Now it is a hazardous undertaking to question an Englishman who does not care to be questioned. A person of good judgment would about as lief try to[Pg 30] poke up a cross lion to play. But Brewster persisted, and asked if Cairness would be willing to live among the Apaches.
"What do you want to know for?" asked the woman, at length.
He snatched it from her then, with a force that threw her to one side, and sent it flying across the room, smashing a water jug to bits. Then he pushed her away and going out, banged the door until the whitewash fell down from the cracks.
"I have kept near you for a week, to warn you, or to help you if necessary."
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.
Pending her arrival, Landor brought himself to look[Pg 16] upon it as his plain duty and only course to marry her. It would save her, and any man who might otherwise happen to love her, from learning what she was. That she might refuse to look at it in that way, did not much enter into his calculations. It required a strong effort for him to decide it so, but it was his way to pick out the roughest possible path before him, to settle within himself that it was that of duty, and to follow it without fagging or complaint. He dreaded any taint of Apache blood as he dreaded the venom of a rattler. He had seen its manifestations for twenty odd years, had seen the hostile savage and the civilized one, and shrank most from the latter. But he had promised Cabot to do his best by the waif, and the best he could see was to marry her. There was always before him, to urge him on to the sacrifice, the stalwart figure of his boyhood's friend, standing forsaken in the stretch of desert with the buzzards hovering over him in the burning sky. He permitted himself to hope, however, that she was not too obviously a squaw.
"You give me what no one else could give—the best things in life."