“Do not let me fall asleep, Joe.”
Travis sat upright in his chair, a sheet of paper under his pen. It was a letter he had begun in the early afternoon and returned to time and again during the course of the day, striking out its imperfect phrases with angry swipes of his pen. From the way Travis fretted over the letter Joe decided it was to young Charlie. He remembered the day last spring when they had ridden down from San Felipe to fetch the boy from Travis’s wife, and how Charlie had seemed afraid at first of his father, of his expansive, theatrical nature and of his booming voice as they rode back across the empty prairies and through the endless dark canebrakes.
The boy had warmed to Travis soon enough. He was a man who naturally seemed to know where he was going, who always had a destination in his head, and Charlie no less than Joe himself had taken comfort in this — you wanted the man who controlled your life to have confidence in his own. Even Bowie’s men, Joe had noticed, wanted to trust in Travis now. When he had addressed the garrison tonight some of them had been mocking at first, but by the end of the speech he had them believing that help might really