“Then I apologize, Don Luis, for what might have seemed to be slighting language,” Mr. Haynes continued, bowing to the Mexican. “You will understand, of course, what good reason I had to be anxious.”
“Say no more, senor. You had most excellent reasons,” smiled Don Luis, at ease once more. “I cannot blame you in the least for your passing doubts, but I am glad they have been set at rest by these capable and honest young engineers. And now, Senores Reade and Hazelton, shall we resume our interrupted ride in the car?”
THE ENGINEER TURNS
“You are about to have more visitors, I see,” announced Mr. Hippen, from a corner of the porch.
Barely five hundred yards from the house, on one of the roughest roads coming down the mountains, were some forty or fifty horsemen. Nor did it require more than a second glance to show that the newcomers were cavalry troops of the Mexican army.
At the head of the cavalcade rode three or four men who had an official appearance.
“It is one of the periodical visits of the governor of the state of Bonista,” explained Don Luis. “Ah, if the governor is with that party, Senor Haynes, you will soon have more reason to know that it would be impossible for me to defraud you. The governor himself will assure you that I am of an old Spanish family and of the highest personal honor.”
“I shall be most glad to meet the governor,” remarked Mr. Haynes, dryly.
Don Luis Montez stepped to where he could obtain a better view of the horsemen, who were moving their horses at a walk. He held his hands over his eyes to keep the light from interfering with his view.
“I am afraid, after all, that his excellency, the governor of the state, is not one of the horsemen,” said Montez, regretfully. “Not unless he is riding at the rear of the party. But we shall soon know.”
Just inside the limits of the estate all of the cavalrymen except a half dozen halted. Three officers, six troopers and a gentleman in citizen’s dress rode on up to the porch.
“Is Don Luis Montez of your number?” called the man in citizen’s clothes.
“I am Don Luis,” responded Montez, going forward and raising his hat.
“I am Manuel Honda,” continued the stranger, raising his hat in return. “Will you be good enough to have one of your servants take my horse?”
This was done at a gesture from Montez. Senor Honda dismounted, then came up the steps.
“You are very welcome, senor,” said Don Luis, holding out his hand, which the other accepted. Then the stranger swept his glance over the others grouped on the porch.
“These are your American visitors?” inquired Honda.
“Yes,” nodded Don Luis.
“We will withdraw if you two gentlemen have business to discuss,” suggested Mr. Haynes.