The log cabin was tidy. There were chintz curtains at the windows, much of the furniture, of ranch manufacture, was chintz covered, the manta of the ceiling was unstained, there were pictures from London Christmas papers on the walls, and photographs of the fair women at "home."
"We were planting our own corn and melons," said Alchise, "and making our own living. The agent at San Carlos never gave us any rations, but we didn't mind about that. We were taking care of ourselves. One day the agent—" He stopped and scowled at a squaw a few yards away, whose papoose was crying lustily. The squaw, having her attention thus called to the uproar of her offspring, drew from somewhere in the folds of her dirty wrappings a nursing-bottle, and putting the nipple in its mouth, hushed its cries. The chief went on: "One day the agent sent up and said that we must give up our own country and our corn patches, and go down there to the Agency to live. He sent Indian soldiers to seize our women and children, and drive us down to the hot land."
She made it plainer to him by and by, as she went on to advise his course about Brewster. "If I were you, I would ignore his having told me, Jack. I ought to have pretended that I knew it, but I was taken by surprise. He must not think you resent it as though it were an insult, though. As for me, I won't have anything more to do with him; but that is for reasons of my own." Landor suggested his own experience of close on two decades, and further that he was going to command the whole outfit, or going to go back and drop the thing right there. They assented to the first alternative, with exceedingly bad grace, and with worse grace took the place of advance guard he detailed them to, four hundred yards ahead. "You know the country. You are my guides, and you say you are going to lead me to the Indians. Now do it." There was nothing conciliating in his speech, whatever, and he sat on his horse, pointing them to their positions with arm outstretched, and the frown of an offended Jove. When they had taken it, grumbling, the column moved. "Like as not she does up them boiled shirts and dresses herself, don't you think?" was the minister's awed comment to Cairness, as they went to bed that night in the bare little room.
"No," said Cairness, "he won't. I've met him since. That was a long time ago, and I was smooth shaven."
"Certain, dead sure. It's a band of Apaches that went across the river. Why, half a dozen seen them." Cairness was taciturn. It was some moments before he could control his annoyance, by the main strength of his sense of justice, by telling himself once again that he had no right to blame Felipa for the manifestations of that nature he had known her to possess from the first. It was not she who was changing.
"No, no; it's a good deal, but it ain't too much. Not that it could be more, very well," he added, and he glanced furtively at the woman within, who had stretched out on the lounge with her face to the wall. Mrs. Taylor was fanning her.
When Landor came in half an hour later he found her in her riding habit, sitting in front of the fire. She was still alone, and he felt instantly that there was more softness than ever before in the smile she gave him, more womanliness in the clinging of her hand. Altogether in her attitude and manner there was less of the restlessly youthful. He drew a chair beside hers, and settled back comfortably.
The general took a couple of hundred Indian scouts, enlisted for six months' service, a troop of cavalry, and a half-dozen guides and interpreters, and followed across the border.
"Why don't you ask him?" said Mrs. Lawton, astutely.
The adjutant agreed reluctantly. "I think there is. It wouldn't surprise me if some one had been talking. I can't get at it. But you must not bother about it. It will blow over."