Cairness also thought that they should not, chiefly because they had a tendency to frighten the timid Apaches. But he went on quietly eating his breakfast, and said nothing. He knew that only silence can obtain loquacity from silent natures. He was holding his meat in his fingers, too, and biting it, though he did not drag it like a wild beast yet; and, moreover, he had it upon a piece of bread of his own baking."Mr. Brewster has just been here," she said at length, and she played with the lash of her whip, avoiding his eyes, which was also a new way for her.
"How," answered Felipa, as unconcernedly as though she had not recognized him almost at once for the buck she had last seen in the A tent beside the hospital, with the doctor picking pieces of bone and flesh from his shoulder. Then she took the quiver and examined it. There was a bow as tall as herself, and pliable as fine steel, not a thing for children to play with, but a warrior's arm. Also there were a number of thin, smooth, gayly feathered arrows. "Malas," he told her, touching the heads. "Venadas" and she knew that he meant that they were poisoned by the process of [Pg 89]dipping them in putrid liver, into which a rattler had been made to inject its venom. Even then the sort was becoming rare, though the arrow was still in use as a weapon and not merely as an attraction for tourists.
Chapter 26Ellton 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.""Of course," he laughed tolerantly, "I dare say any wilderness were paradise with him."
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.
He had told her that many times. It had been true; perhaps it was true still.When the sergeant reported it to the major afterward, he said that the captain, in stooping over to raise the chief of scouts, had been struck full in the temple by a bullet, and had pitched forward with his arms stretched out. One private had been wounded. They carried the two men back to the little cabin of stones, and that was the casualty list. But the dash had failed.
"They have their good traits, sir," said the man, civilly, "and chief among them is that they mind their own business."
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Another grievance was the Ellton baby. Felipa adored it, and for no reason that he could formulate, he did not wish her to. He wanted a child of his own. Altogether he was not so easy to get on with as he had been. She did not see why. Being altogether sweet-humored and cheerful herself, she looked[Pg 182] for sweet humor and cheerfulness in him, and was more and more often disappointed. Not that he was ever once guilty of even a quick burst of ill temper. It would have been a relief.But the Apaches held it for only a day, for all that. They were unprepared and overconfident. Their bucks were for the most part away plundering the hapless Mexican settlements in the desert below. They had thought that no white troops nor Mexicans could follow here, and they had neglected to count with the scouts, who had been hostiles themselves in their day, and who had the thief's advantage in catching a thief. And so while the bucks and children wandered round among the trees or bathed in the creek, while the hobbled[Pg 230] ponies grazed leisurely on the rank grass, and the squaws carried fuel and built fires and began their day of drudgery, they were surprised.
Landor looked them over and gave them back contemptuously. "Well?" he said, "there's nothing new in all that. It's devilish exasperating, but it's old as Hamilcar. I made an enemy of a fellow from Tucson, reporter named Stone, over at the San Carlos Agency a few years ago. He's been waiting to roast me ever since. There must be something else."Someway it had not occurred to him to be any more angry with Cairness than he had been with her. The most he felt was resentful jealousy. There was nothing more underhand about the man than there was about Felipa. Sending the note by the prospectors had not been underhand. He understood that it had been done only that it might make no trouble for her, and give himself no needless pain. Cairness would have been willing to admit to his face that he loved Felipa. That letter must have been written in his own camp.Cairness, talking to one of the other men, who was mending a halter, watched him, and recalled the youth in spotless white whom he had last seen lounging on the deck of an Oriental liner and refusing to join the sports committee in any such hard labor as getting up a cricket match. It was cooler here in the Arizona mountains, to be sure; but it was an open question if life were as well worth living.详情
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