Landor took stock of the others. There had been five led horses twenty-four hours before, when they had started on a hot trail after the chief Cochise. But they had taken the places of five others that had dropped in their tracks to feed the vultures that followed always, flying above in the quivering blue. They were a sorry lot, the two score that remained.
"I am far from being sure that that is entirely to be desired, very far," said Cairness, with conviction. He had never ceased to feel a certain annoyance at[Pg 319] the memory of that year and a half of Felipa's life in which he had had no part.
Landor suggested his own experience of close on two decades, and further that he was going to command the whole outfit, or going to go back and drop the thing right there. They assented to the first alternative, with exceedingly bad grace, and with worse grace took the place of advance guard he detailed them to, four hundred yards ahead. "You know the country. You are my guides, and you say you are going to lead me to the Indians. Now do it." There was nothing conciliating in his speech, whatever, and he sat on his horse, pointing them to their positions with arm outstretched, and the frown of an offended Jove. When they had taken it, grumbling, the column moved.
"Cheese that cussing, do you hear?" he ordered. It was plain, even to Felipa, how thoroughly he enjoyed being with one who could talk of the past and of the present, from his own point of view. His Coventry had been almost complete since the day that the entire army, impersonated in Crook, had turned disapproving eyes upon him once, and had then looked away from him for good and all. It had been too bitter[Pg 310] a humiliation for him ever to subject himself to the chance of it again. "Suppose you let me call for volunteers," suggested Landor. He was sure of his own men, down to the last recruit.