-「」Then it was the first, at any rate. His manner softened.Of the fruitful earth, like a goblin elf,
It was the eternal old story of the White-man's whiskey. A rancher living some four hundred yards from the boundary line upon the Mexican side had sold it to the Indians. Many of them were dead or fighting drunk. The two sober Indians asked for a squad of soldiers to help them guard the ranchman, and stop him from selling any more mescal. They were right-minded themselves and really desired peace, and their despair was very great.
"Her father was dead. He left her to him."She tried to parry and evade, but he would not have it, and obliged her to admit that she did not. "Not that I dislike her," she explained. "I like to have her round. I dare say it is a whim."Cairness reflected upon this as he fired for exactly the seventh time at a pair of beady eyes that flashed at him over a bush-topped rock by the creek, not five and twenty yards away, and then vanished utterly. There was something uncanny about it, and he was losing patience as well as ammunition. Three bullets from a repeating rifle had about finished him. One had gone through his hat. The eyes popped up again. Cairness fired again and missed. Then he did a thoroughly silly thing. He jumped out from behind his shelter and ran and leapt, straight down, and over to the rock by the stream. The beady eyes saw him coming and sparkled, with an evil sort of laughter.
Felipa, from her place on the couch, smiled lazily, with a light which was not all from the fire in her half-closed eyes. She put out her hand, and he took it in both his own and held it against his cold cheek as he dropped down beside her. She laid her head on his shoulder, and for a while neither of them spoke."So?" said Cairness, with the appearance of stolidity he invariably assumed to cover disappointment or any sort of approach to emotion. "Where's she gone to?"
When the sun was at midheaven, and the shadows of the pines beyond the clearing fell straight, the [Pg 35]clanging of a triangle startled the mountain stillness. The Mexicans dropped their tools, and the white teamster left a mule with its galled back half washed.In the weeks that followed, Landor spent days and some nights—those when he sat up to visit the guard, as a rule—attempting to decide why his ward repelled him. She seemed to be quite like any other contented and natural young girl. She danced, and courted admiration, within the bounds of propriety; she was fond of dress, and rather above the average in intelligence. Usually she was excellent company, whimsical and sweet-humored. She rode well enough, and learned—to his intense annoyance—to shoot with a bow and arrow quite remarkably, so much so that they nicknamed her Diana. He had remonstrated at first, but there was no reason to urge, after all. Archery was quite a feminine sport.Lawton produced a brace of revolvers.
"Felipa!" shouted Cairness. He was angry—almost as angry as Forbes had been when he had come upon Mrs. Landor watching the boys and the kitten in the alleyway.
It was quite in keeping with everything that had gone before that, the day after a passing Franciscan priest had married them, Landor should have been ordered off upon a scout, and Felipa should have taken it as a matter of course, shedding no tears, and showing no especial emotion beyond a decent regret. "Anywhere you like, my dear chap, so that it's neither in Arizona or New Mexico. I want to stop here myself, and the place isn't big enough for us both. You'll be a valuable acquisition to any community, and you can turn your talent to showing up the life here. You are right on the inside track. Now I won't ask you to promise to go. But I'll be round to see that you do."
He raised himself from the pillows too abruptly for a very weak man. "What is the matter, Felipa?" he demanded.。
Brewster started to protest, still with the almost unmoved countenance of an innocent man. At any rate, he was not an abject, whining scoundrel, thought Ellton, with a certain amount of admiration.。
The Reverend Taylor grabbed at a fly and caught it in his palm. He had become very expert at this, to his wife's admiration and his son's keen delight. It was because the little Reverend liked to see him do it, and derived so much elfish enjoyment from the trick, that he had perfected himself in it. He gave the[Pg 248] crushed fly to the baby, and held him up to feed the bird. The bird put its head through the bars and pecked with its whiskered bill, and the little Reverend gurgled joyfully, his small face wrinkling up in a way which was really not pretty, but which his father thought the most engaging expression in the world.。
She gave a cry of relief. "Mr. Cairness, Mr. Cairness," she called, "it is only my husband." She went herself a little way into the passage. "Jack, Mr. Cairness has gone in there, call to him." And she called again herself.。
"One thing," muttered Cairness.。