FOES IN AMBUSH.
CAPT. CHARLES KING, U. S. A.,
"THE COLONEL'S DAUGHTER," "MARION'S FAITH," "KITTY'S CONQUEST,"
"A SOLDIER'S SECRET," ETC.
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
FOES IN AMBUSH.
The sun was just going down, a hissing globe of fire and torment.
Already the lower limb was in contact
with the jagged backbone
mountain chain that rimmed the desert with purple
and gold. Out on the
barren, hard-baked flat in front of the corral, just where it had been
unhitched when the paymaster and his safe were dumped soon after dawn,
a weather-beaten ambulance
was throwing unbroken
a mile-long shadow
towards the distant Christobal. The gateway
to the east through the
Santa Maria, sharply
notched in the gleaming range, stood a day's
march away,--a day's march now only made by night, for this was
Arizona, and from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same
anywhere south of that curdling mud-bath, the Gila, the only human
beings impervious to the fierceness
of its rays were the Apaches. "And
they," growled the paymaster, as he petulantly snapped the lock of his
little safe, "they're no more human than so many hyenas."
A big man physically
was the custodian and disburser of government
greenbacks,--so big that, as he stepped forth through the aperture
the hot adobe wall, he ducked his head to avert unwillingcontact
its upper edge. Green-glass goggles, a broad-brimmed straw hat, a
pongee shirt, loose trousers
of brown linen, and dust-colored canvas
shoes made up the outer man of a personality
as it was ponderous. Slow and labored in movement, the major was
in speech. He sauntered out into the glare of
the evening sunshine
and became slowly conscious
of a desire to swear
at what he saw: that, though in a minute or two the day-god would
"douse his glim" behind the black horizon, no preparationwhatever
been made for a start. There stood the ambulance, every bolt and link
and tire hot as a stove-lid, but not a mule in sight. Turning to his
left, he strolled along towards a gap in the adobe wall, and entered
the dusty interior
of the corral. One of the four quadrupeds drowsing
under the brush shelter languidly turned an inquiring eye and
interrogative ear in his direction, and conveyed, after the manner of
the mule, a suggestion
as to supper. A Mexican boy sprawling in the
shade of a bale of government hay, and clad in cotton shirt and
trousers well-nigh as brown as the skin that peeped through occasional
gaps, glanced up at him with languid
interest an instant, and then
resumed the more agreeablecontemplation
of the writhings of an
impaled tarantula. Under another section of the shed two placid
burros were dreamily blinking at vacancy, their grizzled fronts
expressive of that ineffable peace found only in the faces of saints
and donkeys. In the middle of the enclosure
a rude windlass coiled
with rope stood stretching forth a decrepit lever-arm. The
whippletree, dangling from the end over the beatencircular
with heat and age. The stout rope that stretched tautly
from the coil passed over a wooden
wheel, and disappeared through a
into the bowels of the earth. Close at hand in
the shade of a brush-covered "leanto" hung three or four huge _ollas_,
earthen water-jars, swathed in gunny sack and blanket. Beyond them,
warped out of all possibility
of future usefulness, stood what had
once been the running
gear of a California buck-board. Behind it
dangled from dusty pegs portions of leather harness, which all the
neat's-foot oil of the military pharmacopoeia could never again
restore to softness
or pliability. A newer edition
of the same class
was covered by a canvas
"'paulin." A huge stack of barley
bags was piled at the far end of the corral, guarded from depredation
(quadrupedal) by a barrier
down, and by a
tattered biped, very sound asleep.
"Where's the sergeant?" queried the paymaster, slowly, addressing no
one in particular, but looking plaintively around him.
Still leaning a brown chin on a nearly black hand, and stirring
spider with the forked stick he held in the other paw, the boy simply
tilted his head towards the dark opening
under the farther end of the
shed, an aperture
that seemed to lead to nothing but blackness
"What's he doing?"
"No sa-a-abe," drawled the boy, never lifting his handsome eyes from
the joys before him.
"Why hasn't he harnessed up?"
A shrug of the shoulders was the only reply.
"No sa-a-abe," slowly as before.
"What's your name?"
"Well, here, Jose, you go and tell him I want him."
The boy slowly pulled himself together and found his feet; started
reluctantly to obey; glanced back at his captive, now scuttling off
for freedom; turned again, scotched him with his forked stick, and
then with a vicious
"huh!" drove the struggling Araneid into the sandy
soil. This done, he lounged off towards the dark corner in the wall of
the ranch and dove out of sight.
