“Does it feel any better?” asked Aunt Maria eagerly.
“It feels cooler,” said Thurstane.
Aunt Maria looked as if she thought him very ungrateful for not saying that he was entirely well.
“An’ my nose,” suggested Glover, turning up his lacerated proboscis.
“Yes, certainly; your poor nose,” assented Aunt Maria. “Let the lady cure it.”
The female surgeon fastened a poultice upon the tattered cartilage by passing a bandage around the skipper’s sandy and bristly head.
“Works like a charm ‘n’ smells like peach leaves,” snuffled the patient. “It’s where it’s handy to sniff at—that’s a comfort.”
After much dumb show, arrangements were made for the night. One of the inner rooms was assigned to Mrs. Stanley and Clara, and another to Thurstane and Glover. Bedding, provisions, and some small articles as presents for the Moquis were sent up from the train by Coronado.
But would the wagons, the animals, and the human members of the party below be safe during the night? Young as he was, and wounded as he was, Thurstane was so badgered by his army habit of incessant responsibility that he could not lie down to rest until he had visited the camp and examined personally into probabilities of attack and means of defence. As he descended the stony path which scored the side of the butte, his anxiety was greatly increased by the appearance of a party of armed Moquis rushing like deer down the steep slope, as if to repel an attack.
Thurstane found the caravan in excellent condition, the mules being tethered at the reservoir half-way up the acclivity, and the wagons parked and guarded as usual, with Weber for officer of the night.
“We are in no tanger, Leftenant,” said the sergeant. “A large barty of these bueplo beeble has shust gone to the vront. They haf daken atfandage of our bresence to regover a bortion of the blain. I haf sent Kelly along to look after them a leetle und make them keep a goot watch. We are shust as safe as bossible. Und to-morrow we will basture the animals. It is a goot blace for a gamp, Leftenant, und we shall pe all right in a tay or two.”
“Does Shubert’s leg need attention?”
“No. It is shust nothing. Shupert is for tuty.”
“And you feel perfectly able to take care of yourselves here?”
“Forty rounds apiece!”
“They are issued, Leftenant.”
“If you are attacked, fire heavily; and if the attack is sharp, retreat to the bluff. Never mind the wagons; they can be recovered.”
“I will opey your instructions, Leftenant.”
Thurstane was feverish and exhausted; he knew that Weber was as good a soldier as himself; and still he went back to the village with an anxious heart; such is the tenderness of the military conscience as to duty.