“Let me see it,” said the girl.
I handed it to her. She began to examine carefully the list of names, her face turning paler as she read. Tim Westmore looked anxiously over her shoulder. Suddenly I saw his face congest and his eyes bulge.
“Why! why!” he gasped, “I’m there! What’ve I ever done, I ask you that? The old——” he choked, at a loss and groping. Then his anger flared up. “I’ve always served him faithful and done what I was told,” he muttered, fiercely. “I’ll do him in for this!”
“I am here,” observed Miss Emory.
“Yes, and that sot in the chair!” whispered Tim, fiercely.
Again Brower proved he was not asleep by opening one eye.
“Thanks for them kind words,” said he.
“We’ve got to get out of here,” stated Tim with conviction.
“That idea just got through your thick British skull?” queried Artie, rousing again.
“I wish we had some way to carry the young lady—she can’t walk,” said Westmore, paying no attention.
“I have my horse tied out by the lone Joshua-tree,” I answered him.
“I’m going to take a look at that Cortinez,” said the little Englishman, nodding his satisfaction at my news as to the horse. “I’m not easy about him.”
“He’ll sleep like a log until morning,” Miss Emory reassured me. “I’ve often stepped right over him where he has been on guard and walked all around the garden.”
“Just the same I’m going to take a look,” persisted Westmore.
He tiptoed to the door, softly turned the knob and opened it. He found himself face to face with Cortinez.
I had not thought of the English groom as a man of resource, but his action in this emergency proved him. He cast a fleeting glance over his shoulder. Artie Brower was huddled down in his armchair practically out of sight; Miss Emory and I had reseated ourselves in the only other two chairs in the room, so that we were in the same relative positions as when we had been bound and left. Only the confusion of the papers on the floor and the open safe would have struck an observant eye.
“It is well that you come,” said Tim to Cortinez in Spanish. “The senor sent me to conduct these two to the East Room and I like not the job alone. Enter.”
He held the door with one hand and fairly dragged Cortinez through with the other. Instantly he closed the door and cast himself on Cortinez’s back. I had already launched myself at the Mexican’s throat.
The struggle was violent but brief. Fortunately I had not missed my spring at our enemy’s windpipe, so he had been unable to shout. The noise of our scuffle sounded loud enough within the walls of the room; but those walls were two feet thick, and the door and windows closed.
“Get something to gag him with, and the cords,” panted Tim to the girl.