A half dozen cow-boys came riding over from the camp of the outfit to relieve those on duty. Cairness was worn out with close on eighteen hours in the saddle, tearing and darting over the hills and ravines, quick as the shadow from some buzzard high in the sky, scrambling over rocks, cutting, wheeling, chasing after fleet-footed, scrawny cattle. He went back to camp, and without so much as washing the caked dust and sweat from his face, rolled himself in a blanket and slept.
So the troops and the volunteers rode away without him, and a few miles off, among the foot-hills, struck the trail. Here Landor, giving ear to the advice of the citizens, found himself whirled around in a very torrent of conflicting opinions. No two agreed. The liquor had made them ugly. He dismounted the command for rest, and waited, filled with great wrath. "You know he's the man Landor lost his life saving upon the malpais in New Mexico?"
"They have their good traits, sir," said the man, civilly, "and chief among them is that they mind their own business." They had not gone upon a wedding trip for the excellent reason that there was no place to go; and as[Pg 56] they sat at dinner together in their sparsely furnished quarters, there was a timid ring at the door-bell, and Landor's Chinaman, the cook of his bachelor days, ushered in the commanding officer, who looked humble apology for the awkwardness of a visit he could not delay. He went straight to the matter in hand, in spite of the tactful intentions that had made him come himself instead of sending a subordinate.
"Geronimo," mumbled the Apache, "has prayed to the Dawn and the Darkness and the Sun and the Sky to help him put a stop to those bad stories that people put in the papers about him. He is afraid it will be done as they say." The press of the country was full just then, and had been for some time past, of suggestions that the only good use the much-feared Geronimo could be put to would be hanging, the which he no doubt richly deserved. But if every one in the territories who deserved hanging had been given his dues, the land would have been dotted with blasted trees. "Come in," said her husband. He was pouring out a drink of whiskey. And he succeeded in seeing Felipa. It was most unexpected. He had believed her to be in Stanton, a good many hundred miles away. But Landor having been sent at once into the field, she had come on to Grant to visit the Campbells, who were again stationed there. He met her face to face only once, and he measured with one quick look all the changes there were between the girl of ten years before and the woman of to-day. The great, sad pity that rose within him, and seemed to grasp at his throat chokingly, was the best love he had felt for her yet. It wiped out the wrong of the short madness in the cave's mouth.
He sat quite still, clinching his teeth and clawing his fingers tensely. In the great crises of life, training and upbringing and education fall away, and a man is governed by two forces, his instincts and his surroundings. And Cairness's instincts were in entire accord with his surroundings; they were of the Stone Age, when men fought with the beasts of the wilderness in their cave homes, and had only the law of sheer strength. He leaned forward, holding his breath, and watched her. Had she seen his horse tied up above, and come here to find him—because he was here?