"It's a lot of infernal lies, and you know it." But she only shook her head and laughed again, shortly.
There was another silence, and this time he broke it.
Landor rode up to them and made inquiries for Foster. The parson said that he could not. "Lawton ain't any use for me. I guess it's because he remembers me, that's why. He'll remember you, too." "That's all."
But she sat up suddenly, with one of her quick movements of conscious strength and perfect control over every muscle, clasped her hands about her knees, and went on. "It was very curious," and there came on her face the watchful, alert, wild look, with the narrowing of the eyes. "It was very curious, I could not[Pg 84] have stayed indoors that night if it had cost me my life—and it very nearly did, too. I had to get out. So I took my revolver and my knife, and I went the back way, down to the river. While I was standing on the bank and thinking about going home, an Indian stole out on me. I had an awful struggle. First I shot. I aimed at his forehead, but the bullet struck his shoulder; and then I fought with the knife. As soon as I could slip out of his grasp, I went at him and drove him off. But I didn't know how badly he was hurt until the next day. The shot had roused them up here, and they went down to the river and found him bleeding on the sand. "Yes?" said Landor. He knew the citizens of the district, and attached no particular sacredness to the person of their envoy.
Her face lighted with the relief of a forgiven child, and she went to him and put her arms around his neck. 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. The log cabin was tidy. There were chintz curtains at the windows, much of the furniture, of ranch manufacture, was chintz covered, the manta of the ceiling was unstained, there were pictures from London Christmas papers on the walls, and photographs of the fair women at "home."
"That," objected the major, testily, "is ancient history. This trouble started the way of most of the troubles of this age—whiskey." In his agitation he carefully spilled a spoonful of salt on the cloth and scraped it into a little mound with a knife. Then recollecting that spilled salt causes quarrels, he hurriedly threw a pinch of it over his left shoulder. "And—and, the worst of the whole business is, old man, that you've got to go. Your troop and one from Apache are ordered out. I'm awfully sorry." He would not look at Felipa at all. But he stared Landor[Pg 57] fairly out of countenance, as he waited for a storm of tears and protestations.