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.
The man did go underneath and bravely offered resistance. Cairness had the twofold strength of his wiry build and of his bull-dog race. But Lawton鈥攈e knew it was Lawton now鈥攚ould have been stronger yet, save that the three weeks' spree had told, and he was breathless.
The parson expressed pity鈥攁nd felt it, which is more.
Two steers, locking their horns, broke from the herd and swaying an instant so, separated and started side by side across the prairie. He settled in his saddle and put his cow-pony to a run, without any preliminary gait, going in a wide circle to head them back. Running across the ground, thick with coyote and dog holes, was decidedly perilous; men had their necks[Pg 164] broken in that way every few days; but it would not have mattered to him especially to have ended so. Wherefore he did not, but drove the steers back to the herd safely. And then he returned to the monotonous sentry work and continued thinking of himself.
Later in the day, when the general and the interpreters were engaged in making clear to the bucks, who came straggling in to surrender, the wishes and intentions of the Great Father in Washington as regarded his refractory children in Arizona, he went back to the captives' tepee. The Texan was nowhere to be seen. He called to her and got no answer, then he looked in. She was not there. One of the Mexican women was standing by, and he went up to her and asked for the Gringa.Early in the morning of the day she was to leave she went to the graveyard alone again. She was beginning to realize more than she had at first that Landor was quite gone. She missed him, in a way. He had been a strong influence in her life, and there was a lack of the pressure now. But despite the form of religion to[Pg 290] which she clung, she had no hope of meeting him in any future life, and no real wish to do so.
Once when Felipa got out of the ambulance to tramp beside it, in the stinging snow whirls, and to start the thin blood in her veins, she had looked up into his blanket-swathed face, and laughed. "I wonder if you looked like that when you took me through this part of the world twenty years ago," she said."I wonder, my dear, what sort of air you breathed in your mother's restaurant at meal times?"
"It is not only my business," he said, overlooking the last, and bending more eagerly forward, "it is not[Pg 49] only my business, it is the business of the whole post. You are being talked about, my dear young lady."Cairness took the Reverend Taylor to the door. "You know that is Bill Lawton's wife?" he said.
He stroked its head with his finger as it lay still, opening and shutting its bright little eyes. "It won't live," he told her, and then the thought occurred to him to put her to the test. He held the bird out to her. "Wring its neck," he said, "and end its misery."He put his arm about her and she laid her head against his breast. "I am jealous of him," she said, without any manner of preface.
Landor sat and heard them out, silence on his lips and wrath upon his brow. "We will go wherever you say," he reiterated immovably."You came quick all right enough," said Landor, looking at the lathered broncos. But Major McLane was inquiring, and the result of his inquiries was that two troops were hurried in hot pursuit.
He knew that the stores which should have gone to him were loaded upon wagon-trains and hurried off the reservation in the dead of night; but he did not know why the Apache who was sent to humbly ask the agent about it was put in the guard-house for six months without trial. He knew that his corn patches were trampled down, but not that it was to force him to purchase supplies from the agent and his friends, or else get out. He knew that his reservation鈥攏one too large, as it was, for three thousand adults more or less鈥攈ad been cut down without his consent five different times, and that Mormon settlers were elbowing him out of what space remained. But, being only a savage, it were foolish to expect that he should have seen the reason for these things. He has not yet learned to take kindly to financial dishonesty. Does he owe you two bits, he will travel two hundred miles to pay it. He has still much to absorb concerning civilization.The general kept his own counsel then, but afterward, when it was all over, he confessed,鈥攏ot to the rejoicing reporter who was making columns out of him for the papers of this, and even of many another, land,鈥攂ut to the friends who had in some measure understood and believed in him, that the strain and responsibility had all but worn him out. And he was no frail man, this mighty hunter of the plains.详情
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