It struck even through Landor's pain-blurred brain that it was odd. But the few faculties he could command still were all engaged in keeping himself in the saddle until he could reach his own house, where Ellton and Felipa were waiting to get him to his room.
She sat considering deeply. She was rocking the baby, with its little fair head lying in the hollow of her shoulder, and Landor found himself wondering whether Felipa could ever develop motherliness. "It is quite intangible," Mrs. Campbell half crooned, for the baby's lids were drooping heavily. "I can't find that she lacks a good characteristic. I study her all the time. Perhaps the fault is in ourselves, as much as anything, because we insist upon studying her as a problem, instead of simply a very young girl. She is absolutely truthful,—unless she happens to have a grudge against some one, and then she lies without any scruple at all,—and she is generous and unselfish, and very amiable with the children, too."
Landor did not stop to consider it. It was one of the few impulses of his life, or perhaps only the quickest thinking he had ever done. Cairness was there among the rocks, disabled and in momentary danger of his life. If it had been a soldier, under the same circumstances, Landor might have gone on and have sent another soldier to help him. It was only a chief of scouts, but it was a man of his own kind, for all that—and it was his enemy. Instinct dismounted him before reason had time to warn him that the affair of an officer is not to succor his inferiors in the thick of the fighting when there are others who can be better spared to do it. He threw his reins over his horse's head and into the hands of the orderly-trumpeter, and jumped down beside Cairness. Landor tried to interpose a suggestion that though the whole effect was undoubtedly good and calculated to melt a heart of iron, the rhetoric was muddled; but the reporter swept on; so he clasped his hands behind his head and leaning back against a tent pole, yawned openly. Stone came to an end at length, and had to mop his head with a very much bordered handkerchief. The temperature was a little high for so much effort. He met Landor's glance challengingly.
When his analysis of her failed, he went to Mrs. Campbell again. "Do you grow fond of Felipa?" he asked point blank. Six years of fighting, of bloodshed, of heavy loss in blood and treasure to the government, the careers of the incarnate devils Juh, Victorio, and Geronimo—all the evils let loose on the southwest from '78 to '85 were traceable primarily to the selling of bad whiskey to a hunting party of Chiricahuas by two storekeepers, greedy of gain.
If the sentry outside heard, he paid no attention. It was common enough for the horses to take a simultaneous fit of restlessness in the night, startled by some bat flapping through the beams or by a rat scurrying in the grain. In ten minutes more a flame had reached the roof. In another ten minutes the sentry had discharged his carbine three times, fire call had been sounded in quick, alarming notes, and men and officers, half dressed, had come running from the barracks and the line.