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.
He turned and walked beside her. "Don't you believe I know all that I want to. I've only just begun. So that scoundrel knew the whole murderous story, and went on writing lies in his papers and covering you, when you ought to have been hung to the nearest tree, did he?—and for the excellent reason that he wanted to make use of your husband! I worked on the Circle K Ranch and on that other one over in New Mexico, which is supposed to be Lawton's, and it didn't take me long to find out that Stone was the real boss."
Landor's troop was stationed at Stanton, high up among the hills. It had come there from another post down in the southern part of the territory, where anything above the hundreds is average temperature, and had struck a blizzard on its march. "I didn't. None of your business," she defied him.
Out in the corral the cow-boy was holding forth. The men had stopped work on the instant that Kirby had turned his back. If Kirby could loll on soft cushions and drink tea, as free-born Americans and free-souled Irishmen they might do the same. "It's all right," said the cow-boy, with a running accompaniment of profanity, as he cleaned his brutal Mexican bit. "Johnny Bull don't have to believe in it if he don't like. But all the same, I seen a feller over here[Pg 124] to the 3 C Range, and he told me he seen the military camped over to San Tomaso a week ago, and that there was a lot of stock, hundred head or so, run off from the settlements. You see, them Apaches is making for the southern Chiricahuas over in Sonora to join the Mexican Apaches, and they're going to come this here way. You see!" and he rubbed at the rust vigorously with a piece of soft rawhide.
Chapter 11 Felipa stood leaning against the gate post, her bare head outlined in bold black and white against the white parasol that hung over her shoulders. She was watching one of the troop herds coming up from water,—the fine, big horses, trotting, bucking, rearing, kicking, biting at each other with squeals and whinnyings, tossing their manes and whisking their tails. Some of them had rolled in the creek bed, and then in the dust, and were caked with mud from neck to croup. They frisked over to their own picket line, and got into rows for the grooming.
And at another window Felipa also stood looking out into the dusk. There had been a shower in the afternoon, and the clouds it had left behind were like a soft moss of fire floating in the sky. A bright golden light struck slantwise from the sunset. They had all gone away to dine and to dress for the hop; Landor had walked down to the post trader's for the mail, and she was left alone.