He watched her least movement. He put his lips very close to her mouth. She struggled in that one mad second, and tried to kiss him. She could not—she could not bring herself to the act.
He laughed sardonically. The devil himself could not have laughed liked that.
“Some women could have done it,” he told her, sternly. “But not you, my dear....” Fury and sarcasm were in his tone. “So! That’s it, is it? And I stand blindly by while you and he ...”
Utter madness seemed to rush upon him.
Lucia had backed to the table. “No! I can’t. You—you brute!”
Pell watched her, steadily. “Do you think I am a fool? Or that you are more than human?” he cried out.
“I swear to God!” she contradicted him.
“Ha! You’ve had your turn, my lady! Now, it’s mine! And after all I’ve done for you, you ungrateful hussy!”
The clock struck three. It seemed an eternity until the little bell ceased. Her life with him swam before her in that brief period. All she could utter was:
“What are you going to do?” And she clutched her hands in helplessness, for she read some sinister purpose in his voice.
“I’m going to do what I once saw another sensible husband do under these circumstances.”
Lucia’s face was ashen now. “What is that?”
A second’s pause. She hung on his answer.
“Horses don’t know who they really belong to. So they are branded. There is no reason why women equally ignorant shouldn’t be similarly treated.” Every word was measured, uttered with fearful distinctness. His hand shot behind him on the table, where “Red” had left his spurs. Lucia saw the swift movement.
“No!” she screamed, “Oh, no, Morgan, not that!” Her senses reeled. The earth crashed beneath her.
But he paid no heed. He seized her fiercely by one arm, reaching far out to do so, and, gorilla-like, he had her, this weak flower, in his clutches. He pinioned her deftly, and thrust her lovely body back, until her face looked upward from the table. With his right hand, he started to tear her beautiful face to shreds with the cruel spurs, forever to ruin her glorious features, when, as if through a miracle, the door was thrown wide open, and a strange figure stood on the sill—a Mexican in a great sombrero, a flaming red kerchief at his throat, and eyes that gleamed and glistened, teeth that were like the whitest ivory.
He stood, with arms crossed, surveying the scene. If lightning had struck the adobe, Pell could not have been more dazed.
He released his wife. “What the devil!” he cried. “Who are you?”
“Hold up your hands!” yelled the bandit, stepping over the threshold. And Pell’s hands went up, like magic, the spurs jangling to the floor.
There was a noise without, and Uncle Henry was pushed in by a crude, foul-looking Mexican, then came “Red,” Angela, and Hardy, followed by another Mexican bandit, and several Mexicans.