As he put on his faded blouse he went and stood before her, holding out his arms. She moved over to him and laid her head on his shoulder. "Are you not sorry to have me go?" he asked, in the tones of one having a grievance. He felt that he was entitled to something of the sort. It was not very dark. The sky was thick with clouds, but there was a waning moon behind them. The only light in the garrison was in the grated windows of the guard-house. But she was not sure that she thought so. She wanted to know why the woman could not be sent to the hotel, and he explained that Cairness wished a very close watch kept on her until she was able to be up. Curiosity got the better of outraged virtue then. "Why?" she asked, and leaned forward eagerly.
"They have their good points," she answered, exactly as he himself had answered Brewster's baiting long ago. Then she fastened her gaze on the roof of the ramada.
The men went away, however, without much trouble beyond tipsy protests and mutterings, and the sutler rewarded the guard with beer, and explained to Landor that several of the disturbers were fellows who were hanging round the post for the beef contract; the biggest and most belligerent—he of the fierce, drooping mustachios—was the owner of the ranch where the Kirby massacre had taken place, as well as of another one in New Mexico. Cairness sat more erect, and settled down to wait. The motion was so swift that he hardly felt it. He turned his head and looked back at the flaming corrals, and, remembering the dead animals, wondered who had hamstrung them. Then he peered forward again the little way he could see along the road, and began to make out that there was some one ahead of him. Whoever it was scurrying ahead there, bent almost double in his speed, was the one who had hamstrung the mules and horses, and who had set fire to the corrals. The pony was rather more under control now. It could be guided by the halter shank. Perhaps the Scripture texts had taught their lesson, or perhaps there yet lingered a hope of learning that which her husband would not tell. Anyway, for the week which the woman lay on the cot in the little whitewashed chamber, which had no outlet save through the sitting room where some one was always on guard night and day, Mrs. Taylor served her with a good enough grace.
"You do doubt me. If you did not, it would never occur to you to deny it. You doubt me now, and you will doubt me still more if you don't read it. In justice to me you must."
Landor knew that the scouts had come in the afternoon before, and were in camp across the creek; but he had not seen their chief, and he said so.
"Now you get up and walk in front of me, and don't you try to bolt. I can run faster than you can, and, anyway, I'll shoot you if you try it."
Landor sat speechless for a moment. Then he jumped up, knocking over a pile of registers. He seized a bone ruler, much stained with official inks, red and blue, and slapped it on the palm of his hand for emphasis. "I'll demand a court of inquiry into my conduct. This shan't drop, not until the strongest possible light has been turned on it. Why doesn't Brewster prefer charges? Either my conduct was such that he can defend it openly, or else it was such as to call for a court-martial, and to justify him in preferring charges. Certainly nothing can justify him in smirching me with damning silence. That is the part neither of an officer nor of a man." He kicked one of the registers out of the way, and it flapped across the floor and lay with its leaves crumpled under the fair leather covers.