"That same. She was part Mescalero, anyway."
But presently she stood up to go away, and her eyes caught the lowering, glazed ones of the Indian. Half involuntarily she made a motion of striking with a knife. Neither the doctor nor the steward caught it, but he did, and showed by a sudden start that he understood. They were not destined to get beyond the first fifty yards, nevertheless. The rifle that had fired at Landor as he came upon the malpais went glistening up again. There was a puff of blue-hearted smoke in the still air, and Cairness's bronco, struck on the flanks, stung to frenzy, stopped short, then gathering itself together with every quivering sinew in a knot, after the way of its[Pg 280] breed, bounded off straight in among the jagged boulders. It was all done in an instant, and almost before Landor could see who had dashed ahead of him the horse had fallen, neck to the ground, throwing its rider with his head against a point of stone.
"Who told you he was?" she asked.
"Might not an orphan asylum have been best, after all?"
He believed that he had no ties now, that friendships, the love of woman, and the kiss of children all had missed him, and that his, thenceforth, must be but vain regret. So far as he knew, Felipa had gone away without ever having received his letter. The man he had intrusted it to had been killed in the Aravaypa Ca?on: that he was certain of; and it never entered his head that his papers might have fallen into other hands, and the note have finally been delivered to her. She was leading the sort of life that would most quickly put him entirely out of her mind. He was taking the Washington papers, and he knew. She had gone away, not even sure that he had given her a thought since the night in the Sierra Blanca when Black River had roared through the stillness, and they had been alone in all the wild world. What a weird, mysterious, unearthly scene it had been, quite outside the probabilities of anything he had imagined or contemplated for a single minute. He had never regretted it, though. He believed in impulses, particularly his own.
He got up and went to the window, which was iron-barred, after the Mexican fashion, and stood, with his hands run into his belt, looking down at a row of struggling, scraggly geraniums in tin cans. They were the most disheartening part of the whole disheartening prospect, within or without.