“The senor and the senorita can come in,” said the first man, standing aside.
Manuel restrained the young woman by stretching his left arm in front of her.
“Just a moment. Light a lamp, my friends. We do not go forward in the dark.”
At this there was a further demur, but finally a match flickered and a lamp was lit. Manuel moved slowly forward into the room, followed by Valencia. In a corner of the room a man lay bound upon the floor, his back toward them. One of the men rolled him over as if he had been a sack of potatoes. The face into which they looked had been mauled and battered, but Valencia had no trouble in recognizing it.
“Sebastian!” she cried.
He said nothing. A sullen, dogged look rested on his face. Manuel had seen it before on the countenance of many men. He knew that the sheep grazer could not be driven to talk.
Miss Valdes might have known it, too, but she was too impatient for finesse. “What have you done with Mr. Gordon? Tell me—now—at once,” she commanded.
The man’s eyes did not lift to meet hers. Nor did he answer a single word.
“First, our hundred dollars, Senorita,” one of the men reminded her.
“It will be paid when you deliver Sebastian to us in the street with his hands tied behind him,” Manuel promised.
They protested, grumbling that they had risked enough already when they had captured him an hour earlier. But in the end they came to Pesquiera’s condition. The prisoner’s hands were tied behind him and his feet released so that he could walk. Manuel slid one arm under the right one of Sebastian. The fingers of his left hand rested on the handle of a revolver in his coat pocket.
Valencia, all impatience, could hardly restrain herself until they were alone with their prisoner. She walked on the other side of her cousin, but as soon as they reached the Plaza she stopped.
“Where is he, Sebastian? What have you done with him? I warn you it is better to tell all you know,” she cried sternly.
He looked up at her doggedly, moistened his lips, and looked down again without a word.
“Speak!” she urged imperiously. “Where is Mr. Gordon? Tell me he is alive. And what of Pablo?”
Manuel spoke in a low voice. “My cousin, you are driving him to silence. Leave him to me. He must be led, not driven.”
Valencia was beyond reason. She felt that every minute lost was of tremendous importance. If Gordon was alive they must get help to him at once. All her life she had known Sebastian. When she had been a little tot he had taught her how to ride and how to fish. Since her return from college she had renewed acquaintance with him. Had she not been good to his children when they had small-pox? Had she not sold him his place cheaper than any other man could have bought it? Why, then, should he assume she was his enemy? Why should he distrust her? Why, above all, had he done this foolish and criminal thing?