类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-12-01 22:02:29


"I put them in this here book," he said, "betwixt the leaves, and then I put the book under my saddle and set on it. I don't weigh so much, but it works all right," he added, looking up with a na?ve smile that reached from one big ear to the other. "To-morrow," he told him later, "I'm going to ride over here to Tucson again. What way might you be takin'?"Which happened upon the following day. And he was there to see it all, so that the question he had not cared to ask was answered forever beyond the possibility[Pg 198] of a misunderstanding. It was stable time, and she walked down to the corrals with him. He left her for a moment by the gate of the quartermaster's corral while he went over to the picket line. The bright clear air of a mountain afternoon hummed with the swish click-clock, swish click-clock of the curry-combs and brushes, and the busy scraping of the stable brooms in the stalls."I am far from being sure that that is entirely to be desired, very far," said Cairness, with conviction. He had never ceased to feel a certain annoyance at[Pg 319] the memory of that year and a half of Felipa's life in which he had had no part.

He gathered his courage for what he was going to say next, with a feeling almost of guilt. "Forbes says that I am doing you an injustice, keeping you here; that it is no life for you."The major offered the objection that it would be foolhardy, that it would be cutting through the enemy by file. "They'll pick you off, and you'll be absolutely at their mercy," he remonstrated. "No, I can't hear of it."He left her ignominiously, at a run. She stood laughing after him until he jumped over a rock and disappeared. "She is his sweetheart, the vieja," she chattered to her companions.

The man interrupted, "I ain't going daown the road, nor anywheres else before supper鈥攏or after supper neither, if I don't feel like it." He was bold enough in speech, but his eyes dropped before Kirby's indignant ones.He told her, directly, that he was passing through Arizona to hunt and to look to certain mining interests he held there. And he stayed, talking with her and her husband about the country and the towns and posts he had visited, until long after luncheon. Then Cairness, having to ride to the salt lick at the other end of the ranch, up in the Huachuca foot-hills, suggested that Forbes go with him.

[Pg 296]Cairness was taciturn. It was some moments before he could control his annoyance, by the main strength of his sense of justice, by telling himself once again that he had no right to blame Felipa for the manifestations of that nature he had known her to possess from the first. It was not she who was changing.In the '70's the frontier was a fact and not a memory, and a woman in the Far West was a blessing sent direct from heaven, or from the East, which was much the same thing. Lieutenants besought the wives of their brother officers to bring out their sisters and cousins and even aunts, and very weird specimens of the sex sometimes resulted. But even these could reign as queens, dance, ride, flirt to their hearts' content鈥攁lso marry, which is not always the corollary in these days. The outbreak of a reservation full of Indians was a small thing in comparison with the excitement occasioned by the expectation of a girl in the post.

Landor sat speechless for a moment. Then he jumped up, knocking over a pile of registers. He seized a bone ruler, much stained with official inks, red and blue, and slapped it on the palm of his hand for emphasis. "I'll demand a court of inquiry into my conduct. This shan't drop, not until the strongest possible light has been turned on it. Why doesn't Brewster prefer charges? Either my conduct was such that he can defend it openly, or else it was such as to call for a court-martial, and to justify him in preferring charges. Certainly nothing can justify him in smirching me with damning silence. That is the part neither of an officer nor of a man." He kicked one of the registers out of the way, and it flapped across the floor and lay with its leaves crumpled under the fair leather covers.[Pg 197]

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.He made no pretence of not understanding. "You have no need to be, dear," he said simply.

"Do you object to taking her into your house for a short time?""Well, they think it's a lot."

"It's鈥" the boy looked around nervously. "If you'd come into the house鈥" he ventured.



After he had gone, Landor turned to Brewster once more. "Are all the bids in the safe again?""Your best chance for keeping out of jail, too," he insisted, "is to keep on the right side of me. Sabe? Now what I want to know is, what part Stone has in all this." He did not know what part any one had had in it, as a matter of fact, for he had failed in all attempts to make Lawton talk, in the two days he had had before leaving the post."Look," she said, going up to Landor with a noiseless tread that made him shiver almost visibly. Mrs. Campbell watched them. She was sorry for him.



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