长征:信仰的力量·四川阿坝——团结各族之力 遥望胜利曙光

She was sitting in her room, sewing. Of late she had become domesticated, and she was fading under it. He had seen it already, and he saw it more plainly than ever just now. She looked up and smiled. Her smile had always been one of her greatest charms, because it was rare and very sweet. "Jack," she greeted him, "what have you done with the bread knife you took with you, dear? I have been lost without it."

Being shaved of the thick iron-gray beard, and once again in seemly uniform, and having reported to the commandant, he sat down to talk with his wife. Of course there were complications following, a long and involved list of them. Of course the Indians only sought the excuse, and very probably would have made it if it had not been made for them. And of course the Interior Department bungled under the guidance of politicians, of whom the best that possibly can be said is that they were stupid tools of corrupt men in the territories, who were willing to turn the blood of innocent settlers into gold for their own pockets.

Crook had been recalled too late, and he knew it. Every Apache on the reservation was ready for the war-path. It was not to be averted. One man, even a very firm and deft one, could not straighten out in a few weeks the muddle of ten years of thievery, oppression, and goading. It takes more than just a promise, even though it is one likely to be kept, to soothe the hurt feelings of savages who have seen eleven of their friends jailed for fourteen months without the form of accusation or trial. They feel bitter toward the government whose minions do those things.

[Pg 85]

"Well?" said the officer.

Having finished, he left Cairness to his own devices, and dragging a chair under a bracket lamp, set peacefully about reading the newspapers. For fully an hour no one heeded him. Cairness talked to the bartender and stood treat to the aimless loungers. He had many months of back pay in his pocket, and to save was neither in his character nor in the spirit of the country.

"I'll bet the help don't like the seven o'clock dinner."

"Your husband is in jail," he said without preface. He had done with the mask of civility. It had served its purpose.