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Title: The sporting chance
Author: Askew, Claude, Askew, Alice
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The sporting chance" ***









  I. Mostyn Makes his Debût
  II. Mostyn Sees the Derby
  III. Mostyn Accepts a Challenge
  IV. Mostyn is Rebellious
  V. Mostyn Realises his Position
  VI. Mostyn is put on his Mettle
  VII. Mostyn is Surprised
  VIII. Mostyn Entertains a Guest
  IX. Mostyn Makes a Purchase
  X. Mostyn Learns his Error
  XI. Mostyn Makes Reparation
  XII. Mostyn Tells his Love
  XIII. Mostyn Prepares for Battle
  XIV. Mostyn Makes an Enemy
  XV. Mostyn Faces Defeat
  XVI. Mostyn is Tempted
  XVII. Mostyn is Given Another Chance
  XVIII. Mostyn Meets with an Accident
  XIX. Mostyn is Better Understood
  XX. Mostyn Completes his Task




"It may be old-fashioned to drive a coach to the Derby, but I'll be
in my coffin before I'll go down any other way!"  Thus, perpetrating
a characteristic "bull," spoke genial and popular "Old Rory," as he
was known to the best part of the world--Sir Roderick Macphane, to
give him his true title.

A few minutes back he had handed over the ribbons to one of the
grooms, who, with his fellow, was now busily engaged unharnessing the
horses, four fine roans, as handsome a team as the heart of man could
desire.  "Old Rory" was a famous whip, and, in spite of his advancing
years, a good all-round sportsman--a master of hounds, a familiar
figure on the race-course, and as good a judge of horse and dog flesh
as any in the country.  In his younger days he had been an intrepid
rider at the hurdles, an amateur of more than common merit.

There was, perhaps, no more popular man than "Rory" Macphane in the
three kingdoms.  He was laughed at, especially in Parliament, where
he held a seat for an Irish division, because of his quaint sayings
and frequent _faux pas_, but his good nature, charity, and kindness
of heart were admitted on all sides.  They were as palpable as his

Mostyn Clithero, who occupied a seat at the back of the coach
together with his friend and future brother-in-law, Pierce Trelawny,
a nephew of Sir Roderick's, enjoyed the comments of the crowd as the
coach threaded its way to the appointed place opposite the Grand

"That's 'Old Rory,' what owns Hipponous."  How the populace murdered
the colt's name!  "The Derby winner--perhaps!  He's one of the best.
Look at the old sport sitting up there with his back as straight as a
lad's!  Good luck to ye, sir, and good luck to the 'oss!
Hip--Hip--Hipponous!"  This had become a popular catch-word, easily
taken up and repeated.

Sir Roderick smiled a little and nodded now and again, quite
conscious of his popularity and of that of his horse.  It was the
ambition of his life to win the Derby.  He had tried many times and
failed, but on the present occasion it looked as if he stood a good
chance, for Hipponous had won the Middle Park Plate and was second
favourite in the betting.

Sir Roderick stood up on the box, his back turned to the course, and
made a little speech to his guests.  Lady Lempiere, who had occupied
the place of honour by his side, and to whom his first remark had
been addressed, turned too, as in duty bound.  She was a well-known
society dame, no longer young but still reputed for her beauty as
well as for her success upon the turf.  She fixed her eyes, which
were blue and liquid and full of expression, upon Major Molyneux, who
sat directly behind her, and who--or so her eyes seemed to say--might
soon be by her side.  He was her accepted cavalier, and it was an
understood thing that wherever Lady Lempiere was asked Major Molyneux
must also receive his invitation.

"I want you all to understand that ceremony is a non-starter to-day,"
thus spoke Sir Roderick, "and this is to be a go-as-you-please race
for all of you.  There's lunch on the coach for any one at any time
it's asked for, and the ice will give out before the wine does,
though we've got a hundredweight on board.  Bring as many of your
friends as you like; there's enough for all.  Don't worry about me: I
shall probably be in the House--I mean the Paddock"--he corrected
himself with a broad smile--"a place where I'm more in my element,
and occasionally get listened to."  He drew a deep breath as of
relief at a duty performed.  "Since I'm not at Westminster," he
added, "I needn't talk for an hour when all I have to say is just
comprised in two words: good luck!"

The little speech was greeted with laughter and applause, applause in
which none was so vociferous as an individual with a bibulous red
face and a white beard, who had the carefully fostered appearance of
a military man.  This was Captain Armitage, and he occupied the back
seat together with Mostyn Clithero, Pierce Trelawny, and a fourth
man, Anthony Royce by name, who from his manner rather than his
speech gave the impression of being an American.

"I wonder," whispered Mostyn to his friend, "what makes the captain
so particularly demonstrative?"

