The hero of the episode rode in the ambulance, sitting on the front seat, holding his carbine across his knees, and peering with sharp, far-sighted blue eyes over the alkali flats. Occasionally he took a shot at a jack rabbit and brought it down unfailingly, but the frontiersman has no relish for rabbit meat, and it was left where it dropped, for the crows. He also brought down a sparrow hawk wounded in the wing, and, [Pg 29]having bound up the wound, offered it to Brewster, who took it as an opening to a conversation and tried to draw him out. Chapter 12 "Are you joking," he asked, "or what?"
"I couldn't follow more than two days," Landor expostulated hopelessly. "As I tell you, I've no pack-train. The men would have to carry their rations in their saddle pockets."
The two children whom Felipa had taken in charge two years before had been left in the care of the sergeant of Landor's troop and his wife, and they manifested no particular pleasure at seeing her again. They were half afraid of her, so severely black and tall and quiet. They had been playing with the soldier's children, and were anxious to be away again. The young of the human race are short of memory, and their gratefulness does not endure for long. There is no caress so sweet, so hard to win, as the touch of a child's soft hand, and none that has behind it less of nearly all that we prize in affection. It is sincere while it lasts, and no longer, and it must be bought either with a price or with a wealth of love. You may lavish the best that is within you to obtain a kiss from baby lips, and if they rest warm and moist upon your cheek for a moment, the next they are more eager for a sweetmeat than for all your adoration. Cairness and Landor and a detachment of troops that had ridden hard all through the night, following an[Pg 132] appalling trail, but coming too late after all, found them so in the early dawn.