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A Braggart In Love

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Tbe wotoen had goiie to the drawing room, and we bad finished firnt cigars, when the conversation struck on rnatrimony. We were all married ruen, explaining how it happened. The other guests had tolden turn their lïttle story in the free confidenceone easilyfeels at the end of a perfect dinner. I had related my romaneo, and we dovv turned to onr host. '' did yon win yonr wife?" "It's a loug story- began on butiting pass in the Arizona desert, crossed the water and ended in Colorado. Liglit fresh cigars. No, I'U tako Mexican, Butler, bring the chartreuse - green for tue, if yon please." 1 tliink it was the sotnmer of 1886. Gerónimo was not yet takeu, and we had been chasing in our turn nntil, for lack of backs and feet, our horses were laggirig in the race, and we were set to watch water holes in the San Simón, so polluted with alkali and arsenic a sensible savage wonld have shunned it, as my dyspepsia. which dates from that cainpaign, tells me I failed to do. Somehow the Gerónimo campaign reminded me of a fox chase - the Indiau scouts keeping their uoses close to'the scent, like dog?, too slow to forcé the bush into the open, while the various tv opa, like hunters in different wind, liulil and lost the place which prornised fir.-i at the finish. If yon know Arizona at all, you wil! recall how sharp and roclry are the crests of the divides. Beïng hnes of most resistance in this land of deep erosión, they retain the sharp, jagged profile often seen in the snow ice of monntain drifts as it disappears in early suinmer. Below these scoops lie a colony of rouEdeel foothills receding and growing less nntil they end in broken bowlder mesa; which, with numerous arroyos, fades into the soft, level adobe plain and blends as nnsuspected as the canvas walls of a eyclorama join the rocks and logs in the pit beJow you. The Indiana preferred these sbarp crests, wbich werofor thern both watch towers and impregna ble bastions. Occaeionally they wotild strike across the valley, kill a rancher and steal fresh ponies, and soine troop wonld cut in and crowd them in the open till they took the nexí divide and met some barrier that balked the pursuers and forced on them a detour, white some otile? troop, through accident of locality, wonld tack and take the chosen, place on the trail, giving for a few days its dust to the other pursning columns. It was a weary stern chase, performed nnder bnrning skies of cloudleas blue in a thirsty land of heat intolerable. And it waa best expressed by our lieutenant, who on being inforrued by a certain captain of "Nubiaa Horse" that hewas after Gerónimo replied, "Yes, captain, a long way after." It was like cutting cards for an ace or calling the turn at roulette or faro to teil which ono of some 25 troops woiild be in at the death. We had had our little spurt, had brnshed thm off the divide and for three days led in the open across the valley tothe Sierra Madre, where fresher horseflesh cut in from our right an 1 tock frorn us the place of honor and Ieft us, foot sore and back sore and windcd, at the base of the rnountains, where we were ordered a day's march back inro the valley near the border to guard water holes of the San Sirnon in the sullen monta or August, rae rngnts were getting bearable, but the day heat still held on with the stubborn insistance of a southern sunamer. Our camp was not happy - the water was bad, our shelter halves, but little thicker than cheesecloth, proved leaky sunshades, and W8 re-enforced tbem with our saddle blankets. Weiad noamnsement exeept to growl, wish we were in the chase and wonder whose blooming intellect bad squatted 113 down upon Gila monsters and Band flies to watch water so foul neithersoil norsun wonld drink it. The local sports of the cantoament were disgusted. A week before they were giving odds, 10 to 3, on ns in the race and now nsed pool checka to light cigarettes from the candles about the cook fire. ïhere was not a drop of anything in camp. Tbe tobáceo was running low. The only pack of carda was a "monte layout" our packer had scraped from Loise hide with a piece of broken glass. Soinething was going to happen, fur the Btrain was telling on raen's nerves. The weather was too hot for camp idleness, and we were near the "line." I was first sergeant of L troop then, and next to a coward or a thief I think I loathed a deserter. We were near the border of Aleiico where one must not l cross, bnt wSêré eurnggüng is permitte and ricj póssiblé. The ir were gatting irritable - I know tbe signs; the tensión was teaching anapping ptiint. I had been thinking of it n)l ck'.y. That evening John Leighton aii'l I were working ander tbe orderly fly öt the'Tecords" - were posting Vaugn and Murray'e "fináis" in the clothiug and descriptivo books. Vaugu was a corporal and Murray our blacksmith, who had been killed tho week before ou the day we pushedthe Apaches ofi the divide. We were crowding them too closely in the lower pass, when a few bucks slipped off into the canyon and nipped our pack train in rear. We