"The idea that he'll soon get a drink, I expect," was the answer,
spoken in an undertone, although Captain Armitage had turned his back
and was airily waving his hand to his daughter, Rada, who sat on the
front seat, pretending to listen with interest to the conversational
inanities of young Lord Caldershot.

"I guess you're right there," commented Mr. Royce, his sides shaking
with silent laughter.  He had a way of laughing inwardly and without
any apparent reason that was rather disconcerting till one was
accustomed to it; it gave the impression that he was possessed of a
peculiarly selfish sense of humour.  He was an Englishman by birth,
though for the last twenty years he had made his home in the States,
where he had accumulated a great fortune and had become a recognised
power in Wall Street.  He had also gained some reputation as a
traveller--an explorer upon scientific lines of little-known parts of
the world--and he had but recently returned from an expedition of the
sort, an expedition organised and financed by himself, which had,
however, only partially achieved its object.

"Armitage will punish the champagne before the day's through," he
continued in a voice that was agreeably free from nasal twang.  "Look
at him now!"  Captain Armitage had swung himself down from the coach
and could be seen in interested converse with the butler, who had
emerged from its interior.  "He's a curious sort of fellow, is the
captain.  Had a big fortune once, but did it all in on the turf.
Kind-hearted fellows like Rory still keep in with him for the sake of
old times, and because of the girl, who's a character, too, in her
way.  They live in a tumble-down cottage near John Treves's training
stables at Partinborough, in Cambridgeshire.  It was there I first
came across them, for I've a house of my own in the neighbourhood.
The girl"--he nodded his head in the direction of Rada--"has a poor
time of it, and just runs wild.  Armitage brings her to London now
and then and tries to make a dash, showing up at the big race
meetings and putting on a swagger, although heaven alone knows in
what wretched lodgings he hangs out!  He spends most of the time at
his club, and leaves Rada to look after herself.  He manages somehow
to keep a horse or two in training at Treves's, but he's a sponge,
and that's why I warn you two young fellows about him."

It was very clear that Anthony Royce had no liking for the bibulous
captain: nor had Mostyn Clithero, even upon his shorter acquaintance,
and that with good reason.

Mostyn knew nothing about racing; he was a very innocent in all
matters connected with the turf.  Captain Armitage had made this
discovery very early in the day--when the party had met at Sir
Roderick's house in Eaton Square, in fact--and he had proceeded to
amuse himself at the young man's expense, a fact of which Mostyn had
subsequently become uneasily aware.  There was one matter especially
which weighed upon his mind, and now, feeling himself with friends,
he proceeded to unburden himself.

"I think," he said, "that Captain Armitage has been making fun of me.
Is it true that Hipponous won the Waterloo Cup?"

There remained no doubt in Mostyn's mind after he had put that
question, though his two companions let him down as gently as they
could; even, as far as possible, refraining from laughter as they
gave the necessary explanation.

Mostyn flushed indignantly.  "It was too bad of him," he cried; "too
bad.  He came up and talked so amiably that I quite believed all he
said.  Of course, he saw at once that I was a fool.  He asked me if I
could remember what price Hipponous had started at for the Waterloo
Cup.  And later"--his voice trembled--"I asked other people if they
could tell me.  I asked Lord Caldershot, and he just stared at me
through that beastly eye-glass of his and turned away.  And then I
asked Miss Armitage, to whom I had just been introduced.  I couldn't
make out why she laughed at me.  I was a fool to come to the races at
all!" he ended, miserably.

He had come full of enthusiasm, and at a personal risk of which none
but he himself knew the full measure, so his sense of wrong was all
the more acute.  Nor was he easily appeased, though both Pierce
Trelawny and Anthony Royce did their best to make light of the

"It was too bad of Armitage to pull your leg," Royce said feelingly.
"I'll have a word with him on the subject.  But in the meanwhile
forget all about it, my boy, and enjoy your day."

Anthony Royce had shown himself very well disposed towards Mostyn on
the way down, fully appreciative of the young man's enthusiasm as
well as his ignorance, and it was due to him that Captain Armitage,
who had evinced an inclination to continue the "leg-pulling" sport,
had been finally silenced.

It was by Royce's own wish that he had taken a seat at the back of
the coach, giving up his place in the front to the fair-haired youth,
Lord Caldershot, gorgeous with eye-glass and button-hole, who had
immediately appropriated Rada Armitage as his particular property for
the day.  They had already established themselves in the front when
Mostyn clambered up at the back, and they were laughing together,
their eyes turned upon him.  He was sure, even then, that he was the
object of their laughter.  He had taken a dislike to the girl, though
he could have given no reason for the feeling.

