Shoe-Bar Stratton - Chapter 29
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With her back against the veranda1 pillar, Mary Thorne watched the group of mounted men canter down the slope, splash across the creek2, and file briskly through the gate leading to middle pasture. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that, for the most part, her glance followed one of them, and when the erect3, jaunty4, broad-shouldered figure on the big roan had disappeared, she gave a little sigh.
"He looks better--much better," she murmured.
Her eyes grew dreamy, and in her mind she saw again that little hidden cañon with its overhanging ledge5 beneath which the man lay stretched out on his blankets. Somehow, the anxiety and suspense6, the heart-breaking worry and weariness of that strange experience had faded utterly7. There remained only a very vivid recollection of the touch of her hand against his damp forehead, the feeling of his crisp, dark hair as she pushed it gently back, the look of those long, thick lashes8 lying so still against his pallid9 face.
Not seldom she had wished those fleeting10 moments might have been prolonged. Once or twice she was even a little jealous of Bud Jessup's ministrations; just as, thinking of him now, she was jealous of his constant nearness to Buck11 and the manner in which he seemed so intently to share all the other's plans and projects, and even thoughts.
"Well, anyway," she said suddenly aloud, "I'm glad Stella's not here."
Then, realizing that she had spoken aloud, she blushed and looked hastily around. No one was in sight, but a moment or two later Mrs. Archer12 appeared on the veranda.
"I thought I heard voices a little while ago," she said, glancing around. "Have the men come back?"
Mary turned to meet her. "No, dear. That was the--the sheriff and some of his men."
"The sheriff!" An expression of anxiety came into Mrs. Archer's pretty, faded face. "But what has happened? What--?"
"I'm not quite sure; they had no time to explain." The girl put an arm reassuringly13 around the older woman's shoulder. "But they're after Tex and the other hands. They've done something--"
"Ha!" In any other person the sound would have seemed suspiciously like a crow of undisguised satisfaction. "Well, I'm thankful that at last somebody's shown some common sense."
"Why, auntie!" Astonished, the girl held her off at arm's length and stared into her face. "You don't mean to say you've suspected--?"
Mrs. Archer sniffed14. "Suspected! Why, for weeks and weeks I've been perfectly15 certain the creature was up to no good. You know I never trusted him."
"Yes; but--"
"The last straw was his bringing that ridiculous charge against Buck Green," Mrs. Archer interrupted with unexpected spirit. "That stamped him for what he was; because a nicer, cleaner, better-mannered young man I've seldom seen. He could no more have stolen cattle than--than I could."
A mental picture of her tiny, delicate, fragile-looking aunt engaged in that strenuous16 and illicit17 operation brought a momentary18 smile to Mary Thorne's lips. Then her face grew serious.
"But you know I didn't believe it--really," she protested. "I offered to keep him on if he'd only assure me he wasn't here for any--any secret reason. But he wouldn't, and at the time there seemed nothing to do but let him go."
"I suppose he might have had some other private reason than stealing cattle," commented Mrs. Archer.
"He had," returned Mary, suppressing a momentary sense of annoyance19 that her aunt had shown the greater faith. "As nearly as I can make out, he was here to shadow Tex. As a matter of fact he really wanted to leave the ranch20 and work from a different direction, so it turned out all right in the end. He thinks it was Tex himself who secretly instigated21 the cattle-stealing."
"The villain22!" ejaculated Mrs. Archer energetically. "But where has--er--Buck been all this time? Where is he now?"
The girl smiled faintly. "He was here a little while ago. He and Bud are both with the sheriff's posse. They believe the men are heading for the mountains and have gone after them."
Mrs. Archer glanced sharply at her niece, noted23 a faint flush on the girl's face, and pursed her lips.
"When are they coming back?" she asked, after a little pause.
Mary shrugged24 her shoulders. "Not until they catch them, I suppose."
"Which certainly won't be to-night. I'm rather surprised at Buck. It seems to me that he ought to have stayed here to look after things, instead of rushing off to chase outlaws25."
