"Can't stay," said the adjutant, all breathless. "The line's down between here and the Agency; but a runner has just come in, and there's trouble. The bucks are restless. Want to join Victorio in New Mexico. You've both got to get right over there."
Crook looked away, straight in front of him. "Go on," he said. It was not the conversation of equals now. It was the report of an inferior to a superior. However familiar the general might wish to be upon occasions, he held always in reserve the right to deference and obedience when he should desire them.
The chances of detection would certainly be less if he should go back of the officers' quarters, instead of the barracks. But to do that he would have to cross the road which led from the trader's to the quadrangle, and he would surely meet some one, if it were only some servant girl and her lover. He had observed and learned some things in his week of waiting in the post—that week which otherwise had gone for worse than nothing. He took the back of the barracks, keeping well away from them, stumbling in and out among rubbish heaps. He had no very clear idea of what he meant to do, or of why he was going in this particular direction; but he was ready for anything that might offer to his hand. If he came upon Landor or the adjutant or any of them, he would put a knife into him. But he was not going to the trouble of hunting[Pg 206] them out. And so he walked on, and came to the haystacks, looming, denser shadows against the sky.
The one man at bay whirled round twice, with a bullet in his heart and an arrow through his neck. "Now!" he made one fierce effort to cry, as he staggered again and dropped on his face, to be trampled under forty feet. A few minutes before seven they all came back into the sitting room. The men wore black coats, by way of compromise, and Mrs. Kirby and the children were in white.