Manuel, intuitively sensing this, hurried on. “It can be a matter of only hours now until they stumble upon your hiding-place. If this happens before we have come to terms with Gordon you are lost. I have come to town to save you and Pablo. But I can’t do this unless you trust me. Take me to Gordon and let me talk with him. Blindfold me if you like. But lose no time.”
As Sebastian saw it, this was a chance. He knew Manuel was an honest man. His reputation was of the best. Reluctantly he gave way.
“The Americano is at the Valdes house,” he admitted sulkily.
“At the Valdes house? Why, in Heaven’s name, did you take him there?”
“How could we tell that the Senorita would come to town? The house was empty. Pablo worked there in the stables as a boy. So we moved in.”
A quarter of an hour later Pablo opened the outer basement door in answer to the signal agreed upon by them. He had left the prisoner upon the bed with his hands tied. Sebastian entered. Pablo noticed that another man was standing outside. Instantly his rifle covered him. For, though others of their countrymen had been employed to help capture Gordon, none of these knew where he was hidden.
“It is Don Manuel Pesquiera,” explained Sebastian. “I brought him here to help us out of this trouble we are in. Let him in and I will tell you all.”
For an instant Pablo suspected that his accomplice had sold him, but he dismissed the thought almost at once. He had known Sebastian all his life. He stepped aside and let Pesquiera come into the hall.
The three men talked for a few minutes and then passed into the bedroom where the prisoner was confined. Evidently this had formerly been the apartment of the cook, who had slept in the basement in order no doubt to be nearer her work. Pesquiera looked around and at last made out a figure in the darkness lying upon the bed.
He stepped forward, observing that the man on the bed had his hands bound. Bending down, he recognized the face of Gordon. Beaten and bruised and gaunt from hunger it was, but the eyes still gleamed with the same devil-may-care smile.
“Happy to meet you, Don Manuel.”
The Spaniard’s heart glowed with admiration. He did not like the man. It was his intention to fight him as soon as possible for the insult that had been put upon him some weeks earlier. But his spirit always answered to the call of courage, and Gordon’s pluck was so debonair he could not refuse a reluctant appreciation.
“I regret to see you thus, Mr. Gordon,” he said.
“Might have been worse. Sebastian has had se-vere-al notions about putting me out of business. I’m lucky to be still kicking.”
“I have come from Miss Valdes. She came to Santa Fe when she heard from your friend Mr. Davis that you had disappeared. To-night we saw Sebastian for the first time. He brought me here.”