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Landor came sliding and running down. His face was misshapen with the anger that means killing. She saw it, and her powers came back to her all at once. She put both hands against his breast and pushed him back, with all the force of her sinewy arms. His foot slipped on a stone and he fell."No, I am a friend of the soldier. And I am a friend of Chato, who is the enemy of Geronimo. I have no bad thoughts," he added piously.

She tried to parry and evade, but he would not have it, and obliged her to admit that she did not. "Not that I dislike her," she explained. "I like to have her round. I dare say it is a whim."[Pg 251]

He stroked her hair pityingly. After all, she was only a half-savage creature bound to him by the ties of gratitude. He had seen the same thing in a Chiricahua girl baby he had once rescued, horribly burned, from the fire of an abandoned Indian camp, where she had been thrown by the fleeing hostiles, because she was sickly and hampered their progress. The hideous, scarred little thing had attached herself to him like a dog, and had very nearly pined herself to death when he had had to leave her for good. Afterward she had[Pg 59] married—at the ripe age of twelve—a buck of her own tribe. He thought of how she also had slipped her hard, seamed arm around his neck, and he drew away from Felipa.But he mistook her silence for dismay, and went on. "It is only what one might expect from the daughter of a drunken private and a Mescalero squaw."

Yet there came a rap at his door directly. It was the McLane's striker, bearing a note from Miss McLane. Brewster knew what was in it before he opened it. But he went back to the window and read it by the fading light. When he looked up it was to see Miss McLane and Ellton going up the walk together, returning from Landor's house.Chapter 20

"And you hamstrung those horses."But it is because of just this that no scion of ultra-civilization degenerates so thoroughly as does he. Retrogression is easy to him. He can hardly go higher, because he is on the height already; but he can slip back. Set him in a lower civilization, he sinks one degree[Pg 266] lower than that. Put him among savages, and he is nearer the beasts than they. It does not come to pass in a day, nor yet at all if he be part of a community, which keeps in mind its traditions and its church, and which forms its own public opinion. Then he is the leaven of all the measures of meal about him, the surest, steadiest, most irresistible civilizing force. But he cannot advance alone. He goes back, and, being cursed with the wisdom which shows him his debasement, in loathing and disgust with himself, he grows sullen and falls back yet more.The two children whom Felipa had taken in charge two years before had been left in the care of the sergeant of Landor's troop and his wife, and they manifested no particular pleasure at seeing her again. They were half afraid of her, so severely black and tall and quiet. They had been playing with the soldier's children, and were anxious to be away again. The young of the human race are short of memory, and their gratefulness does not endure for long. There is no caress so sweet, so hard to win, as the touch of a child's soft hand, and none that has behind it less of nearly all that we prize in affection. It is sincere while it lasts, and no longer, and it must be bought either with a price or with a wealth of love. You may lavish the best that is within you to obtain a kiss from baby lips, and if they rest warm and moist upon your cheek for a moment, the next they are more eager for a sweetmeat than for all your adoration.

"By George! McLane, it strikes me as devilish odd that you should all give ear to the insinuations of a shave-tail like Brewster, against an old hand like myself. Be that as it may, however, until this thing has been cleared up, I shall thank all of you to continue in your[Pg 145] attitude of suspicion, and not in any way draw on your charity by extending it to me. I shall demand a court of inquiry." He laid the ruler back on the desk. "I report for duty, sir," he added officially.They shout back our peals of laughter,They had been four days camping on Black River, a mountain stream rushing between the steep hills, with the roar of a Niagara, hunting deer and small game, fishing with indifferent success,—to the disgust of the Apaches, who would much rather have eaten worms than fish,—and entertaining visitors. There were any[Pg 90] number of these. One party had come out from Fort Apache, another from a camp of troops on the New Mexico road, and some civilians from Boston, who were in search of a favorable route for a projected railway.

The mere sight of Felipa on the buffalo robe before the fire, poring over the old history, exasperated Brewster. "That book again?" he said crossly, as he drew up a chair and held out his hands to the flames; "you must know it by heart."Chapter 20

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.Landor tried to interpose a suggestion that though the whole effect was undoubtedly good and calculated to melt a heart of iron, the rhetoric was muddled; but the reporter swept on; so he clasped his hands behind his head and leaning back against a tent pole, yawned openly. Stone came to an end at length, and had to mop his head with a very much bordered handkerchief. The temperature was a little high for so much effort. He met Landor's glance challengingly.

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"To take them over to my quarters and keep them safe.""Never mind all that. I'm here to question, not to be questioned. Now listen to me." And he went on to point out how she could not possibly get away from him and the troops until they were across the border, and that once there, it lay with him to turn her over to the authorities or to set her free. "You can take your choice, of course. I give you my word—and I think you are quite clever enough to believe me—that if you do not tell me what I want to know about Stone, I will land you where I've landed your husband; and that if you do, you shall go free after I've done with you. Now I can wait until you decide to answer," and he rolled over on his back, put his arms under his head, and gazed up at the jewel-blue patch of sky."I'll break your jaws if you don't open them." The jaws opened forthwith, but no sound came, and Lawton struggled feebly.

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