Lawton produced a brace of revolvers.The man on the ground twisted his body around on his crushed leg, pinned under the pony, aimed deliberately at the white figure, and fired. Felipa's firm hold upon her revolver turned to a clutch, and her mouth fell open in a sharp gasp. But very deliberately she put the revolver into its holster, and then she laid her hand against her side. At once the palm was warm with blood.
He had seen a large band heading for the ranch, and[Pg 128] had found a dead white man on the north road, he said, and he gesticulated madly, his voice choked with terror.Official business called Brewster to the Agency next day. He stopped overnight, on the way, at a ranch whose owners depended more upon passing travellers than upon the bad soil and the thin cattle. And here fate threw in his way one whom he would have gone well out of that way to find.
And he could get nothing definite from her beyond that. It annoyed him, of course; Felipa had a gift for repulsing kindness and friendship. It was because she would not lie and could not evade. Therefore, she preserved a silence that was, to say the least of it, exasperating to the well-intentioned.
Landor took his arm from the saddle and stood upright, determinedly. "We are going to stop this mob business, that's what we are going to do," he said, and he went forward and joined in a discussion that was[Pg 117] upon the verge of six-shooters. He set forth in measured tones, and words that reverberated with the restrained indignation behind them, that he had come upon the assurance that he was to strike Indians, that his men had but two days' rations in their saddle bags, and that he was acting upon his own responsibility, practically in disobedience of orders. If the Indians were to be hit, it must be done in a hurry, and he must get back to the settlements. He held up his hands to check a flood of protests and explanations. "There has got to be a head to this," his drill-trained voice rang out, "and I propose to be that head. My orders have got to be obeyed.""No," she said, "I told the Campbells I would not go to them."
Brewster resented it, and so the next thing he said was calculated to annoy. "He says you are quite one of them."
He nodded forcibly. "Where all them mesquites is to one side, and the arroyo to the other. They'll be behind the mesquite. But you ain't goin' to head him off," he added, "there ain't even a short cut. The road's the shortest."He tried hard to warm her to something more personal. "I might never come back, you know, dear." He realized that he was absolutely begging for affection, most futile and unavailing of all wastes of energy.
Visiting the guard is dull work, and precisely the same round, night after night, with hardly ever a variation. But to-night there occurred a slight one.[Pg 187] Landor was carrying his sabre in his arm, as he went by the back of the quarters, in order that its jingle might not disturb any sleepers. For the same reason he walked lightly, although, indeed, he was usually soft-footed, and came unheard back of Brewster's yard. Brewster himself was standing in the shadow of the fence, talking to some man. Landor could see that it was a big fellow, and the first thing that flashed into his mind, without any especial reason, was that it was the rancher who had been in trouble down at the sutler's store."It is from Cairness," said Landor, watching her narrowly. Her hand shook, and he saw it.详情
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