"You know he's the man Landor lost his life saving upon the malpais in New Mexico?"The Reverend Taylor gradually became aware that the air was very bad. He laid down the newspaper and looked round.
"You can go whenever you like now," Cairness told her. She demanded to know where she was to go to, and he answered that that was not his affair, but that he would suggest a safe distance. "Somebody else getting hold of the truth of the Kirby business mightn't be so easy on you as I am."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.
There were four corrals in the one, and two of them were on fire. They had spread wet blankets on the roof of the third, but it, too, caught directly. The big, yellow-hearted flames poured up into the sky. The glow was cast back again from the blackness of the low clouds, and lit up the ground with a dazing shimmer. It blinded and burned and set the rules of fire drill pretty well at naught, when the only water supply was in small buckets and a few barrels, and the horses had kicked over two of the latter.It was a strong door, built of great thick boards and barred with iron, but it must surely cede before fire and the blows. It wrenched on its huge hinges.
But the men did not. It was hardly to be expected that they should, both because the abstract and the ethical are foreign to the major part of mankind, in any case; and also because, with this particular small group of mankind, there was too fresh a memory of a dead woman lying by the bodies of her two children in a smouldering log cabin among the mountains and the pines.
She did not show the enthusiasm he had rather expected. "I dare say it is my bad conscience," she answered with some indifference. "I have a sin to confess."But there was more stock than was needed.
That night he sat upon the edge of his bunk, in the darkness, after taps, with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hand, and thought the matter to a conclusion. The conclusion was that he would not re?nlist, and the reason for it was the girl he had met on the parade ground. He knew the power that beauty had over him. It was as real, as irresistible, as a physical sensation. And he thought Felipa Cabot the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. "She should be done in a heroic bronze," he told himself; "but as I can't do it, and as I haven't the right to so much as think about her, I shall be considerably happier at a distance, so I'll go."
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,鈥攖he Apache strain was abhorrent to him as the venom of a snake. Yet he was fond of Felipa, too.Ellton filled in the pause that threatened, with a return to the dominant topic. "This not having any pack-train," he opined, "is the very deuce and all. The only transportation the Q. M. can give you is a six-mule team, isn't it?"He passed an officer who had a smoking six-shooter in his hand, and yelled in his ear, "Why are you doing that?" He had forgotten that it was by no means his place to question.
Landor expressed pleasure, without loss of words.
"Cairness!" called Crook, and Cairness, turning aside, came over to where the general sat upon a big stone eating a sandwich two inches thick.
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