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Title: Boy Woodburn - A Story of the Sussex Downs
Author: Ollivant, Alfred, 1874-1927
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Boy Woodburn - A Story of the Sussex Downs" ***

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BOY WOODBURN



  By the same Author:

BOB, SON OF BATTLE
THE GENTLEMAN
REDCOAT CAPTAIN
THE ROYAL ROAD
THE BROWN MARE

[Illustration: FOUR-POUND-THE-SECOND

"Look at that head-piece. He's all the while a-thinkin', that hoss is.
That's the way he's bred."]



BOY
WOODBURN

A STORY OF THE
SUSSEX DOWNS

By
ALFRED OLLIVANT


GARDEN CITY      NEW YORK
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
1918



Copyright, 1918, by

Doubleday, Page & Company

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
languages including the Scandinavian



TO
THE MOTHER
OF
LAUGHTER



CONTENTS


PART I
THE GIRL AND THE FOAL


BOOK I
OLD MAT

CHAPTER                                      PAGE

I. The Trainer                                 3

II. Boy Shows Her Metal                        8

III. Goosey Gander                            13

IV. The Gypsy's Mare                          19

V. Across the Downs                           23

VI. Putnam's                                  32

VII. Ally Sloper                              39

VIII. The Great Beast                         44


BOOK II
THE WATCHER

IX. Patience Longstaffe                       55

X. Her Daughter                               60

XI. Brazil Silver                             69

XII. The Eton Man                             76

XIII. Boy in Her Eyrie                        81

XIV. Old Man Badger                           90

XV. The Three J's                             95

XVI. The Fat Man                             100

XVII. Boy Sees a Vision                      105

XVIII. Two on the Downs                      114

XIX. Cannibal's National                     120

XX. The Paddock Close                        128


BOOK III
SILVER MUG

XXI. The Berserker Colt                      137

XXII. Ragamuffin                             147

XXIII. The Duke's Hounds                     153

XXIV. The Man With the Gamp                  160

XXV. The Black Bird                          170

XXVI. Jim Silver Goes To War                 179

XXVII. The Fire in the Dusk                  185

XXVIII. The Fat Man Goes Under               191

Battle                                       193


PART II
THE WOMAN AND THE HORSE


BOOK IV
THE TRIAL

XXIX. Albert Edward                           201

XXX. The Bible Class                          208

XXXI. God Almighty's Mustang                  221

XXXII. The Fat Man Emerges                    229

XXXIII. The Gallop                            234

XXXIV. The Lover's Quarrel                    245


BOOK V
MONKEY BRAND

XXXV. The Dancer's Son                        255

XXXVI. Monkey Sulks                           262

XXXVII. The Early Bird                        268

XXXVIII. Ikey's Own                           272

XXXIX. The Queen of Kentucky                  278

XL. Man and Woman                             285

XLI. The Spider's Web                         290

XLII. The Doper                               294

XLIII. The Loose-box                          299

XLIV. Monkey Brand Gets the Sack              306


BOOK VI
MOCASSIN

XLV. Aintree                                  313

XLVI. The Sefton Arms                         317

XLVII. On the Course                          324

XLVIII. The Star-spangled Jacket              336

XLIX. The Last Card                           356

L. The Fat Man Takes His Ticket               365

LI. Old Mat on Heaven and Earth               374

LII. Putnam's Once More                       376



PART I

THE GIRL AND THE FOAL

BOOK I

OLD MAT



CHAPTER I

The Trainer


The Spring Meeting at Polefax was always Old Mat's day out. And it was
part of the accepted order of things that he should come to the Meeting
driving in his American buggy behind the horse with which later in the
day he meant to win the Hunters' Steeplechase.

There were very few sporting men who remembered the day when Mat had not
been a leading figure in the racing world. For sixty years he had been
training jumpers, and he looked as if he would continue to train them
till the end of time. Once it may be supposed he had been Young Mat, but
he had been Old Mat now as long as most could recall. In all these
years, indeed, he had changed very little. He trained his horses to-day
at Putnam's, the farm in the village of Cuckmere, over the green billow
of the Downs, just as he had done in the beginning; and he trained the
same kind of horses in the same kind of way, which was entirely
different from that of other trainers.

Mat rarely had a good horse in his stable, and never a bad one. He kept
his horses in old barns and farm-stables, turning them out on to the
chalk Downs in all seasons of the year with little shelter but the lee
of a haystack or an occasional shed.

"I don't keep my hosses in no 'ot-house," he would say. "A hoss wants a
heart, not a hot-water bottle. He'll get it on the chalk, let him be."

But if his horses were rough, they stood up and they stayed.

And that was all he wanted: for Mat never trained anything but jumpers.

"Flat racin' for flats," was a favourite saying of his. "'Chasin' for
class."

And many of his wins have become historic; notably the Grand National in
the year of Sedan--when Merry Andrew, who had three legs and one lung,
so the story went, won for him by two lengths; and thirty years later
Cannibal's still more astounding victory in the same race, when Monkey
Brand out-jockeyed Chukkers Childers, the American crack, in one of the
most desperate set-to's in the annals of Aintree.

There is a famous caricature of Mat leading in the winner on the first
of these occasions. He looked then much as he does to-day--like
Humpty-Dumpty of the nursery ballad; but he grew always more
Humpty-Dumptyish with the years. His round red head, bald and shining,
sat like a poached egg between the enormous spread of his shoulders. His
neck, always short, grew shorter and finally disappeared; and his crisp,
pink face had the air of one who finds breathing a perpetually
increasing difficulty.

In build Mat was very short, and very broad; and his legs were so thin
that it was no wonder they were somewhat bowed beneath their load. Far
back in the Dark Ages, when his body was more on a par with his legs,
it was rumoured that Mat had himself won hunt-races.

"Then my body went on, or rayther spread out," he would tell his
intimates, "while me legs stayed where they was. So Mat become a trainer
'stead of a jockey."

And Mat's legs were not the only part of him that had stayed as they
were in those remote days. He wore the same clothes now as then; or if
not the identical clothes, as many averred, clothes of the identical
cut. Younger trainers, who were fond of having their joke with the old
man, would often inquire of him,

"Who's your tailor, Mat?"

To which the invariable answer in the familiar wheeze was,

"He died reign o' William the Fo'th, my son. Don't you wish he'd lived
to show _your_ Snips how to cut a coat?"

Mat indeed was distinctly early Victorian in his dress. He always wore a
stock instead of a tie, and the felt hat with a flat top and
broad-curled brim, which a rising young Radical statesman, for whom Mat
had once trained, had imitated. He walked with a curious and
characteristic lilt, as of a boy, rising on his toes as though reaching
after heaven. And his eye underlined, as it were, the mischievous gaiety
of his walk. It was a baffling eye: bright, blue, merry as a robin's and
very shrewd; "the eye of a cherubim," Mat once described it himself.
When it turned on you, grave yet twinkling, you knew that it summed you
up, saw through you, was aware of your wickedness, condoned it, pitied
you, comforted you, and bade you rejoice in the world and its crooked
ways. It was an innocent eye, a dewy eye, and yet a mighty knowing one.
Whether the owner of the eye was a saint or a sinner you could not
affirm. Therefore it bade you beware what you said, what you did, and
not least, what you thought, while its mild yet radiant beams were
turned upon you. One thing was quite certain: that blue eye had seen a
great deal. More, it had enjoyed the seeing. And its owner had a way of
wiping it as he ended some tale of rascality, successful or exposed,
with his habitual cliché--"I wep a tear. I did reelly," which made you
realize that the only tears it had in fact ever wept were in truth tears
of suppressed laughter over the foolishness of mortals. It had never
mourned over a lost sinner, though it had often winked over one. And it
had profound and impenetrable reserves.

And the trainer's ups and downs in life, if all the stories were true,
had been amazing. At one time it was said that he was worth a cool
£100,000, and at another a minus quantity. But rich or poor, he never
changed his life by an iota, jogging soberly along his appointed if
somewhat tortuous way.

Old Mat was nothing if not a character. And if he was by no means more
scrupulous than the rest of his profession, he had certain steadfast
virtues not always to be found in his brethren of the Turf. He never
drank, he never smoked, and, win or lose, he never swore. A great
raconteur, his stories were most amusing and never obscene. And when
late in life he married Patience Longstaffe, the daughter of the
well-known preacher of _God-First_ farm on the North of the Downs
between Lewes and Cuckmere, nobody was much surprised. As Mr. Haggard,
the Vicar of Cuckmere, said,

"Mat could always be expected to do the unexpected."

That Patience Longstaffe, the Puritan daughter of Preacher Joe, should
marry the old trainer was a matter of amazement to all. But she did; and
nobody had reason to think that she ever regretted it.

Patience Longstaffe became in time Ma Woodburn, though she remained
Patience Longstaffe still.

Mat and his Ma had one daughter between them, known to all and sundry in
the racing world as Boy Woodburn.



CHAPTER II

Boy Shows Her Metal


The Polefax Meeting was small and friendly; never taken very seriously
by the fraternity, and left almost entirely to local talent. Old Mat
described it always as reg'lar old-fashioned. The countryside made of it
an annual holiday and flocked to the fields under Polefax Beacon to see
the horses and to enjoy Old Mat, who was the accepted centre-piece.

The Grand Stand was formed of Sussex wains drawn up end to end; and the
Paddock was just roped off.

Outside the ropes, at the foot of the huge green wave of the Downs, were
the merry-go-rounds, the cocoanut-shies and wagons of the gypsies; while
under a group of elms the carts and carriages of the local farmers and
gentry were drawn up.

There, too, of course, was Mat's American buggy, a spidery concern, made
to the old man's design, seated like a double dog-cart, and looking
amongst the solid carts and carriages that flanked it like a ghost
amongst mortals. It was the most observed vehicle of them all, partly
because of its unusual make and shape, and partly because that was the
famous shay in which year after year Mat drove over the Downs from
Putnam's behind the horse with which he meant to win the Hunters'
Steeplechase.

That race, always the last item on the programme, and the most
looked-for, was about to begin.

The quality in the Paddock were climbing to their places in the wagons.
The voices of the bookies were raised vociferously. The crowd jostled
about them, eager to back Old Mat's old horse, Goosey Gander. They
believed in the old man's luck, they believed in the old man's horse,
they believed in the old man's jockey, Monkey Brand, almost as famous
locally as his master.

A boy slipped into the Paddock and began to bet surreptitiously behind
the dressing-tent.

He was fair, slight, and horsey. His stiff, tight choker, his horse-shoe
pin, the cut of his breeches, his alert and wary air of a man of the
world, all betrayed the racing-lad. From the corner of his mouth hung a
cigarette waggishly a-rake; and his billycock had just the correct and
knowing cock. He kept well under the lee of the tent; and if he was
brazen, it was clear that he was sinning and fearful of discovery: for
he had one eye always on the watch for the Avenging Angel who might
swoop down on him at any moment.

"What price, Goosey Gander?" he asked in a voice harsh and cracking.

"Give you threes," replied the bookie.

"Do it in dollars," replied the boy, with the magnificent sang-froid of
one who goes to ruin as a man of blood should go.

"And again?" asked the bookie.

The answer was never forth-coming; for the Avenging Angel, not
unexpected, swept down upon the sinner with flaming sword.

She was in the shape of a girl about the lad's own age and size, fair as
was he and slight, a flapper with a short thick straw-coloured plait.
She came round the tent swift and terrible as a rapier, her steel-gray
eyes flashing and fierce. Such determination on so young a face the
bookie thought he had never seen. For a moment he expected to see her
strike her victim. And the boy apparently expected the same, for he
cowered back, putting up his hands as though to ward off a blow.

"Got you, sonny," said the bookie, and bolted with a half-hearted grin.

The girl never hesitated. She leapt upon her victim, keen and direct as
a tigress.

"Give me that ticket!" she ordered in a deep bass voice whose
earnestness was almost awful.

The boy had recovered from his first shock.

"It were only----"

"Give me that ticket!"

Reluctantly the lad obeyed.

"Spit out that cigarette!"

Again he obeyed. The girl put her broad flat heel on the chewed remnant
and churned it into the mud.

"Any others?"

"No, Miss."

"You have!--I'll search you."

"Only a packet o' woodbines, Miss."

She pocketed them remorselessly.

"Leave the paddock!"

The boy went, slow and sullen. Then he became aware of people watching
beyond the ropes and recovered himself with a jerk.

"Yes, Miss. Very good, Miss," he cried cheerfully, touched his hat, and
began to run as on an errand.

It was a pretty piece of bluff. Boy Woodburn, in spite of her anger,
marked it down to the credit side of the lad's account. When he was
collared, Albert Edward kept his head. That would help him one day when
he was caught in a squeeze in a big race and had to jockey to get
through.

The roar from the crowd told her the race had started. She flashed back
to the ropes, a slight figure, in simple blue serge, the radiant plait
of her hair flapping as she ran.

Old Mat, standing a little behind the crowd at the ropes, had watched
the scene.

"One o' my lads," he said in his mysterious wheeze to the big young man
at his side. "'No smokin', swearin', or bettin' in _my_ stable!'--that's
Miss Boy's rule. Gets it from Mar." The girl passed them swiftly and the
old man hid his betting-book behind him. "Well, Boy, sossed him?" he
asked innocently.

"He's not the only one," retorted the girl.

"O, I'm not bettin', Boy," pleaded the old man in the whimsical whine
which he adopted when addressing his daughter. "Don't go and tell your
mother that now. It wouldn't be right. Reelly it wouldn't. I'm only
makin' a note or two for Mr. Silver here."

The girl was lost in the crowd by the ropes.

"She'd ha' come and sossed me, too, only you was with me," wheezed the
old man confidentially. "You stick close to me, there's a dear. You're
like a putection to an old man. She won't do me no 'arm while you're by,
de we."

The other smiled. He was an upstanding young man, with the shoulders and
the bearing of a soldier; and there was something large and slow and
elemental about him. He wore white riding-breeches and tan-coloured
boots. The blood polo-pony under the elms, with the little group of
coachmen and grooms gathered in an admiring circle round him, was his:
and those who had seen Mat drive on to the course in the morning knew
that the young man had ridden over the Downs from Putnam's with him.

Boy took her place at the ropes.

The young man found himself standing at her side. He did not watch the
race. That keen young face at his side, so self-contained and strong,
absorbed him.

Once the girl looked up swiftly, and he was aware of her gray eyes, that
flashed in his and were instantly withdrawn, to follow the bob of the
heads of the jockeys lifting over a fence on the far side of the course.

"Lul-like my glasses?" he asked, with a slight stutter.

"No," she said. "I can see."

Later she climbed on to the top of an upturned hamper. As the horses
made the turn for home, he heard her draw her breath.

"Is he down?" he asked.

"No," she said. "He's got 'em beat."

"How do you know?"

"He's begun to ride," replied the girl briefly.

Old Mat was nibbling his pencil in the rear.

"How's it going, Boy?" he wheezed.

"All right," replied the girl. "He's through now."

The dirty green of the Woodburn colours topped the last fence; and
Goosey Gander came lolloping down the straight, his jockey, head on
shoulder, wary to the end, easing him home.

"That's a little bit o' better," said Old Mat comfortably, totting up
his accounts.

"By Jove, he's a fine horseman!" cried the young man with boyish
enthusiasm.

"Monkey Brand!" said the girl, without emotion. "One of the has-beens, I
should say."



CHAPTER III

Goosey Gander


Boy Woodburn came leading the winner through the cheering crowd.

It was Old Mat's horse, Old Mat's race; and they had all got a bit on.
They were pleased with themselves, pleased with the horse, pleased with
the jockey, who, perched up aloft on the great sweating bay, his hands
still mechanically at work, his little dark face shining, chaffed his
chaffers in the voice of a Punchinello.

"Get off him, Monkey," called a joker; "get off quick afore he falls to
pieces. _Do!_"

"Same as you do when I get talkin' to ye!" retorted the little jockey.

There was a roar of laughter at the expense of the joker, who turned
suddenly nasty.

"Who said Chukkers?" he cried.

There was an instant of silence, and then some groans.

"Not me," replied the little jockey grimly.

A snigger rippled through the crowd.

"What you done with your old friend this time, Monkey?" somebody asked.
"Laid him out again lately?"

"No such luck," the other answered. "He's beat it."

"Where is he then?"

The little jockey tossed his head backward.

"Gone back to God's Own Country to find his birf certificate. No flowers
by request."

The reference was to the fact that Monkey's old-time enemy, the
vanquished of Cannibal's National fifteen years before, Chukkers, the
greatest of cross-country riders, was an American citizen of uncertain
origin.

The thrust was received with a fresh outburst from the hilarious crowd.
Monkey Brand's relations with his "old friend" were well known to all.

The little jockey prepared to dismount.

Amid a burst of jeers and cheers, he threw his leg over his horse's
withers, slipped to the ground, stripped off the saddle, and limped off
to the weighing machine.

Old Mat watched him go.

"On his hoss, on his day," he muttered confidentially to the young man,
"Monkey Brand can show his heels to most of 'em yet."

"How old is he?" asked the other.

The old trainer frowned and shook his head mysteriously.

"You must never ask a jockey his age, no more than a woman," he said.
"He come to me the year I was married, and that's twenty year since come
Michaelmas. And when he come he looked much just the very same as he do
now. Might ha' been any age atween ten and a hundred." He dropped his
voice. "Only way he shows his years--he ain't so fond of fallin' as he
was. And I don't blame him. Round about forty a man begins to get a bit
brittle like."

He lilted off after his jockey.

Goosey Gander stood stripped of everything but his bridle, with dark
flanks and lowered head reaching at his bit.

He was a typical Woodburn horse: a great upstanding bay, full of bone
and quality. But he showed wear. A tube was in his throat, a
leather-boot on each fore-leg, and he was bandaged to the hocks, both of
which showed the serrated lines of the firing iron.

The girl in front of him pulled his sweating ears. Jim Silver watched
with admiration not untinged with awe her stern young face. She was
entirely unconscious of his gaze, and unaware of the people thronging
her. Her whole spirit was concentrated on the dark and sweating head,
trying to rub against her knees. The crowd pressed in upon her
inconveniently.

"Give the lady a chance to breathe," cried the young man in his large
and lazy voice.

The crowd withdrew a little.

"Say, Guv'nor!--do they call you Tinee?" called one.

"No; his name's Silver," said another. "They calls you Silver Mug, don't
they, mister?"

"I believe so," replied the young man, unmoved.

He was fair game: for he was very big, clearly good-humoured, spick and
span to a fault, and a member of another class.

They gathered with glee to the baiting.

"That ain't because of his name, stoopid. That's because he's got a
silver linin' to his mug, ain't it, sir?"

"Silver!--gold, you mean. 'E breathes gold, that bloke do, and then it
settles on the roof of his jaw. Say, Blokey, open your mug and let's
'ave a peep. I'll put a penny in."

       *       *       *       *       *

A little red ball was run up an improvised pole. Old Mat was waving.

"All right," he called.

The girl led Goosey Gander out of the Paddock into the field at the
back. Women in parti-coloured shawls selling oranges, labourers,
riff-raff, and children were gathered about the merry-go-rounds and
cocoanut-shies, listening apathetically to the hoarse exhortations of
the owners to come and try their luck.

Silver followed the girl thoughtfully.

She led the winner past the side-shows toward the group of stately elms
under which the carriages and carts were gathered.

The ejected stable-lad, Albert Edward, now in his shirt-sleeves, came
toward her, carrying a bucket. The girl rinsed out the old horse's
mouth. Then with swift, accustomed fingers she unlaced the
leather-boots, and set to work to unwind a bandage.

Jim Silver watched her attentively and then began clumsily on the other
bandage.

"No," she said. "Like so," and taking it from him unwound it in a trice.

The old horse shook himself.

"Go and fetch his rug from the buggy," ordered the girl, addressing
Albert.

The lad went off.

The young man took off his long-waisted gray coat and flung it over the
horse's loins, lining down.

Boy's gray eyes softened. Then she let go the horse's head, took the
coat off swiftly, and as swiftly replaced it, lining upward.

"Thank-you," she said.

She glanced over her shoulder.

"Will you lead him up and down, while I go and fetch his rug?" she said.
"That kid'll be all day."

"Rather!" replied the young man, with the fervour of a child to whom a
pony has been entrusted for the first time.

The girl's neat slight blue-serge figure made off for the elms and the
carriages. Her back turned to the young man, the sternness left her
face, and she smiled.

A blue-and-black sheep-dog, shaggy as a bear, and as big, leashed to the
wheel of the buggy, began to whimper and to whine with furious ecstasy.
The big dog's big soul seemed to burst within him as the Angel of the
Keys drew near. He had no tail to wag, so he wagged his whole body,
putting back his ears, and laughing with his heart as he lifted his
joyous face to his mistress.

She rested her hand a moment on his head.

"Billy Bluff," she said. "Steady, you ass!--How can I loose
you?--There!"

She eased the spring of his leash. He was off with a bound, gambolling
about her like a wave of the sea.

Albert was messing about the buggy in leisurely fashion.

"Hurry, Albert!" came the deep voice.

"Yes, Miss," replied the other, more leisurely than ever.

"Bring that clothes-brush along and brush Mr. Silver's coat when you've
finished fooling," she said.

Then she took the rug from the buggy and went back to Goosey Gander.

The young man in his pink shirt-sleeves, his baggy white breeches, and
polo boots, was walking the old horse gravely up and down, talking to
him.

His back was to the girl, and she watched him with kind eyes.

She was thinking how like he and Goosey Gander were: good big uns both,
as her father would say; clean-bred, large-boned, great-hearted,
quiet-mannered. But the man was just coming into his prime, while the
horse was well past his.

"Hullo, Bill, old boy," said the young man in his quiet voice.

Billy answered deeply.

Silver had only come to Putnam's the night before for the first time,
but he and Billy Bluff were friends already. Boy Woodburn noticed it
with swift appreciation. In her young and entirely fallacious judgment
there were few shrewder judges of character than Big Dog Billy.

She paused a moment, pretending to shift the rug on her arm.

The group of three before her held her eye and pleased her mind. Her
face was full of beauty as she watched, the spirit peeping shyly forth.

That horse, that man, that dog, so physically remote from each other,
yet spiritually akin, filled her young heart with the same sense of
satisfaction as did her familiar and well-beloved Downs. She felt the
goodness of them and rejoiced in it. All three were sound in body and in
spirit, honest, healthy, and therefore happy as the good red earth from
which they came.



CHAPTER IV

The Gypsy's Mare


Monkey Brand in a long drab coat came limping toward them, his saddle
over his arm.

"Best put in, Miss," he said. "Mr. Woodburn's comin'."

The old man indeed was rolling slowly toward them, followed by the
chaffing and expectant crowd to whom he paid no heed. His mouth was
stuffed full of bank-notes, and he was absorbed in calculations made in
a little book, and muttering to himself.

"We'd best be moving," said the girl to her companion.

She led the old horse away before the oncoming crowd.

Silver followed, with grave amusement in his face. He did not know
whether he dared to laugh or not, and was too much afraid to try. The
girl was aware of his embarrassment and became shy in her turn.

She led the old horse up to the buggy.

This was the tit-bit of the meeting, the last and by far the greatest
event. Everybody always waited for it. For was it not the Grand Finale
of the Jumping Season?

Monkey Brand stuffed his saddle away in the buggy, and pulled the
harness out from beneath the seat. Then he and Albert began to harness
Goosey Gander, while Boy stood at the old horse's head.

The crowd gathered round and began to chaff.

"Say, Monkey, when you get that 'orse 'ome, shall you 'ave 'im for
supper?--to finish the day like?"

"They'll never get 'im 'ome. He's goin' to lay down and die when 'e
strikes the road--ain't you, beauty? And I don't blame 'im neether."

"He ain't though. They won't let him. That old 'orse has got to take the
washin' round when he gets back to Cuckmere this evenin'."

Goosey Gander was harnessed now.

Old Mat made slowly toward the buggy.

The crowd, which had been popping off its feu-de-joie of jokes, steadied
into silence to watch the old man climb to his seat.

"Someone to see you, Mr. Woodburn," came a voice in the silence.

"Indeed," panted the old man, his heavy shoulders rising and falling.
"Who's that?"

There was a movement in the crowd, which parted. At the farther end of
the lane thus made, a flashy young gypsy was seen, with a somnolent old
mare on a halter.

"There, Mr. Woodburn!" called the gypsy in a hoarse staccato voice.
"There she is--your sort to the tick. Black Death blood. Throw you a
National winner and all."

The old man cast his shrewd blue eye over the mare.

She was old and rough as the halter that adorned her drooping head; but
there was no mistaking her quality any more than that her one aim in
life was to go to sleep.

"Yes, she's a lady all right," said the old man.

"Black Death mare, sir," reiterated the gypsy. "Out o' Vendetta. Carry
the young lady a dream."

"Might ha' done twenty year ago," muttered the trainer. He took off his
hat and made a floundering rush at the mare. She never so much as winked
an eye, pursuing her undeviating purpose with a steadfastness worthy of
a greater cause. Old Mat grunted.

"Look her over, Boy," he said.

The girl, who loved a bargain dearly as she loved a horse, was already
walking round the mare. Her father was in a complacent mood; and when he
was happy he would do the romantic and foolish things the girl's soul
loved.

"Like her, Boy?" the old man asked.

The girl pursued her critical survey, felt the mare's legs, looked into
her mouth, lifted an eye-lid. The crowd, deeply interested, watched in
silence. Utterly absorbed in the work in hand, Boy, as always, was
unaware of them because she was entirely forgetful of herself.

"Yes," she said simply.

The old man turned to the gypsy.

"What ye want?" he asked.

"She's yours for a tenner, sir."

He stiffened his lips.

Boy walked sedately past her father.

"Pound a leg," she said quietly in his ear.

"Four pound," said the old man, firmly. "Cash down--and accommodation."

He rustled the bank-notes in his pocket.

The gypsy frowned, and appeared to be engaged in a portentous spiritual
struggle. Then the clouds cleared suddenly.

"Done with you, sir!" he called, and hauled the old mare down the
widening lane through the crowd. She came reluctantly, every inch of her
resenting the necessity for motion.

Old Mat paid out five sovereigns into the other's outstretched paw.

"Four sovereigns for the mare--and a half for the halter, and a little
bit o' beer-money."

The crowd cheered and the gypsy danced a jig.

"You're a gentleman, Mr. Woodburn," he cried. "Now I'll tell you somefin
for yourself." He drew the old man aside and whispered in his ear,
ending with an emphatic: "S'truth, sir!"

The trainer grunted sceptically.

"Now, Boy," he said. "There she is. Take charge o' your cripple."

The girl, her face alight with pleasure, took the halter of the lagging
mare.

Old Mat gathered the reins and mounted to his seat. Monkey Brand took
his place at his master's side. Boy got up behind, the halter in her
hand.

The trainer raised his whip.

The buggy bumped over the grass, the old mare trailing behind with
outstretched neck. The girl folded her arms and looked down her nose
like a footman.

Silver, following on his pony, saw her face and chuckled suddenly.

This stern girl had a sense of humour after all.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then the chaff became a cheer; and the Polefax Meeting was over.



CHAPTER V

Across the Downs


What Old Mat called his little bit of theayter--which his irreverent
daughter was wont to describe with characteristic brutality as sheer
swank--was quickly over.

As soon as the buggy left the fields and bumped down into the pack-horse
track which led up the shoulder of the Downs, Old Mat halted. Boy
slipped down from her seat, and the old man and Monkey Brand followed
more leisurely. Silver dismounted, too.

The little cavalcade wound slowly up the hill, skirting the steep side
of a coombe that gathered the dusk in its huge green bowl until it
brimmed with mystery.

Boy looked down into it and longed, as often before, that she had wings
on which to float upon that soft and undulating sea of shadow.

Not seldom this desire was so strong upon her that she felt a certainty
she _had_ wings, wings within her which she could not spread, but of the
existence of which this insurgent desire was the irrefragable witness.

The sides of the coombe were hung with beeches sheathed now in tenderest
green; while from out of the emptiness beneath, the insistent and
melancholy cry of lambs seemed to make the shadows quiver and touched a
chord of wistfulness in the heart of the girl.

The sun was already sinking behind the smooth ramparts of the hills and
rose to meet them as they climbed, peering at them over the summit
through the shaggy eyebrow of the gorse.

Boy walked beside the old mare, throwing every now and then swift and
surreptitious glances at her new treasure. She was fearful lest the
young man leading his pony on the foot-track at her side should think
her a baby and over-keen.

Once only he spoke to her, and that clearly with the difficulty of the
shy.

"What shall you cuc-call her?" he asked.

"I don't know," she answered.

She longed to help him, but when the chance came she could only snub
him. That was always the way with Boy, when she was in touch with
somebody she liked.

Old Mat came unconsciously to the rescue.

"Why, Four Pound, o' course," he panted, labouring up the hill, his
hands on his knees.

"Is she Black Death blood?" asked the young man.

"Yes, she's Black Death all right," answered the old man. "That's the
old Pocahontas strain. Jumpers to a gee. You know. Look at them gray
hairs at the root of her tail--and that lazy, too! sluttin' along with
her nose out and her tongue a-waggin'. They're all like that, Black
Deaths are. If you was to let off a bomb under her belly, she wouldn't
so much as switch her tail. Couldn't be bothered. Constitutions like
hoxes, too." He paused to pant. "If what that feller said was O.K., why
then she's worth money, too. Only o' course it ain't. Else he wouldn't
ha' said it."

On the top of the Downs, facing the wind that blew straight from the sun
sinking over Newhaven into the sea, they paused to breathe. Beneath
them stretched the Weald, and the great saucer of Pevensey Bay ringed
about with a line of brown sand fringed with foam. Northward was
Crowborough Beacon, the Ashdown Forest Ridge, and the hills about Battle
Abbey. Southward, and the way of the setting sun, the Downs ran out in
huge spurs, line behind line of them, into the shining splendour of the
sea, to break off abruptly in the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters. The
hills were bare and bleak in their austere yet rounded strength,
stripped of trees, clothed only in resplendent gorse, here a squat
haystack dumped upon a ridge against the sky, there a great patch of
plough let into the green.

"By Jove!" cried the young man; and the girl thrilled to him because she
felt he loved what was so much to her.

"Some space," panted the old man, climbing back to his seat, and tucking
the rug around him. "Room to stretch a hoss here; and somethin' for his
windpipe better'n Owlbridge's lung-tonic."

Boy said nothing but stood breathing deep and with quiet eyes. At her
side was Billy Bluff, his shaggy hair blown back from his forehead and
astrew across his face, lifting his nose as though to sniff the sunset.

They jogged quietly along the crest of the hills, travelling always
toward the sun, over the ancient Pilgrim's Way that runs from Pevensey,
by the Holy Well in Cow Gap, and the Lamb on the hill at Eastbourne,
past the Star at Alfiriston along the top of the Downs to that cathedral
beyond the Arun, once a chapel of wood, whence St. Wilfrid set out to
take the Gospel from the coast to the heathen dwelling in the dark and
savage Andred's Weald.

The slope was with them; and Goosey Gander made his own pace, slipping
along with smooth and easy stride.

They followed the line of the telegraph poles, skirting steep coombes
shrouded at the foot with beech woods, past round-eyed dew-ponds, at
which cloaked shepherds were watering their flocks. Once an encampment
in the gorse caught their eyes. A yellow van, an ancient horse or two
hobbled in the gorse-bushes, a patch of brown tent, and a whiff of blue
smoke rising from an unseen fire, betrayed the nature of the squatters.

The old man pointed them out with his whip.

"There they are, the beauties," he said. "Thought they wouldn't be fur.
Rogues and rasqueals, Mr. Silver!" he cried, twiddling his whip, and
raising his voice to a sort of chant. "Rogues and rasqueals on h'every
side, layin' in wait for to take a little bit off you--same as the
Psalmist says. And it's no good talkin' to 'em. None whatebber." He
dropped his voice to the old confidential note. "Pinch the hair off the
back o' your head while you're sleepin', they would. Wonder who they
sneaked _her_ off?"

He turned his rogue-eye on the young man on the chestnut pony jogging at
his side, winked, and made a movement with his elbow.

"Course if they was to claim her, I got her off of an old friend o' mine
down in the West Country," he said, raising his voice. "Better still
Ireland as further away. Yes, South of Ireland--a'ter Punchestown. He'd
better be dead, too, my old friend--so he can't tell no tales and deny
no stories." He elaborated his idea with glee, clapping his sides with
his elbows. "Yes, that's about it. I bought her in at the sale of the
effects of an old friend o' mine, South of Ireland--to help his widie.
That's got it. Good idee. Very good idee. Charity _and_ business--what
they like. Micky Mahon, his name was. Died o'--I must have it all pat on
the tongue. What _did_ he die of, Brand? You're an artful little feller,
settin' there so smug and secret like a hen crocodile a-hatchin' h'out
h'its h'egg."

"Lung-trouble's best, sir," replied the little jockey gravely. "I reck'n
you can't go far with lung-trouble. See, we all dies o' shortness o'
breath in the latter end. That _is_ lung-trouble in a manner o'
speakin'."

"Lung-trouble's good," said the old man. "Vairy good. You're a good
little lad, Brand. You help me in my hour o' need...."

"Father!" came the stern voice from the back seat.

The old man began to flap with his elbows.

"There she goes, givin' tongue! Is that you, Miss?" he called, in his
half-humorous whimper. "You wasn't meant to hear that. Your ears is
altogether _too_ long--like that young Lollypop hoss o' mine."

They swung away off the crest of the Downs and began to drop down the
slope into the village of Cuckmere lying beneath them in the valley
among trees.

The sun dipped into the sea as they turned with a noise of grinding
wheels into the village street. The news of Goosey Gander's victory had
preceded them and they drove slowly through little crowds of cheering
children, between old flint cottages with tiled roofs, and gardens white
with arabis and overspread with fig-trees.

As they turned a corner, Putnam's lay before them, a Queen Anne
manor-house, homely, solid, snug, with low blue parapeted roof, standing
a little back from the road, and buttressed by barns and
stable-buildings.

Directly they came in sight of the windows of the farm the old man took
his hat off his shining head, put it on the end of his whip, and began
to twiddle it.

The signal was instantly answered.

A handkerchief was waved at a lower window.

"There's Mar!" Mat said comfortably, easing into a walk. "One thing, she
ain't dead. _That's_ a little bit o' better."

He gave his plump body a half-turn and began again to whimper over his
shoulder to the occupant of the back seat.

"You wouldn't get your old dad into trouble, would you then, Boy?--not
by tellin' Mar I done a lot o' things I never dreamed o' doin'. If you
was to say I betted now you'd say what wasn't true, wouldn't you?--and
you've often told me what come to Annie Nyas and Sophia in the Book,
haven't you? A lesson to us all that was--to be took to 'eart, as the
sayin' is. All I done was just this: An old friend come up to me--had a
drop in him, must have had!--and he says: 'Your old hoss won't win,
Mat,' he says, very insultifyin'. 'My old hoss _will_ win then,' I
answers, polite as you please. 'De we,' I says, mindful o' Mar. 'Will
you back your opinion?' says he, sneery. 'No,' I says, very firm. 'No; I
never bets--cause o' you know.' 'Oh, yes,' he says, 'I know you--and I
know your master,' meaning Mar." He swung round and addressed the young
man riding on his right. "That's 'ow they go on at me all the time, Mr.
Silver," he whined. "Persecute me somethin' shockin' because o' me
religion--for all the world as if I could help it."

"It's not your religion," came the deep voice from the back seat. "It's
mother's."

"What's it matter whose religion it is if they martyrizes you for it at
the stake?" wheezed the old man. He took up his tale anew. "So as I was
sayin' he says to me, Sam Buckland do: 'Man to man,' he says, 'I respeck
you for stickin' to principles what you don't 'old, Mat,' he says. 'And
far be it from me to undermine a man's faith what he learned acrost his
mother's knee,' he says. 'But see here,' he says; 'if that 'ole
rockin'-hoss o' yours gets round the course I'll give you fi' pun for
yourself; if a miracle happens and he gets a place I'll make it a
tenner; and if all the other hosses takes and lays down and dies so as
he wins outright, it's a pony to you.' And I says to him: 'As to my
champion, Mr. Buckland,' I says, 'you're jealous of him and I don't
blame you, seein' as he can roll faster nor any hoss o' yours can
gallip. But if he _don't_ win,' I says, 'I'll give you fi' pun to buy
yourself some manners with, fi' pun for your missus to get her a better
'usband, and fi' pun for that bald-faced, ewe-knecked, calf-kneed son of
a laughin' jack-ass who calls you dad.' That's all that happened' Boy.
That's not bettin', is it? That's fair give-and-take. Quite a different
thing entirely. Ask the clergee."

They pulled up in the road.

Mrs. Woodburn came slowly down the steps of the old manor-house to meet
them.

She was a tall woman, gray, rather gaunt, and perhaps twenty years
younger than her husband. She wore a plain black dress, and there was
about her a wonderful atmosphere of peace and dignity.

Nobody but Mat would have dreamed of calling such a woman Mar, and any
other woman of the type but Patience Longstaffe would have resented the
name.

"I'm glad you won, dad," she said in a voice deep as her daughter's, but
harsher, as though from wear. "And I hope you won fair."

The old man, who had alighted, was passing the reins through the rings
of the saddle.

"There she goes!" he croaked in his protesting voice. "Might just as
well be on the crook--straight, I might, for all the credit I gets."

Mrs. Woodburn kissed him and the girl, and ran a practised eye and hand
down Goosey Gander's fore-legs.

His wife might be a Puritan, but Mat was the first to admit that there
was little about a horse he could teach her.

"He got round all right, then, Brand?" she said.

"Oh, yes, 'm," chirruped the little jockey. "It was light goin', so his
pipe didn't trouble him; and he fenced like he was in Paridise. I lay
off a bit till they was all bust, then I come right away through 'em and
spread-eagled the lot."

The woman's hand, strong yet tender, passed down the old horse's flank.

"I see you waled him," she said.

"Well, 'm, just a couple of taps like--to settle it," deprecated the
other. "Three fences from home I see I'd got the measure of 'em, and
come away from the ruck with a rattle. Then I easied him home."

"You'd no call to take up your whip, Brand," grumbled the old man. "He'd
ha' won without that, and you'd a plenty in hand."

"_I_ told him to come through and finish it if he got a chance,"
interposed Boy from the back.

The old man turned away with a grunt.

"Oh, _you_ told him, did you? Course my instructions goes for nothin'
if _you_ told him. There's _two_ masters in my stable, Mr. Silver, as
you see--and neither of 'em's me."

"Mother!" called the girl.

Mrs. Woodburn went round and looked at the old mare.

"What d'you think of her?" asked Boy, unable to disguise her keenness.

"You've bought two," said the mother slowly.

"D'you think so?" cried the girl.

"Sure," muttered the old man. "One thing, if they claim her, they can't
claim her foal, too." He grunted in his wife's ear: "Chap said she's in
foal to Berserker. Likely tale, ain't it? Howsoebber, if 'tain't true,
don't make no matter; if 'tis, all the better. Anyways, she might throw
a winner, plea' Gob in his goodness."

Mrs. Woodburn held up a warning finger at him.

"Now, dad!" she said; then turned to her daughter.

"Turn her out in the Paddock Close for the present," she said. "And send
one of the lads for Mr. Silver's pony."

The girl led the old mare away into the yard. Jim Silver followed
slowly.



CHAPTER VI

Putnam's


In the days when Putnam's had been a farm, the yard had always been deep
in dung and litter. Now it was cobbled and clean as a kitchen floor. All
round it on three sides were old barns and cattle-sheds, transformed
into rough but roomy loose-boxes. And the most casual observer could not
have mistaken the nature of the place. For a clock stood above the main
building; a chestnut crib-biter, looking out into the yard, had the top
of his half door between his teeth and was wind-sucking with arched
neck; while a flock of fan-tails strutted to and fro, flirting and
foraging.

A tortoise-shell cat crossed the yard leisurely. The cat was known as
Maudie. But it was a matter of dispute amongst those interested in the
question whether she derived her name from Maud Allan, the dancer, or
from Mordecai, the Jew. The dispute hung round the question whether Old
Mat had christened her or Ma. If she owed her name to Old Mat, then it
was clear that it came from the dancer; if to Ma, then from the Old
Testament.

Billy Bluff, entering the yard in an expectant bustle, made for Maudie
with a joyful flourish. Maudie arched her back, spat, and passed on
gingerly. Whenever the pair met, and that was frequently, they went
through the same pantomime, to the satisfaction of one of them at
least.

The bob-tail next made a dash at the fan-tails. These rose with a mighty
splashing of wings, fluttered a yard above his head, and settled again
unconcernedly.

Albert, who, true to his promise, had somehow got home before the rest
of the party, was standing outside the door of the saddle-room. The
other lads were gathered round him in respectful silence. Albert was
busy, but he was not engaged as usual in telling his admirers tall
stories of the Meeting and his own prowess in getting the blind side of
mugs and dandy duds. He had a bit of chalk in his hand and was drawing
on the door. There was no doubt the lad could draw. Monkey Brand indeed
asserted that there were few things Albert Eddud could not do if he
tried--"and the wusser the thing the better he does it." Now he was
drawing the head of a man with a huge and bulbous nose. Boy caught a
glimpse of it as she entered the yard, and recognised it in a flash. It
was the face of the hero of a comic paper the lads took in: a paper of
which she disapproved, although with her instinctive sense for
government, she did not think it wise to suppress it. _Ally Sloper_ its
name; its subject, ladies in bathing costume.

Albert, rapt in his labour, was working with the fury of the artist. He
finished with a flourish. The lads crowded round to look. Foremost
amongst them were Jerry, a youth with corrugated brow and profoundly
sagacious air; and Stanley, dark and sleek and heavy of face, in whom
sloth and sleep and insolence seemed to war. Jerry clearly should have
been a philosopher, and Stanley an emperor.

Monkey Brand was in the habit of referring, not without bitterness, to
the pair and Albert as "them three." He believed them capable of
anything, and was not far out in his belief. Jerry, the thinker,
planned the crimes; Albert, the man of action, committed them; and
Stanley, the stupid, bore the blame and paid the price. When they were
not at each other's throats, the three hung very close together.

Albert Edward now thrust his friends aside.

"Half a mo'!" he cried, and scrawled in dashing hand beneath the
portrait the legend:

          _Ally Slo's
          Got a nose
          Like our Jose'.
                S._

Albert stood back with folded arms to admire his masterpiece. The beauty
of it over-awed his naturally irreverent spirit.

"'Ush!" he said.

But a rude voice burst in on his silent rapture.

"Albert!" it called peremptorily.

The artist turned round to see Boy leading the old mare into the yard.

"Yes, Miss."

"Take Mr. Silver's pony."

"Yes, Miss."

"Jerry, put Billy Bluff on the chain. Stanley, put that chestnut's
muzzle on."

She led the old mare to the gate that opened on the Paddock Close.

Silver followed her, and looking back saw Monkey Brand limp into the
yard from the road, leading Goosey Gander.

Mat was on the other side of the old horse, walking thoughtfully, his
whip over his shoulder, and muttering to himself, as was his way.

Goosey Gander's head was framed fittingly between master and man. Now he
rubbed it against one and now against the other. They led him to the
water-trough and stood over him as he drank with nibbling lips, shaking
the oppressive collar from his shoulders. Jim Silver at the gate watched
the little group with quiet content. The three seemed so perfectly at
home together that between them was no need for words.

       *       *       *       *       *

Monkey Brand was a cockney.

He had been born in the River Ward of Hammersmith in that blind alley
known to the police and the inhabitants as Tiger Bay.

His father's ice-cream business never had any fascination for the lad;
but from the first his spirit drew him to the long-eared shaggy mokes of
certain of the neighbours. While the other urchins from the River Ward
spent their days in and out of the river dodging the coppers, at the
draw-docks on Chiswick Mall, or down by the coal-wharves under the
bridge, Monkey's happiest hours were passed leading a coster's cart
laden with green stuff up and down the alleys. When possible he slept
with Mary, the donkey he had in charge. She was fond of him, too; and
the Joes, who owned her, found that the long-eared lady, when in one of
her stubborn moods, would give to the boy's persuasions what she refused
to the big stick.

To the Joes Monkey proved himself invaluable.

He was industrious and reliable; and he had his reward when young Joe
jaunted across London for fish at Billingsgate or greens at Covent
Garden and took the lad with him.

The great day of the boy's life came when the Joes took him to Epsom for
the Derby week.

Old Joe, young Joe's missus, and the kids, stowed away in the body of
the cart; while young Joe balanced on one shaft and Monkey on the other.
The party crossed Barnes Common in the small hours of the Monday
morning, and dossed on Banstead Downs that night. Next day they joined
the great stream of traffic rolling out of London Epsomward. Young Joe,
whose strength lay in his powers of sympathetic intuition, let Monkey
drive. And the urchin took his place with pride in that vast stream of
char-à-bancs, 'buses, hansoms, and drags rolling southward; and no
four-in-hand coachman of them all held up his hand to stay the following
traffic, or twiddled his whip with lordlier dignity than the dark lad
who sat on the shaft and drove Mary up the hill on to the course.

There for the first time young Monkey saw thoroughbred horses. They were
a revelation to the lad. He stood and gaped at their beauty.

"Don't 'alf shine neever!" he gasped. "I reck'n our Mary couldn't 'old
'em."

At the end of the week the Joes returned to Tiger Bay without their
coachman.

"Where's my Monkey then?" cried his mother.

"Stayed along o' the 'orses," young Joe answered, unharnessing.

Indeed there was but one walk in life for which the boy was fitted; and
the fates had guided him into it young.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was when he was nineteen that Mat Woodburn found him out.

Monkey had been left at the post in a steeplechase. Old Mat didn't
follow the race. Instead he watched the struggle between the lad and the
young horse he was riding. Monkey gave a masterly exhibition of patience
and tact; and Mat, then in his prime and always on the look-out for
riding talent, watched it with grunts of pleasure. Monkey won the battle
and went sailing after the field he could not hope to catch, cantering
in long after the other horses had got home and gone to bed, as his
indignant owner expressed it.

"Fancy turn!" he said. "Very pretty at Islington. You don't ride for me
no more."

"Very good, sir," said Monkey, quite unperturbed.

As he left the dressing-room Mat met him.

"Lost your job, ain't you?" he said. "Care to come to me? I'm Mat
Woodburn."

Monkey grinned.

"I know you, sir," he said. "Yes, sir. Thank you. I'm there."

Thus began that curious partnership between the two men which had
endured twenty-five years.

Always master and man, the two had been singularly intimate from the
start, and increasingly so. Both had that elemental quality, somewhat
remote from civilization and its standards, which you find amongst those
who consort greatly with horses and cattle. Both were simple and
astonishingly shrewd. They loved a horse and understood him as did few:
they loved a rogue and were the match for most.

Both had a wide knowledge of human nature, especially on its seamy side,
based on a profound experience of life.

Monkey Brand had never been quite in the front rank of cross-country
riders. At no time had he emerged from the position of head-lad, nor
apparently had he wished to do so. It may be that he lacked ambition, or
was aware of his limitations. For his critics said that, consummate
horseman though he was, he lacked the strength to hold his own
consistently in the first flight. Moreover, just at the one period of
his career when it had seemed to the knowing that he might soar, the
brilliant Chukkers, then but a lad, had crossed the Atlantic in the
train of Ikey Aaronsohnn--to aid the cosmopolitan banker to achieve the
end which was to become his consuming life-passion; and in a brief while
had eclipsed absolutely and forever all his professional rivals.



CHAPTER VII

Ally Sloper


Silver opened the gate into the Paddock Close. Boy passed through,
leading the old mare.

"Shall I take her?" asked the young man.

"No, thank you," she answered.

In the depths of her eyes there lurked a fugitive twinkle. So far the
intercourse between herself and Mr. Silver had consisted in his offering
to do things for her and in her refusing his offers.

The Paddock Close stretched away before the girl in the evening light.
On the hill half-a-dozen young horses stampeded in the dusk.

An early swift screeched and swept above her. A great white owl swooped
out of the wood and waved away up the hillside, hovering over the gorse.
Under the hedge a scattered troop of children were coming down the slope
along the path that led past the little old church among the sycamores.

Boy led the mare up the hillside, her eyes on the flowing green of the
hill. The young man followed in her wake, lazy almost as the old mare,
who trailed reluctantly behind with clicking shoes. The dreams seemed to
have possessed him, too. He did not speak; his eyes were downward; but
he was aware all the time of that slight, slow-moving figure walking
just in front of him.

Then something seemed to disturb the stillness and ruffle his brooding
mind. It was a vague disease as of a coming sickness, and little more.
He emerged from the land of quiet and looked about him, like a stag
disturbed by a stalker while grazing.

A man was blundering down the hillside toward them, an easel on his
shoulder.

As he came closer his face seemed strangely familiar to the young man.
Where had he seen it? Then he recollected in a flash. It was the face
Albert had drawn in caricature on the stable-door--the face of Ally
Sloper.

Silver found himself wondering whether the owner of the face was aware
of his likeness, crude indeed though real, of his great protagonist.

The fellow was incredibly slovenly. His hair was reddish and bushy about
the jaw, and but for his eyes you might have mistaken him for a
commonplace tramp. Those eyes held you. They were sensitive, suffering,
terrible with the terror of a baffled spirit seeking escape and finding
none. In that coarse and bloated face they seemed pitifully out of place
and crying continually to be released. Indeed, there was something
volcanic about the man, as of lava on the boil and ready at any moment
to pour forth in destructive torrents. And surely there had been
eruptions in the past with fatal consequences.

Now he waddled toward them with an unsavoury grin.

"What luck?" he called, in a somewhat honied voice.

"We won," replied Boy briefly.

She slipped the halter over the head of the old mare, who, too lazy to
remove herself, began to graze where she stood.

The artist stood above the girl, showing his broken and dirty teeth, his
eyes devouring her.

Silver resented the familiarity of his gaze.

"Mr. Silver, this is Mr. Joses," said the girl.

The difference between the two men amused her: the one clean, keen,
beautifully appointed, like a horse got up for a show, the other shaggy
and sloppy as a farmyard beast.

"Very pleased to make your acquaintance, sir, I'm sure," grinned the
artist, bowing elaborately.

The other responded coldly.

Joses had not made a favourable impression on the young man. Boy saw
that at once; and it was not difficult to see. For Silver showed his
likes and dislikes much as Billy Bluff did.

The girl wished with all her heart that she was standing behind him that
she might see if the hair on the back of his neck had risen.

A spirit of mischief overcame her.

"Mr. Joses'll paint your horses for you," she said demurely.

"Delighted, I'm sure," laughed the artist.

"Thank you," said the young man, with a brevity the girl herself could
not have surpassed. His shyness had left him, and with it his tendency
to stammer.

Boy felt herself snubbed, and was nettled accordingly.

"I'm going home by the wood," she said.

"I'll come with you," said the artist.

The two moved away down the hill together toward the wood that thrust
like a spear into the heart of the Paddock Close.

Silver watched them with steady eyes. As usual he had been left. That
swift and slimy artist-chap had chipped in while he was thinking what
he should do.

Silver hated artists--not as the result of experience, for he had never
met one in the flesh before, but from instinct, conviction, and
knowledge of the race acquired from books. Artists and poets: they were
all alike--dirty beggars, all manners and no morals, who could talk the
hind-leg off a she-ass.

And Silver, being dumb himself and very human, hated men who were
articulate.

He watched the pair walking away from him down the hillside. An
ill-matched couple they seemed to him: the slight, strenuous girl, her
plait of hair like a spear of gold between her shoulders, her slim black
legs, and air of a cold flame; and that loose, fat thing who gave the
young man the impression of a suet pudding that had taken to drink.

The beast seemed disgustingly fatherly, too, rubbing shoulders with the
girl, and fawning on her.

Silver sat down on a log and took out the cigarette-case, which was his
habitual comforter.

The old mare grazed beside him in the dusk, and he began to laugh as he
looked at her. Her laziness tickled and appealed to him. There was
something great about it. She was indolent as was Nature, and for the
same reason--that she was aware of immense reserves of power on which
she could fall back at any moment.

A rabbit came out of the gorse to feed near by. The owl whooped and
swooped and hovered behind her. The sea wind, fresh and crisp, came
blowing up the valley; and the young stock, bursting with the ecstasy of
life, thundered by in the dusk with downward heads and arched backs and
far-flung heels.

Silver sat and smoked.

There was a funny feeling at his heart.

Some vast, deep, silent-running river of Life, of whose presence within
him he had only become aware within the last few hours, had been
thwarted for the moment, thrust back upon itself, and was tugging and
tuzzling within him as it sought to pursue its majestic way toward the
Open Sea.



CHAPTER VIII

The Great Beast


Joses had been haunting the village off and on for some time past.

Boy Woodburn knew nothing of him except that Monkey Brand disliked him.

