He found that it had been father and son come from the Eastern states in search of the wealth that lay in that vague and prosperous, if uneasy, region anywhere west of the Missouri. And among the papers was a letter addressed to Felipa. Landor held it in the flat[Pg 146] of his hand and frowned, perplexed. He knew that it was Cairness's writing. More than once on this last scout he had noticed its peculiarities. They were unmistakable. Why was Cairness writing to Felipa? And why had he not used the mails? The old, never yet justified, distrusts sprang broad awake. But yet he was not the man to brood over them. He remembered immediately that Felipa had never lied to him. And she would not now. So he took the stained letter and went to find her. "We have tea at five," Mrs. Kirby told him, as they finished, and her husband started out to superintend and help with the digging of an acequia.
He stood quite still and erect, looking after them, a dead light of renunciation of life and hope in his eyes. They came in search of him two days later and scoured the valley and the hills. But the last they ever saw of him was then, following them, a tiny speck upon the desert, making southwest in the direction of the water hole. The big wolf had stopped again, and turned about, coming slowly after him, and two buzzards circled above him, casting down on his path the flitting shadows of their wings.
So he was near her again. She had not seen him in many months, but she had felt that he must be always,[Pg 109] as he had been through those days in the fastnesses of the Sierra Blanca, following her afar off, yet near enough to warn her, if need arose. She was too superstitious to watch him out of sight, and she turned back into the house, followed by Miss McLane, just as stable call sounded, and the white-clad soldiers tramped off to the corrals. Another grievance was the Ellton baby. Felipa adored it, and for no reason that he could formulate, he did not wish her to. He wanted a child of his own. Altogether he was not so easy to get on with as he had been. She did not see why. Being altogether sweet-humored and cheerful herself, she looked[Pg 182] for sweet humor and cheerfulness in him, and was more and more often disappointed. Not that he was ever once guilty of even a quick burst of ill temper. It would have been a relief. "Are you trying to drive me off?" she said measuredly. "Do you wish me to go away from you? If you do, I will go. I will go, and I will never come back. But I will not go to him—not on my own account. It doesn't matter what happens to me; but on your account and on his, I will never go to him—not while you are alive." She stopped, and every nerve in her body was tense to quivering, her drawn lips worked.
"You give me what no one else could give—the best things in life."
It was a bitterly cold January morning. There had been a rain in the night, and the clouds yet hung gray over Mt. Graham and the black gap. The wet wind went howling over the valley, so that the little flag at the top of the staff snapped and whipped as though it would be torn from the halyards. Sunday inspection and guard mounting had been chilling ceremonies, performed in overcoats that were hardly more blue than the men's faces. Having finished them, Brewster hurried across the parade to Captain Campbell's quarters. "Mrs. Cairness would go where I wished gladly," he added, more evenly; "but if it were to a life very different from this, it would end in death—and I should be the cause of it. There it is." He too rose, impatiently.
"'Stá bajo," she stuck out her cleft chin in the direction of the trail that led out of the pocket down to the flat, far below.