Mrs. Campbell took it as he did, for a matter of course. She wasted no words in expressing admiration for what he had done, but kept to the main issue, making herself useful, as women are rarely content to do when they deal with men, without indulging her taste for the sentimental. "Suppose I were to take her?" she suggested. "Neither have I," Cairness consoled him, from the depths of a rehearsal of the unwisdom of Isma?l Pasha. He was accustomed to the gloom by now, but she was not. She could only see that there was some one in the shadow. It flashed through his mind that she[Pg 221] would scream, but the next moment he knew that she would not.
"It is the only one I can live," she said indifferently[Pg 323] enough, stating it as an accepted, incontrovertible fact, "and it's the one you like best."
Two steers, locking their horns, broke from the herd and swaying an instant so, separated and started side by side across the prairie. He settled in his saddle and put his cow-pony to a run, without any preliminary gait, going in a wide circle to head them back. Running across the ground, thick with coyote and dog holes, was decidedly perilous; men had their necks[Pg 164] broken in that way every few days; but it would not have mattered to him especially to have ended so. Wherefore he did not, but drove the steers back to the herd safely. And then he returned to the monotonous sentry work and continued thinking of himself.
Landor was in the dining room, and Felipa stood in the sitting room receiving the praises of her husband with much tact. If he were the hero of the hour, she was the heroine. The officers from far posts carried their admiration to extravagance, bewitched by the sphinx-riddle written somehow on her fair face, and which is the most potent and bewildering charm a woman can possess. When they went away, they sent her boxes of fresh tomatoes and celery and lemons, from points along the railroad, which was a highly acceptable and altogether delicate attention in the day and place.
If he had not sprung forward, with his arms outstretched to catch her, she would have fallen, face downward in the dust. It was three times now he had so saved her.