He recalled the dark, unbecoming flush that had deepened the color of her skin just enough to show the squaw, beyond mistaking, at least to one who knew. It was all very well now. But later, later she would look like that frequently, if not all the time. With youth she would lose her excuse for being. He knew that very well. But it was the youth, the majestic, powerful youth, that he loved. He had seen too many old hags of squaws, disfigurers of the dead and wounded, drudges of the rancheria, squatting on hides before their tepees, not to know what Felipa's decline would be in spite of the Anglo-Saxon strain that seemed to show only in her white skin.
Cairness sat across him and held a revolver to his mouth. The life of the plains teaches agility of various sorts, but chiefly in the matter of drawing a six-shooter. "You fired the corrals," Cairness gasped. "Is that the very handsome Mrs. Landor who was at Grant a year or so ago?" The general seemed to have difficulty in grasping and believing it.
But they were returning victorious. The Chiricahuas were subdued. The hazard had turned well. There would be peace; the San Carlos Agency, breeding-grounds of all ills, would be turned over to military supervision. The general who had succeeded—if he had failed it would have been such a very different story—would have power to give his promise to the Apaches and to see that it was kept. The experiment of honesty and of giving the devil his due would have a[Pg 245] fair trial. The voices that had cried loudest abuse after the quiet soldier who, undisturbed, went so calmly on his way, doing the thing which seemed to him right, were silenced; and the soldier himself came back into his own land, crossing the border with his herds and his tribes behind him. There was no flourish of trumpets; no couriers were sent in advance to herald that the all but impossible had been accomplished. "I told you to go," she repeated, raising her brows.
One fine afternoon the post was moving along in its usual routine—that quiet which is only disturbed by the ever recurring military formalities and the small squabbles of an isolated community. There had been a lull in the war rumors, and hope for the best had sprung up in the wearied hearts of the plains service, much as the sun had that day come out in a scintillating air after an all-night rain-storm. "Why?" she asked, with a quick suspicion of the dreariness she caught in his tone. The major told him a little reluctantly. "Well, it's this, then: Brewster will not, or cannot, defend your conduct in the matter of the San Tomaso volunteers."