Presently there slowly issued from this recess
form in dusty
blue blouse, the sleeves of which were decorated with chevrons in
far-faded yellow. Under the shabby
slouch hat a round, sun-blistered,
freckled face, bristling with a week-old beard, peered forth at the
staff official with an expression half of languid
tolerance, half of
mild irritation. In most perfunctory fashion the soldier just touched
the hat-rim with his forefinger, then dropped the hand into a
convenient pocket. It was plain that he felt but faint respect for the
staff rank and station of the man in goggles and authority.
"Sergeant Feeny, I thought I told you I wanted everything ready to
start at sunset."
"You did, sir, and then you undid it," was the prompt
The paymaster stood irresolute. Through the shading spectacles of
green his eyes seemed devoid
of any expression. His attitude remained
unchanged, thumbs in the low-cut pockets of his wide-flapping
trousers, shoulders meek and drooping.
"W-e-ll," he finally drawled, "you understood I wanted to get on to
Camp Stoneman by sunrise, didn't you? Didn't my clerk, Mr. Dawes, tell
"He did, yes, sir, and you don't want to get there no more than I do,
major. But I told you flat-footed if you let Donovan and those other
men go back on the trail they'd find some excuse to stop at
Ceralvo's, and, damn 'em, they've done it."
"Don't you s'pose they'll be along presently?"
"S'pose?" and the sun-blistered face of the cavalryman seemed to grow
a shade redder as he echoed almost contemptuously
the word of his
superior. "S'pose? Why, major, look here!" And the short, swart
trooper took three quick strides, then pointed
through the western
in the adobe wall to the gilded edge of the range where the sun had
just slipped from view. "It's ten mile to that ridge, it's ten minutes
since I got the last wig-wag of the signal-flag at the pass. They
hadn't come through then. What chance is there of their getting here
in time to light out at dark? You did tell me to have everything ready
to start, and then you undid it by sending half the escort
You've been here in hell's half-acre three days and I've been here
three years. You've never been through Canon Diablo; I've been through
a dozen times and never yet without a fight or a mighty
good chance of
one. Now you may think it's fun to run your head into an ambuscade,
but I don't. You can get 'em too easy without trying
here. I'm an old
soldier, major, and too free spoken, perhaps, but I mean no
disrespect, only I wish to God you'd listen to me next time."
"You wouldn't have had me leave those women in the lurch back at the
crossing, would you?" queried the paymaster, half apologetically.
"Why, I don't believe that story at all," flatly
answered Feeny; "it's
plant that fellow Donovan's springing on you,--a mere
excuse to ride back so they could drink and gamble
with those thugs at
Ceralvo's. They've just been paid off and had no chance for any fun at
all before they were ordered out on this escort
duty. That money's
been burning in their pockets now for three whole nights, and they
just can't stand it so long as a drop of liquor's to be had by hard
riding. No soldier is happy till he's dead broke, major, leastwise
none I ever see."
"What makes you doubt the story, sergeant? It came straight enough."
"It came too damned
straight, sir; that's just the trouble. It came
straight from Chihuahua Pete's monte mill. It's only a hook to draw
'em back, and they played it on you because they saw you were new to
the country and they knew I was asleep; and now, unless Lieutenant
Drummond should happen in with his troop, there's no help for it but
to wait for to-morrow night, and no certainty
of getting away then."
"Well, if Mr. Drummond were here, don't you suppose he'd have gone or
sent back to protect those people?"
"Oh, he'd have gone,--certainly,--that's his business, but it isn't
yours, major. You've got government money there enough to buy up every
rum-hole south of the Gila. You're expected to pay at Stoneman, Grant
and Goodwin and Crittenden and Bowie, where they haven't had a cent
since last Christmas and here it is the middle of May. You ought to
have pushed through with all speed, so none of these jay-hawkers could
get wind of your going, let alone the Apaches. Every hour you halt is
clear gain to them, and here you've simply got to stay twenty-four
hours all along of a cock-and-bull story about some stage-load of
frightened women fifteen miles back at Gila Bend. It's a plant, major,
that's what I believe."
