But before then Cairness returned to his ranch and set his back upon adventure for good and all. "Crook will be gone soon," he said to Felipa; "it is the beginning of his end. And even if he were to keep on, he might not need me any more."In the late afternoon the lonely dark figure crossed the open and dropped down on the new grave, not in an agony of tears, but as if there was some comfort to be gotten out of contact with the mere soil. The old feeling of loneliness, which had always tinged her character with a covert defiance, was overwhelming her. She belonged to no one now. She had no people. She was an outcast from two races, feared of each because of the other's blood. The most forsaken man or woman may claim at least the kinship of his kind, but she had no kind. She crouched on the mound and looked at the sunset as she had looked that evening years before, but her eyes were not fearless now. As a trapped animal of the plains might watch a prairie fire licking nearer and nearer, making its slow way up to him in spurts of flame and in dull, thick clouds of smoke that must stifle him before long, so she watched the dreary future rolling in about her. But gradually the look changed to one farther away, and alight with hope. She had realized that there was, after all, some one to whom she belonged, some one to whom she could go and, for the first time in her life, be loved and allowed to love.
Later, when he came in from dress parade, he found her reading in the sitting room. She looked up and smiled, but his face was very angry, and the chin strap of his helmet below his mouth and the barbaric yellow plume added to the effect of awful and outraged majesty. He stopped in front of her. "I have been thinking things over," he said. She waited. "Three years ago I offered you your liberty to marry that man. I repeat the offer now."And Cairness stayed with him, serving seven months, and seeking what he might discover. But he discovered nothing more than that the Circle K Ranch, for all that it might be the Texan's in name, was Stone's in point of fact, and that Lawton's dread of that mighty man was very much greater than his hope of heaven.
Two aimless citizens lounged on their horses, rapt in argument and the heavy labor of chewing鈥攕o much so that they barely took notice of the troops.Such Apaches as had not gone back on the war-path returned to the States with the troops; but there were five months more of the outrages of Geronimo and his kind. Then in the summer of the year another man, more fortunate and better fitted to deal with it all, perhaps,鈥攚ith the tangle of lies and deceptions, cross purposes and trickery,鈥攕ucceeded where Crook had failed and had been relieved of a task that was beyond him. Geronimo was captured, and was hurried off to a Florida prison with his band, as far as they well could be from the reservation they had refused to accept. And with them were sent other Indians, who had been the friends and helpers of the government for years, and who had run great risks to help or to obtain peace. But the memory and gratitude of governments is become a proverb. The southwest settled down to enjoy its safety. The troops rested upon the laurels they had won, the superseded general went on with his work in another field far away to the north. The new general, the saviour of the land, was heaped[Pg 305] with honor and praise, and the path of civilization was laid clear.
In the corral where the fire had started and was best under way, and in the stall farthest from the gate, a little pinto mustang was jerking at its halter and squealing with fear. It was Cairness's horse. He had been allowed to stable it there, and he himself was not down with his scouts in the ill-smelling camp across the creek, but had a room at the sutler's store, a good three-quarters of a mile from the corrals. As soon as the bugle call awoke him, he started at a run; but the fire was beyond fighting when he got there.
"Yes," he assured her unmoved, "you are. At least you are going to do that, or go to jail."Landor tried to interpose a suggestion that though the whole effect was undoubtedly good and calculated to melt a heart of iron, the rhetoric was muddled; but the reporter swept on; so he clasped his hands behind his head and leaning back against a tent pole, yawned openly. Stone came to an end at length, and had to mop his head with a very much bordered handkerchief. The temperature was a little high for so much effort. He met Landor's glance challengingly.
"I see dem pass by my ranch. Dey weel run off all my stock, seexty of dem, a hundred mebee. I come queek to tell you.""Yes," she told him, "they are, and it is that makes me think that the fault may be ours. She is so patient with them."
[Pg 197]"Very much," said Ellton; "it was a sharp cut on the forehead鈥攚ent through the bone, and he was unconscious, off and on, for two or three days. He seemed to take it hard. He went off yesterday, and he wasn't fit to travel either, but he would do it for some reason. I think he was worse cut up about Landor than anything, though he wasn't able to go to the funeral. I like[Pg 289] Cairness. He's an all-round decent fellow; but after all, his life was bought too dear."
"Told him the truth, more idjit he."详情
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