For the life of him Tom could not help halting and wheeling about. The next second he uttered a low cry of glee.
For Pedro Gato lay flat on the ground, Nicolas bending over him.
“Quick, caballeros!” implored Nicolas again.
“You fine chap,” chuckled Reade, bounding back and bending over Gato, as Nicolas was doing.
“There was no other way to save you,” whispered the servant. “I had to do it.”
As Nicolas raised his right hand, Reade could not help seeing that it was stained with blood.
“See here,” gasped Tom, recoiling. “You didn’t—you didn’t knife the scoundrel?”
He had all of an American’s disgust of knife-fighting.
“Oh, no—not I,” returned the little Mexican. “I do not use the knife. I am a servant, not a coward. But I had to throw a stone. I am thankful, senor, that my aim was good.”
Tom now discovered that blood was coming from a wound in Gato’s head. Moreover, the rascal was beginning to moan. He would soon recover consciousness.
“Do you know how to use this, senor?” Nicolas asked, as he passed over a small coil of stout hempen cord.
“I think we can fix the fellow,” Tom nodded. “Roll him over, Harry, and hold him. Don’t let the scoundrel reach for any other weapons.”
Gato’s rifle lay on the ground. Tom pushed it aside with one foot as Harry turned the fellow.
“Get his hands behind him,” muttered Tom. “I’ll do the tying.”
In a very short space of time Gato’s hands had been securely bound behind him. More cord was tied around his ankles, in such a way that Gato would be able to take short steps but not run.
Suddenly Gato groaned and opened his eyes.
“You’ll be more comfortable on your back, old fellow,” murmured Tom. “Wait. I’ll turn you.”
Gato stared blankly, at first. Evidently he did not realize the situation all at once. At last a curse leaped to his lips.
“Go easy on that bad-talk stuff,” Tom urged him. “Gentlemen don’t use such language, and men who travel with us must be gentlemen.”
“You miserable Gringo!” wailed Gato, gnashing his teeth. “You will always be full of treacherous tricks. Even when I had you in front of me, and my eyes on you, you managed to knock me down.”
“Oh, no!” laughed Tom. “The credit for this stunt belongs to good little Nicolas!”
The servant uttered a protesting cry, but too late. Tom had spoken indiscreetly.
“Nicolas! You? You little mountain rat of a peon!” growled Gato. “Excellent! I am glad I know, for I shall destroy you.”
Nicolas cowered and shivered before the baleful glare in the larger Mexican’s eyes. But Tom took a savage grip of one of Gato’s shoulders, digging in with his pressure until he made the scoundrel wince.