李影超:献身强军目标的英雄士兵

She shook her head. "It is the first you have known of it, Jack," she said; "but I have known it for a long while, and I have not been unhappy."

But Cairness had known it without that. It was so entirely in keeping with the rest of his fate, that every cup which ought to have been sweet should have been embittered like this.

[Pg 141]

"Have you an Indian policy?" This was not what Cairness wanted either. He persisted in the silence. A prolonged silence will sometimes have much the same effect as solitary confinement. It will force speech against the speaker's own will. "The Sun and the Darkness and the Winds were all listening. He promised to pay me dos reales each day. To prove to you that I am now telling the truth,[Pg 269] here is what he wrote for me." He held it out to Cairness, a dirty scrap of wrapping-paper scrawled over with senseless words.

The lean hands found the knots, untied them, and threw back the flaps defiantly. The ten pairs of eyes were fastened on her again. She returned the gaze steadily, backing to a little camp table and slipping her hand under a newspaper that lay upon it. "Ukishee, pronto," she commanded, in the accepted argot. They stood quite still and unyielding; and she knew that if she were to be obeyed at all, it must be now. Or if she were to die, it must be now also. But the hand that drew from beneath the newspaper the little black-butted Smith and Wesson, which was never out of her reach, did not so much as tremble as she aimed it straight between the eyes of the foremost buck. "Ukishee," she said once again, not loudly, but without the shadow of hesitation or wavering. There answered a low muttering, evil and rising, and the buck started forward. Her finger pressed against the trigger, but before the hammer had snapped down, she threw up the barrel and fired into the air, for a big, sinewy arm, seamed with new scars, had reached out suddenly and struck the buck aside. It was all done in an instant, so quickly that Felipa hardly knew she had changed her aim, and that it was Alchesay who had come forward only just in time.

"Her father was dead. He left her to him."

"You can go whenever you like now," Cairness told her. She demanded to know where she was to go to, and he answered that that was not his affair, but that he would suggest a safe distance. "Somebody else getting hold of the truth of the Kirby business mightn't be so easy on you as I am."

"Will you make haste?" cried Felipa, out of patience.