“It is of no use, Senor,” he said to Frank, who had jumped from the running board and stood beside him. “She is finish. The spark plug, she is on the—what you call it?—the bum.” And with an air of finality, he closed the cover. At the same moment he turned to peer anxiously down the road ahead, whence came now on the still twilight the thudding hoofbeats of a galloping horse, rapidly growing louder.
His mechanical instincts awake, however, Frank paid no attention to the approaching horseman. He had again lifted the cover, as Remedios turned away, and, lighted match in one hand, was twisting at a spark plug with the other.
“Shucks,” he cried, withdrawing his head, “that Number One plug wasn’t screwed in tightly enough, that’s all. I’ll bet she’ll go now, just the way I tightened her by hand. And if I only had a pair of pliers——”
At that moment, the galloping horseman dashed up alongside, pulling his horse back on his haunches. It was Gabby Pete, his hat gone, his face red with excitement. Far over he leaned to call to the astonished occupants of the car.
“Bandits,” he cried hoarsely. “Greasers. Comin’ in an auto. I come back to warn you.” And facing about he pointed to where a cloud of dust behind him on the desert road indicated a rapidly oncoming car.
“Grab that crank,” cried Frank to Remedios, and he sprang for the driving wheel. “I’ll make this old bus go.”
“Not so fast, Senor,” said Remedios suavely, and seizing Frank’s arm he whirled the young fellow about.
Frank looked into the muzzle of a revolver which Remedios held leveled at him.
A BRUSH WITH THE ENEMY
The explosion of a revolver shot.
A yell of pain.
Remedios seized his shooting wrist in his left hand and danced up and down in the road, while his weapon fell to the ground.
Frank, who a moment before had been gazing into the leveled weapon of the traitorous Mexican chauffeur, whirled about to face his friends in the car.
Smoking revolver in hand, Jack Hampton stood upright in the front seat. It was he who had fired the shot.
“I didn’t touch him,” cried Jack, “merely shot his revolver from his hand. Jump in Frank, for here come the bandits.”
With a rattle and roar the car of the bandits approached, not the length of two city blocks away on the desert trail.
Frank took in the situation at a glance.
“Crank for your life,” he ordered Remedios. “Jack, keep him covered.”
As the Mexican sprang to the crank, and started turning, Frank leaped to the driver’s seat of the flivver and manipulated throttle and spark. With a clatter the engine turned over and began to race.
Closer came the bandits, their car slowing down as it approached.