Felipa nodded. "A very little," she said.
The men went away, however, without much trouble beyond tipsy protests and mutterings, and the sutler rewarded the guard with beer, and explained to Landor that several of the disturbers were fellows who were hanging round the post for the beef contract; the biggest and most belligerent鈥攈e of the fierce, drooping mustachios鈥攚as the owner of the ranch where the Kirby massacre had taken place, as well as of another one in New Mexico.
They caught sight of Felipa, and both drew rein simultaneously. She was leaning against a post of the wire fence. The baby was carried on her hip, tucked under her arm, the sunbonnet was hanging by the strings around her neck, and her head, with its straight loose hair, was uncovered. The little girl stood beside her, clutching the white wrapper which had trailed in[Pg 314] the spring-house acequia, and from under which a muddy red slipper showed. That she was imposing still, said much for the quality of her beauty. She did not hear the tramp of the two horses, sharp as her ears were, for she was too intent upon watching a fight between two steers.She was still silent, but she leaned nearer, watching his face, her lips drawn away from her sharp teeth, and her eyes narrowing. She understood now."You will still keep her then?" Cairness wished to know.
She was broken to the acceptance of the inevitable now,鈥攈e could see that, any one could see it. She had learned the lesson of the ages鈥攖he futility of struggle of mere man against the advance of men. That it had been a hard lesson was plain. It showed in her face, where patience had given place to unrest, gentleness to the defiance of freedom. She had gained, too, she had gained greatly. She was not only woman now, she was womanly. But Cairness did not need to be told that she was not happy.It was not of much avail in the end, the conference. There was more than one tribe to be pacified. The restlessness of the wild things, of the goaded, and of the spring was in their blood.
"I see him, I see him all the same," he protested, with tears and evident conviction.When, therefore, Mrs. Landor said, with the utmost composure, that it was too bad, his gasp was audible.
Chapter 14Ellton wondered, but held his peace. And the commandant did go to Landor's quarters within the next few hours. Which was Ellton's doings.
It was a strong door, built of great thick boards and barred with iron, but it must surely cede before fire and the blows. It wrenched on its huge hinges."One thing," muttered Cairness.
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