They argued it from all sides during the whole of a day, and Campbell lent his advice, and the end of it was that Felipa Cabot came out to the land of her forbears.
It was evident that she had no intention of making herself agreeable. Landor had learned the inadvisability and the futility of trying to change her moods. She was as unaffected about them as a child. So he took up the conversation he and Cairness had left off, concerning the Indian situation, always a reliable topic. It was bad that year and had been growing steadily worse, since the trouble at the time of his marriage, when Arizona politicians had, for reasons related to their own pockets, brought about the moving of the White Mountain band to the San Carlos Agency. The White Mountains had been peaceable for years, and, if not friendly to the government, at least too wise to oppose it. They had cultivated land and were living on it inoffensively. But they were trading across the territorial line into New Mexico, and that lost money to Arizona. So they were persuaded by such gentle methods as the burning of their Agency buildings and the destruction of their property, to move down to San Carlos. The climate there was of a sort fatal to the mountain Apaches,—the thing had been tried before with all the result that could be desired, in the way of fevers, ague, and blindness,—and also the White Mountains were hereditary enemies of the San Carlos tribes. But a government with a policy, three thousand miles away, did not know these things, nor yet seek to know them. Government is like the gods, upon occasions: it[Pg 68] first makes mad, then destroys. And if it is given time enough, it can be very thorough in both.
He did not answer at once, but sat watching the trumpeter come out of the adjutant's office to sound recall. "Yes, she will marry," he agreed; "if no one else marries her, I will. I am as old as her father would have been but it would save telling some fellow about her birth."
Ellton stood by the door, with his hands in his pockets, and a countenance that tried hard to maintain the severity of discipline. But he was plainly enjoying it. "Why shouldn't it be? What the deuce has a fellow got to do but drink and gamble? You have to, to keep your mind off it."
Cairness sat across him and held a revolver to his mouth. The life of the plains teaches agility of various sorts, but chiefly in the matter of drawing a six-shooter. "You fired the corrals," Cairness gasped.
Landor came sliding and running down. His face was misshapen with the anger that means killing. She saw it, and her powers came back to her all at once. She put both hands against his breast and pushed him back, with all the force of her sinewy arms. His foot slipped on a stone and he fell.
Yet somehow "timid subterfuges" seemed hardly the words to fit with the hard, unswerving eye and the deep-lined face of the accused. It struck the court so. There were other things that struck the court, notably that Brewster had criticised his captain to civilians and to enlisted men. The Judge Advocate frowned. The frown settled to a permanency when Brewster sought out that honorable personage to complain, unofficially, that his case was being neglected. It was about upon a par with an accusation of bribery against a supreme judge in civil life, and naturally did not do the [Pg 156]plaintiff much good when the Judge Advocate rose, terrible in his indignation, to repeat the complaint officially to the assembled court at the next sitting. The court was resentful. It listened and weighed for six days, and then it acquitted Landor on every charge and specification "most honorably," to make it more strong, and afterward went over, in a body, to his quarters, to congratulate him. The rest of the post followed.
But this the civilians were very plainly not minded to do. They dropped back, now to cinch up, now to take a drink from the flasks, now to argue, once for one of their number to recover from an attack of heart disease.