She sat thinking, with her chin in her palm, and a quite new look of loneliness deep in her eyes. He could see that in the last hour she had grasped almost the fulness of her isolation鈥攁lmost, but not all; only the years could bring forth the rest. She gave a heavy sigh. "Well, I am glad I love you," she said.It was failure, flat failure. The officers knew it, and the general knew it. It was the indefinite prolongation of the troubles. It was the ignominious refutation of all his boasts鈥攂oasts based not so much upon trust in himself, as on belief in the nature of the Apache, whose stanch champion he had always been.
He had dreaded a scene, but he was not so sure that this was not worse. "You are the wife for a soldier," he said somewhat feebly; "no tears and fuss and鈥攁ll that kind of thing.""Yes," he assured her unmoved, "you are. At least you are going to do that, or go to jail."The man up above showed himself, and putting his hands to his mouth shouted, "Felipa!"
"Where?" the commandant asked.
He realized for the first time the injury his thought of it did her. It was that which had kept them apart, no doubt, and the sympathy of lawlessness that had drawn her and Cairness together. Yet he had just begun to flatter himself that he was eradicating the savage. She had been gratifyingly like other women since his return. But it was as Brewster had said, after all,鈥攖he Apache strain was abhorrent to him as the venom of a snake. Yet he was fond of Felipa, too.
The fighting stopped to watch the Ojo-blanco playing tag with the little Apache, right in the heart of the stronghold. The general stood still, with a chuckle, and looked on. "Naughty little boy," he remarked to the captain of the scouts; "but your man Cairness won't catch him, though."And before the next morning the picnic that kept the southwest interested for five years had begun. Victorio and two hundred hostiles had left the Mescalero Agency for good and all, killing, burning, torturing, and destroying as they went, and troops from all the garrisons were sent out post haste.
[Pg 67]He did not even hint that he knew of the isolation of their lives, but Cairness was fully aware that he must, and that it was what he meant now. "You ought to go to another country. Not back to Australia, either; it is too much this sort, but somewhere where the very air is civilizing, where it's in the atmosphere and you can't get away from it. I'll tell you what you do." He stood up and knocked the ashes from his pipe against the porch rail. "You've plenty of friends at home. Sell the ranch, or keep it to come back to once in a way if you like. I'm going back in the autumn, in October. You come with me, you and Mrs. Cairness and the boy."
She explained. "He says he will tell it broadcast," she ended, "but he won't. It wouldn't be safe, and he knows it." Her cool self-possession had its effect on him. He studied her curiously and began to calm down.
Landor and his lieutenant jumped up and ran down the walk. "What's all this, Dutchy?" they asked.
She asked, with the flat Virginia accent of the vowels,[Pg 256] if he would like her to go and embrace the woman, and request her to make their home henceforth her own.
Felipa's revolver was in her hand, and cocked and pointed straight between two eyes that shone out of the blackness. And so, for an appreciable time, she stood. Then a long arm came feeling out; but because she was looking along the sight into the face at the very end of the muzzle, she failed to see it. When it closed fast about her waist, she gave a quick gasp and fired. But the bullet, instead of going straight through the forehead beneath the head[Pg 79] band, as she had meant it to do, ploughed down. The grasp on the body relaxed for an instant; the next it had tightened, and a branch had struck the pistol from her hand.Yet she not only loved Cairness as much as ever, but more. Her church had the strong hold of superstition upon her, but she might have thrown it off, grown reckless of enforced conventions, and have gone to him, had not faithfulness and gratitude held her yet more powerfully.详情
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