类型:奇幻地区:莫桑比克剧发布:2020-09-25 20:42:03


The ill-smelling room filled, and various games, chiefly faro and monte, began. At one table two men were playing out a poker game that was already of a week's duration. The reek of bad liquor mingled with the smell of worse tobacco and of Mexican-cured leather鈥攍ike which there is no odor known to the senses, so pungent and permeating and all-pervading it[Pg 42] is. Several of the bracket lamps were sending up thin streams of smoke.

It struck him that he was coolly analytical while his wife was reading the love-letter (if that bald statement of fact could be called a love-letter) of another man, and telling him frankly that she returned the man's love. Why could not he have had love, he who had done so much for her? There was always the subconsciousness of that sacrifice. He had magnified it a little, too, and it is difficult to be altogether lovable when one's mental attitude is "see what a good boy am I." But he had never reflected upon that. He went on telling himself what鈥攊n all justice to him鈥攈e had never thrown up to her, that his life had been one long devotion to her; rather as a principle than as a personality, to be sure, but then鈥 And yet she loved the fellow whom she had not known twenty-four hours in all鈥攁 private, a government scout, unnoticeably below her in station. In station, to be sure; but not in birth, after all. It was that again. He was always brought up face to face with her birth. He tried to reason it down, for the hundredth time. It was not her fault, and he had taken her knowingly, chancing that and the consequences of her not loving him. And these were the consequences: that she was sitting rigid before him, staring straight ahead with the pale eyes of suffering, and breathing through trembling lips.The next two days he kept to himself and talked only to his Apache scouts, in a defiant return to his admiration for the savage character. A Chiricahua asked no questions and made no conventional reproaches at any rate. He was not penitent, he was not even ashamed, and he would not play at being either. But he was hurt, this last time most of all, and it made him ugly. He had always felt as if he were of the army, although not in it, not by reason of his one enlistment, but by reason of the footing upon which the officers had always received him up to the present time. But now he was an outcast. He faced[Pg 302] the fact, and it was a very unpleasant one. It was almost as though he had been court-martialled and cashiered. He had thoughts of throwing up the whole thing and going back to Felipa, but he hated to seem to run away. It would be better to stop there and face it out, and accept the position that was allowed him, the same, after all, as that of the majority of chiefs of scouts.

She did not return to the ramada, but before long her husband came in search of her."It was a little spree they had here in '71. Some Tucson citizens and Papago Indians and Greasers undertook to avenge their wrongs and show the troops how it ought to be done. So they went to Aravaypa Ca?on, where a lot of peaceable Indians were cutting hay, and surprised them one day at sunrise, and killed a hundred and twenty-five of them鈥攎ostly women and children."

He opposed drawbacks. "You can't keep her always."[Pg 92]

Finally the minister raised his eyes and looked down the street. It was almost empty, save for two men in high-heeled top boots and sombreros who sat in chairs tilted back against the post-office wall, meditating in mutual silence. The only sounds were the rattling of dishes over in his mother-in-law's restaurant across the street, and the sleepy cheeping of the little chickens in his own back yard, as they cuddled under their mother's wing.

It was the eternal old story of the White-man's whiskey. A rancher living some four hundred yards from the boundary line upon the Mexican side had sold it to the Indians. Many of them were dead or fighting drunk. The two sober Indians asked for a squad of soldiers to help them guard the ranchman, and stop him from selling any more mescal. They were right-minded themselves and really desired peace, and their despair was very great.The little man picked it up and contemplated it, with his head on one side and a critical glance at its damaged condition. Then he smoothed its roughness with the palm of his rougher hand. "Why do I wear it?" he drawled calmly; "well, I reckon to show 'em that I can."

She would not be induced to go near her own house that night. When Ellton suggested it, she turned white and horrified. It had not occurred to him before that a woman so fearless of everything in the known world might be in abject terror of the unknown.

Forbes went on without noticing the interruption. "You are a great influence in her life, but you aren't the only one. Her surroundings act powerfully upon her. When I knew her before, she was like any other beautiful woman鈥"The general kept his own counsel then, but afterward, when it was all over, he confessed,鈥攏ot to the rejoicing reporter who was making columns out of him for the papers of this, and even of many another, land,鈥攂ut to the friends who had in some measure understood and believed in him, that the strain and responsibility had all but worn him out. And he was no frail man, this mighty hunter of the plains.



"Yes," answered Forbes, "she was very much admired." He looked a little unhappy. But his mind was evidently made up, and he went on doggedly: "Look here, Morely, old chap, I am going to tell you what I think, and you may do as you jolly well please about it afterward鈥攌ick me off the ranch, if you like. But I can see these things with a clearer eye than yours, because I am not in love, and you are, dreadfully so, you know, not to say infatuated. I came near to being once upon a time, and with your wife, too. I thought her the most beautiful woman I had ever known, and I do yet. I thought, too, that she was a good deal unhappier with Landor than she herself realized; in which I was perfectly right. It's plainer than ever, by contrast. Of course I understand that she is part Indian, though I've only known it recently. And it's because I've seen a good deal of your Apaches of late that I appreciate the injustice you are doing her and Cairness Junior, keeping them here. She is far and away too good for all this," he swept the scene comprehensively with his pipe. "She'd be a sensation, even in London. Do you see what I mean, or are you too vexed to see anything?"



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