Chapter 4 A long sunset shadow fell across his path, and he looked up. Felipa was walking beside a little white burro, and holding Mrs. Campbell's golden-curled baby upon its back. She carried her head superbly erect, and her step, because of the moccasins, was quite noiseless. The glow of the sunset shone in her unflinching eyes, and lost itself in the dull black mass of her hair. She studied his face calmly, with a perfectly impersonal approval.
He would still keep her, yes. But he did not see that it would be in the least necessary to tell his wife the whole of the woman's iniquity. It took quite all his courage, after they had gotten her safely in bed, to remind her that this was the same woman who had gone off with the Mexican.
Cairness smiled. There was, it appeared, a small supply of poetic justice still left in the scheme of things to be meted out. "And then the Apache came down and bore you off like a helpless lamb," he said. "If I'd been the Apache I'd have made it several sorts of Hades for you, but I'd have scalped you afterward. You'd corrupt even a Chiricahua squaw. However, I'm glad you lived until I got you." And he left her. She sat thinking, with her chin in her palm, and a quite new look of loneliness deep in her eyes. He could see that in the last hour she had grasped almost the fulness of her isolation—almost, but not all; only the years could bring forth the rest. She gave a heavy sigh. "Well, I am glad I love you," she said. In the period of madness, more or less enduring, of the victim of the Great Powers' policy, somebody who is innocent usually suffers. Sometimes the Powers know it, oftener they do not. Either way it does not worry them. They set about doing their best to destroy, and that is their whole duty.
What had he done to the fellow, if he might ask, Cairness inquired.
But the men did not. It was hardly to be expected that they should, both because the abstract and the ethical are foreign to the major part of mankind, in any case; and also because, with this particular small group of mankind, there was too fresh a memory of a dead woman lying by the bodies of her two children in a smouldering log cabin among the mountains and the pines. She did not. She would as lief touch a toad.
When the day came he rode out with most of the garrison to meet her. He was anxious. He recalled Anne of Cleves, and had a fellow-feeling for the King. By the time they came in sight of the marching troops, he had worked himself to such an implicit faith in the worst that he decided that the wide figure, heavily blue-veiled, and linen-dustered, on the back seat of the Dougherty was she. It is one of the strongest arguments of the pessimist in favor[Pg 17] of his philosophy, that the advantage of expecting the disagreeable lies in the fact that, if he meets with disappointment, it is necessarily a pleasant one.