“Good-evening, Uncle,” the younger man said. “Your elevator is not running, so I walked up. On the way I met a man going down. He seemed rather in a hurry.”
“A cheap blackmailer trying to bold me up. I threw him out.”
“Thought he looked put out,” answered the younger man, smiling politely. “I see you still believe in applying direct energy to difficulties.”
“I do. That’s why I sent for you.” The promoter’s cold eyes were inscrutable. “Come in and shut the door.”
The young man sauntered in. He glanced at his uncle curiously from his sparkling black eyes. What the devil did James, Senior, mean by what he had said? Was there any particular significance in it?
He stroked his small black mustache. “Glad to oblige you any way I can, sir.”
The young Beau Brummel hung up his hat and cane, sank into the easiest chair in the room, and selected a cigarette from a gold-initialed case.
“At your service, sir,” he said languidly.
WILD ROSE TAKES THE DUST
“Wild Rose on Wild Fire,” shouted the announcer through a megaphone trained on the grand stand.
Kirby Lane, who was leaning against the fence chatting with a friend, turned round and took notice. Most people did when Wild Rose held the center of the stage.
Through the gateway of the enclosure came a girl hardly out of her teens. She was bareheaded, a cowboy hat in her hand. The sun, already slanting from the west, kissed her crisp, ruddy gold hair and set it sparkling. Her skin was shell pink, amber clear. She walked as might a young Greek goddess in the dawn of the world, with the free movement of one who loves the open sky and the wind-swept plain.
A storm of hand-clapping swept the grand stand. Wild Rose acknowledged it with a happy little laugh. These dear people loved her. She knew it. And not only because she was a champion. They made over her because of her slimness, her beauty, the aura of daintiness that surrounded her, the little touches of shy youth that still clung to her manner. Other riders of her sex might be rough, hoydenish, or masculine. Wild Rose had the charm of her name. Yet the muscles that rippled beneath her velvet skin were hard as nails. No bronco alive could unseat her without the fight of its life.
Meanwhile the outlaw horse Wild Fire was claiming its share of attention. The bronco was a noted bucker. Every year it made the circuit of the rodeos and only twice had a rider stuck to the saddle without pulling leather. Now it had been roped and cornered. Half a dozen wranglers in chaps were trying to get it ready for the saddle. From the red-hot eyes of the brute a devil of fury glared at the men trying to thrust a gunny sack over its head. The four legs were wide apart, the ears cocked, teeth bared. The animal flung itself skyward and came down on the boot of a puncher savagely. The man gave an involuntary howl of pain, but he clung to the rope snubbed round the wicked head.