The doctor examined her. The right arm hung limp.
“Broken, I’m afraid,” he said.
“Ever see such luck?” the girl complained to Lane.
“Probably they won’t let me ride in the wild-horse race now.”
“No chance, young lady,” the doctor said promptly. “I’m going to take you right to the hospital.”
“I might get back in time,” she said hopefully.
“You might, but you won’t.”
“Oh, well,” she sighed. “If you’re going to act like that.”
The cowboy helped her into the ambulance and found himself a seat.
“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked with a smile a bit twisted by pain.
“I reckon I’ll go far as the hospital with you.”
“I reckon you won’t. What do you think I am—a nice little parlor girl who has to be petted when she gets hurt? You’re on to ride inside of fifteen minutes—and you know it.”
“Oh, well! I’m lookin’ for an alibi so as not to be beaten. That Cole Sanborn is sure a straight-up rider.”
“So’s that Kirby Lane. You needn’t think I’m going to let you beat yourself out of the championship. Not so any one could notice it. Hop out, sir.”
He rose, smiling ruefully. “You certainly are one bossy kid.”
“I’d say you need bossing when you start to act so foolish,” she retorted, flushing.
“See you later,” he called to her by way of good-bye.
As the ambulance drove away she waved cheerfully at him a gauntleted hand.
The cowpuncher turned back to the arena. The megaphone man was announcing that the contest for the world’s rough-riding championship would now be resumed.
FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE WORLD
The less expert riders had been weeded out in the past two days. Only the champions of their respective sections were still in the running. One after another these lean, brown men, chap-clad and bow-legged, came forward dragging their saddles and clamped themselves to the backs of hurricane outlaws which pitched, bucked, crashed into fences, and toppled over backward in their frenzied efforts to dislodge the human clothes-pins fastened to them.
The bronco busters endured the usual luck of the day. Two were thrown and picked themselves out of the dust, chagrined and damaged, but still grinning. One drew a tame horse not to be driven into resistance either by fanning or scratching. Most of the riders emerged from the ordeal victorious. Meanwhile the spectators in the big grand stand, packed close as small apples in a box, watched every rider and snatched at its thrills just as such crowds have done from the time of Caligula.
Kirby Lane, from his seat on the fence among a group of cowpunchers, watched each rider no less closely. It chanced that he came last on the programme for the day. When Cole Sanborn was in the saddle he made an audible comment.