“My dear Donna Ana,” said the girl. “What if he is a man! And in my room! Are you not here to watch over me? And I do not believe he will bite. No, no. See, he is such a nice young man that I can chuck him under the chin. So!”
And suiting action to words, the girl sprang from her chair, walked swiftly across the room and chucked Jack under the chin.
To say that Jack was surprised would be a mild statement. From his knowledge of Latin-American girls gathered in Peru, he believed those of good family invariably were convent-bred and extremely decorous in the presence of young men. He was so dazed at the girl’s action that her next move, which was a lightning-quick attempt to grasp his revolver and wrest it from him, almost succeeded.
Jack retained a grip on the weapon, however, and managed to prevent Rafaela from obtaining it. Foiled in her attempt, all her bravado deserted her and running back to her chair, she sank into it and began to weep.
What in the world should a fellow do in a case like this? Jack didn’t know. Usually, he was equal to emergencies, but this one was something beyond his understanding. He stood helpless, while the duenna alternately glared at him and patted her young charge on the back, muttering soft words of comfort to her meanwhile.
Quickly as the shower came, however, it disappeared. Rafaela pushed Donna Ana aside impatiently and looked at Jack, smiling through her tears.
“Well, sir,” she said, demurely, “that did not succeed. What do you intend to do with your prisoners?”
This wasn’t so bad. Jack grinned.
“Look here,” he said, sensing a kindred spirit. “I’m not a rascal. You will have to believe me. I haven’t done anything so terrible, after all. You need not be scared of me.”
“But who are you, then?” asked the girl. “Listen. They are shouting through the house. Soon they will be making a search from room to room.”
Jack started. If that were true, when the searchers came to this locked door, what would happen? He thought for a moment. The daring idea to take the girl into his confidence and enlist her aid had been budding in his mind. He regarded her keenly for the first time. Would she help? Perhaps the romantic nature of his enterprise would appeal to her, even though he was fighting against her father. Well, it would do no harm to try.
“You asked who I am,” he said, “and why I am here. Well, I shall tell you.”
And speaking rapidly in his fluent Spanish, in a few brief statements, he laid before her the main fact that Mr. Hampton, whom she doubtless knew, was his father, and that he had come to the rescue in an airplane.
“Only now,” he concluded mournfully, “I have been discovered. I expect my chum will be forced to fly away. And it looks as if I were bound to fail.”
During his recital, the girl’s eyes had grown bright with interest. She leaned forward, listening with eager attention. As Jack ceased, apparently she was about to speak, but there came a tattoo of knuckles on the door which caused her to halt abruptly.