“Are you plumb positive that she is one, Parker?” Chuck asked.
“I told you what she was,” Parker growled, “she’s an ‘Organizer’ for some sort of ‘Movement’ or other.”
“Well, I’ll be blamed if her ‘movements’ to-night showed any ‘anti-he’ inclinations,” Charley interrupted. “She carried on more like a female vampire than one of these advocaters of woman’s rights!”
“Aw, shut up and go to bed,” Old Heck grunted. “It’s too late to start any argument!”
The moon crept across the heavens and was hanging above the shadowy peaks of the Costejo Mountains when the Ramblin’ Kid returned to the sleeping Quarter Circle KT, slipped the saddle from the back of the Gold Dust maverick and turned the filly and Captain Jack into the circular corral.
He had ridden the outlaw mare almost to Eagle Butte.
She had learned her lesson. She knew, when he caressed her muzzle and pressed the last lump of sugar into her mouth, before he turned away to the bunk-house, that the Ramblin’ Kid was not only her master but her friend as well—understanding and sympathetic. Never again would she doubt his will or resist the gentle yet firm strength of his hand. From that moment the Gold Dust maverick, like Captain Jack, was a one-man horse, ready to serve, to trust and obey only the Ramblin’ Kid.
“You little beauty,” he laughed tenderly as he playfully shook the underlip of the filly and started toward the gate, “—you’re a runner—gee!—but you’re a runner!”
The others were fast asleep when the Ramblin’ Kid noiselessly opened the door of the bunk-house, went in, and without undressing, stretched himself on his bed.
Old Heck awakened the cowboys as the sun poured its first slanting rays through the open un-draped window.
The stir aroused the Ramblin’ Kid.
He made no move to arise.
“Ain’t you going to get up?” Old Heck said garrulously.
“When I damn please!” was the independent reply. “Skinny, tell th’ Chink to keep me a cup of hot coffee!”
Old Heck snorted but said no more.
Parker and the cowboys dressed silently, half-moodily. They hardly knew yet how they felt after the excitement of the night before. Skinny started to put on the white shirt, looked at it contemptuously a moment, and with a muttered oath threw it viciously on the bed.
In a few moments the Ramblin’ Kid was left alone in the bunk-house. He lay, hands clasped at the back of his head, studying. His eyes were closed, but he was not asleep. Presently he smiled and opened his eyes. He drew the pink satin elastic from his pocket and looked at it. “That’s a hell of a thing to be packin’—wonder why I keep it?” he muttered. It suddenly occurred to him that if he was not at breakfast Carolyn June would think he was afraid or ashamed to meet her. He got up, straightened his disarranged clothes, went to the house and after stopping at the ditch by the fence and washing his face, walked indifferently into the kitchen and sat down at his regular place. The others already were eating. Carolyn June glanced at him with a meaningless smile and acknowledged, without feeling, his quiet “Good morning!”