The suddenness with which the Ramblin’ Kid had spoken and the tone he used, Carolyn June thought, was utterly unfair. She felt as if she had been ambushed. How could she know he was sleeping under the shed? Why wasn’t he in the bunk-house where he belonged? Her own embarrassment made her cross. She wanted to say “damn!” and stamp her foot or throw something at him, lying there so completely self-possessed! Instead, she looked steadily into the eyes of the Ramblin’ Kid. Someway as she looked they seemed not so unkind, more sorrowful they were, on closer scrutiny, than cruel. She started to speak, her cheeks began to burn—
Without a word she turned and walked rapidly toward the house.
As she moved away Carolyn June felt something snap at her knee. She did not stop. Reaching down she gathered the soft folds of the loose gown about her and hurried away from the corral.
“God!” the Ramblin’ Kid whispered as he straightened up, “she’s built like th’ Gold Dust maverick—an’ just as game! They was made for each other.”
He went to the corral and leaned against the fence, studying the filly thoughtfully, while Captain Jack with a friendly whinny came and nosed at the fingers thrust through the bars. After a time the mare cautiously moved up beside the roan stallion and stretched her own velvety muzzle toward the hand the Ramblin’ Kid held out.
“You want to be loved, too, you little devil!” the Ramblin’ Kid laughed gently, “—you thought I was mean last night, didn’t you?”
For a while he fooled with the horses, then started toward the kitchen. A few steps from where Carolyn June had been standing he glanced down at a broad pink satin elastic band lying on the ground. It had been fastened with a silver butterfly clasp. The clasp was broken. The Ramblin’ Kid stooped and picked it up.
“I’ll be—!” he chuckled as he fingered, almost reverently, the dainty thing, “it’s a—a—darned pretty little jigger!”
Smiling whimsically the Ramblin’ Kid slipped his find in his pocket and sought Sing Pete to tease him for a bite of breakfast.
YOU’RE A BRUTE
Carolyn June went directly to her room when she reached the house. She wished to investigate the feeling of looseness at her knee. The satin band that belonged there was gone. She felt her cheeks grow hot. Doubtless she had lost it at the corral—the Ramblin’ Kid would pick it up! The thought tormented her. Once more she wanted to swear vigorously and with extreme earnestness. Instead she—laughed! It was all so absurd. The strange interest this rough cowboy inspired in her; the confusion she felt when he had spoken to her—no man among all the clever, carefully groomed, ultra-sophisticated suitors she had left in Hartville ever stirred her emotions as had the Ramblin’ Kid with a few drawling words and one long look from his black, inscrutable eyes. That look! She had the feeling, someway, that her whole soul was naked before it. She was almost afraid of him. It was silly! She detested him—or—anyway, he needed punishment! No, he wasn’t worth it! He was only an ignorant rider of the range—why trouble at all about him?