"Kiss me," said Felipa.
He held the door open for the Texan woman and the parson to go out. Then he followed, closing it behind him.
"That's all right," Landor said; "are you hunting?" It was a very poor case, indeed, that Brewster made out, despite a formidable array of specifications. As it progressed, the situation took on a certain ludicrousness. The tale of woe was so very trivial; it seemed hardly worth the trouble of convening twelve officers from the four corners of the Department to hear it. And there was about Brewster, as he progressed, a suggestion of dragging one foot after the other, leaving out a word here, overlooking an occurrence there, [Pg 155]cutting off a mile in one place, and tacking on an hour in another.
"To Captain Landor's widow, yes;" he met the unsympathetic eyes squarely. "I came to tell you, general, what I have gathered from the squaws. It may serve you."
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.
Because of which Landor, as soon as he was up, went in search of the commanding officer, and found him in the adjutant's office, and the adjutant with him. He demanded an explanation. "If any one has been [Pg 144]saying anything about me, I want to know it. I want to face him. It can't be that newspaper rot. We are all too used to it."
He was surprised, but he was pleased too, and he took the long fingers in his and held them gently.
The man, still running, dodged from the road and started across country. Cairness wheeled and followed him. It was open ground, with not so much as a scrub oak or a rock in sight. The thick darkness offered the only chance of escape. But Cairness had chased yearlings in nights as black, and had brought them back to the herd. Down by the creek where the trees were thick, there would have been a good chance for escape, almost a certainty indeed, but there was little here. The man dodged again. It was just to that very thing that the pony had been trained. Habit got the better of stampede with it. It, too, dodged sharply.
He stroked its head with his finger as it lay still, opening and shutting its bright little eyes. "It won't live," he told her, and then the thought occurred to him to put her to the test. He held the bird out to her. "Wring its neck," he said, "and end its misery."