He rose to his feet, shaking off an impatience with her and with himself. "Come," he said peremptorily; and they went out and mounted and rode away in the face of a whipping wind up the gradual slope to the mountains, black and weird beneath the heavy, low-hanging rain clouds. Official business called Brewster to the Agency next day. He stopped overnight, on the way, at a ranch whose owners depended more upon passing travellers than upon the bad soil and the thin cattle. And here fate threw in his way one whom he would have gone well out of that way to find.
"Were you catching the tarantula yesterday when I saw you lying upon the ground by the dump heap?"
The Reverend Taylor was about to go to the coops and close them for the night, when he saw a man and a woman on horseback coming up the street. The woman was bending forward and swaying in her saddle. He stood still and watched. The red sunset[Pg 250] blaze was in his face so that he could not see plainly until they were quite near. Then he knew that it was Cairness and—yes, beyond a doubt—Bill Lawton's runaway wife. Another officer came up, and Cairness dropped from the twisted bow and walked away.
"Where is she now?" She looked at him in perplexity and surprise. "How could I be? There is no use talking about it."
He found Felipa curled on the blanket in front of a great fire, and reading by the glare of the flames, which licked and roared up the wide chimney, a history of the Jesuit missionaries. It was in French, and she must have already known it by heart, for it seemed to be almost the only book she cared about. She had become possessed of its three volumes from a French priest who had passed through the post in the early winter and had held services there. He had been charmed with Felipa and with her knowledge of his own tongue. It was a truly remarkable knowledge, considering that it had been gained at a boarding-school.
That evening they sat talking together long after the late dinner. But a little before midnight Felipa left them upon the porch, smoking and still going over the past. They had so much to say of matters that she in no way understood. The world they spoke of and its language were quite foreign to her. She knew that her husband was where she could never follow him, and she felt the first utter dreariness of jealousy—the[Pg 316] jealousy of the intellectual, so much more unendurable than that of the material.
His own was instantly as cold. "I supposed you had quite forgotten all that," he said.
Cairness took the Reverend Taylor to the door. "You know that is Bill Lawton's wife?" he said.