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Dave Law Becomes Jealous

From: Heart Of The Sunset

"You can never know what these two days have been for me," the
general said as he and Alaire lingered over their meal. "They will
afford me something to think about all my life! It is a delicious
comfort to know that you trust me, that you do not dislike me. And
you do not dislike me, eh?"

"Why, of course not. I have a great deal for which to thank you."

General Longorio fingered his wineglass and stared into it. "I am
not like other men. Would to God I were, for then I could close my
eyes and--forget. You have your great tragedy--it is old to you;
but mine, dear lady, is just beginning. I can look forward to
nothing except unhappiness." He sighed deeply.

"I'm sorry you are unhappy," Alaire parried. "Surely you have
every pleasant prospect."

"It would seem so. I am young, rich, a hero, I serve my country in
glorious fashion, but what is all that if there is no pretty one
to care? Even the meanest peon has his woman, his heart's
treasure. I would give all I have, I would forego my hope of
heaven and doom myself to eternal tortures, for one smile from a
pair of sweet lips, one look of love. I am a man of iron--yes, an
invincible soldier--and yet I have a heart, and a woman could rule

"You say you have a heart." Alaire studied her vis-avis curiously
as he met her eyes with his mournful gaze. "How is it that I hear
such strange stories about you, general?"

"What stories?"

"Stories--too terrible to mention. I wonder if they can be true."

"Lies, all of them!" Longorio asserted.

"For instance, they tell me that you shoot your prisoners?"

"Of course!" Then, at her shocked exclamation, he explained: "It
is a necessity of war. Listen, senora! We have twelve million
Indians in Mexico and a few selfish men who incite them to revolt.
Everywhere there is intrigue, and nowhere is there honor. To war
against the government is treason, and treason is punishable by
death. To permit the lower classes to rise would result in chaos,
black anarchy, indescribable outrages against life and property.
There is but one way to pacify such people--exterminate them!
Mexico is a civilized nation; there is no greater in the world;
but she must be ruled with an iron hand. Soldiers make rulers. I
am still a young man, and--at present there is but one other
capable of this gigantic task. For the time being, therefore, I
permit myself to serve under him, and--I salute him. Viva Potosi!"
The speaker lifted his glass and drank. "Madero was a wicked
believer in spells and charms; he talked with the dead. He, and
those who came after him, fired the peons to revolt and despoiled
our country, leaving her prone and bleeding. We of the Cientificos
have set ourselves to stop her wounds and to nourish her to life
again. We shall drive all traitors into the sea and feed them to
the sharks. We shall destroy them all, and Mexico shall have
peace. But I am not a bloodthirsty man. No, I am a poet and a
lover at heart. As great a patriot as I am, I could be faithless
to my country for one smile from the woman I adore."

Alaire did not color under the ardent glance that went with this
declaration. She deliberately changed the subject.

"This morning while we were in the office of the jeje de armas,"
she said, "I saw a poor woman with a baby--she was scarcely more
than a child herself--whose husband is in prison. She told me how
she had come all the way from the country and is living with
friends, just to be near him. Every day she goes to the carcel,
but is denied admission, and every day she comes to plead with the
jefe de armas for her husband's life. But he will not see her, and
the soldiers only laugh at her tears."

"A common story! These women and their babies are very annoying,"
observed the general.

"She says that her husband is to be shot."

"Very likely! Our prisons are full. Doubtless he is a bad man."

"Can't you do something?"

"Eh?" Longorio lifted his brows in the frankest inquiry.

"That poor girl with her little, bare, brown-eyed baby was
pitiful." Alaire leaned forward with an earnest appeal in her
face, and her host smiled.

"So? That is how it is, eh? What is her name?"

"Inez Garcia. The husband's name is Juan."

"Of course. These peladors are all Juans. You would like to appear
as an angel of mercy, eh? Your heart is touched?"


"Bastante! There is no more to be said." Longorio rose and went
into the next room where were certain members of his staff. After
a time he returned with a paper in his hand, and this he laid
before Alaire. It was an order for the release of Juan Garcia.
"The salvo conducto which will permit Juan and his Inez and their
Juanito to return to their farm is being made out," he explained.
"Are you satisfied?"

Alaire looked up wonderingly, "I am deeply grateful. You overwhelm
me. You are--a strange man."

"Dear lady, I live to serve you. Your wish is my law. How can I
prove it further?" As he stood beside her chair the fervor of his
gaze caused her eyes to droop and a faint color to come into her
cheeks. She felt a sudden sense of insecurity, for the man was
trembling; the evident desire to touch her, to seize her in his
arms, was actually shaking him like an ague. What next would he
do? Of what wild extravagance was he not capable? He was a queer
mixture of fire and ice, of sensuality and self-restraint. She
knew him to be utterly lawless in most things, and yet toward her
he had shown scrupulous restraint. What possibilities were in a
man of his electric temperament, who had the strength to throttle
his fiercest longings?

The strained, throbbing silence that followed Longorio's last
words did more to frighten the woman than had his most ardent

After a time he lifted Alaire's hand; she felt his lips hot and
damp upon her flesh; then he turned and went away with the

When he reappeared he was smiling. "These Garcias shall know who
interceded for them. You shall have their thanks," said he.

