He recalled the dark, unbecoming flush that had deepened the color of her skin just enough to show the squaw, beyond mistaking, at least to one who knew. It was all very well now. But later, later she would look like that frequently, if not all the time. With youth she would lose her excuse for being. He knew that very well. But it was the youth, the majestic, powerful youth, that he loved. He had seen too many old hags of squaws, disfigurers of the dead and wounded, drudges of the rancheria, squatting on hides before their tepees, not to know what Felipa's decline would be in spite of the Anglo-Saxon strain that seemed to show only in her white skin.
"Yes, we believe you," said the Apache; "but you may go away again." So he refused to be cajoled, and going upon the war-path, after much bloodshed, fled into Mexico.
"I don't mind," she began; and then her strict truthfulness coming uppermost, she corrected herself: "At least, I don't mind very much, not so much as you thought I would."Stone wore his oratory out after a time, and Cairness closed his eyes rather more, to the end that he might look a yet greater ass, and said that he wanted to hire out as a cow-boy or ranch hand of some sort. "Taylor told me you knew a fellow named Lawton, I think it was. Would he be wanting one now?" He took considerable satisfaction in his own histrionic ability, and lapsed into the phraseology of the job-hunter.
The buck sat down upon the ground in front of Felipa and considered her. By the etiquette of the tribe she could not ask him his name, but the boy, her prot茅g茅, told her that it was Alchesay. All the afternoon he hung around the camp, taciturn, apparently aimless, while she went about her usual amusements and slept in the tent. Once in a way he spoke to her in Spanish. And for days thereafter, as they moved up along the rough and dangerous road,鈥攚here the wagon upset with monotonous regularity, big and heavy though it was,鈥攈e appeared from time to time.She was sitting in her room, sewing. Of late she had become domesticated, and she was fading under it. He had seen it already, and he saw it more plainly than ever just now. She looked up and smiled. Her smile had always been one of her greatest charms, because it was rare and very sweet. "Jack," she greeted him, "what have you done with the bread knife you took with you, dear? I have been lost without it."
It was the always expected, the never ceasing. Landor looked at his wife and stroked his mustache with[Pg 75] a shaking hand. His face was yellow, and his hair had grown noticeably grayer.
There were two rooms to the cabin where they were, the big sitting room and the small bedchamber beyond. Kirby went into the bedroom and came out with two rifles and a revolver. He put the revolver into his wife's hands. "I'll do my best, you know, dear. But if I'm done for, if there is no hope for you and the children, use it," he said. And added, "You understand?"He watched her as she went out of the tent, and the surgeon and steward worked with the shining little instruments.
"No," she said, "I told the Campbells I would not go to them."So the troops and the volunteers rode away without him, and a few miles off, among the foot-hills, struck the trail. Here Landor, giving ear to the advice of the citizens, found himself whirled around in a very torrent of conflicting opinions. No two agreed. The liquor had made them ugly. He dismounted the command for rest, and waited, filled with great wrath.
"Who is there to marry hereabouts? And always supposing there were some one, I'd be sent off on a scout next day, and have to ship her back East for an indefinite time. It would be just my blamed luck."And when the retreat gun boomed in the distance, she stood up, shaking the earth and grasses from her gown, and started to carry out her plans. A storm was blowing up again. Clouds were massing in the sky, and night was rising rather than the sun setting. There was a cold, greenish light above the snow peak, and darkness crept up from the earth and down from the gray clouds that banked upon the northern horizon and spread fast across the heavens. A bleak, whining wind rustled the leaves of the big trees down by the creek, and caught up the dust of the roadway in little eddies and whirls, as Felipa, with a new purpose in her step, swung along it back to the post.
[Pg 18]"And you think there will be trouble?" He knew that the buck had come there for nothing but to inform.详情
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