He tried to see if the soldiers were safe, but though they were not a hundred feet away, the trunks and the mist of water hid them. The rain still pounded down, but the rush of the wind was lessening sensibly. 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.
"To Captain Landor's widow, yes;" he met the unsympathetic eyes squarely. "I came to tell you, general, what I have gathered from the squaws. It may serve you."
"I rather thought that might be too much for even you," said Cairness. She put the baby between them, and it sat looking into the fire in the way she herself so often did, until her husband had called her the High Priestess of the Flames. Then she sank down among the cushions again and stirred her coffee indolently, drowsily, steeped in the contentment of perfect well-being. Cairness followed her movements with sharp pleasure.
And he succeeded in seeing Felipa. It was most unexpected. He had believed her to be in Stanton, a good many hundred miles away. But Landor having been sent at once into the field, she had come on to Grant to visit the Campbells, who were again stationed there. He met her face to face only once, and he measured with one quick look all the changes there were between the girl of ten years before and the woman of to-day. The great, sad pity that rose within him, and seemed to grasp at his throat chokingly, was the best love he had felt for her yet. It wiped out the wrong of the short madness in the cave's mouth. The lean hands found the knots, untied them, and threw back the flaps defiantly. The ten pairs of eyes were fastened on her again. She returned the gaze steadily, backing to a little camp table and slipping her hand under a newspaper that lay upon it. "Ukishee, pronto," she commanded, in the accepted argot. They stood quite still and unyielding; and she knew that if she were to be obeyed at all, it must be now. Or if she were to die, it must be now also. But the hand that drew from beneath the newspaper the little black-butted Smith and Wesson, which was never out of her reach, did not so much as tremble as she aimed it straight between the eyes of the foremost buck. "Ukishee," she said once again, not loudly, but without the shadow of hesitation or wavering. There answered a low muttering, evil and rising, and the buck started forward. Her finger pressed against the trigger, but before the hammer had snapped down, she threw up the barrel and fired into the air, for a big, sinewy arm, seamed with new scars, had reached out suddenly and struck the buck aside. It was all done in an instant, so quickly that Felipa hardly knew she had changed her aim, and that it was Alchesay who had come forward only just in time.