The murmurs in the corral rose louder. It was not that Kirby and his partners underpaid, underfed, or overworked the American citizens. It was that their language was decent and moderate; and the lash of the slave driver would have stung less than the sight of the black coats and the seven o'clock dinner. In the midst of white savages and red, the four clung to the forms of civilization with that dogged persistence in the unessential, that worship of the memory of a forsaken home, for which the Englishman, time and again, lays down his life without hesitation. That was the grievance.Before they had reached the post, he had learned a good deal about her. The elderly major who had come with her from Kansas told him that a lieutenant by the name of Brewster was insanely in love with her, that the same Brewster was a good deal of an ass,鈥攖he two facts having no connection, however,鈥攖hat she was an excellent travelling companion, always satisfied and always well. What the major did not tell him, but what he gathered almost at once, was that the girl had not endeared herself to any one; she was neither loved nor disliked鈥攖he lieutenant's infatuation was not to be taken as an indication of her character, of course. But then she was beautiful, with her long, intent eyes, and strong brows and features cut on classic lines of perfection. So Landor left the major and cantered ahead to join her, where she rode with Brewster."For destruction of government property," Cairness told her, and there was just the faintest twinkle between his lids. "I didn't know all these interesting details about the Kirbys until you told me, Mrs. Lawton."
Landor stood considering and pulling at his mustache, as his way was. Then he turned on his heel and went back to the tent for Brewster. He explained the matter to him. "I tell Mr. Foster," he said, "just what risk I would take if I acted contrary to orders, but the force of my argument doesn't seem to strike him. If any harm were to come to the citizens around here, I'd be responsible."Landor came sliding and running down. His face was misshapen with the anger that means killing. She saw it, and her powers came back to her all at once. She put both hands against his breast and pushed him back, with all the force of her sinewy arms. His foot slipped on a stone and he fell.
He made as if to kick the bottle away, but quick as a flash she was on her feet and facing him.
Mrs. Lawton gritted her teeth at him as though she would have rejoiced greatly to have had his neck between them. By and by she started once more. "Bill jest told him about it鈥攍ike a goldarned fool."Landor's fear of leaving the settlements unguarded grew. "We will get up among these mountains and be delayed, and we are in no condition whatever to travel, anyway," he told Brewster, as the advance[Pg 119] guard halted again, and Landor, with curses in his heart but a civil tongue withal, trotted up to them.
Another officer came up, and Cairness dropped from the twisted bow and walked away.
The round-up lasted several days longer, and then the men were paid off, and went their way. The way[Pg 167] of most was toward Tombstone, because the opportunities for a spree were particularly fine there. Not because of these, but because the little parson lived there now, Cairness went also. Moreover, it was as good a place as another to learn more about the massacre. Cow-boys coming from other round-ups and getting drunk might talk.When the moon rose, Barnwell and Stone went away and left Landor again with the peeping squaws and the wailing papooses, the mosquitoes and the legacy of their enduring enmity,鈥攁n enmity not to be lightly despised, for it could be as annoying and far more serious than the stings of the river-bottom mosquitoes. As they walked across the gleaming dust, their bodies throwing long black shadows, two naked Indian boys followed them, creeping forward unperceived, dropping on the ground now and then, and wriggling along like snakes. They were practising for the future.
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But he kept a close watch upon her then and during all the hard, tedious march back to the States, when the troops and the scouts had to drag their steps to meet the strength of the women and children; when the rations gave out because there were some four hundred Indians to be provided for, when the command ate mescal root, digging it up from the ground and baking it; and when the presence of a horde of filthy savages made the White-man suffer many things not to be put in print.
The Powers said that a party of Indians had killed two American citizens, and had thereby offended against their sacred laws. To be sure the Americans had sold the Indians poisonous whiskey, so they had broken the laws, too. But there is, as any one should be able to see, a difference between a law-breaking Chiricahua and a law-breaking territorial politician. Cairness refused to see it. He said things that would have been seditious, if he had been of any importance in the scheme of things. As it was, the Great Powers did not heed them, preferring to take advice from men who did not know an Apache from a Sioux鈥攐r either from the creation of the shilling shocker.详情
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