“Sabe no white talk,” he said.
Kut-le passed the stranger a cigarette, which he accepted without comment. A rapid conversation followed between the three Indians.
“He is an Apache,” explained Kut-le, finally, to Rhoda. “His name is Injun Tom. He says that Newman and Porter hired him to trail us but he is tired of the job. They foolishly advanced him five dollars. He says they are camping in the valley right below here.”
Rhoda sprang to her feet.
“Where are you going?” smiled Kut-le. “He says they are going to shoot me on sight!”
Under her tan Rhoda’s face whitened.
“Would they shoot you, Kut-le, even if I told them not to?”
At the sight of the paling face the young man murmured, “You dear!” under his breath. Then aloud, “Not if I were your husband.”
“How can I marry a savage?” cried Rhoda.
Kut-le put his hand under the cleft chin and lifted the sweet face till it looked directly into his. His gaze was very deep and clear.
“Am I nothing but a naked savage, Rhoda?” he said. “Am I?”
Rhoda’s eyes did not leave his.
“No!” she said softly, under her breath.
Kut-le’s eyes deepened. He turned and picked up his rifle.
“Bring your friend back to dinner, Alchise,” he said. “Our little holiday must end right here.”
They reached the camp at noon and while the squaws made ready for breaking camp, Rhoda sat deep in thought. Before her were the burning sky and desert, with hawk and buzzard circling in the clear blue. Where had the old hatred of Kut-le gone? Whence came this new trust and understanding, this thrill at his touch? Kut-le, who had been watching her adoringly, rose and came to her side. The rampart hid the two from the others. Kut-le took one of Rhoda’s hands in his firm fingers and laid his lips against her palm. Rhoda flushed and drew her hand away. But Kut-le again put his hand beneath her cleft chin and lifted her face to his.
Just as the brown face all but touched hers a voice sounded from behind the rampart:
“Hello, you! Where’s Kut-le?”
Rhoda sprang away from Kut-le and they both ran to the other side of the rampart. Billy Porter, worn and tattered but still looking very well able to hold his own, stood staring into the cave where the squaws eyed him open-mouthed and Alchise, his hand on his rifle, scowled at him aggressively. Porter’s eye fell on Injun Tom.
“U-huh! You pison Piute, you! I just nacherally snagged your little game, didn’t I?”
“Billy!” cried Rhoda. “O Billy Porter!”
Porter jumped as if at a blow. Rhoda stood against the rock in her boyish clothes, her beautiful braid sweeping her shoulder, her face vivid.
“My God! Miss Rhoda!” cried Billy hoarsely, as he ran toward her with outstretched hands. “Why, you are well! What’s happened to you!”