"I know it," she whispered, but she took her shaking hand from the dog's head, and, without another word, pointed to the shadow of Landor's figure, thrown distorted by the candle light against the side of the tent.
"Yes," answered Forbes, "she was very much admired." He looked a little unhappy. But his mind was evidently made up, and he went on doggedly: "Look here, Morely, old chap, I am going to tell you what I think, and you may do as you jolly well please about it afterward—kick me off the ranch, if you like. But I can see these things with a clearer eye than yours, because I am not in love, and you are, dreadfully so, you know, not to say infatuated. I came near to being once upon a time, and with your wife, too. I thought her the most beautiful woman I had ever known, and I do yet. I thought, too, that she was a good deal unhappier with Landor than she herself realized; in which I was perfectly right. It's plainer than ever, by contrast. Of course I understand that she is part Indian, though I've only known it recently. And it's because I've seen a good deal of your Apaches of late that I appreciate the injustice you are doing her and Cairness Junior, keeping them here. She is far and away too good for all this," he swept the scene comprehensively with his pipe. "She'd be a sensation, even in London. Do you see what I mean, or are you too vexed to see anything?"
Undoubtedly, as she said, the American was ugly and unattractive; but the Mexican was pretty and decidedly engaging. Cairness had been too nearly trapped once before to be lured now. He met the piece of brown femininity upon her own ground. "You are quite right, querida mia. She is ugly and old, and you are beautiful and young, and I will take you with me to the States and buy a pink dress with lovely green ribbons, if you will tell me where the old woman is."
On a day when the mercury registered 120 degrees, Felipa Landor drove into the camp. Her life, since her marriage three years before, had been the usual nomadic[Pg 61] one of the place and circumstances, rarely so much as a twelvemonth in one place, never certain for one day where the next would find her. Recently Landor had been stationed at the headquarters of the Department of Arizona. But Felipa had made no complaint whatever at having to leave the gayest post in the territories for the most God-forsaken, and she refused flatly to go East. "I can stand anything that you can," she told her husband when he suggested it, which was apparently true enough, for now, in a heat that was playing out the very mules, covered as she was with powdery, irritating dust, she was quite cheerful as he helped her from the ambulance.
"Nothing much," he told her. He and Taylor could take care of the talking. Her part would be just to stand by and pay attention.The captain knitted his thick brows and interposed quickly, talking against time. "If the Tucson ring and the Indian Bureau had one head, I should like the detail of cutting it off." His annoyance seemed to be of an impersonal sort, and the commandant began to feel that he must have handled the thing rather well, after all. He gained in self-esteem and equanimity.
He demanded that he be told the reasons, but she refused very sweetly and very decidedly. And he was forced to accept the footing upon which she placed him, for all time.
He took up his paper again. "He ain't told me the whole thing yet," he said.In the corral where the fire had started and was best under way, and in the stall farthest from the gate, a little pinto mustang was jerking at its halter and squealing with fear. It was Cairness's horse. He had been allowed to stable it there, and he himself was not down with his scouts in the ill-smelling camp across the creek, but had a room at the sutler's store, a good three-quarters of a mile from the corrals. As soon as the bugle call awoke him, he started at a run; but the fire was beyond fighting when he got there.They had not gone upon a wedding trip for the excellent reason that there was no place to go; and as[Pg 56] they sat at dinner together in their sparsely furnished quarters, there was a timid ring at the door-bell, and Landor's Chinaman, the cook of his bachelor days, ushered in the commanding officer, who looked humble apology for the awkwardness of a visit he could not delay. He went straight to the matter in hand, in spite of the tactful intentions that had made him come himself instead of sending a subordinate.
The log cabins were built, five of them, to form a square. The largest contained the sitting room and a bedroom, the three others, bedrooms and a storehouse, and the kitchen and dining room were in the fifth.
Cairness stood up, ran his hands into his pockets, and going over to the window looked down at the geraniums as he had done once, long before.。