“Where is Fay Larkin now?” he asked, huskily.
He bent over her, touched her, leaned close to catch her whisper.
Slowly Shefford rose, with a sickening shock, and then in bitter pain he strode away into the starlight.
The Indian returned to camp that night, and early the next day, which was Sunday, Withers rode in, accompanied by a stout, gray-bearded personage wearing a long black coat.
“Bishop Kane, this is my new man, John Shefford,” said the trader.
Shefford acknowledged the introduction with the respectful courtesy evidently in order, and found himself being studied intently by clear blue eyes. The bishop appeared old, dry, and absorbed in thought; he spoke quaintly, using in every speech some Biblical word or phrase; and he had an air of authority. He asked Shefford to hear him preach at the morning service, and then he went off into the village.
“Guess he liked your looks,” remarked Withers.
“He certainly sized me up,” replied Shefford.
“Well, what could you expect? Sure I never heard of a deal like this— a handsome young fellow left alone with a lot of pretty Mormon women! You’ll understand when you learn to know Mormons. Bishop Kane’s a square old chap. Crazy on religion, maybe, but otherwise he’s a good fellow. I made the best stand I could for you. The Mormons over at Stonebridge were huffy because I hadn’t consulted them before fetching you over here. If I had, of course you’d never have gotten here. It was Joe Lake who made it all right with them. Joe’s well thought of, and he certainly stood up for you.”
“I owe him something, then,” replied Shefford. “Hope my obligations don’t grow beyond me. Did you leave Joe at Stonebridge?”
“Yes. He wanted to stay, and I had work there that’ll keep him awhile. Shefford, we got news of Shadd—bad news. The half-breed’s cutting up rough. His gang shot up some Piutes over here across the line. Then he got run out of Durango a few weeks ago for murder. A posse of cowboys trailed him. But he slipped them. He’s a fox. You know he was trailing us here. He left the trail, Nas Ta Bega said. I learned at Stonebridge that Shadd is well disposed toward Mormons. It takes the Mormons to handle Indians. Shadd knows of this village and that’s why he shunted off our trail. But he might hang down in the pass and wait for us. I think I’d better go back to Kayenta alone, across country. You stay here till Joe and the Indian think it safe to leave. You’ll be going up on the slope of Navajo to load a pack-train, and from there it may be well to go down West Canyon to Red Lake, and home over the divide, the way you came. Joe’ll decide what’s best. And you might as well buckle on a gun and get used to it. Sooner or later you’ll have to shoot your way through.”