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The day was hot in the City of the Name of God. And it was dull. Juan Eapadin, who could judge a woman's virtue at one hundred varas of distance, eyed an approaching shawl-drawn figure without interest. It was that hot and that dull.

Juan Espadin was justly an unhappy man. The passage out to New Spain from the homeland had been nearly as dull as were the streets of Nombre de Dios. A man must fight dullness as he fights an enemy. In Cordoba the house of Espadin had long been noted for its skill at gaming. Guala! Who would think a man of that house could lose his modest fortune in a single shipboard game-and make an enemy, besides? Yet it was so.

Espadin grinned ruefully and shifted along the wall against which he idly leaned. The woman on the walk passed him. He no more than saw her, his eyes turned inward on his misfortune. How could a man guess that the simpering dandy he had so elegantly insulted at the captain's table was a man of note in this city? Foul luck, nothing more! It now appeared that Dario Lozan was not only a man of note, but that his family ruled this colony.

Behold, city guards had sought Espadin within an hour of his landing. Their captain was a Vicente Lozan. They brought an order banning the Cavalier Juan Espadin from Nombre by sunset. It was signed by Reinaldo Lozan, Governor. Behind the order was the threat of the old Inquisition, recently revived in this colony, and Alfredo Lozan was Chief Inquisitor of Nombre.

Por Dios. the Lozan were numerous dogs! Espadin shrugged. He must leave the city. But how? Along through the jungle swamps across the isthmus to Panama? Foolhardy he might be, but a fool—no! The beasts and brigands of that steamy dark made no distinction between the rich and honest men. It was yet three days until a train of silver mules and a company of soldiery would make the trip. Wait or stay, it was a bad matter.

Espadin shifted again. A stir drew his lagging interest up the street. The woman with the shawl—and a man. He was about to turn away. Had not the woman passed within a yard of him without casting so much as a glance at him—without raising one spark of interest in return? She must be, in fact, a hag under her veil. It was the man who interested him. An old pig. And showy. The Toledo blade at his side was too long for his arms. He was too hasty, without a swordsman's grace. And he lacked an Espadin's judgment in women.

ESPADIN started leisurely up the street. It was not his affair, but a man should not wear the gear of a cavalier without first learning the duties of a gentleman. The man had a firm grip on one of the woman's arms, halting her. He turned angrily at Juan's touch, Juan saw an arrogant face which was somehow familiar.

"Tall friend," he told the face with formality, "the lady has grown already weary of you. I tell you this to save embarrassment."

"Embarrassment!" the man protested hotly. "You misbegotten swine! Hands off, hands off! You accost me? Todos los santos! I'll read you a lesson—!"

Only the great could afford such anger over so small a matter. Espadin wondered who this spindly old follower of veiled women might be. But it was a faint curiosity. He stepped back a pace and as the man's long Toledo scraped from its scabbard, his own Cordoban steel sang in his hand. He was stiff from long weeks on shipboard. He took no chance. A man and his sword seldom look alike and a clever wrist is often in an old arm. He made a single feint and set his point a handbreath into the man's shoulder.

The fellow bleated as though struck nigh to death and sagged to his knees. Espadin caught a fistful of velvet in the crown of the man's fanciful hat and wiped his blade clean of such thin blood. He bowed then, and spoke pleasantly.

"My advice, Senor—it comes free with a pinking. Forget the lady—and get a shorter blade. It takes a stout man to make a cloth-yard of Toledo dance properly!"

Outraged, the man gave over his moaning and began to shout for assistance.

"Guardia municipal! Aqui! Aqui! Help, brigands! I am killed! Bring soldiers, bring police! Swiftly!"

A sharp blow struck the calf of Juan's leg. He wheeled. Only the woman was behind him. She had swept back her veil, exposing the face of a red-lipped. warm-eyed saint. Espadin was stunned. Por Dios, how could he have made such a mistake? A hag—ai!—perhaps in a hundred years. But beautiful, now! This old fool who thought a shoulder pink a mortal wound had showed better judgment than a Cordoban.

Ah, well, a man is entitled to one mistake. And he should be in favor. Such a beauty could feel but nausea at the old goat who had halted her. She would be grateful for a cavalier. And, perhaps, there would be reward. Bien fortuna! Even in Nombre de Dios an enterprising man might find an end to dullness.

Espadin bent low.

"Senorita—" he said, "Juan Espadin of Cordoba—"

The old goat left off bellowing. His eyes sharpened malevolently.

"Espadin?" he snarled. "I shall remember that name!"

At the same instant the girl's thick skirts rustled and a sharply shod little foot struck Juan's leg again solidly. And she loosed a torrent of bitter abuse.

"Fool! Pig! You and your hasty sword! Before God, I hate cavaliers! For three days I have baited my trap. Then, when my game at last is in hand, you spit him! You, then, can answer to Brother Paco when he asks where is this worst of the Lozans—the carrion I promised to bring him!"

Espadin saw soldiery at the lower end of the street, all too plainly in haste. He stood motionless, appalled at the continuing flavor of his luck.

"This—" he choked, "—this is also a Lozan?"

The girl nodded. Then she saw the guards. Wrapping her skirts close, she ran. Another company of soldiers appeared at the upper end of the street, cutting off escape. The girl ignored them, running lightly and with the purposefulness of one who knows where she goes. Espadin looked at the two companies of city guardsmen—doubt-less numbering among them still more of the innumerable clan which seemed to flush like rats from the stones of Nombre. He felt a tightness in him.

Pues, he was a clever fellow! He had insulted one of a family. He had ignored the orders of another. And he had pinked a third to make certain of their affection. All for the whiling of a dull afternoon and a girl!

Juan Espadin was not a man to run after a woman. The dignity of a cavalier set certain limits in such matters. But the guards were close. He overtook the girl as she dodged into the doorway of a large house which backed up to the outer wall of the city.


CHAPTER II

Jungle Friar

THE house was empty, apparently long deserted. The girl raced through dusty rooms to a door set in the rear wall of the last. The planking was old. It stuck under her hand. The guardia sounded close in the street. Espadin hit the door, drove it open, and wheeled with drawn sword to face the guards should they break into the room before the girl had a fair start. But she pulled insistently at his arm.

"This way will be useless to the brotherhood, now!" she panted. "It will be watched, thanks to the alarm you raised. But we're safe from here on. Come—!"

Espadin obeyed. The door let into a tunnel under the city wall. The tunnel ended in a thicket. The girl found a trail with the ease of familiarity. The smell of the city faded with the sunlight. In its place was the damp aroma of growing things and the perpetual twilight of rank, tree shaded undergrowth. The swamp—the jungle!

Espadin was uneasy. He was a man to see things as they" were. He knew what kind of government was set up by most of the favored nobles sent out by the King to rule his colonial lands. There were Indians in this jungle who would admire a fine Spanish head like his own as a token of revenge for many injustices. And there were brigands who would count a knife-stroke fair exchange for the privilege of feeling of his pockets.

The girl ran untroubled through the ...

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