She moved across the room and sank down into a chair in front of her desk. They had then murdered him after all. She and her people were responsible for his death. There was nothing to be done now—nothing at all.
Then, out of the silence, a voice seemed to call to her—the voice of Richard Gordon, faint and low, but clear. She started to her feet and listened, shaken to the soul by this strange summons from that world which lay beyond the reach of her physical senses. What could it mean? She had the body of a healthy young animal. Her nerves never played her any tricks. But surely there had come to her a call for help not born of her own excited fancy.
In an instant she had made up her mind. Her finger pressed an electric button beside the desk, and almost simultaneously a second one. The maid who appeared in the doorway in answer to the first ring found her mistress busily writing.
Valencia looked up. “Rosario, pack a suitcase for me with clothes for a week. Put in my light brown dress and a couple of shirt-waists. I’ll be up presently.” Her gaze passed to the major domo who now stood beside the maid. “I’m going to Santa Fe to-night, Fernando. Order the grays to be hitched to the buggy.”
“To-night! But, Senorita, the train has gone.”
“Juan will go with me. We’ll drive right through. My business is important.”
“But it is seventy miles to Santa Fe, and part of the way over mountain roads,” he protested.
“Yes. We should reach there by morning. I mean to travel all night. Make the arrangements, please, and tell Juan. Then return here. I want to talk over with you the ranch affairs. You will have charge of the ditches, too, during my absence. Don’t argue, Fernando, but do as I say.”
The old man had opened his mouth to object, but he closed it without voicing his views. A little smile, born of his pride in her wilfulness, touched his lips and wrinkled the parchment skin. Was she not a Valdes? He had served her father and her grandfather. To him, therefore, she could do no wrong.
ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD
The night of his disappearance Dick had sauntered forth from the hotel with the jaunty assurance to Davis that he was going to call on a young lady. He offered no further details, and his friend asked for none, though he wondered a little what young woman in Santa Fe had induced Gordon to change his habits. The old miner had known him from boyhood. His partner had never found much time for the society of eligible maidens. He had been too busy living to find tea-cup discussions about life interesting. The call of adventure had absorbed his youth, and he had given his few mature years ardently to the great American game of money-making. It was not that he loved gold. What Richard Gordon cared for was the battle, the struggle against both honorable and unscrupulous foe-men for success. He fought in the business world only because it was the test of strength. Money meant power. So he had made money.