Later in the day, when the general and the interpreters were engaged in making clear to the bucks, who came straggling in to surrender, the wishes and intentions of the Great Father in Washington as regarded his refractory children in Arizona, he went back to the captives' tepee. The Texan was nowhere to be seen. He called to her and got no answer, then he looked in. She was not there. One of the Mexican women was standing by, and he went up to her and asked for the Gringa.She asked for the full particulars of her husband's death, and when Ellton had told her, sat looking straight before her at the wall. "It was very like Jack," she said finally, in a low voice, "his whole life was like that." And then she turned squarely to the lieutenant. "Where is Mr. Cairness? Where did they take him?" She was surprised at herself that she had not thought of that before.One morning, shortly before dinner call, she sat under the ramada, the deer at her feet, asleep, the little Apache squatted beside her, amusing himself with a collection of gorgeous pictorial labels, soaked from commissary fruit and vegetable cans. The camp was absolutely silent, even the drowsy scraping of the brooms of the police party having stopped some time before. Landor was asleep in his tent, and presently she herself began to doze. She was awakened by the sound of footsteps on the gravel in front of the[Pg 65] ramada, and in another moment a tall figure stood in the opening, dark against the glare. Instantly she knew it was the man with whom she had come face to face long before on the parade ground at Grant, though from then until now she had not thought of him once, nor remembered his existence.
She could not help looking at him now, and his eyes held hers through a silence that seemed to them so enduring, so unreasonable, that Landor must wonder at it. But he had seen men put at a disadvantage by her beauty before, and he had grown too used to her lack of conventionality to think much about it, one way or the other.
Felipa held out her hand and showed a little brown bird that struggled feebly. She explained that its leg was broken, and he drew back instinctively. There was not a trace of softness or pity in her sweet voice. Then he took the bird in his own big hand and asked her how it had happened. "I did it with an arrow," said Diana, unslinging her quiver, which was a barbaric affair of mountain-lion skin, red flannel, and beads.
"I guess not," said Landor, tolerantly, as he turned[Pg 106] his horse over to his orderly; "but, anyway," he added to Ellton, "we had a picnic鈥攐f a sort."
Cairness lay white and still, looking up at her. He was very weak and dazed, and for the instant he could only remember, absurdly enough, the Andromaque he had seen a French actress play once in his very early youth when he had been taken with all the children of the Lyc茅e, where he was then at school, to the theatre on a Thursday afternoon. The Andromaque had been tall and dark and superb, and all in black, like that woman in the doorway there.He felt that he ought to dislike her cordially, but he did not. He admired her, on the contrary, as he would have admired a fine boy. She seemed to have no religion, no ideals, and no petty vanity; therefore, from his point of judgment, she was not feminine. Perhaps the least feminine thing about her was the manner in which she appeared to take it for granted that he was going to marry her, without his having said, as yet, a word to that effect. In a certain way it simplified matters, and in another it made them more difficult. It is not easy to ask a woman to marry you where she looks into your eyes unhesitatingly. But Landor decided that it had to be done. She had been in the post four months, and with the standing exception of Brewster, whom she discouraged resolutely, none of the officers cared for her beyond the flirtation limit."You might have killed the Indian," he said, in a strained voice. It did not occur to either of them, just then, that it was not the danger she had been in that appalled him.
"And you鈥攚hat did you say?" asked Landor. He was a little surprised to find how anxiously he[Pg 26] waited, and the extent of his relief when she answered, "I told him to let me be, or I would set them loose on him."Geronimo and four other warriors were riding aimlessly about on two mules, drunk as they well could be, too drunk to do much that day. But when night[Pg 303] came, and with it a drizzling rain, the fears the ranchman and his mescal had put in their brains assumed real shapes, and they betook themselves to the mountains again, and to the war-path.Chapter 8
"I didn't ask you that," he reminded her calmly. "I asked what he told."
Stone laughed and inquired if he were joking, or just crazy.She sprang to her feet so suddenly that her arm struck him a blow in the face, and stood close in front of him, digging her nails into her palms and breathing hard. "If you鈥攊f you dare to say that again, I will kill you. I can do it. You know that I can, and I will. I mean what I say, I will kill you." And she did mean what she said, for the moment, at any rate. There was just as surely murder in her soul as though those long, strong hands had been closed on his throat. Her teeth were bared and her whole face was distorted with fury and the effort of controlling it. She drew up a chair, after a moment, and sat in it. It was she who was leaning forward now, and he had shrunk back, a little cowed. "I know what you are trying to do," she told him, more quietly, her lips quivering into a sneer, "you are trying to frighten me into marrying you. But you can't do it. I never meant to, and now I would die first."
Two steers, locking their horns, broke from the herd and swaying an instant so, separated and started side by side across the prairie. He settled in his saddle and put his cow-pony to a run, without any preliminary gait, going in a wide circle to head them back. Running across the ground, thick with coyote and dog holes, was decidedly perilous; men had their necks[Pg 164] broken in that way every few days; but it would not have mattered to him especially to have ended so. Wherefore he did not, but drove the steers back to the herd safely. And then he returned to the monotonous sentry work and continued thinking of himself."I'm a busy man," said Stone, "a very busy man, the busiest man in the territory."
But she was not to be turned off with levity. It was a serious matter, involving consequences of the sternest sort. Mrs. Taylor was of the class of minds which holds that just such laxities as this strike at the root of society. "It is not a joke, Joshua. She pollutes our home."In half an hour he was back, and having produced his scouting togs from the depths of a sky-blue chest, smelling horribly of tobacco and camphor, he fell to dressing.详情
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