Before dawn Cairness was out, hastening the cook with the breakfast, helping with it himself, indeed, and rather enjoying the revival of the days when he had been one of the best cooks in the troop and forever pottering about the mess chests and the Dutch oven, in the field. As the sun rose,—though daybreak was fairly late there in the ca?on,—the cold, crisp air was redolent of coffee and bacon and broiling fresh meat. "Yes," he assured her unmoved, "you are. At least you are going to do that, or go to jail."
Landor rode over to Bob's place, and giving his horse to the trumpeter, strode in. There were eight men around the bar, all in campaign outfit, and all in various stages of intoxication. Foster was effusive. He was glad to see the general. General Landor, these were the gentlemen who had volunteered to assist Uncle Sam. He presented them singly, and invited Landor to drink. The refusal was both curt and ungracious. "If we are to overtake the hostiles, we have got to start at once," he suggested.
The man did go underneath and bravely offered resistance. Cairness had the twofold strength of his wiry build and of his bull-dog race. But Lawton—he knew it was Lawton now—would have been stronger yet, save that the three weeks' spree had told, and he was breathless.
Stone made a very creditable fight. A man does not throw up the results of years of work without a strong protest. He treated it lightly, at first, then seriously. Then he threatened. "I've got a good deal of power myself," he told Cairness angrily; "I can roast you in the press so that you can't hold up your head."
She stood alone, with the sticky, wet knife in her hand, catching her breath, coming out of the madness. Then she stooped, and pushing the branches aside felt about for her pistol. It lay at the root of a tree, and[Pg 80] when she had picked it up and put it back in the holster, there occurred to her for the first time the thought that the shot in the dead stillness must have roused the camp. And now she was sincerely frightened. If she were found here, it would be more than disagreeable for Landor. They must not find her. She started at a swift, long-limbed run, making a wide detour, to avoid the sentries, bending low, and flying silently among the bushes and across the shadowy sands.
In pursuance of which the resolute and courageous men arose at the cry of their bleeding land. They have gone down to history (to such history as deigns to concern itself with the reclaiming of the plains of the wilderness, in area an empire of itself) as the Tombstone Toughs.
Landor swore. He would keep them their proper distance ahead, if he had to halt at all their halts from now to sunset.
Once when Felipa got out of the ambulance to tramp beside it, in the stinging snow whirls, and to start the thin blood in her veins, she had looked up into his blanket-swathed face, and laughed. "I wonder if you looked like that when you took me through this part of the world twenty years ago," she said.
The general refused the withered hand he put out, and looked at him unsmilingly. The feelings of the old chief were hurt. He sat down upon the ground, under the shadows of the cottonwoods and sycamores, and explained his conduct with tears in his bleary eyes. The officers and packers, citizens and interpreters, sat round upon the ground also, with the few Indians who had ventured into the White-man's camp in the background, on the rise of the slope. There was a photographer too, who had followed the command from Tombstone, and who stationed himself afar off and took snap-shots during the conference, which, like most conferences of its sort, was vague enough.