Kirby set down his gun and turned to his wife, holding out his arms. She went to him and he kissed her on the forehead and the lips, in farewell. "Good-by," he said; "now take the children in there."
And later in the day, when the buck had shuffled off again, Cairness brought out his pony,—a new one now, for the little pinto one had died of a rattlesnake bite, from which no golondrina weed had been able to save it,—and saddled it. Then he went again into the cabin. There was but one thing there that he valued,—a life-size head of Felipa he had done in charcoal. It was in a chest beneath his cot. He locked his chest, and going out locked the door also, and putting both keys upon a ring, mounted and rode off along the trail. She stood up very deliberately and faced him with a look he had never seen before in her eyes, dark and almost murderous. But she had her fury under [Pg 202]control. He had guessed that her rage might be a very ugly thing, but he drew back a step at the revelation of its possibilities. Twice she tried hard to speak. She put her hand to her throat, where her voice burned away as it rose. Then it came from the depths of that being of hers, which he had never fathomed.
"I am certainly not good enough for anything else." He began to whistle, but it was not a success, and he stopped. He sat staring over her head for a moment of silence. "I foresaw it when I told Cabot I'd take her."
She waited, too, made silent by sudden realization of how futile anything that she might say would be. "I am glad to see you again," she faltered; "it is four years since Black River and the cloud-burst." She was angry at her own stupidity and want of resource, and her tone was more casual than she meant it to be.
She had been sufficiently ashamed of herself thereafter, and totally unable to understand her own evil[Pg 312] impulse. As she lay swinging in the hammock, she remembered this and many other things connected with that abhorred period of compulsory civilization and of success. The hot, close, dead, sweet smell of the petunias, wilting in the August sun, and the surface-baked earth came up to her. It made her vaguely heartsick and depressed. The mood was unusual with her. She wished intensely that her husband would come back.
Lawton moved ahead a few steps; then he began to cry, loudly, blubbering, his nerves gone all to shreds. He implored and pleaded and wailed. He hadn't known what he was doing. He had been drunk. They had treated him badly about the beef contract. Stone had gone back on him. The oaths that he sobbed forth were not new to Cairness, but they were very ugly.
The blaze of glory had gone suddenly from the clouds, leaving them lifeless gray, when she turned her eyes back to them; and the outlook across the parade ground was very bare. She went and stood by the fire, leaning her arm on the mantel-shelf and setting her determined lips.
Landor's wrath was mighty, but he smiled as he sat balancing a ruler on his fingers and hearing how the citizens of San Tomaso, eager to avenge their wrongs, had met him at early morning, had gone bravely forward, keen on the scent, had implored him to hasten, while he halted on worthless pretexts, and had, towards evening, reluctantly left a hot trail, going from it at right angles, "and camping," said Brewster, regretfully, "as far away as it was possible to get, considering the halts."