“What good does it do you when you quarrel all the time you’re together? She’s declared herself already on this proposition—told the deputies flat-footed that she wouldn’t tell them anything and would help her boys to escape in any way she could. You’re just like a kid showing off his muscle before a little girl in the first grade.”
“All right, Steve. You don’t hear me denying it.”
“Denying it,” snapped the old miner. “Hmp! Lot of good that would do. You’re fair itching to get a chance to go down to the ranch and swagger around in plain sight of her lads. You’d be tickled to death if you could cut out the two you want and land them here in spite of her and Don Manuel and the whole pack of them. Don’t I know you? Nothing but vanity—that’s all there’s to it.”
“He’s off,” murmured Dick with a grin to the scenery.
“You make me tired. Why don’t you try a little horse sense for a change? Honest, if you was a few years younger I’d put you acrost my knee and spank you.”
Gordon lit a cigarette, but did not otherwise contribute to the conversation.
“Ain’t she wearing another man’s ring?” continued Davis severely. “What’s bitin’ you, anyhow? How many happy families you want to break up? First off, there’s Pablo and Juanita. You fill up her little noodle with the notion that——”
Dick interrupted amiably. “Go to grass, you old granny. I’ve been putting in my spare time since I came back letting Juanita understand the facts. If she had any wrong notions she ain’t got them any longer. She’s all ready to kiss and make up with Pablo first chance she gets.”
“Then there’s Miss Valdes and this Pesky fellow, who’s the whitest brown man I ever did see. Didn’t he run his fool laigs off getting you free so you could go back and make love to his girl?”
“He’s the salt of the earth. I’m for Don Manuel strong. But I don’t reckon Miss Valdes would work well in harness with him,” explained Dick.
Steve Davis snorted. “No, you reckon Dick Gordon would, though. Don’t you see she’s of his people—same customs, same ways, same——”
“She’s no more of his people than she is of mine. Her mother was an American girl. She was educated in Washington. New Mexico is in America, not in Spain. Don’t forget that, you old croaker.”
“Well, she’s engaged, ain’t she? And to a good man. It ain’t your put in.”
“A good one, but the wrong one. It’s a woman’s privilege to change her mind. I’m here to help her change it,” announced the young man calmly. “Say, look at Jimmie Corbett hitting the high spots this way.”
Jimmie, not yet recovered from a severe fright, stopped to explain the adventure that had befallen him while he had been night fishing.
“I seen spooks, Mr. Gordon—hundreds of ’em—coming down the river bank on horseback—honest to goodness, I did.”
“Jimmie, if I had your imagination——”