The general was neither convinced nor won over. He had Geronimo told that it was a very pretty story, but that there was no reason why forty men should have left the reservation for fear of three. "And if you were afraid of three, what had that to do with the[Pg 299] way you sneaked all over the country, killing innocent people? You promised me in the Sierra Madre that that peace should last. But you lied. When a man has lied to me once, I want better proof than his word to believe him again." "Eh?" the parson was not sure he had heard.
"Where?" the commandant asked.
She was astonished in her turn. "Killed him! Why, of course I might have killed him," she said blankly, frowning, in a kind of hopeless perplexity over his want of understanding. "I came very near it, I tell you. The ball made shivers of his shoulder. But he was brave," she grew enthusiastic now, "he let the doctor probe and pick, and never moved a muscle. Of course he was half drunk with tizwin, even then."
[Pg 50] At the instant a cloud floated over the sun, and soon a black bank began to fill up the sky above the ca?on. As they ate their breakfast in the tent, the morning darkened forebodingly. Felipa finished the big quart cup of weak coffee hurriedly, and stood up, pushing[Pg 99] back her camp-stool. Her horse and four others were waiting.
The commandant's wife took Mrs. Landor in, and would have put her to bed with hot drinks and blankets, but that Felipa would have nothing more than some dry clothes and a wrapper in place of her wet habit. The clothes were her own, brought by one of the men, safe in a rubber poncho, but the wrapper belonged to her hostess, who was portly, whereas Felipa was slender. But to Cairness, who had stopped for luncheon, she seemed, in the voluminous dull red draperies, more splendid than ever before. Brewster nodded. He had seen the same thing himself. The territorial citizen was a known quantity to both of them. She sat considering deeply. She was rocking the baby, with its little fair head lying in the hollow of her shoulder, and Landor found himself wondering whether Felipa could ever develop motherliness. "It is quite intangible," Mrs. Campbell half crooned, for the baby's lids were drooping heavily. "I can't find that she lacks a good characteristic. I study her all the time. Perhaps the fault is in ourselves, as much as anything, because we insist upon studying her as a problem, instead of simply a very young girl. She is absolutely truthful,—unless she happens to have a grudge against some one, and then she lies without any scruple at all,—and she is generous and unselfish, and very amiable with the children, too."
The little Reverend understood only Spanish, and his few words, pronounced with a precision altogether in keeping with his appearance, were Spanish ones. The old nurse murmured softly, as she took him up, "Quieres leche hombrecito, quieres cenar? El chuchu tiene hambre tambien. Vamos á ver mamá."