"Well," drawled Cairness again,—he had learned the value of the word in playing the Yankee game of bluff,—"with those about the beef contract and those about the Kirby massacre, also a few I gathered around San Carlos (you may not be aware that I have been about that reservation off and on for ten years), with those facts I could put you in the penitentiary, perhaps, even with an Arizona jury; but at any rate I could get you tarred and feathered or lynched in about a day. Or failing all those, I could shoot you myself.[Pg 260] And a jury would acquit me, you know, if any one were ever to take the trouble to bring it before one, which is doubtful, I think." "Yes," answered Forbes, "she was very much admired." He looked a little unhappy. But his mind was evidently made up, and he went on doggedly: "Look here, Morely, old chap, I am going to tell you what I think, and you may do as you jolly well please about it afterward—kick me off the ranch, if you like. But I can see these things with a clearer eye than yours, because I am not in love, and you are, dreadfully so, you know, not to say infatuated. I came near to being once upon a time, and with your wife, too. I thought her the most beautiful woman I had ever known, and I do yet. I thought, too, that she was a good deal unhappier with Landor than she herself realized; in which I was perfectly right. It's plainer than ever, by contrast. Of course I understand that she is part Indian, though I've only known it recently. And it's because I've seen a good deal of your Apaches of late that I appreciate the injustice you are doing her and Cairness Junior, keeping them here. She is far and away too good for all this," he swept the scene comprehensively with his pipe. "She'd be a sensation, even in London. Do you see what I mean, or are you too vexed to see anything?"
Landor came sliding and running down. His face was misshapen with the anger that means killing. She saw it, and her powers came back to her all at once. She put both hands against his breast and pushed him back, with all the force of her sinewy arms. His foot slipped on a stone and he fell. [Pg 86] "I see dem pass by my ranch. Dey weel run off all my stock, seexty of dem, a hundred mebee. I come queek to tell you."
"I am going back to my ranch on the reservation," he said measuredly.
They argued it from all sides during the whole of a day, and Campbell lent his advice, and the end of it was that Felipa Cabot came out to the land of her forbears.
"Why don't you ask him?" said Mrs. Lawton, astutely.
Mrs. Lawton started forward in her chair. "What's he in for now? Ain't it for this?" she demanded.
"Are you afraid she will contaminate me?" he asked. He was peering at her over the top of a newspaper.
The men went away, however, without much trouble beyond tipsy protests and mutterings, and the sutler rewarded the guard with beer, and explained to Landor that several of the disturbers were fellows who were hanging round the post for the beef contract; the biggest and most belligerent—he of the fierce, drooping mustachios—was the owner of the ranch where the Kirby massacre had taken place, as well as of another one in New Mexico.
She threw him an indifferent "I am not afraid, not of anything." It was a boast, but he had reason to know that it was one she could make good.
He looked about now for a sign of either party. Across the creek was some one riding slowly along the crest of a hill, seeming so small and creeping that only a very trained eye could have made it out. It was probably a hound. The hares lay low, in ca?ons and gullies and brush, as a rule. As he scanned the rest of the valley, his horse stopped short, with its fore legs planted stiffly. He looked down and saw that he was at the brink of a sheer fall of twenty feet or more, like a hole scooped in the side of the little rise he was riding over. He remembered, then, that there was a cave somewhere about. He had often heard of it, and probably it was this. He dismounted, and, tying the pony in a clump of bushes, walked down and around to investigate.