had to quit pressing in front to save onr train. It was a clever bit of work, and five bucks did it, killing two men for us, losing us our game just as we wero bagging it. Leighton was cornpany clerk, a talented, handsomu fellow - had servet! out in India. He had a cheering freshnesaandfacility of expression andspoke rvith the quick, falling iuflection and directness of the English in speech one bo qnickly learns to love. He was mechanically ruling doublé red ink linea in a bookwherea life's account of services had been credited and closed, inuch as a bankbook is ruled when a statement is rendered from a balance struck. The words"died" or "deserted" placed in red ink in tho small space below sbowed the cause of closing for service abruptry terminated. Thd usual rernark waa "Discharged by espiration terin of service" in black ink. "Sergeant, and whose will be the next bloody 'D?' " asked Leighton, without a ring of feeliug. "There'll be plenty of 'em if this blooming heat continúes and we remain in this camp." I replied. "And do you suppose the devil wül ever want a transcript from Murray 's court martial record?" Mnrray had been an excellent troop blacksmith, but a most constant drunkard, to his record was a full one. ''If he does, Murray won 't draw briinstone liquor for a year, " I replied. "The lad will be none the worst for that, for strrely here he had a most conBuming thirst. " We were working at this official funeral in tbe snltry sunnnernight by the unsteady light of lantern candles and were not ieeling impressed or reverent. Leighton was in his undersbirt, open at his handsoine brown throat. As he leaned over the books at work a locket from hi9 bosom feil the slack of its gold chain and struck the desk. I noticed it, and he took it off, ing it to me with indifference. He had opened the locket, revealing the portrait, which was that of a fresh ypnng girl - one of thoso sweet English faces j whose charm ia complexion and espréssion of confidence complete. The eyts arre.ted you - pathetic, soft brown eyes, ] so tender tbey seemed to reproach. and as you changed your point of view of the niimature followed yon with their full, warm hght. I have seen such affectionate light only in the brown eyeB of faithfnl dogs watching those they love. Seeing my rcore than casual notice of the portrait, Leighton added: "It's an old story, not worth the telling. I don 't know why F keep it. " He spoke with the same absent interest we were feeling over this work for the dead. It strnck me as peculiar that in a romance accomplished there should be no trace either of bitterness or remorse, only weary indifference. I was 6o quickly fasciaated by the face that Leigbton's manner annoyed me, and I did not ask him for the story. Possibly overheat makes men irritable, for somehow 1 resented this careless fellow wearing about him a face like that with less interest than he wore his spurs. I did not then, notice the resemblance of the face to Leighton 's. I stopped abruptly and thought of dosertioii, changing the conversation to this the subject of my day's musiijg. "Leighton, something's got to be donö to relieve the pressure. I know the lieutenant wou ld like to do so. He feels the pulse of this camp and knows the syiuptoins. Bnt what can he do - his orders to remain here are imperative, and he cau't 'pass' us acroes the line." "Huntieg leave, " laughed Leighton. "Hunting leave, then, let it be," 1 replied, "with no questions asked as to game or preserve, though I can tell what yonrs will be, you youag devil! Tomorrow make out a hanthig pase for six." Leighton was humming a catchj' service bailad that had appeared in London mnsic balls the year before and did not reply. Next morning I presented with tha report four days' hunting pass for six men. The lieutenant dipped his pen in the ink and held it in contemplation for a moment above the place for signature, looking tbonghtfully aeróse the level plain. Then with quick decisión, "1 wish, sergeant, ycu and Leighton would take hunting pass and let uo complications arise. " He signed the pass, adding ournames to the text. The foliowing evening found us all in Correlitos. After dinner, whilö smoking fragrant Vuelta Abajo of the "Zona Libra, " i strolled through the narrow streets of this old Spanish town watsbing the wealth of a western sunset, where the afterglow was fast fading. High above the mountain tops lay great billowsof russet fíame, with cresta like the msne of a wind fanned prairio fire. Lower in the madre spread the puro deep fiurple of southeru twilight, while frorn the foothills came the soft evening breeze born after the heat of day. Even sounds feil on the ear so gently you thought that before reaching you they must have loitered to bathe in the acequia and caught someof itsmurmur. On the plaza I passed two groups of coinrades, one seckiog solace in brandy, the other fortune in roulette, pleasant pastimes thatmight lead to "complica' tions" while money lasted and would bear light watching. I walked 4)n to the Jardin 3e Oro, a mail public park, vvhere serenadera are inspired and listeners stroll or seat theinselves on benches or the grass. 