But he kept a close watch upon her then and during all the hard, tedious march back to the States, when the troops and the scouts had to drag their steps to meet the strength of the women and children; when the rations gave out because there were some four hundred Indians to be provided for, when the command ate mescal root, digging it up from the ground and baking it; and when the presence of a horde of filthy savages made the White-man suffer many things not to be put in print.So that was it! It took all the self-command that thirty-five varied years had taught him not to rise up and knock her head against the sharp rocks. But he lay quite still, and presently he said: "That is near enough for my purposes, thank you. But I would be interested to know, if you don't mind, what you had against a helpless woman and those two poor little babies. I wouldn't have supposed that a woman lived who could have been such a fiend as all that."
"Not exactly, no. But you were an accessory after the fact."He knew even then while her hand grasped at his arm, that he should have set her upon her feet, as he had done before. He knew that she had merited at least that. But he held her tight and close, and bending back her head, his own very close above it, looked into her eyes.
She did not show the enthusiasm he had rather expected. "I dare say it is my bad conscience," she answered with some indifference. "I have a sin to confess."
[Pg 223]She shook her head. "It is the first you have known of it, Jack," she said; "but I have known it for a long while, and I have not been unhappy."
"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?"
Cabot did not answer. The gasping horse on the sand, moving its neck in a weak attempt to get up, was answer enough. He stood with his hands hanging helplessly, looking at it in wrath and desperation.
The sun was now high and blazing down into the one street of the mud settlement. The enlisted men[Pg 116] were angry that Landor, fearing they, too, would be led astray into dives, would not dismount them. Sitting still in the full sun, when even in the shade the mercury is many degrees above the hundreds, is not calculated to improve the disposition. But at length the volunteers were herded together. The thirty-five promised had dwindled to eight, and Foster was not of the number. He came lurching up at the last moment to explain that he would be unable to go. His wife was in hysterics, he said."I've thought of bringing her on here. But how can I? In a bachelor establishment? My sister won't have her at any terms. She suggested an orphan asylum from the first, and she hasn't changed her mind."详情
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