"Luncheon!" said Cairness, as he smoothed his hair in front of a speckled and wavy mirror, which reflected all of life that came before it, in sickly green, "cabalistic word, bringing before me memories of my wasted youth. There was a chap from home in my troop, until he deserted, and when we were alone we would say luncheon below our breaths. But I haven't eaten anything except dinner for five years."
The figure moved into the circle of red firelight and spoke, "It is Cairness."
But the minister still refused to see it. He looked him very squarely in the eyes now, however. "See here, I am going to take lemon pop, my friend," he said.It was not of much avail in the end, the conference. There was more than one tribe to be pacified. The restlessness of the wild things, of the goaded, and of the spring was in their blood.He took up his cap from the table, and went.
"Why did you do it?"They caught sight of Felipa, and both drew rein simultaneously. She was leaning against a post of the wire fence. The baby was carried on her hip, tucked under her arm, the sunbonnet was hanging by the strings around her neck, and her head, with its straight loose hair, was uncovered. The little girl stood beside her, clutching the white wrapper which had trailed in[Pg 314] the spring-house acequia, and from under which a muddy red slipper showed. That she was imposing still, said much for the quality of her beauty. She did not hear the tramp of the two horses, sharp as her ears were, for she was too intent upon watching a fight between two steers.
"I'll take a lemon soda, thanks," said Taylor.Forbes shrugged his shoulders. "You'll pardon me if I say that here she is a luxurious semi-barbarian." It was on his tongue's tip to add, "and this afternoon, by the spring-house, she was nearly an Apache," but he checked it. "It's very picturesque and poetical and all that,鈥攆rom the romantic point of view it's perfect,鈥攂ut it isn't feasible. You can't live on honeycomb for more than a month or twain. I can't imagine a greater misfortune than for you two to grow contented here, and that's what you'll do. It will be a criminal waste of good material."
It was a very poor case, indeed, that Brewster made out, despite a formidable array of specifications. As it progressed, the situation took on a certain ludicrousness. The tale of woe was so very trivial; it seemed hardly worth the trouble of convening twelve officers from the four corners of the Department to hear it. And there was about Brewster, as he progressed, a suggestion of dragging one foot after the other, leaving out a word here, overlooking an occurrence there, [Pg 155]cutting off a mile in one place, and tacking on an hour in another.He had forgotten that the laws and rites of the Church of Rome had a powerful hold upon her, though she was quite devoid of religious sentiment. He admitted apologetically that he had meant divorce, and she expressed her reproach. In spite of himself and what he felt ought properly to be the tragedy of the affair, he smiled. The humor of her majestic disapproval was irresistible under the circumstances. But she had little sense of humor. "What would you suggest, then, if I may ask?" he said. He had to give up all pathos in the light of her deadly simplicity.
He turned on his heel and left her.When he was well within, he began to investigate, and he recalled now that he had heard a great deal of this cave. It was very large, supposedly, but almost unexplored. Tradition ran that the Spaniards, in the long-past days of their occupation, had had a big silver mine in there, worked by padres who had taught the timid Indians to believe that it was haunted, that they might not take it for themselves, nor yet guide others to it. And, too, it had been the refuge and hiding-place of Billy the Kid for years. It was said that since then a corporal and three men had gone in once, and that a search party had found their gnawed skeletons by the edge of the river that flowed there underground. Oddly enough, and thanks to the missionary fathers, it had never served as an Indian stronghold, though its advantages for such a use were manifest.
Brewster explained that she was visiting Captain Campbell's family.详情
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