ON A MEXICAN RANCHE
that my daughter's inclinations remain unchanged, and that, as her happiness is my first consideration, it is impossible that the proposed match can take place. Now, I suppose, I shall have trouble. It is too annoying, coming just when I have got rid of the troubles with the Americans. Somehow one never seems to have peace."
Looking round the luxuriously furnished room, and thinking of the wide possessions and easy life that he led, Harry had difficulty in repressing a smile at the querulous tone of the complaint. The conversation was in Spanish, which Denham had learned to speak fluently during his five years' residence on the plain, where, among his companions, were generally a proportion of Mexicans.
The next evening, as he was sitting with his men after his supper was over and their pipes lighted, he said, "By the way, do any of you know anything about a young Mexican named Pedro de Vaga? His father's hacienda is some eighty miles to the south."
"I know the place," one of the men said: "it is a big estate, not so large as this in point of size, but better land, and he owns a good many more slaves than Don Garcia does. I was working down near there two years ago, and I heard a good many stories of this Don Pedro. The old man, they say, is a kind master; but the young one is a tyrant, and his people are looking forward with dread to the time when he will be boss of the estate. Fortunately for them he is not very much there, being fond of going to the big towns, where he gambles, they say, heavily. I have heard that when he comes into them it will require a large slice of the estates to pay off the moneylenders, though his father has paid large sums for him over and over again. I heard that he was at New Orleans three years ago, and was lucky in getting off on board a ship before he was arrested; so that it must have been something pretty bad, as they are not squeamish at New Orleans."