Then she opened her mouth and laughed—such a laugh as comes only from the throat of a woman when love is having its way!
“By God!” he whispered, his voice hoarse with passion, his hot breath fanning the brown hair on her forehead; “this has gone far enough! I’ll tell you what you want me to say—I’ll say it! And it’s the truth—I love you—love you—love you! Yes!” And he shook her toward him. “Do you hear me? I love you—love you—so much it hurts! Now laugh! Now make fun of me! I know I’m a fool. I know where I stand! I know I don’t belong in your crowd—I ain’t fit to mix with ’em! I ain’t been raised like you was raised. You don’t need to tell me that! I know it already! I know there’s somethin’ a man has to have besides what he gets on th’ open range among th’ cattle—an’ th’ bronchos—an’ th’ rattlesnakes —he’s got to be ground in th’ mill of schoolin’—of books; he’s got to be hammered into shape under th’ heels of ‘civilization’; he’s got to be trained to jump through and roll over an’ know which fork to eat with before a girl like you—”
His Hands relaxed, but before his fingers loosened their grip on her shoulders Carolyn June’s own soft palms reached up and caught the man’s sun-tanned cheeks between them. Her eyes burned back into its own. Once more the laugh rippled from the full pulsing throat.
“Ramblin’ Kid, oh, Ramblin’ Kid,” she murmured, while the long lashes lifted over brown pools tenderness, “a man—my man—does not need to be or to know all of those things, any of those things, before a girl like me—”
He crushed her to him and stopped the words on her lips.
“My God—don’t fool me—be sure you know!” he cried, his whole body quivering with the intensity of his feelings; “don’t tell me you love me—unless you mean it! I can stand to love you—without hope—in silence—alone! But I can’t—an’ I swear I be lifted up to Paradise just to be dropped again into the depths of hell! Don’t say you love me unless you know it is all love! Half love ain’t love—it’s a lie! An’ love ain’t to play with! Don’t insult God by makin’ a joke of th’ thing He made an’ planted in th’ hearts of all Creation to hold th’ Universe together.”
“Ramblin’ Kid,” she whispered softly, “God himself is looking down into my heart!”
He smothered her mouth with his own—they drank each other in, their souls mingled in a mad-sense-reeling, time-defying pressure of lips!
It was their hour, as was the next and yet the one that followed that.
When the old-rose of dawn melted the gray above the sand-hills behind them and the white moon was fading in the zenith above the Kiowa; when the cottonwoods beside the Cimarron began to shake their leaves in the morning breeze that tripped across the valley; when the low buildings of the Quarter Circle KT silhouetted against the bench beyond the meadows; when the smooth surface of the beach of quicksand under which the body of Old Blue was hidden began to look smoother yet and still more firm, the Ramblin’ Kid and Carolyn June parted.