Felipa had discarded, long since, the short skirt and moccasins of her girlhood, and had displayed no inconsiderable aptitude in the matter of fashions; but she was given to looseness of draperies and a carelessness of attire in her own home that the picturesqueness of her beauty alone only saved from slatternliness. There was one manifestation of ill taste which she did not give, however, one common enough with the wives of most of the officers. She was never to be found running about the post, or sitting upon the porches, with her husband's cape around her shoulders and his forage-cap over her eyes. Her instinct for the becoming was unfailing. This was a satisfaction to Landor. But it was a secret grievance that she was most contented when in her riding habit, tearing foolhardily over the country. And he could get nothing definite from her beyond that. It annoyed him, of course; Felipa had a gift for repulsing kindness and friendship. It was because she would not lie and could not evade. Therefore, she preserved a silence that was, to say the least of it, exasperating to the well-intentioned.
It was the beginning of a self-imposed Coventry. He sent in a demand for a court of inquiry, and Brewster, with much show of reluctance and leniency, preferred charges.
The buck fell back before her fury, but she followed him thrusting and slashing. Yet it might not, even then, have ended well for her, had there not come from somewhere overhead the sound most dreaded as an omen of harm by all Apaches—the hoot of an owl. The Indian gave a low cry of dismay and turned and darted in among the bushes. "Where did you—" she began; but her voice failed, and she had to begin again. "Where did you get this?"
"You don't love her, for that matter, either," Mrs. Campbell reminded him. But she advised the inevitable,—to wait and let it work itself out.
Forbes left the ranch after breakfast the next day, and Cairness went with him to Tombstone. He had business there, connected with one of his mines.
In the '70's the frontier was a fact and not a memory, and a woman in the Far West was a blessing sent direct from heaven, or from the East, which was much the same thing. Lieutenants besought the wives of their brother officers to bring out their sisters and cousins and even aunts, and very weird specimens of the sex sometimes resulted. But even these could reign as queens, dance, ride, flirt to their hearts' content—also marry, which is not always the corollary in these days. The outbreak of a reservation full of Indians was a small thing in comparison with the excitement occasioned by the expectation of a girl in the post.
Mrs. Taylor came to the dining-room door and looked in. "Can I do anything?" she asked.