Dick returned to the sitting-room. The women were nervous and not to be deceived. So Dick merely said Yaqui had sighted some lights off in the desert, and they probably were campfires. Belding did not soon return, and when he did he was alone, and, saying he wanted to consult with the men, he sent Mrs. Belding and the girls to their rooms. His gloomy anxiety had returned.
"Laddy's gone over to scout around and try to find out who the outfit belongs to and how many are in it," said Belding.
"I reckon if they're raiders with bad intentions we wouldn't see no fires," remarked Jim, calmly.
"It 'd be useless, I suppose, to send for the cavalry," said Gale. "Whatever's coming off would be over before the soldiers could be notified, let alone reach here."
"Hell, fellows! I don't look for an attack on Forlorn River," burst out Belding. "I can't believe that possible. These rebel-raiders have a little sense. They wouldn't spoil their game by pulling U. S. soldiers across the line from Yuma to El Paso. But, as Jim says, if they wanted to steal a few horses or cattle they wouldn't build fires. I'm afraid it's--"
Belding hesitated and looked with grim concern at the cavalryman.
Thorne turned pale but did not lose his nerve.
"I thought of that at once. If true, it'll be terrible for Mercedes and me. But Rojas will never get his hands on my wife. If I can't kill him, I'll kill her!...Belding, this is tough on you--this risk we put upon your family. I regret--"