[Pg 69] He nodded forcibly. "Where all them mesquites is to one side, and the arroyo to the other. They'll be behind the mesquite. But you ain't goin' to head him off," he added, "there ain't even a short cut. The road's the shortest."
She herself was up before dawn, riding over the hills with her husband, watching the sun rise above the blue mountains on the far-away horizon, and strike with lights of gold and rose the sands and the clumps of sage, visiting the herd where it struggled to graze, under well-armed guard, and gathering the pitiful wild flowers from the baked, lifeless soil. She shot quail and owls, and dressed their skins. She could endure[Pg 64] any amount of fatigue, and she could endure quite as well long stretches of idleness.
In the '70's the frontier was a fact and not a memory, and a woman in the Far West was a blessing sent direct from heaven, or from the East, which was much the same thing. Lieutenants besought the wives of their brother officers to bring out their sisters and cousins and even aunts, and very weird specimens of the sex sometimes resulted. But even these could reign as queens, dance, ride, flirt to their hearts' content—also marry, which is not always the corollary in these days. The outbreak of a reservation full of Indians was a small thing in comparison with the excitement occasioned by the expectation of a girl in the post. Brewster resented it, and so the next thing he said was calculated to annoy. "He says you are quite one of them."
And so the hostiles took shelter there from the cavalry that had pursued them hard across the open all night, and gave battle after the manner of their kind. It was a very desultory sort of a skirmish, for the troops did not venture into the traps beyond the very edge, and the Indians were simply on the defensive. It was not only desultory, it promised to be unavailing, a waste of time and of ammunition.
Felipa did not answer. She broke her revolver and looked into the chambers. Two of them were empty,[Pg 326] and she took some cartridges from a desk drawer and slipped them in. The holster was attached to her saddle, and she rarely rode without it.