MoboReader> Literature > The Wolf Cub

   Chapter 6 No.6

The Wolf Cub By Patrick Casey Characters: 10051

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


The pale Frenchman looked full at Jacinto Quesada, and suddenly his small slate-colored eyes blazed like sunlight on ice.

"Do you not comprehend of the signs the meaning?" he asked sharply in tolerable Spanish.

"No."

"Nor that which I desire you to understand when I do this thing?"

Impetuously he stepped forward and grasped, with his right hand, the right hand of Jacinto Quesada. What followed seemed only a most ardent handshake. Then he dropped Quesada's hand and stepped back, assuming his old passive pose. And only Quesada knew that there had passed between them another signal-he alone knew that the Frenchman, on gripping his hand, had tapped the wrist of that hand with his index finger twice.

Rumpling his brow, the youthful bandolero consulted with himself for a space. Then, his face clearing, decisively he said:

"No, Frenchman, your signals to me have no meaning. It is, perhaps, that I am not of sufficient knowledge; I am only a poor Moor of Andalusia, you know. But what is the message you wish to convey by your cabalistic signs? I am curious, senor; tell me in honest Spanish and interestedly I shall listen."

The tall blond Frenchman laughed ruefully under his waxed mustache.

"As you do not comprehend my signs," he said, "to explain to you the meaning would do me little good, I fear."

Returned Quesada, somewhat disappointed, "You fear rightly, Frenchman!"

He made a slight gesture of the hand. Two of his dorados seized the Frenchman and proceeded to subject him to a rough overhauling. The Frenchman grimaced with impotent rage and, narrowing his naturally small calculating eyes, watched the searchers' every move with covert anxiety.

Brusque, precipitant, hasty was that search. Very easily might it have been more studied and thorough. But a gold watch, a few Spanish gold and silver peseta pieces, two rings set with diamonds and an emerald scarfpin were taken from him before he was liberated by the searchers. The rings and the scarfpin were not plucked from his hands and necktie; they were found deep in his pockets where he had hidden them, thinking perhaps, to smuggle them past the bandoleros.

At that, the emerald scarfpin was but a very ordinary jimcrack and the diamonds of the two rings, though huge and pretentious, had the dishonest and glassy look of paste imitations. Though but simple Moors, even as they called themselves, the bandoleros were not so ingenuous as to be deceived by them; and they wondered greatly why he had concealed them with such pains. Remarked sarcastically one of the searchers, a certain Ignacio Garcia, addressing Quesada:

"The elegant French rooster has but a thinly lined crop, maestro!"

He grasped the Frenchman's elbow and swung him about-face. Then he gave him a shove toward the group already plucked and gutted, shouting harshly, "Away with you, you false jewel! Pronto!"

The Frenchman hastened to merge himself into the background. Once his face was turned away from the bandoleros, his pebbly eyes sparkled with profound relief; they sparkled with inconcealable joy; and he smiled a superior triumphant smile.

"Who comes next?" asked Jacinto Quesada, without much interest.

"The beautiful young wife of the Frenchman, maestro. She, with the mouth that is a nest for kisses!" And Rafael Perez pointed her out.

"And it please you, you may come forward, Senora Dona!" in a carefully softened voice called Pio Estrada, another of the searchers. Strange, but her youth and beauty and high hidalgo look had moved the man to a ruffian's attempt at courtesy and gentleness.

As she made to step forward, Jacinto Quesada turned his eyes upon the beautiful golden-haired girl and, for the first time, gave her a special and particular scrutiny.

"Hola!" he gasped. "What is this?"

He stepped forward a step, his eyelids narrowed, his eyes gleaming; and he shot toward her a second look, piercing, probing. It was as though he were shocked and aroused, puzzled and confounded. While he looked eagerly and long at her, he muttered:

"What a resemblance! But no-it is not a resemblance. She is she herself!"

He moved slowly towards her as though drawn thence by an irresistible influence. Suddenly he called out a name!

"Felicidad!"

On the barren, windless plain to the right of the stalled carriages, they were all gathered, the bandoleros with their carbines, the travelers so like a herd of cattle in a rodeo. Those passengers, already searched and robbed, were in a separate group; they were sequestered from those not yet searched and made to deliver. No sound came across the everlasting flats but the low incessant chitter of the desert-loving wheatears, little fuzzy fat birds that live among the mimosa and the thorny acacia and the stunted ilex of that ugly and desolate Manchega veldt. Out from the main drove of passengers moved bravely the golden-haired girl. And then, a name was called, and the windless air became suddenly electric with drama.

