Brewster started to protest, still with the almost unmoved countenance of an innocent man. At any rate, he was not an abject, whining scoundrel, thought Ellton, with a certain amount of admiration."Of course," he laughed tolerantly, "I dare say any wilderness were paradise with him."
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."But that is sport," she answered carelessly.
[Pg 254]Landor's wrath was mighty, but he smiled as he sat balancing a ruler on his fingers and hearing how the citizens of San Tomaso, eager to avenge their wrongs, had met him at early morning, had gone bravely forward, keen on the scent, had implored him to hasten, while he halted on worthless pretexts, and had, towards evening, reluctantly left a hot trail, going from it at right angles, "and camping," said Brewster, regretfully, "as far away as it was possible to get, considering the halts."
Cairness sat more erect, and settled down to wait. The motion was so swift that he hardly felt it. He turned his head and looked back at the flaming corrals, and, remembering the dead animals, wondered who had hamstrung them. Then he peered forward again the little way he could see along the road, and began to make out that there was some one ahead of him. Whoever it was scurrying ahead there, bent almost double in his speed, was the one who had hamstrung the mules and horses, and who had set fire to the corrals. The pony was rather more under control now. It could be guided by the halter shank.He bit his lip and did not reply, either to the words or to the caress. "You need a month of the mountains, I think," he said.
Landor went. Felipa waited for him, already mounted. He mounted his own horse and rode beside her back to the post. They did not speak, and he was conscious above his anger that his fondness for her had been gradually turning to dislike, and was now loathing. He had seen her dragging in the dust before him, pleading abjectly. She had humiliated him and herself in the presence of Cairness, of all men, and he would never forget it. A woman who once grovels at a man's feet has lost thenceforth her power over him.So that was it! It took all the self-command that thirty-five varied years had taught him not to rise up and knock her head against the sharp rocks. But he lay quite still, and presently he said: "That is near enough for my purposes, thank you. But I would be interested to know, if you don't mind, what you had against a helpless woman and those two poor little babies. I wouldn't have supposed that a woman lived who could have been such a fiend as all that."The general of romance is a dashing creature, who wears gold lace and has stars upon his shoulder straps, and rides a fiery charger at the head of his troops. He always sits upon the charger, a field-glass in his hand and waiting aides upon every side, or flourishes a sword as he plunges into the thick of the battle smoke.
The Apache in Felipa was full awake now, awake in the bliss of killing, the frenzy of fight, and awake too, in the instinct which told her how, with a deep-drawn breath, a contraction, a sudden drop and writhing, she would be free of the arms of steel. And she was free, but not to turn and run鈥攖o lunge forward, once and again, her breath hissing between her clenched, bared teeth.The knowledge was slight and of no plain value; but it might be of use some day. Life had taught Cairness, amongst other things, that it usually proved so. He stored it away with the other gleanings of experience in his mental barns, and went in search of new adventures.
The stableman came on a run, leading her horse, and she fairly leaped down the steps, and slipping the pistol into the holster mounted with a spring. "All of you follow me," she said; "they are going to hold up Mr. Cairness."
The Chiricahuas might stay there and fire at intervals as long as they listed, killing a few men perhaps. And then they might retreat quite safely, putting the barrier[Pg 277] between themselves and the pursuers. Obviously there were only two courses wherein lay any wisdom,鈥攖o retreat, or to cut off their retreat. Landor said so to the major in command.详情
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