"You heard what Mrs. Cairness said this afternoon. She was very ill in school when she was a young girl, and still more so in Washington afterward." He shook his head. "No, Forbes, you may think you know something about the Apache, but you don't know him as I do, who have been with him for years. I've seen too much of the melting away of half and quarter breeds. They die without the shadow of an excuse, in civilization."
There was one who had done so now. The troops looking up at him, rejoiced. He was crucified upon an[Pg 135] improvised cross of unbarked pine branches, high up at the top of a sheer peak of rock. He stood out black and strange against the whitish blue of the sky. His head was dropped upon his fleshless breast, and there was a vulture perched upon it, prying its hooked bill around in the eye sockets. Two more, gorged and heavy, balanced half asleep upon points of stone.Felipa stood up and told the truth shortly. "It[Pg 224] was my fault, if it was any one's," she ended. "You may kill me, if you like. But if you hurt him, I will kill myself." It was she who was threatening now, and she never said more than she meant. She turned almost disdainfully from them, and went up and out of the cave.[Pg 67]
But he was not satisfied. His entry into the post and the cool greeting of the three officers began to come back to him.And he could get nothing definite from her beyond that. It annoyed him, of course; Felipa had a gift for repulsing kindness and friendship. It was because she would not lie and could not evade. Therefore, she preserved a silence that was, to say the least of it, exasperating to the well-intentioned.
The little man picked it up and contemplated it, with his head on one side and a critical glance at its damaged condition. Then he smoothed its roughness with the palm of his rougher hand. "Why do I wear it?" he drawled calmly; "well, I reckon to show 'em that I can."Felipa had taken charge of the two, being the only woman in the place not already provided with children of her own, and had roused herself to an amount of capability her husband had never suspected her of. She belonged to the tribe of unoccupied women, as a rule, not that she was indolent so much as that she appeared to have no sense of time nor of the value of it. Landor, who had always one absorbing interest or another to expend his whole energy upon, even if it were nothing larger than running the troop kitchen, thought her quite aimless, though he never addressed that or any other reproach to her. He was contented at the advent of the hapless orphans for one thing, that they superseded the Ellton baby, which he secretly detested with a kind of unreasonable jealousy.There was a big moon, already on the wane, floating very high in the heavens, and the plain was a silvery sheen.
But this the civilians were very plainly not minded to do. They dropped back, now to cinch up, now to take a drink from the flasks, now to argue, once for one of their number to recover from an attack of heart disease.She did not. She would as lief touch a toad."Done up,鈥攊s it?" he said thoughtfully. His voice was hard because he realized the full ugliness of it. He had seen the thing happen once before.
He rolled another cigarette, and sat smoking it unmoved. And she went into the mess tent.
The Reverend Taylor was tipped back in his chair with his feet upon the table, reading the Tucson papers. He sprang up and put out his hand in a delighted welcome, his small face turning into a very chart of smiling seams and wrinkles.
"Yes?""Who told you he was?" she asked.
The knife was one he had brought from home, seizing it from the kitchen table at the last minute. It was very sharp and had been Felipa's treasured bread cutter. It came in very well just now, chiefly because of its length.Landor came in a few weeks later. He had had an indecisive skirmish in New Mexico with certain bucks who had incurred the displeasure of the paternal government by killing and eating their horses, to the glory of their gods and ancestors, and thereafter working off their enthusiasm by a few excursions beyond the confines of the reservation, with intent to murder and destroy.
"I put them in this here book," he said, "betwixt the leaves, and then I put the book under my saddle and set on it. I don't weigh so much, but it works all right," he added, looking up with a na?ve smile that reached from one big ear to the other. "To-morrow," he told him later, "I'm going to ride over here to Tucson again. What way might you be takin'?""No," she said, "I told the Campbells I would not go to them."详情
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