Old Plummer kicked the toe of his shoe into the sandy soil and hung a
reflective head. "I wish you hadn't shut your eyes," he drawled at
"I wouldn't, sir, if I hadn't thought you'd keep yours open. You slept
all night, sir, you and Mr. Dawes, while I rode alongside
Absorbed in their gloomy
conversation, neither man noticed that the
in the adobe wall close at hand had been noiselessly
opened from within, just an inch or two. Neither knew, neither could
see that behind it, in the gathering
darkness of the short summer
evening, a shadowy
form was crouching.
"Then you think we must stay here, do you?" queried the paymaster.
"Think? I know it. Why, the range ahead is alive with Apaches, and we
can't stand 'em off with only half a dozen men. Your clerk's no
Old Plummer stood irresolute. His clerk, a consumptive and broken-down
relative, was at that moment lying nerveless
on a rude bunk within the
ranch, bemoaning the fate that had impelled him to seek Arizona in
search of health. He was indeed of little "'count," as the paymaster
well knew. After a moment's painful
thought the words rose slowly to
"Well, perhaps you know best, so here we stay till to-morrow night, or
at least until they get back."
One could almost hear the whisper
in the deep recess
of the retaining
wall,--sibilant, gasping. Some one crouching still farther back in the
black depths of the interior
But when a moment later the proprietor
of this roadside
artificial oasis in a land of desolation, strolled into the big bare
room where half a dozen troopers were dozing or gambling, it was with
an air of confidential
joviality that he whispered to the corporal
"Our fren', the major, he riffuse me sell you aguardiente,--mescal;
"Oh, damn it, Moreno, we'll be half-way
to Stoneman by that time,"
interrupted the trooper, savagely. "Who's to know where we got the
stuff? We'll make 'em believe Donovan's squad brought it in from
Ceralvo's. Give me a drink now anyhow, you infernal
Greaser; I'm all
burnt out with such a day as this. We've got to start the moment they
get back, and there won't be any time then."
"Hush, caballero; they come not to-night. You will rest here."
"Why, how in blazes do you know?"
"Softly!--I know not. I know noting; yet, _mira!_--I know. They talk
long in the corral,--the major and that pig of a sergeant;--for him I
snap my finger. Look you!" And Moreno gave a flip indicative
"Don't you count on his not finding
out, Moreno. It's all easy enough
so far as the major's concerned, but that blackguard Feeny's
different, I tell you. He'd hear the gurgle
of the spigot if he were
ten miles across the Gila, and be here to bust things before you could
serve out a gill,--damn him! He's been keen enough to put that
psalm-singing Yankee on guard over your liquor. How're you going to
get at it, anyhow?"
For all answer the Mexican placed the forefinger
of his left hand upon
his lips and with that of the right hand pointed
significantly to the
"Ah--I have a mine," he whispered. "You will not betray, eh? Shu-u!
Hush! He comes now."
The gruff voice of Sergeant Feeny broke up the colloquy.
"Corporal Murphy, take what men you have here and groom at once. Feed
and water too.--Moreno, I want supper cooked for eight in thirty
minutes.--Drop those cards now, you men; you should have been sleeping
as I told you, so as to be ready for work to-night."
"Shure we don't go to-night, sergeant?"
"Who says that?" demanded Feeny, quickly, whirling upon his
subordinates. The corporal
looked embarrassed and turned to Moreno for
support. Moreno, profoundly
calm, was as profoundly
"Moreno there," began Murphy, finding
himself compelled to speak.
"I?" gravely, courteously
protested the Mexican, with deprecatory
shrug of his shoulders and upward
lift of eyebrow. "I? What know I? I
do but say the Corporal Donovan is not come. How know I you go not out
"Neither you nor the likes of you knows," was Feeny's stern retort.
