[Pg 34] Cairness started for the salt lick, then changed his mind and his destination, and merely rode with Forbes around the parts of the ranch which were under more or less cultivation, and to one of the water troughs beneath a knot of live oaks in the direction of the foot-hills. So they returned to the home place earlier than they otherwise would have done, and that, too, by way of the spring-house.
Cairness also thought that they should not, chiefly because they had a tendency to frighten the timid Apaches. But he went on quietly eating his breakfast, and said nothing. He knew that only silence can obtain loquacity from silent natures. He was holding his meat in his fingers, too, and biting it, though he did not drag it like a wild beast yet; and, moreover, he had it upon a piece of bread of his own baking. The mesquites were very near. She bent down over the horse's neck and spoke to him. His stride lengthened out yet more. She drew the little revolver, and cocked it, still bending low. If they were to fire at her, the white gown would make a good mark; but she would show as little of it as might be, and she would not waste time answering shots, if it could be helped.
"Everybody ought to be uncomfortable," Ellton told them; "everybody who believed the first insinuation he heard ought to be confoundedly uncomfortable." He resigned from the acting adjutancy and returned to his troop duties, that Landor, who had relieved Brewster of most of the routine duties, and who was still fit for the sick list himself, might not be overburdened.
So he waited and stood aside somewhat, to watch[Pg 23] the course of Brewster's suit. He derived some little amusement from it, too, but he wondered with rather a deeper tinge of anxiety than was altogether necessary what the final outcome would be.
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."
There was a new treaty, just made to that end. It was the fiercest of all the Apache tribes, the Chiricahuas, that had hidden itself in the fastnesses of the Sierra Madre, two hundred miles south of the boundary line. Geronimo and Juh and Chato, and other chiefs of quite as bloody fame, were with him. To capture them would be very creditable success. To fail to do so would entail dire consequences, international complications perhaps, and of a certainty the scorn and abuse of all the wise men who sat in judgment afar off.
Then stand to your glasses steady,
Another thing he could not quite fathom was why the religious dances he had, in pursuance of his wild[Pg 176] pleasure, seen fit to hold on Cibicu Creek, had been interfered with by the troops. To be sure, the dances had been devised by his medicine men to raise the dead chiefs and braves with the end in view of re-peopling the world with Apaches and driving out the Whites. But as the dead had not consented to the raising, it might have been as well to allow the Indians to become convinced of the futility of it in that way. However, the government thought otherwise, and sent its troops.
Landor rode over to Bob's place, and giving his horse to the trumpeter, strode in. There were eight men around the bar, all in campaign outfit, and all in various stages of intoxication. Foster was effusive. He was glad to see the general. General Landor, these were the gentlemen who had volunteered to assist Uncle Sam. He presented them singly, and invited Landor to drink. The refusal was both curt and ungracious. "If we are to overtake the hostiles, we have got to start at once," he suggested.