“Mr. Boyle, you’ve been awfully good,” she rewarded him when it was over. “And I think Mr. Dill is fine! Do you know, he waltzes beautifully. I’m sure it was easy to keep my side of the bargain.”
Billy noticed the slight, inquiring emphasis upon the word my, and he smiled down reassuringly into her face. “Uh course mine was pretty hard,” he teased, “but I hope I made good, all right.”
“You,” she said, looking steadily up at him, “are just exactly what I said you were. You are comfortable.”
Billy did a good deal of thinking while he saddled Barney in the gray of the morning, with Dill at a little distance, looking taller than ever in the half light. When he gave the saddle its final, little tentative shake and pulled the stirrup around so that he could stick in his toe, he gave also a snort of dissatisfaction.
“Hell!” he said to himself. “I don’t know as I care about being too blame comfortable. There’s a limit to that kinda thing—with her!”
“What’s that?” called Dill, who had heard his voice.
“Aw, nothing,” lied Billy, swinging up. “I was just cussing my hoss.”
Dilly Hires a Cook.
It is rather distressful when one cannot recount all sorts of exciting things as nicely fitted together as if they had been carefully planned and rehearsed beforehand. It would have been extremely gratifying and romantic if Charming Billy Boyle had dropped everything in the line of work and had ridden indefatigably the trail which led to Bridger’s; it would have been exciting if he had sought out the Pilgrim and precipitated trouble and flying lead. But Billy, though he might have enjoyed it, did none of those things. He rode straight to the ranch with Dill—rather silent, to be sure, but bearing none of the marks of a lovelorn young man—drank three cups of strong coffee with four heaping teaspoonfuls of sugar to each cup, pulled off his boots, lay down upon the most convenient bed and slept until noon. When the smell of dinner assailed his nostrils he sat up yawning and a good deal tousled, drew on his boots and made him a cigarette. After that he ate his dinner with relish, saddled and rode away to where the round-up was camped, his manner utterly practical and lacking the faintest tinge of romance. As to his thoughts—he kept them jealously to himself.
He did not even glimpse Miss Bridger for three months or more. He was full of the affairs of the Double-Crank; riding in great haste to the ranch or to town, hurrying back to the round-up and working much as he used to work, except that now he gave commands instead of receiving them. For they were short-handed that summer and, as he explained to Dill, he couldn’t afford to ride around and look as important as he felt.