A dog’s loyalty is so often taken for granted that it ceases to be noticeable until in an unlooked-for hazard it shines forth in some act of quick heroism or tireless faithfulness worthy of a greater tribute than has yet been written.
Bondsman was a good soldier.
Ramon was busy that afternoon transferring mattresses and blankets from the ranch-house to the new, low-roofed bunk-house that Waring had built. Ramon fitted up three beds—one for the cook, one for an old range-rider that Waring had hired when his men had left to enlist, and one for himself.
The partitions of the ranch-house had been taken down, the interior rearranged, and the large living-room furnished in a plain, comfortable way.
As Ramon worked he sang softly. He was happy. The senora was coming to live with them, and perhaps Senor Jim’s son. Senor Jim had been more active of late. His lameness was not so bad as it had been. It was true the Senor Jim did not often smile, but his eyes were kindly.
Ramon worked rapidly. There was much to do in the other house. The bale of Navajo blankets was still unopened. Perhaps the Senor Jim would help to arrange them in the big room with the stone fireplace. The senora would not arrive until to-morrow, but then the home must be made ready, that she would find it beautiful. And Ramon, accustomed to the meagerly furnished adobes of old Mexico, thought that the ranch-house was beautiful indeed.
Waring ate with the men in the new bunk-house that evening. After supper he went over to the larger building and sat alone in the living-room, gazing out of the western window. His wounds ached, and in the memory of almost forgotten trails he grew young again. Again in Old Mexico, the land he loved, he saw the blue crest of the Sierras rise as in a dream, and below the ranges a tiny Mexican village of adobe huts gold in the setting sun. Between him and the village lay the outlands, ever mysterious, ever calling to him. Across the desert ran a thin trail to the village. And down the trail the light feet of Romance ran swiftly as he followed. He could even recall the positions of the different adobes; the strings of chiles dark red in the twilight; the old black-shawled senora who had spoken a guttural word of greeting as he had ridden up.
Back in Sonora men had said, “Waring has made his last ride.” They had told each other that a white man was a fool to go alone into that country. Perhaps he had been a fool. But the thrill of those early days, when he rode alone and free and men sang of him from Sonora to the Sweetgrass Hills! And on that occasion he had found the fugitive he sought, yet he had ridden back to Sonora alone. He had never forgotten the face of the young Mexican woman who had pleaded with him to let her lover go. Her eyes were big and velvet black. Her mouth was the mouth of a Madonna.