But she sat up suddenly, with one of her quick movements of conscious strength and perfect control over every muscle, clasped her hands about her knees, and went on. "It was very curious," and there came on her face the watchful, alert, wild look, with the narrowing of the eyes. "It was very curious, I could not[Pg 84] have stayed indoors that night if it had cost me my life鈥攁nd it very nearly did, too. I had to get out. So I took my revolver and my knife, and I went the back way, down to the river. While I was standing on the bank and thinking about going home, an Indian stole out on me. I had an awful struggle. First I shot. I aimed at his forehead, but the bullet struck his shoulder; and then I fought with the knife. As soon as I could slip out of his grasp, I went at him and drove him off. But I didn't know how badly he was hurt until the next day. The shot had roused them up here, and they went down to the river and found him bleeding on the sand.It is one thing to be sacrificed to a cause, even if it is only by filling up the ditch that others may cross to victory; it is quite another to be sacrificed in a cause, to die unavailingly without profit or glory of any kind, to be even an obstacle thrown across the way. And that was the end which looked Cabot in the face. He stood and considered his horse where it lay in the white dust, with its bloodshot eyes turned up to a sky that burned like a great blue flame. Its tongue, all black and swollen, hung out upon the sand, its flanks were sunken, and its forelegs limp.
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.Chapter 22
"No," she said shortly. "You had better bet."
The Reverend Taylor did not object.
It was.The tears trickled down the withered cheeks, and Crook gave a shrug of exasperation and disgust. "Your story of being afraid of arrest is all bosh. There were no orders to arrest you. You began the trouble by trying to kill Chato." Geronimo shook his head, as one much wronged and misunderstood. "Yes you did, too. Everything that you did on the reservation is known. There is no use your lying."Landor saw that his own horse was the best; and it bid very fair to play out soon enough. But until it should do so, his course was plain. He gathered his reins in his hands. "You can mount behind me, Cabot," he said. The man shook his head. It was bad enough that he had come down himself without bringing others down too. He tried to say so, but time was too good a thing to be wasted in argument, where an order would serve. There was a water hole to be reached somewhere to the southwest, over beyond the soft, dun hills, and it had to be reached soon. Minutes spelled death under that white hot sun. Landor changed from the friend to the officer, and Cabot threw himself across the narrow haunches that gave weakly under his weight.
"Have you an Indian policy?"
The reporter interposed that it was the act of men maddened by grief and their losses.Kirby's assistants, the two young Englishmen, had not come back when they were due. One had gone to the mail station in the valley, three days before, and he should have returned at noon, at the furthest limit. By three o'clock, the other had jumped on a horse and gone out to look for him. And now, one was lying in the road five miles from the ranch, with an arrow through his eye. The other, a mile nearer home, was propped against a pine trunk, so that the ragged hole beneath his shoulder blade, where a barb had been torn out, did not show. His wide eyes, upon the lid of one of which the blood from a head wound had clotted, looked up sightless through the branches, at a patch of blue sky. Their end had been a common[Pg 123] enough one, and had come to them both without a moment of warning.
Of a truth she understood only too well, that death with a bullet through the brain could be a tender mercy.Brewster's irritation waxed. "Landor again?" he queried suggestively.
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."详情
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