类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-10-20 22:16:41


[Pg 20]She could not help looking at him now, and his eyes held hers through a silence that seemed to them so enduring, so unreasonable, that Landor must wonder at it. But he had seen men put at a disadvantage by her beauty before, and he had grown too used to her lack of conventionality to think much about it, one way or the other.

It was a fatal want of tact perhaps, characteristic of the race, but then the characteristic is so fine. "You will do whatever I tell you to do," the voice was low and strained, but not wavering. It reached the group by the harness-room door.Moreover, Landor was very ill. In the Mogollons he had gathered and pressed specimens of the gorgeous[Pg 134] wild flowers that turn the plateaux into a million-hued Eden, and one day there had lurked among the blossoms a sprig of poison weed, with results which were threatening to be serious. He rode at the head of his column, however, as it made for home by way of the Aravaypa Ca?on."You must get Mrs. Landor into the post to-morrow," Cairness said abruptly; "Victorio's band is about."

Cairness gave a grunt that was startlingly savage鈥攕o much so that he realized it, and shook himself slightly as a man does who is trying to shake himself free from a lethargy that is stealing over him.

Landor came in a few weeks later. He had had an indecisive skirmish in New Mexico with certain bucks who had incurred the displeasure of the paternal government by killing and eating their horses, to the glory of their gods and ancestors, and thereafter working off their enthusiasm by a few excursions beyond the confines of the reservation, with intent to murder and destroy."Yes," answered Forbes, "she was very much admired." He looked a little unhappy. But his mind was evidently made up, and he went on doggedly: "Look here, Morely, old chap, I am going to tell you what I think, and you may do as you jolly well please about it afterward鈥攌ick me off the ranch, if you like. But I can see these things with a clearer eye than yours, because I am not in love, and you are, dreadfully so, you know, not to say infatuated. I came near to being once upon a time, and with your wife, too. I thought her the most beautiful woman I had ever known, and I do yet. I thought, too, that she was a good deal unhappier with Landor than she herself realized; in which I was perfectly right. It's plainer than ever, by contrast. Of course I understand that she is part Indian, though I've only known it recently. And it's because I've seen a good deal of your Apaches of late that I appreciate the injustice you are doing her and Cairness Junior, keeping them here. She is far and away too good for all this," he swept the scene comprehensively with his pipe. "She'd be a sensation, even in London. Do you see what I mean, or are you too vexed to see anything?"

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.[Pg 22]

"Cairness never was a squaw-man," corrected Crook.

"I think perhaps I'll go with you, if you'll wait over a day," Cairness told him. He had taken a distinct[Pg 38] fancy to the little botanist who wore his clerical garb while he rode a bronco and drove a pack-mule over the plains and mountains, and who had no fear of the Apache nor of the equally dangerous cow-boy. Cairness asked him further about the hat. "That chimney-pot of yours," he said, "don't you find it rather uncomfortable? It is hot, and it doesn't protect you. Why do you wear it?"The captain's lips set.And he could get nothing definite from her beyond that. It annoyed him, of course; Felipa had a gift for repulsing kindness and friendship. It was because she would not lie and could not evade. Therefore, she preserved a silence that was, to say the least of it, exasperating to the well-intentioned.



Landor's sabre stood just within the sitting room, and she went for it and held the glittering blade in front of the snake. Its fangs struck out viciously again and again, and a long fine stream of venom trickled along the steel. Then she raised the sabre and brought it down in one unerring sweep, severing the head from the body. In the morning she would cut off the rattle and add it to the string of close upon fifty that hung over her mirror. But now the night was calling to her, the wild blood was pricking in her veins. Running the sabre into the ground, she cleaned off the venom, and went back to the adobe to put it in its scabbard."I rather thought that might be too much for even you," said Cairness.

"Thank you," said Cabot, and drew his hand from the girths. He cut Landor short when he tried to change him again. "You are losing time," he told him, "and if you stay here from now to next week it won't do any good. I'll foot it to the water hole, if I can. Otherwise鈥" the feeble laugh once more as his eyes shifted to where a big, gray prairie wolf was going[Pg 6] across the flat, stopping now and then to watch them, then swinging on again.



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