She smiled. "The chances that she will marry are excellent."

Of the fruitful earth, like a goblin elf,

He changed his position leisurely, stretching out at full length and resting his head on his hand by way of gaining time. Then he told her that it was not until after he had caught and landed her husband that he had discovered that Stone was in it. He turned and walked beside her. "Don't you believe I know all that I want to. I've only just begun. So that scoundrel knew the whole murderous story, and went on writing lies in his papers and covering you, when you ought to have been hung to the nearest tree, did he?—and for the excellent reason that he wanted to make use of your husband! I worked on the Circle K Ranch and on that other one over in New Mexico, which is supposed to be Lawton's, and it didn't take me long to find out that Stone was the real boss."

But his left hand hung misshapen, and Cairness saw that it did not bend at the wrist as he motioned to an empty soda-pop bottle and a glass on the table beside a saucer of fly-paper and water. "That's what I still take, you see," he said, "but I'll serve you better;" and he opened a drawer and brought out a big flask. "I reckon you've got a thirst on you this hot weather." He treated himself to a second bottle of the pop, and[Pg 168] grew loquacious, as another man might have under the influence of stronger drink; and he talked so much about himself and so little about his guest that Cairness wondered. Presently the reason made itself manifest. It was the egotism of the lover. The Reverend Taylor was going to be married. He told Cairness so with an expression of beatitude that answered to a blush, and pointed to a photograph on his mantel-shelf. "She ain't so pretty to look at," he confided, which was undoubtedly true, "nor yet so young. But I ain't neither, 'sfar as that goes. She's amiable. That's the great thing after all, for a wife. She's amiable."

The Reverend Taylor shook his head. "I may tell you sometime, but not now. In the meanwhile I'm sure you think we had better keep Mrs. Lawton here, don't you now?" When the moon rose, Barnwell and Stone went away and left Landor again with the peeping squaws and the wailing papooses, the mosquitoes and the legacy of their enduring enmity,—an enmity not to be lightly despised, for it could be as annoying and far more serious than the stings of the river-bottom mosquitoes. As they walked across the gleaming dust, their bodies throwing long black shadows, two naked Indian boys followed them, creeping forward unperceived, dropping on the ground now and then, and wriggling along like snakes. They were practising for the future.