So silently did the girl come that the charcoal-burners were forced to jum_side, and, springing in the wrong direction, the hunchback was bowled over b_he beast of the _mozo_ who rode at her back.
“Why, señor!” she exclaimed, reining in. Then taking in the knives, pistol, broken club, she asked, “They attacked you? Tomas!”
Her Spanish was too rapid for Seyd’s ear, but it was easy to gather its teno_rom the results. With a certain complaisance Seyd looked on while his enemie_cattered on a run that was diversified by uncouth leaps as the _mozo’s_ whi_it on tender places.
“He struck at you?” She broke in on the rice-huller’s voluble plea that never, _never_ would he have raised a finger against the señor had he known him for _riend of hers! “Then he, too, shall be flogged.”
“I would not wish—” Seyd began.
But she interrupted him: “You were going toward San Nicolas? Then I shall tur_nd ride with you.” Anticipating his protest, she added, “I had already ridde_eyond my usual distance.”
Very willingly he fell in at her side, and they rode on till they met th_mozo_ returning, hot and flushed, from the pursuit. He was keen as a bloode_ound; it required only her backward nod to send him darting along the trail, and just about the time they overtook the charcoal-burners a sudden yelling i_heir rear told that the account of the rice-huller was in course o_ettlement.
Passing his late enemies, Seyd could not but wonder at their transformation.
With the exception of the hunchback, in whose beady eyes still lurked subdue_erocity, all were sobbing, and even he broke into deprecatory whinings.
Having read his Prescott, Seyd knew something of the rigid Aztec caste system_rom which Mexican peonage was derived. Now, viewing their abjectness, he wa_ble to apprehend, almost with the vividness of experience, the ages o_nspeakable cruelty that had given birth to their fear. But that whic_stonished him still more was the indifference with which the girl had ordere_he flogging.
Such glimpses of her face as he was able to steal while they rode did not ai_im much. It was impossible to imagine anything more typically modern than th_elicately chiseled features lit with a vivid intelligence which seemed t_ulse and glow in the soft shadow beneath her hat. And when from her face hi_lance fell to her smart riding-suit of tan linen he was completely at sea.
Curiosity dictated his comment: “Your justice is certainly swift. Really I a_fraid that I was the aggressor. At least I struck first.”
“But not without cause.” She glanced at his smudged clothes. “Tell me abou_t.” And when he had finished she commented: “Just as I thought. And these ar_angerous men. They would have killed you without a qualm. In the days tha_on Sebastien was clearing the country of bandits he counted that hunchbac_ne of his best men.”
“Yet he whined like a puppy under your man’s whip.”
Smiling at his wonder, she went on to state the very terms of his puzzle. “Yo_o not know them—the combination of ferocity and subservience that goes wit_heir blood. In the old days he who raised his hand against the superior cast_as put to death by torture, and, though, thank God, those wicked days ar_ast, the effect remains. They are obedient, usually, as trained hounds, bu_ust as dangerous to a stranger. If I had not ordered them flogged they woul_ave taken it as license to kill you at their leisure.”
“Now I realize the depth of my obligation.”
He spoke a little dryly, and she leaped to his meaning with a quickness tha_reatly advanced her in his secret classification. “I have hurt your pride.
You will pardon me. I had forgotten the unconquerable valor of the gringos.”
“Oh, come!” he pleaded.
She stopped laughing. “Really, I did not doubt your courage. But do no_magine for one moment that they would attack you again in the open. A knif_n the dark, a shot from a bush, that is their method, and if you shoul_appen to kill one, even in self defense, gringos are not so well beloved i_uerrero but that some one would be found to swear it a murder. Be advised, and go carefully.”
“I surely will.” He was going on to thank her when she cut him off with th_sual “It is nothing.” Whereupon, respect for her intuition was added to th_lassification which was beginning to bewilder him by its scope and variety.
In fact, he could not look her way nor could she speak without some physica_rait or mental quality being added to the catalogue. Now it was the quiverin_ensitiveness of her mouth, an unsuspected archness, the astonishing range o_eeling revealed by her large dark eyes. Looking down upon the charcoal- burners, they had gleamed like black diamonds; in talking, their soft glo_axed and waned. Sometimes—but this was omitted from the classificatio_ecause it only occurred when his head was turned—a merry twinkle illumined _urtive smile. Taken in all its play and sparkle, her face expressed a livel_ensibility altogether foreign to his experience of women.
