The horse came down to a walk. She had lost all control of the reins now, and clung to the pommel with both hands, swaying from side to side. She could hear galloping hoofs, behind and in front—or was it only the blood, the icy cold blood, pounding in her ears?
The citizen was still there, still holding the candle and shading it, scared out of the little wits he had at the best of times. He was too frightened as yet to curse Brewster and the wary scoundrel back in Arizona, who had set him on to tampering with the military,[Pg 192] and had put up the funds to that end—a small risk for a big gain. [Pg 211]
He was still more exasperated, with himself and with her, that he had allowed himself to think for one moment that she had come on purpose to find him. Where were the others? How did she happen to be here alone? he asked.
She drew her horse down to a gallop, and the jar of the changed gait made her moan. There was no haste now. Her own men had come upon the desperadoes and there was a quick volley. And ahead, riding fast toward her from the top of a little rise, was a man on a white horse—her husband, she knew.
Landor pointed to him. "Who is this?" he asked.
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.
But the Apaches held it for only a day, for all that. They were unprepared and overconfident. Their bucks were for the most part away plundering the hapless Mexican settlements in the desert below. They had thought that no white troops nor Mexicans could follow here, and they had neglected to count with the scouts, who had been hostiles themselves in their day, and who had the thief's advantage in catching a thief. And so while the bucks and children wandered round among the trees or bathed in the creek, while the hobbled[Pg 230] ponies grazed leisurely on the rank grass, and the squaws carried fuel and built fires and began their day of drudgery, they were surprised.