"She was a captive among the Chiricahuas up in the Sierra Madre. She's had a hard time of it. That and the return march have been too much for her."
Landor had come to agree with the major at Grant, that she was an excellent wife for a soldier. Her tastes were simple as those of a hermit. She asked only a tent and a bunk and enough to eat, and she could do without even those if occasion arose. She saw the best of everything, not with the exasperating optimism which insists upon smiling idiotically on the pleasant and the distinctly disagreeable alike, and upon being aggressively delighted over the most annoying mishaps, but with a quiet, common-sense intention of making the objectionable no more so for her own part. There were wives who made their husbands' quarters more dainty and attractive, if not more neat; but in the struggle鈥攆or it was necessarily a struggle鈥攍ost much peace of mind and real comfort. Upon the whole, Landor was very well satisfied, and Felipa was entirely so. She was utterly indifferent to being set down at a three-company post, where her only companion was to be a woman she disliked from the first, openly and without policy, as was her way.Cairness put his arm around the big angular shoulders and helped her into the sitting room. She dropped down upon the sofa, and sat there, her head hanging, but in sullenness, not humility.
Perhaps the Scripture texts had taught their lesson, or perhaps there yet lingered a hope of learning that which her husband would not tell. Anyway, for the week which the woman lay on the cot in the little whitewashed chamber, which had no outlet save through the sitting room where some one was always on guard night and day, Mrs. Taylor served her with a good enough grace.
"They won't be ready. No use making haste, Captain," Cairness suggested at daybreak, as Landor hurried the breakfast and saddling. They knew that the chances were ten to one that it would be a wild goose chase, and the captain already repented him. But at seven the men were mounted, with two days' rations in their saddle bags, and trotting across the flat in the fragrance of the yet unheated day, to the settlement of San Tomaso.
"He's coming back from Tombstone with some money, ain't he?"It is a valley of death now, parched and desolate, a waste of white sand鈥攖he dry bone dust of the cycles. But then, when the lava came surging and boiling and flaming across the plain, not a thin stream, but a wide, irresistible current, there was life; there was a city鈥攐ne city at least. It is there now, under the mass of sharp, gray, porous rock; how much of it no one knows. But it is there, and it has given up its unavailing hints of a life which may have been older than that of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and is as much more safely hidden from the research of the inquiring day as its walls are more hopelessly buried beneath the ironlike stone than are those of the cisalpine cities beneath their ashen drift.
Taylor smiled. Cairness's small, brown mustache, curving up at the ends, was hardly a disguise. "There's a fellow here who could get you the job, though," he suggested. "Fellow named Stone. Newspaper man, used to be in Tucson. He seems to have some sort of pull with that Lawton fellow."
He had forgotten that the laws and rites of the Church of Rome had a powerful hold upon her, though she was quite devoid of religious sentiment. He admitted apologetically that he had meant divorce, and she expressed her reproach. In spite of himself and what he felt ought properly to be the tragedy of the affair, he smiled. The humor of her majestic disapproval was irresistible under the circumstances. But she had little sense of humor. "What would you suggest, then, if I may ask?" he said. He had to give up all pathos in the light of her deadly simplicity.But only a coyote barked from a knoll near by.
He saw her, and without the hesitation of an instant raised his slouch hat and kept on. A government scout does not stop to pass the time of day with an officer's wife.It came to pass in the working out of things that the commandant elected to spend the night before the opening of the bids, in the small town some miles away, where one of the first families was giving a dinner. This left Landor, as next in rank, in temporary command. It had happened often enough before, in one way[Pg 189] or another, but this time the duties of the position seemed to weigh upon him. He was restless and did not care to sleep. He sent Felipa off to bed, and sat watching where her lithe young figure had gone out of the door for some minutes. Then he ran his hand across his mouth contemplatively, stroked his mustache, and finally went out of the house and down to Ellton's quarters."Told him the truth, more idjit he."
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But she only answered that that was unlikely and slipped her arm around his neck, as she added that if anything were to happen to him, she would not have one real friend in the world. There was something pathetic in the quiet realization of her loneliness.Cairness took the Reverend Taylor to the door. "You know that is Bill Lawton's wife?" he said.
She looked down at the curled toe of her moccasin with a certain air of repentance, and answered his question as to what she meant to do with it by explaining that she meant to keep it for a pet."And so," said Kirby, as he drew a sack of short cut from his pocket and filled his brier, "and so you have chucked up the army? What are you going to do next? Going in for art?"详情
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