"Now brace yourself! Spread your legs. And straighten out." With his hands he manipulated her arms and shoulders into position. "Remember, you've got to meet the first of the strain with your arms straight out. After the strain is on, you couldn't bend 'em if you wanted to. But if the strain catches them bent, the wire'll rip the hide off of you. Remember, straight out, extended, so that they form a straight line with each other and with the flat of your back and shoulders. That's it. Ready now."
"Oh, wait a minute," she begged, forsaking the position. "I'll do it--oh, I will do it, but, Billikens, kiss me first, and then I won't care if my arms are pulled out."
The dark youth who held Michael, and others looking on, grinned. Collins dissembled whatever grin might have troubled for expression, and murmured:
"All the time in the world, madam. The point is, the first time must come off right. After that you'll have the confidence.-- Bill, you'd better love her up before she tackles it."
And Billikens, very angry, very disgusted, very embarrassed, obeyed, putting his arms around his wife and kissing her neither too perfunctorily nor very long. She was a pretty young thing of a woman, perhaps twenty years old, with an exceedingly childish, girlish face and a slender-waisted, generously moulded body of fully a hundred and forty pounds.
The embrace and kiss of her husband put courage into her. She stiffened and steeled herself, and with compressed lips, as he stepped clear of her, muttered, "Ready."
The four horses, under the urge of the drivers, pressed lazily into their collars and began pulling.
"Give 'em the whip!" Collins barked, his eyes on the girl and noting that the pull of the apparatus was straight across her.