The murmurs in the corral rose louder. It was not that Kirby and his partners underpaid, underfed, or overworked the American citizens. It was that their language was decent and moderate; and the lash of the slave driver would have stung less than the sight of the black coats and the seven o'clock dinner. In the midst of white savages and red, the four clung to the forms of civilization with that dogged persistence in the unessential, that worship of the memory of a forsaken home, for which the Englishman, time and again, lays down his life without hesitation. That was the grievance. "Hombre!" grunted the Indian, puffing at a straw-paper cigarette, "excesivamente peligroso aqui."
Her lips parted, and quivered, and closed again. The winds from the wide heavens above the gap whined through the pines, the river roared steadily down below, and the great, irresistible hand of Nature crushed without heeding it the thin, hollow shell of convention. The child of a savage and a black sheep looked straight and long into the face of the child of rovers and criminals. They were man and woman, and in the freemasonry of outlawry made no pretence. "I can see, sir," the lieutenant answered.
"Shut up," said Brewster, with malicious glee. "They also serve who only stand and wait, you know," he chuckled. "You can serve your admiring and grateful country quite as well in the adjutant's office as summering on the verdant heights of the Mogollons."
There was peace and harmony in the home of the Reverend Taylor. An air of neatness and prosperity was about his four-room adobe house. The mocking-bird that hung in a willow cage against the white wall, by the door, whistled sweet mimicry of the cheep of the little chickens in the back yard, and hopped to and fro and up and down on his perches, pecking at the red chili between the bars. From the corner of his eyes he could peek into the window, and it was bright with potted geraniums, white as the wall, or red as the chili, or pink as the little crumpled palm that patted against the glass to him.
But there was more stock than was needed.
That night he sat upon the edge of his bunk, in the darkness, after taps, with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hand, and thought the matter to a conclusion. The conclusion was that he would not re?nlist, and the reason for it was the girl he had met on the parade ground. He knew the power that beauty had over him. It was as real, as irresistible, as a physical sensation. And he thought Felipa Cabot the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. "She should be done in a heroic bronze," he told himself; "but as I can't do it, and as I haven't the right to so much as think about her, I shall be considerably happier at a distance, so I'll go."
There was a chuckle from the group, and a chorus to the effect that they would be eternally condemned, the truth of which was patent in their faces. "Leave the little codger be," some one suggested; "he ain't skeered worth a sour apple."
Two days later Stone left the town. He took the train for California, and his wife and children went with him. He was a rich man by many an evil means, and it was no real hardship that had been worked him, as Cairness well knew.
It ended in victory for the vinagrone, but he died from his wounds an hour later. Felipa told Landor so, as they started for a ride, early in the afternoon. "The vinagrone is dead," she said; "Mr. Brewster didn't like my fighting them." Then she assumed the lofty dignity that contrasted so oddly sometimes with her childish simplicity. "He lacks tact awfully. Think of it! He took the occasion to say that he loved me. As though he had not told me so a dozen times before."
The Reverend Taylor sat in silence for a time, reflecting. Then he broke forth again, a little querulously. "What in thunderation do they dine at such an hour for?" Cairness explained that it was an English custom to call supper dinner, and to have it very late.