While Kirby went through the oppressive rite of afternoon tea within the slant-roofed log cabin, and tried to hide from his wife the fear which grew as the shadows lengthened across the clearing out in the corral, the men had reached open mutiny. The smouldering sullenness[Pg 126] had at last burst into flaming defiance, blown by the gale of the woman's wrath.
Landor did not know; but she was part Apache, he said, and Harry Cabot's daughter, and it was pretty certain that with that blood in her veins she had the spirit of adventure.
"You must get Mrs. Landor into the post to-morrow," Cairness said abruptly; "Victorio's band is about." [Pg 85] "And you think there will be trouble?" He knew that the buck had come there for nothing but to inform.
The captain's lips set.
He asked her angrily why she had ever come at all, and she explained, with a piteous whimper, like a penitent child's, that she had left her horse tied in a little hollow and had come to explore. She had often meant to explore before this.
Now if one cannot have revenge upon the real malefactor himself, because one is afraid of him, there is still satisfaction to be derived, to a certain extent, from[Pg 204] wreaking it upon the innocent, of whom one is not afraid. Lawton felt, in his simple soul, that Stone was astute with the astuteness of the devil and all his angels. On the other hand, he believed the government to be dull. It was big, but it was stupid. Was not the whole frontier evidence of that fact to him? Clearly, then, the government was the one to be got even with.
In the opinion of Landor, who knew the impracticable country foot for foot, they were well-intentioned lunatics. But they were agreeable guests, who exchanged the topics of the happy East for the wild turkey and commissary supplies of the Far West, and in departing took with them a picturesque, if inexact, notion of army life on the frontier, and left behind a large number of books for Felipa, who had dazzled their imaginations.
"No, no; it's a good deal, but it ain't too much. Not that it could be more, very well," he added, and he glanced furtively at the woman within, who had stretched out on the lounge with her face to the wall. Mrs. Taylor was fanning her.
The knowledge was slight and of no plain value; but it might be of use some day. Life had taught Cairness, amongst other things, that it usually proved so. He stored it away with the other gleanings of experience in his mental barns, and went in search of new adventures.
The fall had knocked the breath from his body. The under dog did not answer.