“Rosa! Where is she?” O’Reilly inquired in a new agony of apprehension.
“Oh, she is here,” Jacket assured him, carelessly. “I think she has fainted. Caramba! Isn’t that like a woman—to miss all the fun? But, compadre—that was a blow for Cuba Libre; what? People will talk about me when I’m as dead as that pig. ’Narciso Villar, the slayer of Cobo’—that’s what they’ll call me.” Jacket giggled hysterically. “I—I thought he would jump up and run after me, so I fled, but he tried to bury himself, didn’t he? His flesh was like butter, O’Reilly.”
“Help me out, quick! Here, catch this rope.” Johnnie managed to fling the coil within reach of his little friend and a moment later he had hoisted himself from that pit of tragedy.
MORIN, THE FISHERMAN
When Rosa Varona regained consciousness sufficiently to understand what had happened she proved herself a person of no little self-control. She went to pieces for a moment, as was only natural, but O’Reilly soon succeeded in calming her. Nor did he have to remind her twice that this was no time for weakness or hysteria; it was she, in fact, who first voiced the fear that Cobo dead was scarcely less of a menace than Cobo alive.
“What are we going to do with him?” she inquired.
Jacket, too, appreciated the dangers of the situation. “We must get rid of him quickly,” said he, “for his men are close by; he will be missed and there will be a search.” “I don’t intend to make him a present of that treasure,” O’Reilly said, grimly. “It is our only salvation.”
“But how are we going to hide him?” Jacket inquired. “One might as well try to conceal a church; oxen couldn’t hoist him out of that hole.”
“Precisely! He has made our work easy for us. We can’t take more than a small part of the money with us, anyhow; the rest will have to lie here until the war is over. Well! We shall leave Cobo on guard over what remains!”
Jacket was immensely pleased with this idea, once he had grasped it. “What could be better?” he cried. “The man’s spirit is evil enough to frighten people away and we will drop stones upon him, so that he can learn the taste of his own medicine. It suits me exactly to think of Colonel Cobo standing on his head in a hole in the ground for the rest of eternity!”
O’Reilly was by this time suffering the full reaction from the events of the past half-hour and he was nearer exhaustion than he dreamed, but, conquering his repugnance for his unescapable task, he lowered himself once more into the well. His arms were weak, however, and his fingers numb, so he fell rather than slid the length of the rope. He managed to open the door of the treasure-chamber, then entered and loaded his pockets with gold. He sent up the jewel-box at the end of the rope, dragged the body of Cobo into the cave, then wedged the barricade back into place. It required the combined strength of Rosa and Jacket to help him the last few feet of his climb.