The all-day fight in the Sierra Madre stronghold was a very uneven one. There were two hundred and fifty of the government forces against some thirty-five bucks. But, after all, the number comes to nothing. You may as well shoot at one enemy as at a thousand, if he is not to be seen anyway, and you cannot hit him.Later, when the sun was well up in the jewel-blue sky, and the world was all ashine, they began the real routine of the day. And it would have been much like that of any of the other days that had gone before it for two years, had not Cairness come in a little before the noon hour, bringing with him a guest. It was an Englishman, whom he presented to Felipa as a friend of his youth, and named Forbes.
"Has the trip been hard?" he asked.She tried to parry and evade, but he would not have it, and obliged her to admit that she did not. "Not that I dislike her," she explained. "I like to have her round. I dare say it is a whim."
The roll of the drums and the whistle of the fifes died away in the distance. There was a long silence, followed by three volleys of musketry, the salute over the open grave. And then taps was pealed in notes of brass up to the blue sky, a long farewell, a challenge aforetime to the trumpet of the Last Day. They turned and came marching back. The drums and fifes played "Yankee Doodle" in sarcastic relief. The men walked briskly with their guns at carry arms, the black-draped horse curved its neck and pranced until the empty stirrups danced. The incident was over—closed. The post picked up its life and went on. Two afternoons later the ambulance which had been sent for Felipa came into the post. She stepped out from it in front of the Elltons' quarters so majestic and awe-inspiring in her black garments that Mrs. Ellton was fairly subdued. She felt real grief. It showed in her white face and the nervous quiver of her lips. "I am going out to the graveyard," she told Mrs. Ellton almost at once. Mrs. Ellton prepared to accompany her, but she insisted that she was going alone, and did so, to the universal consternation."It's six one, and half a dozen the other. They'd be willing enough to die out in peace, if we'd let them. Even they have come to have a vague sort of instinct that that's what it amounts to.""What is he doing here?"
When the storm had fairly passed, they found Felipa's gray lodged in the root of a tree some distance down the creek; in no way hurt, oddly enough, but trembling and badly frightened. The saddle, even, was uninjured, though the pigskin was water-soaked and slippery.
Any other fire—excepting always in an ammunition magazine—is easier to handle than one in a stable. It takes time to blind plunging horses and lead them out singly. And there is no time to take. Hay and straw[Pg 208] and gunny-sacks and the dry wood of the stable go up like tinder. It has burned itself out before you can begin to extinguish it.
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.
Two aimless citizens lounged on their horses, rapt in argument and the heavy labor of chewing—so much so that they barely took notice of the troops.It was very short, but he held it a long time before he gave it back.
That very day the doubt had attained the proportions of a certainty. The sight of a Circle K cow had called up the subject of the massacre, and a cow-boy had said, "Them are the property of Bill Lawton, I reckon.""But you," said Felipa, wistfully, "you do not want to go back?"
Then there came a chuckling scream of baby laughter and a soft reproach, spoken in Spanish, from across the hall. She stood up and poured the coffee, but before she took her own she went out of the room and came back in a moment, carrying her small son high upon her shoulder.The Reverend Taylor gradually became aware that the air was very bad. He laid down the newspaper and looked round.详情
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