“You saved my life, senor. Take it. It is yours,” the boy cried.
“What shall I do with it?”
“I care not. Make an end of it, as on Tuesday I tried to make an end of yours,” cried the lad wildly.
Gordon took off his hat and looked at the bullet holes casually.
“You did not miss it very far, Pedro.”
“You knew then, senor, that I was the man?” the Mexican asked in surprise.
“Oh, yes; I knew that.”
“And you did nothing?”
“Yes; I ducked behind a rock,” laughed Gordon.
“But you make no move to arrest me?”
“But, if I should shoot again?”
“I expect to carry a rifle next time I go riding, Pedro.”
The Mexican considered this.
“You are a brave man, senor.”
The Anglo-Saxon snorted scornfully.
“Because I ain’t bluffed out by a kid that needs a horse-whip laid on good and hard? Don’t you make any mistake, boy. I’m going to give you the licking of your young life. You were due for it to-day, but it will have to be postponed, I reckon, till you’re on your feet again.”
Pedro’s eyes glittered dangerously.
“Senor Gordon has saved my life. It is his. But no living man lays hands on Pedro Menendez,” the boy said, drawing himself haughtily to his full slender height.
“You’ll learn better, Pedro, before the week’s out. You’ve got to stand the gaff, just the same as a white boy would. You’re in for a good whaling, and there ain’t any use getting heroic about it.”
“I think not, Senor Gordon.” There was a suggestion of repressed emotion in the voice.
Dick turned sharply at the words. A lean, clean-built young fellow stood beside the porch. He stepped up lightly, so that he was behind the chair in which Pedro had been sitting. Seen side by side thus, there could be no mistaking the kinship between the two Mexicans. Both were good looking, both lean and muscular, both had a sort of banked volcanic passion in their black eyes. Dangerous men, these slim swarthy youths, judged Gordon with a sure instinct.
“You think not, Pedro Number 2,” retorted the American lightly.
“My name is Pablo, Senor—Pablo Menendez,” corrected the young man with dignity.
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Menendez. I was just telling your brother—if Pedro is your brother—that I intend to wear out a buggy whip on him as soon as his leg is well,” explained Dick pleasantly.
“No. You have saved his life. It is yours. Take it.” The black eyes of the Mexican met steadily the blue-gray ones of the American.
“Much obliged, but I can’t use it. As soon as I’ve tanned his hide I’m through with Master Pedro,” returned the miner carelessly.
He was turning away when Pablo stopped him. The musical voice was low and clear. “Senor Gordon understands then. Pedro will pay. He will endure shot for shot if the Senor wishes it. But no man living shall lay a whip upon him.”