There was peace and harmony in the home of the Reverend Taylor. An air of neatness and prosperity was about his four-room adobe house. The mocking-bird that hung in a willow cage against the white wall, by the door, whistled sweet mimicry of the cheep of the little chickens in the back yard, and hopped to and fro and up and down on his perches, pecking at the red chili between the bars. From the corner of his eyes he could peek into the window, and it was bright with potted geraniums, white as the wall, or red as the chili, or pink as the little crumpled palm that patted against the glass to him.At the instant a cloud floated over the sun, and soon a black bank began to fill up the sky above the ca?on. As they ate their breakfast in the tent, the morning darkened forebodingly. Felipa finished the big quart cup of weak coffee hurriedly, and stood up, pushing[Pg 99] back her camp-stool. Her horse and four others were waiting.
"You will still keep her then?" Cairness wished to know.The silence, cut by the nervous whispering of the children, became unendurable. "Are you very uneasy about them?" Mrs. Kirby asked.
"I represent, sir, the citizens of San Tomaso."
The stars were bright chips of fire in a sky of polished blue. The wind of the day had died at dusk, and the silence was deep, but up among the bare graves the coyotes were barking weirdly. As she looked off across the low hills, there was a quick, hissing rattle at her feet. She moved hastily, but without a start, and glanced down at a rattler not three feet away.
"Sounds rather like a family magazine novel hero, doesn't it?" Landor said, with a hint of a sneer, then repented, and added that Cairness had been with him as guide, and was really a fine fellow. He turned his eyes slowly, without moving, and looked at Felipa. She was sitting near them in a patch of sun-sifted shade behind the madeira vines, sewing on a pinafore for the little girl who was just then, with her brother, crossing the parade to the post school, as school call sounded. He knew well enough that she must have heard, her ears were so preternaturally sharp. But the only sign she gave was that her lips had set a little. So he waited in considerable uneasiness for what might happen. He understood her no more than he had that first day he had met her riding with the troops from Kansas, when her indifferent manner had chilled him, and it was perhaps because he insisted upon working his reasoning from the basis that her character was complicated, whereas it was absolutely simple. He met constantly with her with much the same sort of mental sensation that one has physically, where one takes a step in the dark, expecting a fall in the ground, and comes down upon a level. The jar always bewildered him. He was never sure what she would do next, though she had never yet, save once, done anything flagrantly unwise. He dreaded, however, the moment when she might chance to meet Cairness face to face.He was not the sort of a man of whom to ask explanations. Ellton said "Very well," and proceeded to talk about the troop's hogs and gardens, both of which were a source of increase to the troop funds.Landor held up a silencing hand. "If you have any explanations that you care to make, that it would be worth any one's time to listen to, you may keep them for a judge advocate." He pointed to the door.
Brewster was in agony. He reached out and caught her hand. "My darling," he cried, "take care!"
"He has caught a lioness and tricked her out in fashionable rags and taught her some capers, and now he thinks he has improved the animal," he said to himself, and raged inwardly, asking the intangible Fate, which was always opposing him, if there was not[Pg 216] enough little doll women in the world that such an one as Felipa must be whittled down to the size.Brewster nodded. He had seen the same thing himself. The territorial citizen was a known quantity to both of them.For some days Felipa had noticed a change, indefinable and slight, yet still to be felt, in the manner of the Indians all about. Not that they were ever especially gracious, but now the mothers discouraged the children from playing hide-and-seek with her, and although there were quite as many squaws, fewer bucks came around than before. But Alchesay could always be relied upon to stalk in, at regular intervals, and seat himself near the fire, or the hot ashes thereof.
The quiet, observant, capable man, whose fate it was to be always called in for the thankless task of undoing the evil work of others, made every effort to pacify this time, but he failed."So?" said Cairness, with the appearance of stolidity he invariably assumed to cover disappointment or any sort of approach to emotion. "Where's she gone to?"
There were plenty such trails in the Sierra Madre, through which the Apache scouts were guiding him to their hostile brothers. Cairness had come along with his own band of scouts. He had seen rough work in his time, but none equal to this. Eight mules stepped a hand's breadth from the path, and lay hundreds of feet below at the base of the precipice, their backs broken under their aparejos. The boots were torn from the men's feet, their hands were cut with sharp rocks. They marched by night sometimes, sometimes by day, always to the limit of their strength. And upon the fourteenth morning they came upon the Chiricahua stronghold. Without the scouts they could never have found it. The Indian has betrayed the Indian from first to last.Chapter 4详情
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