Lawton believed himself to be ill-used. He had written to Stone a strangely composed and spelled account of the whole matter, and mingled reproaches for having gotten him into it; and Stone had replied that it was no affair of his one way or another, but so far as he could make out Lawton had made a mess of it and a qualified fool of himself.
"That fellow Cairness may be a good scout and all that, but he must be an unmitigated blackguard too," said the officer, stretching himself on the ground beside Crook."The gentleman who broke them glasses can settle for his part of the fun," he said, as he paid his reckoning. Then he drew Cairness aside and held out the limp wrist to be bound, supporting it with his other hand. And presently they went out from the restaurant, where the powder smoke was added to the other smells, and hung low, in streaks, in the thick atmosphere, to hunt up a surgeon.
"Not until there is no hope," he impressed, as he put the barrel of his rifle through a knot hole and fired at random.The major consented unwillingly. "It's your lookout. If you come out alive, I shall be surprised, that's all. Take some scouts, too," he added, as he lit a cigar and went on with his walk up and down among his men.
"Mrs. Landor is very beautiful," Cairness hazarded. He wanted to talk of her, or to make some one else do it.
Dutchy was a little German, who kept a milk ranch some seven miles from the post. "Apachees, Apachees," he squealed, gasping for breath."But that is sport," she answered carelessly.
Cairness asked who Bill Lawton might be, and was told that he had been one of the Kirby men, "Big fellow with a big wife. If you was ever there, you'd ought to remember her. She was a Venus and a Cleopatrer rolled into one, you bet." The cow-boy was not devoid of lore for all his lowly station.Cairness took the Reverend Taylor to the door. "You know that is Bill Lawton's wife?" he said.
She took it and looked from it to him, questioningly. "What is this?" she asked.
Just at the edge of the rock stream there was an abandoned cabin built of small stones. Whatever sort of roof it had had in the beginning was now gone altogether, and the cabin itself was tumbling down. Through the doorway where there was no door, there showed a blackened fireplace. Once when a party from the post had been taking the two days' drive to the railroad, they had stopped here, and had lunched in the cabin. Landor remembered it now, and glanced at the place where Felipa had reclined in the shade of the walls, upon the leather cushion of the ambulance seat. She very rarely could be moved to sing, though she had a sweet, plaintive voice of small volume; but this time she had raised her tin mug of beer and, looking up to the blue sky, had launched into the "Last Carouse," in a spirit of light mockery that fitted with it well, changing the words a little to the scene.[Pg 279]Not having had enough of driving to madness in '75 and '76, they tried it again three years later. They were dealing this time with other material, not the friendly and the cowed, but with savages as cruel and fierce and unscrupulous as those of the days of Coronado. Victorio, Juh, and Geronimo were already a little known, but now they were to have their names shrieked to the unhearing heavens in the agony of the tortured and the dying.On the next day they were in the flat, nearing the post. There was a dust storm. Earlier in the morning the air had grown suddenly more dry, more close and lifeless than ever, suffocating, and a yellow cloud had come in the western sky. Then a hot wind began to blow the horses' manes and tails, to snarl through the greasewood bushes, and to snap the loose ends of the men's handkerchiefs sharply. The cloud had thinned and spread, high up in the sky, and the light had become almost that of a sullen evening. Black bits floated and whirled high overhead, and birds beat about in the gale. Gradually the gale and the dust had dropped nearer to the earth, a sand mist had gone into every pore and choked and parched. And now the tepid, thick wind was moaning across the plain, meeting no point of resistance anywhere.详情
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