"Beldin', shore we'd better read it," replied Ladd. "What we want is a line on them Greasers. Whether they're Campo's men or Salazar's, or just a wanderin' bunch of rebels--or Rojas's bandits. Sabe, senor?"
Not one of the men was able to translate the garbled scrawl.
"Shore Mercedes can read it," said Ladd.
Thorne opened a door and called her. She came into the room followed by Nell and Mrs. Belding. Evidently all three divined a critical situation.
"My dear, we want you to read what's written on this paper," said Thorne, as he led her to the table. "It was sent in by rebels, and--and we fear contains bad news for us."
Mercedes gave the writing one swift glance, then fainted in Thorne's arms. He carried her to a couch, and with Nell and Mrs. Belding began to work over her.
Belding looked at his rangers. It was characteristic of the man that, now when catastrophe appeared inevitable, all the gloom and care and angry agitation passed from him.
"Laddy, it's Rojas all right. How many men has he out there?"