After a short silence she took up the subject again. “But I am giving you _errible impression of our people. It is only in moments of passion that th_ld Aztec crops out. At other times they are kind, pleasant, generous. Neithe_re we the cruel taskmasters that some foreign books and papers portray us.
You would not believe how angry they make me—the angrier because I have _train of your blood in my own veins. My grandfather, you know, was Irish. I_as from him I learned your speech.”
The last bit of information was almost superfluous, for from no other sourc_ould she have obtained the pure lilting quality that makes the Dublin speec_he finest English in the world. To it she had added an individual charm, th_easured cadence and soft accent of her native Spanish, delivered in a lo_ontralto that had in it a little break. Her laugh punctuated its flow as sh_ame to her conclusion.
“But you will soon be able to see for yourself what terrible people we are.”
He obtained one glimpse within the next mile. He had already noted the passin_f the last wild jungle. From fields of maize which alternated with sunburne_ields of _maguey_ they now rode into an avenue that led on through gree_ane. Rising far above their heads, the cane marched with them for a hal_ile, then suddenly opened out around a primitive wooden sugar mill. Under th_hatched roof of an open hut half-nude women were stirring boiling syrup i_pen pans, and at the sight of Francesca one of them came running out to th_rail.
“Her baby is to be christened next Sunday,” the girl told him as they rode on.
“She was breaking her heart because she had no robe. But now she is happy, fo_ have promised to ask the good _mama_ to lend her mine, which she ha_reasured all these years.”
Soon afterward as they turned out of the cane into a new planting they almos_an down her uncle, who had come out to inspect the work. Only his quick us_f the spur averted a collision, and as his own spirited roan sprang sideway_eyd noted with admiration that despite his bulk and age horse and man move_s one. If surprised at the sight of his niece in such company, the old ma_id not reveal it by so much as the lift of a brow. It was difficult even t_erceive the twinkle in his eyes that lightened his chiding.
“ _Ola_ , Francesca! If there be no respect for thy own pretty neck, at leas_ave pity on my old bones. It is you, señor? Welcome to San Nicolas.”
Neither did Seyd’s explanation of his business abate his brown impassivity. I_ssumed, his ponderous effort at recollection was wonderfully realistic. “Ah, _si_! Santa Gertrudis? If I remember aright, it was denounced before. Yes, yes, by several—but they had no good fortune. Still, you may fare better.
Paulo, the administrador, will attend to the business.”
With a wave of the hand, courteous in its very indifference, he put the matte_ut of his province and displayed no further interest until the girl told o_he attack on Seyd. Then he glanced up quickly from under frowning brows.
“You had them whipped? _Bueno!_ The rascals must be taught not to moles_ravelers. And now we shall ride on that the señor may break his fast. An_hou, too, wicked one, will be late. As thou knowest, it is the only fault th_ood mother sees in thee.”
“Would that it totaled my sins,” she laughed. “To escape another black mark _hall have to gallop. _Ola!_ for a race!”
As from a light touch of the spur her beast launched out and away, the roa_eared and tried to follow, and while he curbed it back to a walk the ol_an’s heavy face lit up with pleasure. “She rides well. I have not a vaquer_ith a better seat. But go thou, Tomas, lest she come to a harm. And you, señor, will follow?”
With a vivid picture of the figure Peace would cut in a race occupying th_orefront of his mind it did not take Seyd long to choose. After the girl ha_assed from sight behind a clump of tamarinds he took note, as they rod_long, of the peons who were laying the field out in shallow ditches wherei_thers were planting long shoots of seed cane. To his practical engineer’s ey_he hand-digging seemed so slow and laborious that he could not refrain from _omment.
“It seems to me that a good steel plow would do the work much cheaper.”
“Cheaper? Perhaps.” After a heavy pause, during which he took secret note o_eyd out of the corner of his eye, the old man went on: “To do a thing at les_ost in labor and time seems to be the only thing that you Yankees consider.
But cheapness is sometimes dearly purchased. Come! Suppose that I put mysel_nder the seven devils of haste that continually drive you. What would becom_f these, my people? Who would employ them? It is true that theirs is not _reat wage—perhaps, after all, totals less than the cost of your steel plo_nd a capable man to run it. We pay only three and a half cents for eac_itch, in our currency, and a man must dig twelve a day. If he digs less h_ets nothing.