"No, no! It is enough that the man is free."

"How now?" The general was puzzled. "What satisfaction can there
be in a good deed unless one receives public credit and thanks for
it? I am not like that."

He would have lingered indefinitely over the table, but Alaire
soon rose to go, explaining:

"I must finish my disagreeable task now, so that I can go home to-

"To-morrow!" her host cried in dismay. "No, no! You must wait--"

"My husband is expecting me."

This statement was a blow; it seemed to crush Longorio, who could
only look his keen distress.

As they stepped out into the street Alaire was afforded that treat
which Longorio had so thoughtfully arranged for her. There in the
gutter stood Inez Garcia with her baby in her arms, and beside her
the ragged figure of a young man, evidently her Juan. The fellow
was emaciated, his face was gaunt and worn and frightened, his
feet were bare even of sandals, the huge peaked straw hat which he
clutched over his breast was tattered, and yet in his eye there
was a light.

They had waited patiently, these Garcias, heedful of Longorio's
orders, and now they burst into a torrent of thanks. They flung
themselves to their knees and kissed the edge of Alaire's dress.
Their instructions had been plain, and they followed them to the
letter, yet their gratitude was none the less genuine for being
studied. The little mother's hysteria, for instance, could not
have been entirely assumed, and certainly no amount of rehearsals
could have taught the child to join his cries so effectively to
his parents'. Between them all they made such a racket as to
summon a crowd, and Dolores, who had also awaited her mistress,
was so deeply stirred that she wept with them.

General Longorio enjoyed this scene tremendously, and his beaming
eyes expressed the hope that Alaire was fully satisfied with the
moment. But the Garcias, having been thoroughly coached, insisted
upon rendering full measure of thanks, and there seemed to be no
way of shutting them off until the general ordered them to their

"That is enough!" he declared. "Hombre, you are free, so go about
your business and fight no more with those accursed rebels."

Juan, of course, was ready at this moment to fight for any one he
was told to fight for, particularly Longorio himself, and he so
declared. His life was at the service of the benefactor who had
spared him; his wife and baby lived only to bless the illustrious

"They look very poor," said Alaire, and opened her purse; but
Longorio would not permit her to give. Extracting a large roll of
paper money from his own pocket, he tossed it, without counting,
to Juan, and then when the onlookers applauded he loudly called to
one of his officers, saying:

"Oiga! Give these good friends of mine two horses, and see that
they are well cared for. Now, Juan," he addressed the dazed
countryman, "I have one order for you. Every night of your life
you and your pretty wife must say a prayer for the safety and
happiness of this beautiful lady who has induced me to spare you.
Do you promise?"

"We promise!" eagerly cried the pair.

"Good! See that you keep your word. On the day that you forget for
the first time Luis Longorio will come to see you. And then what?"
He scowled at them fiercely.

"We will not forget," the Garcias chorused.

There was a murmur from the onlookers; some one cried: "VIVA

The general bowed smilingly; then, taking Alaire's arm, he waved
the idlers out of his path with a magnificent gesture.

When, later in the day, Mrs. Austin came to say good-by and thank
the Mexican for his courtesies, he humbly begged permission to pay
his respects that evening at her hotel, and she could not refuse.

As the coach went bouncing across the international bridge,
Dolores said, spitefully: "It will take more than the pardon of
poor Juan Garcia to unlock Heaven for that bandit. He is the
wickedest man I ever met--yes, probably the wickedest man in the

"He has been kind to us."

"Bah! He has a motive. Do you notice the way he looks at you? It
is enough to damn him for all eternity."

Upon her arrival at the hotel Alaire received an agreeable
surprise, for as her vehicle paused, at the curb David Law stepped
forward, hat in hand.

"What bloodthirsty business brings you to Pueblo?" she queried,
when they had exchanged greetings.

Law smiled at her. "I came to offer free board and lodging to a
poor Greaser. But he ain't here. And you, ma'am?"

Alaire briefly outlined the reasons that had taken her to La Feria
and the duties that had kept her busy since her return, while Dave
nodded his understanding. When, however, he learned that she was
counting upon General Luis Longorio's aid in securing justice, his
expression altered. He regarded her with some curiosity as he

"Isn't Longorio the very man who robbed you?"


"And now he offers to square himself?"

"Precisely. You don't seem to put much faith in him."

"Mexicans are peculiar people," Law said, slowly. "At least we
consider them peculiar--probably because they are different to us.
Anyhow, we don't understand their business methods or their habits
of mind; even their laughter and their tears are different to
ours, but--from my experience with them I wouldn't put much
confidence in this Longorio's word. I say this, and I'm supposed
to have a little Mexican blood in me."

During this brief conversation they had entered the hotel, and now
the lobby idlers took quick cognizance of Mrs. Austin's presence.
The lanky, booted Ranger excited no comment, for men of his type
were common here; but Alaire was the heroine of many stories and
the object of a wide-spread curiosity; therefore she received open
stares and heard low whisperings. Naturally resenting this
attention, she gave her hand to Law more quickly than she would
have done otherwise.