"We go when we will and no questions asked. As for you, Murphy, you be
ready, and it's me you'll ask, not any outsider, when we go. I've had
enough to swear at to-day without you fellows playing off on me. Go or
no go--no liquor, mind you. The first man I catch drinking I'll tie by
the thumbs to the back of the ambulance, and he'll foot it to
No words were wasted in remonstrance or reply. These were indeed "the
days of the empire" in Arizona,--days soon after the great war of the
rebellion, when men drank and swore and fought and gambled in the
rough life of their exile, but obeyed, and obeyed without question,
the officers appointed over them. These were the days when veteran
contact [´kɔntækt] n.接触；联系 v.联络 (初中英语单词)purple [´pə:pl] n.紫色 a.紫(红)的 (初中英语单词)sharply [´ʃɑ:pli] ad.锋利地；剧烈地 (初中英语单词)trousers [´trauzəz] n.裤子，长裤 (初中英语单词)personality [,pə:sə´næliti] n.人；个性；人品；人物 (初中英语单词)distinctly [di´stiŋktli] ad.清楚地，明晰地 (初中英语单词)movement [´mu:vmənt] n.活动；运动；动作 (初中英语单词)sunshine [´sʌnʃain] n.日光，阳光 (初中英语单词)conscious [´kɔnʃəs] a.意识的；自觉的 (初中英语单词)horizon [hə´raizən] n.地平线；范围；视野 (初中英语单词)preparation [,prepə´reiʃən] n.准备；预习(时间) (初中英语单词)whatever [wɔt´evə] pron.&a.无论什么 (初中英语单词)interior [in´tiəriə] n.&a.内部地(的) (初中英语单词)suggestion [sə´dʒestʃən] n.建议，提议；暗示 (初中英语单词)mexican [´meksikən] n.&a.墨西哥人(语)的 (初中英语单词)instant [´instənt] a.立即的 n.紧迫；瞬间 (初中英语单词)agreeable [ə´gri:əbəl] a.适合的；符合的 (初中英语单词)beaten [´bi:tn] beat 的过去分词 (初中英语单词)circular [´sə:kjulə] a.圆形的 n.通知 (初中英语单词)wooden [´wudn] a.木制的；呆板的 (初中英语单词)possibility [,pɔsə´biliti] n.可能(性)；希望；前途 (初中英语单词)running [´rʌniŋ] a.奔跑的；流动的 (初中英语单词)california [,kæli´fɔ:njə] n.加利福尼亚 (初中英语单词)harness [´hɑ:nis] vt.上马具 n.马具 (初中英语单词)canvas [´kænvəs] n.帆布；油画(布) (初中英语单词)mostly [´məustli] ad.主要地；多半；通常 (初中英语单词)opening [´əupəniŋ] n.开放；开端 a.开始的 (初中英语单词)captive [´kæptiv] n.俘虏；捕获物 (初中英语单词)pointed [´pɔintid] a.尖(锐)的；中肯的 (初中英语单词)western [´westən] a.西的；西方的 (初中英语单词)spoken [´spəukən] speak的过去分词 (初中英语单词)nerveless [´nə:vləs] a.无生气的；松散的 (初中英语单词)whisper [´wispə] v.耳语 n.低语；沙沙声 (初中英语单词)yankee [´jæŋki] n.美国佬；美国公民 (初中英语单词)liquor [´likə] n.酒类；(溶)液 (初中英语单词)betray [bi´trei] vt.背叛；辜负；暴露 (初中英语单词)gravely [´greivli] ad.庄重地，严肃地 (初中英语单词)upward [´ʌpwəd] a.&ad.向上(的)；以上 (初中英语单词)gateway [´geit-wei] n.入口；通道；途径 (高中英语单词)vacancy [´veikənsi] n.空缺；空间；空虚 (高中英语单词)edition [i´diʃən] n.版本；很相似的 (高中英语单词)barrier [´bæriə] n.栅栏；屏障；障碍 (高中英语单词)recess [ri´ses] n.休息；休会 (高中英语单词)sturdy [´stə:di] a.坚强的；坚定的 (高中英语单词)shabby [´ʃæbi] a.(衣服)破旧的 (高中英语单词)prompt [prɔmpt] a.