Page:Yule Logs.djvu/442

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426
ON A MEXICAN RANCHE

half a mile lower down. Put plenty of green wood in it; it is smoke we want and not fire. They will come out quickly enough as soon as we light them; but if they don't, we must pull the faggots away and drag her out—she would be of no use dead."

Five men went off, the others taking their post, pistol in hand, near the mouth of the cave, should the fugitives try to escape. The men had taken their horses with them to bring up the faggots, and half-an-hour later the sound of horses' hoofs was heard coming fast up the ravine.

"They have been wonderfully quick about it," Juan said to the leader uneasily.

"They have; they may have found bushes enough on the lower side of the ravine without going right down to the bottom."

"I did not notice any, señor—and listen, it seems to me that noise is more than five horses would make."

"So it is. Stand to your horses, men."

A moment later the head of the party came in sight. There was a shout in English of "Come along, lads, here are the skunks." For a moment the men could not believe their eyes, for by the side of a cowboy rode a female figure. She was in her white petticoats, and had on a scarlet shirt, strapped at the waist by a belt; her head was bare, and though nearly a hundred yards away, Don Pedro recognised at once Isabella Novales. A terrible oath broke from his lips.

"Forward, men," he shouted, "ride for your lives; we have been duped, and the girl has brought these cowboys upon us."

At the head of his men Don Pedro dashed up the ravine, but as he passed the opening to the cave, a flash of fire spurted out and struck him on the side of the head with a full charge of heavy shot, and he fell dead from his horse. The man Juan, who followed him, met with the