类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-10-23 08:07:15


"I dare say not," said Landor, his face growing black again; "they'll cover fifty or seventy-five miles a day. We can't do that, by a good deal. We couldn't even if those damned civilians would keep their distance ahead."From thenceforth the elegant creature troubled Felipa as little as the nature of things would permit. She said that Mrs. Landor was une sauvage and so brune; and Mrs. Landor said she was a fool and dyed her hair. She was not given to mincing words. And she had small patience with a woman who lay in bed until the sun was high, and who spent her days lounging under the ramada, displaying tiny, satin-shod feet for the benefit of the enlisted men and the Indians who wandered over from the reservation.

"Yes, I heard it," she said indifferently. "Was Mr. Cairness really much hurt?"

The tears trickled down the withered cheeks, and Crook gave a shrug of exasperation and disgust. "Your story of being afraid of arrest is all bosh. There were no orders to arrest you. You began the trouble by trying to kill Chato." Geronimo shook his head, as one much wronged and misunderstood. "Yes you did, too. Everything that you did on the reservation is known. There is no use your lying."

Some thirty miles to the southeast was the Mescalero Indian Agency. Landor had consented with the worst possible grace to take her there sometime when the[Pg 184] road should be passable and safe. She had openly resented his disinclination, though she usually appeared not to notice it. "It is very natural I should want to see the place where I was born," she had said, "and I think we should both be more comfortable if you would not persist in being so ashamed of it.""Oh!" said Taylor, and sat looking into the fire.

[Pg 257]

"No," she said shortly. "You had better bet."His teeth set. The little man gasped audibly. "Good God!" he said, "I鈥" he stopped.He snatched it from her then, with a force that threw her to one side, and sent it flying across the room, smashing a water jug to bits. Then he pushed her away and going out, banged the door until the whitewash fell down from the cracks.

The Reverend Taylor and Cairness had managed, with a good deal of adroitness, to keep the identity of their patient a secret. Stone was consequently not at all prepared to have her stride in upon him. But he was not a man to be caught exhibiting emotions. The surprise which he showed and expressed was of a perfectly frank and civil, even of a somewhat pleased, sort. He called her "my dear madam," and placed a chair for her. She sat in it under protest. He kept up the social aspect of it all for quite five minutes, but sociability implies conversation, and Cairness and the minister were silent. So was the woman鈥攔igidly.It was his intention to go to Crook and to warn him if he needed warning, which was not probable, since he was never napping. He would then offer his services as a scout. He was sincerely attached to the general, and felt his own career in a way involved with that of the officer, because he had been with him, in one capacity or another, in every campaign he had made in the southwest.Landor looked them over and gave them back contemptuously. "Well?" he said, "there's nothing new in all that. It's devilish exasperating, but it's old as Hamilcar. I made an enemy of a fellow from Tucson, reporter named Stone, over at the San Carlos Agency a few years ago. He's been waiting to roast me ever since. There must be something else."

"Hurrah! for the next that dies," thought Landor himself, with a careless cynicism. The barrel of a Winchester gleamed above a point of rock, a little sharp sparkle of sunlight on steel, and a bullet deflected from the big leather hood of his stirrup. He rode on calmly, and his horse's shoes clicked on the lava.There were plenty such trails in the Sierra Madre, through which the Apache scouts were guiding him to their hostile brothers. Cairness had come along with his own band of scouts. He had seen rough work in his time, but none equal to this. Eight mules stepped a hand's breadth from the path, and lay hundreds of feet below at the base of the precipice, their backs broken under their aparejos. The boots were torn from the men's feet, their hands were cut with sharp rocks. They marched by night sometimes, sometimes by day, always to the limit of their strength. And upon the fourteenth morning they came upon the Chiricahua stronghold. Without the scouts they could never have found it. The Indian has betrayed the Indian from first to last.The Indians who came round talked with her amicably enough, mainly by signs. She played with the children too, and one day there appeared among them her prot茅g茅 of the post, who thereafter became a camp follower.



The man beside her was an attach茅 of the British legation, who had been one of her greatest admirers to that time, but thereafter he sought her out no more. He had driven the boys off, and taking the kitten, which mewed piteously all the way, had gone with her to her destination and left her.The general was neither convinced nor won over. He had Geronimo told that it was a very pretty story, but that there was no reason why forty men should have left the reservation for fear of three. "And if you were afraid of three, what had that to do with the[Pg 299] way you sneaked all over the country, killing innocent people? You promised me in the Sierra Madre that that peace should last. But you lied. When a man has lied to me once, I want better proof than his word to believe him again."

And since that gray dawn when he had picked his way through the ashes and charred logs, and had bent over the bodies of his friend and the dead mother and the two children, he had been possessed by a loathing that was almost physical repulsion for all Indians. That was why he had left the stone cabin he had built for himself in the White Mountains, forsaking it and the Apaches who had been, in a way, his friends. But he had done it, too, with the feeling that now he had nowhere to lay his head; that he was driven from pillar to post, buffeted and chased; that he was cursed with the curse of the wanderer. If it had not been that he had an indefinite theory of his own concerning the Kirby massacre, as it was known throughout the country, and that he meant to, some day, in some way, avenge it upon the whites who had abandoned them to their fate, he would have killed himself. He had been very near it once, and had sat on the edge of his bunk in the cabin with a revolver in his hand, thinking it all out for an entire evening, before deciding dispassionately against it. He was not desperate, merely utterly careless of life, which is much worse. Desperation is at the most the keen agony of torture at the stake; but [Pg 163]indifference toward all that is held by this world, or the next, is dying in a gradual vacuum.On the instant she put her horse to a run and tore off through the gate toward the open country. It was dark, but by the stars she could see the road and its low bushes and big stones that danced by as her horse, with its belly to the ground, sped on. She strained her ears and caught the sound of hoofs. The men were following her, the gleam of her white dress guiding them. She knew they could not catch her. The horse she rode was a thoroughbred, the fastest on the ranch; not even Cairness's own could match it. It stretched out its long black neck and went evenly ahead, almost without[Pg 327] motion, rising over a dog hole now and then, coming down again, and going on, unslacking. She felt the bit steadily and pressed her knee against the hunting horn for purchase, her toe barely touching the stirrup, that she might be the freer in a fall.



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