Page:Yule Logs.djvu/437

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421
ON A MEXICAN RANCHE

suspicions are correct, and they have Don Pedro with them, I fear there is no chance of that. I know a cave, four miles away, that I could hold against them for any time, while this hut is not meant to stand a siege, but there is no getting there."

"What are you growling at, Don? Do you hear some one creeping up there?"

A moment later there were three crashes as a heap of faggots were thrown down against the end of the hut. He sprang towards that direction, pushed the moss from a loop-hole, and thrusting his rifle out, shot a man who was approaching with a blazing brand.

"Too late," he exclaimed bitterly a minute afterwards, "it has fired the dry grass; the wind is towards us, and those faggots will be kindled, and the flames will light the dry shingles."

"I will go out and surrender," Isabella said suddenly; "you shall not throw away your life, Don Henry."

"Your surrender would not save my life, señora, even if I were to venture to make the sacrifice. I have killed five or six of them, and you may be sure that they would not spare me."

"Then let us both get on to my horse and try to escape; she is very fast."

"We should be overtaken before we had gone half a mile, even if we had a fair start. She is a pretty thing, but light, and would soon tire under the double weight. Let me think for a minute;" he closed his eyes and stood in thought.

Already the pungent odour of the smoke filled the room, and there was a cracking noise, increasing in volume every moment, that told the faggots had caught fire. Suddenly he looked up.

"I have it, señora, if you will not mind doing it."

"I will do anything you tell me to do," she said quietly.