Chapter 4He turned and went back to the cabin, where his wife stood at the door, with the children clinging to her. From down the north road there came a blood-freezing yell, and a shot, reverberating, rattling from hill to hill, muffling into silence among the crowding pines.
She laughed at him鈥攖he first false laugh that had ever come from her lips. "You had better go now," she said, rising and standing with her arms at her side, and her head very erect.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."
"I do," she answered, blinking lazily.Did she show the squaw? he asked. "Not unless you knew it was there," the officer said tolerantly. Then he went to bed and slept with that peace of mind which comes of a proud consciousness of holding the handle of the whip. In the morning he got the[Pg 28] man's name and address before he went on up to the Agency.
"The gentleman who broke them glasses can settle for his part of the fun," he said, as he paid his reckoning. Then he drew Cairness aside and held out the limp wrist to be bound, supporting it with his other hand. And presently they went out from the restaurant, where the powder smoke was added to the other smells, and hung low, in streaks, in the thick atmosphere, to hunt up a surgeon.Stone was something of a power in Tucson politics, and altogether a great man upon the territorial stump. He was proud of his oratory, and launched into a display of it now, painting luridly the wrongs of the citizen, who, it appeared, was a defenceless, honest, [Pg 10]law-abiding child of peace, yet passed his days in seeing his children slaughtered, his wife tortured, his ranches laid waste, and himself shot down and scalped.
"She must be a woman by this time," reflected the civilian. "Is she married to him?""But he is goin' to be. That's what I come so quick to tell you." He stopped again.
Brewster stood in his own window, quite alone, and watched them all crowding down to Landor's quarters. The beauty of the Triumph of Virtue did not appeal to[Pg 157] him. He was very uneasy. Countercharges were looming on his view. To be sure, he had not lied, not absolutely and in so many words, but his citizen witnesses had not been so adroit or so careful. It would not have taken much to make out a very fair case of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Practical working texts, anent looking before leaping, and being sure you are right ere going ahead, occurred to him with new force. His morality at the moment was worthy the law and the prophets. He was Experience in person, and as such would have been an invaluable teacher, if there had been any seeking instruction. But there was none. They were all with Landor, drinking his wine and helping success succeed, than which one may find less pleasant occupations.
When the father returned to Tucson, he had sent her the history, and she had read and reread it. In a way she was something of a linguist, for she had picked up a good deal of Spanish from Mexicans about the post, chiefly from the nurse of the Campbell children.
"You touch that," she said resolutely, "and I'll let them both loose on you."
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Mrs. Landor sat on the top step of her porch. Landor was with her, also his second lieutenant Ellton, and[Pg 104] Brewster, who in the course of events had come into the troop. There had been, largely by Felipa's advice, an unspoken agreement to let the past be. A troop divided against itself cannot stand well on the inspector general's reports. And as Brewster was about to marry the commanding officer's daughter, it was well to give him the benefit of the doubt of his entire sanity when he had been under the influence of what had been a real, if short-lived, passion for Felipa. They were all discussing the feasibility of getting up an impromptu picnic to the foot-hills.
"Handsome fellow," went on the quartermaster, "and looks like a gentleman. Glories in the Ouida-esque name of Charles Morely Cairness, and signs it in full."详情
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