"It wasn't his fault," defended Mary quickly. "He thought Alf and Stella were here."
"Alf and Stella! Good gracious, child! How could he, when they left four days ago?"
"He didn't know that. He took it for granted they were still here, and I let him think so. They needed him to guide the posse, and I knew if I told him, he'd insist on staying behind. After all, dear, there's nothing for us to worry about. It'll be a bit lonesome to-night, but--"
"Worry! I'm not worrying--about myself." Mrs. Archer regarded her niece with a curiously26 keen expression that seemed oddly incongruous in that delicate fragile-looking face. "I'm not blind," she went on quickly. "I've noticed what's been going on--the wretch27! You're afraid of him, too, I can see, and no wonder. I wish somebody had stayed--Still, we must make the best of it. What are you going to do about the stock?"
"Feed them," said Mary laconically28, quelling29 a little shiver that went over her. "Let's go and do it now."
Together they walked around to the corral, where Mary forked down some hay for the three horses, and filled the sunken water-barrel from the tank. Already shadows were creeping up from the hollows, and the place seemed very still and deserted30.
In the kitchen the sense of silent emptiness was even greater, accustomed as they were to the constant presence of Pedro and his wife. The two women did not linger longer than was necessary to fill a tray with supper, which they carried into the living-room. Here Mary closed the door, lit two lamps, and touched a match to the wood piled up in the big fireplace.
"It'll make things more cheerful," she remarked with an attempt at casualness which was not altogether successful. "I don't see why we shouldn't heat some water here and make tea," she added with sudden inspiration.
Mrs. Archer, who liked her cup of tea, made no objections, and Mary sprang up and went back to the kitchen. Filling a saucepan from the pump, she got the tea-caddy out of a cupboard, and then paused in the middle of the room, staring out into the gathering31 dusk.
Neither doors nor windows in the ranch-house were ever locked, and, save on really cold nights, they were rarely even closed. But now, of a sudden, the girl felt she would be much more comfortable if everything were shut up tight, and setting down the pan and caddy on the table, she went over to the nearest window.
It looked out on the various barns and sheds clustered at the back of the ranch-house. The harness-room occupied the ground floor of the nearest shed, with a low, seldom-entered loft32 above, containing a single, narrow window without glass or shutters33.
As Mary approached the open kitchen window, herself invisible in the shadows of the room, a slight sense of movement in that little square under the eaves of the shed roof drew her glance swiftly upward. To her horror she caught a momentary glimpse of a face framed in the narrow opening. It vanished swiftly--far too swiftly to be recognized. But recognition was not necessary. The mere34 knowledge that some one was hidden in the loft--had probably been hidden there all along--turned the girl cold and instantly awakened35 her worst fears.


