"Where is the use of the lip's red charm, "What's your name, young feller?" she demanded. Cairness was hurt. "Surely, Mrs. Lawton, you have not so entirely forgotten me. I am Charles Cairness, very much at your service." But she had forgotten, and she said so.
There was trouble at the San Carlos Agency, which was in no wise unusual in itself, but was upon this occasion more than ever discouraging. There had been a prospect of lasting peace, the noble Red-man was settling down in his filthy rancheria to become a good citizen, because he was tagged with little metal numbers, and was watched unceasingly, and forbidden the manufacture of tizwin, or the raising of the dead with dances, and was told that an appreciative government was prepared to help him if he would only help himself.
"Usted, vaya prontisimo," he directed with the assumption of right of one to whom she owed her life. Lawton moved ahead a few steps; then he began to cry, loudly, blubbering, his nerves gone all to shreds. He implored and pleaded and wailed. He hadn't known what he was doing. He had been drunk. They had treated him badly about the beef contract. Stone had gone back on him. The oaths that he sobbed forth were not new to Cairness, but they were very ugly.
She moved away from him and out of the ray of moonlight, into the shadow of the other side of the window, and spoke thoughtfully, with more depth to her voice than usual. "So few people have been as happy as we have. If we went hunting for more happiness somewhere else, we should be throwing away the gifts of the gods, I think." Bright, black eyes peered down from crevasses and branches. An Apache lurked behind every boulder and trunk. But only the squaws and the children and twenty-six bucks in war toilet, naked from shoulder to waist, painted with blood and mescal, rings in their noses, and heads caked thick with mud, came down to the conference.
There is a certain class of persons to whom it is always irritating to find any one reading a book. It rubs them the wrong way instantly. They will frequently argue that their own, and the best, manner of studying life is from nature—an excellent theory in sound, and commonly accepted as unanswerable, but about as practical in fact as the study of music on the instrument alone, without primer or method.
She drew her horse down to a gallop, and the jar of the changed gait made her moan. There was no haste now. Her own men had come upon the desperadoes and there was a quick volley. And ahead, riding fast toward her from the top of a little rise, was a man on a white horse—her husband, she knew.
He would still keep her, yes. But he did not see that it would be in the least necessary to tell his wife the whole of the woman's iniquity. It took quite all his courage, after they had gotten her safely in bed, to remind her that this was the same woman who had gone off with the Mexican.
Cairness started forward and levelled his Colt, but the divine was too quick for him. He fired, and the cow-boy sank down, struggling, shot through the thigh. As he crouched, writhing, on the ground, he fired again, but Cairness kicked the pistol out of his hand, and the bullet, deflected, went crashing in among the bottles.
He felt that he ought to dislike her cordially, but he did not. He admired her, on the contrary, as he would have admired a fine boy. She seemed to have no religion, no ideals, and no petty vanity; therefore, from his point of judgment, she was not feminine. Perhaps the least feminine thing about her was the manner in which she appeared to take it for granted that he was going to marry her, without his having said, as yet, a word to that effect. In a certain way it simplified matters, and in another it made them more difficult. It is not easy to ask a woman to marry you where she looks into your eyes unhesitatingly. But Landor decided that it had to be done. She had been in the post four months, and with the standing exception of Brewster, whom she discouraged resolutely, none of the officers cared for her beyond the flirtation limit.
"Can't stay," said the adjutant, all breathless. "The line's down between here and the Agency; but a runner has just come in, and there's trouble. The bucks are restless. Want to join Victorio in New Mexico. You've both got to get right over there."