It was a little pocket, a natural fortress, high up on a commanding peak. Cairness crept forward flat along the rocks, raised his head cautiously and looked down. There in the sunrise light,鈥攖he gorgeous sunrise of the southern mountain peaks where the wind is fresh out of the universe and glitters and quivers with sparks of new life,鈥攖here was the encampment of the hostiles. It was a small Eden of green grass and water and trees high up in the Sierra鈥攖hat strange mountain chain that seems as though it might have been the giant model of the Aztec builders, and that holds the mystery of a[Pg 229] mysterious people locked in its stone and metal breasts, as securely as it does that of the rich, lost mines whose fabled wonders no man can prove to-day.One morning Brewster met Felipa coming from the hospital and carrying a wide-mouthed bottle. He joined her and asked if the little lady were going to grow flowers in it. The little lady, who was quite as tall as and a good deal more imposing than himself, answered that it was for a vinagrone. He remonstrated. She was surely not going to make a pet of one of those villanous insects. No. She had caught a tarantula, too, and she was going to make them fight.
The sun was now high and blazing down into the one street of the mud settlement. The enlisted men[Pg 116] were angry that Landor, fearing they, too, would be led astray into dives, would not dismount them. Sitting still in the full sun, when even in the shade the mercury is many degrees above the hundreds, is not calculated to improve the disposition. But at length the volunteers were herded together. The thirty-five promised had dwindled to eight, and Foster was not of the number. He came lurching up at the last moment to explain that he would be unable to go. His wife was in hysterics, he said.
He sat quite still, clinching his teeth and clawing his fingers tensely. In the great crises of life, training and upbringing and education fall away, and a man is governed by two forces, his instincts and his surroundings. And Cairness's instincts were in entire accord with his surroundings; they were of the Stone Age, when men fought with the beasts of the wilderness in their cave homes, and had only the law of sheer strength. He leaned forward, holding his breath, and watched her. Had she seen his horse tied up above, and come here to find him鈥攂ecause he was here?
"They have their good traits, sir," said the man, civilly, "and chief among them is that they mind their own business."
In his growing uneasiness he blundered on rashly. "You didn't know it? But it is true. Ask your guardian. Do you think he would have you for a wife?" He gave a short laugh. "He hates an Apache as he does a Gila monster. Very few men would be willing to risk it."
And later in the day, when the buck had shuffled off again, Cairness brought out his pony,鈥攁 new one now, for the little pinto one had died of a rattlesnake bite, from which no golondrina weed had been able to save it,鈥攁nd saddled it. Then he went again into the cabin. There was but one thing there that he valued,鈥攁 life-size head of Felipa he had done in charcoal. It was in a chest beneath his cot. He locked his chest, and going out locked the door also, and putting both keys upon a ring, mounted and rode off along the trail.
Landor shrugged his shoulder, but Felipa would not have it so. "You know he is not, Jack," she said a little petulantly, which was noticeably unwonted on her part.
"I guess not," said Landor, tolerantly, as he turned[Pg 106] his horse over to his orderly; "but, anyway," he added to Ellton, "we had a picnic鈥攐f a sort."He failed in the warning. He had barely gotten off the reservation before Geronimo and Nachez and their sympathizers broke out and started to reach again that fastness in the Sierra Madre from which they had been routed two years before. But he succeeded without the least difficulty in obtaining the position of chief of scouts.详情
Copyright © 2020