类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-12-01 12:50:41


The general turned his head sharply, and his eyes flashed, but he only asked dryly, "Why?""Cairness," said the parson, fixing his eyes upon the back of the bent head, as if they were trying to see through into the impenetrable brain beneath, "are you going to spend the rest of your life at this sort of thing?"Chapter 25

She sat thinking, with her chin in her palm, and a quite new look of loneliness deep in her eyes. He could see that in the last hour she had grasped almost the fulness of her isolation鈥攁lmost, but not all; only the years could bring forth the rest. She gave a heavy sigh. "Well, I am glad I love you," she said.

Crook had been recalled too late, and he knew it. Every Apache on the reservation was ready for the war-path. It was not to be averted. One man, even a very firm and deft one, could not straighten out in a few weeks the muddle of ten years of thievery, oppression, and goading. It takes more than just a promise, even though it is one likely to be kept, to soothe the hurt feelings of savages who have seen eleven of their friends jailed for fourteen months without the form of accusation or trial. They feel bitter toward the government whose minions do those things.

The Reverend Taylor and Cairness had managed, with a good deal of adroitness, to keep the identity of their patient a secret. Stone was consequently not at all prepared to have her stride in upon him. But he was not a man to be caught exhibiting emotions. The surprise which he showed and expressed was of a perfectly frank and civil, even of a somewhat pleased, sort. He called her "my dear madam," and placed a chair for her. She sat in it under protest. He kept up the social aspect of it all for quite five minutes, but sociability implies conversation, and Cairness and the minister were silent. So was the woman鈥攔igidly.He heard his wife coming down the stairs, and directly she stood in the doorway. "Will you let me have that knife, Jack dear?" she asked amiably.

"Old Manuel he told me. You don't know him. It's an old Greaser, friend of mine. He don't want no one to tell he told, they'd get after him. But it's so, all right. There's three of them."

It was a long way to the salt lick, and the chances were that the two men would be gone the whole afternoon. The day was very hot, and she had put on a long, white wrapper, letting her heavy hair fall down over her shoulders, as she did upon every excuse now, and always when her husband was out of the way. There was a sunbonnet hanging across the porch railing. She put it on her head and went down the steps, carrying the child."He told me it was because he and Landor had had some trouble in the field, and weren't on the best of terms."Stone was something of a power in Tucson politics, and altogether a great man upon the territorial stump. He was proud of his oratory, and launched into a display of it now, painting luridly the wrongs of the citizen, who, it appeared, was a defenceless, honest, [Pg 10]law-abiding child of peace, yet passed his days in seeing his children slaughtered, his wife tortured, his ranches laid waste, and himself shot down and scalped.

[Pg 97]

Cairness slid to the ground, still holding her close, and set her upon her feet at once. He had not so much as tightened the grasp of his arm about her, nor held her one-half second longer than there was absolute need.Felipa's revolver was in her hand, and cocked and pointed straight between two eyes that shone out of the blackness. And so, for an appreciable time, she stood. Then a long arm came feeling out; but because she was looking along the sight into the face at the very end of the muzzle, she failed to see it. When it closed fast about her waist, she gave a quick gasp and fired. But the bullet, instead of going straight through the forehead beneath the head[Pg 79] band, as she had meant it to do, ploughed down. The grasp on the body relaxed for an instant; the next it had tightened, and a branch had struck the pistol from her hand.


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Landor took his arm from the saddle and stood upright, determinedly. "We are going to stop this mob business, that's what we are going to do," he said, and he went forward and joined in a discussion that was[Pg 117] upon the verge of six-shooters. He set forth in measured tones, and words that reverberated with the restrained indignation behind them, that he had come upon the assurance that he was to strike Indians, that his men had but two days' rations in their saddle bags, and that he was acting upon his own responsibility, practically in disobedience of orders. If the Indians were to be hit, it must be done in a hurry, and he must get back to the settlements. He held up his hands to check a flood of protests and explanations. "There has got to be a head to this," his drill-trained voice rang out, "and I propose to be that head. My orders have got to be obeyed.""What is he doing here?"

When she lay, one day, with her face, too white and sharp, looking out from the tangle of hair upon the pillow, he asked her almost abruptly if she had rather go back to the West. He could not bring himself to ask if she were longing to be near Cairness. He shrank too much from her frank, unhesitating assent.Any other fire鈥攅xcepting always in an ammunition magazine鈥攊s easier to handle than one in a stable. It takes time to blind plunging horses and lead them out singly. And there is no time to take. Hay and straw[Pg 208] and gunny-sacks and the dry wood of the stable go up like tinder. It has burned itself out before you can begin to extinguish it.



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