“Other plans!” she cried.
“Si.” He was unmoved by her apprehension. He walked to the very center of the room, and looked about him, studying all their faces.
It was as if he were a central pivot and their destinies revolved around him. They had no idea what he would say next, and they hung on his words.
WHEREIN UNCLE HENRY CHATTERS SOME MORE, THERE IS AN AUCTION, AND THINGS LOOK BLACK INDEED
“And now for business,” Lopez said. “And remember zat he what tells a lie shall be right away shotted.” In his excitement he lost the little English he had.
“I only hope he tells one!” Uncle Henry couldn’t help saying, pointing to Hardy.
“You wish him to be shot?” the bandit wanted to know.
“Absolutely!” Uncle Henry was quick to answer.
Angela was horrified. “You want him to kill my dad?”
“I should enjoy it tremendous,” Uncle Henry kept right on, and all but smacked his thin old lips.
Lopez was interested. “Why,” he said slowly, wishing to get at the bottom of things, “do you wish him to be shotted so tremendous?”
Uncle Henry had no hesitation in answering: “Because he come to skin us out of this place, gol darn him!” And then, as if to save his skin, he pushed his chair far into the alcove, and, from this vantage point, watched to see what Hardy would do and say. He was aware that he had gotten him in a devilish stew. It served him right. He was a robber, a thief, and he didn’t care what became of him. If Lopez took him out and had him shot at once he wouldn’t have felt a qualm.
The bandit weighed what Smith had said; then he spoke directly to Hardy. “Zis is so? Zis is true?”
“No.” The monosyllable was more emphatic than any long explanation could have been. A scowl on his brow, Hardy came close to Lopez, fearlessly. “I came to foreclose a mortgage I hold on this place. That is all.”
But Uncle Henry was not going to see him get away with that. “Tell him why you want this ranch so bad!” he yelled. “I dare you!”
Pell now stepped forward. Their predicament was bad enough as it was, without having this old imbecile make it worse. “Keep still, you fool! Do you want to get us into more trouble?”
“I certainly do,” cried Uncle Henry, “an’, gol darn it, I’m a-goin’ to! Rob me of ten thousand dollars, will you?”
Lopez was listening with both ears; and a glint came into his eyes, “Zat is true?” he inquired, interested anew. “He has rob you of ten sousand dollars? Eh—heh—a good beeg sum!”
“Ask him!” Uncle Henry said. “An’ I only hope to thunder he tells a lie!” His voice went up on a high key.
The bandit looked keenly at Morgan Pell. “Did you?” There was no reply. “You hear me—you will answer—at once!”
“No.” Morgan Pell shot out the word, and clenched his fists. The situation was becoming hot. This old fellow would have them all dead in a few moments if he didn’t keep his mouth shut.