类型:奇幻地区:ݵɳ发布:2020-10-01 03:20:24


The Reverend Taylor and Cairness had managed, with a good deal of adroitness, to keep the identity of their patient a secret. Stone was consequently not at all prepared to have her stride in upon him. But he was not a man to be caught exhibiting emotions. The surprise which he showed and expressed was of a perfectly frank and civil, even of a somewhat pleased, sort. He called her "my dear madam," and placed a chair for her. She sat in it under protest. He kept up the social aspect of it all for quite five minutes, but sociability implies conversation, and Cairness and the minister were silent. So was the woman—rigidly.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.

Somewhere in that same poem, he remembered, there had been advice relative to a man's contending to the uttermost for his life's set prize, though the end in sight were a vice. He shrugged his shoulders. It might be well enough to hold to that in Florence and the Middle Ages. It was highly impracticable for New Mexico and the nineteenth century. So many things left undone can be conveniently laid to the prosaic and materialistic tendencies of the age. Things were bad enough now—for Landor, for himself, and most especially for Felipa. But if one were to be guided by the romantic poets, they could conceivably be much worse.

It was not a nice outlook. But he found it did not grow any better for the thought that Felipa might have forgotten all about him, though that would unquestionably have been the best thing that could have happened for all concerned, from the standpoint of common sense. But there were two chances, of a sort, that made it worth while worrying along. One was that Felipa might some day, in the working out of things, come into his life. The other was that he could ferret out the truth of the Kirby massacre. Love and revenge are mighty stimulants.Felipa had discarded, long since, the short skirt and moccasins of her girlhood, and had displayed no inconsiderable aptitude in the matter of fashions; but she was given to looseness of draperies and a carelessness of attire in her own home that the picturesqueness of her beauty alone only saved from slatternliness. There was one manifestation of ill taste which she did not give, however, one common enough with the wives of most of the officers. She was never to be found running about the post, or sitting upon the porches, with her husband's cape around her shoulders and his forage-cap over her eyes. Her instinct for the becoming was unfailing. This was a satisfaction to Landor. But it was a secret grievance that she was most contented when in her riding habit, tearing foolhardily over the country.

Why should he labor to help his neighbor,

"It's her nature," he told his wife. "Underneath she is an Apache, and they burn the wigwams and all the traps of their dead; sometimes even the whole [Pg 287]village he lived in." Mrs. Ellton said that poor Captain Landor had had a good deal to endure.We drink to our comrades' eyes

"I don't know what has been said, Major, but something more than just what's in the papers must have gotten about. That sort of mud-slinging is too common to cause comment, even. It must be some spite work. There's no reason to suppose, surely, that after a quarter of a century of gallant service he's been and shown the white feather. He's awfully cut up, really he is. He's noticed it, of course, and it's too deuced bad, kicking a man when he's down sick and can't help himself."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.Cairness sat himself down and tried to listen for the flow of the great black river yonder in the great black hollow. By dint of straining his ears he almost fancied[Pg 220] that he did catch a sound. But at the same instant, there came a real and unmistakable one. He started a little, not quite sure, just at first, what manner of wild beast, or man, or genius of the cave might pounce out upon him.

Felipa could be untruthful with an untroubled soul and countenance to those she disliked. In her inherited code, treachery to an enemy was not only excusable, but right. But not even in order to save her husband worry could she tell him a shadow of an untruth. She did her best, which was far from good, to evade, however. The others would probably come, now that he could see them.Felipa Cabot proved to be a lithe creature, who rode beside the ambulance with the officers, and who, in spite of the dust and tan and traces of a hard march, was beautiful. In the reaction of the moment Landor thought her the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. But she froze the consequent warmth of his greeting with a certain indefinable stolidity, and she eyed him with an unabashed intention of determining whether he were satisfactory or not, which changed his position to that of the one upon approbation. If she had been less handsome, it would have been repellent.He felt altogether reckless. In just such a mood, he reflected, his grandmother had probably poisoned her first husband. He could almost have poisoned Landor, the big duty-narrowed, conventional, military machine. Why could he not have married some one of his own mental circumspection?—Mrs. Campbell, for instance. He had watched that affair during his enlistment. More the pity it had come to nothing. Landor could have understood Mrs. Campbell. Then he thought of Felipa, as he had seen her first, looking full into the glare of the sunset, and afterward at him, with magnificent impersonality.

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In the weeks that followed, Landor spent days and some nights—those when he sat up to visit the guard, as a rule—attempting to decide why his ward repelled him. She seemed to be quite like any other contented and natural young girl. She danced, and courted admiration, within the bounds of propriety; she was fond of dress, and rather above the average in intelligence. Usually she was excellent company, whimsical and sweet-humored. She rode well enough, and learned—to his intense annoyance—to shoot with a bow and arrow quite remarkably, so much so that they nicknamed her Diana. He had remonstrated at first, but there was no reason to urge, after all. Archery was quite a feminine sport.


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