“You ask, my dear son, whether I have relinquished the great grant made us by Facundo Megares. In effect I have. During the past two years I have twice, acting as governor, conveyed to settlers small tracts from this grant. The conditions under which such a grant must be held are too onerous. Moreover, neither I nor you, nor your son, nor his son will live to see the day when there is not range enough for all the cattle that can be brought into the province. Just now time presses, but in a later letter I shall set forth my reasons in detail.”
A second and a third time Dick read the paragraph to make sure that he had not misunderstood it. The meaning was plain. There could be no doubt about it. In black and white he had a statement from old Don Bartolome himself that he considered the grant no longer valid, that he had given it up because he did not think it worth holding. He had but to prove the handwriting in court—a thing easy enough to do, since the Don’s bold, stiff writing could be found on a hundred documents—and the Valdes claimants would be thrown out of possession.
Gordon looked in vain for the “later letter” to which Bartolome referred. Either it had never been written or it had been destroyed. But without it he had enough to go on.
Before he left the State House he made a proposal to Miss Underwood to buy the letters from her.
“What do you want with a bunch of old letters?” she asked.
“One of them helps my case. The Don refers to the grant and says he has relinquished his claim.”
She nodded at him with brisk approval. “It’s fair of you to tell me that.” The girl stood for a moment considering, a pencil pressed against her lips. “I suppose the letters are not mine to give. They belong to father. Better see him.”
“At the office of the New Mexican. Or you can come to the house to-night.”
“Believe I’ll see him right away.”
Within half an hour Dick had bought the bundle of letters for five hundred dollars. He returned to the State House with an order to Kate Underwood to deliver them to him upon demand.
“Dad make a good bargain?” asked Miss Underwood, with a laugh.
Gordon told her the price he had paid.
“If I had telephoned to him what you wanted them for they would have cost you three times as much,” she told him, nodding sagely.
“Then I’m glad you didn’t. Point of fact you haven’t the slightest idea what I want with them.”
“To help your suit. Isn’t that what you’re going to use them for?”
Mildly he answered “Yes,” but he did not tell her which suit they were to help.
As he was leaving she spoke to him without looking up from her writing. “Mother and I will be at home this evening, if you’d like to look the house over.”
“Thanks. I’d be delighted to come. I’m really awfully interested.”