Herself she had been given no chance of forming an opinion till lately,
when Joses had asked permission of her father to paint some of the
horses. Old Mat had given leave, and Joses had gained the entrée to the
stables. He had made the most of his chance, haunting the yard, dogged
by Monkey Brand, who resented his presence, watched him jealously, and
made things as uncomfortable and precarious for the artist as he could.
Joses, to do him justice, stuck to his self-imposed task with
astonishing pertinacity in spite of opposition. He did not give up
indeed until Flaminetta, a lengthy mare with an astonishing reach,
suddenly exploded without warning and missed his head with a steel-shod
heel by a short foot.

Joses tumbled backward off his stool and crawled out of danger on his
hands and knees with astonishing alacrity for so gross a man.

Monkey Brand, an interested witness of the catastrophe, came limping up
full of the tenderest solicitude.

"Oh, my, Mr. Joses!--my!" he cried. "I never knew her to do that afore.
_Ah, yer! what ye up to?_"

Joses, still on his hands and knees, looked up at the little jockey, his
eyes aghast with anger and fear.

"Ginger!" he snorted. "You put it there."

Monkey Brand eyed him with bland interest.

"You know a wunnerful deal about 'orses for a hartist, Mr. Joses," he
remarked, not troubling to deny the soft impeachment.

Joses got to his feet and began to talk volubly.

Monkey Brand listened in respectful silence, waving to the lads to keep
in the background.

When the orator had finished, the little jockey went in to report to Old
Mat.

"He knows altogether too much that Mr. Joses do," he ended.

The trainer nodded.

"I guessed as much," he said. "I'll make inquiries."

       *       *       *       *       *

Two days later Old Mat called his head-lad into the office. He was in
his socks and shut the door with precautions.

Mystery was the breath of life to both men, who were at heart but
children.

"Seen Joses lately?" began the old man cautiously.

"Not since then, sir," the other answered in the same tone.

Old Mat went to the window and drew down the blind. There was nobody but
Maudie in the yard outside, and no human being within fifty yards. But
such considerations must not come between the principal actors and the
correct ritual for such occasions.

"I was over at Lewes yesterday," he panted huskily. "I see that tall
inspector chap--him I put on to Flaminetta for the Sefton."

Monkey was all alert.

"What did he say, sir?"

"Not much," muttered the other. "Enough, though."

Monkey drooped his eyelids and tilted his chin. His face became a
masterpiece of secrecy and cunning.

Old Mat turned his lips inward.

"I've warned him off," he said, "you might snout about a bit and rout
out what he _is_ after."

The other nodded.

"Monkey's the man, sir," he said, and stole away on tip-toe.

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening the old trainer, driving through the village, came on the
discomfited artist and drew up to have a word with him.

"Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Oh, dear!" began the old man in his sympathetic
wheeze. "This _is_ a bad job to be sure, Mr. Joses. So that long mare o'
mine had a shot at your pore brain-box. When I heard, I wep' a tear, I
did reelly." He shook a sorrowful head. "You mustn't come no more,
though, Mr. Joses, you mustn't. If anything was to 'appen to you in my
place I should never forgive meself. 'Tain't so much the compensation to
your widows and such. It's _here_"--he thumped his heart--"I'd feel it."

Joses began to make excuse, but the old man refused to be convinced.

"Rogues and rasqueals, Mr. Joses," he cried. "Layin' pitchforks for yer
feet--same as the Psalmist says. Hosses is much the very same as men.
Kilted cattle, as the sayin' is. Once they turn agin' you your number's
up. And they got _somefin'_ agin' you. No fault o' yours, I know--godly
genelman like you. But where it is _there_ it is!" He sat in his buggy
and wiped his dewy eye. "And there's the dorg, Mr. Joses. Big dorg,
too!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Joses, ejected from Putnam's, as Adam had been from Paradise, might be
the loser; but Art certainly was not.

For he painted abominably.

Even the lads jeered at his efforts, while Old Mat said:

"I reck'n my old pony could do better than that, if I filled her tail
with paint and she sat on it."

But Joses was not to be beaten so easily. Meeting Boy Woodburn in the
village street, he asked her if he might paint Billy Bluff.

The girl, knowing Billy's views on Mr. Joses, excused herself and her
dog.

Joses walked down the village street with her, expostulating.

Mrs. Haggard, the vicar's wife, an austere woman, with a jealously
guardian eye for all the village maidens, met the pair and eyed the girl
severely.

Later in the day she came on Boy alone and stopped her.

"Do you know that man, Joyce?" she asked.

Mrs. Haggard was the one person in the world who called Boy by her
Christian name. And she did it, as she did everything else, on
principle.

"Not really," answered Boy.

"I don't like him," said Mrs. Haggard.

"Neither do I," answered the girl.

"I'm glad to hear it," said the other. "He's _not_ a nice man."

That evening Mrs. Haggard went to see Mrs. Woodburn and gave the
trainer's wife some of her reasons--and they were good reasons,
too--for thinking Mr. Joses _not_ a nice man.

Mrs. Woodburn, who was in the judgment of the vicar's wife a good but
curious woman, showed herself distressingly undistressed.

"Boy can look after herself, I guess," she said, a thought grimly.

She reported later to Mat what Mrs. Haggard had told her and what she
had replied to Mrs. Haggard.

Old Mat agreed.

"She can bite all right," he said. "Trust Boy."

       *       *       *       *       *

And Boy, as she walked down the hillside on leaving Mr. Silver and the
old mare, felt like biting.

She was annoyed with Mr. Silver, annoyed with Joses, and, above all,
annoyed with herself.

She had been mischievous, and now she was being punished for it.

She did not like Joses; and she _did_ like being alone in the wood at
dusk.

Her companion walked too close to her; he laughed too much; she was
aware of that haunted and haunting eye of his rolling at her
continually; and he smelt of alcohol.

Also he would talk.

"That's Silver, is it?" he said familiarly, as they walked down the
hill.

"That's _Mr._ Silver," she retorted.

His eye sought hers, questioning; but found nothing save a proud, cold
face.

"Your dadda's training for him, isn't he?" continued the fat man.

Her dadda!

The cheek of it!

"I don't know."

"He's a Croesus, isn't he?"

"He's _not_ a greaser," with warmth.

Joses laughed his unpleasant laughter.

"A Croesus, I said. Rolling. He's the Bank of Brazil and Uruguay."

"I don't know," replied the girl. "I haven't asked."

They had reached the stile into the wood.

"Good-night," she said.

"I'll see you through the wood," the other answered.

A moment she hesitated. Should she after all go back by the field? If
she did he would think she was afraid. And she was not, as she would
show him. But she wished that Billy Bluff was with her. Reluctantly at
length she climbed the stile and walked through the dusk. He shambled at
her side.

"Begun to bathe yet?" he asked.

"No."

"You let me know when you begin, and I'll come and paint you on the
rocks."

Her eyes flashed up at his.

"You won't!" she said fiercely.

He edged in upon her, laughing sleekly.

"Saucy, is it?" he said.

"Keep off!" she cried.

"Wants taming, does it?"

He wound his arm about her.

"Let me go!"

She kicked his shins with her square-toed shoes.

She kicked hard and hurt him.

"You little devil!" he snorted.

He pressed her to him, seeming to smother her, like an offensive
blanket.

His red beard brushed her forehead; his hot face crowded down on hers;
and above all his great red nose protruded above her like an inflamed
banana.

Mrs. Haggard was fond of saying that Joyce Woodburn was like a wild
animal. And in a way the vicar's wife was right. Self-preservation was
the first law of life for the girl as for every healthy young creature.
And long and intimate contact with horses and dogs had made her swift
and direct in action as were they.

Now when she felt herself in the clutches of the Beast, and the Greater
Death closing in upon her, she knew as little of doubts and scruples as
any creature of the wilderness.

That hateful breath was in her nostrils; those covetous eyes were close
to hers; that inflamed and evil nose protruded over her in flaming
invitation.

She seized it in her gloved hand and wrenched it. The effect was
immediate.

Joses squealed and clapped both hands to his damaged organ.

"My----, you----!" he squeaked in the voice of a Punch.

The girl broke away and ran. She was swift and hard as a greyhound. For
a moment the other stood, leaning over a bed of nettles, snorting and
sniffing as the blood dripped from his nose. Then he pursued. She heard
him thundering behind her. It was like the pursuit of a fawn by a
grizzly. She had only a hundred yards to go to the open; and as she fled
with her head on her shoulder, and her plait flapping, feeling the
strength in her limbs and the courage in her heart, she mocked her
pursuer silently.

That drink-sodden grampus catch her!

Her pride came toppling down about her. She tripped, wrenched her
ankle, and knew that she was done.

Before her was a familiar tree she had often climbed, with a branch some
six feet from the ground.

She swung herself up.

The Great Beast came snorting up. He was a dreadful sight. His nose was
bleeding profusely, and the blood had mingled with his beard and
moustache. He had lost his cap, and his head shimmered bald at her feet
beneath wisps of hair.

He seemed like a great vat full of spirit into which she had tossed a
lighted match.

"I got you, my beauty!" he panted in smothered and unnatural voice.

He put his hands on the branch.

She stamped on them with her heels: and she stamped hard. He swore, and
drew from a leather sheath a wooden-handled knife such as Danish
fisher-folk use.

She grasped the branch above her and swung in the air; but she could not
swing forever thus.

"I can wait," said the Great Beast beneath, laughing dreadfully.

Then there came the sound of a man singing some kind of boating-song.

The voice was deep and drawing nearer.

          "_Then we'll all swing together,
          Steady from stroke to bow._"

It was Silver strolling home through the wood.

Boy heard him; so did Joses, and withdrew into the dusk.

The girl slipped down from the tree.

The young man dawdled up, and looked at her with some surprise.

"Anything up?" he asked.

"Yes," said Boy. "Up a tree."

She limped coldly away.

He followed her.

"Are you lul-lame?" he asked, shy and anxious.

"Sprained my off-hind fetlock," she replied.



BOOK II

THE WATCHER



CHAPTER IX

Patience Longstaffe


Patience Longstaffe was the only child of Preacher Joe, of God-First
Farm, on the way to Lewes; and she was very like her father.

He had been brought up a Primitive Methodist and had first heard the
Word at Rehoboth, the little red brick place of worship of the sect on
the outskirts of Polefax; but being strong as he was original he had
seceded from the church of his fathers early in life to the Foundation
Methodists and started a little chapel of his own, which bore on its red
side the inscription that gave the popular name to its founder's farm.

The chapel was hidden away down a lane; but as you drove in to Lewes
along the old coach-road, with the Downs bearing on your left shoulder,
you could not mistake Mr. Longstaffe's farm: for a black barn on the
roadside carried in huge letters the text,

     _Seek ye first the Kingdom of God._

To the cultivated and academic mind there might be something blatant and
vulgar about so loud an invitation.

But if its character estranged the carriage-folk, the man who had put it
up had sought the Kingdom himself, and had, if all was true, found it.
Joe Longstaffe was by common consent a Christian man, and not of that
too general kind which excuses its foolishness and fatuity on the ground
of its religion. The Duke's agent disliked him for political reasons,
but he would admit that the dissenter was the best farmer in the
countryside; and the labourers would have added that he was also the
best employer.

The curious who walked over from Lewes to attend the little chapel in
which he held forth, found nothing remarkable in the big, gaunt man with
the Newgate fringe and clean-shaven lips, who looked like a Scot but was
Sussex born and bred. Joe Longstaffe was not intellectual; his theology
was such that even the Salvation Army shook their heads over it; he had
read nothing but the Bible and Wesley's Diary--and those with pain; he
stuttered and stumbled grotesquely in his speech, and a clerical Oxford
don, who pilgrimaged from Pevensey to hear him, remarked that the only
thing he brought away from the meeting was the phrase, reiterated _ad
nauseam_,

"As I was sayin', as you might say."

But there was one mark-worthy point about the congregation of the
chapel; and the Duke in his shrewd way was the first to note it.

"Nine out of ten of the people who attend are his own folk--his carters,
shepherds, milk-maids, and the like. And they don't go for what they can
get. Now if I started a chapel--as I'm thinkin' of doin'--d'you think my
people'd come? Yes; if they thought they'd get the sack if they didn't."

They went, indeed, these humble folk, because they couldn't help it. And
they couldn't help it because there was a man in that chapel who drew
them as surely as the North Pole draws the magnetic needle. And he drew
them because there was Something in him that would not be denied,
Something that called to their tired and thirsting spirits, called and
comforted. It was not possible to say what that Something was; but this
man had it, and it was very rare. And that tall daughter of his, who
rarely smiled, and never grieved, who was always strong, quiet, and
equable, going about her work regular as the seasons, possessed it, too.

Everybody, indeed, respected Patience Longstaffe, if few loved her.

She was long past thirty, and people were beginning to say that she had
dedicated herself to virginity, when to the amazement of all it was
announced that she would marry Mat Woodburn, the trainer, twenty years
her senior.

The Duke, of whose many failings lack of courage was not one, asked her
boldly why she was doing it.

Her answer was as simple as herself.

"He's a good man," she said.

It was a new and somewhat surprising light on the character of Old Mat,
but the Duke accepted it without demur.

"She's right," he said at the club at Lewes. "Mat's a rogue, but he's
not a wrong 'un." And with his unequalled experience of both classes,
the old peer had every right to speak.

The vulgar-minded, who make the majority of every class in every
country, thought that Preacher Joe would make trouble, and looked
forward hopefully to a row. For at least a month after the announcement
every drawing-room and public-house in South Sussex was rife with
malicious and sometimes amusing stories. The authors of them were doomed
to disappointment. Not only was Mr. Longstaffe quietly and obviously
happy, but he and his son-in-law, who was but five years his junior,
showed themselves to be unusually good friends.

And there was no doubt the marriage was a success. The content on
Patience Woodburn's face was evidence enough of that.

How far the strange and apparently ill-assorted couple affected each
other it was difficult to say. Outwardly, at least, Old Mat remained Old
Mat still, and Patience, although she became Ma Woodburn, went her
strong, still way much as before her marriage. Bred on the land and
loving it, inheriting a wonderful natural way with stock of every kind,
she was from the first her husband's right hand, none the less real
because unsuspected and to a great extent unseen.

She was never known to attend so much as a point-to-point, but when a
colt wasn't furnishing a-right, or a horse entered for a big event was
not coming on as he should, it was Ma who was sent for and Ma who took
the matter in hand.

"I've nothing against horses and racing," she would say. "God meant 'em
to race and jump, I reck'n. But I don't think he meant us to bet and
beer over 'em."

From the first she was a power in the Putnam stable.

Except in a crisis she interfered little with the lads, but when they
went sick or smashed themselves, she took them into her house and nursed
them as though they were her own. If they were grateful they did not
show it; but in times of stress some spirit whose presence you would
never have suspected made itself suddenly and sweetly apparent.

The Bible Class for the lads in her husband's employ she had started on
the first Sunday of her reign at Putnam's.

It was voluntary for those over fifteen; but all the lads attended--"to
oblige."

That class at the start had been the subject of untold jokes in the
racing world.

There had even been witticisms about it in the _Pink Un_ and other
sporting papers.

And when Mat had been asked what he thought of it the story went that he
had answered:

"I winks at ut," adding, with a twinkle: "I winks at a lot--got to now."

Ma Woodburn kept the class going for twenty years, until, indeed, her
daughter was old enough to take it over from her.



CHAPTER X

Her Daughter


Boy Woodburn had been born to the apparently incongruous couple some
years after their marriage.

From the very beginning she had always been Boy. Mrs. Haggard, who
didn't quite approve of the name--and there were many things Mrs.
Haggard didn't quite approve of--once inquired the origin of it.

"I think it came," answered Mrs. Woodburn.

And certainly nobody but the vicar's wife ever thought or spoke of the
girl as Joyce. She grew up in Mrs. Haggard's judgment quite uneducated.
That lady, a good but somewhat officious creature, was genuinely
distressed and made many protests.

The protests were invariably met by Mrs. Woodburn imperturbably as
always.

"It's how my father was bred," she replied in that plain manner of hers,
so plain indeed that conventional people sometimes complained of it as
rude. "That's good enough for me."

Mrs. Haggard carried her complaint to her husband, the vicar.

"There was once a man called Wordsworth, I believe," was all the answer
of that enigmatic creature.

"You're much of a pair, you and Mrs. Woodburn," snapped his wife as she
left the room.

"My dear, you flatter me," replied the quiet vicar.

On the face of it, indeed, Mrs. Haggard had some ground for her anxiety
about the girl.

Boy from the beginning was bred in the stables, lived in them, loved
them.

At four she began to ride astride and had never known a side-saddle or
worn a habit all her life. She took to the pigskin as a duck to water;
and at seven, Monkey Brand, then in his riding prime, gave her up.

"She knows more'n me," he said, half in sorrow, half in pride, as his
erstwhile pupil popped her pony over a Sussex heave-gate.

"Got wings, she have."

"Look-a-there!"

But the girl did not desert her first master. She would sit on a table
in the saddle-room, swinging her legs, and shaking her fair locks as she
listened bright-eyed while Monkey, busy on leather with soap and sponge,
told again the familiar story of Cannibal's National.

It was on her ninth birthday that, at the conclusion of the oft-told
tale, she put a solemn question:

"Monkey Brand!"

"Yes, Minie."

"Do-you-think-I-could-win-with-the National?"

"No sayin' but you might, Min."

The child's eyes became steel. She set her lips, and nodded her flaxen
head with fierce determination.

She never recurred to the matter, or mentioned it to others. But from
that time forth to ride the National winner became her secret ambition,
dwelt upon by day, dreamed over by night, her constant companion in the
saddle, nursed secretly in the heart of her heart, and growing always as
she grew.

Certainly she was a Centaur if ever child was.

To the girl indeed her pony was like a dog. She groomed him, fed him,
took him to be shod, and scampered over the wide-strewn Downs on him,
sometimes bare-backed, sometimes on a numnah, hopping on and off him
light as a bird and active as a kitten.

Mrs. Woodburn let the child go largely her own way.

"Plenty of liberty to enjoy themselves----" that was the principle she
had found successful in the stockyard and the gardens, and she tried it
on Boy without a tremor.

Old Joe Longstaffe on his death-bed confirmed the faith of his daughter
in this matter of the education or non-education of the child.

"Don't meddle," he had said, "God'll grow in her--if you'll let him."

Patience Woodburn never forgot her father's words and never had cause to
regret that she had followed them.

The girl, wayward though she might be at times, never gave her mother a
moment's real anxiety. She was straight as a dart, strong as a young
hawk, fearless as a lion, and free as the wind. Her simplicity, her
purity and strength made people afraid of her. In a crowd they always
made way for her: for she was resolute with the almost ruthless
resolution of one whose purpose is sure and conscience clean.

"You feel," Mr. Haggard once said, "that--she's clear." He waved
vaguely.

"Pity she's a little heathen," said Mrs. Haggard acridly.

"She doesn't know her catechism," answered the mild vicar in his
exasperatingly mild way. "Is she any the worse?"

"Churchman!" snorted his outraged spouse.

Mrs. Haggard's indictment was unfounded. The girl was fierce and swift,
but she was not a heathen. Mrs. Woodburn had seen to that. Sometimes she
used to take the child to the Children's Services in the little old
church on the edge of the Paddock Close. The girl enjoyed the services,
and she loved Mr. Haggard; but when, during her grand-dad's lifetime,
her mother gave the child her choice between the church and the little
God-First chapel on the way to Lewes, she always chose the latter.

It may be that her choice was decided by the fact that she drove to the
chapel and walked to the church; it may be that, dearly as she loved the
vicar, she loved her grand-dad more; or it may be that the simplicity of
the chapel, the austerity of the service, and the character of the
congregation, all of a kind, close to earth, humble of heart, and russet
in hue, attending there for no other reason than because they loved it,
appealed to something profound and ineradicable in the spirit of this
child bred amongst the austere and simple hills to which she knew
herself so close.

Old Mat was fond of saying that the girl's mother could do what she
liked with her, and nobody else could do anything at all.

"I don't try," he would add, "She puts the terror on to me, that gal
do."

And the old man was right.

Different as they were, there was a deep and mysterious sympathy between
mother and daughter. And on that sympathy the mother's power was based.

Only once was her authority, based as it was upon the spirit, subject to
breaking strain.

When the girl was fourteen, Mrs. Woodburn decided to send her to the
High School at Lewes. Old Mat shook his head; Mrs. Haggard was
delighted; the girl herself went about with pursed lips and frozen air.

The vicar, meeting her in the village, stopped her.

"What d'you think about it, Boy?" he asked in his grave, kind way.

"I shall go," blurted the girl. "But I shall win all the same."

"Win what?" asked the vicar.

"_That_," said Boy, and flashed on her way.

When the day of parting came, word was sent round to the stables that
nobody was to be in them at twelve o'clock. At that hour a slight cold
figure crossed the yard swiftly, and entered the stables. The key was
turned in the door. There was no sound from within, except the movement
of the horses, to whom the girl was bidding good-bye.

Half an hour later the door was opened, and she came out, cold and
frosty as she had entered.

Monkey Brand, standing in the door of the saddle-room, keeping guard
over the stable-lads lest they should peep and pry, saw her come.

"She look very grim," he afterward reported to Old Mat.

"Keeps a stiff lip for a little 'un," whispered a lad peeping from
behind the jockey's shoulder.

Monkey Brand rounded on him.

"If you'd 'alf her 'eart," he said, "you might be mistook for a man."

For three weeks thereafter Putnam's knew the girl no more; and it seemed
that the soul had died out of the place. Monkey Brand moped, and swore
the horses moped, too.

"When I goes round my 'orses in the mornin' they look at me like so many
bull-oxes askin' to be slaughtered," he said. "Never see sich a sight.
Never!"

Old Mat for once was glum. His eye lost its twinkle, and his walk its
famous lilt. Mr. Haggard was genuinely sorry for the old man.

"Miss her, Mr. Woodburn?" he asked, stopping the trainer in the village
street.

"Miss her!" cried the other. "Mr. Haggard, there's nothing about Hell
you can teach _me_. I knows it all." He waved a significant hand and
walked away, his heart in his boots.

Of all the party at Putnam's, Mrs. Woodburn only seemed undisturbed.
Unmoved by the gloom of those about her, glum looks, short answers, and
the atmosphere of a November fog, she went about her business as before.

Boy's history during those weeks has never been written, and never will
be. What she did, said, thought, and suffered during that time--and what
others did, said, thought, and suffered because of her--none but the
Recording Angel knows. The girl herself never referred to the point; but
were reference made to it, she winced like a foal at the touch of the
branding-iron.

The episode happily lasted but three weeks.

At the end of that time, on a Saturday morning, one of the lads had
ridden the Fly-away filly over to Lewes. There in the High Street the
girl swooped on him.

"Get off!" she ordered.

The lad, who feared Miss Boy as he did the devil, obeyed with alacrity.

"Put me up!" Boy ordered.

Again the lad obeyed, and the next thing he was aware of was the swish
of the filly's thoroughbred tail as she disappeared round the corner of
the street.

An hour later the girl clattered into the yard at Putnam's, the filly in
a foam.

Monkey Brand, a chamois leather in his hand, came running out.

"Miss Boy!" he cried.

There was an extraordinary air of suppressed excitement about the girl.
She was white-hot and sparkling, yet cold. Indeed, she gave the
impression of a sea of emotions battling beneath a floor of ice.

"I've got out," she said.

Panting, but fearless eyed, she went in to face her mother.

Mrs. Woodburn did not seem surprised.

She met her daughter's resistance with disarming quiet.

"Well, Boy," she said, kissing the truant.

"I'm not going back," panted the girl. Her spirit fluttered furiously as
that of an escaped bird who fears recapture.

"I'm not going to send you back, my dear," replied the mother.

The girl put her arms about her mother's neck in a moment of rare
impulse.

"Oh, mother!" she sighed.

She did not cry: Boy Woodburn was never known to cry. She did not faint.
She very rarely fainted. But she trembled through and through.

Mrs. Woodburn paid the necessary fees. The schoolmistress didn't ask to
have the girl back. She admitted that she could make nothing of her.

"Stuck her toes in," said Old Mat. "And I don't blame her. Can't see Boy
walkin' out two be two, and hand in hand." He shook his head. "Mustn't
put a blood filly in the cart, Mar," he said. "She'll only kick the
caboodlum to pieces."

Mrs. Woodburn made one more effort to educate her daughter on
conventional lines. She introduced a governess to Putnam's. But after
the girl had taken her mistress for a ride, the poor woman came to Mrs.
Woodburn in tears and asked to leave.

"I can't teach her the irregular verbs on horseback," she said. "And she
won't learn any other way. Directly I begin on them, she starts to
gallop."

Mrs. Woodburn accepted the governess's notice, and tried nothing
further.

"She must go her own way now," she said to Mat.

"It's the right way, Mar," replied the old man comfortably.

"I hope so," answered his wife.

"She can read, and she can write, and she can 'rithmetik,'" continued
the other. "What more d'you want with this 'ere education?" He went out,
shaking his head. "I sha'n't wep no tear," he said. "That I sha'n't,
even if she don't get round them wriggle-regular French worms Mamsel
talks of. Roast beef o' old England for me."

Mrs. Woodburn announced her decision to her daughter.

"Thank you, mother," said the girl quietly, and added: "It's no
good--not for me."

Mrs. Woodburn eyed her daughter.

"You're a good maid, Boy," she said. "That's the main."

A month later the girl asked her mother if she might help with the lads'
Bible Class.

Mrs. Woodburn consented.

A year later, when the girl was sixteen, Mrs. Woodburn asked her
daughter if she would take the class alone.

The girl thought it over for a month.

Then she said yes.

In the interval she had passed through a spiritual crisis and made a
great renunciation.

She had resolved to put aside the dream that had dominated her inner
life for seven years.



CHAPTER XI

Brazil Silver


Boy Woodburn's calling had thrown her from early youth into contact with
Eton men.

Indeed, in her experience the world was divided into Eton men--and the
Rest. That was what the girl believed; and it was clearly what the Eton
men believed, too. Boy herself belonged to the Rest, and did not seem to
regret it. The Rest were infinite in number and variety; that was why
she liked them so; for the Infinite can know no limitations. It was not
so with the other division of the Human Race. Eton men, though almost
equally numerous, were limited and stereotyped all to pattern. In the
girl's judgment there were three types of them: the Superior Person, who
treated her as if she was not; the Bad Ass, to whom she was a poor sort
of Joke; and the Incorrigible Creature, who made up to her as if she was
a barmaid.

That was her theory. And once the girl had formed a theory as the result
of observation, she hated that theory to be upset.

Mr. Silver displeased her because he blew her hypothesis to smithereens
on his first appearance; for he was an Eton man, yet clearly he did not
come within any of the three known categories.

At first the girl escaped from her intellectual dilemma by a simple and
purely feminine wile--she refused to believe that he was an Eton man.

And even when it was proved to her that he had rowed in the Eton boat
she remained unconvinced.

"Need you be an Eton man to be in the Eton boat?" she inquired warily.

Mr. Haggard, her informant, thought it probable, but added that he would
inquire.

It was not till she had known the young man some six months that she
settled the question for herself by asking him point-blank if he had
been at Eton.

"I believe so," he answered.

That was his invariable answer to the question when put to him. Now for
once he elaborated on it a little.

"Mother wanted me to go," he added. "Father didn't."

"Were you happy there?" asked the girl.

The other's face lit up with the enthusiasm she liked in him so well.

"Was I not?" he said.

       *       *       *       *       *

Albert Edward took all the credit to himself for the name of Silver Mug.
Albert always took all the credit for everything; but really he was by
no means so original as he imagined.

In fact, Jim Silver had been Silver Mug when Albert was still a ragged
little urchin asking for cigarette pictures from passing toffs outside
Brighton Railway Station.

A Lower Boy at Eton had originated the name. It was apt, and it stuck.

Jim Silver in Bromhead's was hugely rich, and he had a great, ugly,
honest face. Friends and enemies called him by the name; and he had a
good few of both. The former loved him for the qualities the latter
hated him for. The cads of the school chaffed surreptitiously about his
birth. They said he was the grandson of an agricultural labourer and the
son of a bank clerk; but only one of them, more caddish or more
courageous than the rest, said so to his face.

"I wouldn't mind if I was," said simple Jim, and was cheered by his
loyal little friends, Lord Amersham and others of the right kidney.

His father never came to see him when he was at school.

"I know why," sneered the enemy.

"Why, then?" flared Jim.

"He daren't. Give the show away."

After that the lad gave his enemy a sound hiding, and peace reigned. The
bounders might say he was a bounder, but they had to admit that he could
give and take punishment with the best.

       *       *       *       *       *

He left Eton absolutely unspoilt.

A year before the lad quitted the school his father sent for him.

"I didn't want you to go to Eton, Jim," he said. "I'm glad now. Do you
want to go on to Oxford?"

The boy thought; and when his reply came it was honest as himself.

"All my friends are going," he said. "I should like it for that reason.
But I don't know that I should get much out of it."

"Go for a year," said his father. "See what you make of it. If you're
getting any good of it, you can go on. If not, we'll see."

The boy did not leave the room.

His interviews with his father were rare; and there was a question he
had long wished to ask.

Now he blurted it out.

"Am I to go into the Bank, father?"

The old man blinked at his son over his spectacles, and then shoved back
his chair.

"What d'you want?" he asked.

"I should like the Army, or to farm," replied the son.

Mr. Silver put down his paper.

It was some time before he answered.

"The Bank's my life," he said at last. "You're my son. You may choose
for yourself." He drummed with his fingers on the table; and Jim left
the room.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the half-breeds, as Lord Amersham called them, jeered at Silver as
the son of an agricultural labourer there was a modicum of truth at the
back of the lie.

The boy came of a long line of yeoman-farmers in Leicestershire, famous
for generations for their stock and their integrity.

Jim Silver's grandfather was the last of that line. He was a big man and
big farmer, husbanding his wide acres wisely and well, breeding good
stock, enjoying his day's hunting, but not making too much of it,
touching his hat to his landlord, a familiar and imposing figure at all
the Agricultural Shows in the Midlands.

His only son George was in his father's opinion a sport. Certainly he
was no true Silver: that was obvious from his earliest years. He cared
nothing for a horse, was a shamefully bad judge of a beast, had no
feeling for the fields, never knew the real poetic thrill at the sight
and smell of a yard knee deep in muck, and hated mud and rain.

"More of a scholar," said his father regretfully. "All for books and
studyin'."

Mr. Silver, wise as are those who come into contact with Nature at first
hand, did not interfere with his son's queer predilections or attempt to
stay his development on the lines of instinctive preference, aiding the
boy indeed in every way to make the most of himself on the path he had
chosen.

Thus he sent him to the Grammar School at Leicester. The boy went
joyfully: for he was very modern. The town, the books, the people, the
streets, the hum of business, the opening gates of knowledge, pleased
and contented his insatiable young spirit. The father had the reward of
his daring. George did famously and became in time Captain of the
School. The farmer attended prize-giving, and watched his son march up
to the table time after time amidst the cheers of his school-fellows.

"George has got the red rosette again, Mr. Silver," smiled the
Headmaster.

"So I see," replied the farmer. "But the showring's one thing, work's
another." And when pressed to send his son on to a University he
refused.

"He'll get an exhibition," urged the Headmaster.

The father was not impressed.

"Moderation in all things," he said, shaking a shrewd head. "Edication
as well. He's stood out long enough. Time he began to 'arn."

The Headmaster's arguments were of no avail.

"I'd got all the schooling I needed by then I was eleven. He's had till
he's eighteen. If it's to be of any good to him it'll be good now," said
Mr. Silver.

To his surprise and secret pleasure his son backed him. He didn't want
to go to a University.

"It's not much use unless you're a classic," the boy said. "And I'm a
mathematician."

Besides he had his own clear-cut views of what he wished to do. And
those views were very strange. He wanted to go into a Bank.

"Bank!" cried the amazed father. "Set at a counter all day and calcalate
sums?"

The boy grinned behind his spectacles in his foolish way.

"That's about it," he said.

"Well, I never!" cried the father.

But true to his principles he let his son go his own way. Indeed, he
helped him to a clerkship in the great Midland and Birmingham Joint
Stock Bank, of which his landlord, Sir Evelyn Merry, was chairman.

"Glad to get him," said the old baronet. "If he's half as good a man as
his father he'll do well."

The boy started at a local branch, and in a year was transferred to the
central office at Birmingham.

There he spent his spare time attending evening classes. At the end of a
year he held a certificate, was entitled to put certain letters after
his name, and had written an article on bullion which appeared in the
_Banker's Magazine_ and was translated into German.

By the time he was thirty he was a manager, and ten years later he was
one of the managing directors of the second biggest Joint Stock Bank in
the richest country in the world.

And he did not stop there. George Silver was a financier in the great
style, and a superlatively honest one. He had the initiative, the
knowledge, and above all the judgment that made some men call him the
Napoleon of Threadneedle Street. At forty-five he launched the Union
Bank of Brazil and Uruguay; and to that colossal undertaking he devoted
the last twenty-five years of his strenuous and successful life.

In the City he was known thereafter as Brazil Silver.

The Bank was his passion and his life.

When at fifty, to the astonishment of many, he married, the City merely
said:

"He must have an heir to carry on the Bank."

Mrs. Silver was a semi-aristocratic woman of limited intelligence,
suppressed ambition, and sound limbs. It was the latter characteristic
which won her a husband. He was not such a bad judge of make and shape
as his father would have had the world believe; and as usual Brazil
Silver's judgment proved good. In the appointed time his wife fulfilled
her function, and gave him the son he asked of her.



CHAPTER XII

The Eton Man


Jim Silver grew up neither his father's son nor his mother's.

"He's a throw-back--to his grandfather," said old Sir Evelyn.

And in fact from the first the lad's soul hankered after the broad lands
of Leicestershire rather than the counting-house in Threadneedle Street.

His happiest days were spent as a child on his grand-dad's farm, amid
the great horses, and sweet-breathed kine, and golden stacks.

"Back to the land," as his grandfather was fond of saying, was the
child's unspoken motto.

The old man and his sturdy grandchild were rare intimates, and never so
happy as when wandering together about the yards and farm-buildings and
pastures, the child, silent and absorbed, as he clutched his grand-dad's
big brown finger.

The pair did not talk much: they were too content. But there was one
often-repeated conversation which took place between them as they
strolled.

"What goin' to be when you grows up, Jim?"

"Farmer."

"What shall ye breed?"

"Shire-'osses."

The child came back always from those prolonged visits with the sun on
his cheeks, the strength in his limbs, and Leicestershire broad upon his
tongue; and he never understood why his mother cut his visits short on
every imaginable pretext.

At Eton the lad's friends were almost all drawn from the families in
whose blood, after generations of possession, the land and its
belongings had become a real if somewhat perverted passion. They would
sit on into the twilight in each other's studies and ramble on
interminably and with the exaggerated wisdom of seventeen about the
subject nearest to their youthful hearts.

Sometimes Mr. Bromhead would look in, grim and gray behind his
spectacles.

"Talking horses as usual, Jim, I suppose," he would say.

"And dog, sir," corrected young Amersham.

"With an occasional shorthorn chucked in to tip the scale," added old
Sir Evelyn's fair grandson.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Brazil Silver died, the year his son was the heavy-weight in the
Oxford boat, he left a will which was in accordance with his life.

Every penny he had--and he had a good many, as the Chancellor of the
Exchequer remarked in the House of Commons--was tied up in the Bank, and
to remain there.

It was all left to his son. "I can trust him to see to his mother," ran
the will, written on half a sheet of paper, "and to any dependents.
Charities I loathe."

The son was free to save anything he liked from his vast income, but the
capital must stay in the Bank.

The old man made no condition that Jim should enter the Bank, and
expressed no wish to that effect. His friends, therefore, speculated
what Jim would do.

They might have spared themselves the trouble. He left Oxford, in spite
of the protests of the Captain of the boat, who spent a vain but hectic
week pointing out to the apostate the path of duty, which was also the
path of glory, and went into the Bank.

His reasoning, as always, was simple and to the point.

"The Bank was my father's show," he said. "He made it, and left it to me
to carry on. And I shall--to the best of my ability."

With that capacity for dogged grind which distinguished him, he tried to
render himself efficient, working early and late like any clerk.

It was a well-nigh hopeless task. Jim Silver's head was sound if slow;
but he had no aptitude for figures.

"I'm worth two pound a week in the open market," he told his old
house-master. "And I'm supposed to be bossing--that." And he brandished
the latest report of the Bank of which he was nominal chairman.

Notwithstanding obvious differences in many ways, Jim inherited some of
his father's characteristics.

Brazil Silver, in spite of his success, had always remained in his
personal life the simple farmer's son. Indeed, it was said in the City
that he never owned a dress-suit, and that when he had to attend City
banquets he hired his butler's.

When he died he left behind him none of the usual encumbrances. Original
in his private life as in finance, he had steadfastly refused to go the
way of the world. He had never bought a great place in the country or a
big house in town. He had never taken a Scotch moor or a river in
Norway. In London he had a plain but perfectly appointed flat; and
sometimes in the summer he took a house on the river or at St. Helen's.

In these respects Jim followed faithfully in the steps of his father.

He kept on the flat in town, worked in the City all the day, and spent
much time of evenings at the Eton Mission in Hackney Wick.

One small extravagance he attempted: he tried to buy from old Sir Evelyn
the farm on which his fathers had lived and died for generations.

The old gentleman, who would sooner have parted from his soul than from
an acre of his inheritance, refused to sell.

"I suppose the boy'll cut up rough now," grumbled the old baronet, who
was fond of Jim.

"Oh, no, he won't, grandfather," replied his grandson. "He's awfully
decent."

"We shall see," mumbled the old man; but he had shortly to admit that
Billy was right.

Jim Silver, thwarted in his desire to acquire his grandfather's farm,
rented a little hunting-box near by instead. There he kept his
weight-carriers, and there during the hunting season he spent his
week-ends and occasional holidays.

Since the days when he walked his grand-dad's farm as a child, his
ambitions had changed in degree but not in kind. Then he had proposed to
devote his life to breeding shire-horses. Now he meant, when once he had
mastered his job, to devote his leisure to owning and breeding 'chasers.

Some time elapsed after his father's death before he let himself go in
this respect. His sensitive conscience and high sense of duty gave him
an uneasy mind in the matter. His father had disapproved of horses, or
rather had been afraid of the Turf and its consequences.

It was a while before the son could assuage his qualms and feel himself
free to go forward in the prosecution of his desire.

His old house-master, still his father-confessor in spiritual
distresses, finally dispelled the young man's doubts and launched him on
his destined way.

"Be yourself," he said, "as your father was before you. He wouldn't
farm--because he hadn't got it in him. What he had in him was banking.
So like a wise man he banked. You've got it in you to breed steeplechase
horses. So breed them. Only--breed them better than any man ever bred
them before."

The young man's mind once finally resolved, nothing could stop him. And
it was in the pursuit of his desire that he first came across Mat
Woodburn.

The old man and the young took to each other from the first. Indeed,
there was much in common between the two. Both were simple of heart,
children of nature, caring little for the world, and both believed with
passionate conviction that an English thoroughbred was the crown and
glory of God's creatures.

"_HE_ didn't make no mistake _that_ time," the old man was fond of
saying with emphasis, to the amusement of Mr. Haggard and the annoyance
of his wife.



CHAPTER XIII

Boy in Her Eyrie


In the corner of the yard at Putnam's was Billy Bluff's kennel. Above
the kennel, a broad ladder, much haunted by Maudie, the free, who loved
to sit on it and tantalize with her airs of liberty Billy, the prisoner
on his chain, led to the loft above the stable.

It was a very ordinary loft in the roof, dusty, dark, with hay piled in
one corner, a chaff-cutter, and trap-doors in the floor, through which
the forage was thrust down into the mangers of the horses below.

At the end of the loft was a wooden partition. Behind the partition was
the girl's room.

She slept and lived up there over the stable at her own desire. It was
less like being in a house: the girl felt herself her own mistress as
she did not under the maternal roof; and most of all she was near the
horses.

"I keep two watch-dogs at my place," Old Mat would say. "Billy Bluff
a-low and my little gal a-loft."

Boy loved to go to sleep to the sound of the rhythmical munching of the
horses beneath, and to wake to the noise of them blowing their noses in
the dawn. Never a mouse moved in the stable at night but she was aware
of it. And when a horse was training for a big event barely a night
passed but in the small hours a white, bare-footed figure issued from
the partition and came swiftly along the loft, disturbing rats and bats
as she came, to lift a trap-door and look down with guardian eye on the
hope of the stable dreaming unconsciously beneath.

In her solitary eyrie up there the girl learned a great deal.

Elsie Haggard, the vicar's daughter, or, as Mrs. Woodburn would say,
with that touch of satire characteristic of her, the daughter of the
vicar's wife, who was two years older than Boy, and at college, once
asked her if she wasn't afraid.

"Afraid!" asked the girl. "What of?"

"I don't know," answered Elsie. "It's so far from everybody."

"I like being alone," replied the girl. "And there are the horses."

Elsie Haggard shared her mother's concern for Boy Woodburn's soul.

"And Someone Else," she said.

"Yes," replied the girl simply, almost brutally. "There's the Lord."

Elsie Haggard looked at her sharply, suspecting her of flippancy.

Nothing clearly was further from the girl's mind. Her face was unusually
soft, almost dreamy.

"Wherever there are horses and dogs and creatures He is, don't you
think?" she said, quite unconscious that she was quoting inexactly a
recently discovered saying dear to Mr. Haggard.

"Ye-es," answered Elsie dubiously. "Of course, they've got no souls."

The dreamer vanished.

"I don't agree," flashed the girl.

Elsie mounted on her high horse.

"Perhaps you know more about it than my father," she said.

"He doesn't agree, either," retorted the girl mercilessly.

She was right; and Elsie knew it. The vicar's daughter made a lame
recovery. Theology was always her father's weak point.

"Or mother," she said.

"Your mother doesn't know much about a horse," said the girl slowly.

"She knows about their souls," cried Elsie triumphantly.

"She can't if they haven't got them," retorted Boy, with the brutal
logic that distinguished her.

       *       *       *       *       *

Boy Woodburn's room in the loft was characteristic of its owner.

Mr. Haggard said it was full of light and little else.

It was the room of a boy, not of a girl; of a soldier, and not an
artist.

The girl in truth had the limitations of her qualities. She was so near
to Nature that she had no need for Art, and no understanding of it.

The room knew neither carpet, curtain, nor blind. The sun, the wind, and
not seldom the rain and snow were free of it. A small collapsible
camp-bed, a copper basin and jug, an old chest, a corner cupboard--these
constituted the furniture. The walls were whitewashed. Three of them
knew no pictures. On one was her hunting-crop, a cutting-whip, and a
pair of spurs; beneath them a boot-jack and three pairs of soft
riding-boots in various stages of wear. In the corner stood a
tandem-whip.

Above the mantelpiece was one of the plates in which Cannibal had run
the National, framing a photograph of the ugliest horse that ever won
at Aintree--and the biggest, to judge from the size of the plate.
Beneath it was a picture of the Good Shepherd and the Lost Sheep, and a
church almanac. On the mantelpiece were the photographs of her mother,
her father, Monkey Brand in the Putnam colours, and the Passion Play at
Oberammergau; while pinned above the clock was the one poem, other than
certain hymns and psalms, that Boy knew by heart.

It was called _Two on the Downs_, and had been written by Mr. Haggard,
when in the first vigour of youth he had come to take up his ministry in
Cuckmere thirty years since:


Two on the Downs

                      _Climb ho!
                      So we go
                Up the hill to the sky,
          Through the lane where the apple-blossoms blow
                And the lovers pass us by.

                Let them laugh at you and me,
                Let them if they dare!
                They're almost as bad maybe--
                What do we care?

                      Halt ho!
                      On the brow!--
                O, the world is wide!
          And the wind and the waters blow and flow
                In the sun on every side.

                By the dew-pond windy-dark,
                Take a gusty breath;
                The gorse in glory,
                The sunshine hoary
                Upon the sea beneath._

                      _Swing ho!
                      Bowing go,
                Breathless with laughter and song,
          The wind in her wilful hair a-blow,
                Swinging along, along.

                She and I, girl and boy,
                Merrily arm in arm,
                The lark above us,
                And God to love us,
                And keep our hearts from harm.

                      Sing ho!
                      So we go,
                Over Downs that are surging green,
          Under the sky and the seas that lie
                Silvery-strewn between_.

One brilliant morning in early June, some two months after she had
brought the gypsy's mare back to Putnam's on the evening of the Polefax
Meeting, Boy rose early and stood humming the lines as she dressed, to a
simple little tune she had composed for them.

The words were in harmony with her mood and with the morning. In part
they inspired, in part they determined her. As she began the song Boy
was wondering whether she should begin to bathe. Her mind had resolved
itself without effort as she ended.

There had been a week of summer; the tide would be high, and only a day
or two back a coastguard at the Gap had told her that the water was
warming fast.

She went to the window and looked out over the vast green sweep of the
Paddock Close running away up the gorse-crowned hillside that rose like
a rampart at the back.

It was early. The sun had risen, but the mist lay white as yet in the
hollows and hung about the dripping trees. Earth and sky and sea called
her.

The girl slipped into her riding-boots, put her jersey on, and over it
her worn long-skirted coat, twisted her bathing gown and cap inside her
towel, and walked across the loft, the old boards shaking beneath her
swift feet.

At the top of the ladder she paused a moment and looked down.

The fan-tails strutted in the yard; Maudie licked herself on the ladder
just out of the reach of Billy Bluff, who, tossing on his chain, greeted
the girl with a volley of yelps, yaps, howls of triumph, petition,
expectation and joy.

Maudie, less pleased, rose coldly, and descended the ladder. She knew by
experience what to expect when that slight figure came tripping down the
ladder.

The Monster-without-Manners would be let loose upon Society. The
Monster-without-Manners was kept in his place all through the night by a
simple but admirable expedient which Maudie did not profess to
understand. As the sun peeped over the wall, Two-legs appeared at the
top of the ladder, and peace departed from the earth till the sun went
down again, when the Monster-without-Manners resumed his proper place
upon the chain. He did not know how to treat a lady, and was impervious
to scratches that would have taught one less shaggy. He was rough, and
no gentleman.

Maudie herself had the manners of an aristocrat of fiction. She walked
through life, curling a contumelious lip, unshaken by the passions,
aloof from the struggles, high above the emotions that stir and beset
the creatures of the dust. In Maudie's estimation Billy Bluff was a
bounder. Certainly he bounded, and like most bounders he conceived of
himself quite falsely as a funny fellow.

Brooding on her grievances, Maudie strolled thoughtfully across the
yard, one eye always on her enemy, timing herself to be on the top of
the wall just a second before the M.-w.-M. was free to bound.

"Shut up, you ass!" said the girl as she released the bob-tail.

He was away with a roar, scattering the fan-tails, as he launched on his
way to exchange jibes with Maudie, languid, secure, and insolent on the
top of the wall.

The girl went to the saddle-room, took down her saddle and bridle, and
turned into the stable.

For once she was not the first.

Monkey Brand was before her, standing at the head of a now familiar
chestnut pony, waiting, saddled, on the pillar-reins.

"Is Mr. Silver down?" the girl asked, surprised.

"Yes, Miss. Came late last night. Down for the week-end, I believe. He's
goin' for a stretch before he looks at the 'orses," the little jockey
informed her. "They're goin' to gallop Make-Way-There this morning."

"Are they?" said the girl sharply.

It was rarely anything took place in the stable without her knowledge.
And Make-Way-There, who was one of Mr. Silver's horses, was to run at
the Paris Meeting two weeks hence.

The girl, to hide her resentment, placed her hand on the pony's neck,
hard as marble beneath a skin that was soft to the touch as a mole's.

"Ain't he a little clinker?" said Monkey Brand in hushed voice. "They
say Mr. Silver refused £600 for him at Hurlingham. And he took champion
at the Poly Pony Show."

The girl's hand travelled down the pony's neck with firm, strong,
rhythmical stroke.

"Heart of Oak!" she purred affectionately.

Ragamuffin, the old roan pony in the next stall, began to move, restless
and irritable.

"He's jealous, is old Rags," smiled Monkey.

The girl went to the roan.

"Now, then, old man," she said. "Old friends first."

She saddled him and led him out into the yard.

Attached to the d's of the light saddle was a string forage bag such as
cavalry soldiers carry. Into it she stuffed her towel and all that it
contained.

Monkey Brand held the pony's head as she mounted.

"How's the old mare?" she asked, gathering her reins.

"Four Pound?" queried the jockey. "I didn't see her this morning as I
come along, Miss. She must ha' been layin' behind the trees. Another
week, I should say."

"William!" called the girl, and rode through the gate into the Paddock
Close.

       *       *       *       *       *

Since the Polefax Meeting Silver had come and gone continually. His
week-ends he spent frequently at Putnam's, returning to London by the
first train on Monday morning.

"He don't like the Bank, and I don't blame him," said Old Mat. "I reck'n
he'd like to be all the while in the saddle on the Downs."

"Why does he stick to the Bank?" the girl blurted out.

It was the only question she had ever put about Mr. Silver.

"Because he's got to, my dear," replied the sagacious old man. "If he
don't stick to the Bank, the Bank won't stick to him, I guess."

In those months the girl had learned a good deal about Mr. Silver. He
was different from the other men she knew. She had felt that at once on
meeting him. She was shy with him and short; and it was rare for her to
be shy with men. Indeed, in her heart she knew that she was almost
afraid of him. And she had never known herself afraid of a man before.
That made her angry with him, though it was no fault of his.

Then she had resented the unconscious part he had played in the affair
of the wood. She was sure he was laughing at her. And that good, plain,
smileless face of his, and the very fact that he never referred to the
incident, only made her the more suspicious.

His awkward big-dog attempts at friendliness had been repulsed. She
played the Maudie to his Billy Bluff, and all would have been well but
that he refused to get back upon her by bounding. Instead, he apparently
had come to the conclusion that she disliked him, and had withdrawn.

That made her angrier still.

Now she had not even known that he was coming down last night. And worst
and most unforgivable of all, she had not been told that Make-Way-There
was to be galloped that morning.

Ragamuffin, the roan, was surprised when his mistress picked him up
immediately she entered the Paddock Close and pushed him into a canter.



CHAPTER XIV

Old Man Badger


Ragamuffin was old, but his heart was good. Directly his mistress asked
him he snatched for his head and went away smooth and swift as a racing
boat.

Boy pulled off to the right and made for the clump of trees half-way up
the hill.

The gypsy's mare was grazing by herself behind them.

The girl steadied to a halt and watched her critically, calling Billy
Bluff to heel.

She didn't want the boisterous young dog to worry the old mare just now,
and it was clear that Four Pound didn't want it either.

As Billy Bluff skirmished about, she put back her ears and lowered her
head with an irritable motion; but she was far too lazy to make the
charge she threatened.

The girl's inspection made, and conclusions drawn, she pursued her way
up the hill, popped her pony over the low post and rails which fenced
off the Paddock Close from the untamed Downs, and walked leisurely over
the brow, the gorse warm and smelling in the sun.

Beneath her a valley stretched away to the sea. There the cliff rose
steeply to a lighthouse, standing on a bare summit; dipped, and rose
again. In the hollow between the two hills a white coastguard station
sentinelled the Gap, across which the line of the sea stretched like a
silver wire.

Nobody was yet astir save a ploughman driving a team of slow-moving oxen
to the fields. To Boy the beauty of the early morning lay in the fact
that she had the hills and heavens and seas to herself, and could enjoy
them in her own way without thought of interference from a world too
frivolous, too feverish, and above all too loud, to understand.

As she rode along, her young face was uplifted to catch the rivulets of
song that came pouring down on her from the blue.

She dropped down the hill, disturbing the rabbits busy in the dew, and
bursting through the cables of gossamer that tried to stay her. A
kestrel hovered over the gorse, and she marked a badger on the hillside
shuffling home before Man and his Dogs began the old rowdy-dowdy game
once more.

Happily Billy Bluff, who was always too much absorbed in the object
immediately beneath his nose to take long views, did not see him. And
the girl was glad. Sport, in so far as it meant killing the creatures of
the wilderness for pleasure, made no appeal to her. She had no desire
whatever to see a fight between the badger and Billy Bluff. The badger
had in her judgment many qualities. She respected his desire for freedom
and determination to go his own way. Also if the pair fought, the girl
shrewdly suspected that Billy Bluff, big though he was, and bold as a
lion, might be worsted. For Billy, after all, was decadent according to
the standards of the wilderness.

He lived on a chain, protected by the police, and fed by hand. Every man
was not his enemy, and he had not to hunt for each meal or go without.
Billy Bluff, however fine a fellow he might be in his own eyes, was a
poor creature in that of Warrior Badger. Civilization, if it had given
him much of which the badger recked nothing, had also taken her toll of
him.

Thinking vaguely thus, the girl once down the hill caught hold of
Ragamuffin and spun him along the valley between the hills till she came
to the coastguard station, straggling like a flock of sheep across the
Gap.

At the mouth of the Gap was a familiar post.

She slipped Ragamuffin's rein over it, and ran down the steep, uneven
way through the chalk cliff, her bob-tail baying at her side.

Right athwart the Gap, peering into it, shining-eyed and splendid, lay
the sea, calling her.

