"Jack," he said, going up and running his hand in and out underneath the girths. He spoke almost too low to be heard, and the men who were nearest rode a few feet away. "Jack, will you do something for me? Will you鈥攖hat is鈥攖here is a fellow named McDonald up at the Mescalero Agency. He's got a little four-year-old girl he's taking care of." He hurried along, looking away from Landor's puzzled face. "She's the daughter of a half-breed Mescalero woman, who was[Pg 5] killed by the Mexicans. If I don't come out of all this, will you get her? Tell McDonald I told you to. I'm her father."The captain's lips set."Think it over, in any case," urged Forbes; "I am going in, good night."
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.
But Forbes persisted, carried away by his idea and the determination to make events fit in with it. "She was ill in Washington because she wasn't happy. She'd be happy anywhere with you; she said so this afternoon, you remember.""Yes he is. And I put him there." He left her to what he saw was her belief that it was because of the Kirby affair. "You'll see when you get back. And I'll put you there, too, if I care to. The best chance you have is to do as I tell you."
"Been hamstrung," the officer bawled back hoarsely.
"Why did you do it?"
They were high among the mountains, and here and there in the shadows of the rocks and pines were patches of snow, left even yet from the winter. By all the signs the trail was already more than half a day old.
Taylor realized from the Benedict's greater knowledge that it was asking a great deal, but still not[Pg 252] too much. He assured Cairness that she should be cared for."Geronimo does not want that any more. He has[Pg 271] tried to do right. He is not thinking bad. Such stories ought not to be put in the newspapers."
He repeated that he was not there to be questioned, and showed her that he meant it by silence.It would have been best so, and she knew it, had[Pg 199] indeed meant to make it like this on her part, but a feeling swept over her that if they did not speak now, they would pass down to their deaths in silence. She reached out her hand to stop him, and spoke.
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For answer she put out her hand and laid it upon his, not as she had often done it before, in the unattentive eagerness of some argument, but slowly, with a shadow of hesitation.
"You haven't, but the summer has told on you just the same. You are thin, and your eyes are too big. Look at that!" He held out a hand that shook visibly. "That's the Gila Valley for you.""And then, there was the trouble about the cows. They promised us one thousand, and they gave us not quite six hundred. And those鈥攖he Dawn and the Sky hear that what I tell you is true鈥攁nd those were so old we could not use them."The entire command volunteered, as a matter of course, and Landor had his pick. He took thirty men and a dozen scouts. Cairness rode up and offered himself. They looked each other full in the face for a moment. "Very well," said Landor, and turned on his heel. Cairness was properly appreciative, despite the incivility. He knew that Landor could have refused as well as not, and that would have annoyed and mortified him. He was a generous enemy, at any rate. The volunteers mounted and trotted off in a cloud of dust that hung above them and back along their trail, to where the road, as Landor had said, entered the malpais.详情
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