Jose Sanchez came plowing into Alaire’s car, tremendously excited. “Look, senora!” he cried. “Look what the general gave me,” and he proudly displayed Longorio’s service revolver. Around Jose’s waist was the cartridge-belt and holster that went with the weapon. “With his own hands he buckled it about me, and he said, ’Jose, something tells me you are a devil for bravery. Guard your mistress with your life, for if any mishap befalls her I shall cut out your heart with my own hands.’ Those were his very words, senora. Caramba! There is a man to die for.”
Nor was this the last of Longorio’s dramatic surprises. Shortly after the train had got under way the lieutenant in command of Alaire’s guard brought her a small package, saying:
“The general commanded me to hand you this, with his deepest regard.”
Alaire accepted the object curiously. It was small and heavy and wrapped in several leaves torn from a notebook, and it proved to be nothing less than the splendid diamond-and-ruby ring she had admired.
“God protect us, now!” murmured Dolores, crossing herself devoutly.
BLAZE JONES’S NEMESIS
Blaze Jones rode up to his front gate and dismounted in the shade of the big ebony-tree. He stepped back and ran an approving eye over another animal tethered there. It was a thoroughbred bay mare he had never seen, and as he scanned her good points he reflected that the time had come when he would have to accustom himself to the sight of strange horses along his fence and strange automobiles beside the road, for Paloma was a woman now, and the young men of the neighborhood had made the discovery. Yes, and Paloma was a pretty woman; therefore the hole under the ebony-tree would probably be worn deep by impatient hoofs. He was glad that most of the boys preferred saddles to soft upholstery, for it argued that some vigor still remained in Texas manhood, and that the country had not been entirely ruined by motors, picture-shows, low shoes, and high collars. Of course the youths of this day were nothing like the youths of his own, and yet—Blaze let his gaze linger fondly on the high-bred mare and her equipment—here at least was a person who knew a good horse, a good saddle, and a good gun.
As he came up the walk he heard Paloma laugh, and his own face lightened, for Paloma’s merriment was contagious. Then as he mounted the steps and turned the corner of the “gallery” he uttered a hearty greeting.
“Dave Law! Where in the world did you drop from?”
Law uncoiled himself and took the ranchman’s hand. “Hello, Blaze! I been ordered down here to keep you straight.”
“Pshaw! Now who’s giving you orders, Dave?”
“Why, I’m with the Rangers.”
“Never knew a word of it. Last I heard you was filibustering around with the Maderistas.”