In the weeks that followed, Landor spent days and some nights—those when he sat up to visit the guard, as a rule—attempting to decide why his ward repelled him. She seemed to be quite like any other contented and natural young girl. She danced, and courted admiration, within the bounds of propriety; she was fond of dress, and rather above the average in intelligence. Usually she was excellent company, whimsical and sweet-humored. She rode well enough, and learned—to his intense annoyance—to shoot with a bow and arrow quite remarkably, so much so that they nicknamed her Diana. He had remonstrated at first, but there was no reason to urge, after all. Archery was quite a feminine sport. It was certainly not apparent, on the face of it, how the thing was to be done, but the captain explained. "I've been stationed here, you know, and I know the roads. We are about a half a mile or more from where the Stanton road to the railway crosses the lava. It is narrow and rough, and about from three-quarters of a mile to a mile wide, but cavalry can go over it without any trouble. I can take my troop over, and then the Indians will be hemmed in between us. We might capture the whole band."
The Reverend Taylor gradually became aware that the air was very bad. He laid down the newspaper and looked round. Cairness had been standing afar off, with his hands in his pockets, watching with a gleam of enjoyment under his knitted brows, but he began to see that there threatened to be more to this than mere baiting; that the desperado was growing uglier as the parson grew more firmly urbane. He drew near his small travelling companion and took his hands suddenly from his pockets, as the cow-boy whipped out a brace of six-shooters and pointed them at the hat.
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. "Shut up," said Brewster, with malicious glee. "They also serve who only stand and wait, you know," he chuckled. "You can serve your admiring and grateful country quite as well in the adjutant's office as summering on the verdant heights of the Mogollons."
But there was no night alarm, and at daybreak it began to be apparent to the troops that they had been led directly away from all chance of one. They made[Pg 121] fires, ate their breakfast, resaddled, and took their way back to the settlements, doubling on their own trail. They came upon signs of a yet larger band, and it was more probable than ever that the valley had been in danger.
He had gone back.
Cairness had made a tune for himself and was putting to it the words of the ill-fated poet of his own Land of the Dawning.
There was a knock at the door of the tent, and it opened. The adjutant came in. "I say, Landor—"