"Do you care for it so much that you would not be happy in any other?"
The famous mining town was two years old. It had ceased to be a "wind city" or even a canvas one, and was settling down to the dignity of adobe, or even boards, having come to stay. But it was far too new, too American, to have any of the picturesqueness of the Mexican settlements of the country.
"I have it," he said shortly, standing beside her and holding out the letter.
Landor stopped behind, looking at Cairness undecidedly for a moment longer. "It is well for you that I can believe her implicitly," he said. It had been a relapse to the Stone Age, but the rebound to the nineteenth century was as quick.
Landor rode over to Bob's place, and giving his horse to the trumpeter, strode in. There were eight men around the bar, all in campaign outfit, and all in various stages of intoxication. Foster was effusive. He was glad to see the general. General Landor, these were the gentlemen who had volunteered to assist Uncle Sam. He presented them singly, and invited Landor to drink. The refusal was both curt and ungracious. "If we are to overtake the hostiles, we have got to start at once," he suggested.
Her lips parted, and quivered, and closed again. The winds from the wide heavens above the gap whined through the pines, the river roared steadily down below, and the great, irresistible hand of Nature crushed without heeding it the thin, hollow shell of convention. The child of a savage and a black sheep looked straight and long into the face of the child of rovers and criminals. They were man and woman, and in the freemasonry of outlawry made no pretence.
Then Landor spoke to the commissary officer. "You will oblige me, Mr. Brewster, by returning those bids to the safe and by opening the door for me." He dropped the blanket, drew back his cut hand, warm and wet with blood, and wrapped it in a handkerchief very deliberately, as he waited.
The man up above showed himself, and putting his hands to his mouth shouted, "Felipa!"
It was tea time at the Circle K Ranch. But no one was enjoying the hour of rest. Kirby sat on the couch and abstractedly ate slice after slice of thin bread and butter, without speaking. Mrs. Kirby made shift to darn the bunch of stockings beside her, but her whole attention was strained to listening. The children did not understand, though they felt the general uneasiness, and whispered together as they looked at the pictures in the illustrated paper, months old.
A long sunset shadow fell across his path, and he looked up. Felipa was walking beside a little white burro, and holding Mrs. Campbell's golden-curled baby upon its back. She carried her head superbly erect, and her step, because of the moccasins, was quite noiseless. The glow of the sunset shone in her unflinching eyes, and lost itself in the dull black mass of her hair. She studied his face calmly, with a perfectly impersonal approval.
Kirby finished greasing the nut of a wagon. Then he went to the water trough and washed his hands and face, drying them upon a towel in the harness room. He explained that they didn't make much of a toilet for luncheon.