That night he sat upon the edge of his bunk, in the darkness, after taps, with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hand, and thought the matter to a conclusion. The conclusion was that he would not re?nlist, and the reason for it was the girl he had met on the parade ground. He knew the power that beauty had over him. It was as real, as irresistible, as a physical sensation. And he thought Felipa Cabot the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. "She should be done in a heroic bronze," he told himself; "but as I can't do it, and as I haven't the right to so much as think about her, I shall be considerably happier at a distance, so I'll go."
Before dawn Cairness was out, hastening the cook with the breakfast, helping with it himself, indeed, and rather enjoying the revival of the days when he had been one of the best cooks in the troop and forever pottering about the mess chests and the Dutch oven, in the field. As the sun rose,—though daybreak was fairly late there in the ca?on,—the cold, crisp air was redolent of coffee and bacon and broiling fresh meat.
"Never mind all that. I'm here to question, not to be questioned. Now listen to me." And he went on to point out how she could not possibly get away from him and the troops until they were across the border, and that once there, it lay with him to turn her over to the authorities or to set her free. "You can take your choice, of course. I give you my word—and I think you are quite clever enough to believe me—that if you do not tell me what I want to know about Stone, I will land you where I've landed your husband; and that if you do, you shall go free after I've done with you. Now I can wait until you decide to answer," and he rolled over on his back, put his arms under his head, and gazed up at the jewel-blue patch of sky.
We drink to our comrades' eyes Landor tried another way then, and leaned from his saddle in his earnestness. He put it in the light of a favor to himself. But Cabot's refusal was unanswerable. It was better one than two, he said, and no horse in the command could carry double.
"Felipa!" he cried, "Felipa!"
He turned about and stood still, with his head uncovered, looking straight into her face. Another man might have wished it a little less open and earnest, a little more downcast and modest, but he liked it so. Yet he waited, erect and immovable, and she saw that he meant that every advance should come from her. He was determined to force her to remember that he was a chief of scouts.
The post talked it over unceasingly, and commented on Landor's attitude. "He stalks around in defiant dignity and makes everybody uncomfortable," they said.