Somewhere in that same poem, he remembered, there had been advice relative to a man's contending to the uttermost for his life's set prize, though the end in sight were a vice. He shrugged his shoulders. It might be well enough to hold to that in Florence and the Middle Ages. It was highly impracticable for New Mexico and the nineteenth century. So many things left undone can be conveniently laid to the prosaic and materialistic tendencies of the age. Things were bad enough now—for Landor, for himself, and most especially for Felipa. But if one were to be guided by the romantic poets, they could conceivably be much worse.
Felipa did not answer. She broke her revolver and looked into the chambers. Two of them were empty,[Pg 326] and she took some cartridges from a desk drawer and slipped them in. The holster was attached to her saddle, and she rarely rode without it.
"What is this?" he shouted, grabbing at a halter-shank and clinging to it until a knife slashed down on his wrist.
Landor suggested his own experience of close on two decades, and further that he was going to command the whole outfit, or going to go back and drop the thing right there. They assented to the first alternative, with exceedingly bad grace, and with worse grace took the place of advance guard he detailed them to, four hundred yards ahead. "You know the country. You are my guides, and you say you are going to lead me to the Indians. Now do it." There was nothing conciliating in his speech, whatever, and he sat on his horse, pointing them to their positions with arm outstretched, and the frown of an offended Jove. When they had taken it, grumbling, the column moved.
Not having had enough of driving to madness in '75 and '76, they tried it again three years later. They were dealing this time with other material, not the friendly and the cowed, but with savages as cruel and fierce and unscrupulous as those of the days of Coronado. Victorio, Juh, and Geronimo were already a little known, but now they were to have their names shrieked to the unhearing heavens in the agony of the tortured and the dying.