It occurred to Cairness then that with no breath in your lungs and with twelve stone on your chest, speech is difficult. He slid off and knelt beside the rancher, still with the revolver levelled. "Now, why did you do it, eh?" He enforced the "eh" with a shake.The probable outcome of things at the rate they were going was perfectly apparent. Landor would advance in age, respectability, and rank, and would be retired and settle down on three-fourths pay. He himself would end up in some cow-boy row, degraded and worthless, a tough character very probably, a fine example of nothing save atavism. And Felipa would grow old. That splendid triumphant youth of hers would pass, and she would be a commonplace, subdued, middle-aged woman, in whom a relapse to her nature would be a mere vulgarity.
[Pg 311]"Where?" the commandant asked.Then he went off to inspect the stock and the pickets, and to double the sentries. "You had better sleep on your arms," he told the soldiers, and returned to his cot to lie down upon it, dressed, but feigning sleep,[Pg 98] that Felipa might not be uneasy. He need not have resorted to deception. Felipa had not so much as pretended to close her eyes that night.
They went on to tell him that it was all in the Tucson papers, which Brewster knew, however, quite as well as they did themselves. He had made friends among the citizen volunteers of San Tomaso on the night they had camped by the old lake bed, and they had seen that he was kept supplied with cuttings.And since that gray dawn when he had picked his way through the ashes and charred logs, and had bent over the bodies of his friend and the dead mother and the two children, he had been possessed by a loathing that was almost physical repulsion for all Indians. That was why he had left the stone cabin he had built for himself in the White Mountains, forsaking it and the Apaches who had been, in a way, his friends. But he had done it, too, with the feeling that now he had nowhere to lay his head; that he was driven from pillar to post, buffeted and chased; that he was cursed with the curse of the wanderer. If it had not been that he had an indefinite theory of his own concerning the Kirby massacre, as it was known throughout the country, and that he meant to, some day, in some way, avenge it upon the whites who had abandoned them to their fate, he would have killed himself. He had been very near it once, and had sat on the edge of his bunk in the cabin with a revolver in his hand, thinking it all out for an entire evening, before deciding dispassionately against it. He was not desperate, merely utterly careless of life, which is much worse. Desperation is at the most the keen agony of torture at the stake; but [Pg 163]indifference toward all that is held by this world, or the next, is dying in a gradual vacuum.
He laughed, a little falsely, and turned back into the room.She stood looking round the post, across the white-hot parade ground, to the adobe barracks and the sutler's store. Then she turned and considered the officers' quarters. They were a row of hospital, wall, and A tents, floored with rough boards and sheltered by ramadas of willow branches.
He told her that he had gone on to Arizona, to Tombstone, he believed. "By the way," he added, "did you hear that Brewster has married a rich Jewish widow down in Tucson?"Landor was without impulses; the very reverse from boyhood of the man on the ground beside him, which was why, perhaps, it had come to be as it was now. He considered before he replied. But having considered, he answered that he would, and that he would do his best for the child always. Once he had said it, he might be trusted beyond the shadow of a doubt.
It was plain, even to Felipa, how thoroughly he enjoyed being with one who could talk of the past and of the present, from his own point of view. His Coventry had been almost complete since the day that the entire army, impersonated in Crook, had turned disapproving eyes upon him once, and had then looked away from him for good and all. It had been too bitter[Pg 310] a humiliation for him ever to subject himself to the chance of it again."Poor little girl," he said kindly. He could not help it that they were the words of a compassionate friend, rather than of an injured husband.详情
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