But the baby was satisfactory. She amused it by the hour. For the rest, being far from gregarious, and in no way given to spending all the morning on some one else's front porch, and all the afternoon with some one else upon her own, she drew on the post library and read, or else sat and watched the mountains with their sharp, changing shadows by day, and their Indian signal flashes by night,—which did not tend to enhance the small degree of popularity she enjoyed among the post women. "Several things, thanks. You haven't told me yet what version of it your husband gave to Stone." [Pg 242]Cairness was a little anxious. It was succeed or fail right here.
And on another morning there lounged into the space in front of the tents, with the indolent swing of a mountain lion, a big Sierra Blanca buck. He was wrapped from neck to moccasins in a red blanket, and carried an elaborate calf's-hide quiver. He stopped in front of Felipa, who was sitting on the ground with her back against the trunk of a fallen tree reading, and held out the quiver to her. With one accord they strode forward to the support of their somewhat browbeaten brother. What they would do was exactly as they pleased, they told the tyrant. They shook their fists in his face. It was all in the brutal speech of the frontier, mingled with the liquid ripple of argot Spanish, and its vicious, musical oaths. The deep voice of the woman carried above everything, less decent than the men. It was a storm of injury.
With one accord they strode forward to the support of their somewhat browbeaten brother. What they would do was exactly as they pleased, they told the tyrant. They shook their fists in his face. It was all in the brutal speech of the frontier, mingled with the liquid ripple of argot Spanish, and its vicious, musical oaths. The deep voice of the woman carried above everything, less decent than the men. It was a storm of injury.
There was a new treaty, just made to that end. It was the fiercest of all the Apache tribes, the Chiricahuas, that had hidden itself in the fastnesses of the Sierra Madre, two hundred miles south of the boundary line. Geronimo and Juh and Chato, and other chiefs of quite as bloody fame, were with him. To capture them would be very creditable success. To fail to do so would entail dire consequences, international complications perhaps, and of a certainty the scorn and abuse of all the wise men who sat in judgment afar off.
Nor was he disconcerted that she met him with a stony front and a glare of wrath. She glanced down at his outstretched hand, and kept her own great bony one on her hip still. Then she looked at him squarely again. She did not say "Well?" but she meant it. So he answered it blandly, and suggested that she had probably forgotten him, but that he had had the pleasure of meeting her once in the States. She continued to stare. He held that a husband is a husband still[Pg 236] until the law or death says otherwise, and that it was no part of a man's business to inquire into the domestic relations of his friends; so he said that he had had the pleasure of meeting her husband recently. "He was at Fort Stanton," he added, "upon some little matter of business, I believe. You will be glad to hear that he was well." He did not see fit to add that he was also in the county jail, awaiting trial on charge of destruction of government property.
He left her ignominiously, at a run. She stood laughing after him until he jumped over a rock and disappeared. "She is his sweetheart, the vieja," she chattered to her companions.
"Yes," he assured her unmoved, "you are. At least you are going to do that, or go to jail."
"Yes," whispered the little girl, squirming in Felipa's arms, "I am dlad you's come. Let me doe."
Another grievance was the Ellton baby. Felipa adored it, and for no reason that he could formulate, he did not wish her to. He wanted a child of his own. Altogether he was not so easy to get on with as he had been. She did not see why. Being altogether sweet-humored and cheerful herself, she looked[Pg 182] for sweet humor and cheerfulness in him, and was more and more often disappointed. Not that he was ever once guilty of even a quick burst of ill temper. It would have been a relief.