类型:奇幻地区:ȱ发布:2020-10-20 13:33:09


She laughed at him—the first false laugh that had ever come from her lips. "You had better go now," she said, rising and standing with her arms at her side, and her head very erect.Felipa started back so violently that she struck against the log she had been sitting upon, and lost her balance.

The boy grinned again. "How Mees Landor?" he repeated. His savage perception had noted that those words had some "medicine" or other that paralyzed[Pg 234] the Ojo-blanco temporarily. Cairness swore at him in good English, and went off abruptly."Thank you," he said; and Cairness walked away.

But it is because of just this that no scion of ultra-civilization degenerates so thoroughly as does he. Retrogression is easy to him. He can hardly go higher, because he is on the height already; but he can slip back. Set him in a lower civilization, he sinks one degree[Pg 266] lower than that. Put him among savages, and he is nearer the beasts than they. It does not come to pass in a day, nor yet at all if he be part of a community, which keeps in mind its traditions and its church, and which forms its own public opinion. Then he is the leaven of all the measures of meal about him, the surest, steadiest, most irresistible civilizing force. But he cannot advance alone. He goes back, and, being cursed with the wisdom which shows him his debasement, in loathing and disgust with himself, he grows sullen and falls back yet more.

"I reckon you'll know what for, then," beamed Taylor, immovably.Landor stood considering and pulling at his mustache, as his way was. Then he turned on his heel and went back to the tent for Brewster. He explained the matter to him. "I tell Mr. Foster," he said, "just what risk I would take if I acted contrary to orders, but the force of my argument doesn't seem to strike him. If any harm were to come to the citizens around here, I'd be responsible."

She turned on him quickly. "Let me be," she commanded, and he obeyed humbly. Then she corked the bottle and shook it so that the animals rolled on top of each other, and laying it on the ground bent over it with the deepest interest. Brewster watched too, fascinated in spite of himself. It was so very ugly. The two wicked little creatures fought desperately. But after a time they withdrew to the sides of the bottle, and were quite still. The tarantula had left a leg lying loose.

Dutchy was a little German, who kept a milk ranch some seven miles from the post. "Apachees, Apachees," he squealed, gasping for breath.Cairness asked who Bill Lawton might be, and was told that he had been one of the Kirby men, "Big fellow with a big wife. If you was ever there, you'd ought to remember her. She was a Venus and a Cleopatrer rolled into one, you bet." The cow-boy was not devoid of lore for all his lowly station.

"There will be trouble with Geronimo's people soon."He raised his eyes now, and they were appealing. "It's an awful lot to ask of you, Jack, even for old sake's sake. I know that. But the little thing is almost white, and I cared for her mother—in a way. I can't let her go back to the tribe." His lips quivered and he bit at them nervously. "I kept meaning to get her away somehow." There was a sort of pity on Landor's face, pity and half contempt. He had heard that from Cabot so often for so many years, "I kept meaning to do this thing or the other, somehow, some day." "But it looks as though you might have to do it now. Will you, lieutenant?" He tugged at the cinchings while he waited.

The post was tremendously excited. As the cavalry trotted off up the slope toward the foot-hills, the men left behind went to the back of the post and watched, women looked through field-glasses, from the upper windows, children balanced upon the fences of the back yards, and Chinese cooks scrambled to the top of chicken coops and woodsheds, shading their eyes with their hands and peering in the direction of the gap. Dogs barked and hens cackled and women called back and forth. Down at the sutler's store the German was being comforted with beer at a dollar a bottle.The friend swore earnestly that he would take what he was told to.Two days later Stone left the town. He took the train for California, and his wife and children went with him. He was a rich man by many an evil means, and it was no real hardship that had been worked him, as Cairness well knew.

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It was the usual tale of woe that Geronimo had to tell, much the same that the old buck had recited to[Pg 298] Cairness in the spring of the last year. His particular grievance was the request for his hanging, which he had been told had been put in the papers, and his fear of three White-men who he believed were to arrest him. "I don't want that any more. When a man tries to do right, such stories ought not to be put in the newspapers. What is the matter with you that you do not speak to me? It would be better if you would look with a pleasant face. I should be more satisfied if you would talk to me once in a while." The interpreter translated stolidly. "Why don't you look at me and smile at me? I am the same man. I have the same feet, legs, and hands, and the Sun looks down on me a complete man." There was no doubt about that, at any rate, and perhaps it was not an unmixed good fortune.But they were returning victorious. The Chiricahuas were subdued. The hazard had turned well. There would be peace; the San Carlos Agency, breeding-grounds of all ills, would be turned over to military supervision. The general who had succeeded—if he had failed it would have been such a very different story—would have power to give his promise to the Apaches and to see that it was kept. The experiment of honesty and of giving the devil his due would have a[Pg 245] fair trial. The voices that had cried loudest abuse after the quiet soldier who, undisturbed, went so calmly on his way, doing the thing which seemed to him right, were silenced; and the soldier himself came back into his own land, crossing the border with his herds and his tribes behind him. There was no flourish of trumpets; no couriers were sent in advance to herald that the all but impossible had been accomplished.



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