Cairness's eyes turned from a little ground owl on the top of a mound and looked him full in the face. "I really can't see, sir," he said, "how it can matter to any one."The civilization of the Englishman is only skin deep. And therein lies his strength and his salvation. Beneath that outer surface, tubbed and groomed and prosperous, there is the man, raw and crude from the workshops of Creation. Back of that brain, trained to a nicety of balance and perception and judgment, there are the illogical passions of a savage. An adaptation of the proverb might run that you scratch an Englishman and you find a Briton鈥攐ne of those same Britons who stained themselves blue with woad, who fell upon their foes with clumsy swords and flaming torches, who wore the skins of beasts, and lived in huts of straw, and who burned men and animals together, in sacrifice to their gods.
"Yes," he said shortly, "I realize it."
"Is it because you think you ought to, or because you really want me?" She was looking at him steadily now, and he could not have lied to her. But the slender hand was warm and clinging, the voice low and sweet, the whole scene so cosey and domestic, and she[Pg 52] herself seemed so much more beautiful than ever, that he answered that it was because he wanted her鈥攁nd for the moment it was quite true. Had so much as a blush come to her cheek, had she lowered her earnest gaze, had her voice trembled ever so little, it might have been true for all time. But she threw him back upon himself rudely, with an unfeminine lack of tact that was common with her. "Then I will marry you whenever you wish," she said.
"What do you mean?" asked Cairness, rather more than a trifle coldly. He had all but forgotten the matter of that afternoon. Felipa had redeemed herself through the evening, so that he had reason to be proud of her.
They spurred forward unwillingly, thus urged. At sundown they came to the old lake bed and camped there. According to the citizens it was a regular Indian camping-place for the hostiles, since the days of Cochise.
"I don't know anything whatever about it," he answered; "that is none of my affair. I should be surprised if he were, and I must say I am inclined to think he is not.""Are you trying to drive me off?" she said measuredly. "Do you wish me to go away from you? If you do, I will go. I will go, and I will never come back. But I will not go to him鈥攏ot on my own account. It doesn't matter what happens to me; but on your account and on his, I will never go to him鈥攏ot while you are alive." She stopped, and every nerve in her body was tense to quivering, her drawn lips worked.
There was another silence, and this time he broke it.
"It was a little spree they had here in '71. Some Tucson citizens and Papago Indians and Greasers undertook to avenge their wrongs and show the troops how it ought to be done. So they went to Aravaypa Ca?on, where a lot of peaceable Indians were cutting hay, and surprised them one day at sunrise, and killed a hundred and twenty-five of them鈥攎ostly women and children.""Did the girl know her own story?" she asked.
He made no pretence of not understanding. "You have no need to be, dear," he said simply.She sat for a moment without answering. It was less astonishment than that she did not understand. She knitted her brow in a puzzled frown.
"Say!" she apostrophized.It had not occurred to her for some hours after Mrs. Campbell had told her of Landor's death that she was free now to give herself to Cairness. She had gasped, indeed, when she did remember it, and had put the thought away, angrily and self-reproachfully. But it returned now, and she felt that she might cling to it. She had been grateful, and she had been faithful, too.[Pg 286] She remembered only that Landor had been kind to her, and forgot that for the last two years she had borne with much harsh coldness, and with a sort of contempt which she felt in her unanalyzing mind to have been entirely unmerited. Gradually she raised herself until she sat quite erect by the side of the mound, the old exultation of her half-wild girlhood shining in her face as she planned the future, which only a few minutes before had seemed so hopeless.详情
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