Cairness sat across him and held a revolver to his mouth. The life of the plains teaches agility of various sorts, but chiefly in the matter of drawing a six-shooter. "You fired the corrals," Cairness gasped.
"Usted, vaya prontisimo," he directed with the assumption of right of one to whom she owed her life."One thing," muttered Cairness.
They shout back our peals of laughter,"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."
There was a new treaty, just made to that end. It was the fiercest of all the Apache tribes, the Chiricahuas, that had hidden itself in the fastnesses of the Sierra Madre, two hundred miles south of the boundary line. Geronimo and Juh and Chato, and other chiefs of quite as bloody fame, were with him. To capture them would be very creditable success. To fail to do so would entail dire consequences, international complications perhaps, and of a certainty the scorn and abuse of all the wise men who sat in judgment afar off.The woman shrugged her round brown shoulders from which the rebozo had fallen quite away, and dropped her long lashes. "No se," she murmured.
"That," objected the major, testily, "is ancient history. This trouble started the way of most of the troubles of this age鈥攚hiskey." In his agitation he carefully spilled a spoonful of salt on the cloth and scraped it into a little mound with a knife. Then recollecting that spilled salt causes quarrels, he hurriedly threw a pinch of it over his left shoulder. "And鈥攁nd, the worst of the whole business is, old man, that you've got to go. Your troop and one from Apache are ordered out. I'm awfully sorry." He would not look at Felipa at all. But he stared Landor[Pg 57] fairly out of countenance, as he waited for a storm of tears and protestations.
She came and stood watching, asking no questions, while the woman on the sofa gulped down the raw whiskey and gave back the glass.Kirby, hurrying from the house to learn the cause of the new uproar, was all but knocked down and trodden under the hoofs of all his stock, driven from the enclosure with cracking of whips and with stones. Then a dozen ridden horses crowded over the dropped bars, the woman in the lead astride, as were the men.
"Why shouldn't it be? What the deuce has a fellow got to do but drink and gamble? You have to, to keep your mind off it."The officer-of-the-day agreed. And Cairness, not having a hat to raise, forgot himself and saluted. Then he went back to the sutler's through the already pelting rain. He was glad he had caught Lawton, mainly because of what he hoped to get out of him yet, about the Kirby affair. But he was sorry for the big clumsy fool, too. He had been an easy-going, well-intentioned boss in the days when Cairness had been his hand. And, too, he was sorry, very sorry, about the pony. If it were to fall into the hands of Mexicans or even of some of the Mescalero Indians, his chances of seeing it again would be slight. And he was fond of it, mainly because it had helped him to save Mrs. Landor's life.
Two aimless citizens lounged on their horses, rapt in argument and the heavy labor of chewing鈥攕o much so that they barely took notice of the troops.
"Poor little girl," he said kindly. He could not help it that they were the words of a compassionate friend, rather than of an injured husband.Already he felt more respectable at the mere prospect of contact with his kind again. He was glad that the unkempt beard was gone, and he was allowing himself to hope, no, he was deliberately hoping, that he would see Felipa.
THE HERITAGE OF UNREST"Cheese that cussing, do you hear?" he ordered.详情
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