Lopez faced Hardy, across the table. “Senor Loan Fish,” he said, “if my frand, ’e pay you ze money, zen ze rancho belong to him?”
“If he pays me before eight o’clock,” the other replied promptly.
“Senor Wall Street,” the bandit now addressed Pell, “you ’ave ten sousand dollar. I want it.”
Pell was amazed. “But I—”
Lopez snapped his fingers. Pedro, who came back at that very moment, took the money from Pell, and watched his master closely for further instructions as to what to do. Lopez nodded toward Smith.
“For ’im,” he said.
“For me?” cried Uncle Henry, joyfully.
“I must make my frand ’appy,” the bandit said. Pedro gave the money to Uncle Henry. The latter grabbed it as a child might have grabbed a cooky.
Lopez turned to Pell. “Now—you is rob.” To Hardy he said: “You is paid,” and to Uncle Henry, “An’ you get your money back. Bueno! Ees finish.”
Pell was cynical. “I’ll say that’s service,” he murmured; and a sardonic grin came to his thin lips. Perhaps the bandit was joking, after all. But damn these jokes that kept one in long after school!
Uncle Henry, however, had a strange apprehension, and wheeled about, facing Lopez.
“You ain’t goin’ to take it back from me, are you?” he inquired.
“No, Ooncle Hennery,” the bandit laughed, “she is yours for keeps. Zat is all. You may go!” And he waved him out. “And you,” to Hardy. “Pedro, show zem into ze open space!”
“’Im too?” asked Pedro, indicating Morgan Pell who stood, as though made of stone, in one corner.
“Poco tiempo!” the bandit said.
“Debommultalo!” his henchman replied.
“Si,” Lopez smiled. And Pedro got the invalid and the lanky Hardy through the door, as a woman might have swept two geese from her path.
Left alone with the bandit, Pell remarked:
“Look here, there must be some way to settle this thing.” But he had grave fears.
“To zat, I ’ave come at last,” the bandit replied with an emphasis that could not be mistaken.
“You have?” Pell’s voice was weak.
“It shall cost me planty money. I could ’ave tooken you wiz me for ransom—’elluva big ransom—a million dollar, mebbe. But I am not soddid!” He laughed, and rubbed his hands together.
“You aren’t going to hold me for ransom?” Pell questioned, relief in his voice.
“What—what are you doing to do?”
The reply was as swift as an arrow. “Kill you.”
Pell did not believe what he heard.
“Kill me?” he repeated, his head on one side, like a bird listening, and pointing to his chest.
“Si.” Lopez had never used a politer tone.
“You—you’re joking.” There was a crack in Pell’s voice.
“You must be!” huskily. “I thought so all along—now I’m sure of it.”