Undoubtedly, as she said, the American was ugly and unattractive; but the Mexican was pretty and decidedly engaging. Cairness had been too nearly trapped once before to be lured now. He met the piece of brown femininity upon her own ground. "You are quite right, querida mia. She is ugly and old, and you are beautiful and young, and I will take you with me to the States and buy a pink dress with lovely green ribbons, if you will tell me where the old woman is." 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. The men followed, sitting erect, toes in. They might have been on mounted inspection except for the field clothes, stained and dusty. They were to go down a narrow path for close on a mile, between two rows of rifle barrels, and that not at a run or a gallop, but at a trot, at the most, for the lava was slippery as glass in spots. They were willing enough to do it, even anxious—not that there was any principle involved, or glory to be gained, but because their blood was up and it was part of the chances of the game.
And the savage shows, too, in that your Englishman is not gregarious. His house is his castle, his life is to himself, and his sentiments are locked within him. He is a lonely creature, in the midst of his kind, and he loves his loneliness.
The officer-of-the-day agreed. And Cairness, not having a hat to raise, forgot himself and saluted. Then he went back to the sutler's through the already pelting rain. He was glad he had caught Lawton, mainly because of what he hoped to get out of him yet, about the Kirby affair. But he was sorry for the big clumsy fool, too. He had been an easy-going, well-intentioned boss in the days when Cairness had been his hand. And, too, he was sorry, very sorry, about the pony. If it were to fall into the hands of Mexicans or even of some of the Mescalero Indians, his chances of seeing it again would be slight. And he was fond of it, mainly because it had helped him to save Mrs. Landor's life. He rose to his feet, shaking off an impatience with her and with himself. "Come," he said peremptorily; and they went out and mounted and rode away in the face of a whipping wind up the gradual slope to the mountains, black and weird beneath the heavy, low-hanging rain clouds.
Stone was something of a power in Tucson politics, and altogether a great man upon the territorial stump. He was proud of his oratory, and launched into a display of it now, painting luridly the wrongs of the citizen, who, it appeared, was a defenceless, honest, [Pg 10]law-abiding child of peace, yet passed his days in seeing his children slaughtered, his wife tortured, his ranches laid waste, and himself shot down and scalped.
She was frightened now. The quirt fell from her hand with a thud. She loosed her hold upon her long riding skirt and tripped over it.