"Yes," she told him, "they are, and it is that makes me think that the fault may be ours. She is so patient with them." "But it is doing Mrs. Cairness an injustice, if you don't mind my saying so."
She stood up very deliberately and faced him with a look he had never seen before in her eyes, dark and almost murderous. But she had her fury under [Pg 202]control. He had guessed that her rage might be a very ugly thing, but he drew back a step at the revelation of its possibilities. Twice she tried hard to speak. She put her hand to her throat, where her voice burned away as it rose. Then it came from the depths of that being of hers, which he had never fathomed.
Before he left with Taylor on the next morning but one, he ventured to warn Kirby. But he was met with a stolid "I was brought up that way," and he knew that argument would be entirely lost.
She asked for the full particulars of her husband's death, and when Ellton had told her, sat looking straight before her at the wall. "It was very like Jack," she said finally, in a low voice, "his whole life was like that." And then she turned squarely to the lieutenant. "Where is Mr. Cairness? Where did they take him?" She was surprised at herself that she had not thought of that before. "Apaches on the north road," they called back; and the woman screamed above it all a devilish farewell, "Better have 'em to dinner in claw-hammer coats." On the instant she put her horse to a run and tore off through the gate toward the open country. It was dark, but by the stars she could see the road and its low bushes and big stones that danced by as her horse, with its belly to the ground, sped on. She strained her ears and caught the sound of hoofs. The men were following her, the gleam of her white dress guiding them. She knew they could not catch her. The horse she rode was a thoroughbred, the fastest on the ranch; not even Cairness's own could match it. It stretched out its long black neck and went evenly ahead, almost without[Pg 327] motion, rising over a dog hole now and then, coming down again, and going on, unslacking. She felt the bit steadily and pressed her knee against the hunting horn for purchase, her toe barely touching the stirrup, that she might be the freer in a fall.
He had told her that many times. It had been true; perhaps it was true still.