"But it is doing Mrs. Cairness an injustice, if you don't mind my saying so."When the storm had fairly passed, they found Felipa's gray lodged in the root of a tree some distance down the creek; in no way hurt, oddly enough, but trembling and badly frightened. The saddle, even, was uninjured, though the pigskin was water-soaked and slippery.
They laid Landor upon the ground, in the same patch of shade he had glanced at in coming by not five [Pg 281]minutes before. His glazed eyes stared back at the sky. There was nothing to be done for him. But Cairness was alive. They washed the blood from his face with water out of the canteens, and bound his head with a wet handkerchief. And presently he came back to consciousness and saw Landor stretched there, with the bluing hole in his brow, and the quiet there is no mistaking on his sternly weary face. And he turned back his head and lay as ashy and almost as still as the dead man, with a look on his own face more terrible than that of any death.
The night of their return to the post, Cairness, crossing the parade ground shortly before retreat, saw Felipa. He had been walking with his eyes on the earth, debating within himself the question of his future, whether he should re?nlist, succumb to the habit of the service, which is to ambition and endeavor what opium is to the system, or drop back into the yet more aimless life he had been leading five years before, when a fit of self-disgust had caused him to decide that he was good for nothing but a trooper, if even that.The major consented unwillingly. "It's your lookout. If you come out alive, I shall be surprised, that's all. Take some scouts, too," he added, as he lit a cigar and went on with his walk up and down among his men.
"And then, there was the trouble about the cows. They promised us one thousand, and they gave us not quite six hundred. And those鈥攖he Dawn and the Sky hear that what I tell you is true鈥攁nd those were so old we could not use them."
He laughed crossly. Evidently he was dropping back into the poetical tendencies of his most callow youth. He would be doing her a sonnet next, forsooth. He had done two or three of them in his school days for Sydney damsels. That was when he had aspired to be ranked in his own country with Gordon. Good Lord! how many aspirations of various sorts he had had. And he was a cow-boy.He considered. "Let me see. For instance, when did Lawton tell him, and why, and exactly what?"
He and the parson followed her out of the house. She had not cared to say good-by to Mrs. Taylor, and she glared at the little Reverend, who balanced himself on his uncertain small feet and clutched at a chair, watching her with his precocious eyes and an expression combined of his mother's virtuous disapproval[Pg 258] and his father's contemplative scrutiny, the while the tufts of his hair stood out stiffly.
"Come in," said her husband. He was pouring out a drink of whiskey.详情
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