"Foster?" one drawled, "he'll be along presently, I reckon."
What had he done with four and thirty years, putting it at the very highest valuation? He had sunk so far below the standard of his youth that he would not be fit for his old companions, even if he had wanted to go back to them, which, except in certain fits of depression, he did not. His own mother cared very little what became of him. At Christmas time she always sent him a letter, which reached him much later, as a rule, and he answered it. His brothers had forgotten him. His sister, of whom he had been very fond once, and for whom he had hoped a great deal, had married well enough and gone to London; but she, too, had forgotten him long since. The all-day fight in the Sierra Madre stronghold was a very uneven one. There were two hundred and fifty of the government forces against some thirty-five bucks. But, after all, the number comes to nothing. You may as well shoot at one enemy as at a thousand, if he is not to be seen anyway, and you cannot hit him.
So he was near her again. She had not seen him in many months, but she had felt that he must be always,[Pg 109] as he had been through those days in the fastnesses of the Sierra Blanca, following her afar off, yet near enough to warn her, if need arose. She was too superstitious to watch him out of sight, and she turned back into the house, followed by Miss McLane, just as stable call sounded, and the white-clad soldiers tramped off to the corrals.