Tom promptly accepted the advice. Going toward the sound of the voice, he found Nicolas crouched in a trough of rock not far from where they had lain down.
“Now, Nicolas, it’s your turn,” whispered Reade.
“My turn for what, senor?”
“I am but a servant, senor. I do not need rest.”
“Nicolas, you go in and lie down near Hazelton, and go to sleep.”
The Mexican grumbled a little, but all his life he had been taught to obey orders. Within sixty seconds the servant was sound asleep.
An hour later it began to darken.
Harry Hazelton awoke with a start, to find Tom with his finger on his lips.
“Nicolas is asleep,” whispered Reade. “Don’t make any noise that will awaken him. I have no doubt that he would go through with us and be our guide. But that would put him in bad with Don Luis, and we have no right to expose the poor fellow to blame. Move about without noise, and we’ll eat some of the stuff that Nicolas brought us.”
This was done. It was dark by the time that the simple meal had been finished. Tom drew out another five-dollar bill, which he pinned to the shirt of the poor Mexican.
“Now we’ll take all the food with us,” Tom whispered. “Nicolas won’t need any of it, as he’s less than twenty minutes’ walk from a square feed. Come along—on tip-toe.”
Tom led the way through the darkness, not halting until they were well away from the Mexican.
“Now, wait a moment, until we get our bearings from the stars,” Tom proposed. “Then we’ll make a straight, fast, soft hike to the telegraph station.”
“Only twenty miles away, over the boulders,” murmured Hazelton.
“This is where our past physical training comes in finely,” Tom rejoined. He looked up at the sky, pointing to and naming several of the fixed stars.
“Now, as we know our course, we can hardly, go astray,” Reade suggested. “Ready! Forward march!”
Tom took the lead in this, as he did in nearly everything else. For more than an hour the young engineers trudged ahead. When at last they halted for breath they had covered at least three miles of their way.
“Nicolas will feel insulted when he wakes, I’m afraid,” suggested Hazelton.
“I’m afraid he will. Nicolas may have a copper skin, and be under-sized and illiterate, but he’s one of the old-fashioned, true-to-the-death kind. But, if he helped guide us out of this wilderness, Don Luis would probably flay the poor fellow alive afterwards.”
“I wonder if we’re going to make the telegraph station by daylight!” Harry went on.
“I’m afraid not. But we ought to be there some time during the forenoon.”
“That will give Don Luis time, perhaps, to wake up to our disappearance and send men after us,” hinted Harry.
Tom’s face grew long at this suggestion. He was well aware that Don Luis Montez was a man who was both dreaded and obeyed in these mountains.