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Presently he reached the stile at the end of the field, darted under it and disappeared, followed by cooks and soldiers, swearing and laughing, abusing the dog, and tripping up one an other. In less than a half minute from the commission of the theft, Paco and the esquilador were the only persons remaining in the field.

Thereupon a bolt was cautiously withdrawn, and the trap raised; the muleteer completed the ascent of the steps, entered the loft, and found himself face to face with Jaime the gipsy. "Did no one see you?" said Paco, in a cautious whisper. "No one," replied the esquilador, reseating himself upon Paco's bed, from which he had risen to give admittance to the muleteer.

A coloured handkerchief, tied round the head, and from beneath which a quantity of shaggy black hair escaped, rusty iron spurs, with huge jingling rowels, and a well-stuffed leathern wallet slung across his body, completed the equipment of the horseman, in whom the reader will perhaps already have recognised Jaime, the gipsy esquilador, now acting as guide to the persons who followed.

Although the motive of this strange intrusion was entirely unknown to him, Herrera at once inferred that it boded good rather than evil. He was not long left in doubt. The esquilador pointed to Herrera's wounded arm, the sleeve of which was still cut open, although the wound was healed, and the limb had regained its strength. "Have you full use of that?" said he. "I have," replied Herrera.

Gradually, the slight murmuring sounds which still issued from various houses of the little village became hushed, as the inmates betook themselves to rest; and Paco, who waited with anxious impatience till the moment for action should arrive, heard nothing but the heavy breathing of the esquilador, who had sunk into a restless slumber.

"I tell you it is a friend," repeated Herrera "a comrade of my own, who has come to aid my escape. And now that you have rescued me, act as our guide to the nearest Christino post, and your reward shall be ample." The mention of reward seemed at once to remove the doubts and suspicions of the esquilador. Returning to the rope which dangled from the window, he cut it as high up as he could reach.

The esquilador slightly bowed his head, but, with the exception of that movement, made no reply; nor did any expression of satisfaction at the praise bestowed upon him light up his dark countenance. "Meanwhile," continued Don Baltasar, "I will discharge my personal obligation to you in a more solid manner than by mere thanks."

The gipsy turned to go, when Paco put his hand into his pocket, and on again drawing it forth, a comely golden ounce, with the coarse features of Ferdinand VII. stamped in strong relief on its bright yellow surface, lay upon the palm. The eyes of the esquilador sparkled at the sight, and he extended his hand as if to clutch the coin. Paco closed his fingers.

The arrival of Paco, who established himself behind the esquilador, in a gap of the circle, was insufficient to distract their attention from the important and all-absorbing interest of the dog-shearing. "Pobre Granuka!" cried one of the lookers-on, patting the dog's head, which lay back over the esquilador's knee; "how quiet he is! what a sensible animal!

Paco untwisted the rope from round his body and handed it to the gipsy, retaining one end in his hand. The esquilador fixed the noose about his middle, and altering his position, passed Paco, scrambled round the chimney, and seated himself on the verge of the roof, his legs dangling over.