"Suppose you let me call for volunteers," suggested Landor. He was sure of his own men, down to the last recruit.It occurred to her now for the first time that there was danger for herself, so far in front, so entirely alone. The chances for passing the mesquites were not very good. If the men were already there, and that might be counted upon, they would not let her pass if they could help it. It occasioned her but one fear鈥攖hat she[Pg 328] could not stop her husband. If she were to turn from the road out into the open, she would lose time, even if the horse did not fall, and time was not to be lost.
The Indians who came round talked with her amicably enough, mainly by signs. She played with the children too, and one day there appeared among them her prot茅g茅 of the post, who thereafter became a camp follower.
"Foster?" one drawled, "he'll be along presently, I reckon."
Landor cursed the malpais and the men who were leading him over it. "How much more of this rough country is there going to be?" he demanded, as they stopped to shoe two horses that had come unshod on the sharp rocks. "Colonel," they made answer with much dignity, "we are more anxious than you to get back to our defenceless women and children."The storm passed, with all the suddenness it had come on, and Felipa rose, and dressing herself quickly went out upon the porch. Three drenched kittens were mewing there piteously. She gathered them up in her hands and warmed them against her breast as she stood watching the earth and sky sob themselves to rest. All the petunias in the bed by the steps were full of rain, the crowfoot and madeira vines of the porch were stirring with the dripping water. Many great trees had had their branches snapped off and tossed several[Pg 307] yards away, and part of the windmill had been blown to the top of the stable, some distance off. She wondered if Cairness had been able to get the cut alfalfa covered. Then she took the kittens with her to the house and went into the kitchen, where the Chinese cook already had a fire in the stove. She ordered coffee and toast to be made at once, and leaving the kittens in the woodbox near the fire, went back to the sitting room.Before long she heard a horse coming at a gallop up the road, to the front of the house. She put out her hand and pushed aside the vines, but could see little until the rider, dismounting and dropping his reins to hang on the ground, ran up the steps. It was the mail carrier, the young hero of the Indian massacre. Felipa saw in a moment that he was excited. She thought of her husband at once, and sat up in the hammock.
And the Indian may be trusted to know of these. Here where the jacales clustered, there was grass and wood and water that might last indefinitely. The fortifications of Nature had been added to those of Nature's man. It was a stronghold.Stone held that the affair had been grossly exaggerated, and that the proof thereof lay in the acquittal of all accused of the crime, by a jury of their peers; and Landor said that the sooner that highly discreditable travesty on justice was forgotten, the better for the good fame of the territory. The press representative waxed eloquent once more, until his neck grew violet with suppressed wrath, which sputtered out now and then in profanity. The officer met his finest flights with cold ridicule, and the Agency man improved the opportunity by pouring himself a drink from the flask on the cot. In little it was the reproduction of the whole situation on the frontier鈥攁nd the politician profited.
Cairness had gone out to hitch the horses. When he came in he spoke to Mrs. Lawton, as one possessed of authority. He told her to lie down if she wanted to. "With your leave, Mrs. Taylor?" he added. Mrs. Taylor was already beside her, fussing kindly and being met with scant courtesy.That night he sat upon the edge of his bunk, in the darkness, after taps, with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hand, and thought the matter to a conclusion. The conclusion was that he would not re?nlist, and the reason for it was the girl he had met on the parade ground. He knew the power that beauty had over him. It was as real, as irresistible, as a physical sensation. And he thought Felipa Cabot the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. "She should be done in a heroic bronze," he told himself; "but as I can't do it, and as I haven't the right to so much as think about her, I shall be considerably happier at a distance, so I'll go."He failed in the warning. He had barely gotten off the reservation before Geronimo and Nachez and their sympathizers broke out and started to reach again that fastness in the Sierra Madre from which they had been routed two years before. But he succeeded without the least difficulty in obtaining the position of chief of scouts.
But only a coyote barked from a knoll near by."Lookin' at my stove-pipe?" asked the Reverend Mr. Taylor. "Only one in these parts, I reckon," and he vouchsafed an explanation of the holes. "Them holes? A feller in Tucson done that for me."
He nodded forcibly. "Where all them mesquites is to one side, and the arroyo to the other. They'll be behind the mesquite. But you ain't goin' to head him off," he added, "there ain't even a short cut. The road's the shortest."But the minister still refused to see it. He looked him very squarely in the eyes now, however. "See here, I am going to take lemon pop, my friend," he said.
"Yes?" said Landor. He knew the citizens of the district, and attached no particular sacredness to the person of their envoy.Chapter 3He asked her angrily why she had ever come at all, and she explained, with a piteous whimper, like a penitent child's, that she had left her horse tied in a little hollow and had come to explore. She had often meant to explore before this.详情
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