Cairness jumped forward, and his arm went around her, steadying her. For a short moment she leaned against his shoulder. Then she drew away, and her voice was quite steady as she greeted him. He could never have guessed that in that moment she had[Pg 95] learned the meaning of her life, that there had flashed burningly through her brain a wild, unreasoning desire to stand forever backed against that rock of strength, to defy the world and all its restrictions.They were.The mere sight of Felipa on the buffalo robe before the fire, poring over the old history, exasperated Brewster. "That book again?" he said crossly, as he drew up a chair and held out his hands to the flames; "you must know it by heart."
Chapter 24The End
Landor and his lieutenant jumped up and ran down the walk. "What's all this, Dutchy?" they asked.
The mesquites were directly ahead. A horseman came out from behind them and placed himself across the road. There was a sheen of moonlight on a revolver barrel and a shouted "Halt there!"
Slowly, with no undue haste whatever, the Reverend Taylor produced from beneath the skirts of his clerical garb another revolver. There was a derisive and hilarious howl. When it had subsided, he turned to the barkeeper. "Got my lemon pop ready?" he asked. The[Pg 44] man pushed it over to him, and he took it up in his left hand."They have their good points," she answered, exactly as he himself had answered Brewster's baiting long ago. Then she fastened her gaze on the roof of the ramada.He had told her that many times. It had been true; perhaps it was true still.
Landor recalled the twenty years of all winter campaigns, dry camps, forced marches, short rations, and long vigils and other annoyances that are not put down in the tactics, and smiled again, with a deep cynicism. Barnwell sat silent. He sympathized with Stone because his interests lay that way, but he was somewhat unfortunately placed between the military devil and the political deep sea.
"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."
But his left hand hung misshapen, and Cairness saw that it did not bend at the wrist as he motioned to an empty soda-pop bottle and a glass on the table beside a saucer of fly-paper and water. "That's what I still take, you see," he said, "but I'll serve you better;" and he opened a drawer and brought out a big flask. "I reckon you've got a thirst on you this hot weather." He treated himself to a second bottle of the pop, and[Pg 168] grew loquacious, as another man might have under the influence of stronger drink; and he talked so much about himself and so little about his guest that Cairness wondered. Presently the reason made itself manifest. It was the egotism of the lover. The Reverend Taylor was going to be married. He told Cairness so with an expression of beatitude that answered to a blush, and pointed to a photograph on his mantel-shelf. "She ain't so pretty to look at," he confided, which was undoubtedly true, "nor yet so young. But I ain't neither, 'sfar as that goes. She's amiable. That's the great thing after all, for a wife. She's amiable."They had not gone upon a wedding trip for the excellent reason that there was no place to go; and as[Pg 56] they sat at dinner together in their sparsely furnished quarters, there was a timid ring at the door-bell, and Landor's Chinaman, the cook of his bachelor days, ushered in the commanding officer, who looked humble apology for the awkwardness of a visit he could not delay. He went straight to the matter in hand, in spite of the tactful intentions that had made him come himself instead of sending a subordinate.
Cairness knew that it was true, too true to refute."She is ill, you see?"
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.Cairness stood up, ran his hands into his pockets, and going over to the window looked down at the geraniums as he had done once, long before.详情
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