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We both intended to renew our acquaintance in the morning, but some prowling Mexicans near my boat, croaking frogs, and swarms of mosquitos gave me a restless night. With the first glimmer of daylight I was up, and half an hour later I was away on the flood. This was my big day.

My attention was struck by a smooth-faced, handsome young fellow, scarcely of age, who looked as little like a convict as anybody on that platform. He was in for burglary, and had a very bad record. Some came in half laughing, as if they thought the whole affair more a joke than anything else. The Mexicans, of whom there was quite a number, were sullen and scowling.

From a point sixty or seventy yards away Mexicans, lying among the trees or in the undergrowth, suddenly opened a heavy fire upon the rocky fort. The Mexicans were invisible but jets of smoke arose in the brush. Bullets thudded on the log or stones, or upon the stone wall above the two, but both Ned and Obed were sheltered well and they were not touched. Nevertheless it was uncomfortable.

Those who remain in said territories may either retain the title and rights of Mexican citizens or acquire those of citizens of the United States; but they shall be under the obligation to make their election within one year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty; and those who shall remain in said territories after the expiration of that year, without having declared their intention to retain the character of Mexicans, shall be considered to have elected to become citizens of the United States.

"But I thought these guns and things was for the Mexicans," quavered Captain Scraggs. "Scab Johnny and Lopez told me they was." Mr. Gibney groaned and hid his face in his hands. "Scraggsy," he said sadly, "it's a cinch you ain't used the past four years to stimulate that imagination of yours.

Old Juan it was of whom he had borrowed the gold ore that had coaxed the two thousand dollars from L. W. and he had never sent the picked rock back. "How are you, Juan?" he enquired politely in the formula that all Mexicans love. "And your wife, Rosita? Is she well also? Yes, thank God, I am well, myself. Where is Rico now? He is a good boy, truly will you do one more thing for me, Juan?"

Creede and Hardy passed up the weather, strapped on their six-shooters, and began to patrol the range, "talking reason" to the stray Mexicans who thought that, because their sheep were getting poor, they ought to move them to better feed.

Fray Antonio and I glanced at each other doubtingly as he spoke, for this explanation struck us as being decidedly forced. The gods of the ancient Mexicans pre-eminently were war gods; but they certainly were not likely to have any very extended knowledge of Winchester rifles and self-cocking revolvers.

To have seen that great steel-clad figure moving with sudden life would have struck terror to even the stoutest hearts, and shaken the steadiest nerves. But these superstitious Mexicans were driven almost out of their excitable minds by the sudden horror of this seeming apparition. Of one accord they fled, gibbering, towards the stairs, one falling in a faint from fright before he reached them.

He was rather proud of his night's work, and felt quite confident that the disarmed Mexicans locked within those strong log walls, and guarded by Moore, with a loaded rifle across his knee, would remain quiet until daylight. The valley before him was black and silent.

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