"Never!" she declared; it was merely because she could not breathe the same air with that creature. At six o'clock Kirby knocked the ashes from his pipe, the other two men, who had buried themselves in the last Cornhill and Punch with entire disregard of the rest of the room, put down the magazines, and all of them rose. "We dine at seven," Mrs. Kirby said to Taylor and Cairness as she passed through the door, followed by her husband.
"Just what he's dishin' up to you now," she told him. "I knew," Cairness said, turning to Landor after a very short silence, "that you and Mrs. Landor were somewhere along here. So I left my horse at a rancheria across the hill there," he nodded over his shoulder in the direction of the looming pile just behind, "and walked to where I saw the fire. I saw you for some time before I was near, but I ought to have called out. I really didn't think about startling you." She watched the figure of a man coming down the line. Because of the dazzling, low light behind him, the outline was blurred in a shimmer. At first she thought without any interest in it, one way or another, that he was a soldier, then she could see that he was in citizen's clothes and wore a sombrero and top boots. Even with that, until he was almost in front of the house, she did not realize that it was Cairness, though she knew well enough that he was in the post, and had been one of Landor's most valuable witnesses. He had remained to hear the findings, but she had kept close to the house and had not seen him before. He was a government scout, a cow-boy, a prospector, reputed a squaw-man, anything vagrant and unsettled, and so the most he might do was to turn his head as he passed by, and looking up at the windows, bow gravely to the woman standing dark against the firelight within.
It occurred to Cairness that it was ungenerous of Landor to revenge himself by a shot from the safe intrenchment of his rank. "Mrs. Landor has had time to tell me nothing," he said, and turned on his spurred heel and went off in the direction of the post. But it was not a situation, after all, into which one could infuse much dignity. He was retreating, anyway it might be looked at, and there is bound to be more or less ignominy in the most creditable retreat. He did not answer, and she knew that he was annoyed. She had come to see that he was always annoyed by such references, and she made them more frequent for that very reason, half in perversity, half in a fixed determination not to be ashamed of her origin, for she felt, without quite realizing it, that to come to have shame and contempt for herself would be to lose every hold upon life.
"She is ill, you see?"