He hesitated still. "I don't doubt you," he told her.
An eminent student of the sex has somewhere said that women are like monkeys, in that they are imitative. The comparison goes further. There is a certain inability in a monkey to follow out a train of thought, or of action, to its conclusion, which is shared by the major part of womankind. It is a feminine characteristic to spend life and much energy on side issues. The lady forgot almost all about her original premise. She wished especially to know that which no power upon earth would induce her lord to tell."I have kept near you for a week, to warn you, or to help you if necessary."
It was a strong door, built of great thick boards and barred with iron, but it must surely cede before fire and the blows. It wrenched on its huge hinges.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.
"Thanks. But you started out to tell me what Lawton told Stone."Landor pointed to him. "Who is this?" he asked.
So the captain and the first sergeant took up the money and the loose papers, together with a couple of rings from the hands, and wrapping them in a poncho, carried them off to serve as possible means of identification, for it had got beyond all question of features. Then two men moved the bodies from the[Pg 137] trail, with long sticks, and covered them with a pile of stones. Landor found a piece of board by the mouth of the claim and drew on it, with an end of charred stick, a skull and cross bones with a bow and arrow, and stood it up among the stones, in sign to all who might chance to pass thereby that since men had here died at the hands of the Apaches, other men might yet meet a like fate."I think perhaps I'll go with you, if you'll wait over a day," Cairness told him. He had taken a distinct[Pg 38] fancy to the little botanist who wore his clerical garb while he rode a bronco and drove a pack-mule over the plains and mountains, and who had no fear of the Apache nor of the equally dangerous cow-boy. Cairness asked him further about the hat. "That chimney-pot of yours," he said, "don't you find it rather uncomfortable? It is hot, and it doesn't protect you. Why do you wear it?"
The chances of detection would certainly be less if he should go back of the officers' quarters, instead of the barracks. But to do that he would have to cross the road which led from the trader's to the quadrangle, and he would surely meet some one, if it were only some servant girl and her lover. He had observed and learned some things in his week of waiting in the post—that week which otherwise had gone for worse than nothing. He took the back of the barracks, keeping well away from them, stumbling in and out among rubbish heaps. He had no very clear idea of what he meant to do, or of why he was going in this particular direction; but he was ready for anything that might offer to his hand. If he came upon Landor or the adjutant or any of them, he would put a knife into him. But he was not going to the trouble of hunting[Pg 206] them out. And so he walked on, and came to the haystacks, looming, denser shadows against the sky.
"I am going to ask the quartermaster to store my things for the present, and of course the first sergeant's wife will look out for the children," she said.The Texan woman went back to the kitchen and finished cooking the supper for the hands—a charred sort of Saturnalian feast. "She can git her own dinner if she wants to," she proclaimed, and was answered by a chorus of approval."Well?" said he, questioningly, setting his mouth. It answered to the duellist's "On guard!" She had seen him set his mouth before, and she knew that it meant that he was not to be opposed. Nevertheless there was a principle involved now. It must be fought for. And it would be the first fight of their marriage, too. As he had told Cairness once, she was very amiable.
"I am not wasting any sympathy on the Apaches, nor on the Indians as a whole. They have got to perish. It is in the law of advancement that they should. But where is the use in making the process painful? Leave them alone, and they'll die out. It isn't three hundred years since one of the biggest continents of the globe was peopled with them, and now there is the merest handful left, less as a result of war and slaughter than of natural causes. Nature would see to it that they died, if we didn't."She was broken to the acceptance of the inevitable now,—he could see that, any one could see it. She had learned the lesson of the ages—the futility of struggle of mere man against the advance of men. That it had been a hard lesson was plain. It showed in her face, where patience had given place to unrest, gentleness to the defiance of freedom. She had gained, too, she had gained greatly. She was not only woman now, she was womanly. But Cairness did not need to be told that she was not happy.
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."But that is sport," she answered carelessly.详情
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