"Thank you," said Cabot, and drew his hand from the girths. He cut Landor short when he tried to change him again. "You are losing time," he told him, "and if you stay here from now to next week it won't do any good. I'll foot it to the water hole, if I can. Otherwise—" the feeble laugh once more as his eyes shifted to where a big, gray prairie wolf was going[Pg 6] across the flat, stopping now and then to watch them, then swinging on again.
"Trouble is," he went on evenly, "trouble is, that, like most women, you've been brought up to take copy-book sentiments about touchin' pitch, and all that, literal. You don't stop to remember that to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. If she can't do you any harm spiritually, she certainly ain't got the strength to do it physically. I can't say as I'd like to have her about the place all the time unless she was going to reform,—and I don't take much stock in change of heart, with her sort,—because she wouldn't be a pleasant companion, and it ain't well to countenance vice. But while she's sick, and it will oblige Cairness, she can have the shelter of my manta. You think so too, now, don't you?" he soothed.
She had done very well, up to then, but she was at the end of her strength. It had been strained to the snapping for a long while, and now it snapped. Slowly, painfully, a hot, dark flush spread over her face to the black line of her hair. The squaw was manifested in the changed color. It altered her whole face, while it lasted, then it dropped back and left a dead gray pallor. Her lips were quivering and yellow, and her eyes paled oddly, as those of a frightened wild beast do. But still they were not lowered. He handed them over.
If the sentry outside heard, he paid no attention. It was common enough for the horses to take a simultaneous fit of restlessness in the night, startled by some bat flapping through the beams or by a rat scurrying in the grain. In ten minutes more a flame had reached the roof. In another ten minutes the sentry had discharged his carbine three times, fire call had been sounded in quick, alarming notes, and men and officers, half dressed, had come running from the barracks and the line.
"To Captain Landor's widow, I am told."
Later, when the sun was well up in the jewel-blue sky, and the world was all ashine, they began the real routine of the day. And it would have been much like that of any of the other days that had gone before it for two years, had not Cairness come in a little before the noon hour, bringing with him a guest. It was an Englishman, whom he presented to Felipa as a friend of his youth, and named Forbes.
"Her father was dead. He left her to him."
The Chiricahuas could see that there was trouble between the officials, both military and civil, and the government. They did not know what it was. They did not understand that the harassed general, whose word—and his alone—had their entire belief, nagged and thwarted, given authority and then prevented from enforcing it, had rebelled at last, had asked to be relieved, and had been refused. But they drew in with delight the air of strife and unrest. It was the one they loved best, there could and can be no doubt about that.
It would have become the sentiment of the crowd in another moment, but the little codger took up the second glass, and raised it again. Then it fell smashing to the floor. A second bullet had broken his wrist.
"Your best chance for keeping out of jail, too," he insisted, "is to keep on the right side of me. Sabe? Now what I want to know is, what part Stone has in all this." He did not know what part any one had had in it, as a matter of fact, for he had failed in all attempts to make Lawton talk, in the two days he had had before leaving the post.