"He was, but he isn't. I sent for him about some business, and he is a very decent sort of a fellow. He has a little ranch on the reservation."
He helped her out. "I have drifted in a way," he went on to explain. "I left home when I was a mere boy, and the spirit of savagery and unrest laid hold of me. I can't break away. And I'm not even sure that I want to. You, I dare say, can't understand." Yet he felt so sure, for some reason, that she could that he[Pg 71] merely nodded his head when she said briefly, "I can." "Then, too," he went on, "there is something in the Indian character that strikes a responsive chord in me. I come of lawless stock myself. I was born in Sidney." Then he stopped short. What business was it of hers where he had been born? He had never seen fit to speak of it before. Nevertheless he intended that she should understand now. So he made it quite plain. "Sidney was a convict settlement, you know," he said deliberately, "and marriages were promiscuous. My grandfather was an officer who was best away from England. My grandmother poisoned her first husband. That is on my mother's side. On my father's side it was about as mixed." He leaned back, crossing his booted legs and running his fingers into his cartridge belt. His manner asked with a certain defiance, what she was going to do about it, or to think.
"I used to know Mrs. Cairness in Washington," Forbes went on, undisturbed; "she has probably told you so." Stone considered his dignity as a representative of the press, and decided that he would not be treated with levity. He would resent the attitude of the soldiery; but in his resentment he passed the bounds of courtesy altogether, forgetting whose toddy he had just drunk, and beneath whose tent pole he was seated. He said rude things about the military,—that it was pampered and inefficient and gold laced, and that it thought its mission upon earth fulfilled when it sat back and drew princely pay.
But the baby was satisfactory. She amused it by the hour. For the rest, being far from gregarious, and in no way given to spending all the morning on some one else's front porch, and all the afternoon with some one else upon her own, she drew on the post library and read, or else sat and watched the mountains with their sharp, changing shadows by day, and their Indian signal flashes by night,—which did not tend to enhance the small degree of popularity she enjoyed among the post women.