Into Rhoda’s face came a look of despair. Slowly she put out a shaking hand and took the clothes.
“I can’t argue against a brute,” she said. “The men I have known have been gentlemen. Tell one of your filthy squaws to come and help me.”
“Molly! Pronto!” Like a brown lizard the fat squaw scuttled to Rhoda’s side.
In a little dressing-room formed by fallen rock, Rhoda put on the boy’s clothing. Molly helped the girl very gently. When she was done she smoothed the blue-shirted shoulder complacently.
“Heap nice!” she said. “Make ’em sick squaw heap warm. You no ’fraid! Kut-le say cut off nose, kill ’em with cactus torture, if Injuns not good to white squaw.”
The touch was the touch of a woman and Molly, though a squaw, had a woman’s understanding. Rhoda gave a little sob.
“Kut-le, he good!” Molly went on. “He a big chief’s son. He strong, rich. You no be afraid. You look heap pretty.”
Involuntarily Rhoda glanced at herself. The new clothes were very comfortable. With the loveliness and breeding that neither clothing nor circumstance could mar, Rhoda was a fascinating figure. She was tall for a woman, but now she looked a mere lad. The buckskin clung like velvet. The high-laced boots came to her knees. The sombrero concealed all of the golden hair save for short curling locks in front. She would have charmed a painter, Kut-le thought, as she stepped from her dressing-room; but he kept his voice coolly impersonal.
“All right, you’re in shape to travel, now. Where are your other clothes? Molly, bring them all here!”
Rhoda, followed the squaw and together they folded the cast-off clothing. Rhoda saw that her scarf had blown near the canon edge. A quick thought came to her. Molly was fully occupied with muttering adoration of the dainty underwear. Rhoda tied a pebble into the scarf and dropped it far out into the depths below. Then she returned to Molly.
As twilight deepened, Katherine lay in the hammock thankful for the soothing effect of the darkness on her aching eyes. She felt a little troubled about Kut-le. She was very fond of the young Indian. She understood him as did no one else, perhaps, and had the utmost faith in his honor and loyalty. She suspected that Rhoda had had much to do with the young Indian’s sudden departure and she felt irritated with the girl, though at the same time she acknowledged that Rhoda had done only what she, Katherine, had advised—had treated Kut-le as if he had been a white man!
She watched the trail for Rhoda’s return but darkness came and there was no sign of the frail figure. A little disturbed, she walked to the corral bars and looked down to the lights of the cowboys’ quarters. If only John DeWitt and Jack would return! But she did not expect them before midnight. She returned to the house and telephoned to the ranch foreman.