There was a new treaty, just made to that end. It was the fiercest of all the Apache tribes, the Chiricahuas, that had hidden itself in the fastnesses of the Sierra Madre, two hundred miles south of the boundary line. Geronimo and Juh and Chato, and other chiefs of quite as bloody fame, were with him. To capture them would be very creditable success. To fail to do so would entail dire consequences, international complications perhaps, and of a certainty the scorn and abuse of all the wise men who sat in judgment afar off.
The blaze of glory had gone suddenly from the clouds, leaving them lifeless gray, when she turned her eyes back to them; and the outlook across the parade ground was very bare. She went and stood by the fire, leaning her arm on the mantel-shelf and setting her determined lips.
"Doesn't he, though? Then why doesn't he come around and see me when I'm lying here sick?" He was wrathful and working himself back into a fever very fast.Landor himself sat in his tent, upon his mess-chest, and by the light of a candle wrote a despatch which[Pg 8] was to go by courier the next morning. Gila valley mosquitoes were singing around his head, a knot of chattering squaws and naked children were peering into his tent, the air was oven-hot, coyotes were filling the night with their weird bark, and a papoose was bawling somewhere close by. Yet he would have been sufficiently content could he have been let alone鈥攖he one plea of the body military from all time. It was not to be. The declared and standing foes of that body pushed their way through the squaws and children. He knew them already. They were Stone of the Tucson press, sent down to investigate and report, and Barnwell, an Agency high official, who would gladly assist the misrepresentations, so far as in his power lay.
But this the civilians were very plainly not minded to do. They dropped back, now to cinch up, now to take a drink from the flasks, now to argue, once for one of their number to recover from an attack of heart disease.
Cairness jumped forward, and his arm went around her, steadying her. For a short moment she leaned against his shoulder. Then she drew away, and her voice was quite steady as she greeted him. He could never have guessed that in that moment she had[Pg 95] learned the meaning of her life, that there had flashed burningly through her brain a wild, unreasoning desire to stand forever backed against that rock of strength, to defy the world and all its restrictions."One thing," muttered Cairness."Told him the truth, more idjit he."
It came to pass in the working out of things that the commandant elected to spend the night before the opening of the bids, in the small town some miles away, where one of the first families was giving a dinner. This left Landor, as next in rank, in temporary command. It had happened often enough before, in one way[Pg 189] or another, but this time the duties of the position seemed to weigh upon him. He was restless and did not care to sleep. He sent Felipa off to bed, and sat watching where her lithe young figure had gone out of the door for some minutes. Then he ran his hand across his mouth contemplatively, stroked his mustache, and finally went out of the house and down to Ellton's quarters.
She showed no especial repugnance at the idea, but refused flatly, nevertheless. "I can't do that," she said, dropping down into the hammock and swinging herself with the tip of her foot on the floor.
The Elltons' pretty child was like its mother, [Pg 288]gentler and more caressing. It lay placidly in her arms and patted her lips when she tried to talk, with the tips of its rosy fingers. She caught them between her teeth and mumbled them, and the child chuckled gleefully. But by and by it was taken away to bed, and then Felipa was alone with its father and mother. Through the tiresome evening she felt oppressed and angrily nervous. The Elltons had always affected her so."Do you think you could love me, Felipa?" he asked, without any preface at all.详情
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