"I'm coming!" her heart answered with a thrill, and she swooped toward
it with a whoop and widespread arms.

Her feet crashed into the jolly shouting shingle, and she ploughed her
way through it, to the rocks under the cliff which made her bathing
tent.

The tide was brimming and beautiful. It came welling up, curled and fell
with a soft, delicious swish on the answering beach.

Calm and full, twinkling still through faint mists, its shining surface
was ruffled faintly by a light-footed breeze.

Swift as a bird the girl, blue-clad now, came rushing out from her
hiding-place, her fair hair bunched in a cap, the sea in her nostrils,
and exaltation in her heart.

This surely was heaven!

A moment she hovered on the brink, testing the waters with a tentative
foot.

Then with a sigh of content she trusted herself to the deep. It closed
about her like the arms of a friend.

She had not bathed since November, and it seemed to her the ocean
welcomed her, clinging to her, lifting her, loving her, holding her
close.

She buried her face in it, rose dripping, shaking the water off her eyes
and face and hair, and swam out to sea with long and steady strokes.

She did not shout, she did not splash, she did not play the fool, and
did not want to; rejoicing deeply in the quiet of her great friend,
heart to heart and flesh to flesh, while the waters made music all about
her.

The first bath was for her a kind of sacrament. She drew from it the
deep and tranquil exaltation that she supposed Elsie Haggard drew from
Communion.

Fifty yards out to sea she turned and trod water.

Billy Bluff, the old ass, was fussing about on the edge of the tide,
barking at her.

"William!" called the head on the water. "Come on!"

Billy fiddled and flirted and could not bring himself to make the
plunge.

Boy watched him with amused resentment. It was his domesticity which was
his undoing. Old Man Badger on the hillside would never have dillied or
dallied like that.

"Come on!" she ordered deeply. "Or I'll come and lug you in."

Billy marked the imperious note in his young mistress's voice. He ran
this way and that, excused himself, pranced, whined, whimpered, yapped,
barked, tasted the water and didn't like it, tried a dip, and withdrew,
and finally made the effort and shoved off.

He swam rather low. His long, black back lay along the shining surface,
his hair floating like seaweed on either side of him, while he left a
little eddying wake behind him, as he pushed swiftly toward the girl.

As he came nearer she splashed him and he barked joyfully. He made for
her, to paw and sprawl upon her. She evaded him.

Awhile girl and dog sported together in the deep, happy and laughing as
two children.

Then they raced for the shore. He reached it first and, a caricature of
his usual shaggy self, ran up toward her clothes, flinging off showers
of drops.

"Keep off, creature!" she ordered, her big voice emerging strangely from
her wisp of dripping figure, as she walked delicately up the shingle.



CHAPTER XV

The Three J's


Old Mat was fond of telling his intimates that Monkey Brand was fly.

"He do love his little bit o' roguey-poguey," he would say with a
twinkle. And it was the old man's opinion, often expressed, that weight
for age Monkey would beat the crooks at their own game every time.

And when he set the little jockey to snout about and rout out the
business of Joses, he knew he was setting his head-lad a task after his
heart.

Monkey Brand had gone to work indeed with the tenacity and the tact that
distinguished him. Once on a line, he hunted it with the ruthlessness of
a stoat. But this time, it seemed, he had met his match. If Monkey was
cunning as a fox, Joses was wary as a lynx.

The fat man watched the other's manoeuvres with eyes that did not
disguise their amusement. He was always ready for a chat in which Monkey
liberally be-larded him with sirs, was obsequious and deferential; but
he would never cross the door of a public-house, and never, as the
little man reported, "let on."

It was by a chance the seeker came on the clue at last.

One evening he marked his victim down in the Post Office and followed
him quietly. Joses was at the counter sending a telegram. The
postmistress, unable to read the code-address, had asked for
enlightenment.

"Spavin," Joses said; and the secret was out. For all the world knew
that Spavin was the code-address of the shady and successful trainer at
Dewhurst on the Arunvale side of the Downs.

"Who said Jaggers?" came a little voice at his elbow.

The fat man turned to find the jockey close behind him.

"I did," he answered brazenly.

Monkey smiled the smile of a bottle-fed cherub.

"'Ow's my ole pal Chukkers?" he piped.

Joses grinned.

"Just back," he said.

"So I hears," answered the other. "Been teachin' 'em tricks in
Horsetralia, ain't he? Went there by way of God's Country, same as per
usual, huntin' fer black diamonds. What's he brought back this
journey?--a pink-eyed broncho from the Prairees bought for ten cents
from a Texas cow-puncher, and guaranteed to show the English plugs the
way to move."

Joses wagged a shaggy head. If to retain a sense of humour is still to
possess something of a soul, then the fat man was not entirely lost.

"You love Chukkers, don't you?" he said.

"Don't I love all dagos?" asked Monkey. "Sich a pretty little way with
'em they got. Same as a baa-lamb in the meadow 'mong the buttercups."

"Then now I'll tell you something for yourself," said Joses. "He loves
all the English--owners, jockeys, and crowd. But he loves _you_ best."

"Never!" cried Monkey, greatly moved. "Then I'm the man what won the
Greaser's Heart. It's too much."

A few further inquiries, made by Mat, put the thing beyond question.

Joses was watcher for Jaggers, who trained for Ikey Aaronsohnn, for whom
Chukkers rode.

In England, Australia, and the Americas, the three were always spoken of
together as the Three J's--Jaggers, the Jockey, and the Jew. Wherever
horses raced their fame was great, and amongst the English at least it
was evil and ominous.

"Rogues and rasqueals!" Old Mat would say with one of his deep sighs.
"But whatebber should we do without 'em?"

For Putnam's the Three J's had always possessed a particular interest.

Their stable was at Dewhurst, just behind Arunvah, at the other end of
the South Downs. And Dewhurst had been for twenty years the centre of
that campaign to lower the colours of the English thoroughbred, which
Ikey Aaronsohnn had embarked upon in his unforgotten youth.

The little Levantine hailed from New York, Hamburg, and
London--especially the first two. A cosmopolitan banker, and genial
rascal, he had, even in England, a host of friends, and deserved them. A
man of ideals, and extremely tenacious, _objets d'art_ and steeplechase
horses had been his twin passions from his childhood. He collected both
with a judgment amounting to genius. And there were few experts in
either kind who were not prepared to acknowledge him their master.

The day when Ikey, then young, sure of himself, and enthusiastic, had
been called a "bloody little German Jew" in the Paddock at Liverpool by
a noble English sportsman, as he led his first winner home, had been
forgotten by others but not by him. And when a year later the little man
stood for White's Club, on the strength of winning the International,
and was black-balled, the die was cast.

There was no doubt that Ikey had his qualities. Whether he was your
friend or your enemy, he never forgot you; and he gave you cause to
remember him. His memory was long; his temper not to be ruffled; his
humour, in victory and defeat, invincible; his purse unfathomable. He
was never known to be angry, impetuous, or bitter. And he never deviated
from his aim. That aim, as he once told the New York Yacht Club, in
words that were trumpeted across the world, was "to lick the English
thoroughbred on his own ground, at his own game, all the time, and every
way."

What P. Forilland had done for a previous generation of Americans, when
Iroquois snatched the Blue Riband of the Turf from the English and bore
it across the Atlantic, Ikey meant to do some day at Liverpool.

"We've wopped 'em once on the flat, and we'll wop 'em yet across
country," he once said at Meadow Brook.

It was with this end in view that Chukkers, then a kid-jockey from the
West, had crossed the ocean in Ikey's train, and first carried to
victory the star-spangled jacket which for the past twenty years had
caused such heart-burnings among the English owners, trainers, and
jockeys, and such mingled enthusiasm and indignation in the
uncertain-tempered English crowd.

In that twenty years Ikey, if he had never yet achieved his end and won
the Grand National with an other-than-English horse, had given the
Englishmen such a shaking as they had never experienced before.

All over the world, wherever horses were bred, from the Punjab to the
Pampas, and from the Tenterfield Ranges to Old Virginia, he had his
scouts and his stud-farms. It was said that if a wall-eyed pack mule,
carrying quartz in the Nevadas, showed a disposition to gallop and jump
he would be in Ikey's stable in a fortnight, and, if he made good, at
Dewhurst within six months.

It was, of course, with the Walers that the little Levantine came
nearest his desire. He imported them into the old country on a scale
never before dreamed of. Some of them proved themselves great horses,
the equals of the best the English could bring against them: all were
good. And it was only by an act of God, as the enemy English declared,
that Boomerang, the king of them, had failed to win the National and
consummate his owner's long-delayed end.

But Ikey, that merry little rogue, the cup of victory dashed from his
lips, never for a moment lost heart.

As he truly said,

"If I haven't yet found the horse, I've found the jockey that can beat
their best."

And in time he would find the horse, too.

He believed that. So did America.



CHAPTER XVI

The Fat Man


It was notorious that the Three J's (or, to be more exact, Ikey) not
only had their scouts out all over the world, seeking what Monkey Brand
called "black diamonds," but that they had their eyes everywhere in the
Old Country, watching enemy stables. And Joses was the Eye that watched
all the stables on the South Downs from Beachy Head to the Rother--and
Putnam's most of all.

When tackled further on the subject by Monkey Brand, the tout admitted
the fact without demur and even with pride.

"Yes," he swaggered. "I'm a commission agent. A very honourable
profession, too."

"Not ha hartist at all?" queried Monkey, chewing his quid.

Joses laughed and spread himself, throwing back his gingery curls.

"I was at Oxford," he said, "and I've all the tastes of a gentleman. Art
and poetry are my specialties--when my professional duties allow me
time."

The little dark jockey turned in his lips, eyeing the other with bland
interest.

"'Ark to him!" he said. "Don't he talk. Learned the patter at Oxford
College, I expect." He turned on his lame leg. "Anyway, we know now
where we are, Mr. Moses Joses."

       *       *       *       *       *

After the incident in the Post Office Joses dropped his easel and went
about with field-glasses unashamed. To give him his due, there were few
better watchers in the trade. A man of education and great natural
ability, he was quite unscrupulous as to how he achieved his end.

As Chukkers said of him:

"He gets there. Never mind how."

Joses indeed was out early and late, and he was horribly alert. Nobody
knew when and where his fat body and brown face might not be turning up.

"Crawls around like a great red slug," said Old Mat; and it was seldom a
horse did a big gallop but the fat man was there to see.

The morning Boy went for her first dip he was at the lighthouse on the
cliff above the Gap. Whether he had slept there, or risen with the dawn,
it was hard to say. The lighthouse marked the highest point in the
neighbourhood, and was therefore useful for the watcher's purpose. From
there with his glasses he could sweep The Mare's Back and The Giant's
Shoulder and neighbouring ridges on which the horses of the stables in
the district galloped.

The Paris Meeting was the next big event; and Ikey Aaronsohnn's horse
Jackaroo--the waler Chukkers had just brought back with him from the
other side--was to make his first appearance at it. There was only one
English horse of which the Dewhurst stable had not the measure, and that
was the Putnam mare Make-Way-There. Jaggers, in that curt, sub-acid way
of his, had instructed Joses to report on her form, and "to make no
mistake about it."

The tout had touched his hat and answered:

"Very good, sir."

Now it was well known that a man had to be up very early in every sense
if he wanted to keep an eye on a Putnam horse. Mat Woodburn might be
old, but he was by no means sleepy; and Joses could not afford to
blunder.

Last night two telegrams had come to Cuckmere: one was to Silver from
Chukkers, and the other to Joses from Jaggers. They had been written at
the same moment by the same man. And the one to Joses ran--

          _Make-Way-There to-morrow._

Standing under the lee of the lighthouse, seeing while himself unseen,
the tout kept his eyes to his glasses.

Little escaped him. He saw the badger moving on the hillside, and
watched the girl on her pony come over the crest from Putnam's, a slight
figure black against the sky. He followed her as she dropped down the
hill and scampered along the valley, marked her hang her pony's rein
over the post, and disappear down the gap.

Joses closed his glasses. His face became a dirty red. It was as though
the mud in him had been stirred by an obscene hand.

In a moment a slight figure in a blue gown appeared from under the cliff
and entered the sea.

Shoving his glasses into his pocket, Joses began to shuffle down the
hill toward the Gap. The kittiwakes flashed and swept and hovered in the
blue above him. The sea shone and twinkled far beneath. A great,
brown-sailed barge lolled lazily by under the cliff.

He was unaware of them, shuffling over the short, sweet-scented turf
like some great human hog, snorting as he went, his eyes on that little
bobbing black dot on the face of the waters beneath him.

There was no cover. The turf lifted its calm face to the naked sky. And
he crept along, crouching in himself, as though fearing detection from
on high.

The girl was in and out of the water again with astonishing speed. By
the time the tout had reached the foot of the hill she was under the
cliff again and out of sight. He peered over stealthily. There was
nothing much to see but a dark blue gown spread on a rock to dry, and
behind the rock the bob of a bathing cap.

The Gap was three hundred yards away. A sleepy coastguard had emerged
from one of the cottages and was washing at a tub of rain water.

Where Joses stood the cliff was low, scarcely twenty feet above the
beach, and was not entirely precipitous.

He pocketed his glasses and scrambled panting down to the beach.

Then he began to stalk the rock decorated with the bathing gown; and he
did not look pretty.

His hot red face perspired, and he panted as he crawled.

It is hard to say what was in his heart, and better perhaps not to
inquire.

One thing only stood out clearly in his mind.

He owed that girl behind the rock _two_; and Joses rarely forgot to pay
his debts.

There was first the affair of the wood. He suffered pain and
inconvenience still as the result of that incident, and the doctor told
him that he might expect to continue to suffer it. And what mattered
more, there was the sense of humiliation and the disfigurement. His
nose, never a thing of beauty, was now a standing offence. The children
ran from it, and Joses was genuinely fond of children. The little
daughter of Mrs. Boam, his landlady, Jenny, once his friend, had now
deserted him.

And there was the matter of the young man, which he found it even harder
to forgive. That young man was Silver, and he was a Mug. A mug was made
to be drained; and Joses had dreamed that to him would fall the draining
of this singularly fine specimen of his class. His attachment to the
firm of the Three J's, based largely on fear, was not such but that he
would break it at any moment could he do so with security and profit.

He had known all about Silver long before he had turned up at Putnam's;
it was part of his business to know about such young men. Indeed, he had
made an abortive, determined, and characteristically tortuous attempt to
sweep the young man and his horses into Jaggers's capacious net.

Silver indeed had hesitated awhile between the two stables. Then he had
met Jaggers, and had decided at once--against Dewhurst. When the game
was finally lost, and it was known that Putnam's had come out top again
in the struggle that had lasted between the two stables for thirty
years, the tout changed his method but never lost sight of his ideal;
yearning over the rich young man as a mother yearns over a child.

His dreams had been shattered finally in the wood a month back, and for
that dêbâcle the girl behind the rock must be held responsible.



CHAPTER XVII

Boy Sees a Vision


Joses when in liquor was wont to boast that his memory was good, and he
was right upon the whole. But on this occasion he had forgotten
something, and that something was Billy Bluff. Billy and Joses had met
before, as Monkey Brand had pointed out to Mat, and had agreed to
dislike each other. And when Joses began his stalk, Billy Bluff started
on a stalk of his own.

Boy Woodburn, peeping between two rocks, watched with grim glee. Her
senses, quick as those of a wild creature, had warned her long ago of
the Great Beast's approach. For Joses to imagine he could take her by
surprise was as though a beery bullock believed that he could catch a
lark. The girl was almost sorry for the man: his fatness, his fatuity
appealed to her pity. Alert as a leopard, she was not in the least
afraid of him. In the wood, true, he had caught her, but her downfall
there she owed to a sprain. Here in the open, in her riding things, she
could run rings about her enemy.

Lying on her face behind the rock, she watched the little drama.

Billy Bluff, wet still from the sea, his hair clinging about his ribs,
and giving him the air of a heraldic griffin, crept on the puffing fat
man and hurled at him with a roar.

The assault was entirely unexpected.

"You--bear!" blurted Joses, the picturesque phrase popping out of him
like a cork from a heady bottle of champagne.

He struggled to his feet, picked up a stone, and slung it at the
charging dog.

Billy Bluff meant business; and it was well for his enemy that the stone
struck him on the fore-paw. The blow steadied, but it did not stop, the
dog. He gave a little gurgle and came again on three legs in silent
fury.

Joses made for the cliff, where a fall had constituted a steep ramp. He
scrambled up it, an avalanche of chalk slipping away from beneath his
feet and half burying the pursuing dog.

He panted up to the top of the ramp, and stood with his back to the
cliff, looking down on his attacker.

Billy Bluff could not make his footing good upon the shale.

He lay at the foot of the cliff, one eye on his prey, licking his
damaged paw, and swearing beneath his breath. And it was clear he did
not mean to budge.

Joses turned his face to the cliff. He got his hands on the top, and
lifting himself, could just peer over the edge of the cliff and see the
green and the gorse beyond. Unaided, he could do no more.

Happily help was at hand.

A man on a chestnut pony was standing on the turf not twenty yards away.

"Give me a hand up, will you?" he panted. "That ---- of a dog!"

The young man approached.

"By all means," he said, in a deep, familiar voice.

It was Silver.

Joses did not mind that. He was not at all above taking a hand from an
enemy in an emergency.

And young Silver seemed surprisingly kind. Big men usually were.

The young man got off his pony, came to the edge of the cliff, and gave
the perspiring tout his hand. With a heave and a lurch Joses scrambled
to the top.

How strong the fellow was! No horse would ever get away with _him_.

"Good of you," panted the fat man, rising to his feet.

"Not at all," replied Silver. "It was less trouble to pull you up than
to come down to you."

There was a note in his quiet voice Joses did not like.

"What you mean?" he asked.

"I'm going to give you a hiding," observed the other mildly.

Joses looked aghast at his rescuer and snorted. He shot forward his
shaggy face, and the action seemed to depress his chest and obtrude his
stomach.

"Whaffor?" he asked, in tones that betrayed the fact that such
experiences were not entirely new to him.

"I don't know," said Silver in his exasperatingly lazy way. "I feel I'd
rather like to."

He seemed quietly amused, much more so than was Joses. And he meant what
he said. His clean, calm face, his mouth so determined and yet so mild,
his steady eyes and the thrust of his jaw, all betrayed his resolution.

"Here, stow it!" stammered the fat man. "Chuck the chaff. A gentleman!"

"I'm not chaffing," said Silver in a matter-of-fact way. "How d'you like
it?"

"What ye mean?"

"Will you put your hands up--or will you take it lying?"

His pony's rein was over the young man's arm; and they were standing on
the edge of the cliff. Joses, weighing his chances with the swift and
comprehending eye of fear, marked it greedily. Silver was young, strong,
an athlete; but he was handicapped.

Joses's cunning was returning to reinforce his doubtful heart.

"That's Heart of Oak, isn't it?" he asked.

"Is it?" said the young man.

"The model polo pony," continued Joses. "Refused £600 for him at
Islington, didn't you? And I don't blame you. You're rich, we all know,
Mr. Silver. £600's no more to you than sixpence to me. But there's the
pony! You can't replace him. Pity if he got away here on the edge of the
cliff and all."

For the second time that morning Joses's luck deserted him.

"I'll hold your pony," said a deep voice from behind.

The fat man turned.

Boy Woodburn stood behind him.

Fresh from the sea, her hair in short, thick plaits of gold, dark and
wet and bare; with the eyes of a sword and the colour of an
apple-blossom; the brine upon her and the brown of wind and sun; in her
breeches, boots, and jersey, her big dog straining on his lead, she
looked like Diana turned post-boy.

"Thank you," said the young man, handing over his pony.

Joses snorted.

"Call yourself a woman!" he cried.

"I'm all right," answered the girl, seating herself critically on a
mound, the pony in one hand, the dog in the other. "Don't hit him over
the heart," she advised out of some experience of race-course scraps.
"There might be trouble."

"I sha'n't hit him at all," replied the young man. He seized the fat man
by the shoulder and spun him round. "I shall--_shake_ him, and--_punt_
him."

The girl did not know what punting meant, but it sounded good and was
not so bad to watch.

Silver was applying his knee to his victim with precision and power. The
fat man's teeth seemed to rattle under the pounding shocks. The words
came joggling out of him, and they were not pretty words. He struck
backward with his arms and feet, wriggling to get his plump shoulders
free; but he was helpless as a baby in the arms of a nurse.

Silver was strong. Joses was right in that if in nothing else.

"He's killing me!" he gasped. "Fetch the coastguard!"

"No, thank you," said the girl.

The young man loosed his prey at last, and sent him spinning forward,
projecting him with a kick.

Joses fell on his face, and stayed there fumbling, while he vomited
oaths.

"Look out!" cried the girl sharply. "He's got a knife, and he'll use
it."

She was right. Joses was busy with that wooden-handled sheath-knife of
his.

Silver took a step forward.

"Ah, then!--would you?" he scolded, and hit the other a tap over the
wrist with the handle of his hunting crop.

Joses yelped and dropped the knife.

Then he scrambled to his feet, wringing his hand.

The brown of his face had turned a dirty livid.

"I see what it is!" he cried. "Assignation. And I spoiled the
sport--what! You and the dandy toff.

          _Him and me,
          Beside the sea._

_Quite_ unintentional, I assure you!"

He bowed, cackling horribly.

Silver looked ugly.

"Now then!" he said, and advanced a pace.

The girl put a staying hand upon him; and the tout shambled away toward
the Gap, muttering to himself.

Silver turned to his companion. He was breathing deep, but outwardly
unmoved.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yes," she said. "He knocked Billy Bluff out, but he didn't touch me.
Hold your paw, Bill! It's nothing much. I shall put him on a wet bandage
soaked in borax when I get home."

A sound of hand-clapping and hoarse laughter ascended to them from the
Gap.

Joses had slipped Ragamuffin's reins over the post, and was clapping his
hands. Then he took up a pebble and threw it at the roan. The old pony
went off at a gallop and with trailing reins.

Boy watched him calmly.

"I should have thought of that," she said.

Silver was starting off down the hill toward the mocking figure at the
mouth of the Gap; but the girl stopped him.

"You get on and ride up the valley," she said. "Ragamuffin'll stop to
graze under the lighthouse; and you'll collar him there."

Silver hesitated.

"What about you?" he asked.

"I shall be all right," she answered. "I've got the legs of him."

He mounted and went off at a canter, Billy Bluff pursuing him.

The girl walked down toward the Gap, looking ridiculously slight in her
post-boy attire.

Joses had disappeared.

As she came to the mouth of the Gap and picked up her coat, her towel,
and the tackle she had thrown down, she saw him.

He was standing in the Gap, between the white chalk walls, nursing his
hand.

She was glad he was down there. He would be safe at least from Mr.
Silver.

As she put on her coat she looked at him with calm, musing eyes. The
Spirit of Action was laid to sleep in her. In its place a Moving Dream,
welling up as it were out of Time into Eternity, possessed her slowly.
These Other-Conscious Moments, as Mr. Haggard called them, grew on the
girl with the growing years. She was aware of them in others--in her
mother, Mr. Haggard, her grand-dad--but hardly so in herself. They were
of her, yet beyond her--mysterious invasions from she knew not where,
gleams of Eden from exile. At these times she saw men as trees walking
and all created things as part and expression of a Huge Vague Life of
Wonder and Beauty without end.

And now, as she looked at the man in the Gap she said with quiet
severity, as though addressing one of the lads at Bible Class:

"You _are_ a naughty boy."

He glanced up at her from his earth.

She saw his eyes, and the suffering in them, and recognised them with a
start. They were the eyes of a fox she had seen last season dug out of
an earth to the screams of men and halloos of women, after a long run,
that hounds might not be defrauded of blood.

And she felt now as she had felt then. A passion of sympathy, a sea of
furious indignation, boiled up within her. Something pitifully forlorn
about the man struck her to the heart. Quite suddenly she felt sorry for
him; sorry with the sorrow that has sent heroes and saints throughout
the ages to persecution and death with joy, if only they may relieve by
ever so little the sufferings of sinful humanity.

Boy Woodburn was not a saint and was not a hero; but she was on the way
to be a woman. The Voice that was not hers spoke out of her deeps.

"Why did you do that?" she asked quietly.

There was no anger in her tone or spirit; no sorrow, no surprise. She
was curiously impersonal.

The fox showed his teeth.

"I'll do worse than that yet," he said.

The girl found herself gulping.

She looked at him through shining eyes. And as she did so it came in
upon her that this degraded creature had once been beautiful. Ruin as he
was, there was still about him something tragic and forlorn as of a
great moor over which a beaten host has retreated, leaving desolation in
its wake.

The man in the Gap wrung his wrist.

The girl took a step toward him.

"May I look at it?" she said.

He glanced up at her again, much as glances a dog which has had a
licking and is uncertain whether the hand stretched out is that of an
enemy or a friend.

"Likely," he snarled. "You'd bite."



CHAPTER XVIII

Two on the Downs


Silver came trotting up with Ragamuffin trailing discontentedly behind.

The old roan didn't really mind being caught, but he dearly loved to
pretend he did.

Billy Bluff, who had already forgotten his injury, limped along behind,
busy and cheerful.

Both man and dog had on their faces the same jolly grin of health and
happiness, the result of a sound conscience and still more a sound
digestion.

"He didn't take much catching," said the young man. "And Billy Bluff
helped."

Boy looked at her dog.

"I saw him helping," she said sternly. "You old scoundrel, you!"

The young dog lay on the ground and gnawed his wounded paw complacently.
He loved being scolded by his mistress when she was not too serious.

The girl stuffed her towel and all it contained into the forage bag.

"Shall I give you a leg up?" asked Silver.

"It's all right," she answered.

She mounted and rode alongside him.

"Where's our friend?" he asked.

"Gone to earth."

"What!--down the Gap?" He turned on her with that delightful eagerness
which constantly revealed him to her as a boy in spite of that plain,
grave face of his. "Shall I draw him?"

She shook her head gravely.

"Poor old thing," she said.

He steadied instantly to her mood.

"Are you sorry for him?" he asked.

Boy looked away, shy and wary.

"Sometimes," she said. "He must have had a pig's time to be so rotten as
that."

It was a new view to the young man, and sobered him.

"Perhaps," he said doubtfully. He was thinking out the question in his
slow way. "It may be his own fault," he said. "You make yourself, I
think."

"Part," answered the girl. "And part you are made by your surroundings.
That's the way with young stock anyhow. It's a bit how they are
bred--the blood in them; and part the food they get, and the air and
liberty and sun they're allowed."

"I suppose so," said Silver quietly. "Certainly our friend's food don't
seem to have suited him."

The girl refused to be amused.

"He's come down," she said. "Mr. Haggard says he was once a gentleman."

"Some time since, I should guess," replied Silver. "What!"

They were moving along a narrow cart-track that led across a fallow. He
was riding behind her, his eyes on her back. The bathing cap had been
stuffed away, and her hair, still dark from the sea, was bare to the
sun.

"I'm glad you came," she said casually over her shoulder.

"I was just out for a canter before going to look at the horses," he
answered.

She nodded to where against the skyline a string of tall, thin-legged
black creatures, each with a blob of jockey on his back, paraded
solemnly against the sky.

"See them!" she said. "On the Mare's Back." She watched them critically.
"That's Make-Way-There--No. 2 in the string. Now she's playing up." She
lifted her voice. "_Don't pull at her, you little goat!_"

"They're going to gallop her this morning, I believe," said Silver. "You
hear Chukkers has let me down?"

"No!" cried the girl keenly.

"Yes; he wired last night to say he couldn't ride for me at Paris."

If it was news to the girl, it was by no means unexpected, and she took
the blow with philosophical calm.

"That was certain once he knew we were training for you," she said. "I
suppose dad's going to see who he'll give the ride to."

"Shall we canter?" said the young man. "I don't want to miss it."

"That's all right," replied the girl. "Father won't set 'em their work
till I come."

It was clear she wished to keep him walking at her side, and he was
pleased.

The incident on the cliff had brought them closer. For the first time
the young man felt the warmth of the girl breaking through the barriers
of her reserve. Her eyes, when they met his, were friendly, even
affectionate. It was his turn to be pleasantly shy.

"D'you love them?" she asked.

She felt somehow so much older than he that she was free to question
him.

"The horses?" he asked. "_Rur-rather_," with that infectious enthusiasm
of his.

"You've got some pretty good ones," she told him.

"D'you think so?" keenly.

She nodded.

"Raw, but they'll come on. That's what you want."

"Any up to National form?" he asked.

"Make-Way-There might be good enough in a season or two if she'll stay,"
she said. "You can never tell. She's only four off."

They began to breast the slope of the Mare's Back.

"I've only had one real ambition in life," he said confidentially.

She looked at him.

"What?"

"To win the Nun-National."

She beamed on him friendly.

"I used to have one," she said--"till last year: tremendously."

"What's that?"

"To ride the National winner."

She peeped to see if he was mocking. He was sober as a judge.

"You may yet."

"Not now."

"Why not?" he asked. "Because it's against the National Hunt Rules?"

"Not that," she said with scorn. "I could get round their rotten rules
if I wanted."

"How?" he asked.

She glanced at him warily.

"Eighteen months ago a lad came into our stable who was rather like me."

He laughed merrily.

"Good for you!" he cried. "Now put your idea into practise."

She shook her head.

"Why not?"

"I don't want to win the National now."

"Don't you?"

She looked up into his face.

"I'm too old," she said. "I've got to put my hair up this winter."

The confidence once made frightened her.

She broke into a canter, Heart of Oak striding at her side. The hill
steepened against them just under the brow, and they came back into a
walk.

"If I was my own master I should farm and breed horses," said the young
man.

She glanced at him keenly.

"Aren't you your own master?"

He shook his head.

"I've got to stick to the desk."

"D'you like it?"

He looked away.

"I shall never make a banker," he said. "You see, I'm no good at sums."
He flicked at the turf with his thong. "Now my father was a born
financier. He could do that--and nothing much else. If there are no
banks in heaven I'm afraid he'll be terribly bored. But I'm a farmer--or
a fool; I'm not quite sure which. If my father had lived it might have
been different. He might have entered me. But he died during my second
year at Oxford four years ago, and I had to buckle to and do the best I
could for myself."

"Bad luck," said the girl.

"It was, rather," admitted the young man. "But it gave me my head in
one way. You see, father didn't approve of horses, though he was a
farmer's son himself. He was afraid of the Turf. But he was always very
good to me. He let me hunt when I was a boy though he didn't like it."
The young man laughed. "But when I grew big he was awfully pleased.
'You'll never make a jockey now,' he used to say. And I never shall."

Boy ran her eye approvingly over his loose, big-limbed figure.

"You play polo, don't you?" she said.

"I do, a bit," he admitted.

"Back for England, isn't it?" she asked.

"This old pony did," Silver answered. "And he used to take me along
sometimes."

"Don't you play still?" she inquired.

"I haven't this season, and I sha'n't again," he answered. "To play
first-class polo you must be in the top of condition. And they keep my
nose too close to the grindstone. Besides, pup-polo's very jolly, but
'chasing's the thing!"

They topped the brow. The crest of the Downs swelled away before them
like a great green carpet lifted by the wind.

"There they are!" cried Boy, beginning to canter.



CHAPTER XIX

Cannibal's National


Old Mat sat dumped in familiar attitude on a cob as full of corners and
character as himself.

The trainer was thumping mechanically with his heels, sucking at the
knob of his ash-plant, his legs in trousers that had slipped up to show
his gray socks, and his feet shod with elastic-sided boots.

He glanced shrewdly at the pair as they rode up.

"Good morning, sir," he said, touching his hat. "So Chukkers has chucked
you."

"So I believe," answered Silver.

"I wep' a tear when they tell me. I did reelly," said the old man,
dabbing his eye. "He's goin' to ride Ikey's Jackaroo--that
donkey-coloured waler he brought home from Back o' Sunday. That's what
he's after."

Silver nodded.

"I'm not altogether sorry," he said quietly. "And I'm not entirely
surprised."

"Nor ain't I," replied Mat, with faint irony. "Not altogether
somersaulted with surprise, as you might say. We knows Chukkers, and
Chukkers knows us--de we." He dropped his voice. "Monkey Brand'll tell
you a tale or two about his ole friend. You arst him one day when you
gets him on the go."

He raised his voice and began to thump the air with his fist.

"Rogues and rasqueals, Mr. Silver!" he cried in a kind of ecstasy.
"Emmin on you in--same as the Psalmist says. But we got to love 'em all
the same; else we'll nebber, nebber lead their liddle feet into the
way." He coughed, wiped the back of his hand apologetically across his
lips, and ended dryly: "Not the Three J's anyway!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The horses were walking round the little group. Tall, sheeted
thoroughbreds, each with his lad perched like a bird on his back, they
swung daintily over the turf, blowing their noses, swishing their long
tails, miracles of strength and beauty.

Monkey Brand led them on Goosey Gander, bandaged to the knees and hocks.
Albert followed him on Make-Way-There, a pretty bay, with a white star.
The lad's lips were turned in, and his face was stiff with aspiration
and desire. That morning he hoped to have his chance, and he purposed to
make the most of it. Jerry, the economist with the corrugated brow,
followed him on a snake-necked chestnut. He sat up aloft, his shoulders
square, his little legs clipping his mount, a Napoleon of the saddle,
pondering apparently the great things of life and death. In fact, he was
cogitating whether if he smoked behind the Lads' Barn at nights it was
likely that he would be caught out by Miss Boy. Next came Stanley, the
stupid, surreptitiously nagging at the flashy black he rode. Young
Stanley was in evil mood, and he meant his horse to know it. His dark
and heavy face was full of injured dignity and spite. Last night
Chukkers, just back from winning the Australian National, had wired to
say he couldn't keep his engagement to ride Make-Way-There at Paris.
Monkey Brand would not ride, as his leg had been troubling him again;
and Jerry had it that Albert, who was Make-Way-There's lad, was to get
the mount. Stanley resented the suggestion. Albert had never yet ridden
in public, while he, Stanley, had sported silk half-a-dozen times and
had won over the sticks.

"Pull out, Brand," grunted the old trainer.

The little jockey yielded the lead to Albert, and joined the group of
watchers.

The lads continued their patrol.

"What's the going like on the top there, Brand?" asked the old man.

"Not so bad, sir," the other answered. "Tidy drop o dew, I reck'n."

Make-Way-There, now she had the lead, showed a tendency to swagger. She
bounced and tossed. The fair lad, swaying to the motions of his horse,
rode the fretting creature patiently and well.

"She's a bit okkud yet," said Monkey, watching critically. "_Woa, my
lady. Woa then._"

"It's the condition comin' out of her," muttered Mat. "She's all of a
bubble. Fret herself into a sweat. Boy, you'd better take her. Send her
along five furlongs smart and bustle her a bit as she comes up the
slope."

"No," said the girl.

The old man threw a swift glance at her.

Boy had stuck her toes in again. He knew all the symptoms of old and
made no effort to overcome them. She was growing into a woman, Boy was.
That was the young man. A while back she cared not a rap for all the men
in creation.

The old man made a mental note for reference to Ma.

"Albert can ride her," said the girl. "I want to see if he's coming on."

Jerry, the true prophet, winked; Stanley jobbed the black in the mouth
and kicked him; Albert, his face firm and important, drew out. He had at
least one of the qualities of a jockey--supreme self-confidence.

"Take her along at three-quarter speed till you get round them
goss-bushes," growled Old Mat. "And when you feel the hill against you
shove her for a furlong. Don't ride her out. And no fancy pranks, mind."

"And sit still," said the girl.

"Jerry, you take him along," continued the trainer.

The lads made sundry guttural noises in their throats, leaned forward as
though to whisper in their horses' ears, and stole easily away.

A flash of swift feet, a diminishing thunder of hooves, and the pair
made a broad sweep round the gorse-clump and came racing home.

Once the girl spoke.

"Keep your hands quiet," she ordered deeply.

Opposite them Jerry took a pull, but Albert and the mare went thundering
past the watching group, the lad's fair head bowed over his horse's
withers. He had her fairly extended, yet going well within herself, her
head tucked into her chest.

On the ridge behind them he steadied to a walk, jumped off, and led the
mare, breathing deep and flinging the foam abroad, down to the party.

"That's a little bit o' better," muttered the old man. "She can slip it.
That lad'll ride yet, Boy."

"Perhaps; but don't tell him so," said the girl sharply.

She walked her pony across to the lad, and laid her hand on the mare's
wet neck.

"That's a little better to-day, Albert," she said. "But you ought to
steady a bit before you come."

The boy touched his cap and rode arrogantly on to join the other lads.

Monkey Brand saw the look upon his face.

"Once you knows you know nothin', you may learn somethin'," he said
confidentially as the lad passed him. Then he turned with a wink to
Silver and said _sotto-voce_: "They calls him Boysie when he's crossed
'em. See he apes Miss Boy. He features her a bit, and he knows it. She's
teaching him to ride, and he's picked up some of her tricks. Course he
ain't got her way with 'em. But he might make a tidy little 'orseman one
o' these days, as I tells him, if so be he was to tumble on his head a
nice few times and get the conceit knocked out of him."

The lads continued their patrol.

Their knees were to their chins, and their hands thrust in front of
them, a rein in each, almost as though they were about to pound a big
drum with their fists.

Monkey nodded at them.

"She rides long, Miss Boy do--old style, cavalry style, same as you
yourself, sir. They've all got the monkey-up-a-stick seat."

"Don't you believe in it?" asked the young man.

The other shook his head. He was himself a beautiful horseman of the Tom
Cannon school; too beautiful, his critics sometimes said, to be entirely
effective.

"Not for 'chasin," he said. "You can't lift a horse and squeeze him,
unless you've got your legs curled right away round him. They ain't
jockeys, as I tells 'em. They rides like poodle-dogs at a circus. There
ought to be paper-'oops for em to jump through. No, sir. It may be
Chukkers, as I says, but it ain't 'orsemanship."

The young man angled for the story that was waiting to be caught.

"Yet Chukkers wins," he said. "He's headed the list for five seasons
now."

"He wins," said Monkey grimly. "Them as has rode against him knows 'ow."

Silver edged his pony up along the other.

"You've ridden against him?" he inquired with cunning innocence.

The little jockey's eyes became dreamy.

"My ole pal Chukkers," he mused. "Him and me. Yes, I've rode agin' him
twenty year now. He was twelve first time we met, and I was turned
twenty. The Mexican Kid they called him in them days. Kid he was; but
wise to the world?--not 'alf!" ...

"Was that his first race?" asked Silver.

"It was so, sir--this side. Ikey'd just brought him across the Puddle to
ride that Austrian mare, Laria Louisa. Same old stunt it was then as
now--_Down the Englishman, don't matter how._ Yes, it was my first smell
of the star-spangled jacket."

"Was that when you got your leg?"

"No, sir. That was eight years later. Boomerang's year. He was the first
waler Ikey brought over this side to do the trick. My! he were a proper
great 'orse, too. I was riding Chittabob--like a pony alongside him. At
the Canal Turn Chukkers ran me onto the rails." He told the tale slowly,
rolling it in the mouth, as it were. "Chukkers went on by himself.
Nobody near him. Thought he'd done it that time. Only where it was
Boomerang snap his leg at the last fence. Yes, sir," mystically,
"there's One above all right--sometimes, 'tall events."

"And you?" said Silver.

The little jockey thrust out his left leg.

"I was in 'orspital three months.... Howsomever, it come out in the wash
next year."

"That was Cannibal's year, wasn't it?" asked Silver.

"Ah!" said Monkey. "Cannibal!--his name and his nature, too. He was a
man-eater, that 'orse was. Look like a camel and lep like a
h'earthquake. It was just the very reverse that year. Chukkers was on
Jezebel, Chukkers was. She was a varmint little thing enough--Syrian
bred, I have 'eard 'em say. And he was out to win all right that
journey. There was only us two in it when we come to Beecher's Brook
second time round." He came a little closer. "So when we got to the
Canal Turn I rides up alongside. 'That you, Mr. Childers?' I says, and
bumps him. That shifted him for Valentine's Brook. There's a tidy drop
there, sir, as you may remember. Chukkers lost his stirrup, and was
crawling about on her withers. I hove up alongside agin'. He saw me
comin' and made a shockin' face. 'Clear!' he screams, 'or I'll welt you
across the ---- monkey mug!' And just then, blest if old Cannibal didn't
make another mistake and cannon into him agin'. That spilt him proper!
Oh, my, Mr. Silver!--my! And I sail 'ome alone. Oh, he was a reg'lar
outrageous 'orse, Cannibal was." He dropped his voice. "When he come out
of 'orspital of course he made a fuss about it, he and Jaggers and
Jew-boy Aaronsohnn. But of course I knew nothin' about it; nor did
nobody else. See, they all knew Chukkers. He'd tried it on 'em all one
time or another. And I told the Stewards I was very sorry the fall had
gone to 'is 'ead. Only little Bertie Butler--him with the squint, what
won the Sefton this year, you know--who'd been following Chukkers--he
says to me: 'Next time you're goin' to play billiards with Chukkers, Mr.
Brand, tip us the wink, will you?'"



CHAPTER XX

The Paddock Close


The girl's voice broke in on them.

"I'm going home now," she cried abruptly.

"Right," answered Silver. "May I come along?"

As he swung round, he saw the girl already jogging away. He pursued
leisurely, anxious to talk about Make-Way-There, the Paris Meeting, and
Chukkers and Monkey Brand's gossip. But she flitted away in front of
him. As he drew up to her she broke into a canter, and the young man
took a pull.

His intuitions, like those of most slow-brained men, were unusually
swift and sure. It was as though Nature, the Dispenser of Justice, to
compensate him for an apparent dearth in one direction, had endowed him
richly in another.

"Woa, my little lad, woa then!" he murmured as Heart of Oak bounced and
fretted to catch the retreating roan.

He realised that the girl had withdrawn within herself again. On the
cliff, in the excitement of action, she had forgotten herself for the
moment. Now she was cold and shy once more, retreating behind her
barriers, closing her visor. It was as though she had admitted him too
close; and to recover herself must now swing to the other extreme.

Obedient to her will, he kept several lengths behind her. When she found
he did not draw up alongside, she slackened her pace. He felt her
resistance was dying down in answer to his non-resistance. She was
shoving against emptiness, and getting no good from it.

As they came to the crest of the Downs and began the descent of the
hill, Boy dropped into a walk.

Below them the long roofs of Putnam's showed, weathered among the
sycamores.

As the girl passed into the Paddock Close he was riding at her side
again.

The Paddock Close was a vast enclosure, fenced off from the Downs, an
ideal nursery and galloping ground for young stock.

There was hill and valley; here and there a group of trees for shade in
the dog-days; a great sheltered bottom fringed by a wood that ran out
into the Close like a peninsula; and the wall of the Downs to give
protection from the east.

As they walked together down the hill, Boy was looking about her.

"Where's the mare?" she asked.

They were the first words she had spoken.

"Which mare?" asked Silver

"Four Pound."

He glanced round. The young stock were standing lazily under the trees,
swishing their tails, and stamping off the flies. But the old mare had
forsaken her usual haunt.

Then far away on the edge of a bed of bracken in the bottom, something
like a piece of brown paper caught his eye. It rose and fell and flapped
in the wind.

Boy saw it, too, and darted off.

"Call Billy Bluff!" she cried over her shoulder; but Billy had already
trotted off to the yard to renew the pleasant task of tormenting Maudie
and the fan-tails.

The girl made at a canter for the brown paper struggling on the edge of
the bracken.

As she came closer she raised a swift hand to steady the man pounding
behind her.

The brown paper was a new-born foal, woolly, dun of hue, swaying on
uncertain legs. The little creature, with the mane and tail of a toy
horse, looking supremely pathetic in its helplessness, wavered
ridiculously in the wind. It was all knees and hocks, and fluffy tail
that wriggled, and jelly-like eyes. Its tall, thin legs were stuck out
before and behind like those of a wooden horse. It stood like one dazed,
staring blankly before it, absorbed in the new and surprising action of
drawing breath through widespread nostrils; quavered and then collapsed,
only to attempt to climb to its feet again.

Close beside her child lay the mother, her neck extended along the
green, her eyes blood-shot.

As the girl rode up, the old mare raised her gaunt, well-bred head and
snorted, but made no effort to rise.

Boy dismounted.

"Hold Ragamuffin, will you?" she said.

Silver, himself dismounted now, obeyed.

Boy knelt in the bracken and felt the mare's heart.

The young man stood some distance off and watched her.

"Pretty bad, isn't she?" he said gravely.

"Go and tell mother, please," replied the girl, still on her knees. "And
send one of the lads with a rug and a wheelbarrow."

The young man walked away down the hillside, leading the two ponies.

Left alone, Boy brushed away the flies that had settled in black clouds
on the mare's face. The foal repeated its ungainly efforts, whimpering
in a deep and muffled voice, like the wind in a cave. The urge of hunger
was on it, and it did not understand why it was not satisfied. Boy went
to it, and thrust her thumbs into its soft and toothless mouth. The
foal, entirely unafraid, sucked with quivering tail and such power that
the girl thought her thumbs would be drawn off. The old mare whinnied,
jealous, perhaps, of her usurped function.

In another moment Mrs. Woodburn's tall and stately form came through the
gate and laboured up the hill. She was wearing a white apron and carried
a sheet in her hand.

Soon she stood beside her daughter, breathing deeply, and looking down
upon the mare.

"Bad job, Boy," she said.

"Have you brought a thermometer?" asked the girl.

Mrs. Woodburn nodded, and inserted the instrument under the old mare's
elbow, laying an experienced hand on her muzzle.

"If she'd make an effort," she said in her slow way. "But she can't be
bothered. That's Black Death."

Silver, looking ridiculously elegant in his shirt-sleeves and spotless
breeches, came up the hill toward them, trundling a dingy stable barrow.
Behind him trotted a lad, trailing a rug.

"We must just let her bide," said Mrs. Woodburn. "Lay that sheet over
her, George, to keep the flies off, and get a handful of sweet hay and
put it under her nose to peck at it. You've brought the barrow, Mr.
Silver. Thank you."

"Can you lift the foal in?" asked Boy.

"I guess," answered the young man, stripping up sleeves in which the
gold links shone.

"Oh! your poor clothes!" cried Mrs. Woodburn. "Whatever would your
mother say? Put on my apron, do."

The young man obeyed, gravely and without a touch of self-consciousness,
binding the apron about his waist; and to Boy at least he appeared, so
clad, something quite other than ludicrous.

"Can you manage it, d'you think?" she asked in her serious way.

"I guess," answered the young man.

He blew elaborately on his hands, made belief to lick them, and bowed
his back to the lifting. There were no weak spots in that young body. It
was good all through.

Strong as he was tender, he gathered the little creature. A moment it
sprawled helplessly in his arms, all legs and head. Then he bundled it
into the barrow.

The old mare whinnied.

"Put the rug over her head so she can't see," said Mrs. Woodburn.

The foal stood a moment in the barrow, then it collapsed, lying like a
calf with a woolly tail, its long legs projecting over the side.

Silver grasped the handles of the barrow.

"Is it all right?" asked Boy.

"I guess," replied the young man, and trundled his load away down the
hill.

The girl walked beside the barrow, one hand steadying the foal, who
reared an uncanny head.

They passed through the yard, jolted noisily over the cobbles, and
turned into a great cool loose-box, deep in moss-litter.

"I'll go and get the bottle," said the girl. "George, just run and bring
a couple of armfuls of litter-grass off the stack and pile it in that
corner."

When she returned with the bottle, the barrow was empty, and the foal
lay quiet on a heap of brown grass in the corner.

It whinnied and essayed to stand.

"It's coming, honey," said Boy in her deep, comforting voice.

The foal sucked greedily and with quivering tail.

From outside in the yard came the pleasant clatter of horses' feet on
the cobbles.

The string was returning.

In another moment Old Mat was standing in the door of the loose-box,
grunting to himself, as he watched the little group within.

Boy, in her long riding-coat, stood in the dim loose-box, her fair hair
shining, tilting the bottle, while the foal, with lifted head and
ecstatic tail, sucked.

Silver, still in his shirt-sleeves, watched with folded arms.

"Colt foal I see," grunted the old man. "That's a little bit o' better.
Four-Pound-the-Second, I suppose you'll call him."



BOOK III

SILVER MUG



CHAPTER XXI

The Berserker Colt


On the morning that Make-Way-There had done his gallop Old Mat had noted
that a change was coming over Boy.

She was ceasing to be a child, and was becoming a woman.

He mentioned it to Ma.

"Time she did," said the mother quietly. "She'll be seventeen in March."

The girl herself was aware of strange happenings within her. More, she
knew that the tall young man was responsible for them.

A great new life, full of shadows and delicious dangers, was surging up
in her heart, sweeping across the sands of her childhood, obliterating
tide-marks, swinging her off her feet, and carrying her forward under
bare stars toward the Unknown.

She fought against the invasion of this Sea, struggling to find footing
on the familiar bottom.

That Sea and Mr. Silver were intimately connected. Sometimes, indeed,
the girl could not distinguish one from the other. Was it the Sea which
bore Mr. Silver in upon her resisting mind?--or was it Mr. Silver who
trailed the Sea after him like a cloud?

Her helplessness angered and humiliated her. She fought fiercely and in
vain. That strong will of hers, which had never yet met its match, was
impotent now. This Thing, this Sea, this Man, crept in upon her like a
mist, invading her very sanctuaries.

She might close the doors and lock them--to no purpose.

She was angry, excited, not entirely displeased.

The change wrought in her swiftly. At least she had the sense that she
was embarking on a great adventure; and her romantic spirit answered to
the appeal.

She became quieter and passed much time in her room alone.

Mr. Silver kept knocking at the door in the loft which he had never
entered; but she refused to open to him.

To revenge herself she practised small brutalities upon him, which had
no effect. He just withdrew and came again next day with his big-dog
smile, quiet and persistent as a tide. Shy he was, and singularly
pertinacious.

Then his mother died.

That seemed to Boy unfair; but as she reasoned it out he could hardly be
held responsible.

They knew all about it at Putnam's, because there was a paragraph in the
paper about Brazil Silver's widow.

The young man buried his mother on Friday, and on Saturday came down to
Putnam's for his usual week-end.

Boy asked her mother if he had spoken to her about his trouble.

"No," said Mrs. Woodburn.

"Then he shall to me," said the girl, with determination.

He should not bottle up his grief. That would be bad for him. The
mother in the girl was emerging from the tom-boy very fast.

On Sunday evening she took him for a ride, and had her way, without a
struggle.

As they breasted the hill together, the young man told her all at some
length.

"Was she much to you?" asked the girl keenly.

Her own mother was all the world to her.

He shook his head.

"Oh! that's all right," replied the girl, relieved and yet resentful,
"if you didn't care."

"In some ways I'm glad for her sake," continued the young man. "She was
always unhappy. You see she was ambitious. One of the disappointments of
her life was that my father wouldn't take a peerage."

"Can't you be happy and ambitious?" asked Boy, peeping at him in the
wary way he loved.

Jim Silver laughed and flicked his whip.

"I doubt it," he said.

"Aren't you ambitious?" she inquired.

He laughed his deep, tremendous laughter, turning on her the face she so
rejoiced in.

"I've told you my one ambition."

"What's that?"

"To breed a National winner."

That brought them back to their favourite subject--Four-Pound-the-Second
and his future.

       *       *       *       *       *

The foal kept the girl busy, for the old mare died, and Boy had to bring
up the little creature by hand. She didn't mind that, for the summer is
the slack season in the jumping world. Moreover, trouble taken for
helpless young things was never anything but a delight to her. And
fortune favoured her. For the Queen of Sheba, one of her nanny-goats,
had lost her kids, and the milk was therefore available for the foal.

Boy fed him herself by day and night, sleeping in his loose-box for the
first few weeks, she and Billy Bluff, who promised to be good. Monkey
Brand, who had neither wife nor child of his own, and loved the girl
with the doting passion of a nurse, wanted to share her watch, but his
aid was abruptly refused. So the little jockey slept in the loft
instead, to be near at hand, and would bring the girl a cup of tea after
her vigil.

Once, in his mysterious way, he beckoned Silver to follow him. The young
man pursued him up the ladder, treading, of course, on Maudie, who made
the night hideous with her protests.

Up there in the darkness of the loft the little man stole with the
motions of a conspirator to a far trap-door. He opened it gingerly and
listened. From beneath came the sound of regular breathing. Thrusting
his lantern through the dark hole, he beckoned to Silver, who looked
down.

In a corner of the loose-box, on a pile of horse rugs, slept Boy, her
mass of hair untamed now and spreading abroad like a fan of gold. Beside
her on the moss-litter lay Billy Bluff, curled and dreaming of the
chase. And on a bed of bracken by the manger, his long legs tied up in
knots, was the foal.

Silver peeped and instantly withdrew as one who has trespassed
innocently.

"Pretty as a pictur, ain't it?" whispered the little jockey. "Only don't
go for to say I give her away. That'd be the end of Monkey Brand, that
would."

He swung the lantern so that the light flashed on the face of the
sleeping girl.

