It was failure, flat failure. The officers knew it, and the general knew it. It was the indefinite prolongation of the troubles. It was the ignominious refutation of all his boasts—boasts based not so much upon trust in himself, as on belief in the nature of the Apache, whose stanch champion he had always been.
The man interrupted, "I ain't going daown the road, nor anywheres else before supper—nor after supper neither, if I don't feel like it." He was bold enough in speech, but his eyes dropped before Kirby's indignant ones.
The Reverend Taylor gradually became aware that the air was very bad. He laid down the newspaper and looked round. "And do you care for him, too?" he asked, looking her straight in the eyes. It was a very calm question, put—he realized it with exasperation—as a father might have put it.
Another grievance was the Ellton baby. Felipa adored it, and for no reason that he could formulate, he did not wish her to. He wanted a child of his own. Altogether he was not so easy to get on with as he had been. She did not see why. Being altogether sweet-humored and cheerful herself, she looked[Pg 182] for sweet humor and cheerfulness in him, and was more and more often disappointed. Not that he was ever once guilty of even a quick burst of ill temper. It would have been a relief.
Chapter 22 She stood looking round the post, across the white-hot parade ground, to the adobe barracks and the sutler's store. Then she turned and considered the officers' quarters. They were a row of hospital, wall, and A tents, floored with rough boards and sheltered by ramadas of willow branches.
"Take care!" yelled Cairness, as Felipa, dazed and without breath, headed straight for the stream. He bent and snatched at her bridle, and, swerving, started up the sheer side of the hill. She clung to the mane instinctively, but her horse stumbled, struggled, slipped, and scrambled. She had lost all control of it, and the earth and stones gave way beneath its hoofs just as a great wall of water bore down the bed of the river, sweeping trees and rocks away, and making the ground quiver.
It was a sheer waste of good ammunition, and it might serve as a signal to the Indians as well; Kirby knew it, and yet he emptied his six-shooter into the deep shadows of the trees where they had vanished, toward the south.
"I say, old man, shut that door! Look at the flies. Now go on," he added, as the door banged; and he rose to draw a chair to the table.
"No," Cabot told him, "I couldn't—not without delaying you. The trail's too hot for that. If you'll put a fourth and last bullet into Cochise, the loss of a little thing like me won't matter much." He stopped short, and his chin dropped, weakly, undecided.
She was still silent, but she leaned nearer, watching his face, her lips drawn away from her sharp teeth, and her eyes narrowing. She understood now.