Page:Yule Logs.djvu/443

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427
ON A MEXICAN RANCHE

same fate; but the others dashed past, and a minute later eight cowboys galloped in pursuit. Isabella Novales drew her horse aside to let them pass, and then sprang to the ground. Her fears of Henry's safety had been allayed. She learned from one of the five men whom they had seized just as they began to cut brushwood, that he had gained the cave, and that, not daring to attack it, his foes were about to smoke him out. The news had gained him his life. The cowboys were afraid to fire lest the sound should reach the ears of the brigands, but they had without a moment's loss of time strung the other four up by their lariats to a tree growing close to the spot where they had been captured.

"Are you safe, my beloved?" she said, as she threw herself into Harry's arms with the passionate abandon of her race.

"Quite safe," he replied; "you have saved me, Isabella. I was close to the mouth of the cave and could hear them talking, and I knew that unless help came in time it was all over. Your mare carried me splendidly; but another half-mile and they would have had me. I and my gun made up nearly twice the weight she is accustomed to carry. And you, how did you manage? I see that you went to the camp."

"I threw myself down close to the door for a moment to get fresh air, then I ran out. At first I thought of making for the hacienda, but it was two miles farther; they would be too long in getting ready. I luckily came upon your horse, mounted it, and galloped to your camp. When I rode in, the men had just finished their breakfast, and had already mounted; another two minutes and they would have gone. I told my story. One of them ran into the tent and brought me a shirt and a belt, which I was very glad to put on, though till then I had never thought for a moment about being so undressed before a number of men. We galloped as if we had been racing.