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The Big-Town Round-Up by William MacLeod Raine

On the way home the cowpuncher made love


nestled closer, and Johnnie's heart lost a beat. He had become aware of a dull pain in the shoulder and of something wet trickling down his shoulder. But what is one little bullet in your geography when the sweetest girl in the world is in your arms?

"I ain't nothin' but a hammered-down li'l' hayseed of a cowpuncher," he told her, his voice trembling, "an' you're awful pretty an'--an'--"

A flag of color fluttered to her soft cheeks. The silken lashes fell shyly. "I think you're fine and dandy, the bravest man that ever was."

"Do you--figure you could--? I--I--I don't reckon you could ever--"

He stopped, abashed. To him this creature of soft curves was of heaven-sent charm. All the beauty and vitality of her youth called to him. It seemed to Johnnie that God spoke through her. Which is another way of saying that he was in love with her.

She made a rustling little stir in his arms and lifted a flushed face very tender and appealing. In the darkness her lips slowly turned to his.

Johnnie chose that inopportune moment to get sick at the stomach.

"I--I'm goin' to faint," he announced, and did. When he returned to his love-story Johnnie's head was in Kitty's lap and a mounted policeman was in the foreground of the scene. His face

was wet from the mist of fine rain falling.

"Don't move. Some one went for a car," she whispered, bending over him so that flying tendrils of her hair brushed his cheek. "Are you--badly hurt?"

He snorted. "I'm a false alarm. Nothin' a-tall. He jes' creased me."

"You're so brave," she cried admiringly.

He had never been told this before. He suspected it was not true, but to hear her say it was manna to his hungry soul.

The policeman helped him into a taxicab after first aid had been given and Johnnie's diagnosis verified. On the way home the cowpuncher made love. He discovered that this can be done quite well with one arm, both parties being willing.

The cab stopped at the house of a doctor and the shoulder was dressed. The doctor made one pardonable mistake.

"Get your wife to give you this sleeping powder if you find you can't sleep," he said.

"Y'betcha," answered Johnnie cheerfully.

Kitty looked at him reproachfully and blushed. She scolded him about it after they reached the apartment where they lived.

Her new fiance defended himself. "He's only a day or two prema-chure, honey. It wasn't hardly worth while explainin'," he claimed.

"A day or two. Oh, Johnnie!"

"Sure. I ain't gonna wait. Wha's the matter with to-morrow?"

"I haven't any clothes made," she evaded, and added by way of diversion, "I always liked that kinda golden down on your cheeks."

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