“You ain’t really aimin’ to go to New York sure enough?” he asked.
Clay flashed on him the warm smile that endeared him to all his friends. “I’m goin’ to ride down Broadway and shoot up the town, Johnnie. Want to come along?”
CLAY APPOINTS HIMSELF CHAPERON
As he traveled east Clay began to slough the outward marks of his calling. He gave his spurs to Johnnie before he left the ranch. At Tucson he shed his chaps and left them in care of a friend at the Longhorn Corral. The six-gun with which he had shot rattlesnakes he packed into his suitcase at El Paso. His wide-rimmed felt hat flew off while the head beneath it was stuck out of a window of the coach somewhere south of Denver. Before he passed under the Welcome Arch in that city the silk kerchief had been removed from his brown neck and retired to the hip pocket which formerly held his forty-five.
The young cattleman began to flatter himself that nobody could now tell he was a wild man from the hills who had never been curried. He might have spared himself the illusion. Everybody he met knew that this clean-cut young athlete, with the heavy coat of tan on his good-looking face, was a product of the open range. The lightness of his stride, the breadth of the well-packed shoulders, the frankness of the steady eyes, all advertised him a son of Arizona.
It was just before noon at one of the small plains towns east of Denver that a girl got on the train and was taken by the porter to a section back of Clay Lindsay. The man from Arizona noticed that she was refreshingly pretty in an unsophisticated way.
A little later he had a chance to confirm this judgment, for the dining-car manager seated her opposite him at a table for two. When Clay handed her the menu card she murmured “Thank you!” with a rush of color to her cheeks and looked helplessly at the list in her hand. Quite plainly she was taking her first long journey.
“Do I have to order everything that is here?” she presently asked shyly after a tentative and furtive glance at her table companion.
Clay felt no inclination to smile at her naivete. He was not very much more experienced than she was in such things, but his ignorance of forms never embarrassed him. They were details that seemed to him to have no importance.
The cowpuncher helped her fill the order card. She put herself entirely in his hands and was willing to eat whatever he suggested unbiased by preferences of her own. He included chicken salad and ice cream. From the justice she did her lunch he concluded that his choice had been a wise one.
She was a round, soft, little person with constant intimations of a childhood not long outgrown. Dimples ran in and out her pink cheeks at the slightest excuse. The blue eyes were innocently wide and the Cupid’s-bow mouth invitingly sweet. The girl from Brush, Colorado, was about as worldly-wise as a plump, cooing infant or a fluffy kitten, and instinctively the eye caressed her with the same tenderness.