Presently she returned with two bottles. In one was the tarantula, an especially large and hideous specimen, hairy and black, with dull red tinges. In the other the vinagrone, yet more hideous. She went down to the side of the house and emptied both into the wide-mouthed bottle. "No," Cabot told him, "I couldn't—not without delaying you. The trail's too hot for that. If you'll put a fourth and last bullet into Cochise, the loss of a little thing like me won't matter much." He stopped short, and his chin dropped, weakly, undecided.
And then his thoughts shot back to the present with quick pain. She should not have come here, not so soon. He had taken a long, hard trip that had nearly ended in his death, to avoid this very thing, this [Pg 293]meeting, which, just because it made him so terribly happy, seemed a treachery, a sacrilege. Had she less delicacy of feeling than himself? Or had she more love? It was that, he saw it in her beautiful eyes which were growing wide and frightened at his silence. He took his hand from under the sheets and stretched it out to her. She went to him and dropped on her knees beside the bed, and threw her arms about him. He moved his weak head closer to her shoulder, and pressing her fingers to his face gave a choking sob. He was happy, so very happy. And nothing mattered but just this.
The stars were bright chips of fire in a sky of polished blue. The wind of the day had died at dusk, and the silence was deep, but up among the bare graves the coyotes were barking weirdly. As she looked off across the low hills, there was a quick, hissing rattle at her feet. She moved hastily, but without a start, and glanced down at a rattler not three feet away. He watched her as she went out of the tent, and the surgeon and steward worked with the shining little instruments. They tore on, away from the noise of the flames, of the falling timber and the shouted commands, around the haystacks so close to the barbed-wire fence that the barbs cut his boot, off by the back of the quarters, and then upon the road that led from the reservation. If the pony could be kept on that road, there was small danger from dog holes. He would run himself out in time. The length of time was what was uncertain, however. A cow-pony can go a good many hours at a stretch.
She could hear voices confusedly, men hurriedly calling and hallooing as she neared the back of the officers' line and crept into her tent. The door was barely closed when there came a knock, and the voice of the striker asking if she had heard the shot across the river. "Did the girl know her own story?" she asked.
"I dare say," Landor agreed; "it is certainly more[Pg 11] charitable to suppose that men who hacked up the bodies of babies, and abused women, and made away with every sort of loot, from a blanket to a string of beads, were mad. It was creditably thorough for madmen, though. And it was the starting-point of all the trouble that it took Crook two years to straighten out."
"I began to tell you," she resumed directly, "that Mr. Brewster was here, and that he informed me that my mother was a squaw and my father a drunken private."