Dave Law Becomes Jealous





"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

me."



"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?"



"Deeply."



"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

advances.



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

document.



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-

morrow."



"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

feet.



"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

general.



"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

LONGORIO!"



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

world."



"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

inquired:



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



"Yes."



"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

automobile."



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

hotels.



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,

detestable!



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.





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