But he kept a close watch upon her then and during all the hard, tedious march back to the States, when the troops and the scouts had to drag their steps to meet the strength of the women and children; when the rations gave out because there were some four hundred Indians to be provided for, when the command ate mescal root, digging it up from the ground and baking it; and when the presence of a horde of filthy savages made the White-man suffer many things not to be put in print.The Agency man thought a question would not commit him. He had not been round at that time, and he asked for information. The lieutenant gave it to him.
"I think perhaps I'll go with you, if you'll wait over a day," Cairness told him. He had taken a distinct[Pg 38] fancy to the little botanist who wore his clerical garb while he rode a bronco and drove a pack-mule over the plains and mountains, and who had no fear of the Apache nor of the equally dangerous cow-boy. Cairness asked him further about the hat. "That chimney-pot of yours," he said, "don't you find it rather uncomfortable? It is hot, and it doesn't protect you. Why do you wear it?"Cairness said that he would of course have to take chances on that. "You might kill me, or I might kill you. I'm a pretty fair shot. However, it wouldn't pay you to kill me, upon the whole, and you must take everything into consideration." He was still twisting the curled end of his small mustache and half closing his eyes in the way that Stone had long since set down[Pg 261] as asinine. "My friend Mr. Taylor would still be alive. And if you were to hurt him,鈥攈e's a very popular man,鈥攊t might be bad for your standing in the community. It wouldn't hurt me to kill you, particularly, on the other hand. You are not so popular anyway, and I haven't very much to lose."
She moved away from him and out of the ray of moonlight, into the shadow of the other side of the window, and spoke thoughtfully, with more depth to her voice than usual. "So few people have been as happy as we have. If we went hunting for more happiness somewhere else, we should be throwing away the gifts of the gods, I think."Felipa did not answer.There were two bodies lying across the trail in front of him. He dismounted, and throwing his reins to the[Pg 136] trumpeter went forward to investigate. It was not a pleasant task. The men had been dead some time and their clothing was beginning to fall away in shreds. Some of their outfit was scattered about, and he could guess from it that they had been prospectors. A few feet away was the claim they had been working. Only their arms had been stolen, otherwise nothing appeared to be missing. There was even in the pockets considerable coin, in gold and silver, which Landor found, when he took a long knife from his saddle bags, and standing as far off as might be, slit the cloth open.
She turned on him quickly. "Let me be," she commanded, and he obeyed humbly. Then she corked the bottle and shook it so that the animals rolled on top of each other, and laying it on the ground bent over it with the deepest interest. Brewster watched too, fascinated in spite of himself. It was so very ugly. The two wicked little creatures fought desperately. But after a time they withdrew to the sides of the bottle, and were quite still. The tarantula had left a leg lying loose.
Sometimes when she was quite certain of being undisturbed, she took Cairness's one letter from the desk, and read and reread it, and went over every word and look she had had from him. She had forgotten nothing, but though her olive skin would burn and then grow more colorless than ever when she allowed herself to recall, not even a sigh would come from between the lips that had grown a very little set.Cairness nodded. He thought it very likely.
There were also magazines and a few books in more than one language, wild flowers arranged in many sorts[Pg 36] of strange jars, and in the corner, by an improvised couch, a table stacked with cups and plates of Chelsea-Derby, which were very beautiful and very much out of place.
Felipa rose from the table, and going over to her husband laid her hand on his shoulder. She asked when he must go. "To-night, my dear lady, I am afraid," soothed the commandant. But she appeared to be in no need of humoring, as she turned to Landor and offered to do what she might to help him.Before dawn Cairness was out, hastening the cook with the breakfast, helping with it himself, indeed, and rather enjoying the revival of the days when he had been one of the best cooks in the troop and forever pottering about the mess chests and the Dutch oven, in the field. As the sun rose,鈥攖hough daybreak was fairly late there in the ca?on,鈥攖he cold, crisp air was redolent of coffee and bacon and broiling fresh meat.
The general sat silent for a while. "I didn't know that when I sent for him this time," he said at length, in partial explanation. Then he turned his head and looked up over his shoulders at the hostiles' conical hill. A band of Chiricahuas was coming down the side toward the soldiers' camp.
"Yes," whispered the little girl, squirming in Felipa's arms, "I am dlad you's come. Let me doe."[Pg 67]
"I see dem pass by my ranch. Dey weel run off all my stock, seexty of dem, a hundred mebee. I come queek to tell you."While the men sat at the long table, shovelling in with knife and three-pronged fork the food of the master their pride forbade them to serve, a horse came at a run, up to the quadrangle, and a cow-boy rushed into the open doorway. "Apaches!" he gasped, clutching at the lintel, wild-eyed, "Apaches!"详情
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