Yet there came a rap at his door directly. It was the McLane's striker, bearing a note from Miss McLane. Brewster knew what was in it before he opened it. But he went back to the window and read it by the fading light. When he looked up it was to see Miss McLane and Ellton going up the walk together, returning from Landor's house. Another officer came up, and Cairness dropped from the twisted bow and walked away.

"Matarán á Usted."

And now it was a struggle of sheer force and agility. She managed to whip out the knife from her belt and to strike time and time again through sinewy flesh, to the bone. The only noise was the dragging of their feet on the sand, the cracking of the willows and the swishing of the blade. It was savage against savage, two vicious, fearless beasts. Cairness did not see that it called for a reply, and he made none.

"Squaw-man, isn't he?" Brewster asked.

The curtain-raiser to the tragedy about to come upon the boards was a little comedy.

"That's the straight bill. Ask him. He isn't fit to be spoken to."

[Pg 25]

"I can't see why you should take pleasure in shooting these harmless things," he said impatiently; "the foot-hills are full of quail, and there are ducks along the creek. For that matter you might try your skill on prairie dogs, it seems to me."

There followed a fury-fraught silence. Landor's face was distorted with the effort he was making to contain himself, and Felipa began to be a little uneasy. So she did the most unwise thing possible, having been deprived by nature of the good gift of tact. She got up from the couch and drew the knife from its case, and took it to him. "That," she said, showing the red-brown stains on the handle, "that is his blood."