Chapter 10[Pg 67]
The captain they had elected for themselves was for following; the seven others agreed upon a detour. They had ideas of their own concerning obedience to superiors. They left the trail in spite of the vehement assurance of their captain that they would without doubt get all manner of profanity knocked out of them, and hasten their inevitable journey to Gehenna if they went into the timber.She warned them off with a careless "ukishee." But they did not go. Some ten pairs of eyes, full of unmistakable menace, followed her every movement. She let down the tent flaps and tied them together, taking her time about it. She was angry, and growing angrier. It was unendurable to her to be disobeyed, to have her authority put at naught on the few occasions when she chose to exercise it. She could keep her temper over[Pg 91] anything but that. And her temper was of the silent sort, rolling on and on, like a great cold swell at sea, to break finally against the first obstacle with an uncontrollable force. She had never been really angry but twice in her life. Once when she was in school, and when a teacher she liked, judging her by her frequent and unblushing lies to a teacher she disliked, doubted her word upon an occasion when she was really speaking the truth. It was after that that she had written to her guardian that she would run away. The second time had been when Brewster had tried to bully her. She knew that it would soon be a third time, if the Indians went on annoying her. And she was far more afraid of what she might do than of what they might do. But she took off the waist of her gown and began to brush her hair, not being in the least squeamish about letting the Apaches see her fine white arms and neck, if they were to open the flaps again.
Cairness smiled. There was, it appeared, a small supply of poetic justice still left in the scheme of things to be meted out. "And then the Apache came down and bore you off like a helpless lamb," he said. "If I'd been the Apache I'd have made it several sorts of Hades for you, but I'd have scalped you afterward. You'd corrupt even a Chiricahua squaw. However, I'm glad you lived until I got you." And he left her.Taylor smiled. Cairness's small, brown mustache, curving up at the ends, was hardly a disguise. "There's a fellow here who could get you the job, though," he suggested. "Fellow named Stone. Newspaper man, used to be in Tucson. He seems to have some sort of pull with that Lawton fellow."When the father returned to Tucson, he had sent her the history, and she had read and reread it. In a way she was something of a linguist, for she had picked up a good deal of Spanish from Mexicans about the post, chiefly from the nurse of the Campbell children.
"See here," insisted Taylor; "turn round here and answer me." Cairness continued to stand with his head down, looking at the geraniums. The parson was wiser than his wife in that he knew when it was of no use to insist. "What's keeping you around here, anyway? You ought to have gotten out when you left the service鈥攁nd you half meant to then. What is it?""Let go your stirrup!" cried Cairness, in her ear; and as she kicked her foot loose, he leaned far from the saddle and threw his arm around her, swinging her up in front of him across the McLellan pommel, and driving the spurs into his horse's belly. It had the advantage of her horse in that it was an Indian animal, sure of foot as a burro, and much quicker. With one dash it was up the hillside, while the other rolled over and over, down into the torrent of the cloud burst.
"Did the girl know her own story?" she asked.
Already he felt more respectable at the mere prospect of contact with his kind again. He was glad that the unkempt beard was gone, and he was allowing himself to hope, no, he was deliberately hoping, that he would see Felipa.
"I think that Geronimo will make trouble. He knows that the agent and the soldiers are quarrelling, and he and his people have been drinking tizwin for many days.""Then," said the Reverend Taylor, laying down the paper, "you must be scared for yourself."Life went on very much the same at the post when there was only the infantry left in possession. As there was nothing to do at any time, there was nothing the less for that. On the principle that loneliness is greatest in a crowd, Stanton was more isolated now[Pg 183] than Grant had been in the days when there had been no railroad west of Kansas. The railroad was through the southwest now, but it was a hundred miles away. It was unsafe to ride outside the reservation, there was no one for hops, the only excitement was the daily addition to the list of slaughtered settlers. Felipa spent most of her time with the Ellton baby. Miss McLane had been married to Landor's second lieutenant for a year and a half, and they were very happy. But Felipa in the knowledge of the strength of her own love, which gained new might each time that she wrestled with it and threw it back upon the solid ground of duty, found their affection decidedly insipid. Like the majority of marital attachments, it had no especial dignity. It was neither the steadfast friendship she felt for her husband, nor the absolute devotion she would have given Cairness.
It was plain, even to Felipa, how thoroughly he enjoyed being with one who could talk of the past and of the present, from his own point of view. His Coventry had been almost complete since the day that the entire army, impersonated in Crook, had turned disapproving eyes upon him once, and had then looked away from him for good and all. It had been too bitter[Pg 310] a humiliation for him ever to subject himself to the chance of it again.At noon Landor got his orders. He was to leave at four o'clock, and when he told Felipa she planned for dinner at three, with her usual manner of making all things as pleasant as possible, and indulging in no vain and profitless regrets. "We may as well have Mr. Brewster and Nellie McLane, too," she decided, and went off in search of them, bareheaded and dancing with excitement. She dearly loved rumors of war. The prospect of a scout was always inspiriting to her.
"Why is it dangerous?" she wanted to know, and shrugged her shoulders. She was plainly not to be terrorized."For what purpose?" went on the cross questions.详情
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