After having placed their horses in a safe spot, the bandits attacked the provisions which they had stolen that day, and then the cigarette took its place.
“Fellows,” said Valenzuela, “the only thing they talk about here is hanging. It is tiresome.”
“That’s so,” said Carillo. “Hanging is a poor topic. But it is a mania with these Americans. They are taught it in the cradle. They must hang someone or they may be hanged; it is in their blood. The mania is there and no one can reform them.”
“That is all very well,” said Jack Three Fingers, “but since we cannot keep them from hanging our comrades, at least we can pay them in their own coin by hanging all the Americans who fall into our hands. But no! That is a poor system. When I kill anyone I have to see what color his blood is. Oh, well, Caramba! Let them hang if they like to, and in return, we can handle them with the dagger and revolver.”
“Comrades,” replied Joaquin in his turn, “I have suffered more than any of you from that mania which the Americans have for hanging, since I have seen my own poor brother strangled before my very eyes—he who never harmed a soul, and at a time when it was impossible for me to save him, or punish the assassins. But since then, I have taken and am still taking revenge. Let us lay aside this sad topic of conversation and let me tell you about an adventure that happened to me sometime ago in Tuolumne County.”
“Bravo! Bravo! That’s right,” they all cried.
“Listen!” added others.
“I was beginning the career in which you now accompany me,” said the chief. “I had just entered Tuolumne County with my companions, only numbering six, and I encountered in the little encampment of San Diego, about a half mile from Columbia, a headquarters which was exactly suited to our needs. Immediately, we set our hands to work, beginning by killing and despoiling the miners