She gave him a sudden flash of happy eyes. “I hope you will. There must be no more trouble between him and you. There couldn’t be after this, could there?”
He shook his head.
“Not if it takes two to make a quarrel. He can say what he wants to, make a door-mat out of me, go gunning after me till the cows come home, and I won’t do a thing but be a delegate to a peace conference. No, ma’am. I’m through.”
“You don’t know how glad I am to hear it.”
“Are you as anxious I should make up my quarrel with you as the ones with your friends?” he asked boldly.
The effrontery of this lean, stalwart young American—if effrontery it was, and no other name seemed to define it—surprised another dash of roses into the olive.
“The way to make up your quarrel with me is to make up those with my friends,” she answered.
“All right. Suits me. I’ll call those deputies off and send them home. Pablo and Sebastian will never go to the pen on my evidence. They’re in the clear so far as I’m concerned.”
She gave him both her hands. “Thank you. Thank you. I’m so glad.”
The tears rose to her eyes. She bit her lip, turned and left the room.
He called after her:
“Please don’t forget my tin box.”
“I’ll remember your precious box,” she called back with a pretense of scorn.
He laughed to himself softly. There was sunshine in his eyes.
She had resolved to leave him to Mrs. Corbett in future, but within the hour she was back.
“I came about your tin box. Nobody seems to know where it is. Everybody remembers having seen it in your hands. I suppose we left it on the ground when we brought you to the house, but I can’t find anybody that removed it. Perhaps some of my people have seen it. I’ll send and ask them.”
He smiled disconsolately.
“I may as well say good-bye to it.”
“If you mean that my boys are thieves,” she retorted hotly.
“I didn’t say that, ma’am; but mebbe I did imply they wouldn’t return that particular box, when they found what was in it. I shouldn’t blame them if they didn’t.”
“I should. Very much. This merely shows you don’t understand us at all, Mr. Gordon.”
“I wish I had that box. It ce’tainly disarranges my plans to have it gone,” he said irritably.
“I assure you I didn’t take it.”
“I don’t lay it to you, though it would ce’tainly be to your advantage to take it,” he laughed, already mollified.
“Will you please explain that?”
“All my claims of title to this land grant are in that box, Miss Valdes,” he remarked placidly, as if it were a matter of no consequence.
She went white at his words.
“And it is lost—probably in the hands of my people. We must get it back.”
“But you’re on the other side of the fence,” he reminded her gaily.