Cairness looked over at her in some surprise, but her face was in the shadow. He wondered that she had picked up the phrase. It was a common one with him, a sort of catchword he had the habit of using. But she was not given to philosophy. It was oddly in line with his own previous train of thought.She told him that she did not know, and tried to coax him back to quietness.
Cairness raised his shoulders. "My mines," he said, after a while. The Reverend Taylor did not believe that, but he let it go.Cairness went on, back to the barracks, and sitting at the troop clerk's desk, made a memory sketch of her. It did not by any means satisfy him, but he kept it nevertheless.
"Let go your stirrup!" cried Cairness, in her ear; and as she kicked her foot loose, he leaned far from the saddle and threw his arm around her, swinging her up in front of him across the McLellan pommel, and driving the spurs into his horse's belly. It had the advantage of her horse in that it was an Indian animal, sure of foot as a burro, and much quicker. With one dash it was up the hillside, while the other rolled over and over, down into the torrent of the cloud burst.
"I didn't. None of your business," she defied him.Half a mile beyond, within the same barbed-wire enclosure as the home buildings and corrals, was a spring-house surrounded by cottonwoods, just then the only patch of vivid green on the clay-colored waste. There were benches under the cottonwoods, and the ground was cool, and thither Felipa took her way, in no wise oppressed by the heat. Her step was as firm and as quick as it had been the day she had come so noiselessly along the parade, across the path of the private who was going to the barracks. It was as quiet, too, for she had on a pair of old red satin slippers, badly run down at the heel.
It was a fatal want of tact perhaps, characteristic of the race, but then the characteristic is so fine. "You will do whatever I tell you to do," the voice was low and strained, but not wavering. It reached the group by the harness-room door."Cheese that cussing, do you hear?" he ordered.
The stableman came on a run, leading her horse, and she fairly leaped down the steps, and slipping the pistol into the holster mounted with a spring. "All of you follow me," she said; "they are going to hold up Mr. Cairness."The next two days he kept to himself and talked only to his Apache scouts, in a defiant return to his admiration for the savage character. A Chiricahua asked no questions and made no conventional reproaches at any rate. He was not penitent, he was not even ashamed, and he would not play at being either. But he was hurt, this last time most of all, and it made him ugly. He had always felt as if he were of the army, although not in it, not by reason of his one enlistment, but by reason of the footing upon which the officers had always received him up to the present time. But now he was an outcast. He faced[Pg 302] the fact, and it was a very unpleasant one. It was almost as though he had been court-martialled and cashiered. He had thoughts of throwing up the whole thing and going back to Felipa, but he hated to seem to run away. It would be better to stop there and face it out, and accept the position that was allowed him, the same, after all, as that of the majority of chiefs of scouts.And Cairness stayed with him, serving seven months, and seeking what he might discover. But he discovered nothing more than that the Circle K Ranch, for all that it might be the Texan's in name, was Stone's in point of fact, and that Lawton's dread of that mighty man was very much greater than his hope of heaven.
"Are you trying to drive me off?" she said measuredly. "Do you wish me to go away from you? If you do, I will go. I will go, and I will never come back. But I will not go to him鈥攏ot on my own account. It doesn't matter what happens to me; but on your account and on his, I will never go to him鈥攏ot while you are alive." She stopped, and every nerve in her body was tense to quivering, her drawn lips worked.Chapter 17Cairness asked who Bill Lawton might be, and was told that he had been one of the Kirby men, "Big fellow with a big wife. If you was ever there, you'd ought to remember her. She was a Venus and a Cleopatrer rolled into one, you bet." The cow-boy was not devoid of lore for all his lowly station.
Cairness leaned far over and made a grab, but the first time he missed. The second he caught the neckerchief and held it, dragging the man, who resisted with all his giant strength, digging his toes into the ground as they tore along. And he was heavy. [Pg 212]Cairness had no stirrup or pommel to trust to. He saw that it was a case of falling or of leaving go, and he decided to fall. The man would go underneath anyway.He had looked down at the broken glass and the stream of water, and then up quite as calmly but a little less smilingly. "If you do that again, I'll shoot," he said. "Give me another pop."
"I guess not," said Landor, tolerantly, as he turned[Pg 106] his horse over to his orderly; "but, anyway," he added to Ellton, "we had a picnic鈥攐f a sort.""Where are they all goin' to?" the Reverend Taylor asked in plaintive dismay. He had risen to his feet because he had seen Cairness do it, and now he sat again because Cairness had dropped back on the couch. He was utterly at sea, but he felt that the safest thing to do would be that which every one else did. He remembered that he had felt very much the same once when he had been obliged to attend a funeral service in a Roman Catholic Church. All the purple and fine[Pg 39] linen of the Scarlet Woman and the pomp and circumstance surrounding her had bewildered him in about this same way.详情
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