Stone considered his dignity as a representative of the press, and decided that he would not be treated with levity. He would resent the attitude of the soldiery; but in his resentment he passed the bounds of courtesy altogether, forgetting whose toddy he had just drunk, and beneath whose tent pole he was seated. He said rude things about the military,鈥攖hat it was pampered and inefficient and gold laced, and that it thought its mission upon earth fulfilled when it sat back and drew princely pay.He changed his position leisurely, stretching out at full length and resting his head on his hand by way of gaining time. Then he told her that it was not until after he had caught and landed her husband that he had discovered that Stone was in it.It was too foolish to answer.
Landor knew that they were come to hear what he might have to say about it, and he had decided to say, for once, just what he thought, which is almost invariably unwise, and in this particular case proved exceedingly so, as any one could have foretold. On the principle that a properly conducted fist fight is opened by civilities, however, he mixed three toddies in as many tin coffee cups.
Brewster poured himself a glass of beer and drank it contemplatively and was silent. Then he set it down on the bare table with a sharp little rap, suggesting determination made. It was suggestive of yet more than this, and caused them to say "Well?" with a certain eagerness. He shrugged his shoulders and changed the subject, refusing pointedly to be brought back to it, and succeeding altogether in the aim which had brought him down there.Landor stood considering and pulling at his mustache, as his way was. Then he turned on his heel and went back to the tent for Brewster. He explained the matter to him. "I tell Mr. Foster," he said, "just what risk I would take if I acted contrary to orders, but the force of my argument doesn't seem to strike him. If any harm were to come to the citizens around here, I'd be responsible."
His horse started. He had dug it with the rowels. Then he reined it in with a jerk that made it champ its curb. "Don't dwell on that all the time," he said angrily; "forget it." And then it flashed across him, the irreparable wrong he would be doing her if he taught her to consider the Apache blood a taint.As he put on his faded blouse he went and stood before her, holding out his arms. She moved over to him and laid her head on his shoulder. "Are you not sorry to have me go?" he asked, in the tones of one having a grievance. He felt that he was entitled to something of the sort.
She gave him an odd, furtive glance and did not[Pg 55] answer for a time. He was never quite able to divine with her just how much of his thoughts she understood, and it put him at some disadvantage.
"True, too," Brewster admitted perforce.
"I have it," he said shortly, standing beside her and holding out the letter.
There was only Mrs. Campbell who knew the whole story. Landor had gone to her for advice, as had been his custom since the days before she had preferred Campbell to him. "Felipa," he said, "writes that she is going to run away from school, if I don't take her away. She says she will, and she undoubtedly means it. I have always noticed that there is no indecision in her character."The parson expressed pity鈥攁nd felt it, which is more."Yes," she said, "did you see me? I dare say you thought I was communing with Nature in the midst of the old tin cans and horseshoes. Well, I wasn't. I was watching the trap of a tarantula nest, and I caught him when he came out. I've watched that hole for three days," she announced triumphantly. "As for the vinagrone, the cook found him in his tent, and I bottled him. Come and see the fight," she invited amiably.
They went at once for supper to the most popular resort of the town, the Great Western Saloon and Restaurant. It was a long adobe room, the whitewash of which was discolored by lamp smoke and fly specks and stains. There were also bullet holes and marks of other missiles. At one end was a bar, with a tin top[Pg 41] for the testing of silver coins. Several pine tables were set out with cracked sugar bowls, inch-thick glasses, bottles of pickles and condiments, still in their paper wrappings, and made filthy by flies, dust, and greasy hands. Already there were half a dozen cow-boys and Mexicans, armed to the teeth, standing about.Landor recalled the twenty years of all winter campaigns, dry camps, forced marches, short rations, and long vigils and other annoyances that are not put down in the tactics, and smiled again, with a deep cynicism. Barnwell sat silent. He sympathized with Stone because his interests lay that way, but he was somewhat unfortunately placed between the military devil and the political deep sea.
"It is curious," she said, "but it has always seemed as though English were not my native tongue."He naturally did not foresee anything serious, and he only said, "Well?" and began to fill his pipe from a[Pg 83] buckskin pouch, cleverly sketched in inks with Indian scenes. "By the way," he interrupted as she started to speak, "what do you think of this?" He held it out to her. "That fellow Cairness, who wouldn't stay to luncheon that day, did it for me. We camped near his place a couple of days. And he sent you a needle-case, or some such concern. It's in my kit." She looked at the pouch carefully before she gave it back; then she clasped her hands under her head again and gazed up at the manta of the ceiling, which sagged and was stained where the last cloud-burst had leaked through the roof.And the deaf old chief Pedro answered for them: "No," he said, "when you were here before, whenever you said a thing, we knew that it was true, and we kept it in our minds. When you were here, we were content; but we cannot understand why you went away. Why did you leave us? Everything was all right when you were here."详情
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