"That'll do," muttered the young man uneasily. "You'll wake her."

"No, sir. She's fast," the other answered. "Fair wore out. He wouldn't
take the bottle yesterday, and she was up with him all night. I went
down to her when it come light. Only where it is she won't allow nobody
to do nothin' for him only herself." He stole back to his lair in the
straw at the far end of the loft. "That's the woman in her, sir," he
said in his sagacious way. "Must have her baby all to herself. Nobody
don't know nothin' about it only mother."

Four-Pound-the-Second after the first few perilous weeks throve
amazingly. He ceased to be a pretty creature, pathetic in his
helplessness, and grew into a gawky hobbledehoy, rough and rude and
turbulent.

Old Mat shook his head over the colt.

"Ugliest critter I ever set eyes on," he said, partly in earnest and
partly to tease his daughter.

"You'll see," said Boy firmly.

"If he's a Berserk he's worth saving, surely," remarked Silver.
"Berserker--Black Death. Ought to be able to hop a bit."

Everybody at Putnam's knew that the colt was the son of that famous
sire, but nobody, except Mat Woodburn and Monkey Brand, knew how they
knew it.

"Oh! if he's going to win the National--as I think he is, de we--he's
worth a little trouble," replied the old man, winking at Monkey Brand.

"D'you think he'll win the National?" cried the young man, simple as a
child.

"Certain for sure," replied the other. "When 'e walks on to the course
all the other hosses'll have a fit and fall down flat. And I don't blame
'em, neether."

"Father _thinks_ he's funny," said the girl with fine irony.

"I ain't 'alf so funny as that young billy-goat o' yours, my dear,"
replied the old trainer, and lilted on his way. "It's his foster-ma he
takes after. The spit of her, he be."

As soon as the foal began to find his legs Boy took him out into the
Paddock Close, and later on to the Downs. He followed like a dog,
skirmishing with Billy Bluff up and down the great rounded hills.

The bob-tail at first was inclined to be jealous. He thought the foal
was a new kind of dog and a rival. Then when he understood that after
all the little creature was only an animal, on a different and a lower
plane, to be patronised and bullied and ragged, he resumed his
self-complacency. Thoroughly human, a vulgar sense of superiority kept
his temper sweet. He accepted Four-Pound-the-Second as one to whom he
might extend his patronage and his protection. And once this was
understood the relations between the foal and the dog were established
on a sound basis, while Maudie watched with a sardonic smile.

       *       *       *       *       *

That autumn the girl, the foal, and the dog roamed the hillside by the
hour together in the cool of dawn and evening. And the colt became as
handy as the goat he was alleged by his detractors to resemble.

"Go anywhere Billy Bluff does," said Monkey Brand. "Climb the ladder to
the loft soon as look at you."

On these frequent excursions Boy took her hunting-crop with her, and the
long-flung lash often went curling round the legs of the unruly foal.
Early she broke him to halter, and when he became too turbulent for
unbridled liberty she took him out on a long lounging rein.

The Downs about Cuckmere, which lies half-way between Lewes and Beachy
Head, are lonely. Apart from shepherds, you seldom meet on them anyone
save a horseman or a watcher. But more than once the three came on Joses
on the hillside.

Since the moment she had marked him cowering in the Gap like a hunted
creature, Boy had seen the tout with quite other eyes than of old. Never
afraid of him, from that time her aversion had turned to pity for one so
hopelessly forlorn.

Whether Joses felt the change or not, and reacted to it unconsciously,
it was impossible to say. Certainly he showed himself friendly, she
thought, almost ashamed. At first she was not unnaturally suspicious,
but soon the compassion in her heart overcame all else.

One brilliant September evening she came upon him on the Mare's Back.

The fat man pulled off his hat shyly.

"You've put him on the chain, I see," he said, referring to the long
rein.

Boy stopped.

His face was less bloated, his appearance more tidy than of old. It was
clear he had been drinking less.

"What d'you think of him?" she asked.

The tout threw a critical eye over the foal. There was no question that
Joses knew a thing or two about a horse.

"Ugly but likely," he said, with the deliberate air of a connoisseur.
"What they call in France a _beau laid_."

The girl demurred to the proposition. Her foal was _not_ bow-legged.

"His legs are all right," she said, somewhat tartly. "He's a bit _on_
the leg; but he's sure to be at that age."

"How's he bred, d'you know?" asked the other thoughtfully.

Boy was on the alert in a moment. That was a stable secret, and not to
be disclosed.

"I'm not _quite_ sure," she answered truthfully. "We picked up the dam
from a gypsy."

The fat man nodded. He seemed to know all about it. Indeed, it was his
business to know all about such things.

"She was a Black Death mare, that, no question," he said, and added
slowly, his eye wandering over the colt: "Looks to me like a Berserk
somehow." She had a feeling he was drawing her, and kept her face
inscrutable in a way that did credit to the teaching of Monkey Brand.
"If so, you've drawn a lucky number," continued the other. "Such things
happen, you know."

Boy moved on, and was aware that he was following her.

She turned and saw his face.

There was no mischief in the man, and fluttering in his eyes there was
that look of a hunted animal she had noticed in the Gap.

She stopped at once.

"What is it, Mr. Joses?" she asked.

She felt that he was calling to her for help.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Woodburn," he began.

"Yes, Mr. Joses."

Her deep voice was soft and encouraging as when she spoke to a sick
creature or a child. Those who knew only the resolute girl, who went her
own way with an almost fierce determination, would have been astonished
at her tenderness.

"That little mistake of mine on the cliff," muttered the man.

A great impulse of generosity flooded the girl's heart and coloured her
cheek.

"That's _quite_ all right," she said.

It was clear he was not satisfied.

His eyes wandered over heaven and earth, never meeting hers.

"You've not said anything to the police about that?"

"No!" she cried.

"Nor that gentleman?"

"Mr. Silver?"

"Yes."

"I'm _sure_ he hasn't."

The other drew a deep breath.

"It wouldn't help me any if he had," he said.

He looked up into the deep sky, that was gathering the dusk, and still
alive with the song of larks. "I wouldn't like to see 'em in a cage," he
said quietly. "It wasn't meant. Never!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Next Saturday, when Mr. Silver came down, she told him of the incident.

"You didn't say anything to the police, did you?" she asked anxiously.

"No," he said. "I meant to, but I forgot."

She repeated Joses's remark about the cage.

"He's been in the cage," she said quietly.

"Are you sure?" he asked.

She nodded with set lips.

"How d'you know?"

"I saw it in his eyes."

The young man was genuinely moved.

"Poor beggar!" he said.



CHAPTER XXII

Ragamuffin


The little affair of Joses was one of the many trifles that made for
intimacy between the young man and the girl.

In spite of herself Boy found her opposition dying away. Indeed, she
could no more resist him than she could resist the elements. She might
put her umbrella up, but that did not stop the rain. And if the rain
chose to go on long enough, the umbrella would wear away. The choice lay
with the rain and not with the umbrella.

By the autumn Boy had ceased even to pretend to be unfriendly. It was no
use, and she was never much good at pretending.

Then with the fall of the leaves old Ragamuffin began to tumble to
pieces.

She watched him closely for a week. Then one October dawn, the mists
hanging white in the hollows, she led him out to the edge of the wood
before the lads were about. Only Monkey Brand accompanied her.

Herself she held the old pony alongside the new-dug grave, talking to
him, stroking his nose. Monkey Brand, of the steady hand and loving
heart, did the rest. A quarter of an hour later the girl and the little
jockey came back to the yard alone. She was carrying a halter in her
hand and talking of Four-Pound-the-Second.

The lads watched her surreptitiously and with brimming eyes. Albert, who
prided himself on the hardness of his heart, wept and swore he hadn't.

"I'll lay she feels it," blubbered Stanley, who was not clever enough to
conceal his tears.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Silver came down for the week-end, Old Mat told him what had
happened.

"That's the strength in her," he whispered. "Just took and did it, she
and Monkey Brand. Never a word to her mother or me--before or since."

But the young man noticed that the girl looked haggard, wistful, more
spiritual than usual. He was shy of her, and she of him.

When that evening she met him in the yard and said, "Will you come and
see?" he was amazed and touched.

They stood together by the new-made grave under the wood. Jim was far
more moved than when his mother died.

"Dear old Ragamuffin!" he said.

She seemed to quaver in the dusk.

"You mustn't," she said, in strained and muffled voice, and for a moment
laid a finger on his arm.

Next day, as they were making their Sunday round of the horses together,
Silver stopped at Heart of Oak's box.

"I don't quite know what to be at with this poor old cormorant," he
said, slow and cogitating. "I'm looking for a home for him. But there
are no bidders. A bit too good a doer, I guess. Eat 'em out of hearth
and home."

The girl's eyes flashed on his face and away again.

"He's not old," she said, as her hand stroked the pony's neck.

"Well, he's like me," the young man replied. "He's older than he was."

Boy made a cursory inspection of the pony's mouth.

"Eleven off," she said.

"That's too old to play polo."

She believed it to be a lie, but she did not think she was sufficient an
authority on the game to justify her in saying so.

"Anyway, I'm getting too heavy for him," Silver went on. "Joint too big
for the dish, as they say. That fellow's more my sort, ain't you, old
lad?" He nodded to the next loose-box, where his seventeen-hand hunter,
Banjo, stood, blowing at them through the bars. "What Heart of Oak wants
is a nice light weight just to hack him about the Downs and ease him
down into the grave."

That evening after supper Jim Silver sang.

Apart from the members of the Eton Mission Clubs there were perhaps a
dozen men in the world--Eton men all, boating men most--who knew that he
did "perform," to use their expression; and just two women--Boy Woodburn
and her mother. Old Mat, to be sure, did not count, for he always slept
through the "performance."

The young man's repertoire consisted of two songs--_The Place Where the
Old Horse Died_ and _My Old Dutch_.

With a good natural voice, entirely untrained, he sang with a deep and
quiet feeling that made his friends affirm that once you had heard
Silver Mug's--

          _We've been together now for forty years,
          And it don't seem a day too much,
          There ain't a lady livin' in the land
          As I'd swop for my dear old Dutch._

you would never listen to Albert Chevalier again.

That, of course, was the just and admirable exaggeration of youth and
friendship.

But it was the fact that always after the young man had sung there was
an unusually prolonged silence, and, as Amersham once said, you felt as
if you were in church.

This evening, after he had finished, and Mrs. Woodburn had broken the
silence with her quiet "Thank you," the young man returned to the
subject he had broached in the stable.

Silver indeed was nothing if not dogged, as the girl was beginning to
find out.

"I say, Miss Woodburn," he began in that casual way of his, "I wish
you'd take charge of that old yellow moke o' mine."

Boy shook her head.

He laughed and drew his chair beside her as she worked. Not seldom now
he doffed the Puritan with her, and became easy, chaffing, almost
gallant. Amersham and his friends would have been amazed had they seen
their sober Jim Silver so much at home with a lady.

"Oh, I say--why not?" he protested, boyish and chaffing.

"He's too much of a handful for me," said the girl gravely, threading
her needle against the light.

He laughed, delighted, smacking his knee as he did when pleased, while
even Ma, who of wont turned a deaf ear on the young couple, smiled
sedately.

"I like that!" cried Silver. "Ha! ha! ho! ho! That's a good un." Then he
turned grave, almost lugubrious. "But of course if you won't have him I
must do something to him. I'm too fond of the old fellow to let him
rot."

Next morning, before he left for London, Boy saw him from her window
holding intimate communion with Monkey Brand in the Paddock Close beside
the wood.

When he had driven away, the girl descended from her eyrie and
cross-examined the little jockey sharply.

Monkey looked secretive and mysterious even for him.

"He's a very queer gentleman," was all he would say. "One o' them that's
been to India without their 'ats, I should say. You know, Miss?" He
tapped his forehead. "Melted a-top."

"What did he _say_?" persisted the girl.

"He said nobody was to exercise Heart of Oak only unless you wanted him.
And he said he'd make up his mind next week."

"Make up his mind?"

"That was the word, Miss."

"Bring me the gun," ordered Boy.

The little man obeyed sulkily.

"It'll be in my room," she said. "And it'll stay there."

"Very good, Miss," replied the jockey, and winked to himself as the girl
ascended the ladder.

That evening, as Old Mat slept noisily by the fire with open mouth, the
two women worked.

Mrs. Woodburn every now and then lifted her eyes to her daughter's face
and let them dwell there, as the sky dwells on a tree.

"D'you like him, Boy?" she asked at length, tranquilly.

The girl for once was taken by surprise. She flushed a little and
perhaps for the first time in her life fenced.

"Who, mother?"

"Mr. Silver."

"Yes," said the girl. "He's like Billy Bluff--only less rowdy."



CHAPTER XXIII

The Duke's Hounds


Silver's Leicestershire friends were under the delusion that he was
keeping his hunters at Lewes. And so indeed he did till the hunting
season began; and then he brought them over to Putnam's.

The Duke's north-country stud-groom, who was in _The Beehive_ at
Folkington, as they came along the road from Lewes, ran out of the bar
to have a look at them.

"Ma wud!" he whistled. "Champion!"

And Mike Rigg was right. Silver's horses indeed were the one item of his
personal expenditure on which the young man never spared his purse. He
used to say with perfect truth that except for his stud he could live
with joy on £3 a week. But there was no man in England who had a rarer
stud of weight-carriers.

"Big as blood elefunks," said Monkey Brand in the awed voice of a
worshipper. "Flip a couple o' ton across country singin' hallelooyah all
the way."

The Duke, when first they appeared with his hounds at the covertside,
shook his head over them: for Jim Silver came south with a formidable
reputation as a thruster.

"Too classy for my country, Silver," he said. "What d'you want with that
sort of stuff down here?"

"I didn't like to part with 'em, sir," replied the young man. "They've
done me well in their time."

"I don't want you young bloods from the shires down here," scolded the
Duke. "You'll be all over my hounds. This is an old man's country, ain't
it, Boy?"

Thunderbolt stood on his hind legs and pawed deliberately at the
heavens.

"They're big, your Grace," answered the girl. "But Mr. Silver's bigger.
He can hold them."

"And you can hold him, my dear," said the Duke. "Keep him in your
pocket, there's a good gal. Now, Joe, let's be moving on."

The Duke was fond of the girl. It was said, indeed, that he liked her
better than anybody in the hunt. Certainly he was never so happy as when
showing her round his famous piggeries at Raynor's, or talking goats to
her at an Agricultural Show.

Boy on her side was one of the most regular followers of the Duke's
hounds; but, as she never tired of impressing on her friends, she hunted
for professional reasons, and not for pleasure. Indeed, she was honest
as always when she declared that she did not care for hunting for its
own sake. There was so much swank about it and so little business:
oceans of gossip, flirting, swagger, and spite to every ounce of
reality. Moreover, her refined and Puritan spirit revolted against the
people who hunted: she thought of them all as bubbles, brilliant
apparently, but liable to burst at any moment and leave nothing behind
them but a taint of vulgarity.

When hounds were running people saw little of Silver and the girl, who
were always well behind.

"Carrying on together," was the spiteful comment of those whom Boy was
wont to call in scorn "the ladies."

But it was not true. The pair were not coffee-housing. Boy was at her
job, schooling her youngsters with incomparable patience, judgment, and
decision; and Jim Silver, on those great fretting weight-carriers of
his, was marking time and in attendance.

The Duke, when he got the pair alone, never tired of chaffing them.

"I notice she always gives you the lead, Silver," he mocked.

"Yes, sir," replied the young man. "She makes the hole, and I creep
through it afterward."

The couple were talked about, of course; and both were dimly aware of
it. Boy was used to being made the subject of gossip; and Silver was
almost as unconscious of and aloof from it as were the horses that he
rode.

The ladies, to whom he paid no attention, were indignant and resentful.

"It can't be," they said; and--"I hate to see that chit making a fool of
a nice man like that."

The Duke, whose ears were growing longer every day, heard them once and
began to bellow suddenly in that disconcerting way of his.

"It's all right!" he shouted. "You needn't be afraid. She won't have
him."

The ladies jeered secretly. To their minds the question was not whether
the girl would have Silver, but whether he would be Mug enough to give
her the chance.

Certainly the pair were drawing close.

Days together in the saddle, the risks and small adventures of the
field, and by no means least those long hacks home at evening, not
seldom in the dark, over the Downs, a great wind blowing gustily under
clear stars, did their sure, unconscious work.

Up to Christmas the young man visited Putnam's regularly. Then he missed
two successive week-ends. When he came again there was a cloud over him.
It was so faint and far that nobody noticed it indeed but the girl. She
was not deceived.

As they rode home in the afternoon he was more silent than his wont.
Once or twice her eyes sought his. His brows were level and drawn down.
There was resistance in his face.

"Are you worried?" she asked.

His plain, strong face broke up, brightened and became beautiful.

"Yes," he said.

"Tell me."

"It's the only thing that ever worries me."

"What?"

"The Bank."

"Is it going wrong?"

He laughed again.

"I don't know," he said, and began to chuckle at himself. "That's the
trouble. I can't get the hang of it. There's a screw loose somewhere.
I'm like a man steering a ship who knows nothing about navigation."

"It's all right if you do your best," said the girl, with the little
preacher touch she inherited from her grand-dad. That note always caused
an imp of mischief to bob up in the young man's heart.

"Hope so, de we," he said.

She looked at him sharply. _She_ might censure her father, but she
allowed that liberty to no one else.

"What!" she said.

Jim Silver took to instant flight.

"None-nothing," he stammered. "Only I'm afraid the pup-passengers won't
think it's all right when they find themselves going to the bottom.
They'll say, 'What business had you at the wheel if you can't steer?'
And they'll be right, too."

       *       *       *       *       *

With the New Year the young man came no more for week-ends, and the
reason was well known.

The hunting-field is always a great place for gossip, for except at rare
intervals there is little else to do. And with the Duke's hounds the
gossip was about Mr. Silver.

The Union Bank of Brazil and Uruguay was known to be in difficulties,
and Boy hunted alone.

"Where's your Life Guardsman?" asked the Duke.

"Guarding the Bank, I believe, your Grace."

The Duke grunted.

"Wants guarding from what I can hear of it," he blurted. "Tell him it's
no good," he shouted. "Tell him to come out of it. It's no job for an
honest man."

"What isn't?"

"Bankin'." He muttered to himself. "There's only one thing an honest man
can do, that's land. Everything else you get dirty over. I'm not
overclean myself, but I'm not as dirty as some of 'em."

Then there appeared paragraphs in the paper.

The girl asked her father about them.

He shook his head.

"I don't understand it, my dear," he said. "And what's more, I don't
believe Mr. Silver do himself. I see the accounts published in the
paper. Accordin' to them the Bank had five millions in cash. You'd
think you couldn't go very fur wrong with five millions in cash in the
till."

"Perhaps a clerk's been taking some," said the girl eagerly.

Once, but only once, there had been a clerk at Putnam's.

The old man was not to be convinced.

"Take a tidy-sized clurk to go off with five million in his pocket," he
said. "Course I don't say he couldn't do it, Gob 'elpin' 'im. Only he'd
be carryin' a lot o' dead weight, as the Psalmist said. _Too_ 'eavily
penalised, I should say. No, my dear, 'tain't the clurk. 'Tis the
li'bilities."

"What are the liabilities?" asked Boy.

"They're the devil, my dear," said the old man. "That's all I can tell
you. Land you in the lock-up soon as look at you."

Later that evening the girl went to call on her friend, Mr. Haggard.

He was in his study among his books, and rose to greet her with that
affectionate kindliness he reserved for her.

"I want to know something, Mr. Haggard," said the girl in her determined
way.

He looked at her over his spectacles.

"Yes."

"Can they put you in prison if you lose your money?"

"Not if you lose it honestly," replied the vicar.

One reason the girl liked him so much was that he never played the fool.
The heavy horse-chaff with which the average Englishman of the Duke's
type, in his elephantine efforts at gallantry, thinks it necessary to
adorn his conversation, were not for him.

"Oh, he'll lose it honestly all right," cried the girl eagerly,
unconscious of the fact that she was giving herself away, or careless of
it.

It was not hard for the other to gauge her mind. Casually he turned over
an evening paper.

"I see there's good news about Mr. Silver's Bank," he said. "It's
weathered the storm."

He pointed out to her a paragraph in the stop-press column.



CHAPTER XXIV

The Man with the Gamp


The good news was confirmed.

That night a telegram came from Mr. Silver to say he was coming down
next morning and asking them to meet him at Lewes.

"I knew he'd come if he could to-morrow," cried the girl.

Her mother looked at her.

"It's your birthday, Boy," she said.

The girl's fair face flushed.

"He doesn't know that," she said, on the defensive. "And you're not to
tell. It's the last day of hunting. That's what I meant."

She was indeed seventeen next day. And the sign of her womanhood was
that when she came down in the morning her hair was bunched in a neat
little coil at the back of her head. Because of it she was shy and
somewhat defiant. Dressed for hunting in snowy shirt and long-skirted
dark coat, she entered the parlour more swiftly than her wont, in her
shoes and stockings, and carrying her riding-boots in her hand.

Her father's mild blue eye penetrated her secret at once.

"That's a little bit o' better," he said. "It's _Miss_ Woodburn now."

"Now then, father," reproved Mrs. Woodburn.

"Oh, I knows my place, plea Gob," mumbled the old man. "Ought to arter
all the trainin' you been at the pains to put me to." And he winked and
chuckled and grunted over his porridge.

"Let me look at you, Boy," said her mother, when the teasing old man had
gone.

The girl coloured faintly. Her mother kissed her. "Joyce," she said
gravely, "you're a woman now."

"Am I, mother?" laughed the girl. "I feel like a boy sometimes still."

She was gay with an unusual gaiety.

Her mother marked it with those observant eyes of hers.

After the pair had read together, as their custom was, Mrs. Woodburn
laid the Bible down and took up her knitting.

Boy pulled on her boots before the fire.

"I hope you won't marry out of your own class, Boy," said Mrs. Woodburn
at last quietly. "We're humble folk, as dad says."

"I don't think I shall marry at all," replied the girl curtly. "I don't
feel like it."

The mother continued on her tranquil way.

"When you marry, marry your own sort," she advised.

Boy was silent for a time.

"Isn't Mr. Silver our sort?" she asked at last, her eyes on her
mother's.

Mrs. Woodburn, for all her liberal mind, was of the older generation.

"My dear," she said, "he's an Eton man."

"He's not like one," replied the girl shortly. "He's a gentleman."

"My dear, Eton men are gentlemen," reproved Mrs. Woodburn.

"Some," replied the girl. "The Duke is." She added
maliciously--"Sometimes."

       *       *       *       *       *

Old Mat, Monkey Brand, and Albert started early for the meet.

It was a long hour later before mother and daughter, waiting in the
parlour, heard the steady clop-clop of a horse's feet and the crisp
trundle of wheels on the road.

In another moment the buggy had drawn up at the gate; Goosey Gander was
stretching his neck, and Jerry of the corrugated brow was touching his
hat to the descending passenger.

A tall, top-hatted figure, enfolded in long, shaggy gray frieze coat,
came up the paved yard toward them between clouds of arabis.

Silver had changed in the train on the way down. He was booted, spurred,
and above all radiant.

Mrs. Woodburn went out on to the steps to meet him. The girl hid her
hair behind her mother's stately figure.

"So you've managed it!" smiled Mrs. Woodburn.

"I was determined not to miss it," replied the young man, striding up
the steps stiff in his top-boots. "Miss Woodburn, congratulations."

"Who told you?" cried Boy, taken aback.

"Billy Bluff, of course," replied the other. "Caddish of him, wasn't
it?"

They went into the parlour.

Mrs. Woodburn did not offer the traveller a drink for the simple reason
that it never occurred to her to do so.

"By Jove! I _am_ late!" cried the young man, glancing at the clock.
"There was a break-down at Hayward's Heath."

He stripped off his ulster, and stood up in his pink coat, his baggy
white breeches, and top-boots.

In Boy Woodburn's judgment most men, so attired, looked supremely
ridiculous. It was not so with Mr. Silver. It may be that his absolute
lack of self-consciousness distracted attention from his costume. It may
be that he was so real himself that he dominated his artificial
habiliments. Certainly his strong, clean face, his short, crisp hair,
and pleasant, booming voice possessed and pleased the girl.

"You'd better be off, or you'll have the Duke down on you," said Mrs.
Woodburn.

"Dad's gone an hour since," said Boy.

She led the way swiftly down long stone passages out into the yard. He
followed, his eyes on that shining bunch of hair before him.

The yard looked deserted. The fan-tails strutted vaingloriously; Maudie
lay in the sun on the stable wall; and Billy Bluff's kennel was empty.

"Hullo, where's Bill?" cried the young man.

"Some idiot's let him off his chain," grumbled the girl. "Just like
them. A hunting morning."

A great gray horse, led by little Jerry, was feeling his way through the
stable-door. Banjo stood seventeen hands or over, but he was all
quality. His long neck was hog-maned; and his Roman nose and sober
colour gave him an air of wisdom and experience which a somewhat
frivolous character belied.

Young Lollypop, a brown three-year-old, followed demurely behind. For
all his sixteen hands, he looked a mere stripling beside the gray; but
he was far too tall for the girl to mount without assistance. Stanley
went for a bucket, but before he could return Silver had shot the girl
into the saddle, and stood a moment looking up at her with eyes in
which laughter and admiration mingled.

The girl seemed so slight and yet so masterful on these great larruping
thoroughbreds she always rode!

Young Lollypop had the callow and awkward ways of a young giraffe, but,
though only a three-year-old, he was sedate as an old maid and had the
dignity of a churchwarden. His behaviour was an example to his flippant
colleague.

For Banjo, directly he felt his master on his back, began to galumph
about the yard with a clatter of hoofs among the injured fan-tails and
to the discomfiture of Maudie.

"Right!" grunted Silver, settling into his saddle. "Now, you old hog,
you!"

Brown Lollypop cocked his long ears and watched with pained disapproval
the gambols of his elder. Himself incorruptible, he was no doubt well
pleased at heart that Banjo's misconduct should throw up in high relief
his own immaculate conduct. Lollypop was in fact a bit of a prig. Had he
been a boy he would have been head of his school, a Scholar of Balliol,
and President of the Union at his University.

The girl followed her leader through the gate, the brown horse stepping
gingerly, swinging his tail, and feeling his bit, while Banjo galumphed
and grunted to the sound of a squeaking leather.

The meet was at Folkington Green, at the foot of the Downs on the edge
of the low country.

Once in the road, Silver and the girl turned their backs on the sea and
made through the village.

Just outside it a familiar figure was waiting them on the road,
apologetic and pleading.

"I knew he would," said Boy. "He started with father and got turned
back. Now he's waiting for us. _Go back, you bad dog!_"

"Poor boy!--he wants a bit of a hunt, too," said the young man.

"I'll hunt him!" cried the girl remorselessly, and proceeded to do so
with vigour.

It was some time before the dog was routed and they were free to pursue
their way.

"What's the time?" asked the girl.

Silver referred to his wrist-watch.

"It's nearly half-past eleven."

"We must trot," said Boy.

They trotted away, the brown horse and the gray side by side, the
regular clap-clap of their feet sometimes overlapping and sometimes
beating in unison, only to break eventually again, to the disappointment
of the girl's attentive ear. It was the fashion amid the hunting folk to
despise hacking along the road as so much waste of time. To the girl the
steady tramp along the hard road was like the march of life. She would
hack from covert to covert, one of a great cavalcade, men and women,
with bobbing heads, their faces set all in the same direction, the sound
of the horses' feet splashing all round her like a stream. She would
flow along in the centre of that stream, unconscious of those about her,
silent when addressed, absorbed in the only music for which she cared.

The noise of Banjo blowing his nose now brought her back to earth. She
peeped at the face of the man on the big gray at her side.

"Had a bad time?" she asked warily.

He turned to her, his face lit with the smile that took all the
heaviness out of it.

"Worrying," he said.

"Well, you're through now," said the girl.

"Plea Gob," he answered, "till next time. We'd have been in the cart but
the Bank of England stood by like a brick."

Their steady pace took them along. They were getting away from the
hills, and the Weald was opening before them. The sun shone on them, and
the willows on either side the road declared that April was at hand.
They eased down to a walk.

Silver opened his chest.

"I feel like singing!" he cried.

"Sing then," said Boy.

In his quiet booming voice he sang a verse from _Two on the Downs_,
which in their long hacks home of evening she had taught him--

                    _Sing ho!
                    So we go,
          Over Downs that are surging green
          Under the sky and the seas that lie
              Silvery-strewn between_.

He finished and turned to her with a laugh and shining eyes.

She glanced away, and on her face was that delicious wary look he loved
so well, baffling and baffled, disturbing because disturbed, as when a
little wind ruffles at evening a willow, exposing to the sky in spite of
protest the silvery undersides of naked, shining leaves.

Jim Silver edged across to her.

"Miss Woodburn!" he said quietly. He held out a great gloved hand.

Boy looked resolutely between her horse's ears.

"Trot," she said.

A few straggling foot-passengers, an occasional trap, a man on a
bicycle, and some children pushing a perambulator, showed them they were
drawing near their goal.

About half a mile in front the road opened on to a green. There among
trees they could see a gathering of men and horses.

"Good!" cried the young man. "They haven't moved off yet. Shall we slow
down?"

"Best get on, I think," replied the girl.

A man in a slouch hat, carrying a gamp as untidy as himself, was walking
before them down the middle of the road.

"Ass!" muttered the young man. "Why can't he keep to one side?"

Boy shot ahead, Silver took a pull. Banjo made a fuss, took offence,
then went striding hugely by, and shied off, splashing through a puddle.

The brown waters rose and drenched the pedestrian.

"Thank _you!_" he called furiously after the horseman.

Banjo, as though frightened at his deed, tried a bolt. A horseman of
unusual power, Silver steadied the great horse and swung him across the
road. There Banjo sidled, yawed, and passaged, fretting to be after the
brown.

The young man, swinging to the motions of the tossing gray, raised his
hand in that large and gracious way of his.

"So sorry," he shouted back.

The man with the gamp shuffled toward him.

"Of course it wasn't deliberate!" he cried.

It was Silver's turn to be angry.

He gripped the gray, lifted him round like a polo pony, and drove him
back to the angry man.

"You don't think I'd do a thing like that on purpose!" he said, and saw
for the first time that the man with the gamp was Joses.

"You didn't know it was me, of course," sneered the other, shaking with
anger.

"I did not," replied Silver, calm and cold as Joses was hot.

"Then I don't believe you," cried the tout.

Silver looked down at him.

"I've said I'm sorry. I've no more to say," he remarked quietly.

"Haven't you?" cried the fat man. "I have, though."

He made a snatch at Banjo's rein.

The gray reared, backed away into the ditch, collapsed there on his
quarters, and recovered himself with the grunt and flounder of a
hippopotamus emerging from a river.

A little crowd was collecting swiftly, drawn by the hopes of a row.

Then there came the clatter of a horse's feet. Boy was coming back to
the group at a gallop.

"I saw what happened," she said, her deep voice a little sharp. "Your
horse shied and splashed Mr. Joses." She appealed swiftly to him.
"Wasn't that it?"

"Yes," said Silver coldly. "I splashed him by accident and apologised."

"_And he turned nasty!_"

The intervening voice was harsh and unfamiliar. Silver turned to see a
tall inspector of police sitting like a pillar of salt in a dog-cart,
which had drawn up in the road.

Joses, who had seen him, too, began to shake, and more horrible still to
laugh.

"He was naturally a bit annoyed," said Silver.

The tall inspector was looking Joses up and down. There was a dreadful
air of domination about him.

"If you're satisfied, sir, I say no more," said the inspector, reluctant
as a dog to leave a bone.

"I'm satisfied," replied Silver.

The inspector withdrew. The little knot of people who had gathered began
to disperse. The young man and the girl trotted on their way.

"Most unfortunate," muttered Silver.

"Most," Boy answered.

In Joses's eyes she had seen again that look of the wild beast, caged
and cowering.

The young man felt censure in her voice.

"Well, I don't think it was my fault," he said, nettled.

"I know it wasn't," she cried. "But--"

"What?"

"That inspector's way with him. Like a slavedriver."

"I know," said Silver. "Horrible."



CHAPTER XXV

The Black Bird


The last meet of the season was, as always, at Folkington Green, close
enough to Lewes to draw the townsfolk out on bicycles and in
char-à-bancs.

The morning was fine after rain, and there was a full attendance on the
green under the swinging sign of _The Beehive_.

Old Mat sat by the muddy pond on his three-cornered cob. He was dressed,
as always, in flat-topped hat, trousers, and elastic-sided boots; and he
swung his legs mechanically against Ichabod's hardened sides.

About him was gathered the usual group of admiring ladies. They liked
Old Mat as much as they disliked his daughter.

"I don't come 'ere to 'unt," the old man was saying wearily; "I come
'ere to putest. Yes, you can persecute me if you like, same as you do
the fox, but if I live through it, as I 'ave before, I shall go 'ome to
Mar, and next time you comes out I shall be there givin' my witness, de
we." His face was firm and nobly resolute. "Crool, I calls it," he said.
"Such a lot of you, too. Hosses and dogs, men and women, not to say
perambylators. All on his back at once; and he'll beat the lot yet,
you'll see. That's because he's got religion in him, little red fox has.
His conscience is clear, same as mine." He looked about him. "Now
there's Mr. Haggard there be the elm. He thinks just the very same as
me--only he ain't got the spirit in him to stand up and say so. I'd 'a'
wep a tear--only I ain't got one."

The Duke in his hunting cap sat close by on his cobby chestnut, which
looked as if it had come out of an old hunting print, and the hounds
sprawled about it in the sunshine on the green.

Silver rode up to the Duke, who greeted him ironically.

"Late as usual, Silver," he said. "We've been waiting for you since
Christmas."

"Very good of you, sir," replied the young man. "I only came down from
town this morning."

"Glad you could get away," grunted the Duke. "Hope you've done 'em down
all right."

Silver walked his horse away across the green.

The inspector, who had drawn up in the road, got down from his trap, and
came toward Silver.

"I beg your pardon, sir," he said. "You've nothing against that chap?"

He knew very well who Silver was, and was obsequious accordingly.

"Nothing," said Silver shortly.

"Excuse me, won't you, sir?" continued the inspector. "I wouldn't
trouble you only we know him. He's been in trouble before. And we have
to watch him. He's a bit funny in the temper. And when he's on the boil
there's not a great deal he'll stop at."

"I've nothing against him," repeated Silver, and rode on to join Monkey
Brand, who was nursing a youngster by the pond.

The little jockey greeted him with a drop of one eyelid.

"He's watchin' you, sir," he said quietly.

"Who is?" asked the young man.

"Joses, sir. Through the window of _The Beehive_."

"Never mind him," replied Silver, keeping his broad scarlet back turned
on the public-house and the face peering at him over the half-blind.

"He's got some friends here," continued Monkey, in the same hushed
monotone. "That's why he's gone inside. That tall genelman you was
talkin' with. Very close they was at one time. Too close in a manner o'
speakin'. See, you can be _too_ close friends. Then you gets to know too
much about each other. Then there's trouble and a kickin'-match."

The Duke waved his arm, and hounds moved off.

Horsemen, carriages, and pedestrians followed them in straggling
procession.

Monkey Brand and Silver kept together. In front of them Boy Woodburn and
Albert Edward rode side by side.

Viewed from the rear, they were ridiculously alike in shape and size and
bearing.

The little jockey pointed out the resemblance to his companion. He
clucked and winked and joggled with his elbow.

"Not much atween 'em seen from behind, sir," he said.

"How's he coming on?" asked Silver.

"Why, not bad, sir," replied the jockey. "He's the pick of our bunch
anyway. If he wasn't so puffed up wiv himself, he'd do."

"I saw he did Chukkers down at Sandown in the International," said the
young man.

"He did, sir. He did so," replied the little man. "One more up to
Putnam's, that was." And he gave the story of how the Putnam's lad had
beaten the crack in the big race.

It seemed that Chukkers, who was riding Jackaroo for Ikey Aaronsohnn,
had thought he was well through, and was sitting down to idle home, when
two fences from the finish Albert Edward, riding an any-price outsider,
came up on his right out of the blue and challenged the star-spangled
jacket.

Chukkers, who was on the favourite, with orders to win, had drawn his
whip and ridden for his life.

"'E could draw whip and draw blood, too," chuckled Monkey Brand. "But it
weren't no manner o' good. Took up his whip and stopped his 'orse.
Albert, 'e never stir. Sat there and goes cluck-cluck and got home on
the post. Rode a pretty race, he did. Miss Boy was ever so please."

"And what about Chukkers?" asked Jim.

Monkey Brand sniggered.

"He was foamin'-mad, bloody-yellin' all over the place. I was glad Mrs.
Woodburn wasn't there to hear. Jaggers had him out on the mat afore 'em
all. Said he'd been caught nappin'--by a boy with a face like a girl,
too. Putnam 'orse and all. That got ole Chukkers' tail up. He made
trouble in the weighin'-room. Said Albert had done him a dirty dish; but
you can't go to the Stewards on that. And Albert he told Miss Boy--'I
never done nothin' to him, only beat him.' And he told the truth that
time if he never told it afore. 'Never you mind,' says Miss Boy. 'You
won and you'll win again--if your head don't get so swelled you can't
get the weight. We all know Chukkers,' says she, 'and Jaggers, too.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

The last day was never taken very seriously by the regular followers of
the Duke's hounds. All those to whom hunting was the one worthy
occupation in life kept religiously aloof.

"It's the people's day," they said. "They don't want us."

To-day was no exception to the rule.

Before lunch hounds chopped a mangy fox outside Prior's Wood; and it was
not till the afternoon was getting on that they found a rover lying out
in a field of mangolds.

He must have been a hill-fox, who had been caught raiding in the
lowlands, for he made a straight point for the Downs.

There was the usual scurry. Boy Woodburn was, as always, the last away,
with Silver in close attendance.

They threaded the ragged fringes of pedestrians, who still clung to the
skirts of the horsemen, turned to the right through an open gate, and
leisurely pursued the cavalcade disappearing furiously before them in
the distance.

The girl nursed her baby, who showed himself as unconcerned by the fuss
and flurry of the vanguard as his young mistress; while Banjo fretted
and fumed to get away.

They crossed a big grass field at a canter. Lollypop was young and raw
as a calf, and Jim Silver rode well behind, giving him and his rider
plenty of room.

Before them was a low stake-and-bound with a drop on the far side.
Lollypop flopped along toward it like a boat in a swell, flapping his
long ears, bridling, and pondering whether he would have it or not. On
the whole, he thought he would. To lift over it would probably mean less
trouble in the end than to fight the quiet and resolute creature who
cooed so softly in his ears, and rode him with such iron resolution.
Moreover, he knew now as the result of experience that if it came to a
struggle he would be worsted in the end if it took all day. It would
certainly be less irksome, and more gracious, to get the thing behind
you. To jump, and to pretend you liked it, was the generous and the
politic thing to do. Moreover, it was all in the direction of home and
bran-mash; while there was Banjo golly-woshing through the mud close
behind him. And Lollypop not only had to live up to his reputation and
set his elder an example, which he loved to do, but he also wished to
show the gray what he could do himself when he tried.

The young horse had just made up his mind in the right way, cocked his
ears, gathered himself, and passed the thrill to his responsive and
expectant mistress, when a huge and black bird, vaster and far more
hideous than anything the young horse had ever seen upon the Downs, rose
suddenly underneath his nose on the far side of the hedge, flapped its
wings obscenely, spread them wide, and then twirled round insanely at
astonishing speed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Joses, nursing his wounds, sat on in the parlour of _The Beehive_ long
after the cavalcade had moved off, and comforted himself in the usual
way.

When at length he rose with a drained tankard and paid his shot at the
counter, he gave his views on society to the landlord in such coloured
terms as genuinely to shock that worthy, who had been brought up
respectably in the shadow of a Duke.

"They're patriots and imperialists, they are," said the fat man. "Never
think of themselves. They hunt the fox, and shoot the pheasant, and
keep you and me under, not because they enjoy it and want all the fun to
themselves. Oh, no!--don't make that mistake. But because it's their
bounden duty to God and man so to do!"

The landlord gave him his change.

"Are you a Socialist?" he asked.

"No," laughed Joses. "I'm a ---- aristocrat. You might know it from me
language--let alone me looks. With a stake in the country, a pew in the
church, and a seat in the House of Mammon. Goodbye! God bless our
gracious King! And to hell with the rights of You and Me!"

He went out and made for the hills, churning his grievances into mud
within him.

He had walked for an hour across the fields, blind and deaf to all about
him, when an insistent sound from the outer world penetrated the
outworks of his disturbed spirit.

He stopped and listened.

Hounds were running. Yes. No. Yes. That musical tow-row, passionate,
terrible, and never-to-be-forgotten, was not to be mistaken.

Hounds were running, and they were coming in his direction at speed.
Joses, always something of a sportsman, came out of himself in his own
despite. He hurried down a bridle-path toward the line of the hunt.

Before him, some fields away, he saw hounds toppling over a hedge like a
breaker curling before it fell. There followed in line horsemen and
horsewomen, singly, straggling, and in groups.

Joses stayed and watched them sweep by some distance from him. The
mutter of horses' feet close at hand struck his ear. He turned and
looked over the hedge. A man and a girl were cantering leisurely toward
him. The man was on a gray, and it was clear from the way the girl
handled her horse that he was young and uncertain of himself.

An imp of malignant deviltry, born of spite and alcohol, bobbed up in
Joses's heart. He ducked behind the hedge, opened his umbrella suddenly,
and twirled it overhead.

Lollypop's nerves were of the very best, but this was altogether too
much for him. He refused suddenly and with a snort, whipped about, swift
as a top, slid up, and collapsed on his side.

Boy was flung forward on her head and shoulder.

A moment she stayed where she was on her hands and knees, clutching at
the bridle. Lollypop floundered to his feet, and tugged to get away,
staring with wide-flung nostrils and trembling flanks at the hedge.

The girl rose slowly to her feet. Her hat was muddy and battered, and
she looked before her foolishly and with dazed eyes.

Silver had galloped up and was on his feet in a minute at her side.

"Are you hurt?" he asked anxiously.

"I'm all right," she replied sleepily.

Joses was peering over the hedge. It was difficult to say what was in
those shining eyes of his.

"Nasty shy," he said.

Silver looked up.

"I'm coming round to you in a minute, my friend," he said deeply.

Joses's face darkened.

"Why, you don't think it was deliberate?" he cackled.

"I'll let you know what I think later," replied the young man.

"You frighten me!" mocked the other, rumbling his dreadful laughter.
"Mind you tell your friends the police!" he added, and was gone.



CHAPTER XXVI

Jim Silver Goes To War


Boy was muddy, and her hat was dented and askew. The little creature
looked strangely pathetic as she stood up alongside tall Lollypop with
the slimy flank.

"I'll get on again now," she said, gathering her reins. "Put me up, will
you?"

"No," answered Silver.

The tears sprang to the girl's eyes.

"Why not?" she asked fretfully, but for the first time since they had
met she submitted to his will.

Jim took Lollypop's rein and led both horses slowly toward the farm
among apple trees at the end of the field.

Boy walked at his side.

"It's silly to feel so funny," she laughed feebly.

"Take my arm," he said; but she refused.

They came to the gate of the farm.

"Where are you going?" she asked.

"In here."

He gave a shout.

A woman in a sunbonnet came to the door and stared.

"Is that you, Miss Woodburn?" she cried. "Oh! _dear_ me!"

"Hullo, Mrs. Ticehurst," said the girl. "I've had a bit of a spill."

"Can Miss Woodburn come in and rest for a moment?" asked Silver.

"Come in and rest!" cried the woman. "Hark to him! Think I'd turn a dog
away like that--let alone Miss Joyce."

"Such a fuss!" protested the girl.

The woman called to a yokel to come and take the horses.

Languidly the girl walked down the paved path between rank currant
bushes, and entered the house.

"Here in the parlour, Miss!" said the woman, kind and bustling.

"I'd rather the kitchen, please," said Boy. "Cosier there."

"Very well, my dear. There's a fire there. And I'll get you a cup o'
tea."

When Silver entered the house a little later he saw the girl comfortably
established by the fire.

He peeped in and withdrew quietly.

"I'll be back in a minute," he said quietly to the woman. "I'm just
going to have a look at the horses."

In the yard he found the yokel trying in vain to induce Banjo to enter a
door that was too small for him.

"All right," said the young man. "He won't fit."

Mounting, he rode out into the field.

Banjo knew his master meant business directly he was in the saddle, and
answered instantaneously to the call, dropping the nonsense, and
settling down to work sober as a bishop.

The yokel watched the pair with admiration.

There was such power about them both.

The big man cantered across the field, put the gray at the fence, and
cleared it without an effort.

There was a slight drop into a bridle-lane.

The man on the gray turned and cantered quietly along it.

He jumped a low heave-gate and followed the track beyond. In the next
field he saw his quarry, hunting along at a little dog-trot.

Joses seemed to have no fear of pursuit.

Jim Silver stole up behind him, Banjo, as though entering into the
spirit of the pursuit, seeming to muffle the sound of his going.

A hundred yards from his quarry the young man came with a rattle. Joses
turned, but it was too late.

The lash curled round his plump carcase.

Silver swept on like a hailstorm, and pulled Banjo up on his haunches.

Then he sat with white face and shining eyes, trailing his lash as he
waited the assault.

He had not long to wait.

       *       *       *       *       *

Boy sat by the fire in the kitchen and drank her tea, an alert little
figure, her burnished hair neatly coiled, and hat beside her.

It was clear she was entirely herself again.

Then Silver stood in the door and smiled at her. He was very quiet and
rather pale.

The girl looked up at him suspiciously.

"Where've you been?" she asked.

"With the horses," he answered.

She was not to be deceived.

"You've been having a hunt of your own," she said. "I hope you didn't
find."

He looked out of the window evasively.

"Scent poor to bad," he said slowly.

By the time they mounted it was late in the afternoon, and the glory had
departed from the day.

They climbed the Downs, and rode along the tops of them, their faces to
the sea, speaking hardly at all, and walking all the while.

This sudden and surprising contact with evil had taken the joy from
their hearts and oppressed them like a shadow.

Once as they drew near home he spoke.

"How are you?" he said.

"I'm all right," she answered, and added, lifting her face to his in
that frank and beautiful way of hers, "I don't think he meant it for
me."

"I'm not sure," replied Silver.

"I think he meant it for you," continued Boy.

"If so I should think a shade better of him," replied the other
stubbornly.

"I'm glad you didn't catch him," said the girl. She turned full face to
him. "You _were_ angry."

"I _was_ a bit put out, I think," answered the other.

They dropped down the hill into the Paddock Close, graying faintly in
the dusk.

Boy's high spirits were pouring back on her in merry little rivulets,
all the readier to brim their banks for having been dammed so long.

"Come and see Four-Pound-the-Second," she cried, and led away along the
hillside at a trot.

"How's he coming on?" asked the young man, jogging at her side,
delighting in her returning life.

"Father thinks he's going to be a great horse," laughed the girl. "But
he won't admit it to me, of course."

"So he is, plea Gob," said Jim.

Boy looked at him severely. Then she tapped him with her crop.

"He may," she said. "You mayn't. And you mustn't mimic dad."

He touched his forehead.

At the Bottom, not far from the place where the old mare had died, a
rough thatched shed of tarred sleepers had been run up for the colt.

"There he is!" said the girl. "By the wood," and called him.

The yearling came, trotting proudly at first, and then breaking into an
ungainly gallop. A gawky creature, with a coat like a bear's, he moved
with the awkward grace of a puppy, slithering and slipping in the mud,
yet always recovering himself with surprising speed and precision.

Boy dismounted, and Silver followed her example.

She held out her hand toward the colt.

"Come on, the boy!" she cooed. "Billy Bluff's not here to rag you."

The colt came delicately with outstretched neck and wide nostrils,
fearing for his liberty, yet poking out his nose toward the extended
palm on which there lay a piece of bread.

"Looks as if he might make into something, don't you think?" said the
girl. "Lots of bone."

"What colour's he going to be?" asked the young man.

"Black-brown with bay points. Black-and-tan, mother calls him."

"Black-and-tan," said the young man. "That's Berserk, isn't it?"

"I believe so," replied the girl.

"Is that sure?" asked the young man.

"Father seems to think so," replied Boy evasively. "Monkey Brand met the
gypsy afterward, who pitched him a tale."

"Who's he belong to?" asked the young man.

"Me, of course," laughed Boy.

"I'll go shares with you!" said Silver. "Halve expenses and winnings.
There's an offer now!"

"Right," she cried.

They shook hands with laughter, and led their horses across the Close.

The girl edged off to the right.

"We'll look in on old Ragamuffin," she said. "I always used to give him
an apple on my birthday."

As they put the wood between them and the Bottom, a man who had been
lying in the shelter out of the wind came to the door and called to the
colt.

"Whoa, little man!" he said. "Whoa then!"



CHAPTER XXVII

The Fire in the Dusk


It was Jerry who gave the alarm ten minutes later. He had been busy at
his garden in the Sloperies when he saw the smoke rise from the shelter
on the hill, and rushed into the yard to say the shed was ablaze.

Boy and Silver, after their leisurely walk home, had just entered the
yard and surrendered their horses to two of the lads. The girl was
releasing Billy Bluff from his chain, to Maudie's open annoyance, when
Jerry panted in with his news.

Silver ran to the gate.

"By Jove, so it is!" he cried.

He was in the saddle in a moment, but not so quickly as was the girl.

She led him through the gate.

Together they galloped across the Paddock Close and made for the hill,
Billy Bluff racing at their side.

The lads ran heavily behind.

The shed was belching smoke, and from the heather-thatch the flames were
leaping in red flicker.

"Jolly blaze!" cried Silver as he galloped.

A sound of banging came from the heart of that cloud of smoke, and then
the loud neigh of a frightened horse.

The young man's face changed.

"Four Pound's inside!" he cried.

He stormed up the hill, and for the first time in his life Banjo tasted
steel.

Boy, too, had heard that muffled cry, and came shooting by the
heavy-weight up the hill, Lollypop well extended.

"Keep clear!" cried Silver. "Hold my horse!"

He was off in a trice, and wading through the bellying smoke.

The girl could see him dimly as he kicked at the door of the shed.

It burst open.

A vast shadow came hurtling through the fog.

Silver was sent hurling backward and sprawled on the hillside.

He was on his feet in a moment.

"That's all right," he panted, as he watched the colt career whinnying
away, wreaths of smoke still clinging to his woolly coat. "He's not
taken much harm."

"I suppose he went in after we left," mused Boy. "And then the wind
banged the door."

"I don't think the wind dropped that bar," said the young man. "And I
doubt if it set the shelter alight."

The shed was blazing merrily, the flames devouring the tarred wood with
greed.

Jerry had seen a man leave the public path, cross the Paddock, and enter
the shed half an hour before.

"What kind of a man?" asked Silver.

"Trampy, sir," replied the lad.

"He got smokin' in it out of the wind," said Stanley, "and set it
ablaze, and did a bolt."

"After shutting the door behind him with the colt inside," commented
Silver.

He searched the grass on the outskirts of the shed for footmarks.
Something glimmering in the dusk caught his eye. It was a
wooden-handled sheath-knife.

Silver picked it up and showed it to the girl.

She said nothing.

"Billy Bluff!" called the young man. He shoved the knife under the dog's
nose. "Sik him out!" he called. "Good dorg!"

Billy Bluff skirmished round and went off up the hill at score.

Silver mounted and followed.

The trail carried the dog up on to the Downs.

He pursued it at speed and unfaltering in the dusk.

Against the pale west, on the brow, the figure of a man soon came into
view. Billy Bluff raced up and greeted the pedestrian effusively.

Silver, pounding up behind, found himself face to face with the vicar.

The dog, his task completed to his own entire satisfaction, sought
applause and sympathy from the horseman.

"Is that you, Mr. Haggard?" called the young man in the dusk.

"Yes; I came up to have a look at the sunset."

"You haven't seen that man Joses about?"

"Our lurid friend," said the vicar absently. "No; and I don't want to
see him just now. It's all so quiet."

Boy, who had stayed behind to examine the colt, came cantering up.

The dusk was drawing down apace, the earth dark about them, and seaward
that window in the west pale and lovely.

"Wonderful!" said Mr. Haggard, dreamily, and repeated slowly and to
himself--

          _Since I can never see your face,
            And never shake you by the hand,
          I send my soul through time and space
            To greet you. You will understand._

The riders turned away.

Neither spoke for a while.

"Mr. Haggard's like mother," said the girl at last. "He's got _that_."
She added: "I'm glad we met him. I was very angry."

"Aren't you now?" he asked.

"Yes," she said, "but in a different way. It's white now. It was red
then."

They rode slowly off the crest amid the gorse, the lights of Putnam's
burning far beneath them in the dusk.

"Give me that knife, please," she said.

"No."

"Why not?"

"I want it."

"What for?"

He didn't answer.

"I know," she said. "To get him put away."

