The Reverend Taylor sat in silence for a time, reflecting. Then he broke forth again, a little querulously. "What in thunderation do they dine at such an hour for?" Cairness explained that it was an English custom to call supper dinner, and to have it very late. He knew that the stores which should have gone to him were loaded upon wagon-trains and hurried off the reservation in the dead of night; but he did not know why the Apache who was sent to humbly ask the agent about it was put in the guard-house for six months without trial. He knew that his corn patches were trampled down, but not that it was to force him to purchase supplies from the agent and his friends, or else get out. He knew that his reservation—none too large, as it was, for three thousand adults more or less—had been cut down without his consent five different times, and that Mormon settlers were elbowing him out of what space remained. But, being only a savage, it were foolish to expect that he should have seen the reason for these things. He has not yet learned to take kindly to financial dishonesty. Does he owe you two bits, he will travel two hundred miles to pay it. He has still much to absorb concerning civilization.
It was a very poor case, indeed, that Brewster made out, despite a formidable array of specifications. As it progressed, the situation took on a certain ludicrousness. The tale of woe was so very trivial; it seemed hardly worth the trouble of convening twelve officers from the four corners of the Department to hear it. And there was about Brewster, as he progressed, a suggestion of dragging one foot after the other, leaving out a word here, overlooking an occurrence there, [Pg 155]cutting off a mile in one place, and tacking on an hour in another.
Mrs. Ellton returned before long, and Landor went back home. Half a mile beyond, within the same barbed-wire enclosure as the home buildings and corrals, was a spring-house surrounded by cottonwoods, just then the only patch of vivid green on the clay-colored waste. There were benches under the cottonwoods, and the ground was cool, and thither Felipa took her way, in no wise oppressed by the heat. Her step was as firm and as quick as it had been the day she had come so noiselessly along the parade, across the path of the private who was going to the barracks. It was as quiet, too, for she had on a pair of old red satin slippers, badly run down at the heel.
[Pg 311] There was but one other resort. The exasperated, impotent press turned to it. "If the emergency should arise, and it now looks as though it may come soon," flowed the editorial ink, "enough resolute and courageous men can be mustered in Tombstone, Globe, Tucson, and other towns and settlements to settle the question, once and forever: to settle it as such questions have often been settled before."
He came out of the rock nook into the half light and spoke her own name.