“What do you mean by that?”
“You transferred Panfilo because he was growing jealous of you and Rosa.”
Ed burst into sudden laughter. “Good Lord! There’s no harm in a little flirtation. Rosa’s a pretty girl.”
His wife uttered a breathless, smothered exclamation; her hands, as they lay on the table-cloth, were tightly clenched. “She’s your tenant—almost your servant. What kind of a man are you? Haven’t you any decency left?”
“Say! Go easy! I guess I’m no different to most men.” Austin’s unpleasant laughter had been succeeded by a still more unpleasant scowl. “I have to do something. It’s dead enough around here—”
“You must stop going there.”
“Humph! I notice you go where you please. Rosa and I never spent a night together in the chaparral—”
“Ed!” Alaire’s exclamation was like the snap of a whip. She rose and faced her husband, quivering as if the lash had stung her flesh.
“That went home, eh? Well, I’m no fool! I’ve seen something of the world, and I’ve found that women are about like men. I’d like to have a look at this David Law, this gunman, this Handsome Harry who waits at water-holes for ladies in distress.” Ed ignored his wife’s outflung hand, and continued, mockingly: “I’ll bet he’s all that’s manly and splendid, everything that I’m not.”
“You’d—better stop,” gasped the woman. “I can’t stand everything.”
“So? Well, neither can I.”
“After—this, I think you’d better go—to San Antonio. Maybe I’ll forget before you come back.”
To this “Young Ed” agreed quickly enough. “Good!” said he. “That suits me. It’s hell around Las Palmas, anyhow, and I’ll at least get a little peace at my club.” He glowered after his wife as she left the room. Then, still scowling, he lurched out to the gallery where the breeze was blowing, and flung himself into a chair.
SOMETHING ABOUT HEREDITY
It had required but one generation to ripen the fruits of “Old Ed” Austin’s lawlessness, and upon his son heredity had played one of her grimmest pranks. The father had had faults, but they were those of his virtues; he had been a strong man, at least, and had “ridden herd” upon his unruly passions with the same thoroughness as over his wild cattle. The result was that he had been universally respected. At first the son seemed destined to be like his father. It was not until “Young Ed” had reached his full manhood that his defects had become recognizable evil tendencies, that his infirmity had developed into a disease. Like sleeping cancers, the Austin vices had lain dormant in him during boyhood; it had required the mutation from youth to manhood, and the alterative effect of marriage, to rouse them; but, once awakened, their ravages had been swift and destructive. Ed’s marriage to Alaire had been inevitable. They