[Pg 120] The log cabin was tidy. There were chintz curtains at the windows, much of the furniture, of ranch manufacture, was chintz covered, the manta of the ceiling was unstained, there were pictures from London Christmas papers on the walls, and photographs of the fair women at "home."
Cairness mounted, and looked up anxiously at the sky, as he gathered his reins between his fingers. The wind had begun to howl through the branches of the trees. It promised to be a wild ride. "I will be back to-night, Landor, to report," he said; "that is, if the storm doesn't delay us." And they started off down the hill.
If you take even a good-humored puppy of a savage breed and tie him to a kennel so that all his natural energy strikes in; if you feed him upon raw meat, when you feed him at all, but half starve him for the most part; and if you tantalize and goad him whenever you are in search of a pastime, he is more than likely to become a dangerous beast when he grows up. He is then a menace to the public, so you have but one course left—to take him out and shoot him. 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.
"Geronimo does not want that any more. He has[Pg 271] tried to do right. He is not thinking bad. Such stories ought not to be put in the newspapers."
"Her father was dead. He left her to him." Landor took his arm from the saddle and stood upright, determinedly. "We are going to stop this mob business, that's what we are going to do," he said, and he went forward and joined in a discussion that was[Pg 117] upon the verge of six-shooters. He set forth in measured tones, and words that reverberated with the restrained indignation behind them, that he had come upon the assurance that he was to strike Indians, that his men had but two days' rations in their saddle bags, and that he was acting upon his own responsibility, practically in disobedience of orders. If the Indians were to be hit, it must be done in a hurry, and he must get back to the settlements. He held up his hands to check a flood of protests and explanations. "There has got to be a head to this," his drill-trained voice rang out, "and I propose to be that head. My orders have got to be obeyed."
"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."
"There is something," he insisted, dropping his head down again wearily.