"Landor again," she yawned, ignoring his meaning-fraught tone. But she watched his face from under her long lashes. "I have never especially liked you," Cairness decided, for his part, "and I can't say that you improve upon acquaintance, you know. You wrote those articles about Landor, and that's one I owe you."
"You won't, I don't guess, if it was the citizens' own wish," insisted the indomitable one. "You wouldn't be gone more than two days at the outside. And a big party of us will go with you." [Pg 325]
They had been doing that for three days. They came down the chimney, made across the floor in a line that never changed direction, nor straggled, nor lessened, up the wall and out a crack in the window. They did no harm, but followed blindly on in the path the first one had taken. And the minister had said they should not be smoked back or thwarted.
Chapter 19 Landor swore. He would keep them their proper distance ahead, if he had to halt at all their halts from now to sunset.
"I am far from being sure that that is entirely to be desired, very far," said Cairness, with conviction. He had never ceased to feel a certain annoyance at[Pg 319] the memory of that year and a half of Felipa's life in which he had had no part.
The exceedingly small respectable element of Tombstone hailed their departure with unmixed joy. They had but one wish,—that the Toughs might meet the Apaches, and that each might rid the face of the desert of the other. But the only Apaches left to meet were the old and feeble, and the squaws and papooses left at San Carlos. The able-bodied bucks were all in the field, as scouts or hostiles.
It was too foolish to answer.
Landor was in the dining room, and Felipa stood in the sitting room receiving the praises of her husband with much tact. If he were the hero of the hour, she was the heroine. The officers from far posts carried their admiration to extravagance, bewitched by the sphinx-riddle written somehow on her fair face, and which is the most potent and bewildering charm a woman can possess. When they went away, they sent her boxes of fresh tomatoes and celery and lemons, from points along the railroad, which was a highly acceptable and altogether delicate attention in the day and place.
The captain they had elected for themselves was for following; the seven others agreed upon a detour. They had ideas of their own concerning obedience to superiors. They left the trail in spite of the vehement assurance of their captain that they would without doubt get all manner of profanity knocked out of them, and hasten their inevitable journey to Gehenna if they went into the timber.
Arizona had its full share of murder and sudden death. But New Mexico had more than that. Spring passed on there, with warmth for the snow-wrapped mountains, and blistering heat for the dead plains, and her way was marked with lifeless and mutilated forms.