“That does not seem just to you?” He read Seyd’s surprise. “It would if yo_new them. Grown children without responsibility or sense of duty are they. I_eft free to come and go, they would dig one, two, three ditches, enough an_o more than would supply them with _cigarros_ and _aguardiente_ , and ou_ork would never be done. As it is, they dig the full twelve, and have mone_or other necessities.
“The wage seems small?” Again he read Seyd’s mind. “Yet it is all that we ca_fford, nor does it have to cover the cost of living. Each man has his patc_f maize and frijoles, and a run for his chickens and pigs. Then the rive_eems with fish, the jungle with small game. His wage goes only for drink an_cigarros_ , or, if there be sufficient left over, to buy a dress for hi_oman. They are perfectly content.” Slightly lifting his heavy brows, h_inished, looking straight at Seyd: “I am an old Mexican hacendado, yet I hav_raveled in your country and Europe. Tell me, señor, can as much be said o_our poor?”
Now, in preparing a thesis for one of his social-science courses, Seyd ha_tudied the wage scale of the cotton industry, and so knew that, ridiculousl_mall as this peon wage appeared at the first glance, it actually exceede_hat paid to women and children in Southern cotton factories. In their case, moreover, the pittance had to meet every expense.
He did not hesitate to answer. “I should say that your peons were better off, providing the conditions, as you state them, are general.”
“And they are, señor, except in the south tropics, where any kind of labor i_urder. But here? It is as you see; and why disturb it by the introduction o_ankee methods?”
Pausing, he looked again at Seyd, and whether through secret pleasure at hi_oncession or because he merely enjoyed the pleasure of speaking out tha_hich would have been dangerous if let fall in the presence of a countryman, he presently went on: “Therefore it is that I do not stand with Porfirio Dia_n his commercial policies. He is a great man. Who should know it better tha_ that fought with or against him in a dozen campaigns. And he has given u_eace—thirty years of slow, warm peace. Yet sometimes I question its value. I_he old time, to be sure, we cut each other’s throats on occasion. In the mea_ime we were warmer friends. And war prevented the land from being swamped b_he millions that overrun your older countries, the teeming millions that wil_resently swarm like the locusts over your own United States. As I say, señor, I am only an old Mexican hacendado, but I have looked upon it all and see_hat where war breeds men, civilization produces only mice. If I be allowed m_hoice give me the bright sword of war in preference to the starvation an_estilence that thins out your poor.”
Concluding, he looked down, interrogatively, as though expecting _ontradiction. But though, after all, his argument was merely a restatement o_he time-worn Malthusianism, coming out of the mouth of one who ha_trenuously applied it during forty years of internecine war, it carrie_orce. Maintaining silence, Seyd stole occasional glances at the massive brow_ace and the heavy figure moving in stately rhythm with the slow trot of hi_orse, while his memory flashed over tale after tale that Peters, the statio_gent, had told him when he was out the other day to the railroad—tales o_ravery, hardy adventures, all performed amidst the inconceivable cruelties o_he revolutionary wars. Even had he been certain that the eventual peopling o_he earth’s vacant places would not force a return to at least a revise_althusianism, it was not for his youth to match theories with age. When h_id speak it was on another subject.
“I have been riding all morning on your land. I suppose it extends as far i_he other direction?”
“A trifle.” A deprecatory wave of the strong brown hand lent emphasis to th_hrase. “A trifle, señor, by comparison with the original grant to ou_ncestor from Cortes. ‘From the rim of the Barranca de Guerrero on both sides, and as far up and down from a given point as a man may ride in a day,’ so th_eed ran. Being shrewd as he was valiant, my forefather had his Indians blaz_ trail in both directions before he essayed the running. A hundred and fift_iles he made of it when he started—not bad riding without a trail. But it i_ostly gone by family division, or it has been forfeited by those who threw i_heir luck on the wrong side of a revolution. Now is there left only a paltr_undred or so thousands of acres—and this!”
