll be lucky if we can get out of these mountains without killing any one,” grunted Hazelton.
“Cheer up!” laughed Tom. “The whole world hasn’t turned black just because we’ve skipped our luncheon.”
“I wouldn’t mind the luncheon,” Harry began, “if—”
He stopped short, as he caught a glimpse of the spot where they had left their trunks.
“Tom, let’s hustle back to where we left our trunks,” he whispered. “I just saw some one moving about on that spot”
“Oh, if any thief is after our baggage, let him have it,” smiled Tom. “The stuff all goes to a thief in the end, anyway, for we know that we can’t carry our trunks with us.”
But that didn’t suit. Hazelton, who still felt as though he owned his own trunk. So he started back, soft-footed. Presently they came in sight of a human being seated on Reade’s trunk.
“Nicolas!” breathed Tom.
“Si, senor,” (yes, sir) returned the servant.
“But what are you doing here?”
“I am your servant,” replied the Mexican, calmly.
“Wrong; you’re Don Luis’s servant.”
“But he ordered me to wait on you both unceasingly, senor.”
“We have left Don Luis’s house, for good,” Tom continued, walking over to where the barefooted one sat.
“That may be true, senor; it is true, since you say it, but my orders have not been changed. Until Don Luis tells me differently I shall go on serving you.”
“Did Don Luis send you after us, Nicolas?” Reade demanded, wonderingly.
“Did any one at the house send you?”
“No, senor. I did not need to be sent. I am faithful.”
Nicolas followed this with a smile that showed his white teeth. He spoke in utter simplicity.
“And now what can I do for you, caballeros?” the Mexican inquired.
“Nicolas,” asked Tom, with sudden inspiration, “is there any store hereabouts? Any place where food can be purchased?”
“No, senor; there is a store not far from the shaft entrance of El Sombrero Mine. That is where the peons of the mine draw their food, and have it charged against their pay accounts. But no one may buy there for cash.”
“Is there no place where you can buy food for us?”
“Caballeros, of course, I will not pretend not to understand that you are on bad terms with Don Luis. Hence, both his storekeeper and his peons would hesitate to sell food for you or to you. But I have a relative who works in the mine, and he is a brave man. I think I can persuade him to sell me food and ask no questions. In fact, caballeros, that is what I will do.”