The Gila River cutting straight across the southern portion of Arizona, from the Alkali flats on the east to the Colorado at Yuma on the west, flowed then its whole course through desolation. Sometimes cottonwoods and sycamore trees rose in the bottom, and there was a patch of green around some irrigated land. But, for the most part, the basin was a waste of glittering sand and white dust, and beyond, the low hills, bare of every plant save a few stunted wild flowers, cacti and sage, greasewood and mesquite, rolled for miles and miles of barrenness. The chicken hawk and crow sailed through the fiercely blue sky, the air waved and quivered with incredible heat. At night malaria rose from the ground, the coyote barked and whined at the light of the brilliant stars, and the polecat prowled deliberately."How do you know this?"
Landor went forward again. "Can you, gentlemen, tell me," he demanded a trifle wrathfully, "where I can find Mr. Foster?" They reckoned, after deliberation, that he might be in Bob's saloon. Which might Bob's saloon be? The man pointed, hooking his thumb over his shoulder, and went on with his conversation and his quid. A dozen or more loafers, chiefly Mexicans, had congregated in front of the dry-goods store.
[Pg 100][Pg 120]
A score of voices answered "Yes." They were all aroused now. Landor went down to meet the man, who had dismounted and was climbing up toward him, leading his horse. It was a courier, sent out from Apache, as Cairness had supposed.[Pg 130]
"I don't know," objected Landor; "you get the satisfaction of beginning the row pretty generally鈥攁s you did this time鈥攁nd of saying what you think about us in unmistakable language after we have tried to put things straight for you."But she was not sure that she thought so. She wanted to know why the woman could not be sent to the hotel, and he explained that Cairness wished a very close watch kept on her until she was able to be up. Curiosity got the better of outraged virtue then. "Why?" she asked, and leaned forward eagerly.
"You won't, I don't guess, if it was the citizens' own wish," insisted the indomitable one. "You wouldn't be gone more than two days at the outside. And a big party of us will go with you."
The fault of this last, crowning breach of faith was not all with the Red-men by any means. But the difficulty would be to have that believed. The world at large,鈥攐r such part of it as was deigning to take heed of this struggle against heavy odds, this contest between the prehistoric and the makers of history,鈥攖he world at large would not go into the details, if indeed it were ever to hear them. It would know just this, that a band of Indians, terrible in the very smallness of their numbers, were meeting the oncoming line of civilization from the East with that of the savagery of the West, as a prairie fire is met and checked in its advance by another fire kindled and set on to stop it. It would know that the blood of the masters of the land was being spilled upon the thirsty, unreclaimed ground by those who were, in right and justice, for the welfare of humanity, masters no more. It would know that the voice which should have been that of authority and command was often turned to helpless complaint or shrieks for mercy. And it[Pg 304] would not stop for the causes of these things; it could not be expected to. It would know that a man had come who had promised peace, confidently promised it in the event of certain other promises being fulfilled, and that he had failed of his purpose. The world would say that Crook had held in his grasp the Apaches and the future peace of an empire as large as that of Great Britain and Ireland, France and Germany in one, and that he had let it slip through nerveless fingers. It was signal failure."You're English, I reckon, ain't you?"
"Don't bring them into it," he implored. "If you will not come away, I will tell you now, Felipa, that I love you." He was more in earnest than Landor had been. She felt that herself. His voice broke, and he paled.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.
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Her only salvation, he knew that too, was to keep that strain always uppermost, to force it to the surface, exactly as Landor was doing now. Conventional, stately, reserved, in the garb of civilization, she would[Pg 217] have a certain dignity. But youth was too good to sell for that.Ellton answered "Very good," and they went out, locking the door.
Visiting the guard is dull work, and precisely the same round, night after night, with hardly ever a variation. But to-night there occurred a slight one.[Pg 187] Landor was carrying his sabre in his arm, as he went by the back of the quarters, in order that its jingle might not disturb any sleepers. For the same reason he walked lightly, although, indeed, he was usually soft-footed, and came unheard back of Brewster's yard. Brewster himself was standing in the shadow of the fence, talking to some man. Landor could see that it was a big fellow, and the first thing that flashed into his mind, without any especial reason, was that it was the rancher who had been in trouble down at the sutler's store.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.详情
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