"It's—" the boy looked around nervously. "If you'd come into the house—" he ventured.
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.
Was he quite certain that the trail was of hostiles, and not of cow-boys or of other troops?
"That you take them to civilization—the missus and the kid. It's the only salvation for all three of you—for you as well as them."
He did not answer at once, but sat watching the trumpeter come out of the adjutant's office to sound recall. "Yes, she will marry," he agreed; "if no one else marries her, I will. I am as old as her father would have been but it would save telling some fellow about her birth."
Ellton could not eat. He bewailed his hard fate unceasingly.
After a time she roused herself and went into the house, and directly she came back with the baby in her arms. The younger of the two children that she had taken under her care at Stanton, the little girl, followed after her.
She gave a dry little sob of unutterable glad relief and tried to raise her voice and call to him, the call they used for one another when they rode about the ranch. But the sound was only a weak, low wail.