He opposed drawbacks. "You can't keep her always." The Agency man thought a question would not commit him. He had not been round at that time, and he asked for information. The lieutenant gave it to him.
His teeth set. The little man gasped audibly. "Good God!" he said, "I—" he stopped. Had it been all arranged, planned, and rehearsed for months beforehand, the action could not have been more united. They crowded past him out of the door and ran for the corrals, and each dragged a horse or a mule from the stalls, flinging on a halter or rope or bridle, whatever came to hand, from the walls of the harness room.
"On his ranch, living on the fat of a lean land, I believe. He's rich, you know. I don't know much about them. I've small use for them. And I used to like Cairness, too. Thought he was way above his job. Those squaw-men lose all sense of honor." Landor recalled the twenty years of all winter campaigns, dry camps, forced marches, short rations, and long vigils and other annoyances that are not put down in the tactics, and smiled again, with a deep cynicism. Barnwell sat silent. He sympathized with Stone because his interests lay that way, but he was somewhat unfortunately placed between the military devil and the political deep sea.
She had done very well, up to then, but she was at the end of her strength. It had been strained to the snapping for a long while, and now it snapped. Slowly, painfully, a hot, dark flush spread over her face to the black line of her hair. The squaw was manifested in the changed color. It altered her whole face, while it lasted, then it dropped back and left a dead gray pallor. Her lips were quivering and yellow, and her eyes paled oddly, as those of a frightened wild beast do. But still they were not lowered. 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.
It was half because she felt it would prick him, and half in humility, that she answered, "I suppose that is the Indian in me."
"My name, sir, is Foster."
Lawton believed himself to be ill-used. He had written to Stone a strangely composed and spelled account of the whole matter, and mingled reproaches for having gotten him into it; and Stone had replied that it was no affair of his one way or another, but so far as he could make out Lawton had made a mess of it and a qualified fool of himself.