Taylor nodded."Good Lord! no," Cairness's smile was rueful. "I've lost all ambition of that sort years since. I'm too old. I've knocked about too long, and I dare say I may as well knock about to the end."
The horses were tied to a ground line, to avoid the embarrassment of a loose herd, in the event of an engagement. Pickets were sent out to give warning at the approach of Indians. It was winter here in the mountains, while it was hot summer in the alkali flats below, but the men were forbidden fires. And it was a fierce grievance to the citizens, as was also that they were not allowed to go out to shoot wild turkeys. They remonstrated sulkily.So much for his past. As for his present. His only friends were treacherous savages and some few settlers and cow-boys. They would none of them miss him if he were to be laid under a pile of stones with a board cross at his head anywhere by the roadside, in the plains or among the hills. Some of them were honest men, some were desperadoes; none were his equals, not one understood the things that meant life to him. He had no abode, not so much as the coyote over there on the top of the little swell. He made his living in divers and uncertain ways. Sometimes he sent pictures to the East, studies of the things about him.[Pg 165] They sold well. Sometimes he was a scout or a guide. Sometimes he prospected and located claims with more or less good luck. Sometimes he hired himself out as a cow-boy at round-ups, as he was doing now. On the whole, he was, from the financial standpoint, more of a success than from any other.
It was a sheer waste of good ammunition, and it might serve as a signal to the Indians as well; Kirby knew it, and yet he emptied his six-shooter into the deep shadows of the trees where they had vanished, toward the south.
The captain knitted his thick brows and interposed quickly, talking against time. "If the Tucson ring and the Indian Bureau had one head, I should like the detail of cutting it off." His annoyance seemed to be of an impersonal sort, and the commandant began to feel that he must have handled the thing rather well, after all. He gained in self-esteem and equanimity.
"Lookin' at my stove-pipe?" asked the Reverend Mr. Taylor. "Only one in these parts, I reckon," and he vouchsafed an explanation of the holes. "Them holes? A feller in Tucson done that for me."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.
Landor's fear of leaving the settlements unguarded grew. "We will get up among these mountains and be delayed, and we are in no condition whatever to travel, anyway," he told Brewster, as the advance[Pg 119] guard halted again, and Landor, with curses in his heart but a civil tongue withal, trotted up to them.The hero of the episode rode in the ambulance, sitting on the front seat, holding his carbine across his knees, and peering with sharp, far-sighted blue eyes over the alkali flats. Occasionally he took a shot at a jack rabbit and brought it down unfailingly, but the frontiersman has no relish for rabbit meat, and it was left where it dropped, for the crows. He also brought down a sparrow hawk wounded in the wing, and, [Pg 29]having bound up the wound, offered it to Brewster, who took it as an opening to a conversation and tried to draw him out.
"That's all."There was now at Grant the prospect of a girl, and for days ahead the bachelors had planned about her. She was Landor's ward,鈥攊t was news to them that he had a ward, for he was not given to confidences,鈥攁nd she was going to visit the wife of his captain, Mrs. Campbell. When they asked questions, Landor said she was eighteen years old, and that her name was Cabot, and that as he had not seen her for ten years he did not know whether she were pretty or not. But the vagueness surrounding her was rather attractive than otherwise, on the whole. It was not even known when she would arrive. There was no railroad to[Pg 14] Arizona. From Kansas she would have to travel by ambulance with the troops which were changing station.
There was a chuckle from the group, and a chorus to the effect that they would be eternally condemned, the truth of which was patent in their faces. "Leave the little codger be," some one suggested; "he ain't skeered worth a sour apple."[Pg 209]详情
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