Later, when he came in from dress parade, he found her reading in the sitting room. She looked up and smiled, but his face was very angry, and the chin strap of his helmet below his mouth and the barbaric yellow plume added to the effect of awful and outraged majesty. He stopped in front of her. "I have been thinking things over," he said. She waited. "Three years ago I offered you your liberty to marry that man. I repeat the offer now."
When the barkeeper had served the others, he turned to him. "What'll you take?" he demanded, not too courteously. Under the midnight sky, misty pale and dusted with glittering stars, the little shelter tents of Landor's command shone in white rows. The campfires were dying; the herd, under guard, was turned out half a mile or more away on a low mesa, where there was scant grazing; and the men, come that afternoon into camp, were sleeping heavily, after a march of some forty miles,—all save the sentry, who marched up and down, glancing from time to time at the moving shadows of the herd, or taking a sight along his carbine at some lank coyote scudding across the open. He strode up and down, his face black with rage, expressing his violent opinion of Brewster. Then he came to a stop, in front of her. "How did he happen to tell you?" he asked.
The exceedingly small respectable element of Tombstone hailed their departure with unmixed joy. They had but one wish,—that the Toughs might meet the Apaches, and that each might rid the face of the desert of the other. But the only Apaches left to meet were the old and feeble, and the squaws and papooses left at San Carlos. The able-bodied bucks were all in the field, as scouts or hostiles. Mrs. Landor sat on the top step of her porch. Landor was with her, also his second lieutenant Ellton, and[Pg 104] Brewster, who in the course of events had come into the troop. There had been, largely by Felipa's advice, an unspoken agreement to let the past be. A troop divided against itself cannot stand well on the inspector general's reports. And as Brewster was about to marry the commanding officer's daughter, it was well to give him the benefit of the doubt of his entire sanity when he had been under the influence of what had been a real, if short-lived, passion for Felipa. They were all discussing the feasibility of getting up an impromptu picnic to the foot-hills.
"What do you want to know for?" asked the woman, at length. "No, I am a friend of the soldier. And I am a friend of Chato, who is the enemy of Geronimo. I have no bad thoughts," he added piously.
He walked away, and Geronimo went back to his rancheria on the hilltop, crestfallen. He had failed of his effect, and had not by any means made his own terms.