"Anywhere you like, my dear chap, so that it's neither in Arizona or New Mexico. I want to stop here myself, and the place isn't big enough for us both. You'll be a valuable acquisition to any community, and you can turn your talent to showing up the life here. You are right on the inside track. Now I won't ask you to promise to go. But I'll be round to see that you do."The hero of the episode rode in the ambulance, sitting on the front seat, holding his carbine across his knees, and peering with sharp, far-sighted blue eyes over the alkali flats. Occasionally he took a shot at a jack rabbit and brought it down unfailingly, but the frontiersman has no relish for rabbit meat, and it was left where it dropped, for the crows. He also brought down a sparrow hawk wounded in the wing, and, [Pg 29]having bound up the wound, offered it to Brewster, who took it as an opening to a conversation and tried to draw him out.
Felipa forgot her contempt for Cairness. She was interested and suddenly aroused herself to show it. "How do you come to be living with the Indians?" she asked. It was rarely her way to arrive at a question indirectly. "Have you married a squaw?"He was in a manner forgetting Felipa. He had forced himself to try to do so. But once in a way he remembered her vividly, so that the blood would burn in his heart and head, and he would start up and beat off the[Pg 267] thought, as if it were a visible thing. It was happening less and less often, however. For two years he had not seen her and had heard of her directly only once. An officer who came into the Agency had been with her, but having no reason to suppose that a scout could be interested in the details of the private life of an officer's wife, he had merely said that she had been very ill, but was better now. He had not seen fit to add that it was said in the garrison鈥攚hich observed all things with a microscopic eye鈥攖hat she was very unhappy with Landor, and that the sympathy was not all with her."Who is there to marry hereabouts? And always supposing there were some one, I'd be sent off on a scout next day, and have to ship her back East for an indefinite time. It would be just my blamed luck."
And the great river of rock is there, too, frozen upon the land like some devouring monster changed by a Gorgon head into lifeless stone. It is a formidable barrier across the hardly less formidable bad lands. It can be crossed in places where it is narrowest, not quite a mile in width, that is. But horses slip and clamber, and men cut through the leather of their heaviest shoes.The Reverend Taylor shook his head. "I may tell you sometime, but not now. In the meanwhile I'm sure you think we had better keep Mrs. Lawton here, don't you now?"
When the moon rose, Barnwell and Stone went away and left Landor again with the peeping squaws and the wailing papooses, the mosquitoes and the legacy of their enduring enmity,鈥攁n enmity not to be lightly despised, for it could be as annoying and far more serious than the stings of the river-bottom mosquitoes. As they walked across the gleaming dust, their bodies throwing long black shadows, two naked Indian boys followed them, creeping forward unperceived, dropping on the ground now and then, and wriggling along like snakes. They were practising for the future.He turned back abruptly. "You had better get another. You can't have that one," he answered.
When the baby began to cry, as it was always quite sure to do sooner or later, and Mrs. Ellton went up to it, Landor spoke. "If I should come for you at any hour to-night, I wish you would hold yourself in readiness to go out with me immediately."
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.He did not answer, and she knew that he was annoyed. She had come to see that he was always annoyed by such references, and she made them more frequent for that very reason, half in perversity, half in a fixed determination not to be ashamed of her origin, for she felt, without quite realizing it, that to come to have shame and contempt for herself would be to lose every hold upon life.
Felipa Cabot proved to be a lithe creature, who rode beside the ambulance with the officers, and who, in spite of the dust and tan and traces of a hard march, was beautiful. In the reaction of the moment Landor thought her the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. But she froze the consequent warmth of his greeting with a certain indefinable stolidity, and she eyed him with an unabashed intention of determining whether he were satisfactory or not, which changed his position to that of the one upon approbation. If she had been less handsome, it would have been repellent.
The Reverend Taylor grabbed at a fly and caught it in his palm. He had become very expert at this, to his wife's admiration and his son's keen delight. It was because the little Reverend liked to see him do it, and derived so much elfish enjoyment from the trick, that he had perfected himself in it. He gave the[Pg 248] crushed fly to the baby, and held him up to feed the bird. The bird put its head through the bars and pecked with its whiskered bill, and the little Reverend gurgled joyfully, his small face wrinkling up in a way which was really not pretty, but which his father thought the most engaging expression in the world.Landor rode up to them and made inquiries for Foster.
When the baby began to cry, as it was always quite sure to do sooner or later, and Mrs. Ellton went up to it, Landor spoke. "If I should come for you at any hour to-night, I wish you would hold yourself in readiness to go out with me immediately."详情
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