类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-12-02 20:48:40


"I know he is not," she said decisively.She leaned back in her chair, tapping her foot upon the floor. It was the only sign of excitement, but the look of her face was not good.

It was his intention to go to Crook and to warn him if he needed warning, which was not probable, since he was never napping. He would then offer his services as a scout. He was sincerely attached to the general, and felt his own career in a way involved with that of the officer, because he had been with him, in one capacity or another, in every campaign he had made in the southwest."I am," announced the soldier.

"Why shouldn't it be? What the deuce has a fellow got to do but drink and gamble? You have to, to keep your mind off it."Taylor smiled. Cairness's small, brown mustache, curving up at the ends, was hardly a disguise. "There's a fellow here who could get you the job, though," he suggested. "Fellow named Stone. Newspaper man, used to be in Tucson. He seems to have some sort of pull with that Lawton fellow."

"I beg pardon," said Brewster, pointedly, accentuating the slight awkwardness.The man understood, and was dismayed. It is appalling to feel one's self snatched from the shifting foothold of individuality and whirled on in the current of the Force of Things. Felipa did not understand. And she was annoyed. She crashed in with the discord of a deliberate commonplace, and asked what she could do for him, speaking as to an inferior; and he, with a stiff resentment, answered that he wished to see Captain Landor.

It struck him that he was coolly analytical while his wife was reading the love-letter (if that bald statement of fact could be called a love-letter) of another man, and telling him frankly that she returned the man's love. Why could not he have had love, he who had done so much for her? There was always the subconsciousness of that sacrifice. He had magnified it a little, too, and it is difficult to be altogether lovable when one's mental attitude is "see what a good boy am I." But he had never reflected upon that. He went on telling himself what鈥攊n all justice to him鈥攈e had never thrown up to her, that his life had been one long devotion to her; rather as a principle than as a personality, to be sure, but then鈥 And yet she loved the fellow whom she had not known twenty-four hours in all鈥攁 private, a government scout, unnoticeably below her in station. In station, to be sure; but not in birth, after all. It was that again. He was always brought up face to face with her birth. He tried to reason it down, for the hundredth time. It was not her fault, and he had taken her knowingly, chancing that and the consequences of her not loving him. And these were the consequences: that she was sitting rigid before him, staring straight ahead with the pale eyes of suffering, and breathing through trembling lips."Geronimo," mumbled the Apache, "has prayed to the Dawn and the Darkness and the Sun and the Sky to help him put a stop to those bad stories that people put in the papers about him. He is afraid it will be done as they say." The press of the country was full just then, and had been for some time past, of suggestions that the only good use the much-feared Geronimo could be put to would be hanging, the which he no doubt richly deserved. But if every one in the territories who deserved hanging had been given his dues, the land would have been dotted with blasted trees.

"And your wife?"It was not until they all, from the commandant down to the recruits of Landor's troop, came to say good-by that she felt the straining and cutting of the strong tie of the service, which never quite breaks though it be stretched over rough and long years and almost [Pg 291]forgotten. The post blacksmith to whom she had been kind during an illness, the forlorn sickly little laundress whose baby she had eased in dying, the baker to whose motherless child she had been good鈥攁ll came crowding up the steps. They were sincerely sorry to have her go. She had been generous and possessed of that charity which is more than faith or hope. It was the good-bys of Landor's men that were the hardest for her. He had been proud of his troop, and it had been devoted to him. She broke down utterly and cried when it came to them, and tears were as hard for her as for a man. But with the officers and their women, it rose up between her and them that they would so shortly despise and condemn her, that they would not touch her hands could they but know her thoughts.

As an attempt at consolation, it failed. Landor fairly sprang into a sitting posture, with a degree of impulsiveness that was most unusual with him. His eyes glistened from the greenish circles around them. "Blow over! Good Lord! do you suppose I'll let it blow over? It's got to be sifted to the bottom. And you know that as well as I do." He lay weakly back again, and Felipa came to the edge of the bed and, sitting upon it, stroked his head with her cool hand.The officer-of-the-day put Lawton into the care of the guard and asked Cairness in to have a drink, calling him "my good man." Cairness was properly aware of the condescension involved in being asked into an officer's dining room, but he objected to being condescended to by a man who doubled his negatives, and he refused.And the next day she knew. When she came out in front of her quarters in the morning, rather later than usual, there was a new tent beside the hospital,[Pg 81] and when she asked the reason for it, they told her that a wounded Apache had been found down by the river soon after the shot had been fired the night before. He was badly hurt, with a ball in his shoulder, and he was half drunk with tizwin, as well as being cut in a dozen places.

"What the devil do you want to know, then?"

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Not a week before鈥攁nd then the Agency had been officially at peace鈥攁 Mexican packer had been shot down by an arrow from some unseen bow, within a thousand yards of the post, in broad daylight. The Indians, caking their bodies with clay, and binding sage or grass upon their heads, could writhe unseen almost within arm's reach. But Felipa was not afraid. Straight for the river bottom she made, passing amid the [Pg 78]dump-heaps, where a fire of brush was still smouldering, filling the air with pungent smoke, where old cans and bottles shone in the starlight, and two polecats, pretty white and black little creatures, their bushy tails erect, sniffed with their sharp noses as they walked stupidly along. Their bite meant hydrophobia, but though one came blindly toward her, she barely moved aside. Her skirt brushed it, and it made a low, whining, mean sound.

"I have thought it over," said Cairness; "good night."Another grievance was the Ellton baby. Felipa adored it, and for no reason that he could formulate, he did not wish her to. He wanted a child of his own. Altogether he was not so easy to get on with as he had been. She did not see why. Being altogether sweet-humored and cheerful herself, she looked[Pg 182] for sweet humor and cheerfulness in him, and was more and more often disappointed. Not that he was ever once guilty of even a quick burst of ill temper. It would have been a relief.


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