He knew even then while her hand grasped at his arm, that he should have set her upon her feet, as he had done before. He knew that she had merited at least that. But he held her tight and close, and bending back her head, his own very close above it, looked into her eyes.The box was laid in the buckboard, and covered with the flag once more. Then the mules started, with a rattle of traces and of the wheels, and the tramp of feet began again. The drums thrummed regularly and slowly, the heart beats of the service, and the fifes took up the dead march in a weird, shrill Banshee wail. They went down the line, the commandant with the surgeon and the officers first, and after them the buckboard, with its bright-draped burden. Then Landor's horse, covered with black cloths, the empty[Pg 284] saddle upon its back. It nosed at the pockets of the man who led it. It had been taught to find sugar in pockets. And then the troops, the cavalry with the yellow plumes of their helmets drooping, and the infantry with the spikes glinting, marching with eyes cast down and muskets reversed. A gap, then the soldiers' urchins from the laundress row, in for anything that might be doing.And Foster answered him that there would be thirty or forty.
It was a strong door, built of great thick boards and barred with iron, but it must surely cede before fire and the blows. It wrenched on its huge hinges.
"I didn't. None of your business," she defied him."How," answered Felipa, as unconcernedly as though she had not recognized him almost at once for the buck she had last seen in the A tent beside the hospital, with the doctor picking pieces of bone and flesh from his shoulder. Then she took the quiver and examined it. There was a bow as tall as herself, and pliable as fine steel, not a thing for children to play with, but a warrior's arm. Also there were a number of thin, smooth, gayly feathered arrows. "Malas," he told her, touching the heads. "Venadas" and she knew that he meant that they were poisoned by the process of [Pg 89]dipping them in putrid liver, into which a rattler had been made to inject its venom. Even then the sort was becoming rare, though the arrow was still in use as a weapon and not merely as an attraction for tourists.
"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."
If he had had any hope, it vanished before her unhesitating, positive, "No; I am not mistaken. Oh, no!"
Then stand to your glasses steady,It was still early. The mountain echoes had not sung back the tattoo of the trumpets as yet. There was a storm coming on from the snow peak in the west, and the clouds, dark with light edges, were thick in the sky. Lawton was sober enough now. Not so far away in its little pocket among the hills he could see the post, with all its lights twinkling, as though one of the clear starry patches in the heavens were reflected[Pg 205] in a black lake in the valley. And the road stretched out faint and gray before him.[Pg 243]
He turned and walked beside her. "Don't you believe I know all that I want to. I've only just begun. So that scoundrel knew the whole murderous story, and went on writing lies in his papers and covering you, when you ought to have been hung to the nearest tree, did he?鈥攁nd for the excellent reason that he wanted to make use of your husband! I worked on the Circle K Ranch and on that other one over in New Mexico, which is supposed to be Lawton's, and it didn't take me long to find out that Stone was the real boss."
"See here," insisted Taylor; "turn round here and answer me." Cairness continued to stand with his head down, looking at the geraniums. The parson was wiser than his wife in that he knew when it was of no use to insist. "What's keeping you around here, anyway? You ought to have gotten out when you left the service鈥攁nd you half meant to then. What is it?"There was a stronger blow at the door, as of a log used by way of a ram. It gave, swayed, and fell crashing in, and the big room swarmed with screaming fiends, their eyes gleaming wildly in the light of the burning hay and the branches piled against the cabin, as they waved their arms over their feathered heads.
In the '70's the frontier was a fact and not a memory, and a woman in the Far West was a blessing sent direct from heaven, or from the East, which was much the same thing. Lieutenants besought the wives of their brother officers to bring out their sisters and cousins and even aunts, and very weird specimens of the sex sometimes resulted. But even these could reign as queens, dance, ride, flirt to their hearts' content鈥攁lso marry, which is not always the corollary in these days. The outbreak of a reservation full of Indians was a small thing in comparison with the excitement occasioned by the expectation of a girl in the post.详情
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