=首页: 。She was looking at them with such absorbed delight that she started violently when close behind her a voice she had not heard in four long, repressed years spoke with the well-remembered intonation: "He had better go to the farrier the first thing in the morning. I can't have him stove-up," and Cairness came out of the gate.
=首页Nevertheless she decided that it might be best to tell her husband, and she did so as they sat together by the fire after the moon had risen into the small stretch of sky above the mountain peaks. They had bought a live sheep that day from a Mexican herder who had passed along the road, and they were now cutting ribs from the carcass that hung from the branch of a near-by tree, and broiling them on the coals. Felipa finished an unimpassioned account of the afternoon's happenings and of Alchesay's advice, and Landor did not answer at once. He sat thinking. Of a sudden there was a rustle and a step among the pines, and from behind a big rock a figure came out into the half shadow. Felipa was on her feet with a spring, and Landor scrambled up almost as quickly.
There was the crunching of heavy feet up above, on the gravel. It came to them both, even to her, that for them to be seen there together would be final. There would be no explaining it away. Cairness thought of her. She thought of her husband. It would ruin him and his life.
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.
Cairness clasped his hands about one knee and bent back, looking up at the stars,—and far beyond them into the infinity of that Cause of which they and he and all the perplexing problems were but the mere effects. "You mustn't think I haven't thought it over, time and again," he said, after a while. "It's more vital to me than to you; but my way isn't clear. I loved Mrs. Cairness for more than ten years before I could marry her. I should lose her in less than that, I am absolutely certain, if I did as you suggest. She is not so strong a woman as you might suppose. This dry air, this climate, are necessary to her." He hesitated a[Pg 321] little, rather loath to speak of his sentiments, and yet glad of the chance to put his arguments in words, for his own greater satisfaction. "You call it picturesque and poetical and all that," he said, "but you only half mean it after all. It is picturesque. It has been absolutely satisfactory. I'm not given to talking about this kind of thing, you know; but most men who have been married two years couldn't say truthfully that they have nothing to regret; that if they had had to buy that time with eternity of damnation and the lake of fire, it would not have come too dear. And I have had no price to pay—" he stopped short, the ring of conviction cut off, as the sound of a bell is when a hand is laid upon it. The hand was that of a fact, of the fact that had confronted him in the Ca?on de los Embudos, and that very day by the cottonwoods of the spring-house.The roll of the drums and the whistle of the fifes died away in the distance. There was a long silence, followed by three volleys of musketry, the salute over the open grave. And then taps was pealed in notes of brass up to the blue sky, a long farewell, a challenge aforetime to the trumpet of the Last Day. They turned and came marching back. The drums and fifes played "Yankee Doodle" in sarcastic relief. The men walked briskly with their guns at carry arms, the black-draped horse curved its neck and pranced until the empty stirrups danced. The incident was over—closed. The post picked up its life and went on. Two afternoons later the ambulance which had been sent for Felipa came into the post. She stepped out from it in front of the Elltons' quarters so majestic and awe-inspiring in her black garments that Mrs. Ellton was fairly subdued. She felt real grief. It showed in her white face and the nervous quiver of her lips. "I am going out to the graveyard," she told Mrs. Ellton almost at once. Mrs. Ellton prepared to accompany her, but she insisted that she was going alone, and did so, to the universal consternation.
"They will kill me? Who will kill me, and what for?"
A stable man passed the window. Felipa called to him. "Bring me my horse, quick, and mount four men! Don't take five minutes and be well armed," she ordered in a low voice. Hers was the twofold decision of character and of training that may not be disregarded. The man started on a run. =首页:A mule put its head over the wall of a corral and pricked interrogative ears. Then two children, as unmistakably Angles as those of Gregory the Great, came around the corner, hand in hand, and stood looking at him. And at length a man, unmistakably an Angle too, for all his top boots and flannel shirt and cartridge belt, came striding down to the gate. He opened it and said, "Hullo, Cairness, old chap," and Cairness said, "How are you, Kirby?" which answered to the falling upon each other's neck and weeping, of a more effusive race.
A score of voices answered "Yes." They were all aroused now. Landor went down to meet the man, who had dismounted and was climbing up toward him, leading his horse. It was a courier, sent out from Apache, as Cairness had supposed.
Landor had been good to her. She would have gone through anything rather than have hurt him. And yet it was always a relief now when he went away. She was glad when he was ordered into the field at the beginning of the spring. Of old she had been sufficiently sorry to have him go. But of old she had not felt the bit galling. The sergeant spent more time upon the oaths with which he embellished the counter-question as to how he should know anything about it, than would have been consumed in a civil explanation.
Felipa sat on the edge of the bunk and talked to[Pg 58] him, a little excited, and very anxious to try what a scout was like for herself.。
Landor agreed with him, "I told the citizens so, but they knew better."。
Ellton answered "Very good," and they went out, locking the door.。
Ellton himself answered the muffled knock. "I didn't turn in," he said to the mysterious figure, shrouded in a cape, with a visor down to its peering eyes.。
"I can see, sir," the lieutenant answered.。