[Pg 171]The commandant's wife took Mrs. Landor in, and would have put her to bed with hot drinks and blankets, but that Felipa would have nothing more than some dry clothes and a wrapper in place of her wet habit. The clothes were her own, brought by one of the men, safe in a rubber poncho, but the wrapper belonged to her hostess, who was portly, whereas Felipa was slender. But to Cairness, who had stopped for luncheon, she seemed, in the voluminous dull red draperies, more splendid than ever before.
"Nothing," she answered; "I can't see why it should make any difference to you, when it hasn't with me." She had altogether regained the self-possession she had been surprised out of, with an added note of reserve.She was strong, slender as she was, and she freed herself almost without effort. And yet he would not be warned. "Don't you love me?" he insisted, as though she had not already made it plain enough.
"Geronimo does not want that any more. He has[Pg 271] tried to do right. He is not thinking bad. Such stories ought not to be put in the newspapers."
Cairness sent one of the soldiers back to report their safety to Landor, and they mounted and hurried on again, swimming the river twice, and reaching the post some time after noon."Where is she now?"
"Her father was dead. He left her to him."
She glared at him, but she stopped short nevertheless, and, flinging down the stone she had been holding, stood up also. "All right, then. You've done with me, I reckon. Now suppose you let me go back to the camp."Did she show the squaw? he asked. "Not unless you knew it was there," the officer said tolerantly. Then he went to bed and slept with that peace of mind which comes of a proud consciousness of holding the handle of the whip. In the morning he got the[Pg 28] man's name and address before he went on up to the Agency.
It was so with Cairness. He was sinking down, and ever down, to the level of his surroundings; he was even ceasing to realize that it was so. He had begun by studying the life of the savages, but he was so entirely grasping their point of view that he was losing all other. He was not so dirty as they鈥攏ot yet. His stone cabin was clean enough, and their villages were squalid. A morning plunge in the river was still a necessity, while with them it was an event. But where he had once spent his leisure in reading in several tongues鈥攊n keeping in touch with the world鈥攁nd in painting, he would now sit for hours looking before him into space, thinking unprofitable thoughts. He lived from hand to mouth. Eventually he would without doubt marry a squaw. The thing was more than common upon the frontier.
He told her that he most certainly did, and she went on.
Landor saw that his own horse was the best; and it bid very fair to play out soon enough. But until it should do so, his course was plain. He gathered his reins in his hands. "You can mount behind me, Cabot," he said. The man shook his head. It was bad enough that he had come down himself without bringing others down too. He tried to say so, but time was too good a thing to be wasted in argument, where an order would serve. There was a water hole to be reached somewhere to the southwest, over beyond the soft, dun hills, and it had to be reached soon. Minutes spelled death under that white hot sun. Landor changed from the friend to the officer, and Cabot threw himself across the narrow haunches that gave weakly under his weight.详情
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