"I'll take a lemon soda, thanks," said Taylor.
"For a while, yes. And before I came away I made a sign to show him it was I. You should have seen his surprise."
She smiled. "The chances that she will marry are excellent."
But Crook did not look like a man who wished to receive confidences. He was asking for facts, and[Pg 301] seeking them out with a cold, sharp eye. "I have been married nearly a year," said Cairness, shortly.
"Trouble is," he went on evenly, "trouble is, that, like most women, you've been brought up to take copy-book sentiments about touchin' pitch, and all that, literal. You don't stop to remember that to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. If she can't do you any harm spiritually, she certainly ain't got the strength to do it physically. I can't say as I'd like to have her about the place all the time unless she was going to reform,—and I don't take much stock in change of heart, with her sort,—because she wouldn't be a pleasant companion, and it ain't well to countenance vice. But while she's sick, and it will oblige Cairness, she can have the shelter of my manta. You think so too, now, don't you?" he soothed.
"Have you an Indian policy?"
Landor knew that the scouts had come in the afternoon before, and were in camp across the creek; but he had not seen their chief, and he said so.
"That," objected the major, testily, "is ancient history. This trouble started the way of most of the troubles of this age—whiskey." In his agitation he carefully spilled a spoonful of salt on the cloth and scraped it into a little mound with a knife. Then recollecting that spilled salt causes quarrels, he hurriedly threw a pinch of it over his left shoulder. "And—and, the worst of the whole business is, old man, that you've got to go. Your troop and one from Apache are ordered out. I'm awfully sorry." He would not look at Felipa at all. But he stared Landor[Pg 57] fairly out of countenance, as he waited for a storm of tears and protestations.