The Lawton woman had heard of an officer's family at Grant, which was in need of a cook, and had gone there.
Kirby suggested, with a hesitation that was born not of insincerity but of delicacy, that they would be awfully glad to have him stop with them and help run the Circle K Ranch. But Cairness shook his head. "Thanks. I'll stop long enough to recall the old times, though I dare say it would be better to forget them, wouldn't it? Ranching isn't in my line. Not that I am at all sure what is in my line, for that matter."
So one night when they were sitting upon the Campbells' steps, he took the plunge. She had been talking earnestly, discussing the advisability of filing off the hammer of the pistol he had given her, to prevent its catching on the holster when she wanted to draw it quickly. One of her long, brown hands was laid on his knee, with the most admirable lack of self-consciousness. He put his own hand upon it, and she looked up questioningly. She was unused to caresses from any but the two Campbell children, and her frank surprise held a reproach that softened his voice almost to tenderness. "Oh!" said Taylor, and sat looking into the fire.
"The gods sell their gifts," he said. "Cairness never was a squaw-man," corrected Crook.
He raised himself from the pillows too abruptly for a very weak man. "What is the matter, Felipa?" he demanded.
The black eyes snapped with pain as he fell, but when Cairness, with a breathless oath at the spoiler of sport, whoever he might be, pounced down upon him, the snap turned to a twinkle. The little buck raised himself on his elbow. "How! Cairness," he grinned. "How Mees Landor?" Cairness stopped short, speechless, with his mouth open. He did not even dodge after a bullet had hummed past his head. "Who the devil—!" he began. Then it dawned upon him. It was Felipa's protégé of the old Camp Thomas days.
Landor went on with his dinner coolly enough. "There's quite likely to be that at any time," he said, "so long as a pious and humane Indian Bureau sends out special agents of the devil who burn down the Agency buildings of peaceful Apaches as a means of inducing them to seek illness and death in malarious river bottoms."
Cairness bowed, with no realization of the humor of it. "You are equally fortunate," he said easily, and motioned with his hand to the opening above, where Felipa was going. He might have been under his own roof, and that the door.
He changed it to a laugh. "A scout married is a scout marred. I am a rancher now. It behooves me to accept myself as such. I have outlived my usefulness in the other field."
"To have brought an abandoned woman into our home."
The parson had seen.