Clearly the conspirators were of that opinion themselves. They talked together a good deal in whispers. Dick was of the opinion that a proposition would be made him before morning, though it was just possible that the scale might tip the other way and his death be voted. He spent a very anxious hour.
After dark Sebastian, who was less well known in the town than Pablo, departed on an errand unknown to Gordon. The miner guessed that he was going to make arrangements for horses upon which to escape. Dick was not told their decision. Menendez had fallen sulky again and refused to talk.
Valencia had scarcely left the parlor to telephone for the sheriff before Manuel flashed a knife and cut the rope that tied his prisoner’s hands.
Sebastian had shrunk back at sight of the knife, but when he found that he was free he stared at Pesquiera in startled amazement.
“Come! Let’s get out of here. We can talk when you are free of danger,” said Manuel with sharp authority in his voice.
He led the way into the corridor, walked quickly down one passage and along another, and so by a back stairway into the alley in the rear. Within a few minutes they were a quarter of a mile from the El Tovar.
Sebastian, still suspicious, yet aware that for some reason Don Manuel was unexpectedly on his side, awaited explanations.
“Dona Valdes is quite right, Sebastian. She means well, but she is, after all, a woman. This is a man’s business, and you and I can settle it better alone.” Manuel smiled with an air of frank confidence at his former prisoner. “You are in a serious fix—no doubt at all about that. The question is to find the best way out.”
Pesquiera’s bright black eyes fastened on him as he flung a question at the man. “I suppose this Gordon is still alive.”
Sebastian nodded gloomily. “He is like a cat with its nine lives. We have beaten and starved him, but he laughs—this Gringo devil—and tells us he will live to see us wearing stripes in prison.”
"Muy bien." Manuel talked on briskly, so as to give the slower-witted Mexican no time to get set in obstinacy. “I should be able to arrange matters then. We must free the man after I have his word to tell nothing.”
“But he will run straight to the sheriff,” protested Sebastian.
“Not if he gives his word. I’ll see to that. Where have you him hidden?” The young Spaniard asked the question carelessly, almost indifferently, as if it were merely a matter of course.
Sebastian opened his mouth to tell—and then closed it. He had had no intention of telling anything. Now he found he had told everything except their hiding-place. The suspicion which lay coiled in his heart lifted its head like a snake. Was he being led into a trap? Would Don Manuel betray him to the law? The gleaming eyes of the man narrowed and grew hard.