Landor sat and heard them out, silence on his lips and wrath upon his brow. "We will go wherever you say," he reiterated immovably.
His horse started. He had dug it with the rowels. Then he reined it in with a jerk that made it champ its curb. "Don't dwell on that all the time," he said angrily; "forget it." And then it flashed across him, the irreparable wrong he would be doing her if he taught her to consider the Apache blood a taint. Ellton ventured some assistance. "I do know this[Pg 142] much, that the C. O. got a telegram from some Eastern paper, asking if the reports of your cowardice as given in the territorial press were true."
"Yes?" said Landor. The inflection was not pleasing. It caused Brewster to answer somewhat weakly, "Yes." But the star of the politician was once more in the ascendant. For two years there had been not one depredation, not one outrage from the Indians, for whose good conduct the general had given his personal word. They were self-supporting, and from the products of their farms they not only kept themselves, but supplied the neighboring towns. It was a state of affairs entirely unsatisfactory to the politician. So he set about correcting it.
The troops settled down to wait, and Cairness, having further sounded some of the Chiricahua squaws, went again in search of Crook. He was seated under an ash tree with his back against the trunk and a portfolio[Pg 300] upon his knee, writing. When Cairness stopped in front of him, he glanced up. Then they walked up to the corral together. Kirby introduced him to his two partners, Englishmen also, and finished nailing up the boards of a box stall which a stallion had kicked down in the night. After that he threw down his hammer, took two big nails from his mouth, and sat upon the tongue of a wagon to talk long and earnestly, after the manner of men who have shared a regretted past. Felipa turned from them and waited, clasping her hands and smiling up at Brewster. He, misinterpreting, felt encouraged and begged her to leave the disgusting insects. He had something very different to talk about. She said that she did not want to hear it, and would he bet on the tarantula or the vinagrone?
Landor explained again, with greater detail, vainly trying to impress the nature of a military order on the civilian brain. "It would not do for me to disobey my[Pg 112] instructions. And besides there are several officers who are to follow trails, out with larger commands. I have no pack-train, and I can't."