类型:奇幻地区:лʿ发布:2020-10-31 13:14:33


"I dare say not," said Landor, his face growing black again; "they'll cover fifty or seventy-five miles a day. We can't do that, by a good deal. We couldn't even if those damned civilians would keep their distance ahead."The better class of citizens did not roam over the country much, and no officers had stopped at his ranch in almost two years, though they had often passed by. And he knew well enough that they would have let their canteens go unfilled, and their horses without fodder, for a long time, rather than have accepted water from his wells or alfalfa from his land. He could understand their feeling, too,—that was the worst of it; but though his love and his loyalty toward Felipa never for one moment wavered, he was learning surely day by day that a woman, be she never so much beloved, cannot make up to a man for long for the companionship of his own kind; and, least of all,—he was forced to admit it in the depths of his consciousness now,—one whose interests were circumscribed.

She explained. "He says he will tell it broadcast," she ended, "but he won't. It wouldn't be safe, and he knows it." Her cool self-possession had its effect on him. He studied her curiously and began to calm down.

She showed no especial repugnance at the idea, but refused flatly, nevertheless. "I can't do that," she said, dropping down into the hammock and swinging herself with the tip of her foot on the floor.

She showed no especial repugnance at the idea, but refused flatly, nevertheless. "I can't do that," she said, dropping down into the hammock and swinging herself with the tip of her foot on the floor.

The citizen was still there, still holding the candle and shading it, scared out of the little wits he had at the best of times. He was too frightened as yet to curse Brewster and the wary scoundrel back in Arizona, who had set him on to tampering with the military,[Pg 192] and had put up the funds to that end—a small risk for a big gain.

The general's long silence was making the complete man nervous. Beads of sweat stood out on his forehead, and he twisted his hands together. "The Sun, the Darkness, and the Winds are all listening to what we now say. To prove to you that I am telling the truth, remember that I sent you word that I would come from a place far away to speak to you here, and you see me now. If I were thinking bad, I would never have come here. If it had been my fault, would I have come so far to talk with you?" he whined.The hero of the episode rode in the ambulance, sitting on the front seat, holding his carbine across his knees, and peering with sharp, far-sighted blue eyes over the alkali flats. Occasionally he took a shot at a jack rabbit and brought it down unfailingly, but the frontiersman has no relish for rabbit meat, and it was left where it dropped, for the crows. He also brought down a sparrow hawk wounded in the wing, and, [Pg 29]having bound up the wound, offered it to Brewster, who took it as an opening to a conversation and tried to draw him out."Hullo there!"

They went at once for supper to the most popular resort of the town, the Great Western Saloon and Restaurant. It was a long adobe room, the whitewash of which was discolored by lamp smoke and fly specks and stains. There were also bullet holes and marks of other missiles. At one end was a bar, with a tin top[Pg 41] for the testing of silver coins. Several pine tables were set out with cracked sugar bowls, inch-thick glasses, bottles of pickles and condiments, still in their paper wrappings, and made filthy by flies, dust, and greasy hands. Already there were half a dozen cow-boys and Mexicans, armed to the teeth, standing about."I wish you to read it, John," she said quietly.

Cairness had been standing afar off, with his hands in his pockets, watching with a gleam of enjoyment under his knitted brows, but he began to see that there threatened to be more to this than mere baiting; that the desperado was growing uglier as the parson grew more firmly urbane. He drew near his small travelling companion and took his hands suddenly from his pockets, as the cow-boy whipped out a brace of six-shooters and pointed them at the hat.


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"Well," drawled Cairness again,—he had learned the value of the word in playing the Yankee game of bluff,—"with those about the beef contract and those about the Kirby massacre, also a few I gathered around San Carlos (you may not be aware that I have been about that reservation off and on for ten years), with those facts I could put you in the penitentiary, perhaps, even with an Arizona jury; but at any rate I could get you tarred and feathered or lynched in about a day. Or failing all those, I could shoot you myself.[Pg 260] And a jury would acquit me, you know, if any one were ever to take the trouble to bring it before one, which is doubtful, I think."She stood alone, with the sticky, wet knife in her hand, catching her breath, coming out of the madness. Then she stooped, and pushing the branches aside felt about for her pistol. It lay at the root of a tree, and[Pg 80] when she had picked it up and put it back in the holster, there occurred to her for the first time the thought that the shot in the dead stillness must have roused the camp. And now she was sincerely frightened. If she were found here, it would be more than disagreeable for Landor. They must not find her. She started at a swift, long-limbed run, making a wide detour, to avoid the sentries, bending low, and flying silently among the bushes and across the shadowy sands.The Reverend Taylor did not object.

Lawton stopped. To forbid him swearing was to forbid him speech. He shuffled ahead in silence."Yes," said Cairness, examining it, "but this has no meaning."


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