MoboReader> Literature > Oh, You Tex!

   Chapter 23 A SHY YOUNG MAN DINES

Oh, You Tex! By William MacLeod Raine Characters: 5745

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Ramona met Arthur Ridley face to face just outside of the post-office.

"You dandy boy!" she cried, and held out both hands to him. Her eyes were shining. The gifts of friendship and admiration were in them.

He could not find a word to say. A lump rose in his throat and choked him.

"It was just fine of you-fine!" she told him. "I was so glad to hear that a friend of mine did it. You are still my friend, aren't you?"

"If you'll let me be," he said humbly. "But-I haven't done anything to deserve it."

"Everybody's praising you because you stayed with that Dinsmore man and saved his life at the risk of your own-after he had treated you so mean too. I'm so proud of you."

"You needn't be," he answered bluntly. "I wanted to slip away and leave him. I-I proposed it to Jack Roberts. But he wouldn't have it. He laid the law down. One of us had to go, one stay. I hadn't the nerve to go, so I stayed."

"I don't believe it-not for a minute," came her quick, indignant response. "And if you did-what of it? It isn't what we want to do that counts. It's what we really do!"

He shook his head wistfully. He would have liked to believe her, but he felt there was no credit due him.

"I fought because I had to if I was going to save my own skin. I haven't told any one else this, but I can't have you thinking me game when I know I'm not."

"Was it to save yourself you flung yourself down in front of father and let that awful man Dinsmore shoot at you?" she demanded, eyes flashing.

"A fellow can't stand by and see some one murdered without lifting a hand. I didn't have time to get frightened that time."

"Well, all I've got to say is that you're the biggest goose I ever saw, Art Ridley. Here you've done two fine things and you go around trying to show what a big coward you are."

He smiled gravely. "I'm not advertising it. I told you because-"

"-Because you're afraid I'll think too well of you."

"Because I want you to know me as I am."

"Then if I'm to know you as you are I'll have to get a chance to see what you really are. Dad and Auntie and I will expect you to supper to-morrow night."

"Thank you. I'll be there."

Casually she enlarged her invitation. "I don't suppose you'll see that very shy young man, Mr. Roberts."

"I might."

"Then, will you ask him to come too? I'm going to find out whether you acted as scared as you say you did."

"Jack knows how scared I was, but he won't tell. Sure I'll get word to him."

He did. At precisely six o'clock the two young men appeared at the home of Clint Wadley's sister. The Ranger was a very self-conscious guest. It was the first time he had dined with ladies at their home since he had lost his own mother ten years earlier. He did not know what to do with his hands and feet. The same would have been true of his hat if Ramona had not solved that probl

em by taking it from him. His tongue clove to the roof of his mouth. He felt a good deal warmer than the actual temperature of the room demanded.

But Ramona noticed from the background that as soon as she and her aunt retired from the scene his embarrassment vanished. This slim, brown young man was quite at his ease with Clint Wadley, much more so than young Ridley. He was essentially a man's man, and his young hostess liked him none the less for that.

She made a chance to talk with him alone after supper. They were standing in the parlor near the window. Ramona pressed the end of her little finger against a hole in the pane.

"I wonder if you'd like me to sing 'Swanee River' for you, Mr. Roberts?" she asked.

He did not mind being teased. By this time he had regained his confidence. He had discovered that she would not bite even though she might laugh at him in a friendly way.

"You sing it fine," he said.

"I wasn't singing it for you the other time, but for Mr.-what's-his-name, Gurley?"

"I couldn't very well have you keep shoutin' out, 'I'm a girl,' so I figured-?"

"I know what you figured, sir. You wanted to take all the chances that were taken. Father says it was the quickest-witted thing he ever knew." She shot another dart at him, to his confusion. "Do you like my voice?"

"Well, ma'am, I-"

"You don't have to tell any stories. I see you don't."

Jack took heart. "If you're fishin' for a compliment-"

"What a tactful thing to tell a girl," she said, smiling.

"-I'll tell you that I never heard you sing better."

"Or worse, for that matter," she added; and with one of her swift changes of mood switched the topic of conversation. "How do you like Art Ridley?"

"He'll do to take along."

"That's not the way he talks. He says he-he wanted to run away from the island and leave that man Dinsmore, but you wouldn't let him." Her eyes met his very directly.

"He's a great lad for imaginin' things. I never want to see any one hold up his end better."

"You mean that he didn't say he wanted to leave Dinsmore?"

With her gaze searching him so steadily, it had to be an out-and-out lie to serve. Jack lied competently. "Not a word."

Her little finger tapped the hole in the pane gently while she reflected. "He told me-"

"That boy's still worryin' about losin' that money for Mr. Wadley, don't you reckon? He's got it tucked in his mind that a game man never would have been robbed. So he's decided he must be yellow. Nothin' to it a-tall. No quitter ever would have stood off those Kiowas like he did."

"That's what I think." She turned to the Ranger again, nodding agreement. "You've relieved my mind. I shouldn't like to think that-"

She let her sentence trail out to nothing. Jack Roberts guessed its conclusion. She wouldn't like to think that the man she loved was not game.

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares