So the captain and the first sergeant took up the money and the loose papers, together with a couple of rings from the hands, and wrapping them in a poncho, carried them off to serve as possible means of identification, for it had got beyond all question of features. Then two men moved the bodies from the[Pg 137] trail, with long sticks, and covered them with a pile of stones. Landor found a piece of board by the mouth of the claim and drew on it, with an end of charred stick, a skull and cross bones with a bow and arrow, and stood it up among the stones, in sign to all who might chance to pass thereby that since men had here died at the hands of the Apaches, other men might yet meet a like fate.
"Then they all have 'medicine' on," Cairness continued, "redbird and woodpecker feathers, in buckskin bags, or quail heads, or prairie-dog claws. One fellow was making an ornament out of an adobe dollar. Every buck and boy in the band has a couple of cartridge belts and any quantity of ammunition, likewise new shirts and zarapes. They have fitted themselves out one way or another since Crawford got at them in January. I don't think there are any of them particularly anxious to come in."
He grabbed a man at the gate, who happened to be the quartermaster sergeant himself, and asked if his horse had been taken out.
The major resumed his walk and did not answer.
She laughed scornfully. "It ain't me that asked them to take me in," she said; "I'm as glad to go as they are to have me." She wore a calico wrapper that Cairness had bought for her, and other garments that had been gathered together in the town. Now she put a battered sombrero on her head, and told him she was ready.
"For the fun of it, and 'found.' Can you give me a recommendation?"
Cairness clasped his hands about one knee and bent back, looking up at the stars,—and far beyond them into the infinity of that Cause of which they and he and all the perplexing problems were but the mere effects. "You mustn't think I haven't thought it over, time and again," he said, after a while. "It's more vital to me than to you; but my way isn't clear. I loved Mrs. Cairness for more than ten years before I could marry her. I should lose her in less than that, I am absolutely certain, if I did as you suggest. She is not so strong a woman as you might suppose. This dry air, this climate, are necessary to her." He hesitated a[Pg 321] little, rather loath to speak of his sentiments, and yet glad of the chance to put his arguments in words, for his own greater satisfaction. "You call it picturesque and poetical and all that," he said, "but you only half mean it after all. It is picturesque. It has been absolutely satisfactory. I'm not given to talking about this kind of thing, you know; but most men who have been married two years couldn't say truthfully that they have nothing to regret; that if they had had to buy that time with eternity of damnation and the lake of fire, it would not have come too dear. And I have had no price to pay—" he stopped short, the ring of conviction cut off, as the sound of a bell is when a hand is laid upon it. The hand was that of a fact, of the fact that had confronted him in the Ca?on de los Embudos, and that very day by the cottonwoods of the spring-house.