She knew it would be no use to question him; but she made occasion soon to send for Juan Gardiez, the lad who had driven him home.
From the doorway of the living-room, Juan presently ducked a bow at her.
“The senorita sent for me?”
“Yes. Come in, Juan. Take that chair.”
Now, though Juan had often sat down in the kitchen, he had never before been invited to seat himself in this room. Wherefore, the warm smile that now met him, and went with the invitation, filled him with a more than mild surprise. Gingerly he perched himself on the edge of a chair, twirling his dusty sombrero round and round as a relief to his embarrassment.
“I am sorry, Juan, that you don’t like me or trust me any longer,” his mistress began.
“But, dona, I do,” exclaimed the boy, nearly falling from his chair in amazement.
She shook her head.
“No; I can see you don’t. None of you do. You keep secrets from me. You whisper and hide things.”
“But, no, senorita——”
“Yes. I can see it plainly. My people do not love me. I must go away from them, since——”
Juan, having in his tender boyish heart a great love for his dona, could not stand this.
“No, no, no, senorita! It is not so. I do assure you it is a mistake. There is nothing about the cattle, nothing about the sheep you do not know. It is all told—all.”
“Muy bien. Yet you conceal what happened yesterday to Pedro.”
“He was thrown——”
She stopped him with a gesture.
“I don’t want to know that again. Tell me what is in the air; what is planned for Senor Gordon; what Pedro has to do with it? Tell me, or leave me to know my people no longer love me.”
The boy shook his head and let his eyes fall before her clear gaze.
“I can tell nothing.”
“Look at me, Juan,” she commanded, and waited till he obeyed. “Pedro it was that shot at this man Gordon. Is it not so?”
His eyes grew wide.
“Some one has told?” he said questioningly.
“No matter. It was he. Yesterday the American saved his life. Surely Pedro does not still——”
She did not finish in words, but her eyes chiseled into his stolid will to keep silent.
“The stranger invites evil. He would rob the senorita and us all. He has said he would horsewhip Pedro. He rides up and down the valley, taunting us with his laugh. Is he a god, and are we slaves?”
“He said he would horsewhip Pedro, did he?”
“Si senorita; when Pedro told him to take his life, since it was his.”
“And this was after Pedro had been thrown?”
“Directly after. The American is a devil, dona. He rode that man-killer like Satan. Did he not already know that it was Pedro who shot at him? Is not Pedro a sure shot, and did he not miss twice? Twice, senorita; which makes it certain that this Senor Gordon is a devil.”