"Is that Captain Landor's camp?"
"Handsome fellow," went on the quartermaster, "and looks like a gentleman. Glories in the Ouida-esque name of Charles Morely Cairness, and signs it in full." Cairness put the sketch back in the case and stood[Pg 72] up. "Will you tell Captain Landor that I found that I could not wait, after all?" he said, and bowing went out from the ramada. It was all a most charming commentary upon the symbol and practice of Christianity, in a Christian land, and the results thereof as regarded the heathen of that land—if one happened to see it in that way.
Then throw into the scale the harassing and conflicting orders of a War Department, niggardly with its troops, several thousand miles away, wrapped in a dark veil of ignorance, and add the ever ready blame of the territorial citizen and press, and the wonder is, not that it took a score of years to settle the Apache question, but that it was ever settled at all.
One had gone mad with loco-weed, and they gored each other's sides until the blood ran, while only a low, moaning bellow came from their dried throats. A cloud of fine dust, that threw back the sun in glitters, hung over them, and a flock of crows, circling above in the steel-blue sky, waited.
Visiting the guard is dull work, and precisely the same round, night after night, with hardly ever a variation. But to-night there occurred a slight one.[Pg 187] Landor was carrying his sabre in his arm, as he went by the back of the quarters, in order that its jingle might not disturb any sleepers. For the same reason he walked lightly, although, indeed, he was usually soft-footed, and came unheard back of Brewster's yard. Brewster himself was standing in the shadow of the fence, talking to some man. Landor could see that it was a big fellow, and the first thing that flashed into his mind, without any especial reason, was that it was the rancher who had been in trouble down at the sutler's store.
The major told him a little reluctantly. "Well, it's this, then: Brewster will not, or cannot, defend your conduct in the matter of the San Tomaso volunteers."
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."
"It seems, Landor," the major said, "to be rather that which is left unsaid."