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   Chapter 45 RAMONA DESERTS HER FATHER

Oh, You Tex! By William MacLeod Raine Characters: 7042

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Arthur Ridley, seated on the porch between Clint Wadley and Ramona, was annoying one and making himself popular with the other. For he was maintaining, very quietly but very steadily, that Jack Roberts had been wholly right in refusing to release Dinsmore.

"Just as soon as you lads get to be Rangers you go crazy with the heat," said the cattleman irritably. "Me, I don't go down on my ham bones for the letter of the law. Justice! That's what I aim for to do. I don't say you boys haven't got a right to sleep on Dinsmore's trail till you get him. That's yore duty. But out here in Texas we'd ought to do things high, wide, an' handsome. Roberts, by my way of it, should have shook Homer's hand. 'Fine! You saved 'Mona's life. Light a shuck into a chaparral pronto. In twelve hours I'm goin' to hit the trail after you again.' That's what he had ought to have said."

"You're asking him to be generous at the expense of the State, Mr. Wadley. Jack couldn't do that. Dinsmore's liberty wasn't a gift of his to give. He was hired by the State-sent out to bring in that particular man. He hadn't any choice but to do it," insisted Arthur.

Ramona sat in the shadow of the honeysuckle vines. She did not say anything and Ridley could not see her face well. He did not know how grateful she was for his championship of his friend. She knew he was right and her heart throbbed gladly because of it. She wanted to feel that she and her father were wrong and had done an injustice to the man she loved.

Captain Ellison came down the walk, his spurs jingling. In spite of his years the little officer carried himself jauntily, his wide hat tilted at a rakish angle. Just now he was worried.

As soon as he knew the subject of conversation, he plunged in, a hot partisan, eager for battle. Inside of two minutes he and Wadley were engaged in one of their periodical semi-quarrels.

"You're wrong, Clint," the Captain announced dogmatically. "You're wrong, like you 'most always are. You're that bullheaded you cayn't see it. But I'm surprised at you, 'Mona. If Jack had been a private citizen, you wouldn't needed to ask him to turn loose Dinsmore. But he wasn't. That's the stuff my Rangers are made of. They play the hand out. The boy did just right."

"That's what you say, Jim. You drill these boys of yours till they ain't hardly human. I'm for law an' order. You know that. But I don't go out of my head about them the way you do. 'Mona an' I have got some sense. We're reasonable human bein's." To demonstrate his possession of this last quality Clint brought his fist down on the arm of the chair so hard that it cracked.

From out of the darkness Ramona made her contribution in a voice not quite steady.

"We're wrong, Dad. We've been wrong all the time. I didn't see it just at first, and then I didn't want to admit it even to myself. But I'm glad now we are." She turned to Captain Ellison a little tremulously. "Will you tell him, Uncle Jim, that I want to see him?"

"You're a little gentleman, 'Mona. I always said you were." The Captain reached out and pressed her hand. "I'll tell him when I see him. No tellin' when that'll be. Jack resigned to-day. He's got some fool notion in his head. I'm kinda worried about him."

The girl's heart fluttered. "Worried? What ... what do you think he's going to do?"

The Captain shook his head. "Cayn't tell you, because I don't know. But he's up to somethin'. He acted kinda hard an' bitter."

A barefooted negro boy called in from the gate. "

Cap'n Ellison there, sah?"

He brought a note in and handed it to the officer of Rangers. The Captain ripped open the envelope and handed the sheet inside to Ramona.

"Run along in an' read it for me, honey. It's too dark to see here."

The girl ran into the house and lit a lamp. The color washed out of her face as she read the note.

Come up to the hotel and arrest me, Captain. I held up Yorky, took his keys, and freed Dinsmore.

Jack Roberts

Then, in jubilant waves, the blood beat back into her arteries. That was why he had resigned, to pay the debt he owed Homer Dinsmore on her account. He had put himself within reach of the law for her sake. Her heart went out to him in a rush. She must see him. She must see him at once.

From the parlor she called to Captain Ellison. "You'd better come in and read the note yourself, Uncle Jim. It's important."

It was so important to her that before the Captain of Rangers was inside the house, she was out the back door running toward the hotel as fast as her lithe limbs could carry her. She wanted to see Jack before his chief did, to ask his forgiveness for having failed him at the first call that came upon her faith.

She caught up with the colored boy as he went whistling up the road. The little fellow took a message for her into the hotel while she waited in the darkness beside the post-office. To her there presently came Roberts. He hesitated a moment in front of the store and peered into the shadows. She had not sent her name, and it was possible that enemies had decoyed him there.

"Jack," she called in a voice that was almost a whisper.

In half a dozen long strides he was beside her. She wasted no time in preliminaries.

"We were wrong, Dad and I. I told Uncle Jim to tell you to come to me ... and then your note to him came. Jack, do you ... still like me?"

He answered her as lovers have from the beginning of time-with kisses, with little joyous exclamations, with eyes that told more than words. He took her into his arms hungrily in an embrace of fire and passion. She wept happily, and he wiped away her tears.

They forgot time in eternity, till Ellison brought them back to earth. He was returning from the hotel with Wadley, and as he passed they heard him sputtering.

"Why did he send for me, then, if he meant to light out? What in Sam Hill-?"

Jack discovered himself to the Captain, and incidentally his sweetheart.

"Well, I'll be doggoned!" exclaimed Ellison. "You youngsters sure beat my time. How did you get here, 'Mona?"

Clint made prompt apologies. "I was wrong, boy. I'd ought to know it by this time, for they've all been dinnin' it at me. Shake, an' let's make a new start."

In words it was not much, but Jack knew by the way he said it that the cattleman meant a good deal more than he said. He shook hands gladly.

"Looks to me like Jack would make that new start in jail," snapped the Captain. "I don't expect he can go around jail-breaking with my prisoners an' get away with it."

"I'll go to jail with him, then," cried 'Mona quickly.

"H'mp!" The Ranger Captain softened. "It wouldn't be a prison if you were there, honey."

Jack slipped his hand over hers in the semi-darkness. "You're whistlin', Captain."

"I reckon you 'n' me will take a trip down to Austin to see the Governor, Jim," Wadley said. "Don't you worry any about that prison, 'Mona."

The girl looked up into the eyes of her lover. "We're not worrying any, Dad," she answered, smiling.

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