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He looked about now for a sign of either party. Across the creek was some one riding slowly along the crest of a hill, seeming so small and creeping that only a very trained eye could have made it out. It was probably a hound. The hares lay low, in ca?ons and gullies and brush, as a rule. As he scanned the rest of the valley, his horse stopped short, with its fore legs planted stiffly. He looked down and saw that he was at the brink of a sheer fall of twenty feet or more, like a hole scooped in the side of the little rise he was riding over. He remembered, then, that there was a cave somewhere about. He had often heard of it, and probably it was this. He dismounted, and, tying the pony in a clump of bushes, walked down and around to investigate.

"Some Sierra Blanca, sir," said the soldier. It was respectful enough, and yet there was somewhere in the man's whole manner an air of equality, even superiority, that exasperated the lieutenant. It was contrary to good order and military discipline that a private should speak without hesitation, or without offence to the English tongue.

It did not in the least matter to Brewster, but he was one of those trying people whom Nature has deprived of the instinct for knowing when to stop. A very perceptible sneer twitched his lips. "You seem to be English," he said.

The log cabins were built, five of them, to form a square. The largest contained the sitting room and a bedroom, the three others, bedrooms and a storehouse, and the kitchen and dining room were in the fifth.

Chapter 19

There was human plunder, too—women from the villages, all Mexicans but one, and that one was American. Cairness, having gone off with some scouts to reconnoitre, did not see them that night. When he came back it was already dark, and he took his supper; and rolling himself in his blanket slept, as he had always for the past fortnight, with only the faintly radiant night sky above him.

One morning, shortly before dinner call, she sat under the ramada, the deer at her feet, asleep, the little Apache squatted beside her, amusing himself with a collection of gorgeous pictorial labels, soaked from commissary fruit and vegetable cans. The camp was absolutely silent, even the drowsy scraping of the brooms of the police party having stopped some time before. Landor was asleep in his tent, and presently she herself began to doze. She was awakened by the sound of footsteps on the gravel in front of the[Pg 65] ramada, and in another moment a tall figure stood in the opening, dark against the glare. Instantly she knew it was the man with whom she had come face to face long before on the parade ground at Grant, though from then until now she had not thought of him once, nor remembered his existence.

There was a stronger blow at the door, as of a log used by way of a ram. It gave, swayed, and fell crashing in, and the big room swarmed with screaming fiends, their eyes gleaming wildly in the light of the burning hay and the branches piled against the cabin, as they waved their arms over their feathered heads.

Landor pointed to him. "Who is this?" he asked.

He changed it to a laugh. "A scout married is a scout marred. I am a rancher now. It behooves me to accept myself as such. I have outlived my usefulness in the other field."