“You choose to be what you call droll. Sir, I give you the word, poltroon—lache—coward.”
“Oh, go chase yourself.”
One of Pesquiera’s little gloved hands struck the other’s face with a resounding slap. Next instant he was lifted from his feet and tucked under Dick’s arm.
There he remained, kicking and struggling, in a manner most undignified for a blue blood of Castile, while the Coloradoan stepped leisurely forward to the irrigating ditch which supplied water for the garden and the field of grain behind. This was now about two feet deep, and running strong. In it was deposited, at full length, the clapper little person of Don Manuel Pesquiera, after which Dick Gordon turned and went limping down the road.
From the shutters of her room a girl had looked down and seen it all. She saw Don Manuel rescue himself from the ditch, all dripping with water. She saw him gesticulating wildly, as he cursed the retreating foe, before betaking himself hurriedly from view to the rear of the house, probably to dry himself and nurse his rage the while. She saw Gordon go on his limping way without a single backward glance.
Then she flung herself on her bed and burst into tears.
“AN OPTIMISTIC GUY”
Dick Gordon hobbled up the road, quite unaware for some time that he had a ricked knee. His thoughts were busy with the finale that had just been enacted. He could not keep from laughing ruefully at the difference between it and the one of his day-dreams. He was too much of a Westerner not to see the humor of the comedy in which he had been forced to take a leading part, but he had insight enough to divine that it was much more likely to prove melodrama than farce.
Don Manuel was not the man to sit down under such an insult as he had endured, even though he had brought it upon himself. It would too surely be noised round that the Americano was the claimant to the estate, in which event he was very likely to play the part of a sheath for restless stilettos.
This did not trouble him as much as it would have done some men. The real sting of the episode lay in Valencia Valdes’ attitude toward him. He had been kicked out for his unworthiness. He had been cast aside as a spy and a sneak.
The worst of it was that he felt his clumsiness deserved no less an issue to the adventure. Confound that little Don Manuel for bobbing up at such an inconvenient time! It was fierce luck.
He stopped his tramp up the hill, and looked back over the valley. Legally it was all his. So his Denver lawyers had told him, after looking the case over carefully. The courts would decide for him in all probability; morally he had not the shadow of a claim. The valley in justice belonged to those who had settled in it and were using it for their needs. His claim was merely a paper one. It had not a scintilla of natural justice back of it.