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      238He left his support, swam across the smaller channel, carefully, and secured the life preserver which had dropped into a heavy clump of the grass and then had floated free of the mud, held only by the end of a tangled stringand the skin of an empty, oilskin pouch, torn and ripped to tatters, that hung to the cord.

      "Good Lord! no," Cairness's smile was rueful. "I've lost all ambition of that sort years since. I'm too old. I've knocked about too long, and I dare say I may as well knock about to the end."It came to pass in the working out of things that the commandant elected to spend the night before the opening of the bids, in the small town some miles away, where one of the first families was giving a dinner. This left Landor, as next in rank, in temporary command. It had happened often enough before, in one way[Pg 189] or another, but this time the duties of the position seemed to weigh upon him. He was restless and did not care to sleep. He sent Felipa off to bed, and sat watching where her lithe young figure had gone out of the door for some minutes. Then he ran his hand across his mouth contemplatively, stroked his mustache, and finally went out of the house and down to Ellton's quarters.

      "Well," answered Cairness, "I have been talking to them, chiefly to Geronimo. They have a good place for their rancheria on that hilltop. It is an old lava bed, an extinct crater, and it is a perfect fortress. There are three gulches between us and them, and a thousand men couldn't take the place."

      Cairness stood up and walked down to the water to wash his hands. Then he went into the cabin and brought out a small mirror, and all the shaving apparatus he had not used for months, and proceeded to take off his thick brown beard, while the Indian sat stolidly watching him with that deep interest in trifles of the primitive brain, which sees and marks, and fails to learn or to profit correspondingly.

      Well, the amphibian stayed only a few minutes, and it wasnt gone five minutes before the other one came in

      That doesnt explain this-here gum, objected Jeff.


      All right, Dick agreed cheerfully. But dont start in earning your nickname all over again, he warned.He believed that he had no ties now, that friendships, the love of woman, and the kiss of children all had missed him, and that his, thenceforth, must be but vain regret. So far as he knew, Felipa had gone away without ever having received his letter. The man he had intrusted it to had been killed in the Aravaypa Ca?on: that he was certain of; and it never entered his head that his papers might have fallen into other hands, and the note have finally been delivered to her. She was leading the sort of life that would most quickly put him entirely out of her mind. He was taking the Washington papers, and he knew. She had gone away, not even sure that he had given her a thought since the night in the Sierra Blanca when Black River had roared through the stillness, and they had been alone in all the wild world. What a weird, mysterious, unearthly scene it had been, quite outside the probabilities of anything he had imagined or contemplated for a single minute. He had never regretted it, though. He believed in impulses, particularly his own.


      "Mrs. Landor is very beautiful," Cairness hazarded. He wanted to talk of her, or to make some one else do it.