Not far from where those flames were licking up into the heavens, Cairness thought as he watched them, had[Pg 162] been the Circle K Ranch. In among the herd, even now, were Circle K cattle that had not yet been cut out. Those six people of his own race had been all that was left to him of his youth. To be sure, he had seen little of them, but he had known that they were there, ready to receive him in the name of the home they had all left behind.
The civilian protested. "But there is a big company of us, sir, thirty or thirty-five, who can put you on the trail of a large band."
The major stopped abruptly in his walk to and fro and faced him. "Do you know more about it, then, than Brewster who was with him?"There had been an afternoon in Washington when, on her road to some reception of a half-official kind, she had crossed the opening of an alleyway and had come upon three boys who were torturing a small, blind kitten; and almost without knowing what she did, because her maternal grandfather had done to the children of his enemies as the young civilized savages were doing to the kitten there, she stopped and watched them, not enjoying the sight perhaps, but not recoiling from it either. So intent had she been that she had not heard footsteps crossing the street toward her, and had not known that some one stopped beside her with an exclamation of wrath and dismay. She had turned suddenly and looked up, the pupils of her eyes contracted curiously as they had been when she had watched the tarantula-vinagrone fight years before.
He demanded that he be told the reasons, but she refused very sweetly and very decidedly. And he was forced to accept the footing upon which she placed him, for all time.
"I came here to parley, not to fight," said the general, rather sharply. "What is their disposition?"It was his intention to go to Crook and to warn him if he needed warning, which was not probable, since he was never napping. He would then offer his services as a scout. He was sincerely attached to the general, and felt his own career in a way involved with that of the officer, because he had been with him, in one capacity or another, in every campaign he had made in the southwest.Felipa's revolver was in her hand, and cocked and pointed straight between two eyes that shone out of the blackness. And so, for an appreciable time, she stood. Then a long arm came feeling out; but because she was looking along the sight into the face at the very end of the muzzle, she failed to see it. When it closed fast about her waist, she gave a quick gasp and fired. But the bullet, instead of going straight through the forehead beneath the head[Pg 79] band, as she had meant it to do, ploughed down. The grasp on the body relaxed for an instant; the next it had tightened, and a branch had struck the pistol from her hand.
The words of a woman in a community where women are few carry almost the weight of inspiration. Be she never so hideous or so vile, she is in some measure a Deborah, and the more yet, if she be moved to the lust and love of revenge of the prophetess who sang[Pg 125] in the frenzy of blood drunkenness, "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber, the Kenite, be. Blessed shall she be above women in the tent.""I reckon you'll know what for, then," beamed Taylor, immovably.
"Of course," said the officer, "I understand that the hostiles are not in the immediate vicinity?"
[Pg 70]"Then they all have 'medicine' on," Cairness continued, "redbird and woodpecker feathers, in buckskin bags, or quail heads, or prairie-dog claws. One fellow was making an ornament out of an adobe dollar. Every buck and boy in the band has a couple of cartridge belts and any quantity of ammunition, likewise new shirts and zarapes. They have fitted themselves out one way or another since Crawford got at them in January. I don't think there are any of them particularly anxious to come in."
Ellton was going with her to the railroad. They were to travel with a mounted escort, as she had come, on account of the uncertain state of the country. And they must cross, as she had done in coming also, the road over the malpais, where Landor had fallen. As the hoofs of the mules and the tires of the wheels began to slip and screech on the smooth-worn lava, and the ambulance rattled and creaked up the incline, Ellton leaned forward and pointed silently to a hollow in the gray rock a few yards away. It was where Landor had pitched forward over the body of the mounted chief of scouts. Felipa nodded gravely, but she did not speak, nor yet weep. Ellton, already thrown back upon himself by her persistent silence with regard to her [Pg 292]intentions, recoiled even more. He thought her hard beyond all his previous experience of women.详情
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