With the things of the flesh there can be the vindictive hope, the certainty indeed, that they will lose their charm with time, that the gold will tarnish and the gray come above the green, but a thought is dearer for every year that it is held, and its beauty does not fade away. The things of the flesh we may even mar ourselves, if the rage overpowers us, but those of the intellect are not to be reached or destroyed; and Felipa felt it as she turned from them and went into the house.But the argument was weak. Forbes paid small heed to it. "You've a great deal besides. Every one in the country knows your mines have made you a[Pg 320] rich man. And you are better than that. You are a talented man, though you've frittered away your abilities too long to amount to anything much, now. You ought to get as far off from this kind of thing as you can."
The child brushed at her cheek and struggled away. "Come, Billy," she called to the brother who had saved her life; and that small, freckle-faced hero, whose nose was badly skinned from a fall, flung his arms around his benefactress's neck perfunctorily and escaped, rejoicing.
"Thanks. But you started out to tell me what Lawton told Stone."He rolled another cigarette, and sat smoking it unmoved. And she went into the mess tent.
"Mrs. Cairness would go where I wished gladly," he added, more evenly; "but if it were to a life very different from this, it would end in death鈥攁nd I should be the cause of it. There it is." He too rose, impatiently."Alone?"
"I don't know what has been said, Major, but something more than just what's in the papers must have gotten about. That sort of mud-slinging is too common to cause comment, even. It must be some spite work. There's no reason to suppose, surely, that after a quarter of a century of gallant service he's been and shown the white feather. He's awfully cut up, really he is. He's noticed it, of course, and it's too deuced bad, kicking a man when he's down sick and can't help himself."If he had had any hope, it vanished before her unhesitating, positive, "No; I am not mistaken. Oh, no!"
But there was no night alarm, and at daybreak it began to be apparent to the troops that they had been led directly away from all chance of one. They made[Pg 121] fires, ate their breakfast, resaddled, and took their way back to the settlements, doubling on their own trail. They came upon signs of a yet larger band, and it was more probable than ever that the valley had been in danger.But that same night he picked two for their reputation of repeating all they knew, and took them into his own rooms and told his story to them. And he met once again with such success that when Landor rode into the post the next day at about guard-mounting, three officers, meeting him, raised their caps and passed on.
Cairness stood up, ran his hands into his pockets, and going over to the window looked down at the geraniums as he had done once, long before.He turned back abruptly. "You had better get another. You can't have that one," he answered.
"Or the nurse?"He handed them over.详情
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