Chapter 16"To have brought an abandoned woman into our home."
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.The shadow was swallowed up in darkness. The candle had been blown out, and Landor came back to the fire.
Then he began to come to himself and to listen to all that Felipa had to tell him of the many things she had not put in her short and labored letters. He saw[Pg 140] that she looked more beautiful and less well than when he had left her. There was a shadow of weariness on her face that gave it a soft wistfulness which was altogether becoming. He supposed it was because she had nursed him untiringly, as she had; but it did not occur to him to thank her, because she had done only what was a wife's duty, only what he would have done for her if the case had been reversed. Toward the end of the day he began to wonder that no one had been to see him, and he spoke of it.
"Captain Landor," he corrected urbanely, "pleased to meet you, sir. They have expressed the desire that I should convey to you, sir, their wish to accompany you in the search for hostile Apaches.""No, not alone.""Where?" the commandant asked.
"There will be trouble with Geronimo's people soon."
He was accustomed to the gloom by now, but she was not. She could only see that there was some one in the shadow. It flashed through his mind that she[Pg 221] would scream, but the next moment he knew that she would not.
He turned and went back to the cabin, where his wife stood at the door, with the children clinging to her. From down the north road there came a blood-freezing yell, and a shot, reverberating, rattling from hill to hill, muffling into silence among the crowding pines.There was an expression in his eyes Cairness did not understand. It was not like their usual twinkle of welcome. "Wait a moment," he said, and went on with his writing. Cairness dropped down on the ground, and, for want of anything else to do, began to whittle a whistle out of a willow branch.Her face lighted with the relief of a forgiven child, and she went to him and put her arms around his neck.
"I ain't put it in yet," he stammered feebly.The man on the ground twisted his body around on his crushed leg, pinned under the pony, aimed deliberately at the white figure, and fired. Felipa's firm hold upon her revolver turned to a clutch, and her mouth fell open in a sharp gasp. But very deliberately she put the revolver into its holster, and then she laid her hand against her side. At once the palm was warm with blood.
And the Indian may be trusted to know of these. Here where the jacales clustered, there was grass and wood and water that might last indefinitely. The fortifications of Nature had been added to those of Nature's man. It was a stronghold.
Lawton produced a brace of revolvers.详情
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