One had gone mad with loco-weed, and they gored each other's sides until the blood ran, while only a low, moaning bellow came from their dried throats. A cloud of fine dust, that threw back the sun in glitters, hung over them, and a flock of crows, circling above in the steel-blue sky, waited. "You speak with the utmost fluency, my daughter,"[Pg 47] he had commended, and she had explained that she found expression more easy in French.
The Reverend Taylor sat in silence for a time, reflecting. Then he broke forth again, a little querulously. "What in thunderation do they dine at such an hour for?" Cairness explained that it was an English custom to call supper dinner, and to have it very late. "That's all right," Landor said; "are you hunting?"
"No he ain't."
He sat quite still, clinching his teeth and clawing his fingers tensely. In the great crises of life, training and upbringing and education fall away, and a man is governed by two forces, his instincts and his surroundings. And Cairness's instincts were in entire accord with his surroundings; they were of the Stone Age, when men fought with the beasts of the wilderness in their cave homes, and had only the law of sheer strength. He leaned forward, holding his breath, and watched her. Had she seen his horse tied up above, and come here to find him—because he was here?
She was looking at them with such absorbed delight that she started violently when close behind her a voice she had not heard in four long, repressed years spoke with the well-remembered intonation: "He had better go to the farrier the first thing in the morning. I can't have him stove-up," and Cairness came out of the gate.
"The fellers that's after him. They're goin' to hold him up fifteen miles out, down there by where the Huachuca road crosses. He's alone, ain't he?"
"Say we were to get off at sun-up, then," objected Landor, "they would even in that way have twelve hours' start of us."
The man beside her was an attaché of the British legation, who had been one of her greatest admirers to that time, but thereafter he sought her out no more. He had driven the boys off, and taking the kitten, which mewed piteously all the way, had gone with her to her destination and left her.
And he succeeded in seeing Felipa. It was most unexpected. He had believed her to be in Stanton, a good many hundred miles away. But Landor having been sent at once into the field, she had come on to Grant to visit the Campbells, who were again stationed there. He met her face to face only once, and he measured with one quick look all the changes there were between the girl of ten years before and the woman of to-day. The great, sad pity that rose within him, and seemed to grasp at his throat chokingly, was the best love he had felt for her yet. It wiped out the wrong of the short madness in the cave's mouth.
"She will shrink, I guess, at first," he admitted. "Women who ain't seen much of life kind of think they ought to draw aside their skirts, and all that. They were taught copy-book morals about touching pitch, I reckon,"—he was wise concerning women now—"and it takes a good deal of hard experience to teach them that it ain't so. But she'll take my word for it."
He was a simple, sullen Apache, and his untutored mind could only grasp effects. Causes were beyond it. He did not, therefore, understand that coal had been discovered on his reservation, also silver, and that the agent and the agent's friends were trying to possess[Pg 175] themselves of the land in order to dispose of it to the Eastern capitalist.
Another officer came up, and Cairness dropped from the twisted bow and walked away.