For the first time pronounced feeling made itself felt through his massiv_eserve, and looking over the view that had suddenly opened, Seyd did no_onder at the note of pride. After leaving the cane they had plunged throug_reen skirts of willow to the river that split the wide valley in equa_alves, and from the shallow ford they now rode out on a grassy plateau tha_an for miles along low lateral hills. Dotted with tamarinds, banyans, and th_all ceibas which held huge leafy umbrellas over panting cattle, it formed _erfect foreground for the hacienda, whose chrome-yellow buildings lay like _and of sunlight along the foot of the hill. The thick adobe walls that boun_tables, cottages, and outbuildings into a great square gave the impression o_ fortified town, castled by the house, which rose tier on tier up the face o_he hill.
When they rode through the great gateway of the lower courtyard the interio_iew proved equally arresting. Mounting after Don Luis up successive flight_f stone steps, they came to the upper courtyard, wherein was concentrate_very element of tropical beauty—wide corridors, massive chrome pillars, time- stained arches, luxurious foliage. From the tiled roof above a vine poured i_ataracts of living green so dense that only vigorous pruning had kept it fro_hutting off all light from the rooms behind. Left alone, it would quickl_ave smothered out the palms, orchids, rare tropical plants that made of th_ourtyard a vivid garden.
“They call it the _sin verguenza_.” While he was admiring the creepe_rancesca had joined them from behind. “Shameless, you know, for it climbs ‘upstairs, downstairs,’ nor respects even the privacy of ‘my lady’s chamber.’ Thanks to the good legs of my beast, I escaped a scolding. Sit here where th_ines do not obstruct the view.”
If Seyd had been told a few minutes before that anything could have become he_ore than the tan riding-suit he would have refused to believe. But now by th_vidence of his own eyes he was forced to admit the added charm of a simpl_atiste, whose fluffy whiteness accentuated her girlishness. The mad gallo_ad toned her usual clear pallor with a touch of color, and as she looke_own, pinning a flower on her breast, he noted the perfect curve of her head.
“Room for a good brain there,” he thought, while answering her observation.
“It is beautiful. But don’t you find it a little dull here—after Mexico City?”
“No.” She shook her head with vigor. “Of course, I like the balls and parties, yet I am always glad to return to my horses and dogs and—though it is wicke_o put them in the same category—my babies. There are always at least thre_others impatiently awaiting my return to consult me upon names. I a_odmother to no less than seven small Francescas.”
“I never should have thought it. You must have begun—”
“—Very young? Yes, I was only fifteen, so my first godchild is now seven. Tha_eminds me—she is waiting below to repeat her catechism. There is just time—i_ou would like it.”
“I would be delighted. So the position is not without its duties?”
“I should think not.” Her eyes lit with a touch of indignation. “I hold th_aby at the christening after helping to make the robe. When they are bi_nough I teach them their catechism. You could not imagine the weight of m_esponsibilities, and I believe that I am much more concerned for thei_ehavior than their mothers. If any of them were to do anything reall_icked”—her little shudder was genuine—“I should feel dreadfully ashamed. Bu_hey are really very good—as you shall judge for yourself. Francesca!” As, with a soft patter of chubby feet, a small girl emerged from a far corner, sh_dded with archness that was chastened by real concern, “Now you must not dar_o say that she isn’t perfect.”
In one sense the caution was needed. After a brave answer to the question “Wh_s thy Creator, Francesca?” the child displayed a slight uncertainty as to th_rigin of light, added a week or two to the “days of creation,” and becam_opelessly mixed as to the specific quantities of the “Trinity”—wherein, afte_ll, she was no worse than the theologians who have burned each other up, i_oth senses, in furious disputes over the same question. But better, fa_etter than letter perfection, was the simple awe of the small brown face an_he devotion of the lisping voice which followed the tutor’s gentle prompting.
“Fine! fine!” Seyd applauded a last valorous attack on the Ten Commandments, and the small scholar ran off clutching a silver coin, just so much the riche_or his heretical presence. As he rose to follow his hostess inside he added, “If all the Francescas are equal to sample, the next generation of San Nicola_usbands will undoubtedly rise up and call you blessed.”
“Now you are laughing at me,” she protested. “Though that might be truly sai_f my mother. She is a saint for good works. But come, or I shall yet earn m_colding. And let me warn you to take care of your heart. All of th_caballeros_ fall in love with mother.”
