Landor had almost decided that he had made an ungenerous mistake, when Ellton came over with one light spring and, touching him on the shoulder, pointed to the window of the commissary office. A thick, dark blanket had evidently been hung within, but the faintest red flicker showed through a tiny hole.
"I've been talking to a fellow down at the Q. M. corral," Landor said, "Englishman named Cairness,—Charley Cairness. He's going as a scout. He can't resist war's alarms. He used to be in my troop a few years ago, and he was a first-rate soldier—knew his place a good deal better than if he had been born to it, which he very obviously wasn't." There was trouble at the San Carlos Agency, which was in no wise unusual in itself, but was upon this occasion more than ever discouraging. There had been a prospect of lasting peace, the noble Red-man was settling down in his filthy rancheria to become a good citizen, because he was tagged with little metal numbers, and was watched unceasingly, and forbidden the manufacture of tizwin, or the raising of the dead with dances, and was told that an appreciative government was prepared to help him if he would only help himself.
"Do you care for it so much that you would not be happy in any other?" But there was no night alarm, and at daybreak it began to be apparent to the troops that they had been led directly away from all chance of one. They made[Pg 121] fires, ate their breakfast, resaddled, and took their way back to the settlements, doubling on their own trail. They came upon signs of a yet larger band, and it was more probable than ever that the valley had been in danger.
Cairness went on, back to the barracks, and sitting at the troop clerk's desk, made a memory sketch of her. It did not by any means satisfy him, but he kept it nevertheless.