“Yes,” the bandit replied. “From my headquarters in Chihuahua I will give you pen, ink, messenger-boy—everysing!”
“But I—” Pell started to say.
But Lopez broke in: “You will please listen more and speak less. I ’ave decide. You I shall ’old for ransom. And,” turning to Hardy, “you; and you,” pointing to Uncle Henry, “you who ’ave nossing, I shall leave be’ind.”
Pell and Hardy felt that the game was over.
Uncle Henry, on the contrary, was jubilant. “Gee!” he sang out, “and I get the oil, after all!”
No one heeded him. Things were too serious still.
“You wouldn’t do this?” Hardy asked of Lopez.
“No?” the bandit asked.
Hardy took Angela in his arms. “But what about her—my daughter? You wouldn’t take her, would you?”
“Not for a million dollars!” Lopez smiled.
Angela’s pride was hurt, “H’m!” she sniffed.
Lopez looked around him. He saw Lucia, and extended his hand to her. “And as for you—” he began.
Lucia was frightened. What was to be her fate?
“Yes?” she breathed.
“Life ’as been unkind to you. Too long ’ave you been marry wiz ze tired business man. You shall come wiz me to ze land of purple mountains, where I will love you myself personal.”
This animal! Lucia turned from him in horror. “But I don’t want to love!”
“It is not what you want,” a new tone came into Lopez’s voice. “It is what I want. I am ze law, ’ere!”
“Please!” Lucia pleaded.
Pell stepped forward. “Look here!” he cried. “There must be some way out of this!”
“Zere is,” said Lopez politely. He pointed to the door. “Zat way.”
Angela clung to her father’s neck. “Dad!” she cried, seeing that he was about to be forced to go—perhaps forever. Tears rolled down her pretty cheeks.
Pell saw the seriousness of things now, and turned to Hardy in a strange camaraderie. “I guess we’re up against it,” he said.
“Looks that way,” the other replied. In their misfortune they were curiously united.
Lopez turned to the whole room. “If you are ready?” he said, and snapped his fingers as a slave-driver might have done. “Pedro!” he called, “kill ze first one what make trouble,” indicating the entire group of prisoners. Pedro grinned hopefully. “Zey go. Bueno! Zey go—all of zose ozzers. I shall follow—wiz my woman.” He turned to Lucia, who was standing like a graven image near the table. “Come! We shall be very ’appy togezzer, you and me!”
They were about to pass through the door—all of them—when a noise startled them; and Gilbert, followed by “Red” and Venustiano, appeared.
WHEREIN AN OLD FRIENDSHIP COMES TO LIFE, LOPEZ LEARNS A THING OR TWO, AND FINALLY MAKES A MATCH
“What’s coming off?” Gilbert said, looking about him, and not a little surprised to find a Mexican and his adherents in his adobe.