"He deserves it," replied the young man doggedly. "If it had only been
the shed now!--but--"

"Four Pound," she said. "I know." Her little hand came reaching toward
him in the dusk. "Give me that knife, please."

He fenced with her.

"Don't you believe in punishment?" he asked.

"I don't know."

"Not even for cruelty?"

"I don't think you can stop cruelty by being cruel yourself."

"Wouldn't you give him in charge?"

"Yes," she said, "if I was sure they'd kill him. But they wouldn't.
They'd only cage him. And I can't believe in the cage for anyone." She
was breathing deeply.

"Here you are," said the young man.

She laid her hand on his a moment.

He grasped it, and drew toward her silently.

The horses moved side by side down the hill, a few pale stars sprinkling
the dull heavens, and somewhere behind, the glimmer of a young moon.

They passed into the Paddock Close, stealing softly over the turf, the
wood moving gently on their right in the darkness.

He came looming up beside her.

"Boy," he said deeply.

It was the first time he had dared.

"Yes," she answered, and her voice trembled ever so little.

"Will you share something besides Four-Pound-the-Second?"

"What?"

"Everything."

The moon caught her.

She turned full face to him; and her eyes were tender and brilliant as
he had never known them.

"D'you care for me?" she asked.

"I love you," said Silver.

She squeezed his hand, but answered nothing.

"D'you care for _me_?" he asked in his turn.

She did not answer for some time.

"I'm not going to marry you," she said at last.

"Why not?"

He thought she gulped.

"I'm not going to marry a gentleman."

"Why not?"

Again she paused.

"It doesn't do."

He lifted her little hand in his great gloved one and kissed it.

"Bless you, dear Boy," was all he said.



CHAPTER XXVIII

The Fat Man Goes Under


It was two days later that the girl met Joses in the village street.

She crossed to him swiftly, and she was white and sparkling.

"Here's your knife, Mr. Joses," she said, handing it him.

There came into his eyes at once that hunted look.

He put both hands behind him and bowed with his honeyed smile.

"It's not mine, Miss Woodburn, thank you," he said.

The girl was growing apace.

A few months back she would have said "It is," and have dropped it at
his feet. Now she answered:

"You may have it whenever you like to call for it," and passed on.

A little farther down the street she met the vicar.

On her face was that frosty look that Mr. Haggard said made him afraid.

"Well, Boy?" he said.

"Good morning, Mr. Haggard," she answered, but she did not stop.

That evening she called at the cottage where Joses lodged and handed
Mrs. Boam the knife done up in brown paper.

"Will you give this to Mr. Joses?" she said.

The woman's apron was to her lips, and over it her frightened eyes
peered at the girl.

"He's gone, Miss," she said.

The girl was surprised.

"Gone?" she said. "Where?"

The woman nibbled her apron.

"An hour since. The police come for him. I was makin' the tea."

That strange tide of Other-Consciousness overwhelmed the girl.

"Are you fond of him?" asked the Voice that used her as an instrument.

The woman with the streaming eyes nodded over her apron.

"Our Jenny love him," she said.


End of Part I



Battle


It was Old Mat who was responsible for the arrest of Joses on the charge
of incendiarism.

"I got to do me duty by the pore feller," he said quietly. "And will do,
de we. Same as the Psalmist says. It's _because_ you love 'em you got to
chastise of 'em. Only where it is," he ended disconsolately, "don't
somehow seem as they _can_ understand."

The evidence was fairly plain. Jerry had marked the tout late in the
afternoon of the day in question cross the Paddock Close from the public
park and enter the shed half an hour before the fire; while Monkey
Brand, coming off the hill, on his return from the hunt, swore he had
seen him emerge from the shed as flames broke from the thatched roof.

It was growing dusk at the time, and the distance was considerable, as
Monkey admitted, but the little jockey maintained with restraint and
emphasis that "he'd know that waddle anywheres."

Joses did not go undefended. The fact of his value to the Three J's, if
ever in doubt, was proved beyond question by the fact that they paid a
good lawyer to keep him out of gaol. And it was notorious that the Three
J's never gave except where they got.

Indeed, one of the funniest scenes at the trial took place when Ikey
Aaronsohnn, who it was said had returned post-haste from America for the
purpose, Jaggers, and Chukkers, one after the other, stood up in the
witness-box and gave evidence solemnly as to the character of the
accused.

"Of course we know he _has_ made a little mistake in the past, pore
chap," said Jaggers, who looked like an austere Stiggins. "But he's a
_good_ man for all that."

"A hopeful penitent," suggested the prosecuting counsel.

"There's 'ope for all, I 'ope, sir," said Jaggers, with quiet manliness.

The case against the accused seemed black; but he met it with
extraordinary courage and resource.

He admitted that he had been in the shed at the time alleged.

He said that he had gone there to smoke out of the wind, and admitted
further that he _had_ set the shed on fire--by accident.

When asked in court why, if he had set the shed on fire by accident, he
had run away, his defence was simple and convincing.

He said he was afraid. He'd been in trouble before.

"And once you've been in trouble, the police know you, and you never get
a chance. I got a panic, and I bolted--very foolishly."

The defence evidently impressed both judge and jury. And had it been
simply a question of setting fire to the shed the accused might have got
off; but there was the further matter of Four-Pound-the-Second.

How did the yearling come to be in the shed?

Joses retorted that it was not for him to say; but he suggested that it
had come on to rain, and that the colt had sought shelter from the
storm.

It was there that Silver came in.

The papers said, and said truly, that the young banker gave his evidence
with obvious reluctance.

"Was the colt in the shed when you came up?" asked the prosecuting
counsel.

"Yes."

"Was it raining?"

"It was drizzling."

"Was the door shut?"

"Yes."

"How was it shut?"

"With a wooden latch."

"That you lifted to let the colt out?"

"Yes."

"Could the wind have banged the door to?"

"Possibly."

"Could the latch have _fallen_ into its place?"

"I don't know."

"What d'you think?"

"I doubt it."

In cross-examination the aim of the counsel for the defence was to show
that the evidence of the witness was unreliable because he was actuated
by personal malevolence against the accused.

"Have you had words with the prisoner on more than one occasion?"

"Yes."

"It was a word from you that put the police on to him in the first
instance?"

"It was _not_," with warmth.

"You found a knife you believed to belong to the prisoner in the shed
after the fire?"

"Outside the shed."

"And you took the knife to the police?"

"I did not."

"Where is the knife now?"

"I don't know."

"Who did you give it to?"

"Miss Woodburn."

The girl was called. Her evidence was very brief. Mr. Silver had given
her the knife. She had taken it to the cottage where the prisoner lodged
and handed it back to the woman there.

To substantiate the charge that Mr. Silver was actuated by malice, the
counsel for the defence called evidence to prove the scene that had
taken place between the witness and the accused on the way to the meet.

On this point the prisoner gave further evidence himself.

"You met Mr. Silver later in the day?"

"I did."

"What happened?"

"He rode at me and struck me."

"What for?"

"He said he'd show a ---- convict how to speak to a gentleman; and he'd
get me put away."

"Was anybody present?"

The accused laughed.

"No fear! He waited till he got me alone."

"What time was this?"

"About two-thirty."

"Where?"

"Just outside Prior's Wood."

Mr. Silver, recalled by the prosecuting counsel, was re-examined as to
the facts alleged by Joses.

"Did you strike the prisoner?"

"I gave him one with the lash of my crop."

"Under what circumstances?"

The witness explained.

"Did you say the words attributed to you?"

"I did _not_."

"Did any words pass between you?"

There was a pause.

"After I struck him, while he was messing about with his knife, he said:
'I'll do time for you!'"

"Did you say anything?"

There was another pause.

"I said: 'What! More?'"

In cross-examination the counsel for the defence asked the young banker
what he meant when he said to the prisoner--"'What! More?'"

Silver was silent.

"Were you referring to the fact that the accused had been in trouble?"

"Yes."

"And you're a sportsman?"

No answer.

"And a gentleman?"

In his speech for the prosecution counsel pointed out that the motive
for the crime--the one point in doubt--had been established. Joses had
been a little too clever and had established it himself. He had supplied
the one missing link, and would be hung in a chain of his own making.
The two men had come to words and blows. Joses, smarting alike in body
and mind, had trotted home and, beside himself with rage and a desire
for revenge, had committed this most insensate and abominable crime.

The jury found the prisoner guilty without leaving the box, and the
judge, who described the crime as deliberate, malignant, and the work of
a frustrated fiend, gave him a swinging sentence.



PART II

THE WOMAN AND THE HORSE



BOOK IV

THE TRIAL



CHAPTER XXIX

Albert Edward


Four years had passed; but Maudie had not changed or aged.

She lay in the sun on a step on the ladder, languid, insolent, concerned
only for herself. True the kennel beneath the ladder was empty now, and
had a rusty and pathetic air as of long disuse; but the
Monster-without-Manners was not dead, alas!--he had but changed his
abode. Now and for some years past the Great Unspeakable had shared a
kennel with the Four-Legs-Who-Might-Not-Walk-Alone; the one who there
was all this foolish fuss about. There were many such Four-Legs about,
each as a rule with a small Two-Legs in attendance or on top. As a
whole, they were harmless. They lived and let live, and Maudie asked no
more. But the Four-Legs with whom the Monster-without-Manners had
entered on a sinister intimacy had been corrupted by his companion. He
bounded, too, upon occasion. And when he bounded he was so big that he
seemed to fill the yard, sprawling here and there and everywhere, till
the walls bulged and burst, to the grave inconvenience of Maudie, the
fan-tails, and all sober citizens; while the Monster-without-Manners
_more suo_, encouraged him with coarse laughter.

When the Four-Legs-Who-Might-Not-Walk-Alone bounded in the yard, Maudie
retired indignantly and with the grand air to safety in the loft. She
did not blame the Four-Legs. He was young, innocent, and the victim of
the impossible M.-w.-M., who was still the villain of her piece and had
not altered for the better with the years. Maybe he bounded less; but on
the other hand age had brought with it cunning.

When Putnam's Only Gentleman had brought her a saucer of milk the
M.-w.-M. would approach with a great air of gallantry and high breeding,
and deliberately thrusting his great foot into the saucer, would upset
it. That was what the M.-w.-M. thought a joke.

Apart from Maudie the yard was deserted now. The horses moved restlessly
in their loose-boxes, but there was no bustle of shirt-sleeved urchins
with buckets and pitchforks mucking them out. For it was Sunday morning,
and the lads were elsewhere.

Arrayed on the long-backed roofs the fan-tails sidled, cooed, and
blinked in the sun. In a sycamore in the Paddock Close a hedge-sparrow
raised its thin sweet song, and the celandine lifted a pale and fragile
face under the beeches on the hillside. Hope was everywhere except in
Maudie's heart, for February was already on the wane.

The back door of the house opened, and Mrs. Woodburn, grayer than of
old, stately and aproned, stood in it with a corn-measure in her hand,
and tossed showers of golden grain for the fan-tails who came fluttering
to her call.

Albert, busy on his chin with a shaving brush, peeped surreptitiously
round the door of the saddle-room, and seeing Ma opposite withdrew
swiftly; but he kept the door ajar as though awaiting something he was
determined not to miss.

Mrs. Woodburn retired indoors, and a few minutes later there came the
noisy clacking of a horse and cart entering the cobbled yard.

Instantly Albert was all alert. He flung a towel about his neck and
looked out.

An ostler from Lewes, known familiarly as Cherry, had pulled up a
dog-cart opposite the pump. The old horse stretched his neck, shook his
collar from his sweating shoulders, and, breathing on the water in the
trough, drank delicately.

Mr. Silver descended from the cart.

He marked the fair lad in the door of the saddle-room and greeted him in
his large and leisurely way:

"Good morning, Albert," he said.

"Morning, sir."

"Where are the other lads?"

"Where they ought to be, sir. In the Lads' Barn, waiting for Miss Boy."

"And why aren't you there?" asked the young man, amused.

Albert, in fact, spent all his spare time of late shaving. Indeed, he
was in the habit of informing those he called his colleagues that unless
he shaved three times a day he wasn't 'ardly decent.

"I got to keep at it, sir," he confided now to Mr. Silver. "Else I gets
it from Miss Boy."

"What d'you get from her?" asked the young man blandly. "A razor?"

Old Cherry chuckled.

"'E larders his chin and then scrapes the soap off," he said. "That
amooses Albert, that does."

The insult left the lad cold; but that was less because the insult was a
feeble one than because his mind was elsewhere.

His eyes and whole attention were on the back of the departing toff.

There was something fascinating to Albert about that back this morning.
He followed the young man with the interest and the undisguised
admiration of a Paris gamin watching an aristocrat go to the guillotine.

As the long back disappeared round a corner, the lad turned to Cherry
and winked.

"Guts," he said.

The ostler led the old horse with dripping muzzle away from the
water-trough. The expression on his face seemed to suggest that the
other was a vulgar fellow.

"Did he talk?" asked Albert.

"Talk!" said Cherry ironically. "To me? Likely, ain't it? He talked all
right. Only he never let on."

Albert had picked up his towel, and was scrubbing away at his chin.

"Plucky little feller," he said. "You'd never know."

"He takes his gruel all right," admitted the other surlily,
unharnessing.

"Yes, we've learned him his lesson since he's been at Putnam's,"
reflected Albert.

"'Ow long's he been training here then?" asked Cherry grudgingly, as he
coiled the traces.

"Five year I've had him now," answered Albert. "He come to me the spring
afore Four-Pound-the-Second was foaled."

Cherry led the old horse into the stable and put him into an empty
stall.

"---- shame I call it," he said. "A nice feller like that."

Albert watched him with folded arms.

"I would, too," he said, "only it's Sunday, and Mar might hear."

Cherry smirked.

"Why ain't you at Bible Class then?" he asked grimly.

The Bible Class at Putnam's was a standing joke along the South Downs
from Arunvale to Beachy Head.

Albert swaggered.

"I'm not takin' it this morning," he said. "I'm givin 'em a serees of
addresses on the 'Igher Life when the jumpin' season's over."

The little ostler looked at his watch.

"You'd better step it," he said, "you and your Hired Life. It's past
eleben and the bells have stopped. If you ain't there before her, you'll
get the stick, you will."

Albert moved slowly up the gangway behind the loose-boxes, unheeding the
other's taunts.

"I reck'n they've took a couple o' million off of him since Christmas,"
he said, returning to the subject which he could not leave. "And I got
to get it back for him."

"Indeed?" said Cherry ironically. "'Ow? Tellin' lies and gettin' paid
for 'em?"

Albert opened the door of a loose-box and pointed dramatically.

Cherry stared at the brown horse within.

Albert whistled softly and the horse turned his long neck and gazed at
them with wise and quizzical eye. "Ain't he a big un?" cried Cherry, the
note of irony dropping from his voice in spite of himself.

Billy Bluff, who had been curled under the manger, came across the
loose-box and sniffed the little ostler friendly.

"'Ullo, Billy!" said the old man. "Do you sleep in here?"

"Won't sleep nowhere else," answered Albert. "And what's more, Four
Pound won't sleep unless his pal's with him. They've always had this
loose-box atween 'em from the start. Miss Boy used to sleep in here,
too, when he was a foal." The youth dropped his swank, and became
confidential and keen. "Wonderful close friends, them two, you wouldn't
believe. Four Pound had a cracked heel last autumn, and I used to
bandage him at nights. He didn't like the bandages, and every night
after I'd rugged him up and left him, Billy'd take and unwind the lot.
Didn't you, Billy?"

He shut the door.

"Who's goin' to ride him?" asked Cherry.

"Me or Monkey," said Albert. "'Taint settled yet. Will be this morning."

He led along toward the saddle-room.

"You got your work cut if you're goin' to beat _her_," said Cherry.

"No fear!" answered Albert. "Got the Sunday paper? What are they
layin'?"

"Sevens the favourite," replied the old ostler, producing it. "The rest
any price."

The youth glanced at the betting news.

"Sevens it is," he said. "Price shortening. I suppose the stable's got
all the money they want on her, and so they don't bother to tell no more
lies."

Albert opened the saddle-room door. Cherry passed in. The lad followed,
and locked the door behind him.

"Now don't mind me," he said. "I'm busy."



CHAPTER XXX

The Bible Class


In the old days, when Mat had been in his prime, there had not seldom
been as many as a hundred horses on occasion billeted in and around
Putnam's.

At that time Mat had done a bit of dealing in addition to his training,
and had kept hunters as well as 'chasers.

The Lads' Barn, as it was called, was at the back of the old
hunter-stables, somewhat removed from the yard, and opening on to the
Paddock Close.

It was big, black, with red-tiled roof, raftered, and ideal for its
purpose; for it served as the Lads' Club, instituted by Mrs. Woodburn
when first she came to live at Putnam's. Here in winter they had
singsongs, dances, and entertainments; and in the summer they played
games, read, and held their committee meetings.

At one end was a mattress, a wooden horse, parallel bars and rings, and
the ordinary appurtenances of a Boys' Club; at the other a raised
platform, and on it a blackboard and harmonium.

Now some twenty lads were gathered in the barn, waiting for Miss
Woodburn to take the Bible Class.

To-day the girl for once was late. And the lads were glad. They had
plenty to talk about this morning, and they welcomed an opportunity for
misconduct at this time all the more because it rarely offered. There
was a delicious relish about wrongdoing in the one hour a week devoted
to seeking good and ensuing it.

Some of them were smoking, some playing cards.

Both acts were forbidden--the latter absolutely, the former in the main;
for no lad under seventeen years was allowed to smoke in the Putnam
stable.

The consequence was that the lads over the age limit bought and owned
the cigarettes, and with fine capitalist instinct let them out to the
youngsters at a farthing the puff. Albert when under age had instituted
the puff, and when over it had organized the tariff. By the
puff-a-farthing method the cigarettes could not be confiscated, for they
belonged only to those who had a prescriptive right to them, while the
puffers, with a little cunning, were able to enjoy illicit smokes.

Jerry, the economist with the corrugated brow, and Stanley the stupid,
both with cigarettes in their mouths, were standing apart in lofty
isolation, as befitted the fathers of the flock.

A cherub-faced urchin, playing cards, and deep in his play, was humming
abstractedly the chorus of a catchy song.

Stanley nudged his pal, strolled up behind the youth, and boxed his
ears.

The whistler rose and rubbed his ear, aggrieved.

"What's that for?" he asked.

Stanley scowled down at him.

"Whistlin' that at Putnam's o' Sunday."

"What were I whistlin' then?" asked the aggrieved urchin.

"Mocassin Song," said the haughty Stan. "Now no more of it!"

"I didn't know I were whistlin' it," replied the youth.

"He whistles it in his dreams, Alf does," explained a little pal. "It's
got to his head."

"He won't 'ave no 'ead to dream with if he mocassins us," retorted Stan.

The wrong righted, and order restored, Stanley stalked majestically back
to his pal with a wink.

"Where's Albert then?" asked Jerry.

"He said he wasn't comin'."

"He's been sayin' that every Sunday these ten year past," answered Jerry
with the insolence of the ancient habitué. "Ere, one o' you kids, fetch
me a bit o' chalk. I 'ate to see you idlin' your time away, gamblin' and
dicin', like the Profligate Son when he broke the bank at Monte Carlo."

He mounted the platform.

"While Ginger's gettin' the chalk I'll ask you a question or two to
testify your general knowledge."

He took the cigarette out of his mouth, and wriggled his chin above his
high collar.

"Who done Mr. Silver down?" he asked pontifically.

There was a moment's silence. Then a hand went up.

"Chukkers," piped the cherub-faced urchin.

There was a jeer from the other lads, and even the proud Stanley deigned
to smile.

"Alf's got Chukkers on the crumpet," Jerry said sardonically. "If there
was a nearthquake and they ask Alf who done it, he'd say Chukkers."

"Well, he's up to all sorts," retorted the wise cherub.

Jerry repeated his original question.

"Who done Mr. Silver down?"

"Jews," ventured a sporting youth.

This answer met with more approval.

"That's more like," said Jerry. "Now 'ow can he get back on 'em?"

"Bash 'em," suggested the sportsman, encouraged by his previous success.
"He's bigger nor them, I'll lay."

The lecturer on the platform lifted a protesting hand.

"You mustn't bash 'em, boy Jackson," he said. "Tain't accordin' to
religion--at least not the religion what I'm here to teach you. No,"
said the preacher of righteousness, "you mustn't bash 'em. That'd never
do."

"What then?" piped the cherub.

"You must lay for him," answered the moralist.

Alf was on his feet in a trice.

"At the Canal Turn," he chirped. "Bump him off and then jump on the flat
of his face."

The moralist greeted the suggestion with warm approval.

"One up to Alfie!" he cried. "He'll make a jockey and a Christian yet,
Alf will."

Ginger handed up a piece of chalk.

Jerry hushed his audience.

"Quiet now, _if_ you please," said he.

He took the chalk and wrote up in sprawling letters on the board:

     _Bible Class._

     _First Question. What price Four-Pound-the-Second, Grand National?_

Instantly there was a hub-bub, from which the words "Hundred to one"
came with insistent force.

"Hundred to one," said the lecturer. "Thank you, genelmen."

He proceeded to write.

     _Second Question. Any takers?_

"Yus," said the lofty Stanley. "I'll do it in dollars--twice over."

"Thank _you_," said the scribe.

     _Third Question. What price Mocassin?_

The name was received with groans.

"Sevens--if Chukkers rides," cried the cherub. "Tens if he don't."

The answer was received with jeers.

"Chukkers _not_ ride!"

"O' course he'll ride!"

"He always has ridden her--here and in the States and in Australia!"

Stanley finally deigned to descend from his heights to crush the youth.

"They got a quarter of a million on God Almighty's Mustang, the Three
J's 'ave. Think they'd trust anyone up only one of their fat selves? Now
then!"

In the middle of the storm Monkey Brand, who had been waiting for the
girl in the door, looked in.

He saw the writing on the board and crossed the barn. Monkey himself
could neither read nor write, but he was well aware that anything
written by the lads should be rubbed out at once.

"Who wrote this?" he asked.

Jerry, who on the other's entrance had descended swiftly from the
platform, repeated the question.

"Who wrote this?" he asked authoritatively. "Can't you 'ear Mr. Brand?"

"Albert, I reck'n," answered Stanley, taking his cue from his pal.

The door opened, and a girl stood on the threshold.

"Who said Albert?" she asked.

The lads turned.

The young lady wore a long drab coat and had a fair pig-tail. She was
like Boy Woodburn and yet unlike her: the figure much the same, the
colouring identical. But if it was Boy, the years had coarsened her and
altered the expression in her eyes not for the better.

With swift, decisive steps she made for the platform amid the suppressed
giggles of the lads.

Jerry made way for her at once.

The girl proceeded to rub out with the duster all the questions but the
first. Then she turned over the leaves of a Bible, wetting her thumb for
that purpose, seized the pointer, and took her stand by the blackboard.

"The first question that arises h'out of h'our lesson to-day," she began
quietly, "is this 'ere--'_What price Four-Pound-the-Second?_' Now think
afore you answers, there's good little fellers."

It was Jerry who held up his hand.

The girl pointed at him.

"You there, Jerry me boy."

"Depends on who rides him, Mrs. Chukkers," he said.

There was a deadly silence. In it the girl let the handle of the pointer
fall with the noise of a grounded rifle.

"Mrs. Who?" she asked, fatally quiet.

"Chukkers, ma'am," answered the courteous Jerry.

"Go on then," sneered the girl. "Chukkers ain't married. Nobody won't
'ave him."

Jerry had risen.

"No, ma'am. That he ain't," said the polished little gentleman. "You're
his mother--from Sacramento. Anyone could see that by the likeness.
You're the spit of each other, if I might make so bold. And I'm sure,"
said the orator, "speakin' on be'alf of all present, meself included, we
feel honoured by the presence in our umble midst of the mother of the
famous 'orseman--Chukkers Childers."

In the silence the speaker resumed his seat.

The lady addressed was too busy to reply.

She was taking off her drab coat, her picture hat, and her pig-tail, and
she was spitting in her hands.

Soaping them together, she came to the edge of the platform.

"Shall I come down and give it you?" she asked. "Or will you come up and
fetch it?"

"Neever, thank you," said Jerry, puffing imperturbably.

Albert jumped down.

"You're for it, Jerry," said Stanley, glad it was his friend's turn this
time.

"Not me," Jerry replied. "No scrappin' Sunday. Miss Boy's orders."

Albert, very white, was sparring all round his adversary's head.

"Chukkered me, did ye?" he said. "Put 'em up then, or I'll spoil ye."

The offence was the unforgiveable in the Putnam stable, and the watching
lads had every hope of a battle royal when a calm, deep voice stilled
the storm.

"That'll do," it said.

The real Boy entered.

The dark blue of her dress showed off her fair colouring and hair.

She was nearly twenty-one now and spiritually a woman, if she still
retained the slight, sword-like figure of her girlhood days. Her face
was graver than of old and more quiet. The touch of almost aggressive
resolution and defiance it once possessed had shaded off into something
stiller and more impressive. There was less show of strength and more
evidence of it. Her roots were deeper, and she was therefore less moved
by passing winds. Something of her mother's calm had invaded her. She
got her way just as of old, but she no longer had to battle for it now
as then. Or if she had to battle, the fight was invisible, and the
victory fought and won in the unseen deeps of her being.

"Who's been smoking here?" the girl asked immediately on entering the
barn.

"Me, Miss," said Jerry.

Monkey Brand was fond of affirming that on the whole the lads told the
truth to Miss Boy. But whether it was the girl's personality or her
horsemanship that accounted for this departure from established rule it
was hard to surmise.

"You might leave that to Jaggers's lads," said the girl. "Surely we
might keep this one hour in the week clean."

Mr. Haggard had once said that the girl was a Greek. He might have
added--a Greek with an evangelical tendency. For this Sunday morning
hour was no perfunctory exercise for her. It was a reality, looming
always larger with the years, and on horseback, in the train, at
stables, was perpetually recurring to the girl throughout the week.

In the struggle between her father and her mother in her blood, the
mother was winning the ascendancy.

"I thought the rule was we might smoke if you was late, Miss," said
Jerry, in the subdued voice he always adopted when speaking to his young
mistress.

"It's not the rule, Jerry," the girl replied quietly, "as you're
perfectly well aware. And even if it was the rule it would be bad
manners. Alfred, give me those cards."

"What cards, Miss?"

"The cards you were playing with when I came in."

The cherub produced a dingy pack.

"They're only picture cards, Miss," he said.

The girl's gray eyes seemed to engulf the lad, friendly if a little
stern.

"Have you been gambling?" she asked.

"No, Miss," with obvious truthfulness.

"He's got nothin' to gamble with," jeered the brutal Stanley. "His
mother takes it all."

The girl mounted swiftly on to the platform, saw the writing on the
blackboard, and swept it away with a duster.

Then she turned to her little congregation, feeling their temper with
sure and sensitive spirit.

They were out of hand, and it was because she had been late through no
fault of her own. The kitchenmaid had fainted, and Boy had, of course,
been sent for.

There was one hope of steadying them.

"We'll start with a hymn," she said, taking her seat at the harmonium.
"Get your hymn-books. What hymn shall we have? Alfred, it's your turn, I
think."

Alfred, after some hesitation, gave _The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended_,
amid the jealous murmurs of his friend.

"That's a nevenin nymn, fat-'ead," cried Jerry in a loud whisper.

"I don't care if it is," answered Alf stoutly. "It's nice."

"'E likes it because it makes him cry," jeered Stanley.

The girl started to play, her back to the congregation.

They sang two verses with round mouths, Jerry and Stanley shouting
against each other aggressively and wagging their heads. The third verse
went less well. There were interruptions. The voices grew ragged. Jerry
spoke; somebody whistled; and the singing ran away into giggles.

Boy swung round.

The cause of the merriment was sufficiently obvious.

A lop-eared Belgian rabbit was hopping across the floor, entirely
self-complacent and smug. As the sound of singing, which had covered him
like a garment, died away in smothered titters, he sat up on his
hind-legs and stared about him.

The girl descended from the platform, caught the rabbit by the ears and
suspended him.

Tame as a cow, he made no resistance.

"Who's is this hare?" she asked.

"Mrs. Woodburn's, Miss," answered Jerry brightly. "That's Abe Lincoln.
Queen Victoria's his wife. They lives together in a nutch."

"How did he come in?"

"Through the window," said the muffled voice of Albert from the back.
"Flow'd."

The rabbit, which had been hanging placidly suspended, was now seized
with spasms and began to twitch and contort violently.

The reason was not far to seek. A red-eyed ferret, tied by a string to
the foot of a chair, was making strenuous efforts to get at him.

"Who's is that ferret?" asked Boy.

"That genelman's," replied the voice from the back.

The girl looked up and saw Silver standing in the door.

Coldly she dismissed the class.

"That'll do," she said. "You can all go now." The lads shuffled away,
rejoicing. "There'll be no sing-song this evening," continued their
cruel mistress. "Jerry, put that rabbit back in the hutch you took it
from. Stanley, I don't want to see that ferret of yours at Bible Class
again."

The lads trooped out, injured and innocent.

Albert was left in his shirt-sleeves and without a collar.

"What is it?" asked the girl.

"Can I 'ave me things, Miss?"

His face was stiff and impenetrable.

She handed him the long drab coat on the platform.

"And me 'at, Miss."

"Is this yours?"

"Yes, Miss."

She passed him the picture-hat. Albert received it with immobile face.

"And me pig-tail."

"You don't deserve it," said Boy.

Silver approached.

"Put 'em on, will you?" he said.

Albert obeyed without demur and without a symptom of emotion. In a
moment he had become a coarse caricature of his young mistress,
ludicrously alike and yet worlds away.

"Not so bad," commented the young man. "You could act, Albert?"

"Yes, sir," said Albert, in whom diffidence was not a defect.

The lad made for the door in his hat and pig-tail, and as though to
manifest his quality gave a little coquettish flirt to the skirt of his
coat as he went out.

"You'll be wanted this morning, Albert, you and Brand," the girl called
after him.

"Yes, Miss."

"Mare's Back. Twelve-thirty. Make-Way-There and Lollypop, trial horses.
Stanley and Jerry know. Silvertail for me."

"Yes, Miss."

He closed the door behind him.

Silver came toward the girl slowly and took her hand.

"How are you, Boy?" he asked.

The girl laid her firm, cool little hand lightly on his and let it rest
there. Her eyes were soft in his, still and steady. She felt herself
surrounded by his love as by a cloud, and dwelt in it with quiet
enjoyment and content.

It was a while before she answered.

"I'm all right," she said. "You're through, aren't you?"

"Yes; I'm free."

"That's right," she said. "The rest doesn't matter."

Together they went out into the sunshine of the Paddock Close.

He stood a moment, filling his chest, and looking up toward the green
wall of the Downs.

"Let's go slow," he said.

She accommodated herself to his stroll.

"By Jove," he said slowly. "It _is_ a delight to get down here again.
And I don't feel anything's changed really."

"Nor has it _really_," replied the girl.



CHAPTER XXXI

God Almighty's Mustang


Jim Silver turned out of the yard into the office.

As the young man entered, the old trainer sat dumped in his chair, rosy,
bald, with innocent blue eyes, like a baby without a bib, waiting for
its bottle. His round head was deeper between his shoulders than of old,
and his pink face was strained and solicitous.

Some men said he was over eighty now.

"Well, sir," he wheezed, "I see you take it good and game."

"No good crying over spilt milk," replied Silver.

The old trainer raised his hand as he settled in his seat.

"Don't tell me," he said. "It's them there li'bilities. I was always
agin 'em. Said so to Boy four year back. 'Cash in 'and's one thing,' I
says. 'And li'bilities is another and totally different.'" He lifted a
keen blue eye. "I understand from what Mr. Haggard tell me, you could
ha' dodged 'em out o' some of it--only you was too straight." He held up
a disapproving finger. "That's just where you done wrong, Mr. Silver. No
good ever come o' bein' _too_ straight, as I often says to Mar. You're
only askin' for trouble--same as the Psalmist says. And now you got to
pay for it."

"Well, they're all satisfied now," laughed Silver. "And so am I."

"I should think they was," snorted Mat Woodburn. "I see 'em settin'
round, swellin' and swellin', and rubbin' their fat paunches. Think
they'll keep a nag among the lot of 'em! Not so much as a broken-down
towel-hoss."

Silver stared out of the window.

"I shall have to sell the horses," he said.

The old man banged the table.

"Never!" he cried. "They've took a slice off o' you, and now you must
take a bit off o' them. That mayn't be religion, but it's _right_ all
right!"

He rose and, kicking off his slippers, padded to the door and looked
out. Then he peeped out into the forsaken yard and half drew the
curtain.

Silver, who loved the old man most when he was most mysterious, watched
him with kind eyes that laughed.

"I don't bet, Mr. Silver, as you know," began the other huskily, "except
when it's a cert., because it's against _her_ principles." He looked
round him and dropped his voice. "But I took a thousand to ten about
Fo'-Pound-the-Second at Gatwick on Saraday. Told Mar, too. And she never
said No. Look to me like a sign like." He blinked up at the young man.
"You ain't clean'd out, sir, are you--not mopped up with the sponge?" he
asked anxiously.

"There'll be a few thousands left when it's finished, I guess," replied
the other.

The old man lifted on his stockinged toes.

"Put a thousand on," he whispered. "I'll do it for ye, so there's no
talk. If he wins, thar's a hundred thousand back. If he don't, well,
it's gone down the sink and h'up the spout same as its fathers afore
it."

The young man brimmed with quiet mirth.

"Will he win?" he asked.

Old Mat swung his nose from side to side across his face in a way styled
by those who knew him trunk-slinging.

"He's up against something mighty big," said Jim, nodding at the wall.

On it was pinned a great coloured double-page picture from _The Sporting
and Dramatic_ of the famous American mare Mocassin. Beside it were
various cuttings from daily papers, recounting the romantic history of
the popular favourite, and beneath the picture were three lines from the
Mocassin Song--

          _Made in the mould,
          Of Old Iroquois bold,
          Mocassin, the Queen of Kentucky_.

Ikey indeed had found his horse at last; and she was American--Old
Kentucky to the core. It was said that Chukkers had discovered her on
one of his trips home. Certainly he had taken her across to Australia,
where she had launched on her career of unbroken triumph, carrying the
star-spangled jacket to victory in every race in which she ran. Then he
had brought her home to England, her reputation already made, and
growing hugely all the while, suddenly to overwhelm the world, when she
crowned her victories on three continents by winning the Grand National
at Liverpool--only to be disqualified for crossing amid one of the
stormiest scenes in racing history. After that Mocassin ceased to be a
mare. She became a talisman, an oriflamme, a consecrated symbol. She was
American--youthful, hopeful, not to be put upon by the Old Country,
quietly resolute to have her rights.

For the past twelve months indeed the Great Republic of the West had
fixed her two hundred million eyes upon the star-spangled jacket across
the sea in a stare so set as to be almost terrifying.

True that for a quarter of a century now her sons had followed that
jacket with sporadic interest. But since the affair at Liverpool, that
interest had become concentrated, passionate, intense.

Ikey with all his faults was an admirable citizen, beloved in his own
country and not without cause, as Universities and Public Bodies
innumerable could testify. For twenty-five years it had been known that
he had been trying for a goal. At last he had won it--and then John
Bull!... Ya-as.... American horse--American owner--American jockey!
Sure....

Brother Jonathon turned in his lips. He did not blame John Bull; he was
not angry or resentful. But he was determined and above all ironical.

Then, when feeling was at its highest, the Mocassin Song had suddenly
taken America by storm. Sung first in the Empire Theatre on the Broadway
by Abe Gideon, the bark-blocks comedian, ten days after the mare's
victory and defeat, it had raged through the land like a prairie fire.
Cattle-men on the Mexican Border sung it in the chaparral, and the
lumber-camps by the Great Lakes echoed it at night. Gramophones carried
it up and down the Continent from Oyster Bay to Vancouver, and from
Frisco to New Orleans. Every street-boy whistled it, every organ ground
it out. It hummed in the heads of Senators in Congress, and teased
saints upon their knees. It carried the name and fame of Mocassin to
thousands of pious homes in which horses and racing had been anathema
in the past, so that Ministers from Salem and Quaker ladies from
Philadelphia could tell you over tea cups _sotto voce_ something of the
romantic story of the mare from the Cumberland.

And that was not all.

The Song, raging through the land like a bush-fire, dying down here only
to burst out in fresh vehemence elsewhere, leapt even oceans in its
tempestuous course.

The English sang it in their music-halls with fatuous self-complacency.
Indeed they, too, went Mocassin-mad, and the mare who had once already
humbled the Old Country in the dust, and would again, became the idol of
the British Empire.

In shop-windows, on boardings, stamped on the packet of cigarettes you
bought, the picture of the mare was met, until her keen mouse-head, her
drooping quarters and great fore-hand, had been impressed on the mind of
the English Public as clearly as the features of Lord Kitchener.
Jonathon watched his brother across the Atlantic with cynical amusement.

Honest John Bull, now that he had something up against him that could
beat his best, what did he do? Admit defeat? Not John! If the mare won
in the coming struggle he claimed her as his own with tears of unctuous
joy. If she was beaten--well, what else did you expect?

America's feeling in the matter was summed up in the famous cartoon that
appeared at Christmas in _Life_, where Jonathon was seen shaking hands
with John Bull, the mare in the background, and saying:

"I'll believe in you, John, but I'll watch you all the same."

       *       *       *       *       *

"That's God Almighty's Mustang, Chukkers up," said Old Mat. "The Three
J's think they done it this time. And to read the papers you'd guess
they was right. She's a good mare, too--I will say that for her; quick
as a kitten and the heart of a lion. You see her last year yourself at
Aintree, sir!"

"I did," replied the young man, with deep enthusiasm. "Wonderful! She
didn't gallop and jump; she flowed and she flew."

"That's it, sir," agreed the other. "Won all the way. Only Chukkers must
be a bit too clever o' course, and let her down by the dirty."

The old man pursed his lips and nodded confidentially. "Only one thing.
My little Fo'-Pound's the daddy o' her." He sat down and began to draw
on his elastic-sided boots with groans.

"Who's going to ride him?" asked Silver.

"That's where it is, sir," panted the old man. "Who _is_ goin' to ride
him. There's Monkey Brand down on his knees to me for the mount; and he
don't go so bad with Monkey Brand--when he's that way inclined. But I
don't know what to say." His efforts successfully ended, he lifted a
round and crimson face. "See where it is, Mr. Silver; Monkey Brand's
forty-five, and his ridin' days are pretty nigh over. He reckons he can
just about win on Fo'-Pound and then retire. That's his notion. And ye
see it ain't only that, but there's Chukkers and the little bit o'
bitterness. See it's been goin' on twenty year and it's all square now.
Chukkers broke Monkey's pelvis for him Boomerang's year, and Monkey
mixed up Chukkers's inside Cannibal's National. And there it's stood
ever since. And Monkey wants to get one up afore he takes off his jacket
for good."

Silver was looking into the fire.

"If Monkey Brand don't ride, what's the alternative?" he asked.

"Only one," replied the trainer. "Albert. He's a honest hoss is
Fo'-Pound-the-Second, only that fussy as to who he has about him. That's
the way with bottle-fed uns. They gets spoiled and gives 'emselves airs.
Albert's his lad, and Monkey's been about him since he was a foal.
Sometimes he'll work for one, and sometimes for the other; and sometimes
he won't for eether. One thing certain, he won't stir for no one
else--only _her_, o' course. No muckin' about with _her_. It's just
_click!_ and away."

"Pity she can't ride," said Silver.

"If she could ride I'd back him till all was blue," replied the old
man. "No proposition in a hoss's skin that ever come out of
Yankee-doodle-land could see the way he'd go."

"Who rode him at Lingfield?" asked Jim.

Just after Christmas Mat had put the young horse into a two-mile
steeplechase to give him a gallop in public.

"Albert," answered the old man. "Rode him and rode him well. It was just
touch and go through. Would he or wouldn't he? When he was monkeyin' at
the post I tell you I sweat, sir. See he'd never faced the starter
afore. And I thought suppose he's the sort that'll do a good trial and
chuck it when the money's on. He got well left at the post; but when he
did get goin' he ran a great horse. It was heavy goin', and he fair
revelled in it. 'Reg'lar mudlark,' the papers called him. Half-way round
he'd caught his horses and went through 'em like a knife through butter,
and he could ha' left 'em smilin'. But that lad, Albert, he's got
something better'n a sheep's head on his neck. Took to his whip and
flogg'd his boot a caution. Oh, dear me!--fair sat down to it. All over
the place, arms and legs, and such a face on him! And little Fo'-Pound
he winks to 'isself and rolls 'ome at the top of his form just anyhow.
'Alf a length the judges gave it, and a punishin' finish the papers
called it. Jaggers didn't see it, and Chukkers wasn't ridin'. So there
was nobody to tell no tales; an' they're puttin' him in at ten stone."

"And the mare's got twelve-seven," said the young man meditatively.

"Twelve-three," said the trainer. "And she'll carry it, too. But I'll
back my Berserk against their Iroquois any time o' day this side o'
'Appy Alleloojah Land."

The hacks were being led out into the yard with a pleasant clatter of
feet, and Boy was already mounted.

"Come and see for yourself," panted the old man. "I'm goin' to send him
along to-day. See whether he can reelly get four mile without a fuss. I
was only waitin' till you come."



CHAPTER XXXII

The Fat Man Emerges


The old man, the young man, and the girl rode out of the yard into the
Paddock Close.

"Where's Billy Bluff?" asked Silver. He was on Heart of Oak, she high
above him, perched like a bird on tall old Silvertail, who looked like a
spinster and was one. Almost you expected her to look at you over
spectacles and make an acrid comment on men or things.

"In front with his friend," replied Boy.

"Are you going to pace him?" asked Jim.

"I believe so," replied the girl casually. "Dad's going to send him the
full course to-day. Jerry and I are to take him over the fences the
first time round. And then Stanley's to bring him along the flat the
last two miles."

They travelled up the public path past the church amid the sycamores.
Mat on his fast-walking cob rode in front, kicking his legs. Boy and Jim
followed more soberly.

She rode a little behind him that she might see his profile. Suddenly he
reined back and met her face, his own gleaming with laughter. At such
moments he looked absurdly young.

"I say, Boy!" he began, dropping his voice.

She snatched her eyes from his face, and then peeped at him warily.

"What?"

He drew up beside her.

"I'm not a gentleman any more."

She looked straight before her. Her fine lips were firm and resisting,
but about her eyes the light stole and rippled deliciously.

"I'm not sure," she said, half to herself.

He pressed up alongside her, lifting his face.

"I'm not!" he cried. "I'm not!" eager as a boy in his protestations.
"You can't chuck that up at me any more."

Boy refused to face him or to be convinced.

"I don't," she said. "I don't believe in class. It's the man that
matters."

"Hear, hear," he cried. "It's the man--not the money. I see it now. I
haven't got tuppence to my name."

She turned her eyes down on him, brushing aside his coquetry with the
sweep of her steady gaze.

"D'you mind?" she asked in her direct and simple way as they emerged on
to the open Downs.

He sobered to her mood.

"Only in this way," he answered, "that it was my father's show, and I
don't like to have let it down."

The girl deliberated.

"I don't see that you could have helped it," she said after a pause.

"No, _I_ couldn't," he admitted. "_He_ could have. It was a One Man
show. And when the One Man went it was bound to go in time. However,
I've let nobody down but myself. And I don't care so much about the
stuff."

"No," she said. "You don't want all that. Nobody does; and it's not good
for you."

Preacher Joe had bobbed up suddenly in his fair grand-daughter, as he
did not seldom. She was deliciously unaware of the old man's presence at
her side; but Jim Silver welcomed him as a familiar with lurking
laughter.

"Thank you, sir," he said, and touched his hat. Then he covered his
daring swiftly. "Except for the horses I wouldn't cuc-care a hang," he
said loudly. "They were the only things mum-money gave me."

Gravely she peeped at him again.

"Shall you sell the lot?"

"I shall sell the 'chasers," he answered.

"All but one," she corrected.

"Which one?"

She nodded up the hill.

"The one you share with me."

He laughed his resounding laughter.

"I'll sell you my share," he said.

"I won't buy," she answered firmly.

"Very well. Then I'll sell to Jaggers."

Boy tapped Silvertail with such an increase of emphasis that the old
mare snatched resentfully at her bit.

"You won't," she cried with the old fierce, girlish note in her voice
which so delighted him.

"_After_ he's won the National," continued the young man calmly.

"We'll see--_after_," replied Boy.

They passed out of the Paddock Close on to the Downs.

"How's he coming on?" asked Jim.

"Monkey Brand says he's streets better than Cannibal," replied the girl.
"We've never had anything to touch him in my time." This was one of few
subjects on which the girl sometimes would flow. "Of course he's young
for a National horse--only five, and she's in her prime. But he's got
the head of an old horse on the body of a young one. Nothing flurries
him--once you can get him going."

"And the trouble is there's only one person who can get him going,"
mused the young man.

"I don't know about that," she answered tartly. "He's only run the once
in public. And that time he ran rings round his field. Albert was
riding--not me."

They were nearing the brow.

A man was labouring up the hill in front of them.

Old Mat pulled up, and the pair jogged up alongside him. The trainer
nodded quietly at the heavy figure in front.

"He's out," he wheezed. "On to it pretty quick, too. Heard we're goin'
to gallop Fo'-Pound and he's come to see what he can see."

The man drew to one side to let the riders pass.

It was Joses; and he had changed.

There was less of the sow and more of the wolf about him than of old.
His shaggy whiskers were touched with gray, and there was something hard
and fierce about his face. The old inflamed and flabby look had been
hammered out of him in the hard school from which he had just emerged.

He eyed the riders as they passed.

Boy's grave eyes became graver and more self-contained. At once she was
alert and had locked all her doors. In that firm, courageous face of
hers there was no curiosity, no unkindness, and least of all no fear.
The young man glancing at her thought he had never seen such strength
manifest in any face; and it was not the strength that is based on
hardness, for she was paler than her wont.

Then she spoke.

Her voice, deep as a bell and very quiet, surprised him in the silence.
He had not expected it, and yet somehow it seemed to him beautifully
appropriate.

"Good morning, Mr. Joses," said the voice, and that was all; but it
wrought a miracle.

"Yes," growled the man in the wayside, "it wasn't you: it was Silver."

The young man's face flashed white. He pulled up instantaneously.

"What's that?" he said.

Boy, riding on, called sharply over her shoulder:

"Come on, Mr. Silver!"

Reluctant as a dog to leave an enemy, the young man obeyed, and caught
up the other two.

"Little bit o' bitter," muttered the old man. He jerked his thumb over
his shoulder. "I got him five year for himself," he went on querulously.
"And now he ain't satisfied. No pleasin' some folk."



CHAPTER XXXIII

The Gallop


On the Mare's Back a little group was awaiting the party.

There was Monkey Brand, Albert, and a sheeted horse, patrolling lazily
up and down; while Billy Bluff lay on the ground hard by and gnawed his
paw.

Ever since, years back, Joses had struck the paw with a stone Billy had
bestowed a quite unfair amount of attention on it, spending all his
spare time doctoring his favourite. There was nothing whatever the
matter with it, but if he continued his attentions long enough there
might be some day, and he would then be rewarded for his patient labours
by having a real injury to mend.

It was somewhat misty up there on the hill, though clear above; the sea
was wrapt in a white blanket, and the Coastguard Station at the Gap was
invisible.

A little remote from the others in body and spirit, Jerry, deep in
philosophic doubt, was walking Lollypop up and down--Lollypop, now a
sage and rather superior veteran of seven; while on a mound hard by was
Stanley on the pretty Make-Way-There.

The course was two miles round, running along the top of the hill over
fences that looked stark and formidable in the gray.

"Strip him," grunted Old Mat.

Albert and Monkey Brand went swiftly to work.

A great brown horse, gaunt and ugly as a mountain-goat, emerged. His
legs were like palings; his ears long and wide apart, and there was
something immensely masculine about him. He looked, with his great plain
head, the embodiment of Work and Character: a piece of old furniture
designed for use and not for ornament, massive, many-cornered, and
shining from centuries of work and wear.

That lean head of his, hollow above the eyes, and with a pendent upper
lip, was so ugly as to be almost laughable; and his lazy and luminous
eye looked out on the world with a drolling, almost satirical, air, as
much as to say:

"It's all a great bore, but it might well be worse."

"A thundering great hoss," muttered Old Mat. "I don't know as ever I see
his equal for power. Cannibal stood as high, but he hadn't the girth on
him. And Cannibal was a man-eatin' mule, he was. Savage you soon as look
at you. I never went into his loose-box without a pitchfork. I seen him
pull his jockey off by the toe of his boot afore now. But him!--he's a
Christian. A child could go in to him and climb on to his back by way of
his hind-leg. Look at them 'ocks," he continued in the low, musing voice
of the mystic. "Lift you over a house. And a head on him like a
pippopotamus."

Jim Silver's eyes followed the line of the horse's quarters.

"He's come on a lot since Christmas," he remarked. "He's less ragged
than he was."

"You could hang your hat on him yet, though," said the old man. "Walk
him round, Brand."

The little jockey, now in the saddle, obeyed.

Four-Pound-the-Second shook his head and, blowing his nose, strode
round with that wonderful swing from the hocks which made Mr. Haggard
once say that the horse walked like a Highland regiment marching to the
pipes.

"He's on C springs," said Mat, watching critically. "See where he puts
his hind-feet--nigh a foot in front of the marks of his fore; and I
don't know as I knows a knowin'er hoss. Look at that head-piece. He's
all the while a-thinkin', that hoss is. That's the way he's bred. If
they're much with human beings they picks up our tricks, same as dogs.
He'd take to drink, he would, only he ain't got the cash."

Boy had stripped off her long riding-coat and sat on the tall
Silvertail, a slight figure in breeches and boots, her white shirt
fluttering in the wind, her face calm and resolute.

Mat kicked his pony forward.

"Four-mile spin and let him spread himself," he grunted. "I want to see
him move to-day. And you, Jerry, ride that Lollypop out. He'll save
himself if you'll let him. First time round over fences, Boy. Then you
and Jerry'll pull out and Stanley'll pick up the running and take him
round again over the flat. Now!"

Boy and Jerry set their horses going quietly. The girl's head was on her
shoulder, watching if the horse she was to pace was coming along.

He was thinking about it. Monkey Brand, handling him with the wonderful
tact of a nurse with a delicate child, gathered the great horse quietly,
clicking at him. Four-Pound-the-Second broke into a reluctant canter.
Billy Bluff began to romp and bark.

The young horse had found the excuse he sought, swung away from his
leader, and began to buck round in a circle, propping and plunging.

"Put the dog on the lead, Albert," ordered the girl, trotting back.

She and Jerry tried again, cantering past the rebel, calling and
coaxing.

Four-Pound-the-Second went marching round in a circle, champing at his
bit, thrashing with his tail, and every now and then flinging a
make-believe buck, as much as to say:

"I could throw you if I would, but I won't, because I like you too
much."

Monkey Brand, wise and patient, humoured him.

"Let him take his time," called Boy. "_Steady, lad, steady!_"

Old Mat watched grimly.

"I thought as much," he muttered. "He ain't 'alf a little rogue. 'Tain't
temper, eether. He's the temper of a h'angel and the constitootion of a
h'ox. It's that he just won't. For all the world like a great spoilt
boy. He's _mischeevous_. He wants to give trouble because that amooses
him. I've known him sulk in his gallop afore now because Billy Bluff
wasn't up here to watch him. Where it is to-day he wants _her_ to ride
him. He don't care about nobody else when _she's_ about."

Boy had ridden back to the young horse.

"Steady him," she said quietly. "Get up alongside him, Jerry. Now try
and get him off the mark with me. All together. Now!"

The manoeuvre failed. Lollypop and Silvertail got well away, but the
young horse merely pawed the air.

Monkey Brand's face was set.

"Give me that whip, Albert," he said between his teeth.

"No," said the girl. "That's no good."

Old Mat held up his hand.

"He ain't for it," he said masterfully. "Get off him, Brand."

The little jockey glanced at his master, saw he meant business, and
slipped off the great horse, chagrin in every line of his face.

Albert, unbidden, had already gathered the reins in his hand and was
preparing to mount.

"No," said Boy authoritatively. "Albert, take Silvertail."

She slipped off the tall old mare.

Her father nodded approval.

"She's right," he muttered. "Never do to try Albert when Brand has
failed."

"Chuck me up, Brand," said the girl.

The little jockey turned.

"Yes, Miss."

The girl had broken the blow for him, and he tossed her into the saddle
with a will.

She sat up there on the great horse, ordering her reins with masterful
delicacy.

Jim Silver's eyes dwelt tenderly upon her face. He longed to dismount
and kiss the girl's hand. But all he said in matter-of-fact voice was:

"You've got a lot in front of you."

"It's like a glacier," replied Boy.

"She could slide on that shoulder," commented Old Mat. "Like Napoleon on
the Pyramids."

The young horse began to sidle and plunge.

"Right!" said Boy. "Stand clear!"

The little jockey jumped aside, and mounted Silvertail.

