And he understood that the shadow must rise always between them. He had never expected it to be otherwise. It was bound to be so, and he bowed his head in unquestioning acceptance. The tears trickled down the withered cheeks, and Crook gave a shrug of exasperation and disgust. "Your story of being afraid of arrest is all bosh. There were no orders to arrest you. You began the trouble by trying to kill Chato." Geronimo shook his head, as one much wronged and misunderstood. "Yes you did, too. Everything that you did on the reservation is known. There is no use your lying."
Then she lit a lamp and took off her blood-stained gown. There was blood, too, on the knife and its case. She cleaned them as best she could and looked into the chamber of her revolver with a contemplative smile on the lips that less than half an hour before had been curled back from her sharp teeth like those of a fighting wolf. She wondered how badly the buck had been hurt. But the Reverend Taylor's lips set again, and he shrugged his narrow shoulders. "I'm not certain myself," he said shortly.
"I ought to have known better than to come at all," he told Brewster, as they stood beside their horses; "it is always like this." So at five o'clock Cairness, coming again into that part of the cabin which his hostess persistently named the drawing-room, found the three Englishmen taking their tea, and a little man in clerical garb observing the rite with considerable uncertainty. He would have no tea himself, and his tone expressed a deep distrust[Pg 37] of the beverage. By the side of his chair stood a tall silk hat. It was in all probability the only one in the territories, or west of the Missouri, for that matter, and it caught Cairness's eye at once, the more especially as it was pierced by two round holes. As he stirred his tea and ate the thin slices of buttered bread, his glance wandered frequently to the hat.
It was a halcyon time for the press. It approved and it disapproved, while the troops went serenely on their way. It gave the government two courses,—removal of the Apaches, one and all, to the Indian territory (as feasible as driving the oxen of Geryon), or extermination—the catchword of the non-combatant.
"And how, may I ask, would you suggest cutting off their retreat?" the major inquired a little sharply. His temper was not improved by the heat and by twelve hours in the saddle.
There were only the bids to be taken out and steamed open. The lowest found, it was simple enough for the favored one to make his own a quarter of a cent less, and to turn it in at the last moment. But one drawback presented itself. Some guileful and wary contractors, making assurance twice sure, kept their bids themselves and only presented them when the officers sat for the final awarding. Certainly Brewster would have been wiser not to have been seen with the big civilian. During the two days that elapsed before the awarding of the contract, Landor thought about it most of the time.
"I rather thought that might be too much for even you," said Cairness.
He demanded that he be told the reasons, but she refused very sweetly and very decidedly. And he was forced to accept the footing upon which she placed him, for all time.
Breakfast call sounded. At the first shrill note she started violently. She was very thoroughly unnerved, and he decided that an hour of thinking would make her worse so. He told her that he would see her after breakfast, and raising his hat again left her to the anticipation, and to helping the Mexican captives cook their meal of mescal root and rations.
"I don't know anything whatever about it," he answered; "that is none of my affair. I should be surprised if he were, and I must say I am inclined to think he is not."