类型:奇幻地区:˼发布:2020-09-22 00:11:26


Felipa had taken charge of the two, being the only woman in the place not already provided with children of her own, and had roused herself to an amount of capability her husband had never suspected her of. She belonged to the tribe of unoccupied women, as a rule, not that she was indolent so much as that she appeared to have no sense of time nor of the value of it. Landor, who had always one absorbing interest or another to expend his whole energy upon, even if it were nothing larger than running the troop kitchen, thought her quite aimless, though he never addressed that or any other reproach to her. He was contented at the advent of the hapless orphans for one thing, that they superseded the Ellton baby, which he secretly detested with a kind of unreasonable jealousy.

A great many delightful facts, illustrative of the rule of the Anglo-Saxon in for gain, came to his knowledge. There were good men and just in Arizona, and some of these composed the Federal Grand Jury, which reported on the condition of affairs at the Agency. When a territorial citizen had anything to say in favor of the Redskin, it might be accepted as true. And these jurymen said that the happenings on the San Carlos Agency had been a disgrace to the age and a foul blot upon the national escutcheon. They waxed very wroth and scathing as they dwelt upon how the[Pg 177] agent's vast power made almost any crime possible. There was no check upon his conduct, nor upon the wealth he could steal from a blind government; and to him, and such as him, they attributed the desolation and bloodshed which had dotted the plains with the graves of murdered victims. It was the rather unavailing wail of the honest citizen caught between the upper and nether millstones of the politician and the hostile.

Cairness assured him that he was not. "It is not my mission on earth to straighten out the territories, heaven be praised. This is purely a personal matter, entirely so. You may call it revenge, if you like. Lawton's in jail all safe, as you know. I got him there, and if he gets out anyway, I'll put him back again on this count."Landor said that he had put in a requisition for kippered mackerel and anchovy paste, and that the commissary was running down so that one got nothing fit to eat. He was in an unpleasant frame of mind, and his first lieutenant, who messed with him, pulled apart a broiled quail that lay, brown and juicy, on its couch of toast and cress, and asked wherein lay the use of taking thought of what you should eat. "Every prospect is vile, and man is worse, and the sooner heaven sends release the better. What is there in a life like this? Six weeks from the nearest approach to civilization, malaria in the air by night and fire by day. Even Mrs. Landor is showing it."

"I say, Major, if he's got any charges to prefer why doesn't he put them on paper and send them in to you, or else shut up his head?" He was losing his temper again."Where do you want me to go?" he almost moaned, and finished with an oath."Yes," he persisted, refusing to be thwarted, "once when you were crossing the parade at Grant, at retreat, and two days afterward when you shot a blue jay down by the creek."

Were the ca?on of the Aravaypa in any other place than Arizona, which, as the intelligent public knows, is all one wide expanse of dry and thirsty country, a parched place in the wilderness, a salt land, and not inhabited; were it in any other place, it would be set forth in railway folders, and there would be camping privileges and a hotel, and stages would make regular trips to it, and one would come upon groups of excursionists on burros, or lunching among its boulders. Already it has been in a small way discovered, and is on the road to being vulgarized by the camera. The lover of Nature, he who loves the soul as well as the face of her, receives when he sees a photograph of a fine bit of scenery he had felt in a way his own property until then, something the blow that the lover of a woman does when he learns that other men than he have known her caresses.The next day he left for the Circle K Ranch. Lawton did not appear to need help. But he fired a Greaser, nevertheless, and took Cairness on. He seemed to stand in as abject awe of Stone's note as an Arab might have stood of a bit of the black covering of the Kaabah stone.

Pending her arrival, Landor brought himself to look[Pg 16] upon it as his plain duty and only course to marry her. It would save her, and any man who might otherwise happen to love her, from learning what she was. That she might refuse to look at it in that way, did not much enter into his calculations. It required a strong effort for him to decide it so, but it was his way to pick out the roughest possible path before him, to settle within himself that it was that of duty, and to follow it without fagging or complaint. He dreaded any taint of Apache blood as he dreaded the venom of a rattler. He had seen its manifestations for twenty odd years, had seen the hostile savage and the civilized one, and shrank most from the latter. But he had promised Cabot to do his best by the waif, and the best he could see was to marry her. There was always before him, to urge him on to the sacrifice, the stalwart figure of his boyhood's friend, standing forsaken in the stretch of desert with the buzzards hovering over him in the burning sky. He permitted himself to hope, however, that she was not too obviously a squaw.There were four corrals in the one, and two of them were on fire. They had spread wet blankets on the roof of the third, but it, too, caught directly. The big, yellow-hearted flames poured up into the sky. The glow was cast back again from the blackness of the low clouds, and lit up the ground with a dazing shimmer. It blinded and burned and set the rules of fire drill pretty well at naught, when the only water supply was in small buckets and a few barrels, and the horses had kicked over two of the latter.She could hear voices confusedly, men hurriedly calling and hallooing as she neared the back of the officers' line and crept into her tent. The door was barely closed when there came a knock, and the voice of the striker asking if she had heard the shot across the river.

It gave cause for reflection; but an officer was obviously at liberty to talk to whomsoever he might choose around his own premises, at any hour of the day or night. So the officer of the day went on, treading quietly. But he had something to think about now that kept off drowsiness for the rest of the rounds. Brewster's fondness for the society of dubious civilians was certainly unfortunate. And the conjunction of the aspiring beef contractor and the commissary officer was also unfortunate, not to say curious. Because of this. The beef contract was about to expire, and the commandant had advertised for bids. A number of ranchers had already turned their papers in. Furnishing the government's soldiers with meat is never an empty honor.

Landor went. Felipa waited for him, already mounted. He mounted his own horse and rode beside her back to the post. They did not speak, and he was conscious above his anger that his fondness for her had been gradually turning to dislike, and was now loathing. He had seen her dragging in the dust before him, pleading abjectly. She had humiliated him and herself in the presence of Cairness, of all men, and he would never forget it. A woman who once grovels at a man's feet has lost thenceforth her power over him.Landor was the first to find speech. In the harsh light of the pause he saw that it was foolish as well as useless to beg the issue. "Has Mrs. Landor told you that I found your letter to her on the body of the prospector, and delivered it to her?" The words were[Pg 201] sufficiently overbearing, but the manner was unendurable.



"Well?" said the officer."So?" said Cairness, with the appearance of stolidity he invariably assumed to cover disappointment or any sort of approach to emotion. "Where's she gone to?"

The major offered the objection that it would be foolhardy, that it would be cutting through the enemy by file. "They'll pick you off, and you'll be absolutely at their mercy," he remonstrated. "No, I can't hear of it."



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