Landor came out, putting on his blouse, and went over to the horsemen. One of them dismounted and raised his hat.Was it possible that twenty minutes before he had risen to the histrionic pitch of self-sacrifice of offering her her freedom to marry another man?He recalled the dark, unbecoming flush that had deepened the color of her skin just enough to show the squaw, beyond mistaking, at least to one who knew. It was all very well now. But later, later she would look like that frequently, if not all the time. With youth she would lose her excuse for being. He knew that very well. But it was the youth, the majestic, powerful youth, that he loved. He had seen too many old hags of squaws, disfigurers of the dead and wounded, drudges of the rancheria, squatting on hides before their tepees, not to know what Felipa's decline would be in spite of the Anglo-Saxon strain that seemed to show only in her white skin.
She was silent, but the stubbornness was going fast. She broke off a bunch of little pink blossoms and rolled it in her hands.Out in the corral the cow-boy was holding forth. The men had stopped work on the instant that Kirby had turned his back. If Kirby could loll on soft cushions and drink tea, as free-born Americans and free-souled Irishmen they might do the same. "It's all right," said the cow-boy, with a running accompaniment of profanity, as he cleaned his brutal Mexican bit. "Johnny Bull don't have to believe in it if he don't like. But all the same, I seen a feller over here[Pg 124] to the 3 C Range, and he told me he seen the military camped over to San Tomaso a week ago, and that there was a lot of stock, hundred head or so, run off from the settlements. You see, them Apaches is making for the southern Chiricahuas over in Sonora to join the Mexican Apaches, and they're going to come this here way. You see!" and he rubbed at the rust vigorously with a piece of soft rawhide."I don't mind, and neither does Captain Landor." Her guardian had recently gotten his captaincy.
He knew that his cattle were driven off by the white cow-boys and could not be gotten back, that he was given but one cup of flour every seven days, that beef was so difficult to obtain that it practically formed no part of his diet; but he did not know of the "boys" in Tucson and officials in Washington who were profiting from the sale of Indian supplies to white squatters.
[Pg 127]Chapter 26
The Indians, being wicked, ungrateful, suspicious characters, doubted the promises of the White-eyes. But it is only just to be charitable toward their ignorance. They were children of the wilderness and of the desert places, walking in darkness. Had the lights of the benefits of civilization ever shone in upon them, they would have realized that the government[Pg 226] of these United States, down to its very least official representative, never lies, never even evades.Cairness's eyes turned from a little ground owl on the top of a mound and looked him full in the face. "I really can't see, sir," he said, "how it can matter to any one.""Yes," she said, "I am very much attached to it. I was born to it."
Cairness had groped his way back. He stood watching them. And he, too, was ready to kill. If Landor had raised his hand against her, he would have shot him down.Then he went off to inspect the stock and the pickets, and to double the sentries. "You had better sleep on your arms," he told the soldiers, and returned to his cot to lie down upon it, dressed, but feigning sleep,[Pg 98] that Felipa might not be uneasy. He need not have resorted to deception. Felipa had not so much as pretended to close her eyes that night.
"That you take them to civilization鈥攖he missus and the kid. It's the only salvation for all three of you鈥攆or you as well as them."
"Ay que si! You do know," he laughed; "you tell me chula, or I will take you back to the United States with me."They had been doing that for three days. They came down the chimney, made across the floor in a line that never changed direction, nor straggled, nor lessened, up the wall and out a crack in the window. They did no harm, but followed blindly on in the path the first one had taken. And the minister had said they should not be smoked back or thwarted.The man told him. "He'd been a private up to Stanton, and had been killed by some of Cochise's people that summer. Her mother was a half-breed by the name of Felipa. Good-looking squaw, but dead, too鈥攌illed by Mexicans. Do you happen to know whatever became of the kid?"
Just at the edge of the rock stream there was an abandoned cabin built of small stones. Whatever sort of roof it had had in the beginning was now gone altogether, and the cabin itself was tumbling down. Through the doorway where there was no door, there showed a blackened fireplace. Once when a party from the post had been taking the two days' drive to the railroad, they had stopped here, and had lunched in the cabin. Landor remembered it now, and glanced at the place where Felipa had reclined in the shade of the walls, upon the leather cushion of the ambulance seat. She very rarely could be moved to sing, though she had a sweet, plaintive voice of small volume; but this time she had raised her tin mug of beer and, looking up to the blue sky, had launched into the "Last Carouse," in a spirit of light mockery that fitted with it well, changing the words a little to the scene.[Pg 279]There was but one other resort. The exasperated, impotent press turned to it. "If the emergency should arise, and it now looks as though it may come soon," flowed the editorial ink, "enough resolute and courageous men can be mustered in Tombstone, Globe, Tucson, and other towns and settlements to settle the question, once and forever: to settle it as such questions have often been settled before."详情
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