类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-10-25 11:22:14


After a time she roused herself and went into the house, and directly she came back with the baby in her arms. The younger of the two children that she had taken under her care at Stanton, the little girl, followed after her.

Brewster stood in his own window, quite alone, and watched them all crowding down to Landor's quarters. The beauty of the Triumph of Virtue did not appeal to[Pg 157] him. He was very uneasy. Countercharges were looming on his view. To be sure, he had not lied, not absolutely and in so many words, but his citizen witnesses had not been so adroit or so careful. It would not have taken much to make out a very fair case of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Practical working texts, anent looking before leaping, and being sure you are right ere going ahead, occurred to him with new force. His morality at the moment was worthy the law and the prophets. He was Experience in person, and as such would have been an invaluable teacher, if there had been any seeking instruction. But there was none. They were all with Landor, drinking his wine and helping success succeed, than which one may find less pleasant occupations.

As he had made Mrs. Campbell his confidante from the first, he told her about this too, now, and finished with the half-helpless, half-amused query as to what he should do. "It may be any length of time before she decides that she is old enough, and it never seems to occur to her that this state of things can't go on forever, that she is imposing upon you." "And the most serious part of it," he added after a while, "is that she does not love me."Forbes shrugged his shoulders. "You'll pardon me if I say that here she is a luxurious semi-barbarian." It was on his tongue's tip to add, "and this afternoon, by the spring-house, she was nearly an Apache," but he checked it. "It's very picturesque and poetical and all that,鈥攆rom the romantic point of view it's perfect,鈥攂ut it isn't feasible. You can't live on honeycomb for more than a month or twain. I can't imagine a greater misfortune than for you two to grow contented here, and that's what you'll do. It will be a criminal waste of good material."

"Yes," Cairness said, "of course it's hard luck, but she's deserved it all, and more too. You may as well know the whole thing now. It's only fair. She and her husband were the cause of the Kirby massacre. Drove off the stock from the corrals and left them no escape.""Why?" she asked, with a quick suspicion of the dreariness she caught in his tone.

He hesitated, opening his mouth to speak and shutting it again irresolutely.

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."His glance fell before hers of dismay, disapproval, and anger鈥攁n anger so righteous that he felt himself to be altogether in the wrong. "Do you mean divorce?" She said it like an unholy word."I am going back to my ranch on the reservation," he said measuredly.

Later, when he came in from dress parade, he found her reading in the sitting room. She looked up and smiled, but his face was very angry, and the chin strap of his helmet below his mouth and the barbaric yellow plume added to the effect of awful and outraged majesty. He stopped in front of her. "I have been thinking things over," he said. She waited. "Three years ago I offered you your liberty to marry that man. I repeat the offer now."

Before long she heard a horse coming at a gallop up the road, to the front of the house. She put out her hand and pushed aside the vines, but could see little until the rider, dismounting and dropping his reins to hang on the ground, ran up the steps. It was the mail carrier, the young hero of the Indian massacre. Felipa saw in a moment that he was excited. She thought of her husband at once, and sat up in the hammock.[Pg 193]



Cairness clasped his hands about one knee and bent back, looking up at the stars,鈥攁nd far beyond them into the infinity of that Cause of which they and he and all the perplexing problems were but the mere effects. "You mustn't think I haven't thought it over, time and again," he said, after a while. "It's more vital to me than to you; but my way isn't clear. I loved Mrs. Cairness for more than ten years before I could marry her. I should lose her in less than that, I am absolutely certain, if I did as you suggest. She is not so strong a woman as you might suppose. This dry air, this climate, are necessary to her." He hesitated a[Pg 321] little, rather loath to speak of his sentiments, and yet glad of the chance to put his arguments in words, for his own greater satisfaction. "You call it picturesque and poetical and all that," he said, "but you only half mean it after all. It is picturesque. It has been absolutely satisfactory. I'm not given to talking about this kind of thing, you know; but most men who have been married two years couldn't say truthfully that they have nothing to regret; that if they had had to buy that time with eternity of damnation and the lake of fire, it would not have come too dear. And I have had no price to pay鈥" he stopped short, the ring of conviction cut off, as the sound of a bell is when a hand is laid upon it. The hand was that of a fact, of the fact that had confronted him in the Ca?on de los Embudos, and that very day by the cottonwoods of the spring-house.

"You might marry," Landor suggested. "You can always do that when all else fails."



Copyright © 2020