Landor said that he had put in a requisition for kippered mackerel and anchovy paste, and that the commissary was running down so that one got nothing fit to eat. He was in an unpleasant frame of mind, and his first lieutenant, who messed with him, pulled apart a broiled quail that lay, brown and juicy, on its couch of toast and cress, and asked wherein lay the use of taking thought of what you should eat. "Every prospect is vile, and man is worse, and the sooner heaven sends release the better. What is there in a life like this? Six weeks from the nearest approach to civilization, malaria in the air by night and fire by day. Even Mrs. Landor is showing it." "Is that all?" asked the general. "Yes," she said, "I am very much attached to it. I was born to it."
Cairness put the sketch back in the case and stood[Pg 72] up. "Will you tell Captain Landor that I found that I could not wait, after all?" he said, and bowing went out from the ramada. Landor was in the dining room, and Felipa stood in the sitting room receiving the praises of her husband with much tact. If he were the hero of the hour, she was the heroine. The officers from far posts carried their admiration to extravagance, bewitched by the sphinx-riddle written somehow on her fair face, and which is the most potent and bewildering charm a woman can possess. When they went away, they sent her boxes of fresh tomatoes and celery and lemons, from points along the railroad, which was a highly acceptable and altogether delicate attention in the day and place.
Felipa spent the day, for the most part, in riding about the ranch and in anticipating the night. Her husband had promised to be back soon after moonrise. When it had begun to turn dark, she dressed herself all in white and went out to swing in the hammock until it should be time for her lonely dinner. They halted in front of him, and the woman swayed again, so much that he ran to her side. But she righted herself fiercely. Cairness was dismounted and was beside her, too, in an instant. He lifted her from the horse, pulled her down, more or less; she was much too ungainly to handle with any grace.
"Turn the rest loose," cried the woman, and set the example herself.
"Well," he said more easily, "you've accomplished the thing you set out to do, anyway."
"I couldn't follow more than two days," Landor expostulated hopelessly. "As I tell you, I've no pack-train. The men would have to carry their rations in their saddle pockets."