Felipa forgot her contempt for Cairness. She was interested and suddenly aroused herself to show it. "How do you come to be living with the Indians?" she asked. It was rarely her way to arrive at a question indirectly. "Have you married a squaw?"
He rolled another cigarette, and sat smoking it unmoved. And she went into the mess tent.The breakfast humor when the thermometer has been a hundred and fifteen in the shade for long months, is pessimistic. "Don't get married then, please," said Felipa, "not for a few days at any rate. I don't want Captain Landor to go off until he gets over these chills and things."
"Shut up," said Brewster, with malicious glee. "They also serve who only stand and wait, you know," he chuckled. "You can serve your admiring and grateful country quite as well in the adjutant's office as summering on the verdant heights of the Mogollons."Felipa started back so violently that she struck against the log she had been sitting upon, and lost her balance.
She might have seen two dots of light fixed on her from the shadow, if she had looked that way. But she did not, and came unconcernedly down. She was sure-footed and agile, and she was daring, too. He himself had felt a qualm at coming here. But she did not appear to hesitate once. She came on, close by where he sat, and going to the dark passage peered in. Then she turned away and caught sight of him.
But Crook was not dashing, only quiet and steady, and sure as death. Upon parade and occasions of ceremony he wore the gold lace and the stars. To do his life's work he put on an old flannel shirt, tied a kerchief around his neck, and set a pith helmet over those farseeing, keen little eyes. He might have been a [Pg 228]prospector, or a cow-boy, for all the outward seeming of it. His charger was oftenest a little government mule, and he walked, leading it over many and many a trail that even its sure feet could not trust.
The chief Alchise and a half hundred of his kind鈥攐ne so deaf that he held to his savage old ear a civilized speaking-trumpet鈥攕quatted about on the ground, and explained to Crook the nature of their wrongs.
Ellton stood by the door, with his hands in his pockets, and a countenance that tried hard to maintain the severity of discipline. But he was plainly enjoying it.
[Pg 257]He recalled the dark, unbecoming flush that had deepened the color of her skin just enough to show the squaw, beyond mistaking, at least to one who knew. It was all very well now. But later, later she would look like that frequently, if not all the time. With youth she would lose her excuse for being. He knew that very well. But it was the youth, the majestic, powerful youth, that he loved. He had seen too many old hags of squaws, disfigurers of the dead and wounded, drudges of the rancheria, squatting on hides before their tepees, not to know what Felipa's decline would be in spite of the Anglo-Saxon strain that seemed to show only in her white skin.[Pg 115]
"She is very magnificent," said the officer, coldly. It was plain that magnificence was not what he admired in woman. And there it had dropped.It was unfortunate for Landor, as most things seemed to be just then, that the Department Commander happened to have an old score to settle. It resulted in the charges preferred by Brewster being given precedence over the request for a court of inquiry. The Department Commander was a man of military knowledge, and he foresaw that the stigma of having been court-martialled for cowardice would cling to Landor through all his future career, whatever the findings of the court might be. An officer is in the position of the wife of C?sar, and it is better for him, much better, that the charge of "unsoldierly and unofficer-like conduct, in violation of the sixty-first article of war," should never come up against him, however unfounded it may be.详情
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