Four-Pound-the-Second gave a great bound. The girl rode him as a yacht
rides the sea, swinging easily to his motion, and talking to him the
while. He sprawled around with tiny bucks and little grunts of joy,
brimming over with energy.

Then, as if by magic, he steadied down and began to walk round with that
tremendous swing of his, blowing his nose, and playing with his bit.
David had swept his hand across his harp and the dark spirit had been
charmed away.

Old Mat nodded and said to himself: "Where it is, is there it is."

Nobody else spoke.

Boy, in her white shirt, her hair radiant against the dull heavens,
began to feel at her horse's mouth.

Monkey Brand and Jerry watched her closely.

"Keep walking in front of me," called the girl sharply. "And move with
me."

Both obeyed, eyeing the girl over their shoulders, and slowly gathering
way.

Then she spoke to her horse; and he stole away, easy and quiet as a
tide, Boy leaning forward, the two pacing horses, one on either side,
leading him by half a length.

"Yes," commented Old Mat, as he slung his glasses round and adjusted
them. "You'd think a little child could ride him be the look of it."

The three rose at the first fence all together, the white shirt
sandwiched between the dark jackets.

Jim Silver felt a thrill at his heart. That thunder of hoofs moved him
to his deeps.

"Gallops very wide behind," he remarked casually.

"That's Berserk, that is," muttered the old man, adjusting his glasses.
"Chucks the mud about a treat, don't he?"

Billy Bluff was straining on his lead, whimpering to be after his big
friend, while Albert leaned back against the wind, holding him.

The horses had settled to their gallop, their steady, rhythmical stride
only varied as they rose at their fences, spread themselves, slid
earthward and went away again with a steady roar of hoofs.

The three kept well together till they swung for home, then the white
shirt began to bob up against the sky a second before the dark bodies of
the other two showed.

"Tailin' 'em off," muttered Old Mat. "Ain't 'alf tuckin' into it,
Four-Pound ain't."

Then Lollypop began to lag, and Jerry's arm was going.

"Stopped him dead," said Silver.

"And he's a good little two-mile hoss, too," replied Old Mat.

Another moment and the white shirt came over the last fence, the brown
horse soaring like some great eagle.

Silvertail, clinging gamely to her leader, brushed through the fence and
pecked heavily on landing.

Monkey punished her savagely.

"Ain't in a very pretty temper, Monkey ain't," muttered Old Mat, as the
little jockey pulled aside and slipped off. "Now Make-Way-There'll take
it up."

The brown horse came thundering by, steady and strong, his little jockey
collected as himself, lying out over her horse's neck.

"The fences don't trouble her much," said Silver, his voice calm and
heart beating.

"See, she's that strong," wheezed Old Mat confidentially. "You wouldn't
think it, but there's eight stun o' that gal good. It's her bone's so
big."

The brown horse had swept past them, going wide of the fences for the
second time round.

Make-Way-There, who had been dancing on his toes away on the left as he
waited for his cue, chimed in as Four-Pound-the-Second came up alongside
him.

He settled down to his stride at once and took the lead.

The brown horse, entirely undisturbed by this new rival, held on his
mighty way.

The two horses swung round the curve, on the outside of the fences,
Four-Pound-the-Second on the inside berth and close to the quarters of
his leader.

The horses dropped into a dip, but for some reason the echo of their
hoofs came reverberating back to the watchers in ever-growing roar. When
they emerged from the hollow and raced up the opposite slope they were
still together.

Then they made for home.

Old Mat had edged up alongside Silver.

"When he lays down to it, belly all along the ground!" he whispered, in
the ecstasy of a connoisseur enjoying a masterpiece.

"Whew!--can't he streak!" cried Albert.

Then a silence fell upon the watchers like a cloud. Their hearts were
full, their spirits fluttering against the bars of their prison-house.

The horses dropped into a dip again, and only the heads and shoulders of
the riders were seen surging forward, borne on the crest of a roaring
avalanche of sound.

As they came up the last hill with shooting feet and knees that buffeted
the air, they were locked together, the little riders lying over the
necks of their horses and watching each other jealously.

In the silence there was something terrifying about the tumult of those
swift, oncoming feet. The earth shook and trembled. Even Billy Bluff was
awed and quivering.

Jim Silver never took his eyes off that little figure with the
fluttering white shirt riding the crest of the oncoming storm and
growing on him with such overwhelming speed. He dwelt with fascinated
eyes upon the give-and-take of her little hands, the set of her
shoulders, the swift turn of her head, as she watched the boy at her
side. His will was firm, his heart high. She seemed to him so fair, so
slight, and yet so consummately masterful, as to be something more than
flesh and blood.

A rare voice penetrated to his ears through the tumult.

"That's a little bit o' better."

"Ain't it a cracker?"

"Hold that dog!"

As they came along the flat, the two horses seemed neck and neck.

The dark lad was riding a finish in approved style. Then the girl
stirred with her hands, and the great brown forged ahead.

As the horses came past the watchers, Make-Way-There tailed off
suddenly.

Four-Pound-the-Second thundered by like a brown torrent, the stroke of
his hoofs making a mighty music.

"Gallops like a railway train," said a voice at Silver's side.

It was Joses.

The young man, lifted above himself, did not resent the other's presence
at his side, did not wonder at it. Indeed, it seemed to him quite
natural. The wonder of Infinite Power made manifest in flesh rapt the
beholders out of themselves. They stood bare-headed in the presence of
the abiding miracle, made one by it.

"Can she hold him?" thought Silver as the horse shot past them.

And either he expressed his thoughts unconsciously in words, or as not
seldom happens in moments of excitement, Old Mat read his unuttered
thoughts.

"She can hold him in a snaffle," he said. "She's the only one as can!"

And in fact the young horse was coming back to his rider. She was
swinging to steady him. At the top of the rise she turned him,
dismounted, and loosed his girths. Then she led him down the slope back
to the group, an alert, fair figure, touched to glory by the gallop, the
great horse blowing uproariously at her side, tossing his head and
flinging the foam on to his chest and neck, looking like a huge,
drenched dog wet from the sea.

"Pull at ye?" asked the old man.

"He caught hold a bit as we came up the slope," answered Boy.

Jim Silver had dismounted and laid a hand on the horse's shining neck.

"Great," he said.

The faint colour was in the girl's cheeks, and she was breathing deep as
she peeped up at him with happy eyes.

"He's not clumsy for a big horse, is he?" she said. "Rug him up, Albert,
and lead him home. He's hit himself, I see--that off-fore fetlock.
Better put a boracic bandage on when you get him in."

She put on her long coat and mounted Silvertail.

"Yes, don't stand about," said her father; "or you'll have Mar on to
me."

The three moved off the hill.

Stanley had already gone on with Make-Way-There, and Albert followed
with the young horse still snorting and blowing.

Billy Bluff patrolled between his mistress and his friend, doing his
best to keep the two parties together.

Monkey Brand was left alone.

"Took it 'ard!" muttered Old Mat, jerking his head.

"He'll be all right," said Boy, glancing back. "Give him time to get his
second wind."

The little jockey went back to pick up a plate Make-Way-There had
dropped.

Joses strolled up to him with portentous brow.

"Turned you down!" he said. "You're not horseman enough for them, it
seems."

The little man gathered himself. He was very grim, curling his lips
inward and whistling between his teeth as though to relieve inward
pressure.

"How long have you ridden for 'em?" asked the fat man.

"Twenty-five year," the other answered, with the quiet of one labouring
under a great emotion.

The other rumbled out his ironical laughter.

"And now they chuck you," he said. "Too old at forty. What?"

The little man spat on the ground.

"Blast 'em," he said. "Blast you. Blast the lot. It's a bloody world."



CHAPTER XXXIV

The Lovers' Quarrel


Boy did not appear at dinner.

The midday meal, especially on Sunday, she generally skipped.

Old Mat, Ma, and Silver lunched together and in silence.

The old trainer was absorbed in himself, and there was no question that
he found himself exceedingly good company. His face became pink and his
eye wet with the excellence of the joke he was brewing in his deeps. He
slobbered over his food and spilt it. Mrs. Woodburn watched him with
amused sympathy.

"You've been up to something you shouldn't, dad," she said. "I know
you."

He held up a shaking hand in protest.

"Now don't you, Mar!" he said. "I been to church--that's all I done. Mr.
Haggard preach a booriffle sermon on the 'Oly Innocents. 'There's some
is saints,' he says, and he looks full glare at me; 'and there's some as
isn't.' And he looks at his missus. 'There's some as is where they ought
to be Sundays,' and he looks full glare at me. 'And there's some as
isn't.' And he stares at the empty seat aside o' me. Yes, my dear,
you'll cop it on the crumpet to-morrow when he comes to see you, and
you'll deserve it, too."

After lunch, as the old man left the room, he beckoned mysteriously to
Silver, and toddled away down the passage with hunched shoulders to his
sanctum.

The young man followed him with amused eyes. He knew very well what was
coming.

Once inside his office, Mat closed the door in his most secretive way.

"Only one thing for it," he whispered hoarsely. "The gal must ride."

Silver stared out of the window.

"But will she?"

The old man messed with his papers.

"She mayn't for me," he mumbled. "She might for someone--to help him out
of a hole. I'll try her anyway. If she will I'll put a thousand on
myself."

       *       *       *       *       *

An hour later Silver was smoking a cigarette in the darkness of the
wainscoted dining room, when the door burst open.

Boy came in upon him swift and radiant. She was in her blue skirt and
blouse again, and her hair was like a halo against the dark wainscoting.
The glory of the gallop was still upon her.

He rose to her, challenged and challenging.

She crossed the room to him, and stood with her hand on the mantelpiece.
She did not laugh, she did not even smile, but there was in her the deep
and quiet ecstasy that causes the thorn to blossom in beauty after a
winter of reserve. It seemed to him that she was swaying as a rose sways
in a gale, yet anchored always to the earth in perfect self-possession.

As always, she came straight to the point.

"Do you want me to ride him in the National?" she asked.

"I don't mind," he answered nonchalantly.

"Have you backed him?"

"Not yet."

"Are you going to?"

"I might--if I can get a hundred thousand to a thousand about him."

Her gray eyes searched him. Not a corner of him but her questioning
spirit ransacked it.

"How much money have you got left?"

"When all's squared? a few thousand, I believe."

She looked into the fire, one little foot poised on the fender. He was
provoking her. She felt it.

"I could just about win on him," she said. "I think."

"I'm not so sure," he answered.

She became defiant in a flash.

"One thing," she said, "I'm sure nobody else could."

He followed up his advantage deliberately.

"I'm not so sure," he said.

Her eyes sparkled frostily.

She understood.

He was furious because her father had spoken to her; resentful that in
her hands should be the winning for him of a potential fortune.

She would show him.

"I might think of riding him perhaps," she said slowly, "on one
condition."

"What's that?"

"That you don't bet on him."

He rolled off into deep, ironical laughter.

"Done with you!" he cried, holding out his hand.

She brushed it aside.

"What I said was that I _might think_ of it," she said, and made for the
door.

He did not pursue.

"Oh, do!" he cried lazily. "Do!"

"I shall see," she answered. "I might and I might not. Probably the
latter."

She went out with firm lips.

"I see what it is!" he cried after her, still ironical.

She turned about.

"What?"

"You're afraid of Aintree."

The girl, who in many matters was still a child, flared at once.

"Afraid of Aintree!" she cried. "I'll show you whether I'm afraid of
Aintree or not!"

She marched down the passage, pursued by his mocking laughter, and went
out into the yard with nodding head and flashing eyes.

Then she walked to the gate and looked across the Paddock Close.

Mr. Haggard was walking slowly up toward the church to take the
children's service. On the public path by the stile were two figures
engaged in conversation. She recognized them at once. They were Joses
and Monkey Brand.

Thoughtfully she crossed into the stable.

It was Sunday afternoon, and there was nobody about but Maudie, who
departed coldly on the entrance of the girl, suspecting trouble.
Maudie's suspicions were but too well-founded.

The girl went straight to Four-Pound-the-Second's loose-box and opened
it. The Monster-without-Manners emerged and greeted his mistress with
yawns. The brown horse with the tan muzzle shifted slowly toward her.
She ran her eye over him, adjusted a bandage, and went out into the
yard.

Billy accompanied her, for he always passed his Sunday afternoons with
his mistress.

As she left the stable Monkey Brand was entering the yard.

"What was Joses saying, Brand?" she asked sharply.

The little man did not seem to see or hear her. But as he passed her,
she thought he dropped an eyelid. Then he limped swiftly on into the
saddle-room.

Boy, balancing on the ladder, looked after him.

Then she went up into the loft, Billy Bluff at her heels trying with
whimpers to thrust by that he might hold communion with fair Maudie on
the top rung.

Maudie watched the approaching feet with sullen and apathetic disdain.
When they were almost on her she rose suddenly. The languid lady with
the manners of a West-End drawing-room became the screaming fish-wife of
Wapping. She humped, swore, and scampered away to the loft, there to
establish herself upon a cross-beam, where she was proof against
assault.

Boy crossed the loft, entered her room, and closed the door.

She glanced out of the window.

Joses was crossing the Paddock Close toward the cottage where he lodged.

She watched him closely.

He was going to try it on. She was sure of it.

Then she would try it on him; and she would show no mercy.

She looked at herself in the glass, and smiled at what she saw.

Mr. Silver's affront still clouded her face, and the thought of Joses
struck from the cloud a flash of lightning.

Suddenly an idea came to her. Her eyes sparkled, and she laughed
merrily.

She let down her hair.

It was short, fine, and thick; massy, Mr. Haggard called it. Then she
took a pair of scissors and began to snip. Flakes of gold fell on the
floor and strewed her feet. She stood as on a threshing-floor.

As she worked, the boards of the loft sounded to the tramp of a heavy
visitor.

Somebody knocked at the door. There came to the girl's eyes a look of
amused defiance.

"Come in," she said, turning.

Mrs. Woodburn stood in the door, grieved and grim. She saw her
daughter's face framed in thickets of gold, and the splendid ruin on the
floor.

Boy crossed to her mother and closed the door quietly behind her. Then
she led her mother to the bed, and sat down beside her.

The old lady was breathing deeply, and not from the effort of the climb.

The daughter's eyes, full of a tender curiosity, teasing and yet
compassionate, searched her mother's face, in which there was no
laughter.

"Are you going to, Boy?" asked the old lady.

"D'you want me not?"

The mother nodded.

"Why not?"

Mrs. Woodburn sighed.

"I'd rather not," she said.

"Why not?" persisted Boy.

"It's against the rules."

"Is that all?" with scorn.

"No."

"Then why not?"

"It's dangerous."

"Dangerous!" flashed the girl. "So you think I'm a coward, too!"

"I don't, I don't," pleaded the other. "But I don't want you to."

Boy put her hand on the old lady's knee.

Her mother and Mr. Haggard were the only two human beings to whom she
ever demonstrated affection.

"Will you promise me?" said the mother.

"No," answered Boy.

Mrs. Woodburn tried to rise, but the girl held her down.

"Sit down, mother, please. You never come and see me up here."

Her eyes devoured her mother's face hungrily and with unlaughing eyes.

"Kiss me, mother," she ordered.

Mrs. Woodburn refrained.

"Kiss me, mother," sternly.

The mother obeyed.

"Shall you?" she asked.

"I shan't say," replied Boy.

She rose and went to the window.

Outside under the wood Mr. Silver, pipe in mouth, was sauntering round
Ragamuffin's grave.

"He said I was afraid!" she muttered.

       *       *       *       *       *

When her mother left the room, the girl went to the window.

The gallop had kindled in her for the moment the flame of her old
ambition; but the desire had died down swiftly as it had risen.

Boy knew now that she no longer really wanted to ride the Grand National
Winner. She wanted something else--fiercely.

Cautiously she peeped out of the window.

Mr. Silver, in that old green golf-jacket of his, that clung so finely
to his clean shoulders, was prowling along the edge of the wood close to
Ragamuffin's grave, peeping for early nests.

The girl remembered that it was St. Valentine's--the day birds mate.

She turned away.



BOOK V

MONKEY BRAND



CHAPTER XXXV

The Dancer's Son


Sebastian Bach Joses was the son of an artist of Portuguese extraction.
The artist was a waster and a wanderer. In his youth he mated with a
Marseillaise dancing-girl who had posed as his model. Joses had been the
result. The father shortly deserted the mother, who took to the
music-hall stage.

After a brief and somewhat lurid career on the halls in London and
elsewhere she died.

The lad had as little chance as a human being can have. As a boy, with
the red-gold mass of hair he inherited from his mother, and a certain
farouche air, he had been attractive, especially to women. Clever,
alert, and sensitive, brought up in a Bohemian set, without money, or
morals, or the steadying factor of position, he had early acquired all
the tricks of the artist, the parasite, and the adventurer. He could
play the guitar quite prettily, could sing a song, dabbled with pen and
brush, and talked with considerable facility of poetry and art.

An old-time admirer of his mother's, on whom that lady when dying had
fathered the boy, paid for the lad's keep as a child. Later, attracted
by the boy's beauty, and secretly proud of his putative share in it, he
had sent him to a college in a south coast watering place and afterward
to Oxford.

There Joses had swiftly worked his way into a vicious set of stupid rich
men, morally his equals, intellectually his inferiors, but socially and
economically vastly his superiors. They were all lads from public
schools who desired above all to be thought men of the world. Joses, on
the other hand, was a man of the world who desired above all else to be
taken for a public-school man.

Each of the two parties to the unwritten contract got what was desired
from the other. Joses had knocked about the Continent; he knew the
Quartier Latin, Berlin night-life, and the darker haunts of Naples. His
rich allies kept horses, hunted, and raced. They learned a good deal
that Joses was ready to impart; and on his side he acquired from them
some knowledge of the racing world and an entrée into it. His manners
were good--rather too good; and the touch of the artist and the exotic
appealed to the coarse and simple minds of his companions. He wore
longish hair, softish collars, cultivated eccentricities and a slightly
foreign accent; all of which things the _jeunesse dorée_ tolerated with
a touch of patronage. And Joses was quite content to be patronized so
long as his patrons would pay.

After two years at Oxford his putative father died. Joses went down
perforce, leaving behind him many debts, a girl behind a bar who was
fond of him, and a reputation as a brilliant rogue who might some day
prove the poet of the sport of kings.

Equipped with the knowledge acquired at the ancient University, he went
to London and there earned his living as a sporting journalist,
attending race-meetings, adding to his income by betting, and performing
certain unlovely services for the more vicious of his Oxford friends.

Handicapped in many ways, he had at least this advantage over the bulk
of his brother-men: that he was not hampered by scruples, principles,
or tradition.

At thirty his beauty was already on the wane. He was faded, fat, and
tarnished; and already he was visibly going to pieces.

The end, which had been preparing in the deeps for years, came suddenly.

The story was an old one: that of one woman and two men. The three had
driven back from Ascot in a hansom together. There was supper, drink,
and trouble at the lady's flat. The other man got a knife in him, and
Joses got five years.

When he came out, he resumed his old haunts and earned a precarious
living by watching. He was almost the only watcher who could write, and
his eye for a horse's form was phenomenally good. It was in those days
that he came into touch with his future employers.

With an acute sense for those who could serve them, the Three J's
realised at once that this man was on a different level to that of other
watchers. They financed him liberally, advanced him money, and held a
cheque to which in a moment of aberration Joses had signed Ikey
Aaronsohnn's name. And he in his turn served them well if not
faithfully.

When Chukkers rode the famous International that established him once
and for all in a class by himself among cross-country riders, snatching
an astounding victory on Hooka-burra from Lady Golightly, his win and
the way he rode his race was largely due to Joses's report on the
favourite's staying power.

"She'll gallop three and three-quarter miles at top speed," he had said,
"and then bust like a bladder. Bustle her all the way, and yours'll beat
her from the last fence."

When Joses was put away for incendiarism, the Three J's missed him far
more than they would have cared to admit. They had two bad seasons in
succession, and a worse followed. At the end of the third Chukkers, for
the first time for seven years, no longer headed the list of winning
jockeys.

Then Ikey carried off his jockey to the States to break his luck.

It was on this visit, at some old-fashioned meeting in the Southern
States, so the story went, Chukkers discovered the mare from Blue
Mounds. All the world knows to-day how she re-established her jockey's
fame and made her own.

When, after an unforgettable season in Australia, he returned to England
with the American mare, the pair had never been beaten. And in the Old
Country they repeated the performance of Australia. Together they won
the Sefton, the International, and last of all the National. And though
Chukkers had been disqualified in the last race, his fame and hers had
reached a pinnacle untouched by any horse or man in modern racing
history.

The star-spangled jacket led the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Joses came out of prison he journeyed down at once to Dewhurst.

Jaggers and Chukkers met him.

It did not take the tout long to get a hang of the situation.

The National was coming on in a few weeks. The mare had to win at all
costs.

Since her victory and defeat at Aintree in the previous March she had
never run but once in public, and that time had scattered her field.

Jaggers had been laying her up in lavender all the winter for the great
race, and she was now at the top of her form.

They took Joses round to her loose-box.

Just back from work she was stripped and sweating, swishing her tail,
savaging her manger with arched neck, tramping to and fro on swift,
uneasy feet as her lad laboured at her.

So perfectly compact was she that the tout heard with surprise that she
stood little short of sixteen hands. The length of her rein compensated
for the shortness of her back, and her hocks and hind-quarters were
those of a panther, lengthy and well let-down.

The fat man ran his eye over her fair proportions.

"She's beautiful," he mused.

Indeed, the excellence of her form spoke to the heart of the poet in
him. He dwelt almost lovingly upon that astonishing fore-hand and the
mouse-head with the wild eye that revealed the spirit burning within. As
her lad withdrew from her a moment, she gave that familiar toss of the
muzzle familiar to thousands, which made a poet say that she was
fretting always to transcend the restraint of the flesh.

"If she's as good as she looks," said Joses, "she's good enough."

"She's better," said the jockey with the high cheek-bones. He passed his
hand along the mare's rein. It was said that Chukkers had never cared
for a horse in his life, and it was certain that many horses had hated
Chukkers. But it was common knowledge that he was fonder of the mare
than he had ever been of any living creature.

"She's got nothing up against her as I know of," said Jaggers in his
austere way. "There's Moonlighter, the Irishman, of course."

"He can't stay," said Chukkers briefly.

"And Gee-Woa-There, the Doncaster horse."

"He can't gallop."

"And Kingfisher, the West country crack."

"He beats himself jumpin'."

"And that's about the lot--only the Putnam horse," continued the
trainer. "They think I know nothing about him. I know some, and I want
to know more."

"I'll settle that," said Joses.

The jockey was pulling the mare's ears thoughtfully.

"You'd like to take a little bit of Putnam's, I daresay?" he said.

"I wouldn't mind if I did," replied the tout.

"It was them done you down at the trial," continued the jockey. "Old Mat
and his Monkey and Silver Mug. The old gang."

"Regular conspiracy," said Jaggers censoriously. "Ought to be ashamed of
themselves. Doin' down a pore man like that."

The three moved out into the yard.

A little later trainer and jockey stood in the gate of the yard and
watched Joses shuffle away across the Downs.

"He's all right," said Chukkers, sucking the ivory charm he always
carried. "Ain't 'alf bitter."

"Changed," smirked Jaggers, "and for the better. They've done 'emselves
no good, Putnam's haven't, this journey."

Joses established his headquarters as of old at Cuckmere, and he made no
secret of his presence. Nor would it have been of much avail had he
attempted concealment. For the Saturday before the trial gallop had
brought Mat Woodburn a letter from Miller, the station-clerk at
Arunvale, which was the station for Dewhurst.

The station-clerk had a feud of many years' standing with Jaggers, and
had moreover substantial reasons of his own for not wishing Mocassin to
win at Aintree. Along the line of the South Downs to be against Dewhurst
was to be in with Putnam's, and the telegraph line between Arunvale and
Cuckmere could tell many interesting secrets of the relations between
Mat Woodburn and the station-clerk.

The letter in question informed Old Mat that Joses had come straight
from Portland to Dewhurst; that Chukkers had come down from London by
the eleven-twenty-seven; that Ikey had been expected but had not turned
up, and that the six-forty-two had taken Joses on to Cuckmere.

After the trial gallop, and the meeting with the fat man on the hill,
Old Mat showed the letter to Silver.

"He'll want watching, Mr. Joses will," he said.

"He didn't look very pretty, did he?" said the young man.

"Yes," mused the old man. "A little job o' work for Monkey, that'll be.
He don't like Chukkers, Monkey don't." He pursed his lips and lifting an
eye-lid looked at the other from beneath it. His blue eye was dreamy,
dewy, and twinkling remotely through a mist. "Rogues and rasqueals, Mr.
Silver!" he said. "Whatebber should we do without um?"



CHAPTER XXXVI

Monkey Sulks


On the Sunday after the trial on the Mare's Back Jerry went solemnly
round the assembled lads before Bible Class, his hat in his hand and in
the hat a couple of coppers.

"What for?" asked Alf, the cherub.

The lads were used to what they called "levies" in the stable--sometimes
for a new football or something for the club, sometimes for a pal who
was in a hole.

"Mr. Silver," answered Jerry. "He's done us proud while he could. Now
it's our turn to do a bit for him."

"Is it as bad as all that?" asked Alf, wide-eyed.

"It's worse," said Jerry, with dramatic restraint.

The cherub peeped into the hat, fingering a tanner.

He was genuinely concerned for Mr. Silver.

"If I put in a tanner, how'll I know Mr. Silver'll get it?" he asked
ingenuously.

Stanley jeered, and Jerry shot his chin forward.

"Say, young Alf," he said. "Am I a genelman?--or ain't I?"

"That ain't 'ardly for me to say, Jerry," answered the cherub with
delicate tact.

Then there might have been trouble but for the interference of the
lordly Albert.

"Don't you let him pinch nothin' off o' you, Alf," he said. "Mr.
Silver's all right."

"What ye mean?" asked the indignant Jerry. "Ain't he broke then?"

"He'll be a rich man again by then I done with him," answered Albert
loftily. "That's what I mean."

"When will you be done with him then?" jeered Jerry.

"After the National," answered Albert. "Yes, my boy, you'll get your
'alf-dollar at Christmas same as usual--if so be you deserves it."

Jerry sneered.

"Albert thinks _he's_ goin' to get the ride," he cried.
"Likely!--G-r-r-r!"

Albert was unmoved as a mountain and as coldly majestic.

"I don't think. I knows," he said, folding his arms.

"What do you know then?"

"I knows what I knows," answered Albert, in true sacerdotal style. "And
I knows more'n them as don't know nothin'."

Albert did really know something, but he did not know more than
anybody else. In those days, indeed, two facts were common property at
Putnam's. Everybody knew them, and everybody liked to believe that
nobody else did. The two facts were that Albert was going to ride
Four-Pound-the-Second at Aintree, and that Mr. Silver stood to get his
money back upon the race. There was a third fact, too, that everybody
knew. It was different from the other two in that not even Albert
pretended that he alone was aware of it. The third fact was that
Monkey Brand was sulking.

The lads knew it, the horses knew it, Billy Bluff knew it; Maudie, who
looked on Monkey as her one true friend in the world, knew it; even the
fan-tails in the yard had reason to suspect it.

Jim Silver, who had a genuine regard for the little man, and was most
reluctant to think evil of him or anyone, was aware of it, and unhappy
accordingly.

The only two who seemed not to know what was obvious to all the rest of
the world were, of course, the two most concerned--Old Mat and his
daughter.

They were blind--deliberately so, Silver sometimes thought.

The young man became at length so disturbed that he ventured to suggest
to the trainer that all was not well.

The old man listened, his head a-cock, and his blue eyes sheathed.

"I dessay," was all he said. "Men is men accordin' to my experience of
'em." He added: "And monkies monkies. Same as the Psalmist said in his
knowin' little way."

Beaten back here, the young man, dogged as always, approached Boy in the
matter.

He was countered with an ice-cold monosyllable.

"Indeed," was all she said.

The young man persisted in spite of his stutter.

She flashed round on him.

"So you think Monkey's selling us?" she said.

Jim Silver looked sheepish and sullen.

But whether the girl's attitude was due to the fact that he was still in
disgrace or to her resentment that he should be telling tales, he did
not know.

       *       *       *       *       *

The young man's affairs in London were almost wound up, and he was
making his home at Putnam's.

About the place, early and late, he became aware that Joses was
haunting the barns and out-houses. More than once in the lengthening
days he saw the fat man vanishing round a corner in the dusk.

Taking the bull by the horns, he spoke to Monkey Brand about it.

"Why not turn Billy Bluff loose after dark?" he suggested.

Monkey was stubborn.

"Can't be done, sir."

"Why not?"

"Can't leave Four-Pound's box, sir," the jockey answered, turning in his
lips. "Else the 'orse frets himself into a sweat."

Silver was dissatisfied. He was still more so when two days later after
dark he came on two men in close communion in the lane at the back of
the Lads' Barn.

They were standing in the shadow of the Barn out of the moon. But that
his senses were alert, and his suspicions roused, he would not have
detected them, for they hushed into sudden silence as he passed.

He flashed an electric torch on to them.

The two were Joses and Monkey Brand.

He was not surprised, nor, it seemed, were they.

Monkey Brand touched his hat.

"Good-night, sir," he said cordially.

"Good-night," said Silver coldly. "Good-night, Mr. Joses!"

The tout rumbled ironically.

Silver passed on into the yard, and the two were left together in the
dark.

"On the bubble," said Joses.

"I don't wonder, eether," answered Monkey. "Four-Pound's got to win it
for him."

"Hundred thousand, isn't it?" said the fat man.

"That is it," said Monkey. "Guv'nor won't part for less."

"What's that?" asked Joses, stupefied.

"Silver!" answered Monkey. "He's got to put a hundred thousand down, or
he don't get her. Old man's no mug."

"Don't get who?" asked the other.

"Minie," shortly.

The fat man absorbed the news.

"Hundred thousand down," continued Monkey. "That's the contrak--writ out
in red ink on parchment. It's a fortune."

Joses was recovering himself.

"It's nothing to what the mare'll carry all said," he mused. "American's
bankin' on her to the last dollar, let alone the Three J's.... There's
more in it than money, too. There's pride and sentiment, the old
animosities." He added after a pause--"Half a million's a lot of money
though. There'll be pickings, too--for those that deserve them."

Monkey moved restlessly.

"I daresay," he said irritably. "Not as it matters to me. Not as nothin'
matters to me now. Work you to the bone while you can work, and scrap
you when they've wore you out. It's a bloody world, as I've said afore."

"Come!" cried the fat man. "The game's not up. There's more masters than
one in the world!"

The little man was not to be consoled.

"See where it is, Mr. Joses: I'm too old to start afresh."

"Have they sacked you then?"

The other shook his head.

"They'll keep me on till after the National. He's not everybody's
'orse, Four-Pound ain't. If they was to make a change now, he might go
back on himself."

The tout's breathing came a little quicker in the darkness.

"D'you see to him?"

"Me and Albert."

"Is Albert goin' to ride him?"

"Don't you believe it?" mocked the little jockey.

The tout drew closer.

"Who is, then?"

Monkey ducked his head and patted the back of it.

"Never!" cried Joses.

The other raised a deprecatory hand and turned away.

"You know best, o' course, Mr. Joses," he said. "You've the run o'
Putnam's same as me. And you're an eddicated man from Oxford College,
where they knows all there is to know."

He was limping away.

Joses hung on his heels.

"Steady on, old sport," he said. "D'you mean that?"

Monkey swung about.

"See here, Mr. Joses," he whispered. "When a gal's out to win a man
she'll do _funny_ things."

The fat man breathed heavily.

Then he began to laugh.

"And it's win the National or lose the man!" he said. "Quite a
romance!"



CHAPTER XXXVII

The Early Bird


Next Sunday found Joses among the earliest and most attentive of the
worshippers at church.

Boy Woodburn entered later, walked slowly up the aisle, and took her
place in the front pew. As she bowed her head in her hands, the fat man,
watching with all his eyes, learned what he had come to learn.

After service he waited outside.

As he stood among the tomb-stones, the girl passed, not seeing him.

"Good morning, Miss Woodburn," he said ironically.

She looked up suddenly, resentfully.

His presence there clearly surprised and even startled the girl.

She passed on without a word and with the faintest nod of
acknowledgment.

The fat man, with a chuckle, thought he could diagnose the cause of her
annoyance.

Next morning he met Boy in the village.

She was wearing a close-fitting woollen cap, that covered her hair, and
the collar of her coat was turned up.

The collar of the girl's coat was always turned up now, he remarked
sardonically, though the sun was gaining daily in power and the wind
losing its nip.

She sauntered past him, and seemed even ready for a chat.

Never slow to seize a chance, the fat man closed with her at once.

"How goes it, Miss Woodburn?" he said.

"Very well, thank you."

"So you're going to win the National?"

"Are we?"

"He's good enough, isn't he?"

The girl shrugged her shoulders.

"Who's going to ride him?"

"Albert, I suppose," replied the girl casually. "There's nobody else."

"Not Monkey Brand?"

She shook her head.

"Too old," she said.

"Will he gallop for Albert?" asked the other.

"Depends on his mood," replied the girl.

The fat man laughed.

"There's only one person he will gallop for--certain," he said.

Boy looked away.

"Who's that?" nonchalantly.

Joses bowed and smirked and became very gallant.

Flattery never moved the girl to anything but resentment.

"Thank you," she said.

"Pity you can't," pursued the other.

"Yes," she said. "I should have liked the ride."

His roaming eye settled on her.

"You'd have won, too," he said with assurance.

"Think so?"

"I'm sure so," he answered. "You've only One against you."

"Perhaps," she admitted. "But the One's a caution."

"A good big un'll always beat a good little un," said the fat man.

"Besides, he's a baby," replied the girl. "Chances his fences too much."

"Sprawls a bit," admitted the other. "But he jumps so big it doesn't
make much odds. And he gets away like a deer."

       *       *       *       *       *

Joses was now very much alert; and he had to be. For, as he reported to
Jaggers, Putnam's gave away as little as a dead man in the dark.

One thing, however, became clear as the time slipped away and the
National drew ever nearer: that to the girl had been entrusted the
winding up of the young horse, and Albert was her henchman in the
matter.

Monkey was the fat man's informant on the point. Joses would never have
believed the little jockey for a moment, but that his own eyes daily
confirmed the report.

The window of his room looked out over the Paddock Close, and every
morning, before the world was astir, while the dew was still heavy on
the grass, the earth reeking, and the mists thick in the coombes, the
great sheeted horse, who marched like a Highland regiment and looked
like a mountain ram, was to be seen swinging up the hill on to the
Downs.

There were two little figures always with him: one riding, one trotting
at his side. Seen across the Close at that hour in the morning, there
was no distinguishing between the two. Both were slight, bare-headed,
fair; and both were dressed much alike. So much might be seen, and
little more at that distance.

One morning, therefore, found Joses established on the hill before the
horse and his two attendants had arrived.

He had no desire to be seen.

He squirmed his way with many pants through the gorse to the edge of the
gallop, adjusted his glasses, and watched the little group of three
ascend the brow half a mile away.

One of the two attendant sprites slung the other up on to the back of
the phantom horse tossing against the sky.

Then without a thought of fuss the phantom settled to his stride and
came down the slope, butting the mists away from his giant chest, the
rhythmical beat of his hoofs rising to a terrifying roar as he gathered
way.

Joses dropped on to his hands and huddled against the soaking ground as
the pair came thundering by. He need not have feared detection: the
rider's head was low over the horse's neck, the rider's face averted.
All he saw was the back of a fair head, close-cropped.

Kneeling up, he turned his glasses once again on the little figure
waiting now alone upon the brow.

As he stared, he heard the quiet footfall of a horse climbing the hill
behind him.

He dropped his glasses and looked round.

Silver on Heart of Oak had come to a halt close by and was looking at
him.

"Early bird," said the young man. "Looking for worms, I suppose."

Joses grinned as he closed his glasses, and rising to his feet brushed
his sopping knees.

"Yes," he said. "And finding 'em."



CHAPTER XXXVIII

Ikey's Own


Maudie was not the only one who had cause to complain that life at
Putnam's was changed now greatly for the worse.

It all centred round that great, calm, munching creature in the
loose-box, with the big blue dog curled underneath the manger.

Monkey Brand was moody; Old Mat irritable; his daughter curt; Silver
puzzled, and Mrs. Woodburn perturbed.

For once in her life that habitually tranquil lady was restless, and
betrayed her trouble.

The young man marked it and was genuinely sorry for her.

She saw it and appealed to him.

"Mr. Silver," she said, taking him suddenly, "is she going to ride?"

The other met her with clearly honest eyes.

"I don't know," he said.

The old lady's distress was obvious.

"Mr. Silver," she said, "please tell me. Do _you_ want her to ride?"

"No!" he cried, almost with indignation. "Of course I don't. I've seen
too many Nationals."

"Have you asked her not to?"

He grinned a little sheepishly.

"The truth is I've annoyed her," he said. "And she's all spikes when I
touch her."

Mrs. Woodburn appealed to her husband, but got nothing out of him.

"It's no good comin' to me, Mar. I don't know nothin' at all about it,"
he said shortly. "She's trainin' the hoss. If I so much as looks at him
I gets my nose bit off."

The old lady's distress was such that at length the young man took his
courage in his hands and approached the girl.

"Boy," he said, "are you going to ride him? _Please_ tell me."

The girl set her lips.

"You think I'm afraid of Aintree," she said deeply.

"I don't," he pleaded. "I swear to you I don't."

She was not to be appeased.

"You do," she answered mercilessly. "You said you did."

"If I ever did I was only chaffing."

"I know why you don't want me to ride," she laughed hardly.

"Why?"

"Because then you'll be free to win your hundred thousand. That's all
you care about. But you won't. If I don't ride him, he won't win. If I
do, you can't bet."

The young man was miserable.

"Hang my hundred thousand!" he cried. "As if I care a rap for that." He
made a final appeal. "If I've done wrong, I can only say I'm most
_awfully_ sorry, Boy."

"You've done _very_ wrong," replied the girl ruthlessly. "And when we've
done wrong we've got to pay for it," added Preacher Joe.

"Damn him!" muttered the other.

"_What!_" flashed the girl.

"Sorry," mumbled the young man, and fled with his tail between his legs.

       *       *       *       *       *

That afternoon a telegram came for Old Mat.

He showed it to Silver.

"That's from Miller, the station-master at Arunvale," he said. "They're
goin' to gallop the mare. Would you like to step over and see what you
can make of her?"

The young man agreed willingly.

"No good my comin'," said Mat. "But you might take Monkey Brand
along--if he'll go."

But the little jockey, when approached, refused.

"Why not?" asked Silver, determined to save the little man's soul if it
was to be saved.

"I'm too fond o' Monkey, sir," the other answered, his face inscrutable.

"What d'you mean?"

"Why, sir, if they was to catch Monkey in Chukkers's country they'd flay
him."

"Who would?"

"The Ikey's Own."

Silver stared at him.

"Who are the Ikey's Own?"

"They're _Them!_" said Monkey with emphasis. "That's what they are--and
no mistake about it."

          _We are coming. Uncle Ikey, coming fifty million strong,
          For to see the haughty English don't do our Ikey wrong._

"He slipped 'em over special last back-end. Chose 'em for the job.
Bowery toughs; scrubs from Colorado; old man o' the mountains;
cattle-lifters from Mexico; miners from the west; Arizona sharps. Don't
matter who, only so long as they'll draw a gun on you soon as smile.
Come across the ocean to see fair play for the mare. They're campin'
round her--rigiments of 'em. If a sparrer goes too near her, they lays
it out. _No blanky hanky-panky this time_--that's their motter."

The young man went alone.

At Arunvale the station-master beckoned him into the office.

"It's right, sir," he said keenly. "Chukkers and Ikey come down this
morning. Two-thirty's the time accordin' to my information. I've got a
trap waitin' for you outside. Ginger Harris'll drive you. He was a lad
at Putnam's one time o' day. Now he keeps the Three Cocks by the bridge.
He don't like Jaggers any better than me. Only lay low and mind your
eye. Arunvale's stiff with 'em."

Silver wished to know more, but he was not to be gratified.

The station-clerk, as full of mystery as Monkey Brand himself, bustled
him out of the office, finger to his lips.

"Trap's outside, sir," he whispered. "I won't come with you. There's
eyes everywhere--tongues, too."

Outside was a gig, and in it sat a red-faced fly-man in a bottle-green
coat and old top-hat, who made room for the young man at his side.

They drove over the bridge through the town, up the steep, into the vast
rolling Park with the clumps of brown beech-woods that ran down to the
river and the herds of red deer dotting the deep valleys.

As they passed through the north gate of the Park, Ginger slowed down to
a walk.

"If I've time it right," he said, "she should be doin' her gallop while
we walks along the ridge. Don't show too keen, sir."

A long sallow man sitting on the roadside at the edge of the wood eyed
them.

The driver nudged his companion.

"One of 'em," he said. "Ikey's Own. Know by the cut of 'em."

"Many about?" asked Silver.

"Been all over us since Christmas," answered the other. "Cargo of 'em
landed at Liverpool Bank 'oliday. All sorts. All chose for the job. Stop
at nothin'. If they suspicion you they move you on or put you out. They
watch her same as if she was the Queen of England. And I don't wonder.
Nobody knows the millions she'll carry."

When they were well past the man at the roadside he whistled. There came
an answering call from the wood in front.

As they emerged on to the open Downs, Ginger pulled up short.

"They've done us, sir," he said shortly.

A hundred yards ahead of them a sheeted chestnut was coming toward them
on the grass alongside the road.

Jim Silver had only seen the Waler mare once--on the occasion of her
famous victory and defeat at Aintree the previous year; but once seen
Mocassin was never forgotten.

She came along at that swift, pattering walk of hers, her nose in the
air, and ears twitching.

"Always the same," whispered Ginger. "In a terrible hurry to get there."

He had the true Putnam feeling about Jaggers; but that passion of
devotion for the mare, which had inspired the English-speaking race for
the past year, had not left him untouched. Jim Silver felt the little
prosaic man thrilling at his side, and thrilled in his turn. He felt as
he had felt when as a Lower Boy at Eton the Captain of the Boats had
spoken to him--a swimming in the eyes, a brimming of the heart, a
gulping at the throat.

"Is that Mocassin?" he called to the lad riding the mare.

"That's the Queen o' Kentucky, sir," replied the other cockily. "Never
was beaten, and never will be--given fair play."

"Done your gallop?"

"Half an hour since."

Ginger drove on discreetly.

On a knoll, three hundred yards away, four men were standing.

"There they are!" said Ginger. "Pretty, ain't they?--specially Chukkers.
I don't know who that fat feller is along of 'em."

But Silver knew very well.



CHAPTER XXXIX

The Queen of Kentucky


The little group on the knoll came off the grass on to the road, close
in talk.

Jaggers was tall and attenuated. He had the look of a self-righteous
ascetic, and dressed with puritanical austerity. No smile ever
irradiated his gaunt face and remorseless eyes. His forehead was
unusually high and white; his manners high, too; and if his morals were
not white, his cravat, that was like a parson's, more than made up for
the defect. It was not surprising then that among the fraternity he was
known as His Reverence, because his bearing gave the impression of a
Nonconformist Minister about to conduct a teetotal campaign.

Chukkers, who was wearing the familiar jodhpores which he always
affected, was quite a different type. A big man for a jockey, he rarely
rode under eleven stone, though he carried never an ounce of flesh.
Sporting journalists were in the habit of referring to him as a Samson
in the saddle, so large of bone and square of build was he. His success,
indeed, was largely due to his extraordinary strength. It was said that
once in a moment of temper he had crushed a horse's ribs in, while it
was an undeniable fact that he could make a horse squeal by the pressure
of his legs.

He was clearly a Mongol, some said a Chinaman by origin; and certainly
his great bowed shins, his dirty complexion, his high cheek-bones, and
that impassive Oriental face of his, gave authority to the legend. When
you met him you marked at once that his eyes were reluctant to catch
yours; and when they did you saw two little gashes opening on
sullen-twinkling muddy waters.

The worst of us have our redeeming features. And Chukkers with
all his crude defects possessed at least one outstanding
virtue--faithfulness--to the man who had made him. Ikey had brought
him as a lad into the country where he had made his name; Ikey had
given him his chance; to Ikey for twenty-five years now he had stuck
with unswerving devotion, in spite of temptation manifold,
often-repeated, and aggravated. The relations between the two men were
the subject of much gossip. They never talked of each other; and
though often together, very rarely spoke. Chukkers was never known to
express admiration or affection or even respect for his master. But
the bond between them was intimate and profound. It was notorious that
the jockey would throw over the Heir to the Throne himself at the last
moment to ride for the little Levantine. And of late years it had been
increasingly rare for him to sport any but the star-spangled jacket.

Ikey Aaronsohnn, the third of the famous Three, walked between the other
two, as befitted the brain and purse of the concern. He was a typical
Levantine, Semitic, even Simian, small-featured, and dark. In his youth
he must have been pretty, and there was still a certain charm about him.
He had qualities, inherent and super-imposed, entirely lacking to his
two colleagues. A man of education and some natural refinement, he had a
delicious sense of humour which helped him to an enjoyment of life and
such a genial appreciation of his own malpractices and those of others
as to make him the best of company and far the most popular of the Three
J's.

If Chukkers was little more than an animal-riding animal, and Jaggers an
artistic fraud, Ikey was a rascal of a highly differentiated and
engaging type. A man of admirable tenacity he had clung for twenty-five
years to the ideal which Chukkers's discovery of Mocassin two years
since had brought within his grasp.

The disqualification of the mare at Liverpool last year after the great
race had served only to whet his appetite and kindle his faith.

A quarter of a century before he had set himself to find the horse that
would beat the English thoroughbred at Aintree. And in Mocassin he had
at last achieved his aim.

       *       *       *       *       *

If a cloud of romance hung about the mare, veiling in part her past,
some points at least stood out clear.

It was known that her dam was a Virginian mare of the stately kind which
of late years has filled the eye in the sale-ring at Newmarket and held
its own between the flags. And piquancy was added by the fact, recorded
in the Kentucky stud-book, that the dam traced her origin direct to
Iroquois who in the Derby of 1881 had lowered the English colours to the
dust.

Again there was no doubt that the mare had been born in a yellow-pine
shack in the Cumberlands, on an old homestead--made familiar to millions
in both continents by the picture papers--known as Blue Mounds, and
owned by a Quaker farmer who was himself the great-grandson of a pioneer
Friend, who in the last years of the eighteenth century had crossed the
mountains with his family and flocks, like Abraham of old, and had won
for himself this clearing from the primeval forest, driving farther west
its ancient denizens.

So much, not even the arrogant English dared to dispute.

But the rest was mystery. It was said that Jaggers himself did not know
who was Mocassin's sire; and that Ikey and Chukkers, the only two who
did, were so close that they never let on even to each other. True the
English, with characteristic bluff, when they discovered that they had
found their mistress in the mare, took it for granted that her sire was
an imported English horse and even named him. But Ikey and Chukkers both
denied the importation with emphasis.

Then there were those who traced her origin to a horse from the Bombay
Arab stables. These swore they could detect the Prophet's Thumb on the
mare's auburn neck. The Waler School had many backers; and there were
even a few cranks who suggested for the place of honour a curly-eared
Kathiawar horse. But the All-American School, dominant in the States and
Southern Republic, maintained with truculence that a Spanish stallion
from the Pampas was the only sire for God Almighty's Mustang. The wild
horse theory, as it was called, appealed to popular sentiment, however
remote from the fact, and helped to build the legend of the mare. And in
support of the theory, it must be said that Mocassin, in spite of her
lovableness, had in her more of the jaguar than of the domestic cat,
grown indolent, selfish, and fat through centuries of security and
sleep.

"Wild as the wildman and sweet as the briar-rose," was the saying they
had about her in the homestead where she was bred.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ikey got into his car and rolled away through the dust toward Brighton.

The other three men strolled back to the yard.

"Bar accidents, there's only one you've got to fear," said Joses.

"And that's the Putnam horse," put in Jaggers.

"How's he comin' along?" asked the jockey.

"Great guns," the fat man replied.

"Think he's a Berserk?" asked Jaggers.

"I know it," said Joses. "Stolen jump. The stable-lads let him out on
that old man for a lark. He's the spit of the old horse, only bigger."

"He must be a big un then," said Jaggers.

"He is," Chukkers answered. "And he's in at ten stun. The mare's givin'
him a ton o' weight. And weight is weight at Liverpool."

"She'll do it," said Jaggers confidently. "I'll back my Iroquois against
their Berserk--if Berserk he is."

"He's Berserk," said Chukkers doggedly. "A blind man at midnight could
tell that from his fencing. Goes at 'em like a lion. Such a lift to him,
too! Is Monkey Brand goin' to ride him?" he asked Joses.

"No. Turned down. Too old."

"Then the lad as rode him at Lingfield will," said Chukkers. "Sooner him
than Monkey anyway. If Monkey couldn't win himself he'd see I didn't.
Ride me down and ram me. The lad wouldn't 'ave the nerve. Face like a
girl."

"Monkey ain't the only one," muttered Joses. "Silver's in it, too--up to
the neck."

When Joses left to catch his train Jaggers accompanied him across the
yard.

"Yes," he said, "if she wins there'll be plenty for all."

The tout hovered in the gate.

"I'm glad to hear it," he said, with emphasis. "_Very_ glad."

Jaggers threw up his head in that free, frank way of his.

"What, Joses?" he said. "You're not short?"

"Things aren't too flush with me, Mr. Jaggers," muttered the fat man.

Jaggers stared out over the Downs.

"If that Putnam horse was not to start it would be worth a monkey to
you," he said, cold and casual.

The other shot a swift and surreptitious glance at him.

Jaggers had on his best pulpit air.

"Don't start," mused Joses. "That's a tall order."

The trainer picked his teeth.

"A monkey's money," he said.

The fat man sniggered.

"It's worth money, too," he remarked.

"Give you a new start in a new country," continued Jaggers. "Quite the
capitalist."

Joses's eyes wandered.

"I don't say it mightn't fix it," he said at last cautiously. "But it'd
mean cash. Could you give me something on account?"

His Reverence was prepared.

He took a leather case out of his pocket and handed over five
bank-notes.

"There's a pony," he said. "Now I don't want to see you till after the
race. You know me. Me word's me bond. It's all out this time."

With a proud and priestly air he strode back to the house.



CHAPTER XL

Man and Woman


Silver and Joses went back to Cuckmere by the same train from Brighton.

The young man was well-established in a first-class smoker, and the
train was about to start when the fat man came puffing along the
platform. He was very hot; and out of his pocket bulged a brown paper
parcel. The paper had burst and the head of a wooden mallet was exposed.

Silver, quiet in his corner, remarked that mallet.

That night he took a round of the stable-buildings before he went to
bed, as his custom had been of late. There was nobody stirring but
Maudie, meandering around like a ghost who did not feel well.

He went to the back of the Lads' Barn, and looked across the Paddock
Close. A light in the window of a cottage shone out solitary in the
darkness.

It was the cottage in which Joses lived, and the light came from an
upper window.

Silver strolled along the back of the stable-buildings toward it.

Under Boy's window he paused, as was his wont.

A light within showed that the girl was in her eyrie. Then the light
went out, and the window opened quietly.

Shyness overcame the young man. He moved away and went back to the
corner in the saddle-room he had made his own--partly because he could
smoke there undisturbed, and far more because it was directly under the
girl's room, and he loved to hear her stirring above him.

He lit his pipe, settled himself, and began to brood.

The girl was still there--he could tell by the sound; and still at the
window.

A vague curiosity possessed him as to what attracted her. Then she
crossed the floor with that determined step of hers, and went along the
loft, the planks betraying her.

He heard her swift feet on the ladder, and coming down the gangway
toward the saddle-room.

In another moment she stood before him. A woolly cap was on her head,
and a long muffler flung about her throat. It was clear that she was
going out. He noticed with surprise that her race-glasses were slung
over her shoulders.

"I came for the electric torch," she remarked.

He rose and pocketed it.

"Right," he said. "Whither away?"

"I don't want you," she answered.

"I'm coming along, though."

"You can't," coldly.

"Why not?"

"I'm going spying."

"Good," he answered cheerfully.

She led out into the night. He followed her.

In the yard she paused again.

"And spying's only for people like me," she continued daintily. "It's
not work for the gentry."

They were walking across the Paddock Close now under dim heavens toward
the light in the cottage across the way.

"I suppose not," he answered imperturbably. "I'm glad I'm not one."

"Oh, but you are," with quiet insistence. "Your father could have been a
peer. You've told us about it many a time."

Jim Silver was roused. He surged up alongside the girl in the night, and
pinched her arm above the elbow.

"Now look here, little woman!" he said.

She released her arm.

"Not so loud," she ordered. "And don't creak so."

They walked delicately in the darkness, the light guiding them, till
they came to the ragged hedge at the foot of a long strip of cottage
garden.

The night was very warm, the blinds up, the windows wide.

Joses, in his shirt-sleeves, was busy within working at something.

