"Say!" she apostrophized.
"Yes," answered Forbes, "she was very much admired." He looked a little unhappy. But his mind was evidently made up, and he went on doggedly: "Look here, Morely, old chap, I am going to tell you what I think, and you may do as you jolly well please about it afterward—kick me off the ranch, if you like. But I can see these things with a clearer eye than yours, because I am not in love, and you are, dreadfully so, you know, not to say infatuated. I came near to being once upon a time, and with your wife, too. I thought her the most beautiful woman I had ever known, and I do yet. I thought, too, that she was a good deal unhappier with Landor than she herself realized; in which I was perfectly right. It's plainer than ever, by contrast. Of course I understand that she is part Indian, though I've only known it recently. And it's because I've seen a good deal of your Apaches of late that I appreciate the injustice you are doing her and Cairness Junior, keeping them here. She is far and away too good for all this," he swept the scene comprehensively with his pipe. "She'd be a sensation, even in London. Do you see what I mean, or are you too vexed to see anything?"
When he was well within, he began to investigate, and he recalled now that he had heard a great deal of this cave. It was very large, supposedly, but almost unexplored. Tradition ran that the Spaniards, in the long-past days of their occupation, had had a big silver mine in there, worked by padres who had taught the timid Indians to believe that it was haunted, that they might not take it for themselves, nor yet guide others to it. And, too, it had been the refuge and hiding-place of Billy the Kid for years. It was said that since then a corporal and three men had gone in once, and that a search party had found their gnawed skeletons by the edge of the river that flowed there underground. Oddly enough, and thanks to the missionary fathers, it had never served as an Indian stronghold, though its advantages for such a use were manifest. It struck him that he was coolly analytical while his wife was reading the love-letter (if that bald statement of fact could be called a love-letter) of another man, and telling him frankly that she returned the man's love. Why could not he have had love, he who had done so much for her? There was always the subconsciousness of that sacrifice. He had magnified it a little, too, and it is difficult to be altogether lovable when one's mental attitude is "see what a good boy am I." But he had never reflected upon that. He went on telling himself what—in all justice to him—he had never thrown up to her, that his life had been one long devotion to her; rather as a principle than as a personality, to be sure, but then— And yet she loved the fellow whom she had not known twenty-four hours in all—a private, a government scout, unnoticeably below her in station. In station, to be sure; but not in birth, after all. It was that again. He was always brought up face to face with her birth. He tried to reason it down, for the hundredth time. It was not her fault, and he had taken her knowingly, chancing that and the consequences of her not loving him. And these were the consequences: that she was sitting rigid before him, staring straight ahead with the pale eyes of suffering, and breathing through trembling lips.
"Not exactly, no. But you were an accessory after the fact." "Alone?"
Cairness mounted, and looked up anxiously at the sky, as he gathered his reins between his fingers. The wind had begun to howl through the branches of the trees. It promised to be a wild ride. "I will be back to-night, Landor, to report," he said; "that is, if the storm doesn't delay us." And they started off down the hill.