He made no pretence of not understanding. "You have no need to be, dear," he said simply.He took a chair facing her, as she put the letter back in its envelope and laid it in her work-basket. It was very unlike anything he had ever imagined concerning situations of the sort. But then he was not imaginative. "Should you be glad to be free to marry him?" he asked, in a spirit of unbiassed discussion.The blaze of glory had gone suddenly from the clouds, leaving them lifeless gray, when she turned her eyes back to them; and the outlook across the parade ground was very bare. She went and stood by the fire, leaning her arm on the mantel-shelf and setting her determined lips.
No answer still.But she was, it appeared, a maiden lady, straight from Virginia. The Reverend Taylor was the first man she had ever loved. "It was right funny how it come about," he confided, self absorbed still. "Her mother keeps the res'rant acrost the street where I take my meals (I used to have a Greaser woman, but I got sick of frijoles and gorditas and chili and all that stuff), and after dinner every afternoon, she and me would put two saucers of fly-paper on a table and we would set and bet on which would catch the most flies before four o'clock. You ain't no idea how interestin' it got to be. The way we watched them flies was certainly intense. Sometimes, I tell you, she'd get that excited she'd scream when they couldn't make up their minds to[Pg 169] light. Once her mother come runnin' in, thinkin' I was tryin' to kiss her." He beamed upon Cairness, and accepted congratulations charmingly, sipping his soda-pop with quite a rakish little air. "What brought you here?" he remembered to ask, at length.
"Just what he's dishin' up to you now," she told him.But Crook was not dashing, only quiet and steady, and sure as death. Upon parade and occasions of ceremony he wore the gold lace and the stars. To do his life's work he put on an old flannel shirt, tied a kerchief around his neck, and set a pith helmet over those farseeing, keen little eyes. He might have been a [Pg 228]prospector, or a cow-boy, for all the outward seeming of it. His charger was oftenest a little government mule, and he walked, leading it over many and many a trail that even its sure feet could not trust.
[Pg 179]It had not occurred to her for some hours after Mrs. Campbell had told her of Landor's death that she was free now to give herself to Cairness. She had gasped, indeed, when she did remember it, and had put the thought away, angrily and self-reproachfully. But it returned now, and she felt that she might cling to it. She had been grateful, and she had been faithful, too.[Pg 286] She remembered only that Landor had been kind to her, and forgot that for the last two years she had borne with much harsh coldness, and with a sort of contempt which she felt in her unanalyzing mind to have been entirely unmerited. Gradually she raised herself until she sat quite erect by the side of the mound, the old exultation of her half-wild girlhood shining in her face as she planned the future, which only a few minutes before had seemed so hopeless.
"What you goin' to do?" the boy asked. He was round-eyed with dismay and astonishment."Shut up," said Brewster, with malicious glee. "They also serve who only stand and wait, you know," he chuckled. "You can serve your admiring and grateful country quite as well in the adjutant's office as summering on the verdant heights of the Mogollons."
[Pg 107]She had never been cruel intentionally before, and afterward she regretted it. But she raised her eyebrows and turned her back on him without answering.
He stood up and went nearer to her, shaking his finger in her face. He knew that he had lost, and he was reckless. "You had better marry me, or I will tell your birth from the housetops." But he was making the fatal mistake of dealing with the child that had been, instead of with the woman he had aroused.Then the cow-boy who had touched him on the shoulder suggested that he had better take a man's drink."I can see, sir," the lieutenant answered.
"Do you still want me to marry you?" she asked him.His own was instantly as cold. "I supposed you had quite forgotten all that," he said.Cairness had groped his way back. He stood watching them. And he, too, was ready to kill. If Landor had raised his hand against her, he would have shot him down.
"Yes, we believe you," said the Apache; "but you may go away again." So he refused to be cajoled, and going upon the war-path, after much bloodshed, fled into Mexico.详情
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