The girl watched awhile through her glasses and then withdrew quietly.

"He's whittling at wooden pegs," she whispered, keen as a knife.

"Obviously."

"What was that coil on the table?"

"Wire."

"And the thing beside it?"

"Mallet."

She glanced up at him in the dusk.

"You're short," she said.

The stables showed before them, long and black against the sky.

They were nearly off the grass. In another moment their feet would take
the cobbles with a noise.

The girl paused and put her hand on her companion's arm.

"Thank you for coming," she said.

The resistance died out of him at once. He stood breathing deeply at her
side.

She lifted her face to his.

"Mr. Silver!"

"Sweetheart!"

He loomed above her like a great shadow; and she felt his love beating
all about her as with wings.

"Bend your head!"

His face drew down to hers in the dusk.

Then his arms stole about her lithe body; and his laughter was in her
ear soft as the cooing of a dove.

"Don't kiss me," she said.

"You deserve it," he replied.

Her hands rested light as birds upon his shoulders; her eyes were steady
in his, and very close.

"D'you love me?" she asked, her voice so calm, so pure, somehow so like
a singing star.

He choked.

"A bit--sometimes."

"Then I'll whisper you," she said.

Her beautiful little arms, wreathing about his neck, drew his ear to her
lips.

She whispered.

He chuckled deeply.

"Good," he said, and added--"Is that all?"

She released him and withdrew.

"For the present," she said.

They entered the yard. The light of the great stable-lantern brought
them back from the land of dreams.

They cleared their throats and trod the cobbles aggressively.

She went toward the ladder. He turned off for the house.

"What time d'you take the hill?" he called.

"Six sharp."

"Right."

"Shall you be there?"

She spoke from the door of the loft, at the top of the ladder.

"Might," he said, and was gone.



CHAPTER XLI

The Spider's Web


It was Monkey Brand's cause of complaint against the young man that he
was too simple; but if his suspicions were difficult to rouse, once
roused they were not easily appeased.

He was up and away next morning before even Boy and Albert were about.

Dressed in a sweater and gray flannel trousers, he swung up the hill. As
he reached the summit he looked back and saw the brown horse and his
attendant beginning the ascent.

Swiftly he walked along the gallop, his eyes everywhere, suspecting he
knew not what. The gorse grew close and dark on either side the naked
course. He watched it closely as he went, and the occasional shrill
spurt of a bird betrayed movement in the covert--it might be of a
weasel, a fox, or a man.

The morning was chill and misty, the turf sodden and shining. At one
spot the gorse marched in close-ranked upon the green until only a
passage of some thirty yards was left. As he walked down the narrow way
something flashed at his feet, and caught him smartly across the shin.
He tripped and fell.

A wire was stretched across the gallop some four inches above the
ground. It was taut and stout, and shone like a gossamer in the mist. He
rose and followed it. It ran right athwart the course and lost itself in
the gorse on either side. Silver searched and found the wire was bound
about two wooden pegs that had been hammered into the earth.

The pegs were so fast that his fall against the wire had not shifted
them.

He looked back along the way he had come.

The horse had not yet made his appearance on the brow.

Bending over a peg, and bowing his back, the young man heaved, twisted,
and lurched. It took him all his time to uproot it, but he did so at
last.

Then he glanced up.

Four-Pound-the-Second had topped the brow half a mile away.

Silver took the peg and began to roll up the wire leisurely. As he did
so he was aware of a man standing in the gorse on the other side of the
gallop watching him. Silver did not raise his eyes, but had no doubt as
to the man's identity.

It was the other who opened the conversation, coming out of the gorse on
to the track.

"That's an ugly bit of wire," he said. "Now how did that get there, I
wonder?"

"Spider spun it, I guess," answered the young man laconically.

"What!" laughed the other. "Gossamer is it?"

"Yes," said Silver. "And not bad gossamer at that." He looked up
suddenly. "Where did you get it from?--the same place you bought the
mallet in Brighton?"

The tout swaggered across the green.

"See here, Silver," he said. "None of that. You're not in the position
to come it over me now you've joined the great company of
gentlemen-adventurers. There's nothing in it since the Bank broke. We
both stand together on the common quicksands of economic insecurity."

Silver wound up the wire.

"Common quicksands of economic insecurity is good," he said
deliberately. "Distinctly good."

"Yes," replied the other. "I learned it at Oxford, where I learned a lot
besides. Or to put it straight, we're both naked men now--stripped to
the world. And I'm as good a man as you are."

Silver dropped the wire and advanced leisurely.

"Are you?" he said. "I doubt it. But we'll soon see."

The fat man produced a mallet from behind his back.

"No ---- nonsense," he snarled.

"I thought you said we were both naked men," replied Silver, folding his
arms.

"Never mind what I said," the other answered. "Keep your ---- distance,
or I'll puddle you into a pulp."

Jim regarded the other with admiring eyes.

"You learned more at Oxford than I did," he said. "Learned to express
yourself at least. If I'd that command of language I'd be in the pulpit
or in Parliament to-morrow."

There was the sound of a horse's feet behind them.

Boy was walking Four-Pound-the-Second toward them.

"Good morning, Miss Woodburn," called Joses cheerily. "So _you're_ up
to-day."

"Yes," said the girl.

"Going to take him for a spin?"

Boy did not answer.

"Mr. Joses has been doing the spinning this morning," interposed Silver
urbanely, holding up the wire.

"Oh," said the fat man. "I'll leave him to spin his yarn, Miss Woodburn.
But don't you believe all he says. You'll hear the truth when I bring
the case into court. He'll want all the money _you_ can win him by the
time I've done with him."

He disappeared down the hillside.

The girl came close and leaned down over the shoulder of the great
horse.

"What is it?" she asked.

Jim Silver showed her.

"Only this," he said. "Right across the track."

The girl took it as all in the day's work.

"Did you catch him at it?" she asked.

"No; he was lying doggo near by--to watch results."

She examined the wire.

"He means business all right," she said. "We must look a bit lively.
I'll have the track patrolled."

"I shall patrol it," said Jim.



CHAPTER XLII

The Doper


In her darker moods Maudie held that the world to-day only possessed one
man who could take his place beside the knights of old; and that man, to
be sure, was Monkey Brand.

The lads teased or ignored her; the various Four-legs were uncouth to a
degree; and the Monster-without-Manners was, of course, just himself.

Therefore Maudie passed all the time she could on the shoulder of
Putnam's Only Gentleman. Perched up there, aloof, lofty, and disdainful,
she would purr away like a kettle on the simmer.

That evening she was enthroned in Paradise, when Joses shambled by.

Monkey Brand, stroking her back as he stood at the gate of the yard
exchanging greetings with the passers-by in the road, shook his head
disapprovingly as Joses passed.

"Mug's game, Mr. Joses," he said _sotto voce_.

The fat man, who had not seen the jockey in the dusk, drew up short.

"What's that?" he said keenly.

"That wire business," continued the little man in the same monotonous
undertone without moving his lips. "Ought to be able to do a little
better than that with an edication like yours. Where's the good of
Oxford else?"

Joses came closer swiftly.

"See here, Monkey Brand," he said. "Do you mean business, or don't you?"

The jockey's face was inscrutable.

"I never said no to _good_ business yet," he answered.

"This is good business all right," laughed the tout. "Big money, and
safe as houses."

At the moment a voice called from the office.

"Comin,' sir," answered the little jockey. "_That's the Gov'nor. Back o'
Lads' Barn. Eight o'clock_," he whispered, and was gone.

       *       *       *       *       *

Joses kept the tryst, and went straight to the point.

He had burned his boats now.

"When do they box him to Liverpool?" he asked.

"Monday," answered the other, who seemed very surly. "If you want to do
anything, you must move sharp, Mr. Joses. It's here or nowhere, mind.
You won't get no chance at Aintree. Too many cops around."

"Who's watching him at night?"

"Monkey."

"Does Monkey ever nod?"

The little man looked at the stars.

"No sayin' but he might--if he was to took a drop o' soothin' syrup."

"What about the dog?"

"He could 'ave some soothin' syrup, too. 'Elp him with his teethin'."

The tout turned his back with a somewhat unnecessary regard for decency,
produced a bank-note and flourished it.

"What's that?" asked Monkey.

"Little bit o' crumpled paper."

"Let's see it."

"You may smell it. Only don't touch."

"Will it drop to pieces?"

Joses swept away the other's appropriating hand.

"Might burn your fingers," he said. "That's what I'm thinking of. That's
to buy you a bottle of Mother Siegel's soothing syrup. There's only one
thing," he went on, brandishing the note in the moon. "Looks a wistful
little thing, don't you think? That's because he's lonely. He's left
four little brothers and sisters same as himself at home. And he's
pining for 'em to join him. And join him they will to-morrow night--if
you'll let me in to his loose-box."

Jaggers at his best never looked more self-righteous than Monkey Brand
as he made reply:

"I couldn't let you into his loose-box, Mr. Joses," he said quietly.
"Wouldn't be right. Only the door'll be on the latch, and if you choose
to come in--why, who's to stop you?"

"Right," laughed the other. "I'm an artist, I am, as you may recall. I'd
like to paint you in your sleep. Study of Innocence I should call it."

He dropped away into the darkness.

A whistle stopped him.

The little jockey was limping after him.

"Say to-night," he said.

"No," said the fat man. "To-morrow night. Sunday night. That's the night
for good deeds."

       *       *       *       *       *

At ten that night Jim Silver escorted Boy Woodburn across the yard to
the foot of the ladder.

For a moment the two stood at the foot of the ladder in talk. Then the
girl disappeared into the loft.

As Silver turned away he was whistling.

Monkey Brand, who was standing in the stable-door near by, lantern in
hand, preparatory to taking up his watch in the young horse's box,
coughed.

Silver turned and saw him.

"Good-night," he said.

"Yes, sir," said the little man, gazing up at the moon. "There _is_ some
good in him after all. _Some_ good in us all, I s'poses."

Jim Silver approached him. He knew the little man well enough by now to
know that he was always most round-about in his methods when he had
something of importance to convey.

"In who?" he asked.

Monkey looked surprised and somewhat resentful.

"Why, Mr. Joses, o' cos."

"What's he done now?" asked the young man.

Monkey withdrew into the shadow of the door.

"That," he said, producing the five-pound note.

Jim handled it.

"What did he give you that for?"

"Why, for lookin' down me nose and sayin A-a men. The rest's to follow
to-morrow midnight--five of 'em--if I'm a good boy, as I 'opes to be.
Goin' to drop into me lap same as manners from the ceilin' when Moses
was around--while I sleeps like a suckin' innocent."

The young man thought.

"Have you told Mr. Woodburn?"

"No, sir. I told no one--only you."

"Shall you tell the police?"

"Never!" cried Monkey, genuinely indignant. "Are I a copper's nark?"

Whether because of childhood memories, or for some other reason, the
copper was still for Monkey Brand the enemy of the human race; and the
little jockey had his own code of honour, to which he scrupulously
adhered.

"What shall you do?" asked Jim.

The jockey jerked his head mysteriously. Then he limped away down the
gangway, behind sleeping horses, into the loose-box at the end where
stood Four-Pound-the-Second.

Carefully he closed the door behind the young man and put his lantern
down.

"See, you thought I was on the crook, didn't you, sir?" he said
ironically, pursing his eye-lids.

"So you are," replied the young man.

Monkey wagged his head sententiously.

"Oh, I'm on the crook all right in a manner o' speakin'," he admitted.
"Only where it is, there's crooks and crooks. There's crooks that is on
the straight--"

"And there's straights that is on the crook," interposed Jim. "As per
item, Monkey Brand."

       *       *       *       *       *

Next morning Silver went to see Old Mat in his office and opened to him
a tale; but the trainer, who seemed very sleepy these days, refused to
hear him.

"I knows nothin' about nothin'," he said almost querulously, pursing his
lips, and sheathing his eyes. "As to rogues and rasqueals, you knows my
views by now, Mr. Silver. Same as the Psalmist's, as I've said afore. As
for the rest, I'm an old man--older nor I can recollect. All I asks is
to lay down and die quiet and peaceable with nothin' on me conscience
only last night's cheese."



CHAPTER XLIII

The Loose-box


Next night Boy Woodburn was unusually late to bed.

Sunday nights she always devoted to preparing the Bible-lesson for next
week.

Of old she had always retired to her room in the loft after supper on
Sunday to wrestle with her labours; but as her mother grew into years,
the girl had adopted the habit of working in the parlour.

On this Sunday she worked on long after her father and mother had gone
to bed, reading and making notes. Once the door opened, and she was
dimly aware of Mr. Silver standing in it. He departed quietly as he had
come without a word, but her subconsciousness noted vaguely and with
surprise that he was wearing a greatcoat and muffler as if he was going
out.

It was eleven o'clock when she closed her book and crossed the yard.

Under the ladder to the loft a door led to a woodshed at the end of the
stable.

As she went up the ladder she heard somebody moving in the shed.

"Who's that?" she asked sharply.

There was no answer.

She descended and tried the door.

It was locked.

"That's all right, Boy," called a quiet voice. "It's only me."

"Mr. Silver," she cried. "What on earth are you up to?"

"After a rat."

"A queer time to choose."

"Yes," he said. "He's a big 'un. I'm sitting for him."

"Good-night then," she called, and ran up the ladder, heralded by the
swift and ghostly Maudie.

The trap-door over Four-Pound-the-Second's box was open as always. She
peeped down on to the back of the horse and Monkey Brand, busy by the
light of his lantern, arranging a pile of horse-blankets in the corner
on which to sleep.

"Where's Billy Bluff?" she asked.

"Just gone outside a minute, Miss."

Four-Pound-the-Second moved restlessly.

"Give him some water," she directed, "and settle him down as soon as you
can."

"Very good, Miss," the little jockey answered.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was an hour later that the stable-door clicked and Joses entered.

He was wearing rope-soled shoes, and he moved softly behind the long
line of horses.

In his slouch hat and loose cloak he looked like a stage conspirator.

Monkey Brand was nodding on an upturned bucket.

As the fat man entered the loose-box, the great horse turned a shining
eye on him and whinnied.

Monkey blinked, stirred, and grunted:

"'Ello!"

He smelt strongly of whiskey.

The tout, unheeding him, produced a twitch.

But Monkey rose with heavy eyes and jerked it irritably out of the
other's hand.

"None o' that," he said.

He nodded to the open trap-door overhead.

"She sleeps up there, don't she?" whispered the fat man.

"She never sleeps," muttered the other. "Got the stuff?" he asked
drowsily.

Joses produced a bottle from the pocket of his cloak.

Monkey looked around.

"Where's a blurry bucket?" he asked, and with faltering hands inverted
the one on which he had been sitting.

"Put a drop of water in," urged the fat man.

The little man obeyed, moving uncertainly.

"Is he dry?" asked Joses.

"I wish I'd only 'alf his thirst," drowsed the other.

The fat man removed the cork from the bottle. Monkey seized it rudely
and sniffed it.

"What is it?" he asked sullenly.

"Nothing to hurt him," said Joses soothingly. "Just take the shine out
of him for a day or two."

The jockey was so drunk that he needed humouring. The tout cursed his
faulty judgment in having given the little man money to spend before the
deed had been done.

Monkey let his heavy-lidded eyes rest on the other. He was breathing
almost stertorously. Then he pushed the bottle back toward Joses.

"I mush trush you," he said, "same as you trush me. You wouldn't deceive
me, Oxford genelman and all."

"What d'you take me for?" answered Joses.

He poured the stuff into the bucket that Monkey held. It was dark and
sweet-smelling. Four-Pound-the-Second sniffed with inflated nostrils.

"Hist!" cried Monkey.

"What's that?"

"Somebury at the door."

"The door's all right. I locked it."

"He's got a key."

"Who has?"

"Silver."

"Is he on the ramp?"

"Ain't he?" snorted Monkey. "Hundred thousand--and the gal." He added
with a snort: "Thought I were a copper's nark. Good as told me so."

Joses stole down the gangway to the door.

When he came back Monkey was holding the bucket to
Four-Pound-the-Second, who was drinking noisily.

"It was only the cat," he said. "I heard her scuttle."

"Don't it smell funny?" whispered Monkey, swirling the bucket gently
under the horse's muzzle.

Joses patted the drinking horse.

"There's the beauty," he said. "Suck it down. It'll give you pleasant
dreams."

Four-Pound-the-Second had his fill by now and moved away.

Joses picked up his twitch and made for the door.

Monkey placed himself between the fat man and the exit, heavy-lidded,
stertorous, and menacing.

"One thing," he said.

"What's that?"

"Them little bits o' paper there was some talk about."

"Oh, aye, I was forgettin' them."

"Was you, then? I wasn't," said Monkey brutally. "Dole 'em out."

The fat man obeyed with a snigger; then shuffled softly down the passage
and out.

Monkey Brand heard him open the door and cross the yard.

Then a voice called:

"Hi at him!"

There was a scurry of pursuing feet, a scuffle, and a yell.

The jockey rushed out into the yard.

Joses was disappearing over the gate, flinging something behind him, and
Billy Bluff was smothered in a cape which he was worrying.

Jim Silver, racing across the yard, snatched the cape from the dog.

A window flung open.

Boy looked out.

"What is it?" she cried.

"It's all right, Miss," answered Monkey. "No 'arm done."

The girl came swiftly down the ladder in the moonlight. She was in her
wrapper, her short hair massed.

"Is the horse all right?" she cried.

"Yes, Miss."

"Where's Billy Bluff?"

"There."

Silver turned his electric torch on to a far corner of the yard, where
the dog was seen chewing a lump of meat.

Boy flung herself on him and tore it away.

"Hold him!" she cried to Jim. "Between your knees! Force his mouth open!
Mind yourself now."

She brought the stable-hose to bear upon the dog's extended mouth. He
wrestled hugely in the grip of the young man's knees, gasping,
spluttering, whining for mercy. But mercy there was none. The girl
drenched him with the hose, and the man who was holding him.

"Go and get the tandem whip!" she cried.

Monkey ran.

"Now stand at the gates, both of you, and don't let him through."

Boy seized the whip and hunted the dog about the yard. He fled madly.
For five minutes the girl pursued him remorselessly. Then he was
violently sick.

"That's better," panted the girl. "Bring that meat, Brand."

She led the way into Four-Pound-the-Second's horse-box, followed by
Silver, torch in hand.

"_He's_ not taken much harm," she said, patting the horse in her
deliberate way.

A delicious little figure she made in her striped pyjamas, her wrapper
girt about her, her feet bare in shining black pumps, and her short hair
thick and curling about her neck.

Suddenly she was aware of her companion and withdrew into herself as she
felt him watching her.

"Sweetheart honey," he purred, reaching out tender hands toward her.

She put up a warning finger.

"There's no one looking," he answered her.

"Yes, there is."

"Who?"

"Four-Pound."

"He don't matter."

"I'm not sure," she answered gravely. "He's a funny little look in his
eye."

He was making passes close to her face and throat. She restrained him.

"Wait," she said gently.

He dropped his hands.

"I shall go back to bed now," she continued. "You'd better turn in,
too--now you've caught your rat."

"I've cut off his tail anyway," laughed the young man, showing the
cloak.

Swathed in her light wrapper, the little creature shuffled swiftly down
the gangway behind the line of sleeping horses, her pumps, too big for
her bare feet, clacking on the pavement.

He followed her heavily, his eyes brimming laughter and delight.

A few minutes later Silver joined Monkey Brand in the loose-box.

"Good little try-on, sir," said the jockey busily. "Funny smelling stuff
though."

Removing a rug, he produced a bucket hidden beneath and held it to the
other's nose.

"Chuck it down the drain," said the young man.

"'Alf a mo, sir," protested Monkey Brand. "Let me fill me bottle first."

He looked up at the young man with extraordinary cunning.

"Ever know'd a monkey get squiffy?" he asked confidentially. "No. Nor me
neever."



CHAPTER XLIV

Monkey Brand Gets the Sack


Joses was lying on his bed in the gray of dawn, looking curiously livid,
when somebody whistled beneath his window.

He rose and looked out.

Monkey was standing morosely in the garden underneath.

The fat man beckoned him in, and returned to his bed.

The little jockey entered.

He was dark, sullen, dangerous.

"Well?" said the tout, lying in disarray upon the bed.

"I thought you'd done a get-away," said Monkey surlily.

"I've been queer," answered the other. "Has the stuff worked?"

"Worked!" cried the jockey, with smothered fury. "It's worked _my_ trick
all right. Never touched the 'orse. Run through him like so much water.
The chemist who made up that stuff doped you and not the 'orse--and done
me."

"What they done to you?"

"Took the cash off me, and give me the ---- boot instead."

The tout considered.

"He's fit, is he?"

"Fit?" snorted the little man. "He's throwin' back-somersaults in his
box. That's all."

"When do they box him for Liverpool?"

"Twelve-fifteen train."

Joses gathered himself with difficulty.

"See here, Brand," he said. "Are you straight?"

"Straight!" shouted Monkey. "Would I ha' sold the guv'nor I serve for
twenty year if I wasn't straight."

The fat man pulled on his boots.

"Never say die till you're dead," he said. "We must go north, too.
There's the last card and we must play it."

       *       *       *       *       *

Nobody but those immediately concerned were at Polefax station to see
the local National horse boxed for Liverpool.

Albert was there, and Boy, her collar about her ears, and Billy Bluff
looking unusually dejected.

Old Mat, it was remarked by the porters, was not present; and Monkey
Brand, it was also remarked, though at the station, took no part in the
proceedings, huddling over the fire in the waiting-room, a desolate
little figure of woe.

As the young horse entered his box at a siding, the train from Brighton
came into the station.

Silver stepped out of it, a cloak over his arm.

He did not join the little group busy about the box, but made for the
solitary figure watching from the far end of the platform.

"Your cloak, Mr. Joses," he said pleasantly.

"Thank you," replied the fat man, cold and casual. "I shall want it at
Liverpool."

"You left it behind you last night."

"I did," admitted the other. "I was having a chat with Monkey Brand.
And that brute of a dog came for me as I left."

"The bottle you brought's in the pocket," continued Silver.

"Good," said Joses. "I hope there's something in it."

"Nothing now."

"Ah, shame! You shouldn't hold out false hopes."

Silver's chin became aggressive.

"Doping's a crime, Mr. Joses."

"Is that so, Mr. Silver?"

"Your attempt to dope that horse last night puts you within the grip of
the law."

"Who says I attempted to dope him?"

"I do."

"Any evidence to support your libellous statement?"

"What about the notes you gave Monkey Brand?"

The fat man laughed.

"So Monkey Brand's implicated, is he?" he said. "He took money from me
to settle your horse, and leaked when he was in liquor. That's the
story, is it?" He lifted his voice. "D'you hear that, Brand?"

"I hear," came the little sodden voice from the waiting-room. "And I
says nothing. There's One Above'll see me right."

Joses shook his curls at Silver.

"Won't wash," he said. "Really it won't. What the lawyers call
collusion. You didn't know I was trained for the Bar, did you? Another
little surprise packet for you. Come, Mr. Silver, you must do a little
better than that--an old hand like you."

The young man observed him with slow, admiring eyes.

"Joses," he said deliberately, "you're a clever rogue."

The fat man's eye became almost genial. He looked warily round, and then
came a step closer.

"Ain't I?" he whispered.

Silver, laughing gently, handed him his cloak.

"Here it is," he said. "I'm keeping the little bit of paper that was in
the pocket."

The other's pupils contracted.

"What paper's that?"

"The prescription of the dope mixture you handed in to Burgess and
Williams, the Brighton chemists, yesterday morning. They put their stamp
on it and the date. I've just come back from a chat with them."

The fat man watched the other as a rabbit watches a weasel.

"Are you going to peach?" he said.

"I'll tell you after the National," replied the other.

Joses dropped his voice into his boots.

"Make it a monkey and I'll quit," he muttered. "She's worth it," he
added cunningly.

Silver looked at him.

The tout came a sudden step closer.

"I _know_," he whispered.



BOOK VI

MOCASSIN



CHAPTER XLV

Aintree


The Grand National is always the great event of the chasing year. This
year it was something more. As the American Ambassador in England,
speaking at the Pilgrim's Club a week before the race, said, it was an
international affair fraught with possibilities for two great peoples,
one in blood and tongue and history, whom an unhappy accident had parted
for a moment in the past.

The mare indeed was a magnet. At the time that England is loud with the
voice of lambs, and the arabis in Sussex gardens begins to attract the
bees, she was drawing men to her from all the ends of the earth.

They came hurrying across the seas in their thousands to see the Hope of
the Young Countries triumphant, and above all to compel fair play for
their champion.

Indeed, there was an undeniable touch of defiance about the attitude of
most of them. Last year the old folks at home--God bless em!--John Bull,
the leariest of frank-spoken rogues!--had done her in.

The mare had won and had been disqualified. Those were the simple facts;
and no casuistry by the cleverest of London lawyers could get away from
them.

On the question of Chukkers and the Bully Boys, as the English cheap
press called them, showed themselves eminently reasonable.

As they said themselves not without grimness, "Gee!--Don't we know
Chukkers?--Didn't we riz him? His father was a Frisco Chink, and his
mother a Mexican half-breed. You can tell us nothing about him we don't
know. We admit it all. Wipe it out. If she'd been ridden by the
straightest feller that ever sat in the pigskin the result'd have been
the same. Are you going to give America best in your big race? Is John
Bull a bleatin' baa-lamb?"

And so _Hands off and no Hanky-Panky_ was the war-chaunt of the young
American bloods whom great Cunarders vomited on to the docks at
Liverpool and P.-and-O.'s landed at Tilbury to join the Ikey's Own, who
had been on watch throughout the winter.

       *       *       *       *       *

The National always takes place on the Friday of Aintree week.

All the week special trains were running Liverpool-ward from the ends of
the British Isles. London, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Plymouth each sent
their contingents speeding north on the same engrossing errand. All day
and night people were turning out in their thousands, hanging over
bridges, lining railway embankments, to see the great engines with the
Kangaroo bound to their buffer-plates coming through, yes, and cheering
them.

The Boys in the corridor trains stood at the windows with folded arms,
watched the waving crowds grimly, and winked at each other.

They had a profound admiration for John Bull's capacity for roguery, and
an equally profound belief in their own ability to go one better.

Last year J.B. had bested them--and they thought all the better of him
for it. This year they meant to get their own back--and a bit more.

          _We are coming, Uncle Ikey, we are coming millions strong,
          For to see the haughty English don't do our Ikey wrong,_

they sang out of the windows with provocative enjoyment.

The people waving on the embankments were in fact innocent of crime,
committed or conceived. They had no champion of their own, and with a
certain large simplicity they hailed as theirs the mare who had crossed
the seas to trample on them.

Liverpool made holiday for the occasion.

The Corporation feasted its American visitors, while the big ship-owners
gave a dance at the Wellington Rooms.

The Adelphi Hotel was the headquarters of the Beyond-the-Seas folk, and
it was full to overflowing. In the huge dining-room, where every year
the Waterloo Cup dinner is held, there was an immense muster the night
before the race. Lord Milburn, the Prime Minister, was there, with the
Mayor of Liverpool on his left, and the American Ambassador upon his
right. One famous Ex-President of the Great Republic was present, and
many of the most distinguished citizens of the two countries; Ikey
Aaronsohnn with his eternal twinkle, was there, and Jaggers looking like
a Church of England Bishop. Chukkers alone was absent. And he was lying
low upstairs, it was said, with one of Ikey's Own at his bedside, and
another over his door, to see that no harm befell him before the great
day dawned. America might not like the great jockey, but she meant him
to ride her mare to victory.

Lord Milburn, a somewhat ponderous gentleman, well-known with the Quorn,
a representative Imperialist statesman, was at his best. And if his
best was never very good, at least his references to Mocassin brought
down the house.

"She is something moa than the best steeplechaser that ever looked
through a bridle-ah," he announced in his somewhat portentous way. "She
is--in my judgment--the realization of a dream. In her have met once
more the two great streams of the Anglo-Saxon race. You have every right
to be proud of hah; and so, I venture to say, have we. For we of the old
country claim our share in the mare. She comes, I say, in the last
resort--the last resort--of English thoroughbred stock. (Cheers,
Counter-cheers.) And if she wins to-morrah--as she will (cheers), 'Given
fair play'" came a voice from the back. "_That_ she will get--(cheers
and boos)--the people of this country will rejoice that another edifice
has been laid to the mighty brick--ah of Anglo-Saxon fellowship on which
the hope, and I think I may say, the happiness of the world depends."

The evening ended, as the Liverpool _Herald_ reported, at two in the
morning, when Abe Gideon, the bark-blocks comedian, was hoisted on to
the table and sang the _Mocassin Song_ to a chorus that set the water in
the docks rocking.



CHAPTER XLVI

The Sefton Arms


Old Mat never stopped in Liverpool for the big race.

That was partly because everybody else did, and partly because he always
preferred The Sefton Arms upon the course. When his little daughter
first took to accompanying her dad to the National she used to stay the
night with a Methodist cousin of her mother's and join her father on the
course next morning.

This time she refused point-blank to favour Cousin Agatha, and further
refused to argue the matter. She was going with her father to The Sefton
Arms. Mrs. Woodburn was genuinely distressed, so much so indeed that
Silver heard her hold forth for the first time in his knowledge of her
on the modern mother's favourite theme--the daughter of to-day.

Old Mat gave her little sympathy.

"She's said she's goin', so goin' she is," he grunted matter-of-factly.
"No argifyin's no good when she's said that. You might know that by now,
Mar."

He added, to assuage his wife, that Mr. Silver was going to stop with
them at The Sefton Arms.

"He's better than some," said the old lady almost vengefully.

"Now then, Mar-r-r!" cried the old man, "You're gettin' a reg'lar old
woman, you are."

When his wife had left the room in dudgeon:

"It's silly," grunted the trainer. "'Course she wants to be on the
course. It's only in Natur. It's her hoss, and her race. She ain't goin'
to run no risks. And I don't blame her neether. There's only one way o'
seein' a thing through as I've ever know'd, and that's seein' it through
yourself."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Woodburn's good-bye to her daughter was cold as it was wistful.

At the garden-gate Boy turned and waved.

"Cheer, mum!" she cried.

Her mother, standing austerely on the steps of the house, did not
respond.

"I shall be back on Saturday," called the girl as she climbed into the
buggy.

       *       *       *       *       *

That was on the Monday.

On that day Boy and Albert and Billy Bluff took the young horse north,
travelling all the way in his box.

At Euston it was evident something out of the way was forward. There was
hardly a crowd at the station, but expectant folk were gathered here and
there in knots and there were more police than usual about.

The secret was soon out.

Jaggers, with the air of the Grand Inquisitor, appeared on the platform
with his head-lad, Rushton. The trainer entered into talk with a man
whom Albert informed his mistress was a cop in plain clothes.

"Place swarms with 'em," the youth whispered. "And Ikey's Own. They're
takin' no chances."

In fact, Mocassin and her two stable-companions were travelling on the
same train as the Putnam horse.

As Albert remarked, not without complacency:

"One thing. If there's a smash we're all in it."

At Aintree the crowd, which somehow always knows, had gathered to see
the crack. They didn't see much but four chestnut legs and a long tail;
but what they saw was enough to satisfy them. You could swaddle her like
a corpse from muzzle to hocks, and from withers to fetlock, but the
Queen of Kentucky's walk was not to be mistaken. And as she came out of
her box on to the platform, treading daintily, the little gathering
raised the familiar slogan that told she was betrayed.

Boy let the favourite get well away before she unboxed her horse. There
was nobody about by then but a small urchin who jeered:

"Say, lydy! is yon what they call a camel-leopard?"

The little party had the road to themselves, and passed unheeded.

The Billjim Guard were escorting the favourite to the yard, and the
crowd were escorting the Billjims.

When Four-Pound-the-Second reached the yard with his three satellites
twenty minutes later, the backwash of the crowd still eddied and swirled
about the entrance.

The policeman on the gate made a fuss about admitting Billy Bluff. But
the head yard-man, who knew Mat Woodburn's daughter almost as well as he
knew his own, interfered on her behalf.

"He'll sleep in my horse's box," Boy explained.

"Won't your horse sleep without him, Miss?" grinned the yard-man.

"Not so well," answered the girl.

"Oh, let him in," said the other. "Pity to spoil that horse's beauty
sleep. Might lose his looks."

Boy could never bring herself to titter at the jokes of those whom it
was expedient to placate. Happily Albert was at hand to make amends, and
he, to be sure, had no qualms of conscience.

The little procession entered, Billy Bluff at the heels of the great
horse, striking fire in the dusk from the cobbled yard.

"He's to look after Chukkers, I suppose," said the yard-man grimly,
pleased at his own generosity, well satisfied with his wit, and fairly
so with Albert's tribute to it.

"He's to look after my horse," said Boy resolutely.

"He looks he could look after himself, Miss," replied the witty
yard-man.

"So he can, sir, with you to help him," said the swift and tactful
Albert.

The yard-man, who could tell you stories of Boomerang's National, and
Cannibal's victory, that not even Monkey Brand could surpass, knew of
old the feeling between Putnam's and the Dewhurst stable, and had placed
the boxes of the two horses far apart.

       *       *       *       *       *

All through the week the excitement grew.

The Sefton Arms was seething; the bar a slowly heaving mass of
racing-men, jockeys, touts, habitués.

Once or twice there were rows between Ikey's Own--the Yankee doodlers,
as the local wits called them--and the English silver-ring bookies; and
the cause of the quarrels was invariably the same--the treatment of the
mare at last year's National.

Throughout the week Boy went her quiet, strenuous way, unconscious of
the commotion about her, or careless of it.

Jim Silver escorted her to and from the yard. Most people knew Old
Mat's daughter and respected her; and those who did not, respected the
grave-faced young giant who was her constant attendant.

When the pair passed swiftly through the bar, an observer would have
noticed that a hush fell on the drinkers, accompanied by surreptitious
elbow-nudgings and significant winks.

It was clear that the young couple were of secret interest to the dingy
crowd. And in fact there were rumours afloat about them--sensational
stories not a few about what they stood to win in love upon the race.

Monkey Brand and Joses were always drinking together in the bar as
Silver walked through. Once he passed quite close to them. The little
jockey's glassy eye rested meaninglessly on the young man's face and
wandered away. When the other had moved on, he dropped his eyelid and
muttered to his pal:

"Wants the ---- kybosh puttin' on him. Good as called me a copper's
nark."

"Hundred thousand in the pot," grinned the fat man. "And a dainty bit o'
white meat. I don't blame him." He licked his lips.

       *       *       *       *       *

There were few more familiar figures at the bar of The Sefton Arms at
National time than that of Monkey Brand, and this year few more pathetic
ones.

It was soon bruited abroad that Old Mat and his head-lad had parted
after more years of association than many cared to recall. And it was
clear that the little man felt the rupture. He wandered morosely through
the crowd in the train of his fat familiar like a lost soul outside the
gates of Paradise. Usually a merry sprite, the life and soul of every
group he joined, he was under the weather, as the saying went, and what
was still more remarkable he showed it.

Everybody was aware of the facts, though nobody knew the story.

The Duke, who was genuinely fond of the little jockey, and full of
vulgar curiosity, coming upon him two nights before the race, stopped
him.

"I'm sorry to hear you and Mr. Woodburn have parted after all these
years, Brand," he said in his gruff way.

"Thank you, your Grace," said the little jockey, pinching his lips.

The Duke waited. Nothing happened, but Monkey poked his chin in the air,
and swallowed.

"I thought you were set for life," continued the Duke slowly.

"I thought so, too, your Grace," answered the jockey. "But the human
'eart's a funny affair--very funny, as the sayin' is."

Long ago he had acquired the trick of moralizing from his old master.

"What's the trouble, then?" grunted the Duke.

He was greatly curious and honestly concerned.

"Thought I were sellin' him," muttered Monkey.

The Duke bent shaggy brows upon the little man.

"Were you?" he asked.

For a moment the old merry Monkey rose from the dead and twinkled. Then
he stiffened like a dead man, touched his hat, and turned away.

The Duke clung to him.

He, too, had heard a story, and wished to know the rights and wrongs of
it.

"Well, well," he said. "We must all hope the Putnam horse wins--for Mr.
Silver's sake. Eh, what?"

"Yes, your Grace," replied the uncommunicative Monkey.

The night before the race the Duke, still hunting the trail tenaciously,
stumbled, according to his own account, on Old Mat, and reported the
substance of his interview with Monkey in that ingenuous way of his,
half simple, half brutal, and all with an astonishing _savoir-faire_ you
would never have given him credit for.

"One thing," he ended, "he ain't blackguardin' you."

Mat seemed lost in memories.

"I wep' a tear. I did reely," he said at last. Then he shook a sorrowful
head. "I ain't one o' yer whitewings meself," he said. "Not by no means.
But he shock me, Monkey do. He does reely." He dabbed his eye. "Rogues
and rasqueals, yer Grace," he said. "All very well. But there is a
limit, as the Psalmist very proply remarked."

The Duke turned to go, his curiosity still unsatisfied.

"Where's Boy?" he asked gruffly. "I've seen nothing of her this time."

"She's kep' busy, your Grace--nursin' the baby."

"How is he?"

"Keeps a-crowin'," said the old man, "from all I hears of it."



CHAPTER XLVII

On the Course


Next morning was gray with gleams of sun: an ideal day, old hands said,
for the great race of the year.

Mat found his way to the Paddock early and alone.

At Aintree everything is known about the notables by everybody, and
there were few more familiar figures than that of the old man with the
broad shoulders, the pink face, and the difficulty in drawing breath.

It was twenty odd years since Cannibal had won the big race for him; and
this year it was known that he had only come up to see the sport. True
he had a horse running, down on the card as Four-Pound-the-Second, brown
gelding, five years old, green jacket and cap, ten stone; but he was an
any-price outsider, only entered because for something like fifty years
there had never been a National in which a Putnam horse had not played a
part. And rumour had it that Four-Pound was a rum un even for Putnam's.

As Mat entered the Paddock, he was looking round him--for his missing
daughter, observers said.

Jaggers and Ikey Aaronsohnn marked him from afar and told off a couple
of the Boys to track him from a respectful distance.

The old man's familiar figure, his queer clothes, and reputation as a
character, drew others toward him. He lilted heavily across the Paddock
with a word to one, a nod to another, a wink for a third, talking all
the time and breathing like a grampus, with a little crowd of tittering
nondescripts swirling in his wake and hanging on his words.

"Don't 'ave nothin' to do wi' me. That's my adwice to you. I'm Old Mat.
You oughter know that by this. No, I ain't goin' to walk round the
course this year. As I says, the course don't change, but I does. If the
course wants me to see it, it must walk round me. I've done the proper
thing be the course this sixty year. Now it's the course's turn. _Good
morning, Mr. Jaggers_. Yes, I see him, and he see me--only he look the
other way. Pretty little thing, ain't he? Reminds me of that foreign
chap went on the religious ramp in Italy. I seen his picture at Mr.
Haggard's. Savierollher, wasn't it? They burnt him; and I don't blame
'em. He was Jaggers's father I _'ave_ 'eard. Only you mustn't 'and it
on, else you might get me into trouble."

He crossed the course, looked at the water opposite the Grand Stand, and
examined the first fence lugubriously.

"Time was I could ha' hop it off one foot," he said. "Something's
'appened. Must 'ave."

Then he returned to the Paddock, passing a bookie with uplifted hand of
protest.

"Get away from me, Satan," he said. "Don't tempt an old man what's never
fell yet."

"I know all about that, Mr. Woodburn," grinned the bookie.

"I got my principles same as them as 'asn't," continued the old man,
marching firmly on. "You go and tell that to the Three J's, Mr.
Buckland. There they are be the Grand Stand. No, when I gets back to
Mar there'll be nothin' to show her only a blank bettin' book." He
stopped quite suddenly and dropped his voice to a whisper: "Anything
doin', Mr. Buckland?"

His little following roared.

"Favourite fours. Nothing else wanted, Mr. Woodburn," said the amused
man. "It's just the day for the mare."

"Fours," said the old man. "Price shorter nor ever I remember it since
Cloister's year. It's a cert. for the Three J's. What about my little
ride-a-cock-horse, Mr. Buckland?"

The bookmaker referred to his card.

"Four-Pound-the-Second," he said. "Give you forties."

"Forties!" guffawed Old Mat. "A young giraffe like him, dropped this
spring in the Sarah desert under a cocoanut shy. Four _hundred_ and
forties I thought you was goin' to say. 'Ark to him!" He appealed to the
delighted crowd. "Offers me forties against my pantomime colt, and ain't
ashamed of himself. I'd ha' left him at home in the menadgeree along o'
the two-'eaded calf and the boy with blue hair if I'd known."

"He's a powerful great horse, Mr. Woodburn," smiled the bookie.

"Hoss!" cried the outraged old man. "'Ave you seen him? He ain't a hoss
at all. He's a he-goat. Only I've shave the top of him to took you all
in. He's comin' on at the 'alls to-night after the race. Goin' to sit on
a stool and sing _The Wop 'em Opossum_, specially composed by me and Mar
for this occasion only."

He lilted on his way.

       *       *       *       *       *

By noon the Paddock was filling, and the Carriage Enclosure becoming
packed.

People began to blacken the railway embankment, to gather in knots all
round the course at likely places, to line the Canal.

In the crowd you could hear the dialects of every county in England
mingling with accents of the young countries beyond the seas.

At noon the Duke and his party crossed the Paddock.

"You won't join us, Mat?" he called. "I've got a saloon on the
Embankment."

"No, sir, thank you," said the old man. "Mat's corner in the Grand
Stand'll find me at home as usual come three o'clock."

The Duke paused. He was still hunting the trail.

"If you see Boy before the race, tell her we'll be glad if she cares to
join us."

The trainer shook his head.

"Thank you kindly, your Grace. She always goes to the Stand by the Canal
Turn when Chukkers is riding."

There was a chuckle from the bystanders.

"He's ridin' this time' all right, from all I hear," said the Duke
grimly.

"You're right, sir," answered the old man. "Last night he was countin'
his dead in his sleep. The policeman what was over his door to see no
lady kidnap him for his looks heard him and tell me."

The jockey, who was passing at the moment, stopped.

"Say it agin," he cried fiercely.

The old trainer was face to face with one of the only two men in the
world to whom he felt unkindly.

"Ain't once enough, then?" he asked tartly.

The jockey walked on his way.

"Ah, you're an old man, Mr. Woodburn," he called back. "_You_ take
advantage."

"I may be old, but I am _white_," called the old man after him, his blue
eye lighting.

"Oh, come, come!" cried the Duke, delighted, as he hurried after his
party. "Where's Mrs. Woodburn?"

Chukkers joined the two J's, who were hobnobbing with some of Ikey's Own
under the Grand Stand.

Monkey Brand and Joses stood together on the outskirts of the group.

Jaggers, austere as the Mogul Emperor, approached the tout.

"You're a monkey down, Joses," he said, cold and quiet. "The Putnam
horse is starting."

The other smiled.

"He's starting, sir," he said. "But he's not winning."

Jaggers blinked at him.

"What d'you mean?"

"I mean the race isn't lost yet, and mayn't be--even if the mare don't
win."

He moved away, and Monkey followed him.

Jaggers joined his colleagues.

"What did he say?" asked Ikey in his eager yet wary way.

The trainer told him.

"Thinks he knows something," muttered the little Levantine, his brown
face thoughtful.

"Kiddin' he do," grunted Chukkers, sucking his charm.

Ikey looked after the retreating fat man.

"He's collared Monkey Brand anyway," he said.

"If Monkey ain't collared him," retorted the jockey.

The moods of the three men were various and characteristic: Jaggers glum
and uncertain, Ikey confident, Chukkers grim.

"Who's riding the Putnam horse?" asked Ikey.

"Albert Edward," Jaggers replied.

Chukkers removed his charm from his mouth.

"I ain't afraid o' him," he said. "He's never rode this course afore.
It'll size him up."

"What's the price o' Four-Pound?" asked Ikey.

"Forties," answered Chukkers, biting home.

The little Levantine was surprised, as those Simian eyebrows of his
revealed.

"Forties!" he said. "I thought he was a hundred to one."

"So he were a week since," answered Chukkers surlily. "Silver's been
plankin' the dollars on."

"Ah, that ain't all," said Jaggers gloomily. "The Ring knows something.
Here, Rushton, go and see what they're layin' Four-Pound."

The head-lad went and returned immediately.

"Thirties offered, sir. No takers."

Jaggers shook his head.

"I don't like it," he said.

       *       *       *       *       *

All morning, carriages, coaches, silent-moving motorcars, char-à-bancs
with rowdy parties, moke-carts, people on bicycles and afoot, streamed
out of Liverpool.

By one o'clock people were taking their places in the Grand Stand.
Everywhere America was in the ascendant, good-humoured, a thought
aggressive. Phalanxes of the Boys linked arm to arm were sweeping up
and down the course, singing with genial turbulence

          _Hands off and no hanky-panky._

To an impartial onlooker the attitude of the two great peoples toward
each other was an interesting study. Both were wary, ironical,
provocative, and perfect tempered. They were as brothers, rivals in the
arena, who having known each other from nursery days, cherish no
romantic and sentimental regard for each other, are aware of each
other's tricks, and watchful for them while still maintaining a certain
measure of mutual respect and even affection.

When the American crowd surged up and down the course roaring
magnificently,

          _The star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
          O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave,_

the counter-marching Englishmen met them with the challenging,

          _The land of Hope and Glory
          The Mother of the Free._

With any other peoples rioting and bloodshed would have ensued. Here,
apart from an occasional cut-and-dry battle between two enthusiastic
individuals in the fringes of the crowd, there was never any need for
police interference.

       *       *       *       *       *

There were two flat races before the National. The horses were gathering
for the first when Albert in his shirt sleeves bustled across the
Paddock.

A whistle stopped him and he turned.

"'Ullo, Mr. Brand!"

"Where are you off to?"

"I'm goin' to dress now."

"You're early."

"First race is starting."

"How's the horse?"

"Keeps a-lingerin' along."

"Who's with him?"

"Mr. Silver."

The fat man chimed in:

"Where's the lady, then?"

Albert looked blank.

"I ain't seen her," he said. "Believe she's walking round the course."

Joses laughed.

"I should have thought you'd have been the one to walk round the
course," he said.

"I been," replied the lad keenly.

"And what d'you think of it?" asked Monkey.

The youth rubbed his stomach with the most delicate consideration.

"Pore Albert," he said. "That's what I think. They're a yard through
some of 'em. You clears 'em clean or--it's amen, so be it, good-bye to
the totties, and no flowers by request."

He bustled on his way.

Monkey nudged his mate.

"Keeps it up," he muttered.

"Proper," the other answered.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second race was run and won. Two o'clock came and went. The jockeys
began to emerge from the dressing-room under the Grand Stand. Monkey
Brand and Joses watched the door.

"Where's green then?" muttered the tout, as the expected failed to show.

"'Ush!" said Monkey at his elbow.

The fat man turned.

At the far side of the Paddock, by the gate, the looked-for jockey had
appeared out of nowhere.

The green of his cap betrayed him, and the fact that old Mat was in
close conversation with him.

He wore a long racing-coat, and his collar was turned up. Indeed, apart
from his peaked cap drawn down over his eyes and his spurs, little but
coat was to be seen of him.

"Where did he spring from?" asked Joses, and began to move toward the
jockey.

His companion stayed him suddenly.

Billy Bluff, who had evaded the police, and dodged his way into the
Paddock, raced up to the jockey and began to squirm about him, half
triumphant, half ashamed.

The fat man stopped dead and stared, with his bulging eyes.

"Straight!" he cried, and smote his hands together.

The jockey cut at the dog with his whip, and then the police came up and
hunted him back into the road.

At the moment the band struck up the National Anthem, and the Knowsley
party, including the King, the American Ambassador, and Lord Milburn,
crossed the Paddock swiftly toward Lord Derby's box.

Suddenly the strains of the band were drowned by an immense roar of
cheering.

Mocassin was being led into the Paddock.

Nothing could be seen of her. Ikey's Own had formed a close-linked
phalanx about her. No Englishman might penetrate that jealous barrier or
help to form it. Within its sacred circle the mare was being stripped
and saddled.

Then there came another roar.

Chukkers was up in the star-spangled jacket.

The famous jockey sat above the heads of the crowd, and indulged in the
little piece of swagger he always permitted himself. Very deliberately
he tied the riband of his cap over the peak while the eyes of thousands
watched him. As he did so the crowd about him stirred and parted. A girl
passed through. It was the American Ambassador's daughter. She handed
the jockey a tricolour cockade, which he fixed gallantly in front of his
cap. It was clear that he was in the best of humours, for he exchanged
chaff with his admirers, adding a word to Jaggers as he gathered his
reins.

Settling in the saddle, he squeezed the mare.

She reared a little as though to gratify the desire of those at the back
for a peep at her.

As she left the Paddock and entered the course, the people rose to her
_en masse_. Storms of cheers greeted her and went bellowing round the
course. The Canal tossed them back to the Grand Stand, and the
Embankment was white with waving handkerchiefs.

          _Mocassin! Mocassin! Mocassin!_

All eyes were on the mare, and the great brown horse, in the far corner
of the Paddock, was stripped, and his jockey astride, before half a
dozen people were aware of his presence.

By the time Jaggers and Ikey had observed him, he was on the move.

The two J's, Monkey Brand and Joses, crossed toward him, but there was
no getting near that tumultuous earth-shaker in brown. Jim Silver was at
his head, and, strong as the young man was, he had all his work cut out
to hold the horse as he bounced across the Paddock, scattering his crowd
with far-reaching heels.

"'Ware horse!" rose the cry.

"Give him room!"

"Look out for his heels!"

"Steady the beauty!"

Plunging across the Paddock, to the disturbance of everybody but the
little jockey with the fair hair, who swung to his motions as a flower,
fast in earth, swings to the wind, he tore out of the Paddock amid the
jeers and laughter of some and the curses of others.

"Smart!" said Joses.

"My eye!" answered Monkey Brand.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jim Silver, panting after his run, joined Old Mat.

The two made toward the Grand Stand.

In front of them a middle-aged man, soberly dressed, and a tall girl
were walking.

"That's the American Ambassador," muttered the old man as they passed.
"Come with Lord Derby's party. Great scholar, they say. That's his
daughter."

The tall Ambassador with the stoop paused to let the other couple go by.

Then he nodded at the young man's back.

"Mr. Silver," he murmured in his daughter's ear. "And the old
gentleman's _her_ father."

The girl was alert at once. She, too, had heard the tales.

"Is it?" she cried. "Where's she?"

"I don't know," the other answered.

"I _hope_ they win," said the girl--"in some ways."

Her father smiled.

"You're no American," he scoffed. "You're a woman. That's all you are."



CHAPTER XLVIII

The Star-Spangled Jacket


As the two men took their places, the parade in front of the Grand Stand
was in full swing.

There was a big field: some thirty starters in all.

The favourite, as the top weight, led them by at a walk.

She was quite at her ease, yet on fire as always, snatching at her bit
in characteristic style. Chukkers rode her with long and easy rein, as
though to show he trusted her. As she came by, the Grand Stand began to
sing with one voice:

    _The maid of our mountains--
      Mocassin's her name!
    The speed of the panther;
      The heart of the flame;
    The Belle of the Blue Ridge,
      The hope of the plain,
    The Queen of Kentucky,
      O, lift her again--_

Chanted thus by tens of thousands of voices, singing round the course
and up into the heavens, and culminating in the roaring slogan--


          _Mocassin! Mocassin! Mocassin!_

the simple song became for the moment clothed in vicarious majesty.

Jim Silver felt the thrill of it, as did his companion.

"Mar'd like that," said Old Mat sentimentally. "She's same as me. She
likes hymns."

The object of the enthusiasm seemed unconscious of it.

She came by at that swift pattering walk of hers--like a girl going
marketing as her lovers said--amid the comments of her admirers.

"She's all right, sure!"

"Don't she nip along?"

"He looks grim, Chukkers do."

"Yes; he's for it this time."

"They've injected her--American style."

"Never!"

"They have, my son. Trust Jaggers. Can't leave it to Nature. Must always
go one better."

"Ikey's got two other horses in."

"Which?"

"There's old Jackaroo--in the purple and gold, Rushton riding."

"Which is the second Dewhurst horse?"

"This in the canary. Flibberty-gibbet. Little Boy Braithwaite."

"He's only a nipper."

"He can ride, though."

"They're to nurse the crack through the squeeze."

"She'll want nursing."

"She's all right if she stands up till Beecher's Brook."

"She'll stand up. Trust Chukkers."

"He's got nothing to beat."

"Only Moonlighter."

"Which _is_ the Irish horse?"

"The gray there. Cerise and white."

"Flashy thing."

"Yes. He'll give no trouble though. Three mile and a half is his limit."

"Here's Gee-Woa, the Yorkshireman."

"Looks an old-fashioned sort."

"He can jump a haystack and stay all day; but he can't get a move on."

"If there's grief enough he might get home, though."

"There's Kingfisher. The West-country crack. Bay and two white ducks."