敏捷的 vt.促使 (高中英语单词)sunrise [´sʌnraiz] n.日出，黎明 (高中英语单词)escort [´eskɔ:t] n.伴随者；警卫(队) (高中英语单词)mighty [´maiti] a.强有力的 ad.很 (高中英语单词)damned [dæmd] a.该死的 ad.非常，极 (高中英语单词)gamble [´gæmbəl] v.&n.赌博；投机；冒险 (高中英语单词)sergeant [´sɑ:dʒənt] n.警官；军士 (高中英语单词)certainty [´sə:tənti] n.确实(性)；确信 (高中英语单词)alongside [əlɔŋ´said] ad.在旁 prep.横靠 (高中英语单词)gloomy [´glu:mi] a.昏暗的；忧郁的 (高中英语单词)shutter [´ʃʌtə] n.百叶窗；(相机)快门 (高中英语单词)shadowy [´ʃædəui] a.有阴影的；模糊的 (高中英语单词)arizona [,æri´zəunə] n.亚利桑那(州) (高中英语单词)painful [´peinfəl] a.痛(苦)的；费力的 (高中英语单词)proprietor [prə´praiətə] n.所有人；业主；经营者 (高中英语单词)half-way [´hɑ:fwei] ad.半途；几乎 (高中英语单词)defiance [di´faiəns] n.蔑视，挑衅；反抗 (高中英语单词)finding [´faindiŋ] n.发现物；判断；结果 (高中英语单词)concerned [kən´sə:nd] a.有关的；担心的 (高中英语单词)eyebrow [´aibrau] n.眉 (高中英语单词)veteran [´vetərən] n.老兵 a.老练的 (高中英语单词)backbone [´bækbəun] n.脊骨；骨干；支柱 (英语四级单词)ambulance [´æmbjuləns] n.救护车(船，飞机) (英语四级单词)unbroken [ʌn´brəukən] a.未破的；不间断的 (英语四级单词)physically [´fizikəli] ad.按照自然规律 (英语四级单词)aperture [´æpətjuə] n.孔；口径 (英语四级单词)unwilling [ʌn´wiliŋ] a.不愿意的；不情愿的 (英语四级单词)contemplation [,kɔntem´pleiʃən] n.注视；冥想；打算 (英语四级单词)placid [´plæsid] a.平静的；温和的 (英语四级单词)vehicle [´vi:ikəl] n.车辆；媒介物 (英语四级单词)stirring [´stə:riŋ] a.活跃的；热闹的 (英语四级单词)blackness [´blæknis] n.黑色；阴险 (英语四级单词)vicious [´viʃəs] a.不道德的；刻毒的 (英语四级单词)blouse [blauz] n.女衬衫；短上衣 (英语四级单词)trying [´traiiŋ] a.难堪的；费劲的 (英语四级单词)gathering [´gæðəriŋ] n.集会，聚集 (英语四级单词)roadside [´rəudsaid] n.&a.路边(的) (英语四级单词)desolation [desə´leiʃ(ə)n] n.荒凉 (英语四级单词)confidential [,kɔnfi´denʃəl] a.极受信任的；心腹的 (英语四级单词)corporal [´kɔ:pərəl] a.肉体的，身体的 (英语四级单词)savagely [´sævidʒli] ad.野蛮地；原始地 (英语四级单词)profoundly [prə´faundli] ad.深深地 (英语四级单词)fierceness [´fiəsnis] n.凶恶，残忍 (英语六级单词)ponderous [´pɔndərəs] a.沉重的；冗长的 (英语六级单词)sluggish [´slʌgiʃ] a.呆滞的；偷懒的 (英语六级单词)languid [´læŋgwid] a.精神不振的 (英语六级单词)enclosure [in´kləuʒə] n.包围；围墙；封入物 (英语六级单词)cracked [krækt] a.有裂缝的；碎的；粗哑 (英语六级单词)usefulness [´ju:sfəlnis] n.有用(性)；有益(性) (英语六级单词)softness [´sɔftnis] n.柔软；柔和；温柔 (英语六级单词)irritation [,iri´teiʃən] n.(被)激怒；疼痛处 (英语六级单词)forefinger [´fɔ:,fiŋgə] n.食指 (英语六级单词)devoid [di´vɔid] a.无…的，缺…的 (英语六级单词)contemptuously [kən´temptjuəsli] ad.蔑视地；傲慢地 (英语六级单词)herein [,hiər´in] ad.在此，鉴于 (英语六级单词)flatly [´flætli] ad.平淡地；断然地 (英语六级单词)trigger [´trigə] n.扳机 vt.触发，启动 (英语六级单词)trooper [´tru:pə] n.骑兵；伞兵；运兵船 (英语六级单词)infernal [in´fə:nəl] a.地狱的，恶魔似的 (英语六级单词)indicative [in´dikətiv] a.指示的；陈述的 (英语六级单词)gurgle [´gə:gl] vt.&vi.潺潺而流 (英语六级单词)earthen [´ə:θən, -ðən] a.泥土做的；大地的 (英语六级单词)courteously [´kə:tjəsli] ad.有礼貌地；殷勤地 (英语六级单词)