And then she saw DeWitt’s face go white and his head drop back.
“Oh!” she screamed. “You’ve killed him! You’ve killed him!”
The Indian’s voice came in jerks as he eased DeWitt to the ground.
“He’s just fainted. He’s put up a tremendous fight for a man in his condition!”
As he spoke he was tying DeWitt’s hands and ankles with his own and DeWitt’s handkerchiefs. Rhoda would have run to DeWitt’s aid but Cesca’s hand was tight on her arm. Before the girl could plan any action, Kut-le had turned to her and had lifted her in his arms. She fought him wildly.
“I can’t leave him so, Kut-le! You will kill all I’ve learned to feel for you if you leave him so!”
“He’ll be all right!” panted Kut-le, running down the trail. “I’ve got Billy Porter down here to leave with him!”
At the foot of the trail were horses. Gagged and bound to his saddle Billy Porter sat in the moonlight with Molly on guard. Kut-le put Rhoda on a horse, then quickly thrust Porter to the ground, where the man sat helplessly.
“Oh, Billy!” cried Rhoda. “John is on the terrace! Find him! Help him!”
The last words were spoken as Kut-le turned her horse and led at a trot into the desert.
THE RUINED MISSION
Rhoda was so confused that for a moment she could only ease herself to the pony’s swift canter and wonder if her encounter with DeWitt had been but a dream after all. A short distance from the pueblo Kut-le rode in beside her. It was very dark, with the heavy blackness that just precedes the dawn, but Rhoda felt that the Indian was looking at her exultingly.
“It seemed as if I never would get Alchise and Injun Tom moved to a friend’s campos so that I could overtake you. I will say that that fellow Porter is game to the finish. It took me an hour to subdue him! Now, don’t worry about the two of them. With a little work they can loose themselves and help each other to safety. I saw Newman’s trail ten miles or so over beyond the pueblo mesa and I told Porter just how to go to pick him up.”
Rhoda laughed hysterically.
“No wonder you have such a hold on your Indians! You seem never to fail! I do believe as much of it is luck as ingenuity!”
“What a jolt DeWitt will find when he comes to, and finds Porter!”
“You needn’t gloat over the situation, Kut-le!” exclaimed Rhoda, half sobbing in her conflict of emotions.
“Oh, you mustn’t mind anything I say,” returned the young Indian. “I am crazy with joy at just hearing your voice again! Are you really sorry to be with me again? Did DeWitt mean as much to you as ever? Tell me, Rhoda! Say just one kindly thing to me!”
“O Kut-le,” cried Rhoda, “I can’t! I can’t! You must help me to be strong! You—who are the strongest person that I know! Can’t you put yourself in my place and realize what a horrible position I am in?”