She sat staring at the white glare of the opening, and listening to his foot-falls upon the sand. She glared at him, but she stopped short nevertheless, and, flinging down the stone she had been holding, stood up also. "All right, then. You've done with me, I reckon. Now suppose you let me go back to the camp."
And the next day she knew. When she came out in front of her quarters in the morning, rather later than usual, there was a new tent beside the hospital,[Pg 81] and when she asked the reason for it, they told her that a wounded Apache had been found down by the river soon after the shot had been fired the night before. He was badly hurt, with a ball in his shoulder, and he was half drunk with tizwin, as well as being cut in a dozen places. "Thanks. But you started out to tell me what Lawton told Stone."
After she had done that she stood hesitating for just a moment before she threw off all restraint with a toss of her head, and strapped about her waist a leather belt from which there hung a bowie knife and her pistol in its holster. Then slipping on her moccasins, she glided into the darkness. She took the way in the rear of the quarters, skirting the post and making with swift, soundless tread for the river. Her eyes gleamed from under her straight, black brows as she peered about her in quick, darting glances. She reloaded for him, and fired from time to time herself, and he moved from the little round hole in the wall to one in the window blind, in the feeble, the faithless hope that the Indians might perhaps be deceived, might fancy that there was more than the one forsaken man fighting with unavailing courage for the quiet woman who stayed close by his side, and for the two children, huddled whimpering in one corner, their little trembling arms clasped round each other's necks.
"Why are you so all-fired anxious to vindicate the law?" He dropped easily into phrases.
"You touch that," she said resolutely, "and I'll let them both loose on you."
There was but one other resort. The exasperated, impotent press turned to it. "If the emergency should arise, and it now looks as though it may come soon," flowed the editorial ink, "enough resolute and courageous men can be mustered in Tombstone, Globe, Tucson, and other towns and settlements to settle the question, once and forever: to settle it as such questions have often been settled before."
And later in the day, when the buck had shuffled off again, Cairness brought out his pony,—a new one now, for the little pinto one had died of a rattlesnake bite, from which no golondrina weed had been able to save it,—and saddled it. Then he went again into the cabin. There was but one thing there that he valued,—a life-size head of Felipa he had done in charcoal. It was in a chest beneath his cot. He locked his chest, and going out locked the door also, and putting both keys upon a ring, mounted and rode off along the trail.
Stone thought not. He had not heard Lawton speak of needing help. But he wrote a very guarded note of recommendation, falling back into the editorial habit, and dashing it off under pressure. Cairness, whose own writing was tiny and clear and black, and who covered whole sheets without apparent labor, but with lightning rapidity, watched and reflected that he spent an amount of time on the flourish of his signature that might have been employed to advantage in the attainment of legibility.
Another of her pets was a little fawn a soldier had caught and given to her. It followed her tamely about the post.