At the instant a cloud floated over the sun, and soon a black bank began to fill up the sky above the ca?on. As they ate their breakfast in the tent, the morning darkened forebodingly. Felipa finished the big quart cup of weak coffee hurriedly, and stood up, pushing[Pg 99] back her camp-stool. Her horse and four others were waiting. The curtain-raiser to the tragedy about to come upon the boards was a little comedy.
"Several things, thanks. You haven't told me yet what version of it your husband gave to Stone." [Pg 242]Cairness was a little anxious. It was succeed or fail right here. He himself had never dreamed how it irked her until now. It was many years since he had been in the East, not, indeed, since Felipa had been a small child.[Pg 160] Keeping his promise to Cabot, as he understood it, had left him little for such pleasures as that. But he had done his duty then; he would do it again, and reap once more what seemed to him the inevitable reward, the reward which had been his all through his life,—sheer disappointment, in all he prized most, ashes and dust.
Somewhere in that same poem, he remembered, there had been advice relative to a man's contending to the uttermost for his life's set prize, though the end in sight were a vice. He shrugged his shoulders. It might be well enough to hold to that in Florence and the Middle Ages. It was highly impracticable for New Mexico and the nineteenth century. So many things left undone can be conveniently laid to the prosaic and materialistic tendencies of the age. Things were bad enough now—for Landor, for himself, and most especially for Felipa. But if one were to be guided by the romantic poets, they could conceivably be much worse.