Then taps sounded, ringing its brazen dirge to the night in a long, last note. It ended once, but the bugler went to the other side of the parade and began again. Lawton repeated the shaking of his fist. He was growing impatient, and also scared. A little more of that shrill music, and his nerves would go into a thousand quivering shreds鈥攈e would be useless. Would the cursed, the many times cursed military never get to bed? He waited in the shadow of the corrals, leaning against the low wall, gathering his forces. The sentry evidently did not see him. The post grew more and more still, the clouds more and more thick.Chapter 14She laughed at him鈥攖he 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.
"Doesn't he, though? Then why doesn't he come around and see me when I'm lying here sick?" He was wrathful and working himself back into a fever very fast.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."
"You are not fit to go," Felipa said resignedly, "but that doesn't matter, of course."A half dozen cow-boys came riding over from the camp of the outfit to relieve those on duty. Cairness was worn out with close on eighteen hours in the saddle, tearing and darting over the hills and ravines, quick as the shadow from some buzzard high in the sky, scrambling over rocks, cutting, wheeling, chasing after fleet-footed, scrawny cattle. He went back to camp, and without so much as washing the caked dust and sweat from his face, rolled himself in a blanket and slept.
Mrs. Ellton returned before long, and Landor went back home.
He helped her out. "I have drifted in a way," he went on to explain. "I left home when I was a mere boy, and the spirit of savagery and unrest laid hold of me. I can't break away. And I'm not even sure that I want to. You, I dare say, can't understand." Yet he felt so sure, for some reason, that she could that he[Pg 71] merely nodded his head when she said briefly, "I can." "Then, too," he went on, "there is something in the Indian character that strikes a responsive chord in me. I come of lawless stock myself. I was born in Sidney." Then he stopped short. What business was it of hers where he had been born? He had never seen fit to speak of it before. Nevertheless he intended that she should understand now. So he made it quite plain. "Sidney was a convict settlement, you know," he said deliberately, "and marriages were promiscuous. My grandfather was an officer who was best away from England. My grandmother poisoned her first husband. That is on my mother's side. On my father's side it was about as mixed." He leaned back, crossing his booted legs and running his fingers into his cartridge belt. His manner asked with a certain defiance, what she was going to do about it, or to think.She was strong, slender as she was, and she freed herself almost without effort. And yet he would not be warned. "Don't you love me?" he insisted, as though she had not already made it plain enough.He went in through the gate, and was once more upon that reservation he had been commanded by the overbearing tyrant representative of the military to leave, several weeks before. As he trudged along, tattoo went. In the clear silence, beneath the sounding-boards of the low clouds, he heard the voice of one of the sergeants. He shook his fist in the direction. Tattoo being over, some of the lights were put out, but there were still plenty to guide him. He did not want to get there too early, so he walked more slowly, and when he came to the edge of the garrison, he hesitated.
They argued it from all sides during the whole of a day, and Campbell lent his advice, and the end of it was that Felipa Cabot came out to the land of her forbears.
Mrs. Taylor folded her hands in her lap, and simply looked at him.
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.[Pg 120]
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Cairness sat across him and held a revolver to his mouth. The life of the plains teaches agility of various sorts, but chiefly in the matter of drawing a six-shooter. "You fired the corrals," Cairness gasped.She went, with none too good a grace.详情
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