"I hope we shall see each other again," she murmured.

"That's more'n likely; I'm located in your neighborhood now," he
informed her. "I'm leaving for Jonesville in the morning."

"By train?"

"No'm. I'm goin' to follow the river road if I can get an

Mindful of the Ranger's courtesy to her on their previous meeting,
Alaire said: "Won't you go with us? We intend to start early."

"I'd love to, ma'am--but I'll have to make a few inquiries along
the line."

"Good! It is a large car and"--she smiled at him--"if we have tire
trouble I may need your help. Jose, my man, is a splendid horse-
breaker, but he seems to think a tire tool is some sort of a fancy
branding-iron. His mechanical knowledge is limited to a bridle-bit
and a cinch, and I'm almost certain he believes there is something
ungodly about horseless wagons."

Dave was nearly speechless with delight, and when the mistress of
Las Palmas had gone up-stairs he felt inclined to pinch himself to
see if he were dreaming. He had pursued a fruitless quest during
the past few days, and his resentment had grown as he became
certain that Tad Lewis had sent him on a wild-goose chase; but the
sight of Alaire miraculously restored his good spirits, and the
prospect of a long, intimate ride in her company changed the whole
trend of his thoughts. His disappointment at not seeing her upon
his visit to Las Palmas had only served to enhance his memories of
their first meeting, and time, now, had deepened his interest
tenfold. Yes, she was "The Lone Star," the estrella brillante of
his empty sky.

When the supper-hour came he managed by carefully watching the
dining-room to time his meal with Mrs. Austin's. He even ventured
to hope that they might share the same table, but in this he was
disappointed. However, from where he sat he could see her profile
and worship her to his heart's content, and when she favored him
with a smile and a nod he was happy.

All without his knowledge, Dave realized, this woman had secured
an amazing hold over him. He had thought a great deal about her,
of course, but his thoughts had been idle, and it had required
this second encounter to make him know the truth. Now, however,
there could be no doubt about his feelings; he was more than
romantically interested, the mere sight of her had electrified
him. The discovery distressed him, and he very properly decided
that the affair should end here, since it could lead to nothing
except disappointment.

But who can govern a wayward fancy? One moment Law promised
himself to see no more of this married woman; the next he wondered
how she would occupy the evening, and ventured to hope that he
might have a chance to talk with her.

After supper, however, she was nowhere to be found. When his first
chagrin had passed he decided that this was exactly as it should
be. He didn't like to see women make themselves conspicuous in

At the time of this story relations between the United States and
the established government of Mexico were at such high tension
that a hostility had sprung up between the troops fronting each
other along the Rio Grande, and in consequence their officers no
longer crossed the boundary, even when off duty. It created a
flurry of suppressed excitement, therefore, when Luis Longorio,
the autocrat of the Potosista forces, boldly crossed the bridge,
traversed the streets of Pueblo, and entered the Hamilton Hotel.

From his seat in the lobby Law heard the general inquire for Mrs.
Austin, and then saw him ascend in the direction of the parlor.
What the devil could Longorio want with "The Lone Star" at such an
hour? the Ranger asked himself. Why should he presume to call upon
her unless--he was interested? Mexican officers, in these parlous
times, were not given to social courtesies, and Longorio's
reputation was sufficiently notorious to render his attentions a
cause for gossip under any circumstances.

Dave rose and strolled restlessly about the hotel. A half-hour
passed and Longorio did not reappear; an hour dragged by, and then
Dave took occasion to go to his room. A glance through the open
parlor door showed the foreigner in closest conversation with Mrs.
Austin. They were laughing; they were alone; even Dolores was
nowhere to be seen.

When Dave returned to his big rocking-chair he found it
uncomfortable; he watched the clock anxiously; he chewed several
cigars viciously before realizing that he was jealous--yes, madly,
unreasonably jealous.

So! His divinity was not as unapproachable as he had imagined.
Doubtless Longorio was mad over her, which explained the fellow's
willingness to help her exact reparation from his government. Fine
doings for a respectable married woman! It was wrong, scandalous,

After a time Dave rose impatiently. What had come over him,
anyhow? He must be crazy to torture himself in this fashion. What
went on up-stairs certainly was none of his business, and he had
better far amuse himself. In accordance with this excellent
reasoning, he went to a picture-show. But he could not become
interested. The flat images on the screen failed to divert him,
and the only faces he saw were those of Luis Longorio and the lone
mistress of Las Palmas.

Had Dave only known the truth, he would have gained a grim comfort
from it, for Alaire Austin was not enjoying herself this evening.
Her caller stayed on interminably and she became restive under the
flow of his conversation. For some reason or other Longorio was
not the romantic figure he had been; in his citizen's clothes he
was only a dandified Mexican gallant like any number of others.
The color was gone from the picture; this quixotic guerrilla hero,
this elegant Ruy Blas, was nothing more than a tall, olive-skinned
foreigner whose ardor was distasteful. Longorio was tiresome.

Next: Jose Sanchez Swears An Oath

Previous: Longorio Makes Bold

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