She stood alone, with the sticky, wet knife in her hand, catching her breath, coming out of the madness. Then she stooped, and pushing the branches aside felt about for her pistol. It lay at the root of a tree, and[Pg 80] when she had picked it up and put it back in the holster, there occurred to her for the first time the thought that the shot in the dead stillness must have roused the camp. And now she was sincerely frightened. If she were found here, it would be more than disagreeable for Landor. They must not find her. She started at a swift, long-limbed run, making a wide detour, to avoid the sentries, bending low, and flying silently among the bushes and across the shadowy sands.
"On his ranch, living on the fat of a lean land, I believe. He's rich, you know. I don't know much about them. I've small use for them. And I used to like Cairness, too. Thought he was way above his job. Those squaw-men lose all sense of honor."
It was plainly the cave. He went and stood in the mouth and looked into the dark, narrowing throat. A[Pg 219] weird silence poured up with the damp, earthy smell. He went farther in, half sliding down the steep bank of soft, powdery, white earth. There was only the uncanny light which comes from reflection from the ground upward. But by it he could see innumerable tiny footprints, coyote, squirrel, prairie-dog, polecat tracks and the like. It took very little imagination to see yellow teeth and eyes gleaming from black shadows also, although he knew there were no dangerous animals in those parts.There was a long pause. A hawk lighted on a point of rock and twinkled its little eyes at them. Two or three squirrels whisked in and out. Once a scout came by and stood looking at them, then went on, noiselessly, up the mountain side.
"Begging your pardon, it's not all."They laid Landor upon the ground, in the same patch of shade he had glanced at in coming by not five [Pg 281]minutes before. His glazed eyes stared back at the sky. There was nothing to be done for him. But Cairness was alive. They washed the blood from his face with water out of the canteens, and bound his head with a wet handkerchief. And presently he came back to consciousness and saw Landor stretched there, with the bluing hole in his brow, and the quiet there is no mistaking on his sternly weary face. And he turned back his head and lay as ashy and almost as still as the dead man, with a look on his own face more terrible than that of any death.
Nevertheless she decided that it might be best to tell her husband, and she did so as they sat together by the fire after the moon had risen into the small stretch of sky above the mountain peaks. They had bought a live sheep that day from a Mexican herder who had passed along the road, and they were now cutting ribs from the carcass that hung from the branch of a near-by tree, and broiling them on the coals. Felipa finished an unimpassioned account of the afternoon's happenings and of Alchesay's advice, and Landor did not answer at once. He sat thinking. Of a sudden there was a rustle and a step among the pines, and from behind a big rock a figure came out into the half shadow. Felipa was on her feet with a spring, and Landor scrambled up almost as quickly.Felipa held out her hand and showed a little brown bird that struggled feebly. She explained that its leg was broken, and he drew back instinctively. There was not a trace of softness or pity in her sweet voice. Then he took the bird in his own big hand and asked her how it had happened. "I did it with an arrow," said Diana, unslinging her quiver, which was a barbaric affair of mountain-lion skin, red flannel, and beads.
She was astonished in her turn. "Killed him! Why, of course I might have killed him," she said blankly, frowning, in a kind of hopeless perplexity over his want of understanding. "I came very near it, I tell you. The ball made shivers of his shoulder. But he was brave," she grew enthusiastic now, "he let the doctor probe and pick, and never moved a muscle. Of course he was half drunk with tizwin, even then.""Or the nurse?"
Brewster told him that she was with Landor at the post now.
The general sat silent for a while. "I didn't know that when I sent for him this time," he said at length, in partial explanation. Then he turned his head and looked up over his shoulders at the hostiles' conical hill. A band of Chiricahuas was coming down the side toward the soldiers' camp.He had dreaded a scene, but he was not so sure that this was not worse. "You are the wife for a soldier," he said somewhat feebly; "no tears and fuss and鈥攁ll that kind of thing."
Bright, black eyes peered down from crevasses and branches. An Apache lurked behind every boulder and trunk. But only the squaws and the children and twenty-six bucks in war toilet, naked from shoulder to waist, painted with blood and mescal, rings in their noses, and heads caked thick with mud, came down to the conference.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.详情
Copyright © 2020