Flip Williams, spurs raking the flanks of Dorsey’s stallion, looked around.
The Ramblin’ Kid leaned toward him:
“Hell—why—don’t you—make that—thing run!” he sneered at the Y-Bar rider.
The next instant the Gold Dust maverick’s neck and shoulders showed in the lead of the Y-Bar stallion.
At the turn for the home stretch the outlaw filly shot ahead of the wonderful black horse from the Vermejo, swung close to the inside rail, and like a flash of gold-brown darted down the track toward the wire.
The grandstand was turned into a madhouse of seething humanity. The immense crowd came to its feet roaring and shrieking with frenzy. Men smashed their neighbors with clenched fists—not knowing or caring how hard or whom they struck—or that they themselves were being hit. Women screamed frantically, hysterically, tears streaming from thousands of eyes because of sheer joy at the wonderful thing the Gold Dust maverick was doing. Even the stolid Sing Pete was jumping up and down, shouting:
“Come on—come on—Lamblin’ Kid! Beat ’em—beatee hell out of ’em!”
Full three lengths in the lead of the “unbeatable” Thunderbolt the Gold Dust maverick flashed under the wire in front of the judges!
Dorsey, shaken in every nerve, lips blue as though he were stricken with a chill, reeled out of the box from which he had watched his whole fortune swept away by the speed of the Cimarron mare. At his side, profaning horrible, obscene oaths staggered Mike Sabota.
Old Heck, white-faced, but his lips drawn in a smile of satisfaction, stood up in the Clagstone “Six” and watched the Ramblin’ Kid—his eyes set and staring, his body twitching convulsively, check the filly, swing her around, ride back to the judges’ stand, weakly fling up a hand in salute and then, barely able to sit in the saddle, rein the Gold Dust maverick off the track and ride toward the box stall.
Skinny drew a hand across his eyes and looked at Carolyn June.
Tears were streaming down her cheeks.
OLD HECK GOES TO TOWN
It was Monday morning, clear and cloudless, with a whiff of a breeze kissing the poplars along the front-yard fence at the Quarter Circle KT. On the sand-hills north of the Cimarron, Pedro was pushing the saddle cavallard toward Rock Creek, where the last half of the beef round-up was to begin. Parker and the cowboys were just splashing their bronchos into the water at the lower ford. Sing Pete, on the high seat of the grub-wagon, was once more clucking and cawing at Old Tom and Baldy as they drew the outfit along the lane and followed the others to the open range.
Old Heck, Skinny, Ophelia and Carolyn June again were alone at the Quarter Circle KT.
The Eagle Butte Rodeo had closed, with one last riotous carnival of wildness at midnight Saturday night.