He struck his pony with the fringed end of the horse-hair lariat that hung around his pommel, and cantered on in the direction of the post. The pony had been found among the foot-hills, without any[Pg 218] trouble. That, at any rate, had been a stroke of luck. He had led it into the fort just at the end of guard-mounting, and had met a party of riders going out.When she saw the post surgeon come out from his house and start over to the hospital, she called to him. "May I see your new patient?" she asked.
But he knew that she did not love him. She was grateful. It was sometimes an Apache trait. He realized that it was his curse and hers that he could not for an instant forget the strain. He read her character by it, half unconsciously. He saw it in her honesty, her sinewy grace, her features, her fearlessness, her kindness with children,鈥攖hey were all Apache characteristics; and they were all repellent. From his youth on, he had associated the race with cruelty and every ghastly sight he had come upon, on the plains and in the mountains. It was a prejudice with more than the force of a heritage. He went on with his study of her, as she sat there. He was always studying her.[Pg 54] But he could not decide whether it was that she lacked sensitiveness and was really not greatly disturbed, or a savage sort of pride in concealing emotions.
She looked at him in perplexity and surprise. "How could I be? There is no use talking about it."No need to tell her that her courage must not falter at that last moment, which would soon come. He knew it, as he looked straight into those steadfast, loving[Pg 131] eyes. She clung to his hand and stooped and kissed it, too; then she went to the children and took them, quivering and crying, into the other room, and closed the dividing door.
"Can't we send the hostile away?" he suggested, glancing at the small Apache, who was digging viciously at his head and watching Cairness with beady orbs. Felipa spoke to him, and he went.
He rode away at once after they had lunched. And Felipa went to her room, and dropped down shivering beside the little red-hot iron stove, moaning between her clenched teeth.They had been doing that for three days. They came down the chimney, made across the floor in a line that never changed direction, nor straggled, nor lessened, up the wall and out a crack in the window. They did no harm, but followed blindly on in the path the first one had taken. And the minister had said they should not be smoked back or thwarted.
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."But this the civilians were very plainly not minded to do. They dropped back, now to cinch up, now to take a drink from the flasks, now to argue, once for one of their number to recover from an attack of heart disease.
He naturally did not foresee anything serious, and he only said, "Well?" and began to fill his pipe from a[Pg 83] buckskin pouch, cleverly sketched in inks with Indian scenes. "By the way," he interrupted as she started to speak, "what do you think of this?" He held it out to her. "That fellow Cairness, who wouldn't stay to luncheon that day, did it for me. We camped near his place a couple of days. And he sent you a needle-case, or some such concern. It's in my kit." She looked at the pouch carefully before she gave it back; then she clasped her hands under her head again and gazed up at the manta of the ceiling, which sagged and was stained where the last cloud-burst had leaked through the roof.详情
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