"I put them in this here book," he said, "betwixt the leaves, and then I put the book under my saddle and set on it. I don't weigh so much, but it works all right," he added, looking up with a na?ve smile that reached from one big ear to the other. "To-morrow," he told him later, "I'm going to ride over here to Tucson again. What way might you be takin'?"
The words of a woman in a community where women are few carry almost the weight of inspiration. Be she never so hideous or so vile, she is in some measure a Deborah, and the more yet, if she be moved to the lust and love of revenge of the prophetess who sang[Pg 125] in the frenzy of blood drunkenness, "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber, the Kenite, be. Blessed shall she be above women in the tent."
"Yes," Cairness called back.
Cairness was still in his dust-grayed outfit, his hair was below where his collar would have been had he been wearing one, and his nose was on its way to at least the twentieth new skin that summer. In all his years of the frontier, he had never become too well tanned to burn. His appearance was not altogether reassuring, Stone thought. He was not only an ass, he[Pg 172] was also tough—the sort of a fellow with whom it was as well to remember that your six-shooter is beneath the last copy of your paper, on the desk at your elbow. 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. "Is that Captain Landor's camp?"
When the storm had fairly passed, they found Felipa's gray lodged in the root of a tree some distance down the creek; in no way hurt, oddly enough, but trembling and badly frightened. The saddle, even, was uninjured, though the pigskin was water-soaked and slippery.
"You could take turns riding behind the men."
She dropped beside him and tried to hold him down. "He did not know I was coming here," she pleaded. "It was a mistake, Jack! Will you wait until I tell you? Will you wait?" She was clinging around his neck and would not be shaken off. He dragged her in the dust, trying to get free himself.
"That you take them to civilization—the missus and the kid. It's the only salvation for all three of you—for you as well as them."