“You will oblige me by coming back to the house, won’t you, Don Luis?” insisted Mr. Haynes, who seemed, somehow, a changed man within the last minute.
“Certainly,” agreed the Mexican courteously, and the chauffeur turned the car.
As they walked along, Mr. Haynes managed to whisper a few words in Mr. Ellsworth’s ear.
“I have sent Ellsworth to call all our associates together,” explained Mr. Haynes, as he joined Don Luis and the young engineers on the porch. Something in the changed atmosphere of the place made Don Luis Montez feel decidedly uneasy.
The Americans responded quickly to Mr. Ellsworth’s rounding up. Each of them, as he came forward, looked unusually grave. Mr. Haynes waited until he saw all of his associates around him. Then he began:
“Don Luis, in my recent absence a telegram came for me. Mr. Hippen, though a director of our railway, is not familiar with the telegraph code that we use in our inner office. This telegram, sir”—unfolding it—“is from my private secretary, a most careful and trustworthy man of affairs. I feel certain, Don Luis, that he would not have sent this telegram unless he had had the strongest reasons. Now, in our office code a wire relating to a wreck of Train Thirteen—there’s no such train on our schedule—means always just one thing. The significance of this telegram is, ’Don’t on any account put through the impending deal.’”
If Don Luis Montez felt any inward start he controlled his facial expression wonderfully.
“Senor Haynes,” he replied, “I don’t understand the meaning of your code message. You have no deal here to put through. You have made and closed the only deal here about which I have the honor to know anything.”
“But my secretary doesn’t yet know the state of affairs here,” continued Mr. Haynes, gravely, “and he doesn’t know that we have yet bought the El Sombrero Mine. Therefore, his despatch can’t refer to anything else. My private secretary is certainly warning me not to buy El Sombrero Mine until we have further information.”
“But you have bought it,” cried Don Luis, in a voice pitched rather higher than usual. “You have bought it and have the deed to all this property. The money has been paid, and is now mine, subject to my order.”
“Don Luis,” continued the American railway president, “I ask you, before all my associates, to consider the matter still open until I can receive further particulars from my private secretary. If there is any good and sound reason why we should not have bought this mine—”
“But you have bought it, paid for it, and the money is mine!” cried Don Luis Montez. “There is no more to be said about it.”
“Sir,” went on Mr. Haynes, gravely, “there is but one question of fact that can affect the sale. Suppose—I hate to say it, but suppose that the mine is not a rich one, not worth any such price as we paid for it, and that you sold it to us, knowing—”