Already he felt more respectable at the mere prospect of contact with his kind again. He was glad that the unkempt beard was gone, and he was allowing himself to hope, no, he was deliberately hoping, that he would see Felipa.
"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. Landor glanced at his wife. She seemed to take it without offence, and was listening intently.
The lean hands found the knots, untied them, and threw back the flaps defiantly. The ten pairs of eyes were fastened on her again. She returned the gaze steadily, backing to a little camp table and slipping her hand under a newspaper that lay upon it. "Ukishee, pronto," she commanded, in the accepted argot. They stood quite still and unyielding; and she knew that if she were to be obeyed at all, it must be now. Or if she were to die, it must be now also. But the hand that drew from beneath the newspaper the little black-butted Smith and Wesson, which was never out of her reach, did not so much as tremble as she aimed it straight between the eyes of the foremost buck. "Ukishee," she said once again, not loudly, but without the shadow of hesitation or wavering. There answered a low muttering, evil and rising, and the buck started forward. Her finger pressed against the trigger, but before the hammer had snapped down, she threw up the barrel and fired into the air, for a big, sinewy arm, seamed with new scars, had reached out suddenly and struck the buck aside. It was all done in an instant, so quickly that Felipa hardly knew she had changed her aim, and that it was Alchesay who had come forward only just in time. He knew even then while her hand grasped at his arm, that he should have set her upon her feet, as he had done before. He knew that she had merited at least that. But he held her tight and close, and bending back her head, his own very close above it, looked into her eyes.
He and the parson followed her out of the house. She had not cared to say good-by to Mrs. Taylor, and she glared at the little Reverend, who balanced himself on his uncertain small feet and clutched at a chair, watching her with his precocious eyes and an expression combined of his mother's virtuous disapproval[Pg 258] and his father's contemplative scrutiny, the while the tufts of his hair stood out stiffly.