[Pg 171]Chapter 5When the day came he rode out with most of the garrison to meet her. He was anxious. He recalled Anne of Cleves, and had a fellow-feeling for the King. By the time they came in sight of the marching troops, he had worked himself to such an implicit faith in the worst that he decided that the wide figure, heavily blue-veiled, and linen-dustered, on the back seat of the Dougherty was she. It is one of the strongest arguments of the pessimist in favor[Pg 17] of his philosophy, that the advantage of expecting the disagreeable lies in the fact that, if he meets with disappointment, it is necessarily a pleasant one.
"Yes," she said, "I am very much attached to it. I was born to it."
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.In half an hour he was back, and having produced his scouting togs from the depths of a sky-blue chest, smelling horribly of tobacco and camphor, he fell to dressing.
"Mrs. Cairness would go where I wished gladly," he added, more evenly; "but if it were to a life very different from this, it would end in death鈥攁nd I should be the cause of it. There it is." He too rose, impatiently.She threw him an indifferent "I am not afraid, not of anything." It was a boast, but he had reason to know that it was one she could make good.
Felipa was not there. At the earliest, she could not return for a couple of days, and by then Landor's body[Pg 283] would be laid in the dreary little graveyard, with its wooden headboards and crosses, and its neglected graves among the coyote and snake holes. The life of the service would be going on just as usual, after the little passing excitement was at an end. For it was an excitement. No one in the garrison would have had it end like this, but since what will be will be, and the right theory of life is to make the most of what offers and to hasten鈥攁s the philosopher has said鈥攖o laugh at all things for fear we may have cause to weep, there was a certain expectation, decently kept down, in the air.
"Did you, though?""Yes, sir," he answered; "you can see that I get a mounted man and a horse at reveille to-morrow. I want to hunt for my pony. I lost it when I caught that man."
"You don't love her, for that matter, either," Mrs. Campbell reminded him. But she advised the inevitable,鈥攖o wait and let it work itself out.He had gone back.
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."Chapter 13
"He does not understand," she continued; "he was always a society man, forever at receptions and dances and teas. He doesn't see how we can make up to each other for all the world."Visiting the guard is dull work, and precisely the same round, night after night, with hardly ever a variation. But to-night there occurred a slight one.[Pg 187] Landor was carrying his sabre in his arm, as he went by the back of the quarters, in order that its jingle might not disturb any sleepers. For the same reason he walked lightly, although, indeed, he was usually soft-footed, and came unheard back of Brewster's yard. Brewster himself was standing in the shadow of the fence, talking to some man. Landor could see that it was a big fellow, and the first thing that flashed into his mind, without any especial reason, was that it was the rancher who had been in trouble down at the sutler's store.She rose to her feet, standing slender and erect, the roused fawn on one side and the naked savage on the other. And they faced each other, disconcerted, caught mute in the reverberation, indefinite, quivering, of a chord which had been struck somewhere in the depths of that Nature to which we are willing enough to grant the power of causing the string of an instrument to pulse to the singing of its own note, but whose laws of sympathetic vibration we would fain deny beyond material things.详情
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