Last but one came Four-Pound-the-Second with his little fair jockey up.
The horse was so big, and the jockey so small, that a laugh went up as
the pair came by.

"What's this in green, then?"

"Old Mat's horse. Four-Pound-the-Second. Ten stun."

"Anything known of him?"

"Won a small race at Lingfield."

"Who's riding?"

"One o' the Putnam lads. Carries his prayer-book in his pocket. Mar
makes 'em--for luck!"

"He can foot it."

"I'd like to see a walkin'-race between that mare and the big un. What's
his price?" He leaned over to the ring below and asked.

"Twenties," came the answer.

Jaggers heard and nudged Ikey.

The Putnam horse marched by, blowing his nose, and in front of the Grand
Stand gave a playful little buck as much as to say: "I would if I could,
but I won't."

Then Chukkers swung round and led the horses back to the
starting-point.

"Only one thing I wish," muttered Old Mat in his companion's ear. "I
wish there'd been rain in the night. Twelve-stun-three'd steady Miss
Mustang through the dirt."

"Our horse has got a little bit in hand," replied the young man.

"You're right, sir," answered the other.

The gossip came and went about the pair. Neither heard nor indeed heeded
it. The old man was easy, almost nonchalant; the young man quiet and
self-contained.

The horses drew up to the right, their backs to the Grand Stand, a long,
swaying line of silken jackets shimmering in the sun.

Old Mat's face became quietly radiant.

"Pretty, ain't it?" he said. "Like a bed o' toolups swaying in the wind.
I wish Mar could see that. Worst o' principles, they cuts you off so
much."

He raised his glasses.

"Where's Chukkers? Oh, I see. In the middle, and his buffer-hosses not
too fur on eether side of him. That's lucky for Chukkers. One thing, my
little baa-lamb'll take a bit o' knockin' out."

"Where is he?" asked Silver.

"Away on the right there," answered the old man. "Doin' a cake-walk on
the next hoss's toes."

There was very little trouble at the post. The starter got his field
away well together at the first drop of the flag.

Only one was left, and that was green.

The great horse who had been sparring with the air as the flag fell came
down from aloft and got going a long six lengths behind the field.

Neither he nor his rider seemed the least concerned.

"That's my little beauty," muttered Old Mat. "He'll start his own time,
he will. Maybe to-day; maybe to-morrow; maybe not at all. One thing,
though: he _has_ started."

The brown horse was pulling out to the right to lie on the outside.

The old trainer nodded approvingly.

"That's right, my boy," he said. "You let 'em rattle 'emselves to bits,
while you lays easy behind. There'll be plenty o' room in front in a
moment or two."

An old hand in a white top-hat just in front turned round.

"That lad o' yours rides cunning, Mr. Woodburn," he said.

"He's a fair card, he is," replied the old man enigmatically.

"Was it deliberate?" asked an ingenious youth.

"Who shall say, my son?" replied the old trainer. "Only the grass-'opper
what walketh the tiles by night--same as the Psalmist says."

The scramble and scrimmage at the first few fences resulted in plenty of
grief. Jockeys were rising from the ground and running off the course,
and loose horses were pursuing their perilous way alone.

Behind the first flight, in the centre of the course, showed conspicuous
the Star-spangled Jacket of the favourite.

Chukkers, too, was taking his time, running no risks, his eyes
everywhere, calculating his chances, fending off dangers as they loomed
up on him one after the other. He was drawing in to the rails on his
left flank for security from cannoning horses.

The first few fences behind him, the danger of a knock-out would be
greatly lessened. Till then it was most grave. Chukkers was aware of it;
so were the tens of thousands watching; so were his stable-mates.

As Chukkers crossed to the rails Jackaroo, who lay in front on the
inside, drew away to let the favourite up under his lee.
Flibberty-gibbet, on the other hand, the second Dewhurst horse, had been
bumped at the first fence, and pecked heavily on landing. Little Boy
Braithwaite in the canary jacket had been unshipped, and was scrambling
about on his horse's neck. He lay now a distance behind. Chukkers was
signalling furiously with his elbow for the boy to come up on his right;
and he had cause.

For Kingfisher, the West-country horse, riderless and with trailing
reins, was careering alongside him like a rudderless ship in full sail.

For two fences the loose horse and the favourite rose side by side; and
the watchers held their breath.

Then the bay began to close in.

Chukkers turned and screamed over his shoulder. Rushton on Jackaroo
still two lengths in front looked round and saw he could do nothing.

Little Boy Braithwaite, who had at last recovered his seat, came up like
thunder on the quarters of the mare. The lad drove the filly at the
loose horse and rammed him in the flank.

A groan went up from the assembled thousands.

"Good boy!" roared the Americans.

"Dead boy, ye mean," muttered Old Mat. "He's got it."

Horse and boy went down together in headlong ruin. Flibberty-gibbet rose
with difficulty and limped away with broken leg and nodding head. The
boy rolled over on his face and lay still under the heavens, his canary
jacket like a blob of mustard on the green.

The women in the crowd caught their breath.

"Yes, he's done," muttered Mat, "Saved the Three J's a quarter of a
million, though."

"But she's through," commented Silver.

"Don't you believe it," grumbled the old man.

The sacrifice, indeed, seemed to have been in vain. Kingfisher staggered
under the shock, recovered, and came sailing up once more, as it might
have been deliberately, alongside the mare.

Chukkers leaned far out and slashed the oncoming bay across the face;
and the crowds on the Embankment and in the saloon-carriages on the
railway heard distinctly the swish-swish of the falling whip.

A groan of satisfaction went up from the taut onlookers. Chukkers's
action had cleared him. Indeed he had killed two birds with one stone,
and nearly a third. Kingfisher shied away over the course and crossed
the path of Gee-Woa, who was going steady on the right. Both horses went
down. Surging along behind the Yorkshireman, calm and unconcerned by the
flurry and rush and confusion in front, came a great brown horse, the
last of the galloping rout. He flew the ruin of men and horses broadcast
before him on the grass, bounced twice, as Old Mat said, and cleared the
fence in front with a foot to spare.

"Double!" roared the crowd, applauding horse and horseman alike.

Jim Silver sighed.

"Nearly bounced you, Mr. Woodburn," said the White Hat in front. "That
lad of yours can ride."

"Bounce is the boy," answered the old man. "Nothing like it. Now there's
more room."

"Where's Miss Woodburn?" asked the garrulous White Hat.

"In heaven, my lord, I 'opes," answered the other, wiping his eye.

The old gentleman looked foolish and made a face.

"Oh, dear. I'm sorry. I hadn't heard."

"No 'arm done, sir," replied the trainer gently. "These things will
'appen. Seems we're most of us mortal when our time comes." He adjusted
his glasses. "Yes. Mare's through now. Layin' down to it nice."

Indeed, the troubles of the favourite were over for the present. Either
Jackaroo was coming back to her, or she was coming up with the old
horse. The star-spangled jacket and the purple and gold were together,
the mare lying between the rails and her stable-companion.

As the field swung left-handed and passed parallel to the Grand Stand on
the far side of the course, the light-weights were still well together
in front and bunched like a covey of partridges. Then came the favourite
and her stable-companion, rising fence for fence; after them a chain of
stragglers; and bringing up the rear, rollicking along with his head in
his chest, revelling in his work, the twenty-to-one outsider.

"So far so good," said Mat, "as the man said when he was 'alf-way
through cuttin' his throat."

The American contingent breathed afresh, and the bookies were looking
glum. Once over Beecher's Brook the first time round, with half the
field down, the chance of a knock-out reduced, and Gee-Woa and
Kingfisher grazing peacefully under the Embankment, the favourite's
chances had greatly increased.

True, the gray Moonlighter in the cerise and white was in the lead and
going like a snowstorm; but not a man among the tens of thousands on the
course who did not know that four miles and a half was a mile too much
for the Irishman.

"What price the favourite?" roared the Boys.

"Threes," said the bookies, and gave them grudgingly.

"They're settlin' down to it now," muttered Old Mat. "Favourite's goin'
strong. Gallops like a engine, don't she? I like to see her."

Those who were watching through their glasses marked that a fence before
the Canal Turn the star-spangled jacket and the purple and gold seemed
to be taking council together.

"Goin' to turn on the tap now, you'll see," said the old man.

He was right.

Chukkers, indeed, never varied the way he rode his races on the mare. In
truth, part of his greatness as a jockey lay in the fact that he adapted
his methods to his horse. Very early in his connection with Mocassin he
had discovered the unfailing way to make the most of her. It was said of
him that he always won his victories on her in the first half-mile. That
was an exaggeration; but it was the fact that he invariably sat down to
race at a time when other jockeys were just settling in their saddles.
At Liverpool he always began to ride the mare after Valentine's Brook
first time round, and had beaten his field and won his race long before
he began the second lap.

As it chanced, too, the mare's fiery spirit suited exactly the daring
temperament of the great horseman. The invincible couple waited behind
till the ranks began to thin and then came through with the hurricane
rush that had become famous. A consummate judge of pace, sure of
himself, sure of his mount, Chukkers never feared to wait in front; and
the mare, indeed, was never happy elsewhere. Once established in the
pride of place, the fret and fever left her, she settled down to gallop
and jump, and jump and gallop, steady as the Gulf Stream, strong as a
spring-tide, till she had pounded her field to pieces.

The thousands waiting for the Mocassin rush were not disappointed.

The turn for home once made, and Valentine's Brook with its fatal drop
left behind, the mare and her stable-mate came away like arrows from the
bow.

She lay on the rails, her guardian angel hard on her right.

Jackaroo might be old, but he was still as good a two-miler as any in
England.

The pair caught their horses one after one and left them standing; and
the roar of the multitude was like that of the sea as the defeated host
melted away behind.

At last only the Irish horse refused to give place to the importunate
pair. Twice they challenged, and twice the gray shook them off. They
came again; and for a while the star-spangled jacket, the purple and
gold, the cerise and white, rose at their fences like one.

The Irish division were in screaming ecstasies.

Then the roar of New England, overwhelming all else, told that the mare
was making good.

Moonlighter's jockey saw he was beaten for the moment at least and took
a pull.

As Mocassin's swift bobbing head swung round the corner on to the
straight, she was alone save for her stable-companion, and his work was
done.

"He's seen her through," muttered Old Mat. "Now he can go home to bed."

Indeed, as Jackaroo sprawled down the straight, still hanging to the
quarters of the mare, he looked like a towel-rail on which wet clothes
had been hung, and Rushton had ceased to ride.

The mare, fresh as the old horse was failing, came along in front of the
Grand Stand, clipping the grass with that swift, rhythmical stroke of
hers and little fretful snatch at the reins, neat and swift and strong
as a startled deer.

Chukkers sat still and absorbed as a cat waiting over a mouse's hole.

All eyes were on him. Nothing else was seen. His race was won. Last
year's defeat had been avenged. America had made good. A roar as of an
avalanche boomed and billowed about him. The thousands on the stands
yelled, stamped and cooeyed.

"Hail, Columbia!" bellowed the triumphant Boys.

"Stand down, England!"

"What price the Yankee-doodlers?"

"Who gives the Mustang best?"

In that tumult of sound, individual voices were lost. The yells of the
bookies were indistinguishable. Men saw things through a mist, and more
than one woman fainted.

Then through the terrific boom came the discordant blare of a megaphone,
faint at first but swiftly overbearing the noise of the tempest.

"Watch it, ye ----!" it screamed. "He's catchin' ye!"

It was the voice of Jaggers.

The thousands heard and hushed. They recognised the voice and the note
of terror in it.

Chukkers heard, too, turned, and had a glimpse of a green jacket surging
up wide on his right.

There was the sound of a soughing wind as the crowd drew its breath.

What was this great owl-like enemy swooping up out of nowhere?

Chukkers, his head on his shoulders, took the situation in.

What he saw he didn't like.

The mare was going strong beneath him, but the brown horse on his
quarter was only beginning: so much his expert eye told him at a glance.
Four-Pound-the-Second was coming along like a cataract, easy as an eagle
in flight; his great buffeting shoulders were sprayed with foam, his
gaping nostrils drinking in oceans of air and spouting them out again
with the rhythmical regularity of a steam-pump; and his little jockey
sat on his back still as a mouse--a pale face, a gleam of fair hair, and
two little brown fists that gave and took with each stride of the
galloping horse.

Chukkers was not the only one who seized the situation.

The bookies absorbed it in a flash--the outsider's form, the jockey's
colours, the significance of both. It was Old Mat's horse--Old Mat who
had sprung surprises on the ring so often in his time. Rumour had always
said that the horse was by Berserker. Then they had disbelieved.
Now--well, he looked it.

Suddenly the ring went mad.

"Six to four the favourite!" the bookies roared. "Seven to four on the
field!"

The English, too, woke to the fact that they had a champion at last. A
thirst for vengeance, after all they had endured at the hands of the
contumelious foe, carried them away. They stood up and howled. The
Americans, who had seen the cup of victory brought to their lips and
snatched away again, roused by the threat to their favourite, responded
wrathfully. Roar answered roar; New England thundered against Old.

Chukkers, as always, had steadied the mare after her rush. Now he
changed his tactics to meet the new situation. As the horses made for
the water, the mare on the rails, and the outsider wide on the right,
Chukkers began to nibble at her. The action was faint, yet most
significant.

"He ain't _ridin'_," muttered Old Mat, watching closely through his
glasses--"not yet. I won't say that. But he's spinnin' her."

Indeed it was so. The crowd saw it; the Boys, gnawing their thumbs, saw
it; the bookies, red-faced from screaming, saw it, too.

The crowd bellowed their comments.

"She's held!"

"The mare's beat!"

"Brown's only cantering!"

"She's all out!"

In all that riot of voices, and storm of tossing figures, two men kept
calm.

Old Mat was genial; Silver still, his chest heaving beneath his folded
arms.

"Like a hare and a greyhound," muttered the old man, apt as always.

"Got it all to themselves now," said Silver. "And the best horse wins."

"Bar the dirty," suggested the trainer.

The warning was timely.

[Illustration: AINTREE: Plan of Course]

Just before the water Rushton pulled out suddenly right across the brown
horse.

It was a deliberate foul, ably executed.

The crowd saw it and howled, and the bookmakers screamed at the
offending jockey as he rode off the course into the Paddock.

"Plucky little effort!" shouted Old Mat in Silver's ear. "He deserved to
pull it off."

No harm, in fact, had been done.

Four-Pound-the-Second had missed Jackaroo's quarters by half a length;
but the big horse never faltered in his stride, charging on like a
bull-buffalo, and rising at the water as the mare landed over it.

The old man dropped his glasses, and settled back on his heels.

"What next?" he said.

"Can't do much now, I guess," answered Silver comfortably.

Old Mat turned in his lips.

"Watch it, sir," he said. "There's millions in it."

As the favourite and the outsider swept away for the second round in a
pursuing roar, the width of the course lay between them. The mare hugged
the rails; the brown horse swung wide on the right.

"You're giving her plenty of room, Mr. Woodburn," said the White Hat in
front.

"Yes, my lord," Mat answered. "'Don't crowd her,' I says. 'She likes a
lot o' room. So do Chukkers.'"

Just clear of the course outside the rails, under the Embankment, a
little group of police made a dark blue knot about the stretcher on
which Boy Braithwaite had been taken from the course. As the brown horse
swept hard by the group a blob of yellow thrust up suddenly above the
rails amid the blue. It was too much even for Four-Pound. He shied away
and crashed into his fence. Only his weight and the speed at which he
was travelling carried him through. A soughing groan went up from the
Grand Stand, changing to a roar, as the great horse, quick as a goat,
recovered himself and settled unconcernedly to his stride again.

"Riz from the dead to do us in," muttered Old Mat. "Now he's goin' 'ome
again," as the blob of yellow collapsed once more. "P'raps he'll stop
this time."

"I think it was an accident," said Silver.

"I know them accidents," answered Old Mat. "There's more to come."

For the moment it seemed to the watchers as if the mare was forging
ahead; and the Americans took heart once again. But the green jacket and
the star-spangled rose at Beecher's Brook together; and the young horse,
as though chastened by his escape, was fencing like a veteran.

As the horses turned to the left at the Corner, something white detached
itself from the stragglers on the Embankment and shot down the slope at
the galloping horses like a scurry of foam.

"Dog this time," grunted Old Mat, watching through his glasses.
"Lurcher, big as a bull-calf."

Whatever it was, it missed its mark and flashed across the course just
clear of the heels of the Putnam horse. He went striding along,
magnificently unmoved.

Old Mat nodded grimly.

"You can't upset my little Fo'-Pound--bar only risin's from the dead,
which ain't 'ardly accordin' not under National Hunt Rules anyway," he
said. "If a tiger was to lep in his backside and chaw him a nice piece,
it wouldn't move _him_ any."

Many on the Grand Stand had not marked the incident. They were watching
now with all their eyes for a more familiar sensation.

Chukkers was leaving the rails to swing for the Canal Turn.

The Englishmen and bookies, their hands to their mouths, were screaming
exhortations, warnings, advice, to the little fair jockey far away.

"Canal Turn!"

"Dirty Dago!"

"The old game!"

"Watch him, lad!"

"His only chance!"

"Riding for the bump!"

Old Mat paid no heed.

"Mouse bump a mountain," he grunted. "But Chukkers won't get the
chance."

And it seemed he was right.

The fence before the Turn the brown horse was leading by a length and
drawing steadily away, as the voices of the triumphant English and the
faces of the Americans proclaimed.

Mat stared through his glasses.

"Chukkers is talkin'," he announced. "And he's got somefin to talk about
from all I can see of it."

Any danger there might have been had, in fact, been averted by the
pressing tactics of the Putnam jockey.

The two horses came round the Turn almost together, the inside berth
having brought the mare level again.

Side by side they came over Valentine's Brook, moving together almost
automatically, their fore-legs shooting out straight as a cascade, their
jockeys swinging back together as though one; stride for stride they
came along the green in a roar so steady and enduring that it seemed
almost natural as a silence.

Old Mat shut his glasses, clasped his hands behind him, and steadied on
his feet.

"Now," he said comfortably. "Ding-dong. 'Ammer and tongs. 'Ow I likes to
see it."

He peeped up at the young man, who did not seem to hear. Silver stood
unmoved by the uproar all around him, apparently unconscious of it. He
was away, dwelling in a far city of pride on heights of snow. His spirit
was in his eyes, and his eyes on that bobbing speck of green flowing
swiftly toward him with sudden lurches and forward flings at the fences.

All around him men were raging, cheering, and stamping. What the bookies
were yelling nobody could hear; but it was clear from their faces that
they believed the favourite was beat.

And their faith was based upon reality, since Chukkers for the first
time in the history of the mare was using his whip.

Once it fell, and again, in terrible earnest. There was a gasp from the
gathered multitudes as they saw and understood. That swift, relentless
hand was sounding the knell of doom to the hopes of thousands.

Indeed, it was clear that Chukkers was riding now as he had never ridden
before.

And the boy on the brown never moved.

Three fences from home Chukkers rallied the mare and called on her for a
final effort.

Game to the last drop, she answered him.

But the outsider held his own without an effort.

Then the note of the thundering multitudes changed again with dramatic
suddenness. Hope, that had died away, and Fear, that had vanished
utterly, were a-wing once more. In the air they met and clashed
tumultuously. America was soaring into the blue; England fluttering
earthward again. And the cause was not far to seek.

The boy on the brown was tiring. He was swaying in his saddle.

A thousand glasses fixed on his face confirmed the impression.

"Nipper's beat for the distance!" came the cry.

"Brown horse wins! Green jacket loses!"

The Grand Stand saw it. Chukkers saw it, too. His eyes were fixed on his
rival's face like the talons of a vulture in his prey. They never
stirred; they never lifted. He came pressing up alongside his
enemy--insistent, clinging, ruthless as a stoat. Silver could have
screamed. That foul, insistent creature was the Evil One pouring his
poisonous suggestions into the ears of Innocence, undoing her,
fascinating her, thrusting in upon her virgin mind, invading the
sanctuary, polluting the Holy of Holies, seizing it, obsessing it.

And the emotion roused was not peculiar to the young man alone. It
seemed to be contagious. Swift as it was unseen, it ran from mind to
mind, infecting all with a horror of fear and loathing.

"He's swearing at him!" cried the White Hat, aghast.

"B---- shame!" shouted another.

"Tryin' to rattle the lad!"

And a howl of indignation went up to the unheeding heavens.

To Silver it was no longer a race: it was the world-struggle, old as
time--Right against Wrong, Light against Dark. He was watching it like
God; and, like God, he could do nothing. His voice was lost in his
throat. Outwardly calm, he was dumb, tormented, and heaving like a sea
in travail. A tumult of waters surged and trampled and foamed within
him.

Then the nightmare passed.

The boy on the brown rallied; and, it seemed, a fainting nation rallied
with him.

He steadied himself, sat still as a cloud for a moment, and then stirred
deliberately and of set purpose.

He was asking his horse the question. There was no doubt of the reply.

Four-Pound shot to the front like a long-dammed stream.

His vampire enemy clung for a desperate moment, and then faded away
behind amid the groans of his maddened supporters and the acclamations
of the triumphant Englishmen.

"Got her dead to the world!" cried Old Mat, a note of battle resounding
deeply through his voice. "What price Putnam's now!" And he thumped the
rail.

But the end was not even yet. The great English horse came moving like a
flood round the corner and swooped gloriously over the last fence.

The roar that had held the air toppled away into a sound as of a
world-avalanche, shot with screams.

The jockey in green had pitched forward as his horse landed.

He scrambled for a moment, and somehow wriggled back into his
seat--short of his whip.

The Grand Stand became a maelstrom.

Men were fighting, women fainting. The Americans were screaming to
Chukkers to press; the English yelling to the nipper to ride--for the
Almighty's sake.

The brown horse and his jockey came past the Open Ditch and down the
straight in a hurricane that might not have been, so little did either
heed it.

The little jockey was far away, riding as in a death-swoon, his face
silvery beneath his cap. His reins were in both hands, and he was
stirring with them faintly as one who would ride a finish and cannot.

"That's a little bit o' better," said Old Mat cheerfully, preparing to
move. "My little Fo'-Pound'll see us 'ome."

And indeed the young horse, with the judgment of a veteran who knows to
a yard when he may shut up, had eased away into a canter, and broke into
a trot as he passed the post.



CHAPTER XLIX

The Last Card


Chukkers was beaten out of sight. The Oriental in him blurted to the
top. He lost his head and his temper and began to butcher his mount.

As he drove the mare down the run home, foaming and bloody, he was
flaying her.

The Americans had all lost money, some of them fortunes: that didn't
matter so much. Their idol had been beaten fair and square: that
mattered a great deal. But she was still their idol, and Chukkers had
butchered her before their eyes.

And he was Chukkers!--the greaser!

They rose up in wrath like a vast, avenging cloud, and went raving over
the barrier on to the course in tumultuous black flood. The ruck of
beaten horses, bobbing home one by one, crashed into them. The mob,
without regard for its shattered atoms, moved on like one. A roaring sea
of humanity swung on its blind way. Above the dark waters jockeys in
silken jackets and on sweating thoroughbreds drifted to and fro like
helpless butterflies. While in contrast to these many-coloured creatures
of faerie, the great-coated and helmeted police in blue, on horses,
hairy and solid as themselves, butted their way through the clamorous
deeps, as they made for the rock round which the angry waves were
breaking.

They had their work cut out, and used their bludgeons with a will.

Round the man upon the beaten favourite the mob swirled and screamed
like a hyena-pack at the kill.

Chukkers was a brute; but to do him justice he was not a coward.

The high-cheeked Mongolian, yellow with anger and chagrin, was using his
whip without mercy.

The hub-bub was as of a battle the most horrible, for there were women
in it, screaming for blood.

"Lynch him!" came the roar.

"Pull him off!"

"Trample him!"

"Stick him with this!"

Monkey Brand, who had suddenly come to life, had hold of the winner,
sweating, amiable, entirely unmoved by the pandemonium around, and was
leading him away into the Paddock through the outskirts of the howling
mob.

The crowd was too maddened to pay attention to the little man and his
great charge. Those who were not bent on murdering Chukkers were
absorbed in watching those who were.

Old Mat, trotting at Silver's side, was chuckling and cooing to himself
like a complacent baby, as the pair descended the Grand Stand and made
for the Paddock.

"Yes," he was saying, "my bankers'll be please--very please, they will.
And good cause why. That's a hundud thousand quid, Mr. Silver, in my
pocket--all a-jinglin' and a-tinglin'. 'Ark to em!--like 'erald angels
on the go." He paused, touched the other's arm, and panted huskily:
"Funny thing! A minute since it was in the h'air--ewaporated, as the
sayin' is. Now it's here--froze tight." He slapped his pocket. "Makes
the 'ead to think and the 'eart to rejoice, as the Psalmist said on much
a similar occasion. Only we'd best not tell Mar. Wonderful woman, Mar,
Mr. Silver, and grows all the while more wonderfulerer. Only where it is
is--there it is." He lifted his rogue-eye to the young man's face and
cried in an ecstasy of glee. "Oh, how glorioushly does the wicked
flourish--if only so be they'll keep their eyeballs skinned!"

At the gate the White Hat stopped him.

"So you've got up on 'em again, Mr. Woodburn," he said.
"Congratulations, Mr. Silver."

On the course the pair ran into Monkey Brand, leading the winner home.

"Here, sir!" he cried, seeming excited for the first time in his life.
"All O.K. Bit giddified like. That's all. Take the horse. The Three J's
mean business, I tell ye. I must be moving."

Silver looked up at the little jockey perched aloft upon the brown.

"All right?" he asked keenly.

The other, whose peaked cap was drawn far over his eyes, nodded down
through the tumult, saying no word.

At the moment Jaggers ran past, trying to get at his jockey. Joses,
slobbering at the mouth, was shouting in the trainer's ear.

Both men plunged into the vortex.

"Easy all!" came Jaggers's priest-like voice. "Give him a chance, boys.
We aren't beat yet."

"Win, tie, or wrangle!" muttered Old Mat. "That's the Three J's all
right."

The mounted police were shepherding Chukkers off the course into the
Paddock. There was murder in his face. He swung about and showed his
yellow fangs like a mobbed wolf at the pack baying at his heels.

Once inside the Paddock he was just going to dismount, when Jaggers,
Joses, and Ikey Aaronsohnn rushed at him and held him on.

"Stick to her!" screamed Joses.

The little group drifted past Old Mat and Jim Silver, who was holding
the winner. Four-Pound-the Second's jockey had already disappeared into
the weighing-room.

"Ain't done yet," screamed the jockey vengefully as he passed.

"You're never done," said Silver quietly, as he stroked the muzzle of
the reeking brown. "Never could take a licking like a gentleman!"

The jockey, beside himself, leaned out toward the other.

"Want it across the ---- mug, do ye, Silver?" he yelled. "One way o'
winnin'!"

"Come, then, Mr. Woodburn. This won't do!" cried Jaggers austerely as he
passed.

"Of course it won't," answered Old Mat. "Dropped a rare packet among
you, ain't you? Think you're goin' to let that pass without tryin' on
the dirty?"

The White Hat leaned down from the Grand Stand.

"What's the trouble, Mr. Jaggers?" he cried.

"Miss Woodburn rode the winner, my lord," answered the trainer at the
top of his voice.

The words ran like a flame along the top of the crowd.

They leapt from mouth to mouth, out of the Paddock, on to the course,
and round it. And where they fell there was instant hush followed by a
roar, in which a new note sounded: _All was not lost._ The Americans,
cast down to earth a moment since, rose like a wild-maned breaker
towering before it falls in thunder and foam upon the beach. There was
wrath still in their clamour; but their cry now was for Justice and not
for Revenge.

John Bull had been at it again. The fair jockey was a girl. Some had
known it all along. Others had guessed it from the first. All had been
sure there would be hanky-panky.

As they came shoving off the course into the Paddock, and heaved about
the weighing-room, the howl subdued into a buzz as of a swarm of angry
bees.

The thousands were waiting for a sign, and the growl that rose from them
was broken only by groans, cat-calls, whistles, and vengeful bursts of

          _Hands off and no hanky-panky!_

Old Mat, Jim Silver, and the great horse stood on the edge of the
throng, quite unconcerned.

Many noticed them; not a few essayed enquiries.

"Is your jockey a gal, Mr. Woodburn?"

"So they says," answered Old Mat.

"Where's Miss Woodburn then?"

"Inside, they tell me."

He nodded to the door of the weighing-room, which opened at the moment.

In it, above the crowd, appeared the jockey with the green jacket, his
cap well over his eyes.

There was an instant hush. Then English and Americans, bookies and
backers, began to bawl against each other.

"Are you a gal?" screamed some one in the crowd.

"No, I ain't," came the shrill, defiant answer.

The voice did not satisfy the crowd.

"Take off your cap, Miss!" yelled another.

"Let's see your face!"

Joses, who was standing by the steps that led up to the weighing-room,
leapt on to them and snatched the cap from the jockey's head.

He stood displayed before them, fair-haired, close-cropped, shy, and a
little sullen.

There was a moment's pause. Then divergent voices shot heavenward and
clashed against each other.

"It is!"

"It's her!"

"That's Miss Woodburn!"

"No, it ain't!"

Words were becoming blows, and there were altercations everywhere, when
the Clerk of the Scales appeared on the steps and held up his hand for
silence.

"Where _is_ Miss Woodburn?" he called.

The words confirmed suspicion, and brought forth a roar of cheering from
the Americans.

"Here, sir!" panted a voice.

Monkey Brand was forcing his way through the crowd, heralded by the
police. Behind him followed a slight figure in dark blue.

"Is that Miss Woodburn?" called the Clerk.

"Yes," replied a deep voice. "Here I am."

"Would you step up here?"

The girl ran up the steps, and took her place by the little jockey.
Whoever else was disconcerted, it was not she.

A sound that was not quite a groan rose from the watching crowd and died
away.

The girl gave her hand to the jockey.

"Well ridden, Albert," she said, and in the silence her words were heard
by thousands.

The lad touched his forehead, and took her hand sheepishly.

"Thank you, Miss," he answered.

Then the storm broke, and the bookies who had made millions over the
defeat of the favourite led the roar.

There was no mistaking the matter now. The Boys had been sold again.

The rougher elements amongst Ikey's Own sought a scape-goat.

They found him in Joses.

Chukkers came out of the weighing-room and deliberately struck the fat
man. That started it: the crowd did the rest.

Old Mat and Jim Silver waited on the outskirts of the hub-bub.

The American Ambassador and his tall dark daughter stood near by.

"What stories they tell," said the great man in his gentle way.

"Don't they, sir?" answered Old Mat, wiping an innocent blue eye. "And
they gets no better as the years go by. They saddens me and Mar. They
does reelly."

Boy Woodburn, making her way through the crowd, joined the little group.

"Congratulations, Miss Woodburn," said the Ambassador's daughter shyly.
"The best horse won."

The fair girl beamed on the dark.

"Thank you, Miss Whitney," she answered. "A good race. You were giving
us a ton of weight."

Perhaps the girl was a little paler than her wont; but there was no
touch of lyrical excitement about her. Outwardly she was the
least-moved person in the Paddock.

Jim Silver's eyes were shining down on her.

"Well," he said.

She led away. He followed at her shoulder, the horse's bridle over his
arm.

"You've won your hundred thousand," she said.

His eyes were wistful and smiling as they dwelt upon her figure that
drooped a little.

"Hadn't a bean on," he said.

She did not seem surprised.

Her hand was on the wet neck of the horse, her eyes on her hand.

Then she raised them to his, and they were shining with rainbow beauty.

"I know you hadn't," she said.

Her hand touched his.

       *       *       *       *       *

Close by them a black mass was seething round something upon the ground.

"That's Joses," she said. "Stop the worry, will you?--and send Monkey
Brand to take the horse."

Jim Silver turned. Somewhere in the middle of that tossing mass was a
human being.

Using his strength remorselessly, the young man broke his way through.
By the time he reached the centre of the maelstrom the police had
cleared a space round the fallen man.

He lay panting in the mud, a desolate and dreadful figure, his waistcoat
burst open, and shirt protruding, his shock of red hair a-loose on the
ground.

Jim was not the first to get to the fallen man.

Monkey Brand was already kneeling at his side, bottle in hand.

"Oh, my! Mr. Joses, my!" the little jockey was saying. "What you want is
just a drop o' comfort out o' me bottle. Open a little, and I'll pour."

Silver was just in time.

"That'll do, Brand," he said. "I'll see to this. Give me the bottle. You
go to Miss Boy."

A doctor was called in and reported that the fat man's condition was
serious. An ambulance was brought, and Joses removed.

Silver saw it off the ground.

As it came to the gate, Chukkers, on his way to his motor, passed it.

"He deserves all he's got," he said. "He's a bad un."

"He's served you pretty well, anyway," answered Jim angrily.



CHAPTER L

The Fat Man Takes His Ticket


In Cuckmere, that quiet village between the Weald and the sea, in which
there was the normal amount of lying, thieving, drunkenness, low-living,
back-biting, and slander, there dwelt two souls who had fought
steadfastly and unobtrusively for twenty years to raise the moral and
material standards of the community.

One was the vicar of the parish, and the other Mrs. Woodburn. The two
worked together for the common end unknown except to each other and
those they helped.

Mr. Haggard was something of a saint and something of a scholar. Mrs.
Woodburn had been born among the people, knew them, their family
histories, and failings; was wise, tolerant, and liberal alike in purse
and judgment. Her practical capacity made a good counterpoise to the
other's benevolence and generous impetuosity.

When the vicar was in trouble about a case, he always went to Mrs.
Woodburn long before he went to the Duke; and he rarely went in vain.

The parlour at Putnam's had seen much intimate communion between these
two high and tranquil spirits over causes that were going ill and souls
reluctant to be saved. The vicar always came to Putnam's: Mrs. Woodburn
never went to the Vicarage. That was partly because the vicar's wife was
a stout and strenuous churchwoman who cherished a genuine horror of
what she called "chapel" as the most insidious and deadly foe of the
spirit, and still more because Mrs. Haggard was a woman, and a jealous
one at that.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a few days after the National that the vicar made one of his
calls at Putnam's.

"What is it?" asked Mrs. Woodburn in her direct and simple way after the
first greeting.

She knew he never came except on business.

"It's that wretched fellow Joses," he answered. "He's been in some
scrape at the National, I gather, and got himself knocked about. Somehow
he crawled back to his earth. I rather believe Mr. Silver paid his
train-fare and saw him through."

"Is he dying?" asked Mrs. Woodburn.

The vicar replied that the parish nurse thought he was in a very bad
way.

"Is she seeing to him?"

"She's doing what she can."

"We'd better ask Dr. Pollock to go round and look at him," said Mrs.
Woodburn. "Don't you bother any more, Mr. Haggard. I'll see that the
best is done."

She telephoned to the Polefax doctor.

That afternoon he called at Putnam's and made his report.

"He's in a very bad way, Mrs. Woodburn," he said. "Advanced arterial
deterioration. And the condition is complicated by some deep-seated
fear-complex."

The doctor was young, up-to-date, and dabbling in psycho-therapy.

"Fear of death?" asked Mrs. Woodburn.

"Fear of life, I think," the other answered. "He wouldn't talk to me.
And I can't, of course, attempt a mental analysis."

Mrs. Woodburn had no notion what he meant, and believed, perhaps
rightly, that he did not know himself.

"He's been unfortunate," she said.

"So I guessed," answered the young man. "He asked me who sent me, and
when I told him said he'd be grateful if you'd call on him."

"I'll go round."

Toward evening she called at the cottage.

Mrs. Boam showed her up.

Joses lay on a bed under the slope of the roof, his head at the window
so that he could look out.

His face was faintly livid, and he breathed with difficulty.

Mrs. Woodburn's heart went out to him at the first glance.

"I'm sorry to see you like this, Mr. Joses," she said gently. "You
wanted to see me?"

"Well," he answered, "it was _Miss_ Woodburn I wanted to see." He looked
at her wistfully out of eyes that women had once held beautiful. "D'you
think she'd come?"

"I'm sure she will," the other answered reassuringly.

Joses lay with his mop of red hair like a dingy and graying aureole
against the pillow.

"D'you mind?" he asked.

Her eyes filled with kindness. He seemed to her so much a child.

"What! Her coming to see you here?"

"Yes."

She smiled at him in her large and loving way.

"Of course I don't," she said, and added almost archly: "And if I did
I'm not sure it would make much difference."

He found himself laughing.

She moved about the room, ordering it.

Then she returned to Putnam's to seek her daughter.

       *       *       *       *       *

After the National Boy had emerged from the cloud which had long covered
her.

She returned home, radiant and impenitent.

"I've been thinking things over," she said on the morning after her
return. "And I'll forgive you, mother, for your lack of faith."

"Thank you, my dear," replied the other laconically.

"This once," added Boy firmly. "Now, mind!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Woodburn now gave her daughter Joses's message.

The girl said nothing, but visited the cottage next morning.

She stood in the door, firm and fresh, the colour in her hair, the bloom
on her cheeks, and looked at that mass of decaying man upon the bed.

"Are you bad?" she asked, anxious as a child.

"I suppose I'm not very good," he answered.

She snatched her eyes away.

"Well, I congratulate you," he said at last, quietly.

She sought for irony in his voice and eyes, and detected none.

"What on?"

"Your victory."

Her face softened.

"Thank you."

"You deserved to win," continued the other, with genuine admiration.
"You rode a great race. I couldn't have believed a girl could have got
the course if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes." His gaze met hers
quite honestly. "You see I didn't count on the double fake. I knew you
were going to ride as Albert, but I'd quite forgotten the
corollary--that Albert might dress as you. That's where you beat me."

The girl's chest was rising and falling.

"Mr. Joses," she said, "I didn't ride the horse."

His eyes sought hers, dissatisfied, and then wandered to the window.

"Well, well," he said. "We won't argue about it. Anyway, you won."

Boy looked out of the window.

"I _did_ try and deceive you into thinking I was going to ride," she
said with a quake in her voice. "That was partly deviltry and partly to
put you off. I thought if you believed you could get back on us _after_
the race you'd not try it on before. Besides, I could never ride the
course. Three miles was my limit over fences at racing speed when I was
at my best, and that's some years since."

He was quite unconvinced.

"I give you best, Miss Woodburn," he said. "But Albert could never have
ridden that race. Never! It was a good win. And you deserved it. But it
wasn't that I wanted to see you about." He looked round the little room.
"It's not much of a place perhaps, you may think. But there's the
window, and the sight of grass, and cows grazing and folks passing on
the path. And in this house there's Mrs. Boam, and Jenny, and the
pussy-cat. I should miss it." He lifted those suffering eyes of his. "I
don't want to pass what little time I've left in the cage."

"But they won't hurt you now," cried Boy. "They couldn't."

The other laughed his dreadful laughter.

"Couldn't they?" he said. "You don't know 'em. It's the cat-and-mouse
business all the time. I'm the mouse. I've been there."

"But you've done nothing," said Boy.

Joses moved his head on the pillow.

"There's just one thing," he said, dropping his voice. "Mr. Silver's got
a little bit of paper that might make trouble for me."

"But he shall give it up!" cried the girl.

"Will he?" grunted the other.

"Of course he will. He's as kind as kind."

Joses shook a dubious head.

"Men are men," he said. "And when men get across each other they are
tigers."

"He's a tame one," said the girl. "I'll see to that."

"He might be," muttered the other. "In the hands of the right tamer."

Boy went straight back to Putnam's and discovered Mr. Silver smoking in
the saddle-room.

She told him what had passed.

"I know," he said. "Here it is." He produced the bit of paper. "I'll
burn it," and he held it to the bowl of his pipe.

"No!" cried the girl. "Give it me."

She took it straight back to the sick man.

He lit a match and watched it burn with eyes that were almost covetous.

"That's the last of 'em," he said. "Now I shall die in the open like a
gentleman."

He was, in fact, dying very fast.

It did not need Dr. Pollock's assurance to make the girl aware of that.

She longed to help him.

"Would you like to see Mr. Haggard?" she asked awkwardly.

He shook his head, amused.

"He'd come the parson over me."

"I don't think he would."

"He couldn't help it if he was true to his cloth."

"I'm not sure he is," said Boy doubtfully.

"You're the same," he said.

She glanced up at him swiftly.

His eyes were mischievous, almost roguish.

"What d'you mean?"

"You want me to repent."

She coloured guiltily, and he laughed like a boy, delighted with his own
cleverness.

"There's one thing Mr. Haggard might do for me," he said. "Lend me
Clutton Brock's _Shelley_, if he would. He's got it, I know."

The girl made a mental note, wrinkling her brow.

"Shelley's _Clutton Brock_," she said. "I'll remember."

She sat beside his bed. His eyes dwelt on her keen, earnest young face,
and the blue eyes gazing thoughtfully out of the window.

"You're a Philistine," he said at last. "But you're clean. Philistines
are. That's the best of them."

"What's a Philistine?" she asked.

He did not answer her.

"You're the cleanest thing I've met," he continued. "There's a flame
burning in you all the time that devours all your rubbish. Mine
accumulates and corrupts."

"I don't like you to talk like that," said the girl, withdrawing.

"There's only one thing that'll purge me," the other continued.

"What's that?"

"Fire."

The girl's eyes darkened.

"Are you afraid?" she asked swiftly.

"Of Hell with a large H?"

She nodded, and he laughed.

"What I've had I've paid for across the counter and got the receipt
stamped and signed by the Almighty. No, it's not the fires of Hell; it's
the power of the old sun working on my vile body through the ages
that'll renew me with beauty and youth in time. Life's eternal, sure
enough; but not on the lines the parsons tell us."

A little later she rose to go.

He detained her.

"Shall you come and see me again?" he asked her.

She gave him a shy and brilliant smile.

"Rather," she said. "So'll mother."

He kissed her hand, and there was beauty in his eyes.

Next day she called with the book from Mr. Haggard.

Dr. Pollock was coming down the path.

"He's out of pain," he said gravely.

Boy returned to Putnam's and picked some violets.

Then she came back to the cottage.

Mrs. Boam was weeping as she opened.

"May I see him?" said the girl.

"Yes, Miss," answered the other. "We shall miss him, Jenny and me. He
were that lovable."

Boy went upstairs and entered.

Joses was at peace: the dignity of death upon him.

She laid the violets on his breast.



CHAPTER LI

Old Mat on Heaven and Earth


When Old Mat returned home from Liverpool he hung his hat on the peg and
informed Silver that he had undergone conversion--for good this time.

"Nebber no more," he announced solemnly. "I done with bettin'--now I got
the cash. Always promised Mar I'd be God's good man soon as I could
afford it. Moreover, besides I might lose some o' what I made. And then
I might have another backslide." He settled himself in his leather
chair, drew his feet out of his slippers, and his pass-book out of his
pocket.

"It's cash spells conwersion, Mr. Silver," he panted. "I've often seen
it in others, and now I knows it for meself. A noo-er, tru-er and
bootifler h'outlook upon life, as Mr. 'Aggard said last Sunday--hall the
houtcome o' cash in 'and. Yes, sir, if you wants to conwert the world,
the way's clear--_Pay cash down._ That's why these 'ere Socialists are
on the grow; because they talks common-sense. 'It's dollars as does it,'
they says. 'Give every chap a bankin'-account, and you'll see.' What's
Church h'up and h'answer to that? Church says: 'It's all in conwersion.
Bank on conwersion. Cash is but wrath and must that corrupts,' says the
clergy. 'Leave the cash to us,' they says. 'We'll see to that for you,
while you keeps out o' temptation and saves your souls alive.'"

When Mrs. Woodburn told the old man the news about Joses, he received it
gravely.

"Moved on, has he?" he said. "I'm sorry. I shall miss him. I always
misses that sort. Shouldn't feel at home like without some of them
around. Well, Mar, we shall all meet in the yappy yappy land, plea Gob
in his goodness." He burst into a sort of chaunt, wagging his head, and
beating time with his fist--

          "_Ho, won't that be jiy-ful?
          Jam for the fythe-ful._

I wouldn't miss that meetin', Mar, not for all the nuts on Iceland's
greasy mountains, the Psalmist made the song about. I sees it all like
in a wision." His eyes closed, and his hands and feet swam vaguely. "Me
and Monkey o' the one side, and the Three J's o' tother, pitchin' the
tale a treat at tops of our voices." He opened his eyes slowly, ogled
Ma, tapped her knee, winked, and ended confidentially: "One thing, old
dear. I'll lay they'll give Putnam's best same there as here. Now
then!"



CHAPTER LII

Putnam's Once More


It was Sunday morning at Putnam's, and in Maudie's estimation things
were more _comme il faut_ than they had been for long past.

About a fortnight since there had been trouble in the yard during the
night, and after it, for some hours before he went away, the
Monster-without-Manners had been subdued almost to gentlemanliness.

Then two of the fan-tails had been taken ill. Maudie from the top of the
ladder had watched their dying contortions with the cynical interest of
a Roman matron criticizing the death-agonies of a gladiator in the
arena. When after staggering about the fan-tails turned over on their
backs and flopped, Maudie descended from her perch and toyed with them
daintily during their last moments, finally carrying their corpses up
into the loft.

After that, Maudie felt queer herself, and not only from the results of
a stricken conscience. Indeed, but for the urgent and instant
ministrations of Putnam's Only Gentleman she would have followed where
the good fan-tails had gone.

Thereafter, for a space of a week, there had fallen on the yard a
hallowed time of peace very different from the period of oppression and
irritable energy which had preceded it. Maudie attributed the change to
the absence of the Monster-without-Manners who had departed quietly with
the Four-legs there was all the fuss about.

True, both had now returned, but in chastened mood, the result perhaps
of well-deserved affliction experienced in foreign lands.

This morning things were much as of old. The fan-tails puffed and pouted
and sidled on the roofs. Across the Paddock Close came the sound of
church-bells, and from the Lads' Barn the voices of the boys singing a
hymn.

The Bible Class was in full swing.

All the lads were there but one. That one was Albert. He stood in lofty
isolation in the door of the stable, a cigarette in his mouth, his arms
folded and his face stiff with the self-consciousness that had obsessed
him since his ride in the National. Jerry and Stanley, once the friends
of Albert, and now his critics, swore that he never took that look off
even when he went to bed.

"Wears it in his sleep," said Jerry, "same as his pidgearmours."

But the loftiest of us cannot live forever on the Heights of
Make-Believe. And Albert, as he breathed the Spring, and remembered that
no one was by to see, relaxed, became himself, and began to warble not
unmelodiously--

          "_When the ruddy sun-shine
          Beats the ruddy rain,
          Then the ruddy sparrow
          'Gins to chirp again._"

Mr. Silver came out of the house.

Albert straightway resumed his air of a Roman Emperor turned stable-boy.

The other listened to the singing that came from the barn.

"Not inside, then, Albert?" he said.

"No, sir," answered the other. "I leave that to the lads."

Mr. Silver looked at his watch.

"You'd better do a bolt before Miss Boy catches you," he said.

Albert redoubled his frozen Emperor mien.

The other passed into the saddle-room; and Albert revealed the
bitterness of his soul to Maudie on the ladder.

"He's all right now," he told his confidante. "Goin' to start the Bank
again, and all on what I won him. And all the return he can make is to
insultify me. That's the way of 'em, that is."

A door opened at the back, and a rush of sound emerged.

The lads were tumbling out of the Barn.

Boy Woodburn came swiftly into the yard, her troop at her heels.

She marked the truant in the door.

"Well, Albert," she said. "We missed you."

"He's too stuck up wiv 'isself to pray to Gob any more," mocked Jerry,
stopping while the girl went on into the stable.

"He thinks he can do it all on his own wivout no 'elp from no one,"
sneered Stanley. "Albert does."

Albert swaggered forward.

"Say!" he said to Jerry. "Was it you or me won the National?"

"Neever," answered Jerry. "It was Miss Boy."

"Did she ride him, then?" asked Albert.

Jerry shot his face forward. All the other lads were at his back.

"She did then," he said.

Albert was white and blinking, but in complete control of himself.

"Who says so?"

"Everyone. You're a plucky fine actor and a mighty pore 'orseman, Albert
Edward," continued the tormentor.

Albert was a lad of character. He had sworn to his mistress that if he
won the race he would henceforth drop the boy and don the man. And the
sign of his emancipation was to be that never again would he use his
dukes except in self-defence. Now in the hour of trial he was true to
his word.

Happily the strain was relieved, for at the moment Boy, scenting
trouble, came out into the yard. Monkey Brand with her.

Albert approached her.

"Beg pardon, Miss, was it you or me won the National?" he asked. "These
'ere genelmen say it was you."

"It was neither," replied the girl. "It was Four-Pound-the-Second. Come
in with me, Albert. I want to change his bandages."

She reëntered the stable.

Albert followed at a distance, slow and sullen.

Boy entered the loose-box, and Billy Bluff rose to greet her with a
yawn.

The door of the loose-box closed.

The girl bent to her task.

A hand was laid upon her shoulder.

She looked up sharply.

Jim Silver was standing above her, and the door was shut.

"It's you, is it?" she said.

He took her quivering life into his arms.

"Now," she sighed.

She raised her lips, and he laid his own upon them.

"Again," she said with closed eyes.

His own drank in her face.

"You've been a patient old man," she whispered.

"It was worth it," he answered.

"I'll make it so," she said. "Please God!" she added with delightful
inconsequence. "I'm glad you didn't bet."

The great brown horse turned his head and breathed on them.

Boy disengaged, patting her hair. "I'm glad you didn't bet," she
repeated.

"We shall have enough to farm on without that," he said. "And to breed a
few 'chasers."

Her hand was moving up and down the horse's smooth, hard neck.

"I don't want to breed 'chasers," she said.

He laughed softly.

"Don't you?"

"No," she said. "I'm tired of it. I'm like mother. It's all right when
you're quite young. But it doesn't last--if you've got anything in you.
It's froth."

He nodded.

"You're right," he said. "What shall we breed?"

"Shire horses," the girl replied. "Great, strong, useful creatures
that'll work all day and every day--"

"Bar Sunday," he said. "Remember grand-pa, please."

"--without a fuss," she continued, ignoring his impertinence, "shifting
trucks, drawing the plough, and carrying the wheat, and come home tired
of evenings with wet coats and healthy appetites."

"My old love," he said. "You're right, my dear, of course. But he's a
beauty all the same."

"He is that," replied Boy, with a friendly slap.

They left the loose-box, Billy Bluff attending them.

Monkey Brand, his back ostentatiously toward them, was on watch at the
door.

He heard them coming down the gangway and turned shyly.

Then he touched his hat.

The girl took his hand and shook it with a will.

Jim Silver followed suit.

"Very please, Miss, I'm sure," gulped the old jockey.

The little man drew Silver mysteriously aside.

"Only one thing, sir," he said. "That little mistake o' yours about the
copper's nark. I'm goin' to forget _all_ about that now."

"Thank you, Brand," answered Jim earnestly. "We all make mistakes, don't
we?"

"That's right, sir," said Monkey. "Only that's a mistake I never
made--and never would."

Some of the lads were still hanging about the yard. They knew, too.
Maudie knew. Even the fan-tails, splashing in mid-air, were not
deceived.

Albert came forward and ventured a shy and sullen word of
congratulation.

"That hundred thousand you won for me made it possible, no doubt,"
replied Silver gravely.

Albert was still on his pinnacle.

"Very glad to 'elp in such a good cause, sir," he answered. "Only one
thing, if I might make so bold: I 'ope you won't forget young Jerry's
alf-dollar come Christmas. Means a lot to a little feller like that."

The pair passed out into the Paddock Close.

Old Mat and his missus were coming down the hill from church.

The young couple strolled to meet them.

"He's been making amends for what he did amiss at Liverpool, dad has,"
said Mrs. Woodburn comfortably.

Mat lifted a dull eye to the blue.

"Yes," he said. "I put a sovereign in the plate. That should square the
account, de we, accordin' to my reckonin'."

He pursed his lips firmly, almost defiantly, as he looked the heavens in
the face.

A sudden shyness fell on the little group.

Then Boy went to her mother, lifted the old lady's veil, and kissed her.

"Mother," she said.

Mrs. Woodburn took Jim Silver's hand in both of hers, and kneaded it in
just the way her daughter would do in moments of deep emotion.

She said nothing, but her eyes were beautiful.

Old Mat swallowed, touched his hat, and looked away.

"That's a little bit o' better," he muttered to himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

A minute later the old man was walking down the hill, Mrs. Woodburn on
his arm.

The young couple strolled on up the slope.

Boy looked across the Paddock Close to Joses's window.

Mrs. Boam was pulling up the blind, and the sun was pouring in splendid
torrents on to the dead man within.

The girl was glad.

They came to the quiet church.

"Shall we go in?" she said.

"Let's," he answered.

Together they entered the silence and stood looking up toward the Figure
in the dim east window.

Mr. Haggard, in his cassock, was arranging the narcissi on the altar.

As he saw them, he turned and came slowly down the aisle in the quiet.

For Boy it was almost as if the Figure in the window had come to life
and was drawing near to her and Jim.


THE END



THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS GARDEN CITY, N.Y.





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