The sun was now high and blazing down into the one street of the mud settlement. The enlisted men[Pg 116] were angry that Landor, fearing they, too, would be led astray into dives, would not dismount them. Sitting still in the full sun, when even in the shade the mercury is many degrees above the hundreds, is not calculated to improve the disposition. But at length the volunteers were herded together. The thirty-five promised had dwindled to eight, and Foster was not of the number. He came lurching up at the last moment to explain that he would be unable to go. His wife was in hysterics, he said.
It dawned upon Cairness that this was rather more than a military machine after all, that he had underestimated it.
Taylor realized from the Benedict's greater knowledge that it was asking a great deal, but still not[Pg 252] too much. He assured Cairness that she should be cared for.
The horse stopped, and she reeled blindly in her seat into a pair of strong arms that caught her and drew her down. A voice was saying words she could not hear, but she knew the voice so well. And she smiled and dropped her head down upon her husband's shoulder. "Just—just in time," she whispered very low. "Yes," he said shortly, "I realize it."