Rhoda looked at him keenly.
“You talk as if in your heart you knew you were going to kill him because he is an Indian and were trying to justify yourself for it!”
He turned on the girl a look so haunted, so miserable, yet so determined, that her heart sank. For a time there was silence, each afraid to speak. At last Rhoda said coolly:
“Will you get fresh water while I bank in the fire?”
DeWitt’s face relaxed. He smiled a little grimly.
“I’ll do anything for you but that one thing—promise not to kill the Indian.”
“The desert has changed us both, John,” said Rhoda. “It has taken the veneer off both of us!”
“Maybe so,” replied DeWitt. “I only know that that Apache must pay for the hell you and I have lived through.”
“Look at me, John!” cried Rhoda. “Can’t you realize that the good Kut-le has done me has been far greater than his affront to me? Do you see how well I am, how strong? Oh, if I could only make you see what a different world I live in! You would have been tied to an invalid, John, if Kut-le hadn’t stolen me! Think now of all I can do for you! Of the home I can make, of the work I can do!”
DeWitt answered tersely.
“I’m mighty glad you’re well, but only for your own sake and because I can have you longer. I don’t want you to work for me. I’ll do all the working that’s done in our family!”
“But,” protested Rhoda, “that’s just keeping me lazy and selfish!”
“You couldn’t be selfish if you tried. You pay your way with your beauty. When I think of that Apache devil having the joy of you all this time, watching you grow back to health, taking care of you, carrying you, it makes me feel like a cave man. I could kill him with a club! Thank heaven, the lynch law can hold in this forsaken spot! And there isn’t a man in the country but will back me up, not a jury that would find me guilty!”
Rhoda sat in utter consternation. The power of the desert to lay bare the human soul appalled her. This was a DeWitt that the East never could have shown her. It sickened her as she realized that no words of hers could sway this man; to realize that she was trying to stay with her feeble feminine hands passions that were as old a world-force as love itself. All her new-found strength seemed inadequate to solve this new problem.
THE TRAIL AGAIN
For a long time Rhoda sat silently considering her problem and John watched her soberly. Finally she turned to speak. As she did so, she caught on the young man’s face a look so weary, so puzzled, so altogether wretched that the girl’s heart smote her. This was indeed a poor return for what he had endured for her! Rhoda jumped to her feet with resolution in her eyes. “Are you too tired to explore the ruins?” she asked. DeWitt rose languidly. Rhoda had responded at once to rest and food but John would need a month of care and quiet in which to regain his strength.