"Mercedes, we've planned to outwit Rojas. Will you tell us just what he wrote?"
The girl sat up, her eyes dilating, and with her hands clasping Thorne's. She said:
"Rojas swore--by his saints and his virgin--that if I wasn't given--to him--in twenty-four hours--he would set fire to the village--kill the men--carry off the women--hang the children on cactus thorns!"
A moment's silence followed her last halting whisper.
"By his saints an' his virgin!" echoed Ladd. He laughed--a cold, cutting, deadly laugh--significant and terrible.
Then the Yaqui uttered a singular cry. Gale had heard this once before, and now he remembered it was at the Papago Well.
"Look at the Indian," whispered Belding, hoarsely. "Damn if I don't believe he understood every word Mercedes said. And, gentlemen, don't mistake me, if he ever gets near Senor Rojas there'll be some gory Aztec knife work."
Yaqui had moved close to Mercedes, and stood beside her as she leaned against her husband. She seemed impelled to meet the Indian's gaze, and evidently it was so powerful or hypnotic that it wrought irresistibly upon her. But she must have seen or divined what was beyond the others, for she offered him her trembling hand. Yaqui took it and laid it against his body in a strange motion, and bowed his head. Then he stepped back into the shadow of the room.