The citizen was still there, still holding the candle and shading it, scared out of the little wits he had at the best of times. He was too frightened as yet to curse Brewster and the wary scoundrel back in Arizona, who had set him on to tampering with the military,[Pg 192] and had put up the funds to that end—a small risk for a big gain.
No one in the territory was busy. The atmosphere was still too much that of the Mexican possession; but Cairness said it was undoubtedly so, and took his leave,[Pg 173] clanking his spurs, heavy footed, and stooping his long form, in continuance of the r?le of ass. He knew well enough that he had been so summed up. It is a disadvantage the British citizen labors under in the West. Landor explained to them that he was not doing the thinking, that it was their campaign. "You are my guides. You know the country, and I don't." He reminded them again that they had promised to lead him to Indians, and that he was ready to be led. If they thought the hostiles were to be reached by following the trail, he would follow it.
There was a bright I. D. blanket spread on the ground a little way back from the fire, and she threw herself down upon it. All that was picturesque in his memories of history flashed back to Cairness, as he took his place beside Landor on the log and looked at her. Boadicea might have sat so in the depths of the Icenean forests, in the light of the torches of the Druids. So the Babylonian queen might have rested in the midst of her victorious armies, or she of Palmyra, after the lion hunt in the deserts of Syria. Her eyes, red lighted beneath the shadowing lashes, met his. Then she glanced away into the blackness of the pine forest, and calling her dog to lie down beside her, stroked its silky red head. Felipa stood leaning listlessly against the post of the ramada, watching them. After a time she went into the adobe and came out with a pair of field-glasses, following the course of the command as it wound along among the foot-hills. The day dragged dully along. She was uneasy about her husband, her nerves were shaken with the coffee and quinine, and she was filled,[Pg 76] moreover, with a vague restlessness. She would have sent for her horse and gone out even in the clouds of dust and the wind like a hot oven, but Landor had forbidden her to leave the post. Death in the tip of a poisoned arrow, at the point of a yucca lance, or from a more merciful bullet of lead, might lurk behind any mesquite bush or gray rock.
She bowed gravely, "You are very kind." But he pleaded entire ignorance, and the others were at considerable pains to enlighten him.
He took a chair facing her, as she put the letter back in its envelope and laid it in her work-basket. It was very unlike anything he had ever imagined concerning situations of the sort. But then he was not imaginative. "Should you be glad to be free to marry him?" he asked, in a spirit of unbiassed discussion.
"True, too," Brewster admitted perforce.
The never ending changes of the service, which permitted no man to remain in one spot for more than two years at the utmost limit, had sent Landor's troop back to Grant, and it was from there that he was ordered out at the beginning of the summer.
The parson expressed pity—and felt it, which is more.
They opened upon non-committal topics: the weather, which had been scorching and parched since April, and would continue so, in all probability, until September; the consequent condition of the crops, which was a figure of speech, for there were none, and never had been, deserving of the name; and then Cairness, having plenty of time, brought it round to the troops. In the tirade that followed he recognized a good many of the sentiments, verbatim, of the articles in the Tucson papers of the time of Landor's scout. But he half shut his eyes and listened, pulling at the small, brown mustache. Stone set him down, straightway, as an ass, or English, which was much the same thing.