Gradually it began to form itself in his softened brain what he meant to do. It is safest to avenge oneself upon dumb beasts, after all. By and by he began to feel along the adobe wall, and when he found a niche for his foot, he started to clamber up. He had climbed so many corral walls, to sit atop of them with his great, booted legs dangling, and meditatively whittle when he should have been at work, that it was easy for him, and in a moment he was on the shingled roof, lying flat. In another he had dropped down upon a bed of straw.In a moment there were only the four Englishmen in the corral.
"He has caught a lioness and tricked her out in fashionable rags and taught her some capers, and now he thinks he has improved the animal," he said to himself, and raged inwardly, asking the intangible Fate, which was always opposing him, if there was not[Pg 216] enough little doll women in the world that such an one as Felipa must be whittled down to the size.
It would have become the sentiment of the crowd in another moment, but the little codger took up the second glass, and raised it again. Then it fell smashing to the floor. A second bullet had broken his wrist."You give me what no one else could give鈥攖he best things in life."
"Yes," he said shortly, "I realize it.""Well, he is now, then," insisted the officer; "Mrs. Landor is a squaw at bottom. Poor old Jack!" he sat up and fired a stone at the stalk of a Spanish bayonet, "I guess he's better off in the Happy Hunting Grounds. His wasn't a bed of roses."
He had been in hiding three weeks. Part of the time he had stayed in the town near the post, small, but as frontier towns went, eminently respectable and law-abiding. For the rest he had lain low in a house of very bad name at the exact edge of the military reservation. The poison of the vile liquor he had drunk without ceasing had gotten itself into his brain. He had reached the criminal point, not bold,鈥攈e was never that,鈥攂ut considerably more dangerous, upon the whole. He drank more deeply for two days longer, after he received Stone's letter, and then, when he was quite mad, when his eyes were bleared and fiery and his head was dry and hot and his heart terrible within him, he went out into the black night.
Then it was the first, at any rate. His manner softened.It was the always expected, the never ceasing. Landor looked at his wife and stroked his mustache with[Pg 75] a shaking hand. His face was yellow, and his hair had grown noticeably grayer.
Was it possible that twenty minutes before he had risen to the histrionic pitch of self-sacrifice of offering her her freedom to marry another man?He snatched it from her then, with a force that threw her to one side, and sent it flying across the room, smashing a water jug to bits. Then he pushed her away and going out, banged the door until the whitewash fell down from the cracks.
There was the crunching of heavy feet up above, on the gravel. It came to them both, even to her, that for them to be seen there together would be final. There would be no explaining it away. Cairness thought of her. She thought of her husband. It would ruin him and his life.
Felipa smiled again. "I might be happy," she went on, "but I probably should not live very long. I have Indian blood in my veins; and we die easily in a too much civilization."详情
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