类型:奇幻地区:ñseo发布:2020-10-30 21:01:17


The Indians and the cow-boys used the insulators to try their marksmanship upon, and occasionally—in much the same spirit that the college man takes gates from their hinges and pulls down street signs—the young bucks cut the wires and tied the ends with rubber bands. Also trees blown down by storms fell crashing across the line, and some scheme for making it a little less tempting and a little more secure was much needed. Landor had long nursed such an one. So a week later he and Felipa, with a detail of twenty men and a six-mule wagon, started across the Gila Valley to the White Mountains.Landor sat speechless for a moment. Then he jumped up, knocking over a pile of registers. He seized a bone ruler, much stained with official inks, red and blue, and slapped it on the palm of his hand for emphasis. "I'll demand a court of inquiry into my conduct. This shan't drop, not until the strongest possible light has been turned on it. Why doesn't Brewster prefer charges? Either my conduct was such that he can defend it openly, or else it was such as to call for a court-martial, and to justify him in preferring charges. Certainly nothing can justify him in smirching me with damning silence. That is the part neither of an officer nor of a man." He kicked one of the registers out of the way, and it flapped across the floor and lay with its leaves crumpled under the fair leather covers.

"Well, they think it's a lot."

"Done up,—is 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 saw that the game had reached that stage where he must play his trump card, if he were to have any chance. "You are a mean little thing," he laughed. "It is the Apache blood, I suppose."Down by the river a coyote scudded across her path as she made her way through the willows, and when he was well beyond, rose up on his hind legs and looked after her. At the water's edge she stopped and glanced across to the opposite bank. The restlessness was going, and she meant to return now, before she should be missed—if indeed she were not missed already, as was very probable. Yet still she waited, her hands clasped in front of her, looking down at the stream. Farther out, in the middle, a ripple flashed. But where she stood among the bushes, it was very dark. The water made no sound, there was not a breath of air, yet suddenly there was a murmur, a rustle.

So that evening when all the garrison was upon its front porches and the sidewalk, the major and the lieutenant went down the line to Landor's quarters. And their example was followed. But some hung back, and constraint was in the air.After he had gone, Landor turned to Brewster once more. "Are all the bids in the safe again?"Landor did not know; but she was part Apache, he said, and Harry Cabot's daughter, and it was pretty certain that with that blood in her veins she had the spirit of adventure.

"Well, he is now, then," insisted the officer; "Mrs. Landor is a squaw at bottom. Poor old Jack!" he sat up and fired a stone at the stalk of a Spanish bayonet, "I guess he's better off in the Happy Hunting Grounds. His wasn't a bed of roses."Cairness made another cigarette and considered. "I think I'll hire to him," he said, after a while.

"I think that Geronimo will make trouble. He knows that the agent and the soldiers are quarrelling, and he and his people have been drinking tizwin for many days."There was nothing for it but to admit that from the day of her father's death she had been utterly Landor's dependant,—at a cost to him of how many pleasures, she, who knew the inadequacy of a lieutenant's pay, could easily guess.When the sun was at midheaven, and the shadows of the pines beyond the clearing fell straight, the [Pg 35]clanging of a triangle startled the mountain stillness. The Mexicans dropped their tools, and the white teamster left a mule with its galled back half washed.

Felipa was not there. At the earliest, she could not return for a couple of days, and by then Landor's body[Pg 283] would be laid in the dreary little graveyard, with its wooden headboards and crosses, and its neglected graves among the coyote and snake holes. The life of the service would be going on just as usual, after the little passing excitement was at an end. For it was an excitement. No one in the garrison would have had it end like this, but since what will be will be, and the right theory of life is to make the most of what offers and to hasten—as the philosopher has said—to laugh at all things for fear we may have cause to weep, there was a certain expectation, decently kept down, in the air.

He watched her as she went out of the tent, and the surgeon and steward worked with the shining little instruments.Cairness watched how strong and erect and how sure of every muscle she was, and how well the blond little head looked against the dull blackness of the mother's hair. The child was in no way like Felipa, and it had never taken her place in its father's love. He was fond of it and proud, too; but, had he been put to the test, he would have sacrificed its life for that of its mother, with a sort of fanatical joy."I say, old man, shut that door! Look at the flies. Now go on," he added, as the door banged; and he rose to draw a chair to the table.



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.But there was more stock than was needed.



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