“Who is he? What does this mean?” Pell cried out.
“This is Pancho Lopez!” “Red” Giddings said. Everyone’s hands were lifted, and pistols were held by the Mexicans, ready to go off at the slightest sign of rebellion.
“Pancho Lopez?” Pell repeated, frightened almost to the breaking point.
The bandit, a strange smile upon his lips, and hidden laughter in his eyes, knew his power. The situation was one in which he reveled. He gazed around him, triumphantly. His legs were spread apart, a cigarette drooped nonchalantly from his lips.
“Senors, senoras!” he announced, in fascinating broken English, “you are all my preesoner!”
WHEREIN THE BANDIT EXPOUNDS A NEW PHILOSOPHY, AND MAKES MARIONETTES OF THE AMERICANS
“Put all ze men outside,” Lopez ordered. Venustiano and Pedro, his chief lieutenants, obeyed at once, forcing them to march ahead of them, and standing guard over them near a great cactus bush a few feet from the adobe. “Leave ze women with me,” the bandit continued. “But first, Alvarada, you find ze cook. I am ’ongry.”
“Si,” answered Alvarada; and after he had made certain that Pedro and Venustiano could handle the three men, one of whom, after all, was but an invalid in a wheel chair, he made his way to the kitchen. He knew there were two other companions who would help in any emergency. They slunk in the background, cigarettes between their lips, guns always ready for action. The house was completely surrounded.
Lucia and Angela, left alone with Lopez, revealed the deep concern they felt. They watched the bandit as he pawed through some papers on the table. With maddening indifference he then lighted another cigarette, and went over to the door, looking out at the male prisoners. Finally he turned upon them, looked them over, and remarked:
“What a pity. Only two women!”
They shuddered away from his gaze.
There was a noise from the direction of the kitchen, and Alvarada, with the miserable little Mexican cook ahead of him, rushed in.
He was addressing him in Spanish: “Usted si cusinero. Borachi!”
Lopez gave one glance at the poor specimen who had charge of the kitchen.
“The cook,” he laughed. “He is dronk!” He now addressed him directly: “You are dronk,” he affirmed, and stamped his foot.
Frightened, the boy cried: “No! No!” Certainly he was under the influence of the deadly tequila; but when he saw the bandit’s face, and realized that he was in his power, he became suddenly and miraculously sober. He was firmly convinced that his last moment on this earth had come. He knew that a man like Lopez never hesitated to shoot to kill. He realized in the twinkling of an eye how late it was, how the dinner had been delayed through his drunkenness; and this visitor would brook no further waiting. He fully expected to be shot against the door. Therefore, to save time, he slunk to the entrance of the kitchen, placed himself against the jamb, crossed himself, muttered a rapid, incoherent prayer in Spanish, put his hands behind his back, closed his eyes and waited for the fatal shot that would send him straight to hell.