"Adieu then to the million dollars of dowry! adieu to those beautiful plains covered with horses and cattle, which I already believed my own! adieu to the honours of the court of Carlos el Primero!" "Come! all is not yet lost," said Don Estevan. "The evil may be remedied if taken in time. This young fellow has quitted the hacienda.
Not one of the four men, so deeply absorbed in their own terrible reflections, showed any astonishment at his presence. "Added to this I felt a wound in my leg reopen. It was received some time since, in fact, long ago, in my youth. "Senor Don Estevan, Don Tiburcio, I am your very humble servant." A profound silence succeeded these words.
The guide was riding by the side of Don Estevan. "We have found his traces," said he to the chief, as they moved forward; "he is down in the forest." "Where?" "Do you see a light yonder shining through the trees?" The mysterious light was gleaming, just as Tiburcio had first seen it from his window. It was to this that Cuchillo directed the attention of the chief.
"Yes," answered the haciendado, "Don Estevan de Arechiza has sent me word that he will arrive this evening with a somewhat numerous train, and I have taken measures to entertain a guest of such importance. But you say you wish to speak to me about some business what is it, Friar Jose Maria?"
"And now," continued Don Estevan, "it is necessary that you give me your full confidence, and I will set you an example by giving mine with a perfect frankness: the success of the noble cause I have embraced depends upon it. First, then, hear who I am. Arechiza is only a borrowed appellation.
Don Estevan paused for a little while, to allow him to get beyond earshot, and then rejoined his companions. "I have great news," he said, "and it is for you to decide whether it will alter your plan of proceeding.
After this doleful speech the Senator climbed reluctantly into his saddle, and he and Don Estevan took the route, riding side by side, as in the morning. Behind, at a few paces distance, followed Cuchillo and Baraja, and after these the little recua of mules with the other domestics.
"As to your threats, reserve them for people of your own kind; and never forget, that between my breast and your dagger there is an insurmountable barrier." "Who knows?" muttered Cuchillo, dissembling the anger which was devouring him. Then in a different tone, he continued: "But I am no traitor, Senor Don Estevan; and the proposal I am now about to make to you is frank and loyal."
When Don Estevan mentioned the secret of the Golden Valley, the haciendado appeared to make a slight gesture, as of disappointment, but their short dialogue ended abruptly by a promise to return to the subject at a later hour of the night. Don Estevan awaited until all the other guests had retired to their chambers.
The rainy had succeeded to the dry season, without anything being known of their fate, or of the expedition commanded by Don Estevan de Arechiza. Diaz was no more, having carried with him to the tomb the secret of the wonderful valley and Gayferos had followed his three liberators.