“Retainers, Pete,” said Jack, suppressing a smile.
“Yes, that’s the word. An’ this feller what tol’ me sez as how he’s very proud and haughty-like an’ has a beyootiful daughter, an’——an’——”
Pete dropped his voice, and paused, eyeing Remedios, the Mexican in the nearby flivver.
“Think he kin hear me,” he whispered.
“Guess not,” said Jack. “Why?” He, too, looked toward Remedios. The latter had his back to them and was blowing indolent wreaths of smoke from a brown paper cigarette.
“I don’t trust that feller, that’s all,” whispered Gabby Pete hoarsely. “He’s down acrost the border too much o’ the time. Anyhow, as I was sayin’, this yere Don Fernandez is agin the Obregon gov’ment an’ backin’ a new revolution. That’s what the feller tol’ me, anyhow. Waal, Mr. Jack, Angel Face an’ me will go an’ git dinner.” And with a slap on his horse’s flank that caused her to spin about and dash away, Gabby Pete was off.
Jack turned to his companions.
“First thing is to get to camp, I guess,” he said. “Then after dinner we can talk over what has to be done. What do you say?”
“I say let’s eat,” said Frank, plaintively.
“He’s got the biggest appetite for his size I ever saw,” said Bob, affectionately, slapping his smaller chum on the back.
“I second Jack’s motion,” said Mr. Temple, seizing his bags and leading the way to the car. The others also picked up their bags and followed. “We know now that your father is safe, Jack,” said Mr. Temple. “So the news in that note wasn’t so bad, after all.”
“That’s right,” agreed Jack. “Well, climb in fellows, and let’s get started.”
It was a tight squeeze. Jack sat in front with Remedios and one of the bags. Mr. Temple and Bob, both big individuals, filled the rear with the balance of the bags. Frank, who had gone to the front of the car to crank it, found no room within for him when he returned. He leaped to the running board.
“I’m light,” he said. “I’ll sit on the door. Let’s go.”
Remedios opened the throttle and with a rattle and roar, the ramshackle old car darted ahead on the road taken by Gabby Pete, and soon had left the town behind and was out on the desert.
Only the upper edge of the sun stood now above the western mountains, and the purple shadows were long across the plain. In the east the sky was darkest blue and the stars already twinkled brightly. A rosy light lingered at the zenith, while above the western mountains the sky was ruddy bright with the afterglow as the sun slipped farther and farther down and finally vanished altogether. Then night began to descend with a swiftness unknown in the East. The rattle of the car made conversation difficult and the newcomers lapsed into silence, becoming absorbed in watching the majesty of the scene.
Presently the engine began to miss fire, then emitted a final groan as Remedios closed the throttle, cutting off the flow of gas, and stopped. Remedios threw the clutch into neutral, applied the brake, and climbed out. Raising the cover of the hood, he peered within. Then he shook his head dolorously.