He glanced over his shoulder at the door. It was closed; so he leaned forward and spoke in a lower voice. "Felipa, are you going to marry Landor, or are you not?"The garrison gave a hop in her honor and Landor's. It was quite an affair, as many as five and thirty souls being present, and it was written up in the Army and Navy afterward. The correspondent went into many adjectives over Mrs. Landor, and her fame spread through the land.Cairness congratulated him with all solemnity, and asked if she were a widow. He was sure she must be, for the gallantry of the West in those days allowed no woman to pass maturity unwed.
He made no pretence of not understanding. "You have no need to be, dear," he said simply.
"Just nothing," Cairness laughed shortly, and breaking off one of the treasured geranium blossoms, stuck it in a buttonhole of his flannel shirt.
The mesquites were directly ahead. A horseman came out from behind them and placed himself across the road. There was a sheen of moonlight on a revolver barrel and a shouted "Halt there!"
And before the next morning the picnic that kept the southwest interested for five years had begun. Victorio and two hundred hostiles had left the Mescalero Agency for good and all, killing, burning, torturing, and destroying as they went, and troops from all the garrisons were sent out post haste."Doesn't he, though? Then why doesn't he come around and see me when I'm lying here sick?" He was wrathful and working himself back into a fever very fast.
It struck even through Landor's pain-blurred brain that it was odd. But the few faculties he could command still were all engaged in keeping himself in the saddle until he could reach his own house, where Ellton and Felipa were waiting to get him to his room.
And at another window Felipa also stood looking out into the dusk. There had been a shower in the afternoon, and the clouds it had left behind were like a soft moss of fire floating in the sky. A bright golden light struck slantwise from the sunset. They had all gone away to dine and to dress for the hop; Landor had walked down to the post trader's for the mail, and she was left alone.
Landor saw that his own horse was the best; and it bid very fair to play out soon enough. But until it should do so, his course was plain. He gathered his reins in his hands. "You can mount behind me, Cabot," he said. The man shook his head. It was bad enough that he had come down himself without bringing others down too. He tried to say so, but time was too good a thing to be wasted in argument, where an order would serve. There was a water hole to be reached somewhere to the southwest, over beyond the soft, dun hills, and it had to be reached soon. Minutes spelled death under that white hot sun. Landor changed from the friend to the officer, and Cabot threw himself across the narrow haunches that gave weakly under his weight.Ellton ventured some assistance. "I do know this[Pg 142] much, that the C. O. got a telegram from some Eastern paper, asking if the reports of your cowardice as given in the territorial press were true.""I don't know what has been said, Major, but something more than just what's in the papers must have gotten about. That sort of mud-slinging is too common to cause comment, even. It must be some spite work. There's no reason to suppose, surely, that after a quarter of a century of gallant service he's been and shown the white feather. He's awfully cut up, really he is. He's noticed it, of course, and it's too deuced bad, kicking a man when he's down sick and can't help himself."
The sound shrilled sweetly through the house, through all the empty rooms, and through the thick silence of that one which was not empty, but where a flag was spread over a rough box of boards, and Ellton sat by the window with a little black prayer-book in his hand. He was going over the service for the burial of the dead, because there was no chaplain, and it fell to him to read it. Now and then one of the officers came in alone or with his wife and stood about aimlessly, then went away again. But for the rest, the house was quite forsaken.[Pg 100]详情
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