1 veranda XfczWG     
  • She sat in the shade on the veranda.她坐在阳台上的遮荫处。
  • They were strolling up and down the veranda.他们在走廊上来回徜徉。
2 creek 3orzL     
  • He sprang through the creek.他跳过小河。
  • People sunbathe in the nude on the rocks above the creek.人们在露出小溪的岩石上裸体晒日光浴。
3 erect 4iLzm     
  • She held her head erect and her back straight.她昂着头,把背挺得笔直。
  • Soldiers are trained to stand erect.士兵们训练站得笔直。
4 jaunty x3kyn     
  • She cocked her hat at a jaunty angle.她把帽子歪戴成俏皮的样子。
  • The happy boy walked with jaunty steps.这个快乐的孩子以轻快活泼的步子走着。
5 ledge o1Mxk     
  • They paid out the line to lower him to the ledge.他们放出绳子使他降到那块岩石的突出部分。
  • Suddenly he struck his toe on a rocky ledge and fell.突然他的脚趾绊在一块突出的岩石上,摔倒了。
6 suspense 9rJw3     
  • The suspense was unbearable.这样提心吊胆的状况实在叫人受不了。
  • The director used ingenious devices to keep the audience in suspense.导演用巧妙手法引起观众的悬念。
7 utterly ZfpzM1     
  • Utterly devoted to the people,he gave his life in saving his patients.他忠于人民,把毕生精力用于挽救患者的生命。
  • I was utterly ravished by the way she smiled.她的微笑使我完全陶醉了。
8 lashes e2e13f8d3a7c0021226bb2f94d6a15ec     
n.鞭挞( lash的名词复数 );鞭子;突然猛烈的一击;急速挥动v.鞭打( lash的第三人称单数 );煽动;紧系;怒斥
  • Mother always lashes out food for the children's party. 孩子们聚会时,母亲总是给他们许多吃的。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Never walk behind a horse in case it lashes out. 绝对不要跟在马后面,以防它突然猛踢。 来自《简明英汉词典》
9 pallid qSFzw     
  • The moon drifted from behind the clouds and exposed the pallid face.月亮从云朵后面钻出来,照着尸体那张苍白的脸。
  • His dry pallid face often looked gaunt.他那张干瘪苍白的脸常常显得憔悴。
10 fleeting k7zyS     
  • The girls caught only a fleeting glimpse of the driver.女孩们只匆匆瞥了一眼司机。
  • Knowing the life fleeting,she set herself to enjoy if as best as she could.她知道这种日子转瞬即逝,于是让自已尽情地享受。
11 buck ESky8     
  • The boy bent curiously to the skeleton of the buck.这个男孩好奇地弯下身去看鹿的骸骨。
  • The female deer attracts the buck with high-pitched sounds.雌鹿以尖声吸引雄鹿。
12 archer KVxzP     
  • The archer strung his bow and aimed an arrow at the target.弓箭手拉紧弓弦将箭瞄准靶子。
  • The archer's shot was a perfect bull's-eye.射手的那一箭正中靶心。
13 reassuringly YTqxW     
  • He patted her knee reassuringly. 他轻拍她的膝盖让她放心。
  • The doctor smiled reassuringly. 医生笑了笑,让人心里很踏实。
14 sniffed ccb6bd83c4e9592715e6230a90f76b72     
v.以鼻吸气,嗅,闻( sniff的过去式和过去分词 );抽鼻子(尤指哭泣、患感冒等时出声地用鼻子吸气);抱怨,不以为然地说
  • When Jenney had stopped crying she sniffed and dried her eyes. 珍妮停止了哭泣,吸了吸鼻子,擦干了眼泪。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The dog sniffed suspiciously at the stranger. 狗疑惑地嗅着那个陌生人。 来自《简明英汉词典》
15 perfectly 8Mzxb     
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。
16 strenuous 8GvzN     
  • He made strenuous efforts to improve his reading. 他奋发努力提高阅读能力。
  • You may run yourself down in this strenuous week.你可能会在这紧张的一周透支掉自己。
17 illicit By8yN     
  • He had an illicit association with Jane.他和简曾有过不正当关系。
  • Seizures of illicit drugs have increased by 30% this year.今年违禁药品的扣押增长了30%。
18 momentary hj3ya     
  • We are in momentary expectation of the arrival of you.我们无时无刻不在盼望你的到来。
  • I caught a momentary glimpse of them.我瞥了他们一眼。
19 annoyance Bw4zE     
  • Why do you always take your annoyance out on me?为什么你不高兴时总是对我出气?
