"To have brought an abandoned woman into our home."But before then Cairness returned to his ranch and set his back upon adventure for good and all. "Crook will be gone soon," he said to Felipa; "it is the beginning of his end. And even if he were to keep on, he might not need me any more."In the morning, while the cooks were getting breakfast and the steam of ration-Rio mounted as a grateful incense to the pink and yellow daybreak heavens, having bathed in the creek and elaborated his toilet[Pg 235] with a clean neckerchief in celebration of victory, he walked over to the bunch of tepees to see the women captives.
They spurred forward unwillingly, thus urged. At sundown they came to the old lake bed and camped there. According to the citizens it was a regular Indian camping-place for the hostiles, since the days of Cochise.But when he was away from Felipa and her blighting matter of fact, the pathos of it came uppermost again. Troubles seemed to thicken around him. His voluntary Coventry was making him sensitive. He had thought that his wife was at least giving him the best of her cool nature. Cool! There was no [Pg 152]coldness in that strained white face, as she read the letter. The control she had over herself! It was admirable. He thought that most women would have fainted, or have grown hysterical, or have made a scene of some sort. Then he recalled the stoicism of the Apache鈥攁nd was back at her birth again."Eh?" the parson was not sure he had heard.
Then Brewster began to listen.She stood looking round the post, across the white-hot parade ground, to the adobe barracks and the sutler's store. Then she turned and considered the officers' quarters. They were a row of hospital, wall, and A tents, floored with rough boards and sheltered by ramadas of willow branches.
The silence of the garrison was absolute. Over in[Pg 190] the company clerk's office of one of the infantry barracks there was a light for a time. Then, at about midnight, it too was put out. A cat came creeping from under the board walk and minced across the road. He watched it absently.He held the door open for the Texan woman and the parson to go out. Then he followed, closing it behind him.
It was more for her than for himself that the rebuke hurt him. For it was a rebuke, though as yet it was unsaid. And he thought for a moment that he would defend her to the general. He had never done so yet, not even to the little parson in Tombstone whose obvious disapproval he had never tried to combat, though it had ended the friendship of years.Lawton stopped. To forbid him swearing was to forbid him speech. He shuffled ahead in silence.
"I think perhaps I'll go with you, if you'll wait over a day," Cairness told him. He had taken a distinct[Pg 38] fancy to the little botanist who wore his clerical garb while he rode a bronco and drove a pack-mule over the plains and mountains, and who had no fear of the Apache nor of the equally dangerous cow-boy. Cairness asked him further about the hat. "That chimney-pot of yours," he said, "don't you find it rather uncomfortable? It is hot, and it doesn't protect you. Why do you wear it?"
"You will still keep her then?" Cairness wished to know.
But his left hand hung misshapen, and Cairness saw that it did not bend at the wrist as he motioned to an empty soda-pop bottle and a glass on the table beside a saucer of fly-paper and water. "That's what I still take, you see," he said, "but I'll serve you better;" and he opened a drawer and brought out a big flask. "I reckon you've got a thirst on you this hot weather." He treated himself to a second bottle of the pop, and[Pg 168] grew loquacious, as another man might have under the influence of stronger drink; and he talked so much about himself and so little about his guest that Cairness wondered. Presently the reason made itself manifest. It was the egotism of the lover. The Reverend Taylor was going to be married. He told Cairness so with an expression of beatitude that answered to a blush, and pointed to a photograph on his mantel-shelf. "She ain't so pretty to look at," he confided, which was undoubtedly true, "nor yet so young. But I ain't neither, 'sfar as that goes. She's amiable. That's the great thing after all, for a wife. She's amiable.""What the devil do you want to know, then?"The man up above showed himself, and putting his hands to his mouth shouted, "Felipa!"
"Who told you he was?" she asked.详情
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