"Barnwell tells me," he began, "that you have picked up a good deal of Apache."Felipa felt something of this, and it lessened the vague burden of self-reproach she had been carrying. She was almost cheerful when she got back to the post. Through the last breakfast, which the Elltons took for granted must be a sad one, and conscientiously did their best to make so, she had some difficulty in keeping down to their depression."You must get Mrs. Landor into the post to-morrow," Cairness said abruptly; "Victorio's band is about."
She had done very well, up to then, but she was at the end of her strength. It had been strained to the snapping for a long while, and now it snapped. Slowly, painfully, a hot, dark flush spread over her face to the black line of her hair. The squaw was manifested in the changed color. It altered her whole face, while it lasted, then it dropped back and left a dead gray pallor. Her lips were quivering and yellow, and her eyes paled oddly, as those of a frightened wild beast do. But still they were not lowered.The Agency man thought a question would not commit him. He had not been round at that time, and he asked for information. The lieutenant gave it to him.He recalled the dark, unbecoming flush that had deepened the color of her skin just enough to show the squaw, beyond mistaking, at least to one who knew. It was all very well now. But later, later she would look like that frequently, if not all the time. With youth she would lose her excuse for being. He knew that very well. But it was the youth, the majestic, powerful youth, that he loved. He had seen too many old hags of squaws, disfigurers of the dead and wounded, drudges of the rancheria, squatting on hides before their tepees, not to know what Felipa's decline would be in spite of the Anglo-Saxon strain that seemed to show only in her white skin.
His horse started. He had dug it with the rowels. Then he reined it in with a jerk that made it champ its curb. "Don't dwell on that all the time," he said angrily; "forget it." And then it flashed across him, the irreparable wrong he would be doing her if he taught her to consider the Apache blood a taint.His methods were explained to Cairness by an old buck who slouched up to the cabin and sat himself down cross-legged in front of the door. He meant to share in the venison breakfast Cairness was getting himself.
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.
She made it plainer to him by and by, as she went on to advise his course about Brewster. "If I were you, I would ignore his having told me, Jack. I ought to have pretended that I knew it, but I was taken by surprise. He must not think you resent it as though it were an insult, though. As for me, I won't have anything more to do with him; but that is for reasons of my own."Ellton was going with her to the railroad. They were to travel with a mounted escort, as she had come, on account of the uncertain state of the country. And they must cross, as she had done in coming also, the road over the malpais, where Landor had fallen. As the hoofs of the mules and the tires of the wheels began to slip and screech on the smooth-worn lava, and the ambulance rattled and creaked up the incline, Ellton leaned forward and pointed silently to a hollow in the gray rock a few yards away. It was where Landor had pitched forward over the body of the mounted chief of scouts. Felipa nodded gravely, but she did not speak, nor yet weep. Ellton, already thrown back upon himself by her persistent silence with regard to her [Pg 292]intentions, recoiled even more. He thought her hard beyond all his previous experience of women.But he mistook her silence for dismay, and went on. "It is only what one might expect from the daughter of a drunken private and a Mescalero squaw."
"You're English, I reckon, ain't you?"Cabot was not an unmerciful man, but if he had had his sabre just then, he would have dug and turned it in the useless carcass. He was beside himself with fear; fear of the death which had come to the cow and the calf whose chalk-white skeletons were at his feet, of the flat desert and the low bare hills, miles upon miles away, rising a little above the level, tawny and dry, giving no hope of shelter or streams or shade. He had foreseen it all when the horse had stumbled in a snake hole, had limped and struggled a few yards farther, and then, as he slipped to the ground, had stood quite still, swaying from side to side, with its legs wide apart, until it fell. He gritted his teeth so that the veins[Pg 2] stood out on his temples, and, going closer, jerked at the bridle and kicked at its belly with the toe of his heavy boot, until the glassy eye lighted with keener pain.详情
Copyright © 2020