Captain Jack took a step forward in a half-challenging way. The maverick stood perfectly still.
“You beauty,” the girl repeated, “you wonderful golden beauty! You are going to be my horse—I’m going to ride you—just you—”
“You’ll get you’re neck broke if you do!” a voice, deliberate and of peculiar softness, said behind her.
Carolyn June turned, startled, toward the shed from where the voice had come. She knew, even before she looked, that the speaker was the Ramblin’ Kid. Evidently he had just awakened. He had not risen and still lay stretched on the ground, his head resting on the saddle he had used for a pillow. Carolyn June could not help wondering how long he had been lying there studying her back. The thought confused her. In spite of her efforts at self-control a slow flush crept over her cheeks. The Ramblin’ Kid saw it and the faintest hint of a smile showed on his lips—or was the suggestion of amusement in the twinkling glance of his eyes? Carolyn June could not tell. The subtlety and queerly humble impudence of it filled her with anger.
While she looked into his eyes Carolyn June appraised the physical appearance of the Ramblin’ Kid. Certainly he was not handsome, sprawling there in his rough clothing. She knew his age was somewhere near her own, perhaps he was a year, surely no more than that, older than herself. Yet there was an expression about the face that suggested much experience, a sort of settled maturity and seriousness. His mouth, Carolyn June thought, showed a trace of cruelty—or was it only firmness? The teeth were good. If he stood up her own eyes would have to angle upward a trifle to look into his and if hers were brown the Ramblin’ Kid’s were positively black—yes, she would say, a brutal, unfathomable black, penetrating and hard. His cheeks were smooth and almost sallow they were so dark, and she could tell there was not an ounce of flesh save tough sinewy muscle on his body. He was fully dressed except for the white weather-beaten Stetson lying beside the saddle and the chaps and spurs kicked off and tossed with the bridle and rope near by on the ground. A dark woolen shirt open at the throat, blue overalls faded and somewhat dingy, black calfskin boots on a pair of feet that could not have been larger than sixes, comprised his attire.
So this was the Ramblin’ Kid, Carolyn June thought. Someway she had pictured him a blue-eyed, yellow-haired sort of composite Skinny Rawlins, Chuck, Bert Lilly, Charley Saunders all in one and with the face of a boy in the teens!
He was different. She wondered, and almost laughed at the absurd thought, if he was bow-legged. A glance at the straight limbs stretched in repose on the ground dispelled the doubt.