The men went away, however, without much trouble beyond tipsy protests and mutterings, and the sutler rewarded the guard with beer, and explained to Landor that several of the disturbers were fellows who were hanging round the post for the beef contract; the biggest and most belligerent—he of the fierce, drooping mustachios—was the owner of the ranch where the Kirby massacre had taken place, as well as of another one in New Mexico.
There fell a moment's pause. And it was broken by the sound of clashing as of many cymbals, the clatter of hoofs, the rattle of bouncing wheels, and around the corner of the line there came tearing a wagon loaded with milk tins. A wild-eyed man, hatless, with his hair on end, lashed his ponies furiously and drew up all of a heap, in front of the commanding officer's quarters.
"Have I ever lied to you?" Crook asked them.
He called the first sergeant to his aid. Brewster was in the rear of the command, and, as had occurred with increasing frequency in the last two months, showed no desire to be of any more use than necessary. As for Cairness, who had been more of a lieutenant to Landor than the officer himself, he had left the command two days before and gone back to the San Carlos reservation.
"You haven't, but the summer has told on you just the same. You are thin, and your eyes are too big. Look at that!" He held out a hand that shook visibly. "That's the Gila Valley for you."