Then Landor remembered for the first time that there was a back door to Brewster's quarters and to the commissary. He crept over to the commissary and tried the door gently. It was fast locked. Then he went to the window. It was a low one, on a level with his[Pg 191] chest, with wide-apart iron bars. He ran his hand between them now, and, doubling his fist, broke a pane with a sudden blow. As the glass crashed in, he grasped the gray blanket and drew it back. Brewster was standing in front of the open safe, the package of bids in his hands, and the big rancher was beside him holding a candle and shading it with his palm. They had both turned, and were staring, terror-eyed, at the bleeding hand that held back the blanket.The puppy which had been born the same day as the little Reverend, a beast half coyote, half shepherd, and wholly hideous, came and sat itself down beside them on the sill, looked up with its tongue hanging out to one side, and smiled widely. The beaming good nature of the two Reverends was infectious. The baby squealed gleefully, and kicked until it was set down on the doorstep to pat the dog.
"See here," insisted Taylor; "turn round here and answer me." Cairness continued to stand with his head down, looking at the geraniums. The parson was wiser than his wife in that he knew when it was of no use to insist. "What's keeping you around here, anyway? You ought to have gotten out when you left the service鈥攁nd you half meant to then. What is it?"The reporter interposed that it was the act of men maddened by grief and their losses.
Landor took stock of the others. There had been five led horses twenty-four hours before, when they had started on a hot trail after the chief Cochise. But they had taken the places of five others that had dropped in their tracks to feed the vultures that followed always, flying above in the quivering blue. They were a sorry lot, the two score that remained."Then," said the Reverend Taylor, laying down the paper, "you must be scared for yourself."
"Will you make haste?" cried Felipa, out of patience.Then he mounted the horse the orderly held for him, and trotted off.Stone held that the affair had been grossly exaggerated, and that the proof thereof lay in the acquittal of all accused of the crime, by a jury of their peers; and Landor said that the sooner that highly discreditable travesty on justice was forgotten, the better for the good fame of the territory. The press representative waxed eloquent once more, until his neck grew violet with suppressed wrath, which sputtered out now and then in profanity. The officer met his finest flights with cold ridicule, and the Agency man improved the opportunity by pouring himself a drink from the flask on the cot. In little it was the reproduction of the whole situation on the frontier鈥攁nd the politician profited.
From thenceforth the elegant creature troubled Felipa as little as the nature of things would permit. She said that Mrs. Landor was une sauvage and so brune; and Mrs. Landor said she was a fool and dyed her hair. She was not given to mincing words. And she had small patience with a woman who lay in bed until the sun was high, and who spent her days lounging under the ramada, displaying tiny, satin-shod feet for the benefit of the enlisted men and the Indians who wandered over from the reservation.
So he waited and stood aside somewhat, to watch[Pg 23] the course of Brewster's suit. He derived some little amusement from it, too, but he wondered with rather a deeper tinge of anxiety than was altogether necessary what the final outcome would be.
"Never!" she declared; it was merely because she could not breathe the same air with that creature.[Pg 19]
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."Landor glanced at his wife. She seemed to take it without offence, and was listening intently.
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