In the corral where the fire had started and was best under way, and in the stall farthest from the gate, a little pinto mustang was jerking at its halter and squealing with fear. It was Cairness's horse. He had been allowed to stable it there, and he himself was not down with his scouts in the ill-smelling camp across the creek, but had a room at the sutler's store, a good three-quarters of a mile from the corrals. As soon as the bugle call awoke him, he started at a run; but the fire was beyond fighting when he got there.
The silence of the garrison was absolute. Over in[Pg 190] the company clerk's office of one of the infantry barracks there was a light for a time. Then, at about midnight, it too was put out. A cat came creeping from under the board walk and minced across the road. He watched it absently.
Before he left with Taylor on the next morning but one, he ventured to warn Kirby. But he was met with a stolid "I was brought up that way," and he knew that argument would be entirely lost.
"And do you care for him, too?" he asked, looking her straight in the eyes. It was a very calm question, put—he realized it with exasperation—as a father might have put it.
"Mr. Brewster has just been here," she said at length, and she played with the lash of her whip, avoiding his eyes, which was also a new way for her.
"What you goin' to do?" the boy asked. He was round-eyed with dismay and astonishment.