The rangers approved of Belding's plan, and Thorne choked in his effort to express his gratitude.
"All right, we'll chance it," concluded Belding. "I'll go out now and call Rojas and his outfit over...Say, it might be as well for me to know just what he said in that paper."
Thorne went to the side of his wife.
"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.