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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGoing Some: A Romance Of Strenuous Affection - Chapter 18
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Going Some: A Romance Of Strenuous Affection - Chapter 18 Post by :rvlawrence Category :Long Stories Author :Rex Beach Date :May 2012 Read :912

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Going Some: A Romance Of Strenuous Affection - Chapter 18

CHAPTER XVIII

The only thing in the world that the victorious Speed wanted was to lie down and stretch out and allow those glowing coals in his chest to cool off. But rough hands seized him, and he found himself astride of Stover's shoulders and gyrating about the Echo Phonograph in the midst of a war-dance. He kicked violently with his spiked shoes, whereat the foreman bucked like a wild horse under the spur and dropped him, and he staggered out of the crowd, where a girl flew to him.

"Oh, Wally," she cried, "I knew you could!" He sank to the ground, and she knelt beside him.

Skinner was propped against the corral fence opposite, his face distorted with suffering, and Gallagher was rubbing his ankle.

"'Taint broke, I reckon," said Gallagher, rising. "I wish to hell it was!" He stared disgustedly at his fallen champion, and added: "We don't want y'all for a cook no more, Skinner. You never was no good nohow." He turned to Helen and handed her a double handful of bank-notes, as Berkeley Fresno buried his hands in his pockets and walked away. "Here's your coin, miss. If ever you get another hunch, let me know. An' here's yours, Mr. Speed; it's a weddin'-present from the Centipede." He fetched a deep sigh. "Thank the Lord we'll git somethin' fit to eat from now on!"

Speed staggered to Skinner, who was still nursing his injury, and held out his hand, whereat the cook winked his left eye gravely.

"The best man won," said Skinner, "and say--there's a parson at Albuquerque." Then he groaned loudly, and fell to massaging his foot.

There came a fluttering by his side, and Miss Blake's voice said to him, with sweetness and with pity: "I'm so sorry you lost your position, Mr. Skinner. You're a splendid runner!"

"Never mind the job, miss, I've got something to remember it by." He pointed to a sash which lay beside him. "The loser gets the ribbon, miss," he explained gallantly.

Off to the right there came a new outcry, and far across the level prairie a strange sight was revealed to the beholders. A fat man in white flannels was doubling and dodging ahead of two horsemen, and even from a considerable distance it could plainly be seen that he was behaving with remarkable agility for one so heavy. Repeatedly his pursuers headed him off, but he rushed past them, seemingly possessed by the blind sense of direction that guides the homing pigeon or the salmon in its springtime run. He was headed toward the east.

"Why, it's Larry!" ejaculated Speed. "And Cloudy and Carara."

"Wally, your man has lost his reason!" Chapin called.

At that instant the watchers saw the Mexican thunder down upon Glass, his lariat swinging about his head. Lazily the rope uncoiled and settled over the fleeing figure, then, amid a cloud of dust, Carara's horse set itself upon its haunches and the white-clad figure came to the end of its flight. There was a violent struggle, as if the cowboy had hooked a leaping tuna, cactus plants and sage-brush were uprooted, then the pony began to back away, always keeping the lariat taut. But Glass was no easy captive, as his threshing arms and legs betrayed, and even when he was dragged back to the scene of the race, panting, grimy, dishevelled, the rope still about his waist, he seemed obsessed by that wild insanity for flight. He was drenched with perspiration, his collar was dangling, one end of a suspender trailed behind him.

At sight of Speed he uttered a cry, then plunged through the crowd like a bull, but the lariat loop slipped to his neck and tightened like a hangman's noose.

"Larry," cried his employer, sharply, "have you lost your head?"

"Ain't they g-g-got you yet?" queried the trainer in a strangling voice.

"You idiot, I won!"

"What!"

"I won--easy."

"You _won!_" Larry's eyes were starting from his head.

"He sure did," said Stover. "Didn't you think he could?"

Glass apprehended that look of suspicion. "Certainly!" said he. "Didn't I say so, all along? Now take that clothesline off of me; I've got to run some more."

That evening J. Wallingford Speed and Helen Blake sat together in the hammock, and much of the time her hand was in his. The breath of the hills wandered to them idly, fragrant with the odors of the open fields, the heavens were bright with dancing stars, the night itself was made for romance. From the bunk-house across the court-yard floated the voice of the beloved Echo Phonograph, now sad, now gay; now shrilling the peaceful air with Mme. Melba's _Holy City_, now waking the echoes with the rasping reflections of _Silas on Fifth Avenue. To the spellbound audience gathered close beside it, it was divine; but deep as was their satisfaction, it could not compare with that of the tired young son of Eli. Ineffable peace and contentment were his; the whole wide world was full of melody.

"And now that I've told you what a miserable fraud I am, you won't stop loving me?" he questioned.

Helen nestled closer and shook her head. There was no need for words.

Jack Chapin came out upon the porch with the chaperon. "Well, Fresno caught his train," he told them.

"And we had such a glorious drive coming back! The night is splendid!"

"Yes, so nice and moonlight!" Wally agreed pleasantly, whereat Jack Chapin laughed.

"It's as black as pitch."

"Why, so it is!" Then as a fresh song burst forth from the very heart of the machine, he murmured affectionately: "By Jove! there goes _The Baggage Coach Ahead once more! That makes ten times."

"It's a beautiful thing, isn't it?" Miss Blake sighed dreamily.

"I--I believe I'm learning to like it myself," her lover agreed. "Poor Frez!"

The bridesmaids wore white organdie and carried violets.


(THE END)
Rex Beach's Book: Going Some: A Romance Of Strenuous Affection

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