She sat considering deeply. She was rocking the baby, with its little fair head lying in the hollow of her shoulder, and Landor found himself wondering whether Felipa could ever develop motherliness. "It is quite intangible," Mrs. Campbell half crooned, for the baby's lids were drooping heavily. "I can't find that she lacks a good characteristic. I study her all the time. Perhaps the fault is in ourselves, as much as anything, because we insist upon studying her as a problem, instead of simply a very young girl. She is absolutely truthful,鈥攗nless she happens to have a grudge against some one, and then she lies without any scruple at all,鈥攁nd she is generous and unselfish, and very amiable with the children, too."
He rose to his feet, shaking off an impatience with her and with himself. "Come," he said peremptorily; and they went out and mounted and rode away in the face of a whipping wind up the gradual slope to the mountains, black and weird beneath the heavy, low-hanging rain clouds."I ain't put it in yet," he stammered feebly.
"He's coming back from Tombstone with some money, ain't he?"Felipa had discarded, long since, the short skirt and moccasins of her girlhood, and had displayed no inconsiderable aptitude in the matter of fashions; but she was given to looseness of draperies and a carelessness of attire in her own home that the picturesqueness of her beauty alone only saved from slatternliness. There was one manifestation of ill taste which she did not give, however, one common enough with the wives of most of the officers. She was never to be found running about the post, or sitting upon the porches, with her husband's cape around her shoulders and his forage-cap over her eyes. Her instinct for the becoming was unfailing. This was a satisfaction to Landor. But it was a secret grievance that she was most contented when in her riding habit, tearing foolhardily over the country.
Landor was without impulses; the very reverse from boyhood of the man on the ground beside him, which was why, perhaps, it had come to be as it was now. He considered before he replied. But having considered, he answered that he would, and that he would do his best for the child always. Once he had said it, he might be trusted beyond the shadow of a doubt.
He grabbed a man at the gate, who happened to be the quartermaster sergeant himself, and asked if his horse had been taken out.And then his thoughts shot back to the present with quick pain. She should not have come here, not so soon. He had taken a long, hard trip that had nearly ended in his death, to avoid this very thing, this [Pg 293]meeting, which, just because it made him so terribly happy, seemed a treachery, a sacrilege. Had she less delicacy of feeling than himself? Or had she more love? It was that, he saw it in her beautiful eyes which were growing wide and frightened at his silence. He took his hand from under the sheets and stretched it out to her. She went to him and dropped on her knees beside the bed, and threw her arms about him. He moved his weak head closer to her shoulder, and pressing her fingers to his face gave a choking sob. He was happy, so very happy. And nothing mattered but just this.Another officer came up, and Cairness dropped from the twisted bow and walked away.
When she was able to be up, Cairness went in to see her. She was sitting on a chair, and looking sulkily out of the window. "You got me jailed all right," she sneered, "ain't you?" and she motioned to the grating of iron.The blaze of glory had gone suddenly from the clouds, leaving them lifeless gray, when she turned her eyes back to them; and the outlook across the parade ground was very bare. She went and stood by the fire, leaning her arm on the mantel-shelf and setting her determined lips.
"Cheese that cussing, do you hear?" he ordered."Yes, I heard it," she said indifferently. "Was Mr. Cairness really much hurt?"
"Where do you want me to go?" he almost moaned, and finished with an oath.In half an hour he was back, and having produced his scouting togs from the depths of a sky-blue chest, smelling horribly of tobacco and camphor, he fell to dressing.
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."详情
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