It was quite believable. While seated in the dining-room, a vaulted chambe_ool as a crypt in spite of the sunblaze outside, a room which would hav_eated an army of retainers, he observed the señora with the satisfaction tha_ven a stranger may feel in the promise a handsome mother holds out to he_irls. In addition to the sweetness of her eyes and her tenderly tranqui_xpression she had retained her youthful contour. She exhibited the miracle o_iddle age achieved without fat or stiffness. In her scarf and black lace sh_as maturely beautiful. Waving away his apologies for the intrusion, she wa_nxiously solicitous for his wants through the meal. Yet he noticed that i_aking his leave an hour later she did not ask him to call again.
Up to that moment there had been no further mention of his business. But as h_tood hesitating, loath to introduce it, Don Luis relieved his embarrassment.
“Now you would see the administrador? I am sorry, señor, but it seems that h_s away at Chilpancin about the sale of cattle. But if you will intrust you_oneys to Francesca she will see to the business and have the papers sent ou_o the mine.”
Neither did Francesca, when saying good-by, ask him to return. But, consciou_hat with all their kind hospitality they still regarded him as an intruder, Seyd was neither offended nor surprised. He was even a little astonished whe_on Luis stated his intention of riding with him as far as the cane.
Until they came to the ford they rode in silence. Though only a few inche_eep at this season, the river’s wide bed proclaimed it one of thos_orrential streams which rise from a trickle to a flood in very few hours, an_hen he remarked upon it Don Luis assented with his heavy nod.
“ _Si_ , it is very treacherous. One night during the last rains it rose fift_eet and swept down the valley miles wide, bearing on its yellow bosom cattle, houses, sheep, and pigs, and it drowned not a few of our people. And each yea_he floods go higher. Why? Because of the cursed lust that would mint th_hole world into dollars. Year by year your Yankee companies are stripping th_ine from the upper valley, and, though I have spoken with Porfirio Diaz abou_t, he is mad for commerce. He would see the whole state of Guerrero submerge_efore he revoked one charter. And they even try to make me a party to it.
‘General, if you will grant us a concession to do this, that, the other? I_ou will only allow us to run a branch line into your pine we can make bi_oney—guarantee you half a million pesos.’ When I am in Mexico your Yanke_romoters swarm round me like hungry dogs. But never have I listened, nor eve_ill!”
He struck the pommel of his saddle a heavy blow, then looked his surprise a_eyd spoke. “I should not think that you would. I understand your feelings.”
“You do? _Caramba!_ Then you are the first Yankee that ever did. In return fo_our sympathy let me offer you advice. You are not the first man to denounc_n my land, nor is Santa Gertrudis the only location. Yankees, English, French, Germans, they have come, denounced claims here and there, but no ma_as ever held one. No man ever _will_. Already you have tasted the bitte_ostility of my people, and were I to nod not even the American Ambassado_ould save you alive. And this is only the beginning. Let me return you_oney? Mexico is one great mine. Anywhere you can kick the soil and uncover _ortune.”
“But none like the Santa Gertrudis.” Seyd smiled. “Of course, I feel it’_retty raw for me to force in on your land; but, knowing that if I don’t som_ther will, I shall have to refuse. As for the opposition—that is all in th_ay’s work.” He finished, offering his hand. “But I hope this won’t prevent u_rom being good neighbors?”
Shaking his massive head, Don Luis reined in his horse. “No, señor, we ca_ever be that. But next to a good friend I count a hearty enemy, and you ma_epend upon me for that.”
With a courteous wave of the hand he rode off; and, watching him go at _tately canter, Seyd muttered, “Enemy or friend, you are a fine old chap.”
* * *
“You are surely a fine old chap.”
Retracing his path through the long succession of farm, jungle, and fields, Seyd repeated it, and as he rode along he saw things in a new light. As h_assed through one village at sundown the entire population was filing int_hurch, the peons in clean blankets, their women in decent black. The nex_amlet was in the throes of a fiesta. Girls in white, garlanded with flamin_lowers, were dancing the eternal jig of the country with their brown swains.
And these two functions, church and _baile_ , marked the bounds of thei_imple life. A plenty of rice and frijoles, a peso or two for clothing, wer_ll that they asked or needed.
While prospecting in the Sierra Madres Seyd had drawn many a compariso_etween the happy indolence of the peon and the worry, strain, strife to liv_p to a standard just beyond income that obtains in American life. Because th_eon had time to think his simple thoughts, listen to bird song and the musi_f babbling streams, to watch the splendors of sunrise and sunset over purpl_alleys, Seyd’s suffrage had often gone to him. Observing this pastoral lif_n its tropical setting of palms and jungle, the opinion grew into a stron_onviction.
“The old fellow’s right!” he ejaculated, riding out of the last village int_he jungle proper. “We have nothing to give his people, and we’d surely kil_ll they have.”
Though the profusion of foliage which made of the trail one long green tunne_revented him from seeing it, he was now riding along at the foot of th_arranca wall. Its deep shadow already filled the jungle with a twilight tha_hickened into night as he rode. But, knowing that whatever her faults o_emperament Peace could be trusted to fetch her own stable, he left her t_ake her own way while he pursued his thoughts. While the siren whistle o_eetles, chatter of _chickicuillotes_ —wild hens of the jungle—deafened hi_ars, he tried to bring the crowding impressions of the day into some kind o_rder—no easy task when a fire-eating old general and a typical Mexican mothe_ad to be reconciled in thought with a young girl who possessed the face of _elt, eyes of a Spaniard, vivacity of a Frenchwoman, and America_ntelligence.
Next he fell to speculating upon the causes which had kept her single at a_ge that, according to Mexican standards, placed her hopelessly upon th_helf, and he found the answer in the gossip of the American station agent o_is last trip out to the railroad. “She could have had her cousin Sebastie_ny time, and there were others around these parts. But once let a high-strun_irl like her get a glimpse of the outside world and no common hacendado ca_ver hope to tie her shoestring. They say she has had other chances—attaché_f foreign legations in Mexico City. But she turned ’em down—I don’t know why, unless it’s ideals.” With a humorous twinkle the agent had added: “Bad things, ideals—always in the way. If you happen to have any in stock give ’em to th_irst beggar you meet along the road. Hers are keeping San Nicolas and E_uiss from reuniting, but she don’t seem to care.”
“A fine girl—the man will be lucky that gets her.” Seyd now re-expressed th_gent’s homely verdict. “If it wasn’t—” He stopped short, with a savage laugh.
“You darned fool! mooning over a girl who would turn up her pretty nose at an_ringo, much more one that has forced himself in on her uncle’s land. You_usiness is to get a fortune out of the mine, and do it quick. And even if i_asn’t—”
The thought was never finished, for the last few minutes had brought him ou_nto the starlight at the foot of the Barranca wall, and as Peace gathere_erself for the scramble upward the jungle lit up with a sudden flash. Befor_eyd’s ears caught the report he felt his left shoulder clutched, as it were, by a red-hot hand. The next second he was almost thrown by the mule’s sudde_lunge—fortunately, for otherwise the bullet that came out of a second flas_ould have smashed through his brain.
“Muzzle-loaders!” In the moment he lay on the mule’s neck he divined it fro_he thick explosion. Then the thought, “It will take them a minute to reload,” followed a quick calculation, “They’ll catch me again on the first turn.”
With him action always sprang of subconscious processes which were quicke_han thought, and while he crouched on her neck and Peace took the turn on _crambling gallop he turned loose with both of his Colts, aiming at the spo_rom which the flashes had come. And the sequel proved his judgment. This tim_ single flash announced the bullet which grazed the mule’s rump just as sh_hot into a patch of woodland.
“Reckon I made one of you sick,” he interpreted the single shot.
The burning smart of his wound and the treachery of the attack had loose_ithin him a fury of anger. Reining in, he felt his shoulder. The bullet ha_lowed a furrow in the flesh of the upper arm, but, muttering “I guess it’_led about all it’s going to,” he first tied the mule to a tree, then slid the “reloads” into his guns.
It would have been foolish to expose himself in the open trail under the clea_tarlight. Resisting the savage impulse which urged him to close quarters, h_rawled back to the edge of the timber and again turned loose his guns, searching the jungle below with a swinging muzzle. Time and again he did it, thanking his stars whenever he reloaded for the forethought which had cause_illy to slip an extra box of cartridges into the holsters, and not until onl_ne charge was left did he pause to listen.
Whether or no it was the firing that had frightened even the night birds int_emporary quiet, not even a twig stirred in the darkness below. He caught onl_he distant whooping which told that Billy had heard, and as this drew neare_ith astonishing quickness Seyd rose and went back to his mule.
“Coming downhill hell for leather!” he muttered. “If I don’t hurry he’ll brea_is neck.”