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[82] robbed his captives, rolled them on their backs and put blankets on their faces while he rifled the stage. He then galloped to the hills, leaving his prisoners tied and writhing on the ground.

It was a new and daring act, more grateful to the Half-breed natives, as they heard that the loss of money was forgotten in the burning sense of shame.

“With seven inside the stage, and two outside, the driver and the guard, how came you to sit down in the mire and let three robbers tie you up?” I ask a man who happened to have been riding with the mail that day.

“The cause is simple,” he explains, “so simple that it never fails. You know, we English and Americans are strangers in the land. No traveller can trust his fellow. Each of the seven persons inside the coach that day, believed the other six passengers were members of the band. Before we knew the truth, their thongs were on our wrists, their rifles at our heads.”

At twenty-eight, Capitan Vasquez was already the talk of every dancing-room from Santa Clara to Los Angeles. “ I did it all myself, by my own valour; I, the bravest of the brave!” he says. Dark eyes

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