"Mrs. Landor is very beautiful," Cairness hazarded. He wanted to talk of her, or to make some one else do it.
He did not answer, and she knew that he was annoyed. She had come to see that he was always annoyed by such references, and she made them more frequent for that very reason, half in perversity, half in a fixed determination not to be ashamed of her origin, for she felt, without quite realizing it, that to come to have shame and contempt for herself would be to lose every hold upon life.Landor went forward again. "Can you, gentlemen, tell me," he demanded a trifle wrathfully, "where I can find Mr. Foster?" They reckoned, after deliberation, that he might be in Bob's saloon. Which might Bob's saloon be? The man pointed, hooking his thumb over his shoulder, and went on with his conversation and his quid. A dozen or more loafers, chiefly Mexicans, had congregated in front of the dry-goods store.
There was a mutilated thing that had once been a man's body on the floor in the half-burned log cabin. And in another room lay two children, whose smooth, baby foreheads were marked, each with a round violet-edged hole. Beside them was their mother, with her face turned to the rough boards鈥攎ercifully. For there had been no time to choose the placing of that last shot, and it had disfigured cruelly as it did its certain work.There were two bodies lying across the trail in front of him. He dismounted, and throwing his reins to the[Pg 136] trumpeter went forward to investigate. It was not a pleasant task. The men had been dead some time and their clothing was beginning to fall away in shreds. Some of their outfit was scattered about, and he could guess from it that they had been prospectors. A few feet away was the claim they had been working. Only their arms had been stolen, otherwise nothing appeared to be missing. There was even in the pockets considerable coin, in gold and silver, which Landor found, when he took a long knife from his saddle bags, and standing as far off as might be, slit the cloth open.
Landor and the adjutant came by, and she called to them. The adjutant backed the vinagrone with a bag of sutler's candy, and Felipa took the tarantula. It was mainly legless trunk, but still furious. Landor studied her. She was quiet, but her eyes had grown narrow, and they gleamed curiously at the sight of the torn legs and feelers scattering around the bottle, wriggling and writhing. She was at her very worst.Landor turned to the citizen. "Where is your bid, Mr. Lawton?"They were fighting. "Captain, what do you say to following this trail?" they clamored.
"I used to know Mrs. Cairness in Washington," Forbes went on, undisturbed; "she has probably told you so."He changed it to a laugh. "A scout married is a scout marred. I am a rancher now. It behooves me to accept myself as such. I have outlived my usefulness in the other field."
The woman called early in the blazing afternoon, appearing clad in silks, waving a gorgeous fan of[Pg 63] plumes, and sinking languidly into a chair. Felipa sat bolt upright on a camp-stool, and before the close of an hour they were at daggers' points. The commandant's wife used cheap French phrases in every other breath, and Felipa retaliated in the end by a long, glib sentence, which was not understood. She seemed absolutely dense and unsmiling about it, but Landor was used to the mask of stolidity. He got up and went to the window to arrange the gray blanket, and hide a smile that came, even though he was perfectly aware of the unwisdom of making an enemy of the C. O.'s wife.Cairness said "yes" rather half heartedly. That fresh, sweet type was insipid to him now, when there was still so fresh in his memory the beauty of a [Pg 40]black-haired girl, with eagle eyes that did not flinch before the sun's rays at evening or at dawn.
The general smiled. He treated Cairness as nearly like an equal as possible always, and got his advice and comment whenever he could.
"You speak with the utmost fluency, my daughter,"[Pg 47] he had commended, and she had explained that she found expression more easy in French.详情
Copyright © 2020