Kirby suggested, with a hesitation that was born not of insincerity but of delicacy, that they would be awfully glad to have him stop with them and help run the Circle K Ranch. But Cairness shook his head. "Thanks. I'll stop long enough to recall the old times, though I dare say it would be better to forget them, wouldn't it? Ranching isn't in my line. Not that I am at all sure what is in my line, for that matter."
Then a big cow-boy left the bar and loitering over, with a clink of spurs, touched him on the shoulder. "The drinks are on you," he menaced. The minister chose to ignore the tone. He rose, smiling, and stretching his cramped arms. "All right, my friend, all right," he said, and going with the big fellow to the bar he gave a general invitation.
It had all been very like this, only that this was a little worse, for there were half a dozen dead animals lying across the stalls, and others were being shot. The pistols snapped sharply, and the smell of powder was more pungent than all the other smells.It occurred to Cairness that it was ungenerous of Landor to revenge himself by a shot from the safe intrenchment of his rank. "Mrs. Landor has had time to tell me nothing," he said, and turned on his spurred heel and went off in the direction of the post. But it was not a situation, after all, into which one could infuse much dignity. He was retreating, anyway it might be looked at, and there is bound to be more or less ignominy in the most creditable retreat.
Brewster suggested that he thought Crook had put a stop to those mutilations, but the official shrugged his shoulders."That's the straight bill. Ask him. He isn't fit to be spoken to."
Then throw into the scale the harassing and conflicting orders of a War Department, niggardly with its troops, several thousand miles away, wrapped in a dark veil of ignorance, and add the ever ready blame of the territorial citizen and press, and the wonder is, not that it took a score of years to settle the Apache question, but that it was ever settled at all.When Landor had trotted off, and she and the girl were left alone, she went into the house and came back with a pair of field-glasses. Through them she could see her husband riding at the head of the column, along the road, and another figure beside him, mounted on a bony little pinto bronco.The story of her origin was an open secret now. Landor had never been able to discover who had spread it. The probabilities were, however, that it had been Brewster. He had been suspended for a year after Landor's trial, and driven forth with contempt, but he was back again, with a bold front, and insinuating and toadying himself into public favor, destined by that Providence which sometimes arouses itself to reward and punish before the sight of all men, to be short-lived.
He changed his position leisurely, stretching out at full length and resting his head on his hand by way of gaining time. Then he told her that it was not until after he had caught and landed her husband that he had discovered that Stone was in it.He himself had never dreamed how it irked her until now. It was many years since he had been in the East, not, indeed, since Felipa had been a small child.[Pg 160] Keeping his promise to Cabot, as he understood it, had left him little for such pleasures as that. But he had done his duty then; he would do it again, and reap once more what seemed to him the inevitable reward, the reward which had been his all through his life,鈥攕heer disappointment, in all he prized most, ashes and dust.She could hear voices confusedly, men hurriedly calling and hallooing as she neared the back of the officers' line and crept into her tent. The door was barely closed when there came a knock, and the voice of the striker asking if she had heard the shot across the river.
He was waking now to his work. But he had enough of horses. He stopped, sheathed his knife, and, feeling in his pockets, drew out a box of matches. A little spluttering flame caught in a pile of straw, and showed a hind foot dragging helplessly. It crept up, and the mule plunged on three legs, dragging the other along. It snorted, and then every animal in that corral, which was the quartermaster's, smelt danger and snorted too, and struck from side to side of its stall. Those in the next corral caught the fear.She did not return to the ramada, but before long her husband came in search of her.
"Told him the truth, more idjit he."Then he went off to inspect the stock and the pickets, and to double the sentries. "You had better sleep on your arms," he told the soldiers, and returned to his cot to lie down upon it, dressed, but feigning sleep,[Pg 98] that Felipa might not be uneasy. He need not have resorted to deception. Felipa had not so much as pretended to close her eyes that night.
"That man is going to stay to luncheon," he told her."That's the straight bill. Ask him. He isn't fit to be spoken to."
Felipa had taught her horse to make its average gait a run, and she would have started it running now, but that Landor checked her. It was high time, he said, that he should teach her to ride. Now she was more than a little proud of her horsemanship, so she was annoyed as well as surprised.详情
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