But she sat up suddenly, with one of her quick movements of conscious strength and perfect control over every muscle, clasped her hands about her knees, and went on. "It was very curious," and there came on her face the watchful, alert, wild look, with the narrowing of the eyes. "It was very curious, I could not[Pg 84] have stayed indoors that night if it had cost me my life—and it very nearly did, too. I had to get out. So I took my revolver and my knife, and I went the back way, down to the river. While I was standing on the bank and thinking about going home, an Indian stole out on me. I had an awful struggle. First I shot. I aimed at his forehead, but the bullet struck his shoulder; and then I fought with the knife. As soon as I could slip out of his grasp, I went at him and drove him off. But I didn't know how badly he was hurt until the next day. The shot had roused them up here, and they went down to the river and found him bleeding on the sand. "You could take turns riding behind the men."
The Reverend Taylor did not object.
A raiding party of hostiles had passed near the fort, and had killed, with particular atrocity, a family of settlers. The man and his wife had been tortured to death, the baby had had its brains beaten out against the trunk of a tree, a very young child had been hung by the wrist tendons to two meat hooks on the walls of the ranch-house, and left there to die. One big boy had had his eyelids and lips and nose cut off, and had been staked down to the ground with his remains of a face lying over a red-ant hole. Only two had [Pg 196]managed to escape,—a child of ten, who had carried his tiny sister in his arms, twenty miles of ca?ons and hills, to the post. Felipa spent the day, for the most part, in riding about the ranch and in anticipating the night. Her husband had promised to be back soon after moonrise. When it had begun to turn dark, she dressed herself all in white and went out to swing in the hammock until it should be time for her lonely dinner.
The man beside her was an attaché of the British legation, who had been one of her greatest admirers to that time, but thereafter he sought her out no more. He had driven the boys off, and taking the kitten, which mewed piteously all the way, had gone with her to her destination and left her.