But there was no night alarm, and at daybreak it began to be apparent to the troops that they had been led directly away from all chance of one. They made[Pg 121] fires, ate their breakfast, resaddled, and took their way back to the settlements, doubling on their own trail. They came upon signs of a yet larger band, and it was more probable than ever that the valley had been in danger. "Of course," he laughed tolerantly, "I dare say any wilderness were paradise with him."
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."
It was quite in keeping with everything that had gone before that, the day after a passing Franciscan priest had married them, Landor should have been ordered off upon a scout, and Felipa should have taken it as a matter of course, shedding no tears, and showing no especial emotion beyond a decent regret.
"That you take them to civilization—the missus and the kid. It's the only salvation for all three of you—for you as well as them."
It was done before either of them was conscious of doing it. The black throat of the cave was open behind him. Cairness jumped back into it, and she turned away and stood waiting, stiff with fear, not of the man whoever it might prove to be up there, but for the one who had stepped into the unknown dangers of the darkness behind her.