In the weeks that followed, Landor spent days and some nights—those when he sat up to visit the guard, as a rule—attempting to decide why his ward repelled him. She seemed to be quite like any other contented and natural young girl. She danced, and courted admiration, within the bounds of propriety; she was fond of dress, and rather above the average in intelligence. Usually she was excellent company, whimsical and sweet-humored. She rode well enough, and learned—to his intense annoyance—to shoot with a bow and arrow quite remarkably, so much so that they nicknamed her Diana. He had remonstrated at first, but there was no reason to urge, after all. Archery was quite a feminine sport.
He left her ignominiously, at a run. She stood laughing after him until he jumped over a rock and disappeared. "She is his sweetheart, the vieja," she chattered to her companions.
The Reverend Taylor was about to go to the coops and close them for the night, when he saw a man and a woman on horseback coming up the street. The woman was bending forward and swaying in her saddle. He stood still and watched. The red sunset[Pg 250] blaze was in his face so that he could not see plainly until they were quite near. Then he knew that it was Cairness and—yes, beyond a doubt—Bill Lawton's runaway wife.
"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.
"Are you certain of it? You have seen so very little of him, and you may be mistaken."
The boy explained that it was not that, and she let him go, in relief.
"Like as not she does up them boiled shirts and dresses herself, don't you think?" was the minister's awed comment to Cairness, as they went to bed that night in the bare little room.
He realized for the first time the injury his thought of it did her. It was that which had kept them apart, no doubt, and the sympathy of lawlessness that had drawn her and Cairness together. Yet he had just begun to flatter himself that he was eradicating the savage. She had been gratifyingly like other women since his return. But it was as Brewster had said, after all,—the Apache strain was abhorrent to him as the venom of a snake. Yet he was fond of Felipa, too.
Lawton stopped. To forbid him swearing was to forbid him speech. He shuffled ahead in silence.