“Drunk as I was th’ day of th’ race?” the Ramblin’ Kid repeated quizzically. “Oh, hell, yes—now I understand—” pausing, while a smile curled his lips.
“Yes,” Skinny retorted again. “Where’d you get yours that day?”
“Never mind,” was the answer. “I guess I’ll go to Eagle Butte with you! You’ll need somebody to ride herd on you while you’re snortin’ around. Anyhow, I feel like goin’ on a tear myself—not a drunk—a man’s a darned fool that’ll let any woman make a whisky barrel out of him! But I got an itchin’ for a little poker game or somethin’. Wait till I get Captain Jack!”
“Where’s Skinny and th’ Ramblin’ Kid?” Old Heck asked after he and Parker and the cowboys were at the house and the first flush of embarrassment had passed.
Carolyn June thought she knew where Skinny was, but did not answer.
“I don’t know what’s become of Skinny,” Parker said. “Th’ Ramblin’ Kid’s probably out mopin’ somewhere. I think he’s getting ready to ‘ramble’ again—he’s been acting plumb despondent ever since the Rodeo in Eagle Butte!”
Carolyn June stepped to the door. Dimly through the darkness she saw two riders pass up the grade that led to the bench and turn their horses to the west, toward Eagle Butte, and ride straight into the outflung shadow of the thunder-storm—from which now and then leaped jagged flashes of lightning—and which was rolling from the Costejo Mountains across the Kiowa range in the direction of the Quarter Circle KT.
Silent and with a heavy heart she turned away from the door.
THE GREEK GETS HIS
It was long after midnight when the Ramblin’ Kid and Skinny rode into Eagle Butte and the heels of Captain Jack and Old Pie Face echoed noisily on the board floor of the livery stable as the bronchos turned into the wide, open doorway of the barn. A drowsy voice from the cubby-hole of an office called:
“In just a minute—I’ll be out!”
“Aw, thunder,” Skinny answered, “go on back to sleep, we’ll find stalls and put ’em up!”
Captain Jack and Old Pie Face cared for, Skinny and the Ramblin’ Kid stepped out into the deserted street.
Eagle Butte was sleeping.
Here and there a blaze of light from a store window invited belated passers to covet the bargains offered within; a half-dozen incandescent bulbs, swung on cross-wires at intervals along the street, glowed feebly as if weary with the effort to beat back the darkness clutching at the throat of the town; over the sidewalk in front of the Elite Amusement Parlor an illuminated red and green sign told that Mike Sabota’s place was still open; across the porch of the Occidental Hotel and spilling itself on the ground out in the street a stream of light guided weary travelers to the portals of that ancient, though hospitable, institution; from the sides of the Butte beyond the railroad tracks a coyote yelped shrilly a jerky, wailing challenge—a dozen dogs, suddenly aroused in different parts of the town, answered.