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."I don't know anything whatever about it," he answered; "that is none of my affair. I should be surprised if he were, and I must say I am inclined to think he is not."
And the great river of rock is there, too, frozen upon the land like some devouring monster changed by a Gorgon head into lifeless stone. It is a formidable barrier across the hardly less formidable bad lands. It can be crossed in places where it is narrowest, not quite a mile in width, that is. But horses slip and clamber, and men cut through the leather of their heaviest shoes.
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.
"And after that?""I can throw up the detail," he said indifferently, "I dare say I might as well. There is only half a year more of it. Some one will be glad enough to take that."Landor's fear of leaving the settlements unguarded grew. "We will get up among these mountains and be delayed, and we are in no condition whatever to travel, anyway," he told Brewster, as the advance[Pg 119] guard halted again, and Landor, with curses in his heart but a civil tongue withal, trotted up to them.
"We have tea at five," Mrs. Kirby told him, as they finished, and her husband started out to superintend and help with the digging of an acequia.
"At eight o'clock, sir," he answered resentfully, "in front of the dry-goods store on the main street. If that is convenient for your men."Thereafter some of the troops sat down at the water-holes along the border to watch, and to write back pathetic requests for all the delicacies supplied by the commissariat, from anchovy paste and caviare to tinned mushrooms and cove oysters. A man may live upon bacon and beans and camp bread, or upon even less, when his duty to his country demands, but it is not in the Articles of War that he should continue to do so any longer than lack of transportation compels.He stood up. "I'll see you off inside of three days then, Stone," he said amicably.
The Indians and the cow-boys used the insulators to try their marksmanship upon, and occasionally鈥攊n much the same spirit that the college man takes gates from their hinges and pulls down street signs鈥攖he young bucks cut the wires and tied the ends with rubber bands. Also trees blown down by storms fell crashing across the line, and some scheme for making it a little less tempting and a little more secure was much needed. Landor had long nursed such an one. So a week later he and Felipa, with a detail of twenty men and a six-mule wagon, started across the Gila Valley to the White Mountains.
It was the post-trader, he told Felipa when he came back, and he was asking for help from the officer-of-the-day. Some citizens down at the store were gambling and drinking high, and were becoming uproarious.[Pg 120]
Brewster's irritation waxed. "Landor again?" he queried suggestively.详情
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