[Pg 311] "She was a captive among the Chiricahuas up in the Sierra Madre. She's had a hard time of it. That and the return march have been too much for her."
That very day the doubt had attained the proportions of a certainty. The sight of a Circle K cow had called up the subject of the massacre, and a cow-boy had said, "Them are the property of Bill Lawton, I reckon."
Official business called Brewster to the Agency next day. He stopped overnight, on the way, at a ranch whose owners depended more upon passing travellers than upon the bad soil and the thin cattle. And here fate threw in his way one whom he would have gone well out of that way to find. They went on to tell him that it was all in the Tucson papers, which Brewster knew, however, quite as well as they did themselves. He had made friends among the citizen volunteers of San Tomaso on the night they had camped by the old lake bed, and they had seen that he was kept supplied with cuttings. He turned on his heel and left her.
Visiting the guard is dull work, and precisely the same round, night after night, with hardly ever a variation. But to-night there occurred a slight one.[Pg 187] Landor was carrying his sabre in his arm, as he went by the back of the quarters, in order that its jingle might not disturb any sleepers. For the same reason he walked lightly, although, indeed, he was usually soft-footed, and came unheard back of Brewster's yard. Brewster himself was standing in the shadow of the fence, talking to some man. Landor could see that it was a big fellow, and the first thing that flashed into his mind, without any especial reason, was that it was the rancher who had been in trouble down at the sutler's store.
"Just nothing," Cairness laughed shortly, and breaking off one of the treasured geranium blossoms, stuck it in a buttonhole of his flannel shirt.