: 。Was he quite certain that the trail was of hostiles, and not of cow-boys or of other troops? And at another window Felipa also stood looking out into the dusk. There had been a shower in the afternoon, and the clouds it had left behind were like a soft moss of fire floating in the sky. A bright golden light struck slantwise from the sunset. They had all gone away to dine and to dress for the hop; Landor had walked down to the post trader's for the mail, and she was left alone.
"I'll break your jaws if you don't open them." The jaws opened forthwith, but no sound came, and Lawton struggled feebly.
"I dare say," Landor agreed; "it is certainly more[Pg 11] charitable to suppose that men who hacked up the bodies of babies, and abused women, and made away with every sort of loot, from a blanket to a string of beads, were mad. It was creditably thorough for madmen, though. And it was the starting-point of all the trouble that it took Crook two years to straighten out."The Apache never quivered a muscle nor uttered a sound. It was fine stoicism, and appealed to Felipa until she really felt sorry for him.
"I have it," he said shortly, standing beside her and holding out the letter.Cairness looked over at her in some surprise, but her face was in the shadow. He wondered that she had picked up the phrase. It was a common one with him, a sort of catchword he had the habit of using. But she was not given to philosophy. It was oddly in line with his own previous train of thought.
Landor swore. He would keep them their proper distance ahead, if he had to halt at all their halts from now to sunset.So the captain and the first sergeant took up the money and the loose papers, together with a couple of rings from the hands, and wrapping them in a poncho, carried them off to serve as possible means of identification, for it had got beyond all question of features. Then two men moved the bodies from the[Pg 137] trail, with long sticks, and covered them with a pile of stones. Landor found a piece of board by the mouth of the claim and drew on it, with an end of charred stick, a skull and cross bones with a bow and arrow, and stood it up among the stones, in sign to all who might chance to pass thereby that since men had here died at the hands of the Apaches, other men might yet meet a like fate.
Lawton believed himself to be ill-used. He had written to Stone a strangely composed and spelled account of the whole matter, and mingled reproaches for having gotten him into it; and Stone had replied that it was no affair of his one way or another, but so far as he could make out Lawton had made a mess of it and a qualified fool of himself."It might for me," he said, "but not for her, and I[Pg 15] told Cabot I'd do my best for her." It had seemed to him his plain duty, and he had done it, and he asked no approbation.
Then he began to come to himself and to listen to all that Felipa had to tell him of the many things she had not put in her short and labored letters. He saw[Pg 140] that she looked more beautiful and less well than when he had left her. There was a shadow of weariness on her face that gave it a soft wistfulness which was altogether becoming. He supposed it was because she had nursed him untiringly, as she had; but it did not occur to him to thank her, because she had done only what was a wife's duty, only what he would have done for her if the case had been reversed. Toward the end of the day he began to wonder that no one had been to see him, and he spoke of it.
"Who told you he was?" she asked.
For answer she put out her hand and laid it upon his, not as she had often done it before, in the unattentive eagerness of some argument, but slowly, with a shadow of hesitation.。
"I represent, sir, the citizens of San Tomaso."。
She could hear voices confusedly, men hurriedly calling and hallooing as she neared the back of the officers' line and crept into her tent. The door was barely closed when there came a knock, and the voice of the striker asking if she had heard the shot across the river.。
He found that it had been father and son come from the Eastern states in search of the wealth that lay in that vague and prosperous, if uneasy, region anywhere west of the Missouri. And among the papers was a letter addressed to Felipa. Landor held it in the flat[Pg 146] of his hand and frowned, perplexed. He knew that it was Cairness's writing. More than once on this last scout he had noticed its peculiarities. They were unmistakable. Why was Cairness writing to Felipa? And why had he not used the mails? The old, never yet justified, distrusts sprang broad awake. But yet he was not the man to brood over them. He remembered immediately that Felipa had never lied to him. And she would not now. So he took the stained letter and went to find her.。