"You heard what Mrs. Cairness said this afternoon. She was very ill in school when she was a young girl, and still more so in Washington afterward." He shook his head. "No, Forbes, you may think you know something about the Apache, but you don't know him as I do, who have been with him for years. I've seen too much of the melting away of half and quarter breeds. They die without the shadow of an excuse, in civilization."But she was, it appeared, a maiden lady, straight from Virginia. The Reverend Taylor was the first man she had ever loved. "It was right funny how it come about," he confided, self absorbed still. "Her mother keeps the res'rant acrost the street where I take my meals (I used to have a Greaser woman, but I got sick of frijoles and gorditas and chili and all that stuff), and after dinner every afternoon, she and me would put two saucers of fly-paper on a table and we would set and bet on which would catch the most flies before four o'clock. You ain't no idea how interestin' it got to be. The way we watched them flies was certainly intense. Sometimes, I tell you, she'd get that excited she'd scream when they couldn't make up their minds to[Pg 169] light. Once her mother come runnin' in, thinkin' I was tryin' to kiss her." He beamed upon Cairness, and accepted congratulations charmingly, sipping his soda-pop with quite a rakish little air. "What brought you here?" he remembered to ask, at length.
They were high among the mountains, and here and there in the shadows of the rocks and pines were patches of snow, left even yet from the winter. By all the signs the trail was already more than half a day old.The Powers said that a party of Indians had killed two American citizens, and had thereby offended against their sacred laws. To be sure the Americans had sold the Indians poisonous whiskey, so they had broken the laws, too. But there is, as any one should be able to see, a difference between a law-breaking Chiricahua and a law-breaking territorial politician. Cairness refused to see it. He said things that would have been seditious, if he had been of any importance in the scheme of things. As it was, the Great Powers did not heed them, preferring to take advice from men who did not know an Apache from a Sioux鈥攐r either from the creation of the shilling shocker.
Landor went back to his command and waited. Another man rode up and joined the two. Ten minutes passed, and the troops grew restless.
"Yes," Cairness called back.Half a mile beyond, within the same barbed-wire enclosure as the home buildings and corrals, was a spring-house surrounded by cottonwoods, just then the only patch of vivid green on the clay-colored waste. There were benches under the cottonwoods, and the ground was cool, and thither Felipa took her way, in no wise oppressed by the heat. Her step was as firm and as quick as it had been the day she had come so noiselessly along the parade, across the path of the private who was going to the barracks. It was as quiet, too, for she had on a pair of old red satin slippers, badly run down at the heel.
He got up and went to the window, which was iron-barred, after the Mexican fashion, and stood, with his hands run into his belt, looking down at a row of struggling, scraggly geraniums in tin cans. They were the most disheartening part of the whole disheartening prospect, within or without."Several things, thanks. You haven't told me yet what version of it your husband gave to Stone." [Pg 242]Cairness was a little anxious. It was succeed or fail right here.They sprang up, with a clatter of dishes and overturning of benches and a simultaneous cry of "Whereabouts?"
"We must get out of this," Cairness started to say, urging his little bronco; but even as he spoke there was a murmur, a rustle, a hissing roar, and the rain fell in one solid sheet, blinding them, beating them down.Chapter 10
In the end stall the bronco was still squealing and whimpering in an almost human key. He struck it on the flank with his open palm and spoke, "Get over[Pg 210] there." It had been made so much of a pet, and had been so constantly with him, that it was more intelligent than the average of its kind. It got over and stood quiet and still, trembling. He cut the halter close to the knot, turned it out of the stall, and flinging himself across its back dug his heels into its belly.Cairness started for the salt lick, then changed his mind and his destination, and merely rode with Forbes around the parts of the ranch which were under more or less cultivation, and to one of the water troughs beneath a knot of live oaks in the direction of the foot-hills. So they returned to the home place earlier than they otherwise would have done, and that, too, by way of the spring-house.
Cairness nodded. He thought it very likely.But it was full two hours, in the end, before they did start. Flasks had to be replenished, farewell drinks taken, wives and families parted from, the last behests made, of those going upon an errand of death. Citizens burning with ardor to protect their hearths and stock were routed out of saloons and dance halls, only to slip away again upon one pretext or another.Here, toward the eastern part of the territory, the government had portioned off the San Carlos Agency for its Apache wards, and some thirty miles away, not far from the banks of the river, Camp Thomas for its faithful soldiery.
Felipa sat on the edge of the bunk and talked to[Pg 58] him, a little excited, and very anxious to try what a scout was like for herself.The column halted, and the lieutenant in command rode back. He, too, looked down at the horse, pulling at his mustache with one gauntleted hand. He had played with Cabot when they had been children together, in that green land of peace and plenty which they called the East. They had been schoolmates, and they had the same class sympathies even now, though the barrier of rank was between them, and the dismounted man was a private in Landor's own troop. Landor liked the private for the sake of the old times and for the memory of a youth which had held a better promise for both than manhood had fulfilled.详情
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