类型:奇幻地区:发布:2020-09-24 19:45:42


Then the journalist tried entreaty. He had a wife and children."Mr. Brewster has just been here," she said at length, and she played with the lash of her whip, avoiding his eyes, which was also a new way for her.He was waking now to his work. But he had enough of horses. He stopped, sheathed his knife, and, feeling in his pockets, drew out a box of matches. A little spluttering flame caught in a pile of straw, and showed a hind foot dragging helplessly. It crept up, and the mule plunged on three legs, dragging the other along. It snorted, and then every animal in that corral, which was the quartermaster's, smelt danger and snorted too, and struck from side to side of its stall. Those in the next corral caught the fear.

"Yes," said Cairness, examining it, "but this has no meaning."Then they walked up to the corral together. Kirby introduced him to his two partners, Englishmen also, and finished nailing up the boards of a box stall which a stallion had kicked down in the night. After that he threw down his hammer, took two big nails from his mouth, and sat upon the tongue of a wagon to talk long and earnestly, after the manner of men who have shared a regretted past.

If you take even a good-humored puppy of a savage breed and tie him to a kennel so that all his natural energy strikes in; if you feed him upon raw meat, when you feed him at all, but half starve him for the most part; and if you tantalize and goad him whenever you are in search of a pastime, he is more than likely to become a dangerous beast when he grows up. He is then a menace to the public, so you have but one course left—to take him out and shoot him."I give this to a friend," it ran, "to be delivered into your own hands, because I must tell you that, though I should never see you again—for the life I lead is hazardous, and chance may at any time take you away forever—I shall love you always. You will not be angry with me, I know. You were not that night by the campfire, and it is not the unwaveringly good woman who resents being told she is loved, in the spirit I have said it to you. I do not ask for so much as your friendship in return, but only that you remember that my life and devotion are yours, and that, should the time ever come that you need me, you send for me. I will come. I will never say this to you again, even should I see you; but it is true, now and for all time."Cairness jumped forward, and his arm went around her, steadying her. For a short moment she leaned against his shoulder. Then she drew away, and her voice was quite steady as she greeted him. He could never have guessed that in that moment she had[Pg 95] learned the meaning of her life, that there had flashed burningly through her brain a wild, unreasoning desire to stand forever backed against that rock of strength, to defy the world and all its restrictions.

Early in the morning of the day she was to leave she went to the graveyard alone again. She was beginning to realize more than she had at first that Landor was quite gone. She missed him, in a way. He had been a strong influence in her life, and there was a lack of the pressure now. But despite the form of religion to[Pg 290] which she clung, she had no hope of meeting him in any future life, and no real wish to do so."You know that I love you?" he said unevenly.

He felt altogether reckless. In just such a mood, he reflected, his grandmother had probably poisoned her first husband. He could almost have poisoned Landor, the big duty-narrowed, conventional, military machine. Why could he not have married some one of his own mental circumspection?—Mrs. Campbell, for instance. He had watched that affair during his enlistment. More the pity it had come to nothing. Landor could have understood Mrs. Campbell. Then he thought of Felipa, as he had seen her first, looking full into the glare of the sunset, and afterward at him, with magnificent impersonality."I ought to have known better than to come at all," he told Brewster, as they stood beside their horses; "it is always like this."

They glanced sideways at the big Englishman, who appeared to be one of themselves, and at the little minister. On him, more especially on his hat, their eyes rested threateningly. They had heard of him before, most of them. They answered his genial greeting surlily, but he was quite unruffled. He beamed upon the room as he seated himself at one of the tables and ordered supper, for which, in obedience to a dirty sign upon the wall, he paid in advance.Felipa rose from the table, and going over to her husband laid her hand on his shoulder. She asked when he must go. "To-night, my dear lady, I am afraid," soothed the commandant. But she appeared to be in no need of humoring, as she turned to Landor and offered to do what she might to help him.

Cairness was still in his dust-grayed outfit, his hair was below where his collar would have been had he been wearing one, and his nose was on its way to at least the twentieth new skin that summer. In all his years of the frontier, he had never become too well tanned to burn. His appearance was not altogether reassuring, Stone thought. He was not only an ass, he[Pg 172] was also tough—the sort of a fellow with whom it was as well to remember that your six-shooter is beneath the last copy of your paper, on the desk at your elbow.She asked, with the flat Virginia accent of the vowels,[Pg 256] if he would like her to go and embrace the woman, and request her to make their home henceforth her own.


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He stood up and went nearer to her, shaking his finger in her face. He knew that he had lost, and he was reckless. "You had better marry me, or I will tell your birth from the housetops." But he was making the fatal mistake of dealing with the child that had been, instead of with the woman he had aroused.

"Where is she now?"He stood up. "I'll see you off inside of three days then, Stone," he said amicably.There was a new treaty, just made to that end. It was the fiercest of all the Apache tribes, the Chiricahuas, that had hidden itself in the fastnesses of the Sierra Madre, two hundred miles south of the boundary line. Geronimo and Juh and Chato, and other chiefs of quite as bloody fame, were with him. To capture them would be very creditable success. To fail to do so would entail dire consequences, international complications perhaps, and of a certainty the scorn and abuse of all the wise men who sat in judgment afar off.



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