But she was, it appeared, a maiden lady, straight from Virginia. The Reverend Taylor was the first man she had ever loved. "It was right funny how it come about," he confided, self absorbed still. "Her mother keeps the res'rant acrost the street where I take my meals (I used to have a Greaser woman, but I got sick of frijoles and gorditas and chili and all that stuff), and after dinner every afternoon, she and me would put two saucers of fly-paper on a table and we would set and bet on which would catch the most flies before four o'clock. You ain't no idea how interestin' it got to be. The way we watched them flies was certainly intense. Sometimes, I tell you, she'd get that excited she'd scream when they couldn't make up their minds to[Pg 169] light. Once her mother come runnin' in, thinkin' I was tryin' to kiss her." He beamed upon Cairness, and accepted congratulations charmingly, sipping his soda-pop with quite a rakish little air. "What brought you here?" he remembered to ask, at length.
"Yes?" she answered, and stroked the head of the fawn.
She was astonished in her turn. "Killed him! Why, of course I might have killed him," she said blankly, frowning, in a kind of hopeless perplexity over his want of understanding. "I came very near it, I tell you. The ball made shivers of his shoulder. But he was brave," she grew enthusiastic now, "he let the doctor probe and pick, and never moved a muscle. Of course he was half drunk with tizwin, even then."
Then some bull-teams going to Camp Apache had stopped over night at the Agency. The teamsters had sold the bucks whiskey, and the bucks had grown very drunk. The representatives of the two tribes which were hereditary enemies, and which the special agent of an all-wise Interior Department had, nevertheless, shut up within the confines of the same reservation, therewith fell upon and slew each other, and the survivors went upon the warpath—metal tags and all. So the troops had been called out, and Landor's was at San Carlos.
At six o'clock Kirby knocked the ashes from his pipe, the other two men, who had buried themselves in the last Cornhill and Punch with entire disregard of the rest of the room, put down the magazines, and all of them rose. "We dine at seven," Mrs. Kirby said to Taylor and Cairness as she passed through the door, followed by her husband.
If it went like this, she thought, she might get to the cross-road first, and beyond. The four men would not matter much then, if she could but stop her husband. Why had he started back alone—and carrying money too? It was foolhardy. But then there was so little money, she knew, that he had probably not thought of it as booty. She turned her uncovered head and listened. Her hair had fallen loose and was streaming out in the wind. She could not hear the others now. They must be well behind.