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.
"Cairness never was a squaw-man," corrected Crook.
"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."
But she only considered the insects, which were beginning to move again, and answered absently that she knew it, that he had said it before. "Oh! Mr. Brewster, bet quickly," she urged.
"It is not only my business," he said, overlooking the last, and bending more eagerly forward, "it is not[Pg 49] only my business, it is the business of the whole post. You are being talked about, my dear young lady."
That was evidently how it was to go into the papers. The officer knew it well enough, but he explained with due solemnity that he was acting under instructions, and was not to follow Indians into the hills. "I am only to camp here to protect the citizens of the valley against possible raids."
"That is a promise," the Indian insisted, "to pay me dos reales a day if I would cut hay for him."
There fell a moment's pause. And it was broken by the sound of clashing as of many cymbals, the clatter of hoofs, the rattle of bouncing wheels, and around the corner of the line there came tearing a wagon loaded with milk tins. A wild-eyed man, hatless, with his hair on end, lashed his ponies furiously and drew up all of a heap, in front of the commanding officer's quarters.