It was done before either of them was conscious of doing it. The black throat of the cave was open behind him. Cairness jumped back into it, and she turned away and stood waiting, stiff with fear, not of the man whoever it might prove to be up there, but for the one who had stepped into the unknown dangers of the darkness behind her.
There had been an afternoon in Washington when, on her road to some reception of a half-official kind, she had crossed the opening of an alleyway and had come upon three boys who were torturing a small, blind kitten; and almost without knowing what she did, because her maternal grandfather had done to the children of his enemies as the young civilized savages were doing to the kitten there, she stopped and watched them, not enjoying the sight perhaps, but not recoiling from it either. So intent had she been that she had not heard footsteps crossing the street toward her, and had not known that some one stopped beside her with an exclamation of wrath and dismay. She had turned suddenly and looked up, the pupils of her eyes contracted curiously as they had been when she had watched the tarantula-vinagrone fight years before.He was surprised, but he was pleased too, and he took the long fingers in his and held them gently.
The Texan woman went back to the kitchen and finished cooking the supper for the hands鈥攁 charred sort of Saturnalian feast. "She can git her own dinner if she wants to," she proclaimed, and was answered by a chorus of approval."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.
And on another morning there lounged into the space in front of the tents, with the indolent swing of a mountain lion, a big Sierra Blanca buck. He was wrapped from neck to moccasins in a red blanket, and carried an elaborate calf's-hide quiver. He stopped in front of Felipa, who was sitting on the ground with her back against the trunk of a fallen tree reading, and held out the quiver to her.Cairness did remember, but he did not see fit to say so.
Yet, in the midst of her little triumph, Felipa fell ill, failing without apparent cause, and then the uneasiness that had only slept in Landor for eighteen months came awake again. He did not believe when the doctors told him that it was the lassitude of the moist, warm springtime which was making the gray circles about her eyes, the listlessness of her movements."After that, as I said before, you may go."
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.At six o'clock Kirby knocked the ashes from his pipe, the other two men, who had buried themselves in the last Cornhill and Punch with entire disregard of the rest of the room, put down the magazines, and all of them rose. "We dine at seven," Mrs. Kirby said to Taylor and Cairness as she passed through the door, followed by her husband.
"You are too good for it.""You know that I love you?" he said unevenly.
Landor asked what he meant by that. "I'm sick of all this speaking in riddles," he said.She looked at him in perplexity and surprise. "How could I be? There is no use talking about it."
Brewster poured himself a glass of beer and drank it contemplatively and was silent. Then he set it down on the bare table with a sharp little rap, suggesting determination made. It was suggestive of yet more than this, and caused them to say "Well?" with a certain eagerness. He shrugged his shoulders and changed the subject, refusing pointedly to be brought back to it, and succeeding altogether in the aim which had brought him down there.It was half because she felt it would prick him, and half in humility, that she answered, "I suppose that is the Indian in me."The hero of the episode rode in the ambulance, sitting on the front seat, holding his carbine across his knees, and peering with sharp, far-sighted blue eyes over the alkali flats. Occasionally he took a shot at a jack rabbit and brought it down unfailingly, but the frontiersman has no relish for rabbit meat, and it was left where it dropped, for the crows. He also brought down a sparrow hawk wounded in the wing, and, [Pg 29]having bound up the wound, offered it to Brewster, who took it as an opening to a conversation and tried to draw him out.详情
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