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There was human plunder, toowomen from the villages, all Mexicans but one, and that one was American. Cairness, having gone off with some scouts to reconnoitre, did not see them that night. When he came back it was already dark, and he took his supper; and rolling himself in his blanket slept, as he had always for the past fortnight, with only the faintly radiant night sky above him.
They all listened eagerly to the reading of the letter, and when it was finished looked for Shorty. But he had gone outside, where there was more air.The captain knitted his thick brows and interposed quickly, talking against time. "If the Tucson ring and the Indian Bureau had one head, I should like the detail of cutting it off." His annoyance seemed to be of an impersonal sort, and the commandant began to feel that he must have handled the thing rather well, after all. He gained in self-esteem and equanimity.
"I hope it is all right," said the Deacon, a little abashed; "but I never had any use for a hoss that went back more'n he did forrard.""All right," said the Lieutenant in charge of the herd, when the circumstances were explained to him. "Free passes over my road to Chattanooga are barred. Everybody has to work his way. But I'll see that you get there, if Joe Wheeler's cavalry don't interfere. We are going over in the dark to avoid them. You can put your carpet-bag in that wagon there. Report to the Herd-Boss there."
For some days Felipa had noticed a change, indefinable and slight, yet still to be felt, in the manner of the Indians all about. Not that they were ever especially gracious, but now the mothers discouraged the children from playing hide-and-seek with her, and although there were quite as many squaws, fewer bucks came around than before. But Alchesay could always be relied upon to stalk in, at regular intervals, and seat himself near the fire, or the hot ashes thereof.
Landor was the first to find speech. In the harsh light of the pause he saw that it was foolish as well as useless to beg the issue. "Has Mrs. Landor told you that I found your letter to her on the body of the prospector, and delivered it to her?" The words were[Pg 201] sufficiently overbearing, but the manner was unendurable.
"Yes?" said Landor. He knew the citizens of the district, and attached no particular sacredness to the person of their envoy.