类型:奇幻地区:周琦不敢出见发布:2020-10-31 16:01:04


It was evident that she had no intention of making herself agreeable. Landor had learned the inadvisability and the futility of trying to change her moods. She was as unaffected about them as a child. So he took up the conversation he and Cairness had left off, concerning the Indian situation, always a reliable topic. It was bad that year and had been growing steadily worse, since the trouble at the time of his marriage, when Arizona politicians had, for reasons related to their own pockets, brought about the moving of the White Mountain band to the San Carlos Agency. The White Mountains had been peaceable for years, and, if not friendly to the government, at least too wise to oppose it. They had cultivated land and were living on it inoffensively. But they were trading across the territorial line into New Mexico, and that lost money to Arizona. So they were persuaded by such gentle methods as the burning of their Agency buildings and the destruction of their property, to move down to San Carlos. The climate there was of a sort fatal to the mountain Apaches,—the thing had been tried before with all the result that could be desired, in the way of fevers, ague, and blindness,—and also the White Mountains were hereditary enemies of the San Carlos tribes. But a government with a policy, three thousand miles away, did not know these things, nor yet seek to know them. Government is like the gods, upon occasions: it[Pg 68] first makes mad, then destroys. And if it is given time enough, it can be very thorough in both.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—like 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.

Landor told him to get his cap and come out. He followed the shadows of the trees near the low commissary building, and they stood there, each behind a thick cottonwood trunk. Landor watched the light in Brewster's window. It disappeared before long, and they held their breaths. Ellton began to guess what was expected to happen. Yet Brewster himself did not come out.And so the hostiles took shelter there from the cavalry that had pursued them hard across the open all night, and gave battle after the manner of their kind. It was a very desultory sort of a skirmish, for the troops did not venture into the traps beyond the very edge, and the Indians were simply on the defensive. It was not only desultory, it promised to be unavailing, a waste of time and of ammunition.Landor had agreed to trust her to Cairness and an escort of three soldiers. He could ill spare time from the telegraph line, under the circumstances; it might be too imperatively needed at any moment. He mounted his wife quickly. "You are not afraid?" he asked. But he knew so well that she was not, that he did not wait for her answer.

He tried to see if the soldiers were safe, but though they were not a hundred feet away, the trunks and the mist of water hid them. The rain still pounded down, but the rush of the wind was lessening sensibly.

Crook closed up the portfolio and turned to him. "I didn't know you were married, Mr. Cairness, when I sent for you."The cow-boy broadened the issue. "You will, and you'll take off that plug, too, or I'll know what for."

"Think it over, in any case," urged Forbes; "I am going in, good night.""But you have no Jill," she said, smiling at Ellton. His own smile was very strained, but she did not see that, nor the shade of trouble in his nice blue eyes.

She sprang to her feet so suddenly that her arm struck him a blow in the face, and stood close in front of him, digging her nails into her palms and breathing hard. "If you—if you dare to say that again, I will kill you. I can do it. You know that I can, and I will. I mean what I say, I will kill you." And she did mean what she said, for the moment, at any rate. There was just as surely murder in her soul as though those long, strong hands had been closed on his throat. Her teeth were bared and her whole face was distorted with fury and the effort of controlling it. She drew up a chair, after a moment, and sat in it. It was she who was leaning forward now, and he had shrunk back, a little cowed. "I know what you are trying to do," she told him, more quietly, her lips quivering into a sneer, "you are trying to frighten me into marrying you. But you can't do it. I never meant to, and now I would die first."

Forbes left the ranch after breakfast the next day, and Cairness went with him to Tombstone. He had business there, connected with one of his mines.

He was in a manner forgetting Felipa. He had forced himself to try to do so. But once in a way he remembered her vividly, so that the blood would burn in his heart and head, and he would start up and beat off the[Pg 267] thought, as if it were a visible thing. It was happening less and less often, however. For two years he had not seen her and had heard of her directly only once. An officer who came into the Agency had been with her, but having no reason to suppose that a scout could be interested in the details of the private life of an officer's wife, he had merely said that she had been very ill, but was better now. He had not seen fit to add that it was said in the garrison—which observed all things with a microscopic eye—that she was very unhappy with Landor, and that the sympathy was not all with her.The tears trickled down the withered cheeks, and Crook gave a shrug of exasperation and disgust. "Your story of being afraid of arrest is all bosh. There were no orders to arrest you. You began the trouble by trying to kill Chato." Geronimo shook his head, as one much wronged and misunderstood. "Yes you did, too. Everything that you did on the reservation is known. There is no use your lying."Felipa smiled again. "I might be happy," she went on, "but I probably should not live very long. I have Indian blood in my veins; and we die easily in a too much civilization."



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."

Lawton set down the candle upon the desk, and crept away by the rear door.



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