"Is it closed?"
Cairness reddened to the roots of his hair, and the scar on his forehead grew purple. He understood that look now. And it hurt him more than any of the slights and rebuffs he had received since he had married Felipa. He had, like most of those who served under the general, a sort of hero-worship for him, and set great store by his opinion. It was only because of that that he had left Felipa alone upon the ranch. It had been their first separation and almost absurdly hard for two who had lived their roving lives.
[Pg 94] Down by the river a coyote scudded across her path as she made her way through the willows, and when he was well beyond, rose up on his hind legs and looked after her. At the water's edge she stopped and glanced across to the opposite bank. The restlessness was going, and she meant to return now, before she should be missed—if indeed she were not missed already, as was very probable. Yet still she waited, her hands clasped in front of her, looking down at the stream. Farther out, in the middle, a ripple flashed. But where she stood among the bushes, it was very dark. The water made no sound, there was not a breath of air, yet suddenly there was a murmur, a rustle. "Who?"
And since that gray dawn when he had picked his way through the ashes and charred logs, and had bent over the bodies of his friend and the dead mother and the two children, he had been possessed by a loathing that was almost physical repulsion for all Indians. That was why he had left the stone cabin he had built for himself in the White Mountains, forsaking it and the Apaches who had been, in a way, his friends. But he had done it, too, with the feeling that now he had nowhere to lay his head; that he was driven from pillar to post, buffeted and chased; that he was cursed with the curse of the wanderer. If it had not been that he had an indefinite theory of his own concerning the Kirby massacre, as it was known throughout the country, and that he meant to, some day, in some way, avenge it upon the whites who had abandoned them to their fate, he would have killed himself. He had been very near it once, and had sat on the edge of his bunk in the cabin with a revolver in his hand, thinking it all out for an entire evening, before deciding dispassionately against it. He was not desperate, merely utterly careless of life, which is much worse. Desperation is at the most the keen agony of torture at the stake; but [Pg 163]indifference toward all that is held by this world, or the next, is dying in a gradual vacuum. Brewster told him that she was with Landor at the post now.
Yet, in the midst of her little triumph, Felipa fell ill, failing without apparent cause, and then the uneasiness that had only slept in Landor for eighteen months came awake again. He did not believe when the doctors told him that it was the lassitude of the moist, warm springtime which was making the gray circles about her eyes, the listlessness of her movements.