mg6"Jack," he said, going up and running his hand in and out underneath the girths. He spoke almost too low to be heard, and the men who were nearest rode a few feet away. "Jack, will you do something for me? Will you—that is—there is a fellow named McDonald up at the Mescalero Agency. He's got a little four-year-old girl he's taking care of." He hurried along, looking away from Landor's puzzled face. "She's the daughter of a half-breed Mescalero woman, who was[Pg 5] killed by the Mexicans. If I don't come out of all this, will you get her? Tell McDonald I told you to. I'm her father."An eminent student of the sex has somewhere said that women are like monkeys, in that they are imitative. The comparison goes further. There is a certain inability in a monkey to follow out a train of thought, or of action, to its conclusion, which is shared by the major part of womankind. It is a feminine characteristic to spend life and much energy on side issues. The lady forgot almost all about her original premise. She wished especially to know that which no power upon earth would induce her lord to tell.
Felipa had discarded, long since, the short skirt and moccasins of her girlhood, and had displayed no inconsiderable aptitude in the matter of fashions; but she was given to looseness of draperies and a carelessness of attire in her own home that the picturesqueness of her beauty alone only saved from slatternliness. There was one manifestation of ill taste which she did not give, however, one common enough with the wives of most of the officers. She was never to be found running about the post, or sitting upon the porches, with her husband's cape around her shoulders and his forage-cap over her eyes. Her instinct for the becoming was unfailing. This was a satisfaction to Landor. But it was a secret grievance that she was most contented when in her riding habit, tearing foolhardily over the country.
He had dreaded a scene, but he was not so sure that this was not worse. "You are the wife for a soldier," he said somewhat feebly; "no tears and fuss and—all that kind of thing."
Cabot did not answer. The gasping horse on the sand, moving its neck in a weak attempt to get up, was answer enough. He stood with his hands hanging helplessly, looking at it in wrath and desperation.
But the Reverend Taylor's lips set again, and he shrugged his narrow shoulders. "I'm not certain myself," he said shortly.The chances of detection would certainly be less if he should go back of the officers' quarters, instead of the barracks. But to do that he would have to cross the road which led from the trader's to the quadrangle, and he would surely meet some one, if it were only some servant girl and her lover. He had observed and learned some things in his week of waiting in the post—that week which otherwise had gone for worse than nothing. He took the back of the barracks, keeping well away from them, stumbling in and out among rubbish heaps. He had no very clear idea of what he meant to do, or of why he was going in this particular direction; but he was ready for anything that might offer to his hand. If he came upon Landor or the adjutant or any of them, he would put a knife into him. But he was not going to the trouble of hunting[Pg 206] them out. And so he walked on, and came to the haystacks, looming, denser shadows against the sky.
Landor took stock of the others. There had been five led horses twenty-four hours before, when they had started on a hot trail after the chief Cochise. But they had taken the places of five others that had dropped in their tracks to feed the vultures that followed always, flying above in the quivering blue. They were a sorry lot, the two score that remained. mg6:"Will you make haste?" cried Felipa, out of patience.
The general kept his own counsel then, but afterward, when it was all over, he confessed,—not to the rejoicing reporter who was making columns out of him for the papers of this, and even of many another, land,—but to the friends who had in some measure understood and believed in him, that the strain and responsibility had all but worn him out. And he was no frail man, this mighty hunter of the plains.
Cairness sat for a long time, smoking and thinking. Then Felipa's voice called to him and he went in to her. She was by the window in a flood of moonlight, herself all in flowing white, with the mantle of black hair upon her shoulders.
He laughed, a little falsely, and turned back into the room.
Having finished, he left Cairness to his own devices, and dragging a chair under a bracket lamp, set peacefully about reading the newspapers. For fully an hour no one heeded him. Cairness talked to the bartender and stood treat to the aimless loungers. He had many months of back pay in his pocket, and to save was neither in his character nor in the spirit of the country.。
"Yes," said Crook.。
Any other fire—excepting always in an ammunition magazine—is easier to handle than one in a stable. It takes time to blind plunging horses and lead them out singly. And there is no time to take. Hay and straw[Pg 208] and gunny-sacks and the dry wood of the stable go up like tinder. It has burned itself out before you can begin to extinguish it.。