Dave loped out of the thicket and straight across the clearing to the Morales house. Leaving Montrosa’s reins hanging, he opened the door and entered without knocking. Rosa appeared in the opening to another room, her eyes wide with fright at this apparition, and Dave saw that she was dressed in her finest, as if for a holiday or for a journey.
“Where’s your father?” he demanded.
“He’s gone to Sangre de Cristo. What do you want?”
“When did he go?”
“This morning, early. He—”
“Who’s been here since he left?”
Rosa was recovering from her first surprise, and now her black brows drew together in anger. “No one has come. You are the first. And have you no manners to stride into a respectable house—?”
Dave broke in harshly: “Rosa, you’re lying. Jose Sanchez has been here within an hour. Where is he?” When the girl only grew whiter and raised a hand to her breast, he stepped toward her, crying, “Answer me!”
Rosa recoiled, and the breath caught in her throat like a sob. “I’ll tell you nothing,” she said in a thin voice. Then she began to tremble. “Why do you want Jose?”
“You know why. He killed Don Eduardo, and then be rode here. Come! I know everything.”
“Lies! Lies!” Rosa’s voice grew shrill. “Out of this house! I know you. It was you who betrayed Panfilo, and his blood is on your hands, assassin!” With the last word she made as if to retreat, but Dave was too quick; he seized her, and for an instant they struggled breathlessly.
Dave had reasoned beforehand that his only chance of discovering anything from this girl lay in utterly terrorizing her and in profiting by her first panic; therefore he pressed his advantage. He succeeded better than he had dared to hope.
“You know who killed Senor Ed,” he cried, fiercely. “The fortune-teller read your plans, and there is no use to deny it.”
Rosa screamed again; she writhed; she tried to sink her teeth into her captor’s flesh. In her body was the strength of a full-grown man, and Dave could hardly hold her. But suddenly, as the two scuffled, from the back room of the house came a sound which caused Dave to release the girl as abruptly as he had seized her— it was the clink and tinkle of Mexican spurs upon a wooden floor.
Without an instant’s hesitation Dave flung himself past Rosa and through the inner door.
Jose Sanchez met him with a shout; the shock of their collision overbore the lighter man, and the two went down together, arms and legs intertwined. The horse-breaker fired his revolver blindly—a deafening explosion inside those four walls—but he was powerless against his antagonist’s strength and ferocity. It required but a moment for Law to master him, to wrench the weapon from his grasp, and then, with the aid of Jose’s silk neck-scarf, to bind his wrists tightly.