类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-09-20 12:26:18


Chapter 13[Pg 179]

She was happier than she had been in Washington. Landor saw that, but he refused to see that she was[Pg 181] also better. However much a man may admire, in the abstract, woman as a fine natural animal, unspoiled by social pettiness, he does not fancy the thing in his wife. From the artistic standpoint, a regal barbarian, unconfined, with her virtue and her vices on a big scale, is very well; from the domestic, it is different. She is more suitable in the garb of fashion, with homemade character of parlor-ornament proportions.

The general took a couple of hundred Indian scouts, enlisted for six months' service, a troop of cavalry, and a half-dozen guides and interpreters, and followed across the border.The general was neither convinced nor won over. He had Geronimo told that it was a very pretty story, but that there was no reason why forty men should have left the reservation for fear of three. "And if you were afraid of three, what had that to do with the[Pg 299] way you sneaked all over the country, killing innocent people? You promised me in the Sierra Madre that that peace should last. But you lied. When a man has lied to me once, I want better proof than his word to believe him again."

"But I can have it cleaned," she said.

A raiding party of hostiles had passed near the fort, and had killed, with particular atrocity, a family of settlers. The man and his wife had been tortured to death, the baby had had its brains beaten out against the trunk of a tree, a very young child had been hung by the wrist tendons to two meat hooks on the walls of the ranch-house, and left there to die. One big boy had had his eyelids and lips and nose cut off, and had been staked down to the ground with his remains of a face lying over a red-ant hole. Only two had [Pg 196]managed to escape,鈥攁 child of ten, who had carried his tiny sister in his arms, twenty miles of ca?ons and hills, to the post."To Captain Landor's widow, yes;" he met the unsympathetic eyes squarely. "I came to tell you, general, what I have gathered from the squaws. It may serve you."Cabot was not an unmerciful man, but if he had had his sabre just then, he would have dug and turned it in the useless carcass. He was beside himself with fear; fear of the death which had come to the cow and the calf whose chalk-white skeletons were at his feet, of the flat desert and the low bare hills, miles upon miles away, rising a little above the level, tawny and dry, giving no hope of shelter or streams or shade. He had foreseen it all when the horse had stumbled in a snake hole, had limped and struggled a few yards farther, and then, as he slipped to the ground, had stood quite still, swaying from side to side, with its legs wide apart, until it fell. He gritted his teeth so that the veins[Pg 2] stood out on his temples, and, going closer, jerked at the bridle and kicked at its belly with the toe of his heavy boot, until the glassy eye lighted with keener pain.

They had been four days camping on Black River, a mountain stream rushing between the steep hills, with the roar of a Niagara, hunting deer and small game, fishing with indifferent success,鈥攖o the disgust of the Apaches, who would much rather have eaten worms than fish,鈥攁nd entertaining visitors. There were any[Pg 90] number of these. One party had come out from Fort Apache, another from a camp of troops on the New Mexico road, and some civilians from Boston, who were in search of a favorable route for a projected railway.When the father returned to Tucson, he had sent her the history, and she had read and reread it. In a way she was something of a linguist, for she had picked up a good deal of Spanish from Mexicans about the post, chiefly from the nurse of the Campbell children.

"I can throw up the detail," he said indifferently, "I dare say I might as well. There is only half a year more of it. Some one will be glad enough to take that."



After he had had his tea Kirby got up, went out to the corral, and called to one of the men, who hesitated for a moment, then slouched over, kicking with his heavy booted toe as he passed at the hocks of a horse in one of the stalls. Kirby saw him do it, but he checked his wrath. He had learned to put up with many things. "Don't you think," he suggested, "that it might be a good idea for you and some other man to ride down the road a bit鈥"

"Will you make haste?" cried Felipa, out of patience.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.



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