"It is not only my business," he said, overlooking the last, and bending more eagerly forward, "it is not[Pg 49] only my business, it is the business of the whole post. You are being talked about, my dear young lady."
The man beside her was an attaché of the British legation, who had been one of her greatest admirers to that time, but thereafter he sought her out no more. He had driven the boys off, and taking the kitten, which mewed piteously all the way, had gone with her to her destination and left her. "I have thought it over," said Cairness; "good night." She put down her work and rose slowly to her feet before him. She could be very regal sometimes. Brewster knew it, and Cairness guessed it; but it was the first time it had come within Landor's experience, and he was a little awed.
Somewhere in that same poem, he remembered, there had been advice relative to a man's contending to the uttermost for his life's set prize, though the end in sight were a vice. He shrugged his shoulders. It might be well enough to hold to that in Florence and the Middle Ages. It was highly impracticable for New Mexico and the nineteenth century. So many things left undone can be conveniently laid to the prosaic and materialistic tendencies of the age. Things were bad enough now—for Landor, for himself, and most especially for Felipa. But if one were to be guided by the romantic poets, they could conceivably be much worse.
"Yes?" she answered, and stroked the head of the fawn.
He found Felipa curled on the blanket in front of a great fire, and reading by the glare of the flames, which licked and roared up the wide chimney, a history of the Jesuit missionaries. It was in French, and she must have already known it by heart, for it seemed to be almost the only book she cared about. She had become possessed of its three volumes from a French priest who had passed through the post in the early winter and had held services there. He had been charmed with Felipa and with her knowledge of his own tongue. It was a truly remarkable knowledge, considering that it had been gained at a boarding-school.