But he kept a close watch upon her then and during all the hard, tedious march back to the States, when the troops and the scouts had to drag their steps to meet the strength of the women and children; when the rations gave out because there were some four hundred Indians to be provided for, when the command ate mescal root, digging it up from the ground and baking it; and when the presence of a horde of filthy savages made the White-man suffer many things not to be put in print. Mrs. Landor was with them. She had a little battered, brass trumpet hanging from her horn, and he knew that they were going to play at hare and hounds. She and the three with her were evidently the hares. They would take a ten minutes' start; then, at the sound of the trumpet, the hounds would follow. The riding was sometimes reckless. A day or two before he had seen Felipa leap an arroyo, the edges of which were crumbling in, and take a fallen tree on very dangerous ground.
Presently she returned with two bottles. In one was the tarantula, an especially large and hideous specimen, hairy and black, with dull red tinges. In the other the vinagrone, yet more hideous. She went down to the side of the house and emptied both into the wide-mouthed bottle. Somewhere in that same poem, he remembered, there had been advice relative to a man's contending to the uttermost for his life's set prize, though the end in sight were a vice. He shrugged his shoulders. It might be well enough to hold to that in Florence and the Middle Ages. It was highly impracticable for New Mexico and the nineteenth century. So many things left undone can be conveniently laid to the prosaic and materialistic tendencies of the age. Things were bad enough now—for Landor, for himself, and most especially for Felipa. But if one were to be guided by the romantic poets, they could conceivably be much worse.
Cairness nodded. He thought it very likely.
"Doesn't he, though? Then why doesn't he come around and see me when I'm lying here sick?" He was wrathful and working himself back into a fever very fast.
Landor glanced at his wife. She seemed to take it without offence, and was listening intently.
Brewster reached the post some eighteen hours ahead of him. He reported, and saw Miss McLane; then he made himself again as other men and went down to the post trader's, with a definite aim in view, that was hardly to be guessed from his loitering walk. There were several already in the officers' room, and they talked, as a matter of course, of the campaign.
"Were you catching the tarantula yesterday when I saw you lying upon the ground by the dump heap?"
In the period of madness, more or less enduring, of the victim of the Great Powers' policy, somebody who is innocent usually suffers. Sometimes the Powers know it, oftener they do not. Either way it does not worry them. They set about doing their best to destroy, and that is their whole duty.