Landor asked, with a gleam of hope, if they were attached to her.
The Apache never quivered a muscle nor uttered a sound. It was fine stoicism, and appealed to Felipa until she really felt sorry for him.
The next two days he kept to himself and talked only to his Apache scouts, in a defiant return to his admiration for the savage character. A Chiricahua asked no questions and made no conventional reproaches at any rate. He was not penitent, he was not even ashamed, and he would not play at being either. But he was hurt, this last time most of all, and it made him ugly. He had always felt as if he were of the army, although not in it, not by reason of his one enlistment, but by reason of the footing upon which the officers had always received him up to the present time. But now he was an outcast. He faced[Pg 302] the fact, and it was a very unpleasant one. It was almost as though he had been court-martialled and cashiered. He had thoughts of throwing up the whole thing and going back to Felipa, but he hated to seem to run away. It would be better to stop there and face it out, and accept the position that was allowed him, the same, after all, as that of the majority of chiefs of scouts.
The troops settled down to wait, and Cairness, having further sounded some of the Chiricahua squaws, went again in search of Crook. He was seated under an ash tree with his back against the trunk and a portfolio[Pg 300] upon his knee, writing. When Cairness stopped in front of him, he glanced up. The blaze of glory had gone suddenly from the clouds, leaving them lifeless gray, when she turned her eyes back to them; and the outlook across the parade ground was very bare. She went and stood by the fire, leaning her arm on the mantel-shelf and setting her determined lips.
Cairness could not take his own from them, and they stood so for what seemed to them both a dumb and horrible eternity, until Landor came up, and she caught at his arm to steady herself. The parasol whirled around on its stick and fell. Cairness picked it up, knocked off the dust, and handed it to Landor. He could see that he knew, and it was a vast relief.
"Why?" she asked, with a quick suspicion of the dreariness she caught in his tone.
But it is because of just this that no scion of ultra-civilization degenerates so thoroughly as does he. Retrogression is easy to him. He can hardly go higher, because he is on the height already; but he can slip back. Set him in a lower civilization, he sinks one degree[Pg 266] lower than that. Put him among savages, and he is nearer the beasts than they. It does not come to pass in a day, nor yet at all if he be part of a community, which keeps in mind its traditions and its church, and which forms its own public opinion. Then he is the leaven of all the measures of meal about him, the surest, steadiest, most irresistible civilizing force. But he cannot advance alone. He goes back, and, being cursed with the wisdom which shows him his debasement, in loathing and disgust with himself, he grows sullen and falls back yet more.
"How do I know you're done with me yet?" she snapped.
Landor explained again, with greater detail, vainly trying to impress the nature of a military order on the civilian brain. "It would not do for me to disobey my[Pg 112] instructions. And besides there are several officers who are to follow trails, out with larger commands. I have no pack-train, and I can't."
And the great river of rock is there, too, frozen upon the land like some devouring monster changed by a Gorgon head into lifeless stone. It is a formidable barrier across the hardly less formidable bad lands. It can be crossed in places where it is narrowest, not quite a mile in width, that is. But horses slip and clamber, and men cut through the leather of their heaviest shoes.