1 Only those who have snffered the beat and glare of a campaign in the desert can foim any idea of the pbysical lnsury of greetii treea and of water. I was seated listening to the soft Indian Spanish as it feil about me in slow chatter. From afar it mingled with the murruur of the fountain, ' What a contrast this scène to the hot camp I had just left, where were heard only the whir of the rattlesnake or the insistent cooing of the lonely turtle dove - mournful sounds which seem to add to the vibrant beat. Above the mountains lay a zone of tronbled white, from which the inoon bad now risen into the full, upper blue, causing the leaves overhead to cast shadows in arabesqne on the grasa at my feet, where as the night bree?e stirred the foliageit wove marvelous figures in trefoil and tracery for fancy to play with as with those made by flamea in a grate. Now it was the lines of a gothic window sean in an old catbedral and alinost i'orgotten and now on granderscale the design of delicate drawn work recalled from my lady's chara ber. Leigbton was there, a mantilla beside him. 1 could only half see the revealed oval of the face, but the figure was slight and pretty, for I caught it3 graceful outline later when they passed me. Next evening at a baile Leigbton presented me to Panchita. Togethei they were dancing, he and his pretty animal, with eyes for him alone. In the desert so rapid is love's kindling, so quick and full its ñame, no charred or half burned brands are here left on love's altar. All is consumed, and what snrvives must spring, phenixlike, from fire or else descend from heaven. - After the danza ended Leighton was standing in shirt sleeves near Panchita, with the collar of his jersey open at the throat - a trick of his that made me suspect he had seen service in the navy. As he leaned over her Pancbita's eye caught sigbtof tbe locket cbain, and he removed the locket, opened it and handed it to her, this time not indilierently, but with all the pride of prized conqnest. I was watching Panchita closely as she gazed fascinated by theportraitand saw her tremble. Oniy as I read her face then by what I now know can I tellhowwell it expressed all that hopeless sense of loss which comes with the abandonment of tbings loved or desired. For an instant her eyes showed the rage a ehild's sometimes feels for an inanimate object when that object bas hurt it. And I thought she would break the locket. Then the woman conquered, and she smiled as she returned it. "Ella es muy hermosa, señor!" From that moment her abandonment toward Leighton was complete. Her gayety and grace became exquisito, while a look from him would lead her. "Oh, you eastern dervish of hearts!" I exclaimed to myself as Panchita left him and skipped to get a handful of cascarones and tben returned, crnshing the pretty tinsel spangles in a shower over his brown head and tbroat. She rlitted about him with the grace of a bird, and her eyes never left him. She was becoming intoxicated with her own movements, her cheeks were fluehed with bright fever spots, and her eyes shone like stars, ün and on they danced, seeing only ach other, and she looked as if she could dance forever. At length Leighton proposed tbey go, and she obeyed his wish as if bypnotized or impelled to do it, and ignoring her duenna they left togethei1. The nest week I ruled Leighton's official epitaph in tbe L troop records thus: "Deserted from huntingpass Aug. 18, 1886." You see, the case was an awkward one. The night of tbe baile he had been stabbed in the park. I found bis body there, and my comrades were about to string vip Morales, Panchita's local adniircr, for the stabbing when I stopped them. "Hold on, boys," I said. "fiemember I promised the lieutenant no 'complications.' " So Leighton becaine officiaily a "doserter. " a3 1 kept my word. Besides, I doubt if stringing up won ld have been fair to -Morales, for when I found Leigbton 's body the locket was lying on the gronnd beside it. The clasp was open, and the portrait blood stained and mutilatod, as if by the point of a dagger. I think Leigbton half knew what he was doing when he flaunted that portrait at runcbita - he was a careless devil and loved danger in a way to win any woman 's heart. But, you see, it was his first affair in this land, and he was mistaken in their temper. How could I let hia record remain so? Well, what could I do? Besides, Leigbton was not his right name, as 1 found out afterward when reading his home letters to get his relatives' address. His name was Jack Langhorn, and that locket the rascal showed rne contained a portrait of his 3'onrigest sister. I found that out in writing to his family, whom I told that Langhoru was killed by the Apaches in the fight at Chirachuca pass - that occnrred two weeks before his death. Three years later Jack's sister caiue to the States, where I met her in Colorado the year after I leut the service and made the strike at Harqna Hala. She is Mrs. Narlin now, and yon met her at dinner. But remera ber she knows only half the story of her portrait, and Jack Langhorn was killed by the


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