The Frenchman's young w

ife moved forward, seemingly unaware of Jacinto Quesada's call, of his now devouring gaze. Well, suddenly and all on the moment, she turned about-face and started swiftly for the stalled train!

It was altogether unexpected. She was not the first of her sex to be singled out for the search; she had seen nuns and convent maids and even Gitanas treated by the bandoleros with a respect and courtesy that amounted almost to reverence; and yet, at the last instant, alarm and trepidation had overcome her, it seemed. She was hysterical, perhaps; almost insane with terror.

Be that as it may, her unexpected and erratic performance caused an echoing panic to sweep over the other passengers. Even the bandoleros felt the contagion. Cursing excitedly, two of them started to pursue the golden-haired girl, while the third, Rafael Perez, standing near Quesada, raised his carbine and screamed hoarsely:

"Come back here, you outrageous minx!"

The crowd, momentarily free from the dread of the bandoleros, had commenced an insensate shouting and milling. Now, had Perez fired off the carbine, the whole hold-up might have ended then and there for the bandoleros in an inglorious headlong rout. The passengers, already out of thrall to the salteadores, would have risen in tumultuous, uncontrollable fury at this firing on a defenseless woman.

But Jacinto Quesada rose to the crisis and saved the situation. Excited though he was, he sprung toward Perez, tore the carbine from his hands and, pointing it at the crowd, shouted imperiously to his men:

"Back, you fools, to your stations! Guard these people. Shoot any that break away! And don't mind the girl! I'll bring her back-I, and no one else!"

Presto! and the bandoleros were back in their old positions, their carbines sweeping the crowd. The imminent danger of stampede was dissipated. The discipline of dread again prevailed.

Handing the carbine back to Perez, Jacinto Quesada started after the girl. She had fled without aim, without purpose, he thought, like a frightened doe that cares not where she flees so long as she flees from the huntsmen. Her panicky flight would do little good, however; a sort of trap was the stalled train, not a refuge and sanctuary.

The girl was just about to open the door of one of the third-class coaches and fling herself therein when, all at once, she cast back a look, first at her tall blond mustached husband, then at Quesada. Strangely, her glances seemed to have become preposterously mixed. It was a look of dread and loathing she threw back toward her husband; and a look of entreaty and beseeching she sent toward the pursuing bandolero!

With his long mountaineer's legs, Jacinto Quesada sprinted to the train. Hardly had the door of the third-class carriage closed behind the golden-haired girl than he was at that door. Open he flung it and in he burst.

"Felicidad! Felicidad, querida mia, my darling! It is I, Jacinto-Jacinto Quesada! You have naught to fear from me. And if you had told me that he, the Frenchman, was your husband, I would not have robbed him. Porvida! everything taken already shall be given him back. And as for you, dear Felicidad-"

She had backed herself against the door opposite. Now she came forward swiftly, her face paling and flushing, her lip a-quiver. It was not as though she were glad with sudden recognition: it was as though she were terribly agitated by some deadly fear. She said, in a dry expressionless tone:

"I heard your name mentioned by some passenger as we were bundled from the train, Jacinto, and ah! how grateful to God I was when I first saw you, almost half an hour ago, standing among those ruffianly ladrones! I remembered the time you saved me from my father's quirta-and I needed you so much more, now!

"All this long, long afternoon I prayed that something would happen-anything, anything! God of my soul! how I prayed! But even after I discovered you and realized that, for our childhood's sake, you would protect me, it took all my courage and strength to flee from the crowd and conceal myself here, where I could speak to you and not be spied upon or suspected by that evil, that terrible man!"

Almost in a whisper were her words spoken, but they crashed upon Jacinto Quesada's brain like exploding, detonating shells. He reeled back, overwhelmed, staggered, knocked all to pieces. He gasped:

"Por los Clavos de Cristo! what is all this?"

"Ah, Maria purissima! He does not understand! But all, I shall tell him!"-and swiftly, precipitantly, the girl went on:

"This Frenchman. He calls himself Jacques Ferou. He was the only one that was kind to me and even until two hours ago, I thought I loved him. We were to be married in Madrid to-night-but now-"

"Then he is not already your husband! Carajo! I thought-"

"No; we but eloped this morning. And now, I would not continue on with him; I would turn back! I am afraid-afraid!"

"But tell me all from the beginning. Your words turn my brain to a stew!"

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares