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类型:奇幻地区:մ发布:2020-09-30 05:15:29

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Official business called Brewster to the Agency next day. He stopped overnight, on the way, at a ranch whose owners depended more upon passing travellers than upon the bad soil and the thin cattle. And here fate threw in his way one whom he would have gone well out of that way to find.He stood quite still and erect, looking after them, a dead light of renunciation of life and hope in his eyes. They came in search of him two days later and scoured the valley and the hills. But the last they ever saw of him was then, following them, a tiny speck upon the desert, making southwest in the direction of the water hole. The big wolf had stopped again, and turned about, coming slowly after him, and two buzzards circled above him, casting down on his path the flitting shadows of their wings.

He laughed, a little falsely, and turned back into the room.The chief Alchise and a half hundred of his kind—one so deaf that he held to his savage old ear a civilized speaking-trumpet—squatted about on the ground, and explained to Crook the nature of their wrongs.

"Very much," said Ellton; "it was a sharp cut on the forehead—went through the bone, and he was unconscious, off and on, for two or three days. He seemed to take it hard. He went off yesterday, and he wasn't fit to travel either, but he would do it for some reason. I think he was worse cut up about Landor than anything, though he wasn't able to go to the funeral. I like[Pg 289] Cairness. He's an all-round decent fellow; but after all, his life was bought too dear."

Felipa thought it was not quite so bad as that, and she poured herself another cup of the Rio, strong as lye, with which she saturated her system, to keep off the fever.

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."Cairness!" called Crook, and Cairness, turning aside, came over to where the general sat upon a big stone eating a sandwich two inches thick.

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.

The black eyes snapped with pain as he fell, but when Cairness, with a breathless oath at the spoiler of sport, whoever he might be, pounced down upon him, the snap turned to a twinkle. The little buck raised himself on his elbow. "How! Cairness," he grinned. "How Mees Landor?" Cairness stopped short, speechless, with his mouth open. He did not even dodge after a bullet had hummed past his head. "Who the devil—!" he began. Then it dawned upon him. It was Felipa's protégé of the old Camp Thomas days.

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"I didn't. None of your business," she defied him."I am far from being sure that that is entirely to be desired, very far," said Cairness, with conviction. He had never ceased to feel a certain annoyance at[Pg 319] the memory of that year and a half of Felipa's life in which he had had no part.

"Didn't you find out from him?" she asked.Cairness, his hand on the butt of his own pistol, wondered, a little angrily, if Taylor were never going to be roused.

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