Presently she returned with two bottles. In one was the tarantula, an especially large and hideous specimen, hairy and black, with dull red tinges. In the other the vinagrone, yet more hideous. She went down to the side of the house and emptied both into the wide-mouthed bottle.
Felipa turned from them and waited, clasping her hands and smiling up at Brewster. He, misinterpreting, felt encouraged and begged her to leave the disgusting insects. He had something very different to talk about. She said that she did not want to hear it, and would he bet on the tarantula or the vinagrone?
The government took neither course. The stars were bright chips of fire in a sky of polished blue. The wind of the day had died at dusk, and the silence was deep, but up among the bare graves the coyotes were barking weirdly. As she looked off across the low hills, there was a quick, hissing rattle at her feet. She moved hastily, but without a start, and glanced down at a rattler not three feet away.
"Certain, dead sure. It's a band of Apaches that went across the river. Why, half a dozen seen them."
And the great river of rock is there, too, frozen upon the land like some devouring monster changed by a Gorgon head into lifeless stone. It is a formidable barrier across the hardly less formidable bad lands. It can be crossed in places where it is narrowest, not quite a mile in width, that is. But horses slip and clamber, and men cut through the leather of their heaviest shoes.
Cairness called to four of his scouts as he ran. They joined him, and he told them to help him search. In half an hour they found her, cowering in a cranny of rocks and manzanita. He dismissed the Indians, and then spoke to her. "Now you sit on that stone there and listen to me," he said, and taking her by the shoulder put her down and stood over her.
Cairness dropped him and went into the corrals to see for himself. The fire roared and hissed, flung charred wood into the air, and let it fall back again. He remembered, in an inconsequent flash, how one night in the South Pacific he had taken a very pretty girl below to see the engines. They had stood in the stoke-hole on a heap of coal, hand in hand, down beneath the motion of the decks where the only movement seemed to be the jar of the screw working against the thrust block and the reverberation of the connecting-rod and engines. A luckless, dust-caked wretch of a stoker had thrown open the door of a furnace in front of them, and they had seen the roaring, sputtering, seething whirl of fire within. They had given a simultaneous cry, hiding their scorched faces in their arms, and stumbled blindly over the coal beds back to the clattering of the engine rooms.
She was sitting in her room, sewing. Of late she had become domesticated, and she was fading under it. He had seen it already, and he saw it more plainly than ever just now. She looked up and smiled. Her smile had always been one of her greatest charms, because it was rare and very sweet. "Jack," she greeted him, "what have you done with the bread knife you took with you, dear? I have been lost without it."
There fell a moment's pause. And it was broken by the sound of clashing as of many cymbals, the clatter of hoofs, the rattle of bouncing wheels, and around the corner of the line there came tearing a wagon loaded with milk tins. A wild-eyed man, hatless, with his hair on end, lashed his ponies furiously and drew up all of a heap, in front of the commanding officer's quarters.