Rosa felt herself swooning, and she knew nothing of what immediately followed. After a time she felt herself shaken, and heard the colonel addressing her.
“Come, come!” he was saying. “Why don’t you answer me?” He dragged her farther from what was now a roaring furnace. “Where is your precious brother and that black fellow?”
Rosa could only stare dully.
“It seems we missed them,” said Cueto.
“More of your bungling,” Cobo broke out at him, wrathfully. “God! I’ve a mind to toss you into that fire.” He turned his attention once more to Rosa, and with a jerk that shook her into fuller consciousness repeated: “Where are they? Speak to me.”
“Gone!” she gasped. “Gone!” She struggled weakly toward Cueto, imploring him, “Pancho, don’t you know me?”
“Well, we’ve taught him a lesson,” said Cueto, grinning apprehensively at Cobo. “We’ve accomplished something, anyhow, eh?” He nodded at Rosa. “She’s all that I told you. Look at her!”
Colonel Cobo took time to scrutinize his prisoner. He turned her about in the light from the burning dwelling; then he agreed.
“Yes! She’s a pretty little spy—quite a prize, truly. Now then!” His thick lips spread; he spoke to her more gently. “I want you to tell me about that brother of yours, eh? Cueto said I would find him here. Ha! Still frightened, I see. Well, I have a way with women; I dare say you’ll be glad to tell me everything by and by.” Then, seeing that his men risked a scorching in their search of the hut and were already quarreling over the scanty plunder which it afforded, he turned from Rosa to call them away.
Profiting by his inattention, Rosa wriggled out of his grasp and ran to Evangelina, who lay face down in the dirt, her limbs sprawled loosely. She flung herself upon the prostrate body and cried the black woman’s name, but she could awaken no response.
The first pink of dawn was now deepening in the east, and as soon as it had grown light enough to see to travel Colonel Cobo prepared to return to his horses. The roof and walls of the bohio had fallen away to ashes, its skeleton of poles and its few pieces of crude furniture alone were smoldering when he called his men together and gave the word to go.
“Come, my sweetheart.” He addressed himself to the girl. “Leave that carrion for the buzzards.”
Rosa looked up to find him leering at her. She brushed the tears from her eyes, crying:
“Go away! In God’s name haven’t you done harm enough?”
“Oh, but you’re going with me.”
The girl rose; her face was colorless; she was aquiver with indignation. “Leave me!” she stormed. “What have I done to you? Don’t—”
“Caramba! A temper. And you have strength, too, as I discovered. Must I bind those pretty hands or—”
Colonel Cobo reached forth, laughing, and encircled her in his powerful arms. Rosa fought him as she had fought at the first moment of desperation, but he lifted her easily and went striding across the field behind his men.