Cairness took the Reverend Taylor to the door. "You know that is Bill Lawton's wife?" he said.
He opposed drawbacks. "You can't keep her always."
"Where are they all goin' to?" the Reverend Taylor asked in plaintive dismay. He had risen to his feet because he had seen Cairness do it, and now he sat again because Cairness had dropped back on the couch. He was utterly at sea, but he felt that the safest thing to do would be that which every one else did. He remembered that he had felt very much the same once when he had been obliged to attend a funeral service in a Roman Catholic Church. All the purple and fine[Pg 39] linen of the Scarlet Woman and the pomp and circumstance surrounding her had bewildered him in about this same way. But she only answered that that was unlikely and slipped her arm around his neck, as she added that if anything were to happen to him, she would not have one real friend in the world. There was something pathetic in the quiet realization of her loneliness.
Then he ran into the corral, and, snatching up a [Pg 129]lantern from the harness room, looked around. It was empty. There was only a pack-burro wandering loose and nosing at the grains in the mangers.
She was sitting in her room, sewing. Of late she had become domesticated, and she was fading under it. He had seen it already, and he saw it more plainly than ever just now. She looked up and smiled. Her smile had always been one of her greatest charms, because it was rare and very sweet. "Jack," she greeted him, "what have you done with the bread knife you took with you, dear? I have been lost without it."
The post was tremendously excited. As the cavalry trotted off up the slope toward the foot-hills, the men left behind went to the back of the post and watched, women looked through field-glasses, from the upper windows, children balanced upon the fences of the back yards, and Chinese cooks scrambled to the top of chicken coops and woodsheds, shading their eyes with their hands and peering in the direction of the gap. Dogs barked and hens cackled and women called back and forth. Down at the sutler's store the German was being comforted with beer at a dollar a bottle.
He strode up and down, his face black with rage, expressing his violent opinion of Brewster. Then he came to a stop, in front of her. "How did he happen to tell you?" he asked.