Cairness had groped his way back. He stood watching them. And he, too, was ready to kill. If Landor had raised his hand against her, he would have shot him down.It was the first scene of the closing act of the tragic comedy of the Geronimo campaign. That wily old devil, weary temporarily of the bloodshed he had continued with more or less regularity for many years, had[Pg 297] sent word to the officers that he would meet them without their commands, in the Ca?on de los Embudos, across the border line, to discuss the terms of surrender. The officers had forthwith come, Crook yet hopeful that something might be accomplished by honesty and plain dealing; the others, for the most part, doubting.
There were two bodies lying across the trail in front of him. He dismounted, and throwing his reins to the[Pg 136] trumpeter went forward to investigate. It was not a pleasant task. The men had been dead some time and their clothing was beginning to fall away in shreds. Some of their outfit was scattered about, and he could guess from it that they had been prospectors. A few feet away was the claim they had been working. Only their arms had been stolen, otherwise nothing appeared to be missing. There was even in the pockets considerable coin, in gold and silver, which Landor found, when he took a long knife from his saddle bags, and standing as far off as might be, slit the cloth open.Landor recalled the twenty years of all winter campaigns, dry camps, forced marches, short rations, and long vigils and other annoyances that are not put down in the tactics, and smiled again, with a deep cynicism. Barnwell sat silent. He sympathized with Stone because his interests lay that way, but he was somewhat unfortunately placed between the military devil and the political deep sea."I say, old man, shut that door! Look at the flies. Now go on," he added, as the door banged; and he rose to draw a chair to the table.
Were the ca?on of the Aravaypa in any other place than Arizona, which, as the intelligent public knows, is all one wide expanse of dry and thirsty country, a parched place in the wilderness, a salt land, and not inhabited; were it in any other place, it would be set forth in railway folders, and there would be camping privileges and a hotel, and stages would make regular trips to it, and one would come upon groups of excursionists on burros, or lunching among its boulders. Already it has been in a small way discovered, and is on the road to being vulgarized by the camera. The lover of Nature, he who loves the soul as well as the face of her, receives when he sees a photograph of a fine bit of scenery he had felt in a way his own property until then, something the blow that the lover of a woman does when he learns that other men than he have known her caresses.
On the next day they were in the flat, nearing the post. There was a dust storm. Earlier in the morning the air had grown suddenly more dry, more close and lifeless than ever, suffocating, and a yellow cloud had come in the western sky. Then a hot wind began to blow the horses' manes and tails, to snarl through the greasewood bushes, and to snap the loose ends of the men's handkerchiefs sharply. The cloud had thinned and spread, high up in the sky, and the light had become almost that of a sullen evening. Black bits floated and whirled high overhead, and birds beat about in the gale. Gradually the gale and the dust had dropped nearer to the earth, a sand mist had gone into every pore and choked and parched. And now the tepid, thick wind was moaning across the plain, meeting no point of resistance anywhere."Yes," she told him, "they are, and it is that makes me think that the fault may be ours. She is so patient with them."But in the days of Victorio and his predecessors and successors, Aravaypa Ca?on was a fastness. Men went in to hunt for gold, and sometimes they came out alive, and sometimes they did not. Occasionally Apaches met their end there as well.
Landor still rode at the head of his column, but his chin was sunk down on his red silk neckerchief, his face was swollen and distorted under its thick beard, and his eyes were glazed. They stared straight ahead into the sand whirl and the sulphurous glare. He had sent Brewster on ahead some hours before. "You[Pg 138] will want to see Miss McLane as soon as possible," he had said, "and there is no need of both of us here."
He hesitated. "I have done some shooting. I am always shooting more or less, for that matter."
"I say, old man, shut that door! Look at the flies. Now go on," he added, as the door banged; and he rose to draw a chair to the table.Felipa turned from them and waited, clasping her hands and smiling up at Brewster. He, misinterpreting, felt encouraged and begged her to leave the disgusting insects. He had something very different to talk about. She said that she did not want to hear it, and would he bet on the tarantula or the vinagrone?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.详情
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