"I fail to see why not. You can wound it."
"I hear you got Jack Landor up there?""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."He told her that she didn't know it, because he was not; and then he explained to her. "What I want of you now is for you to come over with Taylor and me to see Stone."
"No," Cabot told him, "I couldn't鈥攏ot without delaying you. The trail's too hot for that. If you'll put a fourth and last bullet into Cochise, the loss of a little thing like me won't matter much." He stopped short, and his chin dropped, weakly, undecided.
The woman joined her voice. She had a meat cleaver in her hand, and there was blood on her apron where she had wiped the roast she was now leaving to burn in the stove. "Like as not we'll all be massacred. I told Bill to get off this place two weeks ago, and he's such an infernal loafer he couldn't make up his mind to move hisself." She flourished her cleaver toward the big Texan, her husband, who balanced on the tongue of a wagon, his hands in his pockets, smiling ruefully and apologetically, and chewing with an ardor he never put to any other work. "We been here four years now," she went on raspingly, "and if you all feel like staying here to be treated like slaves by these John Bulls, you can do it. But you bet I know when I've got enough. To-morrow I quits." Her jaws snapped shut, and she stood glaring at them defiantly."No," he agreed, "it doesn't matter. And I shall do well enough." Then the three went out, and she finished her breakfast alone.He found that it had been father and son come from the Eastern states in search of the wealth that lay in that vague and prosperous, if uneasy, region anywhere west of the Missouri. And among the papers was a letter addressed to Felipa. Landor held it in the flat[Pg 146] of his hand and frowned, perplexed. He knew that it was Cairness's writing. More than once on this last scout he had noticed its peculiarities. They were unmistakable. Why was Cairness writing to Felipa? And why had he not used the mails? The old, never yet justified, distrusts sprang broad awake. But yet he was not the man to brood over them. He remembered immediately that Felipa had never lied to him. And she would not now. So he took the stained letter and went to find her.
"Barnwell tells me," he began, "that you have picked up a good deal of Apache."
Mrs. Taylor was silent. Her pop blue eyes shifted.On the next day they were in the flat, nearing the post. There was a dust storm. Earlier in the morning the air had grown suddenly more dry, more close and lifeless than ever, suffocating, and a yellow cloud had come in the western sky. Then a hot wind began to blow the horses' manes and tails, to snarl through the greasewood bushes, and to snap the loose ends of the men's handkerchiefs sharply. The cloud had thinned and spread, high up in the sky, and the light had become almost that of a sullen evening. Black bits floated and whirled high overhead, and birds beat about in the gale. Gradually the gale and the dust had dropped nearer to the earth, a sand mist had gone into every pore and choked and parched. And now the tepid, thick wind was moaning across the plain, meeting no point of resistance anywhere.
Cairness could not take his own from them, and they stood so for what seemed to them both a dumb and horrible eternity, until Landor came up, and she caught at his arm to steady herself. The parasol whirled around on its stick and fell. Cairness picked it up, knocked off the dust, and handed it to Landor. He could see that he knew, and it was a vast relief.
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But he knew that she did not love him. She was grateful. It was sometimes an Apache trait. He realized that it was his curse and hers that he could not for an instant forget the strain. He read her character by it, half unconsciously. He saw it in her honesty, her sinewy grace, her features, her fearlessness, her kindness with children,鈥攖hey were all Apache characteristics; and they were all repellent. From his youth on, he had associated the race with cruelty and every ghastly sight he had come upon, on the plains and in the mountains. It was a prejudice with more than the force of a heritage. He went on with his study of her, as she sat there. He was always studying her.[Pg 54] But he could not decide whether it was that she lacked sensitiveness and was really not greatly disturbed, or a savage sort of pride in concealing emotions.详情
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