Mrs. Landor was with them. She had a little battered, brass trumpet hanging from her horn, and he knew that they were going to play at hare and hounds. She and the three with her were evidently the hares. They would take a ten minutes' start; then, at the sound of the trumpet, the hounds would follow. The riding was sometimes reckless. A day or two before he had seen Felipa leap an arroyo, the edges of which were crumbling in, and take a fallen tree on very dangerous ground.Lawton believed himself to be ill-used. He had written to Stone a strangely composed and spelled account of the whole matter, and mingled reproaches for having gotten him into it; and Stone had replied that it was no affair of his one way or another, but so far as he could make out Lawton had made a mess of it and a qualified fool of himself."Perhaps there is," she admitted unwillingly.
"Never!" she declared; it was merely because she could not breathe the same air with that creature.[Pg 85]Cairness dropped him and went into the corrals to see for himself. The fire roared and hissed, flung charred wood into the air, and let it fall back again. He remembered, in an inconsequent flash, how one night in the South Pacific he had taken a very pretty girl below to see the engines. They had stood in the stoke-hole on a heap of coal, hand in hand, down beneath the motion of the decks where the only movement seemed to be the jar of the screw working against the thrust block and the reverberation of the connecting-rod and engines. A luckless, dust-caked wretch of a stoker had thrown open the door of a furnace in front of them, and they had seen the roaring, sputtering, seething whirl of fire within. They had given a simultaneous cry, hiding their scorched faces in their arms, and stumbled blindly over the coal beds back to the clattering of the engine rooms.
He laughed, a little falsely, and turned back into the room.
"I didn't ask you that," he reminded her calmly. "I asked what he told."
On the next day they were in the flat, nearing the post. There was a dust storm. Earlier in the morning the air had grown suddenly more dry, more close and lifeless than ever, suffocating, and a yellow cloud had come in the western sky. Then a hot wind began to blow the horses' manes and tails, to snarl through the greasewood bushes, and to snap the loose ends of the men's handkerchiefs sharply. The cloud had thinned and spread, high up in the sky, and the light had become almost that of a sullen evening. Black bits floated and whirled high overhead, and birds beat about in the gale. Gradually the gale and the dust had dropped nearer to the earth, a sand mist had gone into every pore and choked and parched. And now the tepid, thick wind was moaning across the plain, meeting no point of resistance anywhere.After a while Kirby went back to his work, directing several Mexicans, in hopelessly bad Spanish, and laboring with his own hands at about the proportion of three to one.Undoubtedly, as she said, the American was ugly and unattractive; but the Mexican was pretty and decidedly engaging. Cairness had been too nearly trapped once before to be lured now. He met the piece of brown femininity upon her own ground. "You are quite right, querida mia. She is ugly and old, and you are beautiful and young, and I will take you with me to the States and buy a pink dress with lovely green ribbons, if you will tell me where the old woman is."
"Let go your stirrup!" cried Cairness, in her ear; and as she kicked her foot loose, he leaned far from the saddle and threw his arm around her, swinging her up in front of him across the McLellan pommel, and driving the spurs into his horse's belly. It had the advantage of her horse in that it was an Indian animal, sure of foot as a burro, and much quicker. With one dash it was up the hillside, while the other rolled over and over, down into the torrent of the cloud burst.
Landor did not know; but she was part Apache, he said, and Harry Cabot's daughter, and it was pretty certain that with that blood in her veins she had the spirit of adventure.
It had all been very like this, only that this was a little worse, for there were half a dozen dead animals lying across the stalls, and others were being shot. The pistols snapped sharply, and the smell of powder was more pungent than all the other smells.详情
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