The cow-boy broadened the issue. "You will, and you'll take off that plug, too, or I'll know what for."And he succeeded in seeing Felipa. It was most unexpected. He had believed her to be in Stanton, a good many hundred miles away. But Landor having been sent at once into the field, she had come on to Grant to visit the Campbells, who were again stationed there. He met her face to face only once, and he measured with one quick look all the changes there were between the girl of ten years before and the woman of to-day. The great, sad pity that rose within him, and seemed to grasp at his throat chokingly, was the best love he had felt for her yet. It wiped out the wrong of the short madness in the cave's mouth.
He hesitated, opening his mouth to speak and shutting it again irresolutely.Nor was he disconcerted that she met him with a stony front and a glare of wrath. She glanced down at his outstretched hand, and kept her own great bony one on her hip still. Then she looked at him squarely again. She did not say "Well?" but she meant it. So he answered it blandly, and suggested that she had probably forgotten him, but that he had had the pleasure of meeting her once in the States. She continued to stare. He held that a husband is a husband still[Pg 236] until the law or death says otherwise, and that it was no part of a man's business to inquire into the domestic relations of his friends; so he said that he had had the pleasure of meeting her husband recently. "He was at Fort Stanton," he added, "upon some little matter of business, I believe. You will be glad to hear that he was well." He did not see fit to add that he was also in the county jail, awaiting trial on charge of destruction of government property.
She set about cleaning the little revolver, self-cocking, with the thumb-piece of the hammer filed away, that her husband had given her before they were married. To-night she wanted no dinner. She was given to eating irregularly; a good deal at a time, and again nothing for a long stretch. That, too, was in the blood. So she sent the soldier cook away, and he went over to the deserted barracks.
Cairness watched how strong and erect and how sure of every muscle she was, and how well the blond little head looked against the dull blackness of the mother's hair. The child was in no way like Felipa, and it had never taken her place in its father's love. He was fond of it and proud, too; but, had he been put to the test, he would have sacrificed its life for that of its mother, with a sort of fanatical joy.The boy explained that it was not that, and she let him go, in relief.
He went the next day but one, riding out of the post at daylight. And he saw Felipa once more. She was standing by the creek, drawing an arrow from her quiver and fitting it to her bow. Then she poised the[Pg 32] toe of her left foot lightly upon the ground, bent back, and drew the bow almost to a semicircle. The arrow flew straight up into the shimmering air, straight through the body of a little jay, which came whirling, spinning down among the trees. Felipa gave a quick leap of delight at having made such a shot, then she darted down in search of the bird. And Cairness rode on."They put him in a tent beside the hospital, and the next morning I went over with the doctor to see him. He was all cut up on the arms and neck and shoulders. I must have been very strong." She stopped, and he still sat with the puzzled look on his face, but a light of understanding beginning to show through.
The spoils of the rancheria were varied, and some of them interesting as well. There were quite a hundred mules and horses, and there was money, to the sum of five thousand dollars or more. Also there were gold and silver watches and clothes and saddles and bridles鈥攁ll the loot of the unhappy haciendas and pueblas down on the flat. But the most treasured of all their possessions was a little photograph album which had begun its varied career in the particular home of the misguided Indian philanthropist, Boston."But it is doing Mrs. Cairness an injustice, if you don't mind my saying so."
The major stopped abruptly in his walk to and fro and faced him. "Do you know more about it, then, than Brewster who was with him?"
They laid Landor upon the ground, in the same patch of shade he had glanced at in coming by not five [Pg 281]minutes before. His glazed eyes stared back at the sky. There was nothing to be done for him. But Cairness was alive. They washed the blood from his face with water out of the canteens, and bound his head with a wet handkerchief. And presently he came back to consciousness and saw Landor stretched there, with the bluing hole in his brow, and the quiet there is no mistaking on his sternly weary face. And he turned back his head and lay as ashy and almost as still as the dead man, with a look on his own face more terrible than that of any death.
But it was full two hours, in the end, before they did start. Flasks had to be replenished, farewell drinks taken, wives and families parted from, the last behests made, of those going upon an errand of death. Citizens burning with ardor to protect their hearths and stock were routed out of saloons and dance halls, only to slip away again upon one pretext or another.The Texan woman went back to the kitchen and finished cooking the supper for the hands鈥攁 charred sort of Saturnalian feast. "She can git her own dinner if she wants to," she proclaimed, and was answered by a chorus of approval.
And Cairness stayed with him, serving seven months, and seeking what he might discover. But he discovered nothing more than that the Circle K Ranch, for all that it might be the Texan's in name, was Stone's in point of fact, and that Lawton's dread of that mighty man was very much greater than his hope of heaven.详情
Copyright © 2020