The lean hands found the knots, untied them, and threw back the flaps defiantly. The ten pairs of eyes were fastened on her again. She returned the gaze steadily, backing to a little camp table and slipping her hand under a newspaper that lay upon it. "Ukishee, pronto," she commanded, in the accepted argot. They stood quite still and unyielding; and she knew that if she were to be obeyed at all, it must be now. Or if she were to die, it must be now also. But the hand that drew from beneath the newspaper the little black-butted Smith and Wesson, which was never out of her reach, did not so much as tremble as she aimed it straight between the eyes of the foremost buck. "Ukishee," she said once again, not loudly, but without the shadow of hesitation or wavering. There answered a low muttering, evil and rising, and the buck started forward. Her finger pressed against the trigger, but before the hammer had snapped down, she threw up the barrel and fired into the air, for a big, sinewy arm, seamed with new scars, had reached out suddenly and struck the buck aside. It was all done in an instant, so quickly that Felipa hardly knew she had changed her aim, and that it was Alchesay who had come forward only just in time. But the minister still refused to see it. He looked him very squarely in the eyes now, however. "See here, I am going to take lemon pop, my friend," he said.
It was the signal to the woman in that other room behind the locked door, and above all the demoniacal sounds it reached her. Only an instant she hesitated, until that door, too, began to give. Then a cold muzzle of steel found, in the darkness, two little struggling, dodging faces—and left them marred. And once again the trigger was unflinchingly pulled, as greedy arms reached out to catch the white, woman's figure that staggered and fell.
[Pg 170] His horse started. He had dug it with the rowels. Then he reined it in with a jerk that made it champ its curb. "Don't dwell on that all the time," he said angrily; "forget it." And then it flashed across him, the irreparable wrong he would be doing her if he taught her to consider the Apache blood a taint.
"That fellow Cairness may be a good scout and all that, but he must be an unmitigated blackguard too," said the officer, stretching himself on the ground beside Crook.
At the instant a cloud floated over the sun, and soon a black bank began to fill up the sky above the ca?on. As they ate their breakfast in the tent, the morning darkened forebodingly. Felipa finished the big quart cup of weak coffee hurriedly, and stood up, pushing[Pg 99] back her camp-stool. Her horse and four others were waiting. The buck went on, the while he held a piece of venison in his dirty hand and dragged at it with his teeth, to say that there was a feeling of great uneasiness upon the reservation.
In the morning Cairness left them together and started for the San Carlos Agency. He was to meet a prospector there, and to begin his new fortunes by locating some mines.