Mead and Ellhorn were trying to batter down the door, but it was strongly built and had not yielded to their shoulders. Throwing down his empty rifle, Tuttle ran into the portal, thrust Ellhorn to one side as if he had been a boy, and lunged against the door with all his ox-like weight. Mead threw himself against it at the same instant, and it cracked, split, and flew into splinters.
The three big Texans, each with a revolver in either hand, surged through the opening. The Mexicans met them in mid-floor, and the room was full of the whirr of flying bullets, the thud of bullets against the walls, the spat of bullets upon human flesh. The officers rushed forward, their guns blazing streams of fire, and Dysert and his men backed toward the corner. Mead emptied both of his revolvers and, pressing the leader closely, raised one of them to batter him over the head. Dysert threw up his hands, exclaiming, “We give up!” and the battle was over.
On the floor were the bodies of four Mexicans, either dead or badly wounded. Dysert and three of his followers were still alive, although each had been hurt. Tuttle, besides the gash in his cheek, had a bullet in his left arm, and Ellhorn a wound in his thigh. Mead’s hat and clothing had been pierced, but his body was untouched.
They sent for physicians to attend to the wounded Mexicans and, having handcuffed their prisoners, hurried them to the jail. As Simmons led the men from the sheriff’s office and the three friends were left alone, Mead turned to Tuttle.
“Tom,” he said, “I ’m sure sorry I struck you just now. I was so mad I hardly knew what I was doing. You ’d been acting queer, and when I found it was because you thought I was afraid, I just boiled over. I had no business to do it, Tom, and I ’m sorry.”
The red of Tom’s face went a shade deeper, and he fidgeted uneasily. “No, Emerson, you ’re wrong,” he protested. “I did n’t think you was afraid. You-all ought to know better than that. But—well—the truth is, Emerson, I could n’t help thinkin’ what hard lines it would be for Mrs. Emerson if anything—should happen to you.”
The tears came into Mead’s eyes, and he turned away as Tuttle went on: “I told Nick not to send for you, but the darned kiote went and done it without me knowing it!”
“No, I didn’t,” Nick exclaimed. “I just told him we was in a hole and I was drunk! And, anyway, it’s a good thing I did; for now we ’ve got the Dyserts, and Emerson did n’t get a scratch!”
“Boys,” said Mead, and his voice was thick in his throat, “you ’re the best friends any fellow ever had; but you-all don’t know what a brick Marguerite is! She ’d rather die than come between us, I know she would! She would n’t have any more use for me if she thought I ’d kept a whole skin by going back on you! It’s the truth, boys, and don’t you forget it!”