  • I felt annoyance at being teased.我恼恨别人取笑我。
20 ranch dAUzk     
  • He went to work on a ranch.他去一个大农场干活。
  • The ranch is in the middle of a large plateau.该牧场位于一个辽阔高原的中部。
21 instigated 55d9a8c3f57ae756aae88f0b32777cd4     
v.使(某事物)开始或发生,鼓动( instigate的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The government has instigated a programme of economic reform. 政府已实施了经济改革方案。
  • He instigated the revolt. 他策动了这次叛乱。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
22 villain ZL1zA     
  • He was cast as the villain in the play.他在戏里扮演反面角色。
  • The man who played the villain acted very well.扮演恶棍的那个男演员演得很好。
23 noted 5n4zXc     
  • The local hotel is noted for its good table.当地的那家酒店以餐食精美而著称。
  • Jim is noted for arriving late for work.吉姆上班迟到出了名。
24 shrugged 497904474a48f991a3d1961b0476ebce     
  • Sam shrugged and said nothing. 萨姆耸耸肩膀,什么也没说。
  • She shrugged, feigning nonchalance. 她耸耸肩,装出一副无所谓的样子。 来自《简明英汉词典》
25 outlaws 7eb8a8faa85063e1e8425968c2a222fe     
歹徒,亡命之徒( outlaw的名词复数 ); 逃犯
  • During his year in the forest, Robin met many other outlaws. 在森林里的一年,罗宾遇见其他许多绿林大盗。
  • I didn't have to leave the country or fight outlaws. 我不必离开自己的国家,也不必与不法分子斗争。
26 curiously 3v0zIc     
  • He looked curiously at the people.他好奇地看着那些人。
  • He took long stealthy strides. His hands were curiously cold.他迈着悄没声息的大步。他的双手出奇地冷。
27 wretch EIPyl     
  • You are really an ungrateful wretch to complain instead of thanking him.你不但不谢他,还埋怨他,真不知好歹。
  • The dead husband is not the dishonoured wretch they fancied him.死去的丈夫不是他们所想象的不光彩的坏蛋。
28 laconically 09acdfe4bad4e976c830505804da4d5b     
  • "I have a key,'said Rhett laconically, and his eyes met Melanie's evenly. "我有钥匙,"瑞德直截了当说。他和媚兰的眼光正好相遇。 来自飘(部分)
  • 'says he's sick,'said Johnnie laconically. "他说他有玻"约翰尼要理不理的说。 来自飘(部分)
29 quelling f4267e1dfb0e0cf8eebbf7ab87b64dae     
v.(用武力)制止,结束,镇压( quell的现在分词 )
  • Quelling her grief, she said 'Good-bye! 'again and went on. 她把悲痛压下去,二番说了一声再见,又转身走去了。 来自辞典例句
  • The police succeeded in quelling the riot. 警方把暴乱镇压了下去。 来自辞典例句
30 deserted GukzoL     
  • The deserted village was filled with a deathly silence.这个荒废的村庄死一般的寂静。
  • The enemy chieftain was opposed and deserted by his followers.敌人头目众叛亲离。
31 gathering ChmxZ     
  • He called on Mr. White to speak at the gathering.他请怀特先生在集会上讲话。
  • He is on the wing gathering material for his novels.他正忙于为他的小说收集资料。
32 loft VkhyQ     
  • We could see up into the loft from bottom of the stairs.我们能从楼梯脚边望到阁楼的内部。
  • By converting the loft,they were able to have two extra bedrooms.把阁楼改造一下,他们就可以多出两间卧室。
33 shutters 74d48a88b636ca064333022eb3458e1f     
百叶窗( shutter的名词复数 ); (照相机的)快门
  • The shop-front is fitted with rolling shutters. 那商店的店门装有卷门。
  • The shutters thumped the wall in the wind. 在风中百叶窗砰砰地碰在墙上。
34 mere rC1xE     
  • That is a mere repetition of what you said before.那不过是重复了你以前讲的话。
  • It's a mere waste of time waiting any longer.再等下去纯粹是浪费时间。
35 awakened de71059d0b3cd8a1de21151c9166f9f0     
v.(使)醒( awaken的过去式和过去分词 );(使)觉醒;弄醒;(使)意识到
  • She awakened to the sound of birds singing. 她醒来听到鸟的叫声。
  • The public has been awakened to the full horror of the situation. 公众完全意识到了这一状况的可怕程度。 来自《简明英汉词典》
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