Desert Gold (Chapter 2, page 1 of 9)


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Chapter 2

The dark face vanished. Dick Gale heard footsteps and the tinkle of
spurs. He strode to the window, and was in time to see a Mexican
swagger into the front door of the saloon. Dick had only a glimpse;
but in that he saw a huge black sombrero with a gaudy band, the back of
a short, tight-fitting jacket, a heavy pearl-handled gun swinging with
a fringe of sash, and close-fitting trousers spreading wide at the
bottom. There were men passing in the street, also several Mexicans
lounging against the hitching-rail at the curb.

"Did you see him? Where did he go?" whispered Thorne, as he joined
Gale. "Those Greasers out there with the cartridge belts crossed over
their breasts--they are rebels."

"I think he went into the saloon," replied Dick. "He had a gun, but
for all I can see the Greasers out there are unarmed."

"Never believe it! There! Look, Dick! That fellow's a guard, though
he seems so unconcerned. See, he has a short carbine, almost
concealed.... There's another Greaser farther down the path. I'm
afraid Rojas has the house spotted."

"If we could only be sure."

"I'm sure, Dick. Let's cross the hall; I want to see how it looks from
the other side of the house."

Gale followed Thorne out of the restaurant into the high-ceiled
corridor which evidently divided the hotel, opening into the street and
running back to a patio. A few dim, yellow lamps flickered. A Mexican
with a blanket round his shoulders stood in the front entrance. Back
toward the patio there were sounds of boots on the stone floor. Shadows
flitted across that end of the corridor. Thorne entered a huge chamber
which was even more poorly lighted than the hall. It contained a table
littered with papers, a few high-backed chairs, a couple of couches,
and was evidently a parlor.

"Mercedes has been meeting me here," said Thorne. "At this hour she
comes every moment or so to the head of the stairs there, and if I am
here she comes down. Mostly there are people in this room a little
later. We go out into the plaza. It faces the dark side of the house,
and that's the place I must slip out with her if there's any chance at
all to get away."

They peered out of the open window. The plaza was gloomy, and at first
glance apparently deserted. In a moment, however, Gale made out a
slow-pacing dark form on the path. Farther down there was another. No
particular keenness was required to see in these forms a sentinel-like
stealthiness.

Gripping Gale's arm, Thorne pulled back from the window.

"You saw them," he whispered. "It's just as I feared. Rojas has the
place surrounded. I should have taken Mercedes away. But I had no
time--no chance! I'm bound!... There's Mercedes now! My God!... Dick,
think--think if there's a way to get her out of this trap!"

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