"We'll see," she answered shortly; "it is where the Huachuca road crosses, you are certain?"
"Alone?""It's six one, and half a dozen the other. They'd be willing enough to die out in peace, if we'd let them. Even they have come to have a vague sort of instinct that that's what it amounts to."
No one in the territory was busy. The atmosphere was still too much that of the Mexican possession; but Cairness said it was undoubtedly so, and took his leave,[Pg 173] clanking his spurs, heavy footed, and stooping his long form, in continuance of the r?le of ass. He knew well enough that he had been so summed up. It is a disadvantage the British citizen labors under in the West.The general of romance is a dashing creature, who wears gold lace and has stars upon his shoulder straps, and rides a fiery charger at the head of his troops. He always sits upon the charger, a field-glass in his hand and waiting aides upon every side, or flourishes a sword as he plunges into the thick of the battle smoke.
"What do you want me to say to Stone?"
"Luncheon!" said Cairness, as he smoothed his hair in front of a speckled and wavy mirror, which reflected all of life that came before it, in sickly green, "cabalistic word, bringing before me memories of my wasted youth. There was a chap from home in my troop, until he deserted, and when we were alone we would say luncheon below our breaths. But I haven't eaten anything except dinner for five years."Cairness said that he would of course have to take chances on that. "You might kill me, or I might kill you. I'm a pretty fair shot. However, it wouldn't pay you to kill me, upon the whole, and you must take everything into consideration." He was still twisting the curled end of his small mustache and half closing his eyes in the way that Stone had long since set down[Pg 261] as asinine. "My friend Mr. Taylor would still be alive. And if you were to hurt him,鈥攈e's a very popular man,鈥攊t might be bad for your standing in the community. It wouldn't hurt me to kill you, particularly, on the other hand. You are not so popular anyway, and I haven't very much to lose."Felipa did not answer.
The little man picked it up and contemplated it, with his head on one side and a critical glance at its damaged condition. Then he smoothed its roughness with the palm of his rougher hand. "Why do I wear it?" he drawled calmly; "well, I reckon to show 'em that I can."
"Have you an Indian policy?"He knew that the stores which should have gone to him were loaded upon wagon-trains and hurried off the reservation in the dead of night; but he did not know why the Apache who was sent to humbly ask the agent about it was put in the guard-house for six months without trial. He knew that his corn patches were trampled down, but not that it was to force him to purchase supplies from the agent and his friends, or else get out. He knew that his reservation鈥攏one too large, as it was, for three thousand adults more or less鈥攈ad been cut down without his consent five different times, and that Mormon settlers were elbowing him out of what space remained. But, being only a savage, it were foolish to expect that he should have seen the reason for these things. He has not yet learned to take kindly to financial dishonesty. Does he owe you two bits, he will travel two hundred miles to pay it. He has still much to absorb concerning civilization.
Cairness had made a tune for himself and was putting to it the words of the ill-fated poet of his own Land of the Dawning.Forbes shrugged his shoulders. "You'll pardon me if I say that here she is a luxurious semi-barbarian." It was on his tongue's tip to add, "and this afternoon, by the spring-house, she was nearly an Apache," but he checked it. "It's very picturesque and poetical and all that,鈥攆rom the romantic point of view it's perfect,鈥攂ut it isn't feasible. You can't live on honeycomb for more than a month or twain. I can't imagine a greater misfortune than for you two to grow contented here, and that's what you'll do. It will be a criminal waste of good material."
But he was not satisfied. His entry into the post and the cool greeting of the three officers began to come back to him.The night of their return to the post, Cairness, crossing the parade ground shortly before retreat, saw Felipa. He had been walking with his eyes on the earth, debating within himself the question of his future, whether he should re?nlist, succumb to the habit of the service, which is to ambition and endeavor what opium is to the system, or drop back into the yet more aimless life he had been leading five years before, when a fit of self-disgust had caused him to decide that he was good for nothing but a trooper, if even that.It is one thing to be sacrificed to a cause, even if it is only by filling up the ditch that others may cross to victory; it is quite another to be sacrificed in a cause, to die unavailingly without profit or glory of any kind, to be even an obstacle thrown across the way. And that was the end which looked Cabot in the face. He stood and considered his horse where it lay in the white dust, with its bloodshot eyes turned up to a sky that burned like a great blue flame. Its tongue, all black and swollen, hung out upon the sand, its flanks were sunken, and its forelegs limp.详情
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