"Well?" repeated Landor. The civilization of the Englishman is only skin deep. And therein lies his strength and his salvation. Beneath that outer surface, tubbed and groomed and prosperous, there is the man, raw and crude from the workshops of Creation. Back of that brain, trained to a nicety of balance and perception and judgment, there are the illogical passions of a savage. An adaptation of the proverb might run that you scratch an Englishman and you find a Briton—one of those same Britons who stained themselves blue with woad, who fell upon their foes with clumsy swords and flaming torches, who wore the skins of beasts, and lived in huts of straw, and who burned men and animals together, in sacrifice to their gods.
"I don't know how true it was, and I certainly ain't going to look her up in her rancheria to find out."
Lawton believed himself to be ill-used. He had written to Stone a strangely composed and spelled account of the whole matter, and mingled reproaches for having gotten him into it; and Stone had replied that it was no affair of his one way or another, but so far as he could make out Lawton had made a mess of it and a qualified fool of himself. They shout back our peals of laughter,
Landor sat and heard them out, silence on his lips and wrath upon his brow. "We will go wherever you say," he reiterated immovably.
With the things of the flesh there can be the vindictive hope, the certainty indeed, that they will lose their charm with time, that the gold will tarnish and the gray come above the green, but a thought is dearer for every year that it is held, and its beauty does not fade away. The things of the flesh we may even mar ourselves, if the rage overpowers us, but those of the intellect are not to be reached or destroyed; and Felipa felt it as she turned from them and went into the house.
"They have expressed the desire that I should convey to you, Colonel—"
Now if one cannot have revenge upon the real malefactor himself, because one is afraid of him, there is still satisfaction to be derived, to a certain extent, from[Pg 204] wreaking it upon the innocent, of whom one is not afraid. Lawton felt, in his simple soul, that Stone was astute with the astuteness of the devil and all his angels. On the other hand, he believed the government to be dull. It was big, but it was stupid. Was not the whole frontier evidence of that fact to him? Clearly, then, the government was the one to be got even with.
The character of Geronimo, as already manifested, was not one to inspire much confidence, nor was his appearance one to command respect. The supposititious dignity of the savage was lacking entirely. The great chief wore a filthy shirt and a disreputable coat, a loin-cloth, and a dirty kerchief wound around his head. His legs were bare from the hips, save for a pair of low moccasins. His whole appearance was grotesque and evil.
Landor himself sat in his tent, upon his mess-chest, and by the light of a candle wrote a despatch which[Pg 8] was to go by courier the next morning. Gila valley mosquitoes were singing around his head, a knot of chattering squaws and naked children were peering into his tent, the air was oven-hot, coyotes were filling the night with their weird bark, and a papoose was bawling somewhere close by. Yet he would have been sufficiently content could he have been let alone—the one plea of the body military from all time. It was not to be. The declared and standing foes of that body pushed their way through the squaws and children. He knew them already. They were Stone of the Tucson press, sent down to investigate and report, and Barnwell, an Agency high official, who would gladly assist the misrepresentations, so far as in his power lay.
But presently he saw, coming from down the road, two larger bodies, which showed themselves soon, in the light of the stars against the sands, to be a pair of horsemen and evidently no Apaches. He watched them. They rode straight up to the camp and answered his challenge. They wished, they said, to speak to the officer in command.