Plain Mary Smith Part 24

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I cut him off.

"I don't mean well by you. I despise you altogether. You get away safely because Mary thought once you were a friend. It's a fool notion that you can take advantage of, or not, as pleases you. I won't attempt to disguise the fact that you are wanted bad by some of our side. Orinez, there, would like to have your hide to remember you by."

"_Si_, Senor!" says Orinez from the window. "It is only that my word is given you are not dead now."

There came another burst of firing, nearer. Another street taken.

"I agree," said Belknap, and now he was anxious, fawning. "I can take a few belongings? Trifles that I have picked up and wish to keep?"

"Leave your trifles and let them keep me," jeered Orinez.

"You can take what you can carry," I answered, short.

"Thank you--thank you," he said hurriedly. "Would you mind if I asked you to leave me alone in the room? A stranger distracts one when it comes to what to leave and what to keep."

"We won't steal your darned money, even if we see it," I said. "You'll have time after we leave to gather your wealth."

He bit his nails. "The time seems short," he said. The firing broke out nearer, and now you could hear our war-whoop. "Viva Perez! Down with the traitors!" Each side called the other traitors. "Perez" was the key to the party.

"Short or not, it's what you get," I answered him. Mary left her room and the talk stopped.

"I am ready," she said.

I took her bundle and we started. At the head of the stairs she paused.

"Will," she said, "I hate that man; but as I hope to go to the happiness of my life, I will not leave him so."

"Good for you!" says I.

She went in again and held out her hand.

"Mr. Belknap," she said, "I wish no ill-will between us. Forgive me as fully as I forgive you."

He was on pins and needles to get his money; to be rid of us.

"Certainly, my dear young lady!" says he with haste and effusion.

"Certainly! Of course!" It meant nothing to him at all. And it meant a ton to Mary. She stared at him until I pulled her away. "Is that a sane man?" she asked me.

"I've no time for conundrums," I answered her. "We must be getting out of this."

If I succeeded, I was to signal Perez. When we reached the garden, I could walk freely, being in the company of the well-known Senorita Maria. I undid my neckerchief, shook it carelessly, and Perez was off, to bring Arthur by any kind of method to the arranged meeting-place.

Orinez struck off ahead to scout for possible danger.

There was none. We hadn't gone five squares before we ran into panic-stricken rebels, and the firing-line was approaching on the jump.

Not wanting Mary to see the wounded men, and not caring to explain just then why I couldn't have waited an hour or two for my message, I took the back way.

We landed at the little ruined stone house before Saxton and Perez; they had much farther to travel.

"We must wait here," I told Mary.

"Must we?" she asked pitifully. "Can't we go on?"

"Now, my dear girl, see here," says I, in a fatherly manner, "after I've tried to do the best--"

"Yes, dear, yes--I'm ungrateful, I know." She cried a little. "But I've been such a fool! You're _sure_ he isn't dangerously hurt?"

"Why, it may be," says I, with a wave of my hand, "that he's up and around! I don't know much about these things, you know. I'm scart easy."

Then she petted me and said I had a wise reason, she was sure, and if it was dangerous to go on, she wouldn't, and she'd be patient, and she was all worn out and she looked a fright, and _what_ a fool she had been!

And she cried some more.

I heard a step. I'd strained my ears for it for the last twenty minutes.

"Now," I says to her, "I'll skip out to see what's doing."

I slid behind a tree in time to prevent Sax from seeing me. Perez was on the hill waving his hands for joy. I felt pretty dum joyous myself, hiding in the brush with the lovely feeling of putting through a thoroughly successful put-up job added to the other.

Dead silence after Saxton stepped within the little house. Then come one cry--"Arthur!"

The whole business, from the cradle to the grave, was done up in one small word.

Perez come down the hill; I left my brush-pile. Arthur and Mary were sitting on the stone step, hand in hand. I'll bet they never said a word after that first cry, and they held hands like they was afraid to let go, even for a minute. I thought we'd have lots of explaining to do, but shucks! They didn't want any explanations. There they were, sitting on the door-step, hand in hand. Good enough old explanation for anybody.

They didn't even see us.

I raised my voice, calling to Perez, "Your Excellency, I have the honor to report Panama has fallen!"

And there they sat, hand in hand. They didn't even hear us, neither.

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Plain Mary Smith Part 24 summary

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