long enough for Pesita to speak
the single word that would have sent eleven bullets speeding into the
body of the man who loved Barbara and whom Billy believed the girl
loved. But did such a thought occur to Billy Byrne of Grand Avenue? It
did not. He forgot every other consideration beyond his loyalty to a
friend. Bridge and Pesita were looking at him in wide-eyed astonishment.
"Lay down your carbines!" Billy shot his command at the firing squad.
"Lay 'em down or I'll bore Pesita. Tell 'em to lay 'em down, Pesita. I
gotta bead on your beezer."
Pesita did as he was bid, his yellow face pasty with rage.
"Now their cartridge belts!" snapped Billy, and when these had been
deposited upon the floor he told Bridge to disarm the bandit chief.
"Is Mr. Harding safe?" he asked of Bridge, and receiving an affirmative
he called upstairs for the older man to descend.
As Mr. Harding reached the foot of the stairs Barbara entered the room
by the window through which Billy had come--a window which opened upon
the side veranda.
"Now we gotta hike," announced Billy. "It won't never be safe for
none of you here after this, not even if you do think Villa's your
friend--which he ain't the friend of no American."
"We know that now," said Mr. Harding, and repeated to Billy that which
the telephone operator had told him earlier in the day.
Marching Pesita and his men ahead of them Billy and the others made
their way to the rear of the office building where the horses of the
bandits were tethered. They were each armed now from the discarded
weapons of the raiders, and well supplied with ammunition. The Chinaman
and the loyal Mexican also discovered themselves when they learned that
the tables had been turned upon Pesita. They, too, were armed and all
were mounted, and when Billy had loaded the remaining weapons upon the
balance of the horses the party rode away, driving Pesita's live stock
and arms ahead of them.
"I imagine," remarked Bridge, "that you've rather discouraged
pursuit for a while at least," but pursuit came sooner than they had
They had reached a point on the river not far from Jose's when a band
of horsemen appeared approaching from the west. Billy urged his party to
greater speed that they might avoid a meeting if possible; but it soon
became evident that the strangers had no intention of permitting them to
go unchallenged, for they altered their course and increased their
speed so that they were soon bearing down upon the fugitives at
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