As for the Kirby affair, there had been no hint of treachery in the published or verbal accounts of it. The ranch hands who had escaped had told a plain enough tale of having fled at the approach of the Indians, vainly imploring the Kirbys to do the same. It[Pg 166] seemed that the most they could be accused of was cowardice. It had all been set forth in the papers with much circumstance and detail. But Cairness doubted. He remembered their dogged ugliness, and that of the raw-boned Texan woman.She drew her horse down to a gallop, and the jar of the changed gait made her moan. There was no haste now. Her own men had come upon the desperadoes and there was a quick volley. And ahead, riding fast toward her from the top of a little rise, was a man on a white horse鈥攈er husband, she knew.
"I shall be in and out all night, more or less," he told Felipa. She reached her hands from the bedclothes and stroked the deep lines on his forehead, the lines she had had most to do with putting there. But she did not ask for confidences. She never did. It was not her way. He kissed her and went out into the night again, to sit upon his porch at a spot where, through the cottonwood branches, he commanded a view of Brewster's front door and of the windows of the commissary office.For answer she put out her hand and laid it upon his, not as she had often done it before, in the unattentive eagerness of some argument, but slowly, with a shadow of hesitation."For destruction of government property," Cairness told her, and there was just the faintest twinkle between his lids. "I didn't know all these interesting details about the Kirbys until you told me, Mrs. Lawton."
"It's six one, and half a dozen the other. They'd be willing enough to die out in peace, if we'd let them. Even they have come to have a vague sort of instinct that that's what it amounts to."She was broken to the acceptance of the inevitable now,鈥攈e could see that, any one could see it. She had learned the lesson of the ages鈥攖he futility of struggle of mere man against the advance of men. That it had been a hard lesson was plain. It showed in her face, where patience had given place to unrest, gentleness to the defiance of freedom. She had gained, too, she had gained greatly. She was not only woman now, she was womanly. But Cairness did not need to be told that she was not happy.He turned about and stood still, with his head uncovered, looking straight into her face. Another man might have wished it a little less open and earnest, a little more downcast and modest, but he liked it so. Yet he waited, erect and immovable, and she saw that he meant that every advance should come from her. He was determined to force her to remember that he was a chief of scouts.
Lawton stopped. To forbid him swearing was to forbid him speech. He shuffled ahead in silence.
Brewster took on an elaborate and entirely unnecessary air of indifference, and yawned to heighten the effect. "What did he want of the child?" he asked negligently.It was still early. The mountain echoes had not sung back the tattoo of the trumpets as yet. There was a storm coming on from the snow peak in the west, and the clouds, dark with light edges, were thick in the sky. Lawton was sober enough now. Not so far away in its little pocket among the hills he could see the post, with all its lights twinkling, as though one of the clear starry patches in the heavens were reflected[Pg 205] in a black lake in the valley. And the road stretched out faint and gray before him.
He stood quite still and erect, looking after them, a dead light of renunciation of life and hope in his eyes. They came in search of him two days later and scoured the valley and the hills. But the last they ever saw of him was then, following them, a tiny speck upon the desert, making southwest in the direction of the water hole. The big wolf had stopped again, and turned about, coming slowly after him, and two buzzards circled above him, casting down on his path the flitting shadows of their wings.Landor drew rein and turned upon him with oaths and a purpled face. "What the devil are you trying to do now?" he said.
[Pg 25]Brewster avoided it, and became absorbed in making the tips of his fingers meet as he pressed his hands together.
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"What do you want me to say to Stone?"
"They could kill a good many of us before they died out, if we would sit still and take it," Landor objected.The officer-of-the-day put Lawton into the care of the guard and asked Cairness in to have a drink, calling him "my good man." Cairness was properly aware of the condescension involved in being asked into an officer's dining room, but he objected to being condescended to by a man who doubled his negatives, and he refused."Still," said Felipa, too quietly, "I would rather be the daughter of a drunken private and a Mescalero squaw than the wife of a coward and sneak."详情
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