“How dare you push my face, you bad man!”
“You should keep your face to home,” Lopez answered, not turning a hair. He hadn’t meant to be cruel. The incident was nothing to him. When anyone was in his way, he always got the obstacle out of it. He addressed the silent Lucia, who was horrified at the treatment accorded the innocent Angela. “Now that we have all finished eating,” he said, delighting in the sarcasm, since no one else had had a bite, “we will get down to business.” He shoved the tray aside, and the cook began instantly to clean things up. “Pedro!” Lopez called, taking out a huge ivory toothpick which he shamelessly used.
Instantly Pedro was at the door. “Si!” he said.
Lopez still spoke to Lucia: “We shall have big time togezzer—at least for a leetle while.” Then he motioned to Pedro; and his men brought in the male prisoners. “You will not worry ’bout being married, once you come wiz me.”
Morgan Pell heard this last remark.
“Look here,” he said, “that’s my wife you’re talking to!” Rage was in his face. He didn’t care whether he was this man’s prisoner or not. There should be no insults hurled at Lucia—that old, primitive feeling for his woman was roused.
“So!” was all Lopez said, turning on Pell, and nodding his head. “Ees nice wife—I like her. You do not mind, do you?” His hand touched Lucia’s arm. “Ees all right. I shall ask no question. You shall answer what I ask. And as is my custom, anybody what does not tell ze truth shall be quite suddenly—” he paused just the portion of a second—“shot.”
Uncle Henry had rolled in with the rest. At this last word his chair reared up like a frightened steed. “Shot!” he cried.
“Si,” answered Lopez, calmly.
“You mean it?” Uncle Henry asked, unbelief in his tone.
The bandit glared at him.
“Should I waste my time listening to sings which are not true?”
“Thank Gawd, I ain’t got nothin’ to lie about!” was Uncle Henry’s relieved thought, expressed aloud.
“H’m!” Lopez murmured. “You have given me a idea.” He rubbed his hands together, and then pushed his big sombrero a little back on his forehead. “Better as my own. I shall use it.”
Uncle Henry wondered what he had suggested. “What’s that?” he asked.
Lopez took on the voice of an orator, or a man in court making an important announcement. “If anyone ’ere shall tell me a lie, zen you shall all be—” he paused dramatically once more—“shot.” The final word rang out like a shot itself.
A movement of despair ran through the group.
“Geemoneddy!” Uncle Henry broke the tension.
Lopez turned to Lucia. “All bot you,” he graciously informed her. “I ’ave ozzer plans for you!” Her hair enraptured him—her youth and loveliness.
The relief she felt at the first part of the sentence was quickly killed as the sinister meaning of the latter part rushed into her brain.