Landor went to the tree and cut another rib from[Pg 96] the mutton and threw it on the coals. Then he walked across the clearing to the tent.
A long sunset shadow fell across his path, and he looked up. Felipa was walking beside a little white burro, and holding Mrs. Campbell's golden-curled baby upon its back. She carried her head superbly erect, and her step, because of the moccasins, was quite noiseless. The glow of the sunset shone in her unflinching eyes, and lost itself in the dull black mass of her hair. She studied his face calmly, with a perfectly impersonal approval.
"She may be ill some time. Would it be asking too much of you to look after her?" The bachelor showed in that.
"You better do what I say!" He was plainly spoiling for a fight.[Pg 92]
"I shall be in and out all night, more or less," he told Felipa. She reached her hands from the bedclothes and stroked the deep lines on his forehead, the lines she had had most to do with putting there. But she did not ask for confidences. She never did. It was not her way. He kissed her and went out into the night again, to sit upon his porch at a spot where, through the cottonwood branches, he commanded a view of Brewster's front door and of the windows of the commissary office.
Then a big cow-boy left the bar and loitering over, with a clink of spurs, touched him on the shoulder. "The drinks are on you," he menaced. The minister chose to ignore the tone. He rose, smiling, and stretching his cramped arms. "All right, my friend, all right," he said, and going with the big fellow to the bar he gave a general invitation.
Felipa was not there. At the earliest, she could not return for a couple of days, and by then Landor's body[Pg 283] would be laid in the dreary little graveyard, with its wooden headboards and crosses, and its neglected graves among the coyote and snake holes. The life of the service would be going on just as usual, after the little passing excitement was at an end. For it was an excitement. No one in the garrison would have had it end like this, but since what will be will be, and the right theory of life is to make the most of what offers and to hasten鈥攁s the philosopher has said鈥攖o laugh at all things for fear we may have cause to weep, there was a certain expectation, decently kept down, in the air."Mrs. Cairness would go where I wished gladly," he added, more evenly; "but if it were to a life very different from this, it would end in death鈥攁nd I should be the cause of it. There it is." He too rose, impatiently.
The Reverend Taylor grabbed at a fly and caught it in his palm. He had become very expert at this, to his wife's admiration and his son's keen delight. It was because the little Reverend liked to see him do it, and derived so much elfish enjoyment from the trick, that he had perfected himself in it. He gave the[Pg 248] crushed fly to the baby, and held him up to feed the bird. The bird put its head through the bars and pecked with its whiskered bill, and the little Reverend gurgled joyfully, his small face wrinkling up in a way which was really not pretty, but which his father thought the most engaging expression in the world.详情
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