类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-10-01 23:53:44


Felipa was not there. At the earliest, she could not return for a couple of days, and by then Landor's body[Pg 283] would be laid in the dreary little graveyard, with its wooden headboards and crosses, and its neglected graves among the coyote and snake holes. The life of the service would be going on just as usual, after the little passing excitement was at an end. For it was an excitement. No one in the garrison would have had it end like this, but since what will be will be, and the right theory of life is to make the most of what offers and to hasten鈥攁s the philosopher has said鈥攖o laugh at all things for fear we may have cause to weep, there was a certain expectation, decently kept down, in the air.He did not answer at once, but sat watching the trumpeter come out of the adjutant's office to sound recall. "Yes, she will marry," he agreed; "if no one else marries her, I will. I am as old as her father would have been but it would save telling some fellow about her birth."

The remainder of the drive Cairness devoted to caring for the broken wing of the hawk, and, during halts, to sketching anything that presented itself,鈥攖he mules, the driver, passing Mexicans, or the cows trying to graze from ground where the alkali formed patches of white scum. He also accomplished a fine caricature of the lieutenant, and derived considerable silent amusement therefrom.

The government took neither course.After a time she roused herself and went into the house, and directly she came back with the baby in her arms. The younger of the two children that she had taken under her care at Stanton, the little girl, followed after her.

When she saw the post surgeon come out from his house and start over to the hospital, she called to him. "May I see your new patient?" she asked.The buck went on, the while he held a piece of venison in his dirty hand and dragged at it with his teeth, to say that there was a feeling of great uneasiness upon the reservation."It smells horribly," she exclaimed, dropping it on the floor, "it smells of hospitals鈥攄isinfectants." But she stooped and picked it up again.

Landor asked him to spend the night at the camp, and he did so, being given a cot in the mess tent.

Later, when the sun was well up in the jewel-blue sky, and the world was all ashine, they began the real routine of the day. And it would have been much like that of any of the other days that had gone before it for two years, had not Cairness come in a little before the noon hour, bringing with him a guest. It was an Englishman, whom he presented to Felipa as a friend of his youth, and named Forbes.It was.

But he kept a close watch upon her then and during all the hard, tedious march back to the States, when the troops and the scouts had to drag their steps to meet the strength of the women and children; when the rations gave out because there were some four hundred Indians to be provided for, when the command ate mescal root, digging it up from the ground and baking it; and when the presence of a horde of filthy savages made the White-man suffer many things not to be put in print.It came to pass in the working out of things that the commandant elected to spend the night before the opening of the bids, in the small town some miles away, where one of the first families was giving a dinner. This left Landor, as next in rank, in temporary command. It had happened often enough before, in one way[Pg 189] or another, but this time the duties of the position seemed to weigh upon him. He was restless and did not care to sleep. He sent Felipa off to bed, and sat watching where her lithe young figure had gone out of the door for some minutes. Then he ran his hand across his mouth contemplatively, stroked his mustache, and finally went out of the house and down to Ellton's quarters.He had been in hiding three weeks. Part of the time he had stayed in the town near the post, small, but as frontier towns went, eminently respectable and law-abiding. For the rest he had lain low in a house of very bad name at the exact edge of the military reservation. The poison of the vile liquor he had drunk without ceasing had gotten itself into his brain. He had reached the criminal point, not bold,鈥攈e was never that,鈥攂ut considerably more dangerous, upon the whole. He drank more deeply for two days longer, after he received Stone's letter, and then, when he was quite mad, when his eyes were bleared and fiery and his head was dry and hot and his heart terrible within him, he went out into the black night.

There was a big moon, already on the wane, floating very high in the heavens, and the plain was a silvery sheen."It's her nature," he told his wife. "Underneath she is an Apache, and they burn the wigwams and all the traps of their dead; sometimes even the whole [Pg 287]village he lived in." Mrs. Ellton said that poor Captain Landor had had a good deal to endure."I ought to have known better than to come at all," he told Brewster, as they stood beside their horses; "it is always like this."



"Yes," he said, emptying the soap-caked water from the Indian basket wash basin upon the earth floor;[Pg 27] "why?"鈥"I used to know him in '61. He came up to the Mescalero Agency then, not long before the Texans overran the place. I recollect there was a sort of blizzard and it was seventeen below. He came after a kid me and another feller'd been looking after. Pretty little cuss, about four years old. I gave her her first bow'n arrow."

"What's your name, young feller?" she demanded. Cairness was hurt. "Surely, Mrs. Lawton, you have not so entirely forgotten me. I am Charles Cairness, very much at your service." But she had forgotten, and she said so.



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