“Who’s determined on what?” Old Heck asked, puzzled by the queer jumble coming from the lips of the Quarter Circle KT foreman, “and how crazy?”
“Ophelia determined on marrying me!” Parker blurted out.
“Ophelia marry you?” Old Heck exclaimed. “Marry you! She can’t! Her and me have already done it. We got married to-day—that was what I wanted to tell you!”
Momentarily a pang of regret shot through Parker’s heart. It was quickly followed by a sense of relief.
“You—you—and Ophelia married?” he stammered.
“We sure are,” Old Heck answered positively. “We done it to-day!”
Suddenly Parker determined to “cover up.”
“My, lord!” he half-groaned, pretending
terrible grief, “this is awful!
It—it—come so sudden—but there ain’t no hard feelings, Old Heck!
I—I—wish you both joy and happiness!”
“Darned if that ain’t white of you, Parker!” Old Heck exclaimed, immensely relieved. “I won’t forget it! When you and the boys take them steers to Chicago, stay over a week or so and have a good time and count it in on expenses!”
Parker turned his head and in the darkness winked solemnly at a yellow star above the peak of Sentinel Mountain.
He and Old Heck started toward the house.
“Hey, you fellows!” Old Heck called, pausing and turning toward the barn where the cowboys were putting away their saddles, “when you get through all of you come on up to the house! Ophelia and me’s married and the bride is waiting to be congratulated!”
“Good lord,” Charley gasped, “hear that, fellers? Old Heck said him and the widow’s married!”
“Gosh!” Chuck laughed, “it must have been a jolt to Parker! I bet his heart’s plumb bu’sted!”
As soon as their saddles were put away the cowboys hurried toward the house. They met the Ramblin’ Kid, crossing from the circular corral to the bunk-house.
“Come on,” Bert called to him, “Old Heck and Ophelia’s gone and got married! We’re going up to the house to sympathize with the widow!”
“I ain’t needed,” the Ramblin’ Kid answered with a careless laugh. “You fellers can take my ‘love’ to th’ afflicted couple!”
After the cowboys had gone to the house Skinny went and got Old Pie Face. Stopping at the stable, he saddled the pinto and strolled over to the bunk-house. The Ramblin’ Kid was lying stretched on his bed. Skinny rolled the white shirt carefully into a bundle and wrapped a newspaper around it.
“What you goin’ to do?” the Ramblin’ Kid asked.
“I’m goin’ to town!” Skinny answered shortly. “I’m going up to Eagle Butte and get on a hell of a drunk—if I can get hold of any boot-leg whisky—Carolyn June and me have bu’sted up on our love-making!”
“Going to get drunk, are you?” the Ramblin’ Kid queried with a note of scorn in his voice, “an’ forget your sorrows?”
“Yes,” Skinny retorted, “I’m going to get drunk as you was the day of the race!”