"Sounds rather like a family magazine novel hero, doesn't it?" Landor said, with a hint of a sneer, then repented, and added that Cairness had been with him as guide, and was really a fine fellow. He turned his eyes slowly, without moving, and looked at Felipa. She was sitting near them in a patch of sun-sifted shade behind the madeira vines, sewing on a pinafore for the little girl who was just then, with her brother, crossing the parade to the post school, as school call sounded. He knew well enough that she must have heard, her ears were so preternaturally sharp. But the only sign she gave was that her lips had set a little. So he waited in considerable uneasiness for what might happen. He understood her no more than he had that first day he had met her riding with the troops from Kansas, when her indifferent manner had chilled him, and it was perhaps because he insisted upon working his reasoning from the basis that her character was complicated, whereas it was absolutely simple. He met constantly with her with much the same sort of mental sensation that one has physically, where one takes a step in the dark, expecting a fall in the ground, and comes down upon a level. The jar always bewildered him. He was never sure what she would do next, though she had never yet, save once, done anything flagrantly unwise. He dreaded, however, the moment when she might chance to meet Cairness face to face.
Kirby finished greasing the nut of a wagon. Then he went to the water trough and washed his hands and face, drying them upon a towel in the harness room. He explained that they didn't make much of a toilet for luncheon.Landor looked them over and gave them back contemptuously. "Well?" he said, "there's nothing new in all that. It's devilish exasperating, but it's old as Hamilcar. I made an enemy of a fellow from Tucson, reporter named Stone, over at the San Carlos Agency a few years ago. He's been waiting to roast me ever since. There must be something else."
[Pg 70]Stone considered his dignity as a representative of the press, and decided that he would not be treated with levity. He would resent the attitude of the soldiery; but in his resentment he passed the bounds of courtesy altogether, forgetting whose toddy he had just drunk, and beneath whose tent pole he was seated. He said rude things about the military,鈥攖hat it was pampered and inefficient and gold laced, and that it thought its mission upon earth fulfilled when it sat back and drew princely pay.
Landor sat and heard them out, silence on his lips and wrath upon his brow. "We will go wherever you say," he reiterated immovably.
Cairness did not see that it called for a reply, and he made none."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.
No answer.The Reverend Taylor and Cairness had managed, with a good deal of adroitness, to keep the identity of their patient a secret. Stone was consequently not at all prepared to have her stride in upon him. But he was not a man to be caught exhibiting emotions. The surprise which he showed and expressed was of a perfectly frank and civil, even of a somewhat pleased, sort. He called her "my dear madam," and placed a chair for her. She sat in it under protest. He kept up the social aspect of it all for quite five minutes, but sociability implies conversation, and Cairness and the minister were silent. So was the woman鈥攔igidly.
She shook her head. "It is the first you have known of it, Jack," she said; "but I have known it for a long while, and I have not been unhappy."Landor rode over to Bob's place, and giving his horse to the trumpeter, strode in. There were eight men around the bar, all in campaign outfit, and all in various stages of intoxication. Foster was effusive. He was glad to see the general. General Landor, these were the gentlemen who had volunteered to assist Uncle Sam. He presented them singly, and invited Landor to drink. The refusal was both curt and ungracious. "If we are to overtake the hostiles, we have got to start at once," he suggested.For some days Felipa had noticed a change, indefinable and slight, yet still to be felt, in the manner of the Indians all about. Not that they were ever especially gracious, but now the mothers discouraged the children from playing hide-and-seek with her, and although there were quite as many squaws, fewer bucks came around than before. But Alchesay could always be relied upon to stalk in, at regular intervals, and seat himself near the fire, or the hot ashes thereof.
They halted in front of him, and the woman swayed again, so much that he ran to her side. But she righted herself fiercely. Cairness was dismounted and was beside her, too, in an instant. He lifted her from the horse, pulled her down, more or less; she was much too ungainly to handle with any grace."Yes?"
Stone did not understand. He believed that he missed Mr. Cairness's meaning. "I don't think you do," said Cairness; "but I'll make it plainer, anyway. I want you to get out of the country, for the country's good, you know, and for your own. And I give you[Pg 259] three days to do it in, because I don't wish to hurry you to an inconvenient extent."详情
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