For he had recognised--he could not fail to recognise--that Rada was
young--she could not have been much over twenty--high-spirited, and
good to look at.  Unfortunately he was always a little diffident and
shy with strange girls--qualities that were not really natural to
him, but which were the result of his home training--and he had not
shown himself at his best that morning.  Of course, matters had not
been improved when she laughed at him, apparently without cause.
When he mounted the coach his one wish was that the Armitages had
been left out of the party altogether.  He was struck by the contrast
between Royce and the captain.  The former was evidently strong and
masterful, possessed of a will of iron, while the latter was
bombastic, given to swagger, and totally lacking in repose.  He was
never still for a moment: he would shuffle his feet and fidget with
his hands; he would spring up from his seat and then immediately sit
down again; he would wave his arms and strike attitudes.  His voice
was now raised to a shout, now lowered to a whisper, hardly ever even
in tone.  Sometimes he would break out into snatches of song,
particularly aggravating, since it usually occurred when he was being
addressed.  He was one of those men who seldom, even early in the
morning, appear quite sober.

While on the road Armitage would have continued to make fun of
Mostyn, an easy victim, had not Royce quietly intervened.  The big
financier had taken a fancy to the boy, and did not intend to see him

It was unfair, and particularly so because Mostyn had admitted from
the first, and with becoming modesty, that he was totally lacking in
racing experience.  Yet he was obviously enthusiastic, and Anthony
Royce, man of the world, admired the enthusiasm of the tall fair boy
who was so simple and yet so manly withal.  There was something about
Mostyn's eyes, too; but upon this point the American was not yet sure
of his ground.  Mostyn Clithero was risking much that day.  This
jaunt to the Derby was a stolen expedition, undertaken without the
knowledge of his father, and Mostyn knew quite well that when the
truth came out there would be a terrible scene.

John Clithero looked upon the race-course as the devil's playground,
and racing men as the devil's disciples; furthermore, he had sternly
imposed this faith upon his children.

Mostyn had never accepted his father's views, though he did not
dispute them.  He liked horses without understanding them, and he had
a good seat in the saddle, though his opportunities for riding were
few and far between.  It was natural that he should have a more open
mind than either of his two elder brothers, James and Charles, for
they had been brought up at home under their father's influence,
while Mostyn had enjoyed an Eton and Oxford education, this being due
to the intervention of his mother, now dead, who had probably vaguely
realised that her elder sons were developing into prigs.

Mostyn, however, so far had respected his father's prejudices.  He
had never risked a penny in gambling of any sort; he had refused all
invitations to attend race meetings; he had even avoided the theatre,
this because he felt it his duty as his father's son.  It was not an
easy task for him, for his instincts were all towards the natural
enjoyment of life: he was just a healthy-minded, well-intentioned
young Englishman with nothing of the prig about him.  Luckily for
himself he developed a taste for athletics, and so by his prowess on
the river and in the football field he gained respect both at school
and University, and his prejudices were overlooked or readily
forgiven.  Mostyn never confided to anyone, till Pierce came upon the
scene, how irksome these restraints were to him, how his inmost soul
militated against them.

It was after he came down from Oxford and set to work to study for
the Bar that he met Pierce Trelawny.  Pierce was already engaged to
Cicely, Mostyn's sister, though the match had not met with the
unqualified approval of John Clithero, who considered the young man
worldly-minded and fast because he went to theatres and attended
race-meetings; and besides, the whole Trelawny family were
conspicuously sporting.  On the other hand, there was no question as
to the desirability of the engagement from the social and monetary
point of view, and it was to these considerations that Cicely's
father had yielded, seeing nothing unreasonable in this shelving of
his principles in favour of Mammon.  As for Pierce, he was in love
with Cicely, whose nature was akin to that of her brother Mostyn; and
he did not worry his head about the rest of her family, whom he
placidly despised, until he discovered that Mostyn was fashioned in a
different mould.  After that the two young men became firm friends,
and went about a good deal together, though John Clithero looked on
askance, believing that his son was being led astray; indeed, there
had been one or two rather stormy scenes, for a new spirit had been
aroused in Mostyn's breast, a desire to unfurl the standard of revolt.

Then came the great temptation.  Pierce Trelawny had received an
invitation to drive down to the Derby on his uncle's coach, and had
been told that he might take a friend with him.  "Why not bring your
future brother-in-law?" Sir Roderick suggested.  "I mean the lad you
introduced to me in the Park the other day.  Rowed for his college,
didn't he?  Was in the Eton eight, and did well at racquets?  That's
the sort of boy I like--a young sportsman."

"God bless my soul!" the old gentleman cried, when Pierce explained
that Mostyn had never seen a race, and the reason for this neglect.
"I did not know that any sensible people held such views nowadays.
They even wanted to keep us at work at Westminster on Derby day," he
added, with apparent inconsistency, "but I don't look for sense in
the House of Commons!  That's why I went into Parliament."  He meant,
of course, that it was his object to convince his fellow-members of
their folly.

Sir Roderick was returned for one of the divisions of Ulster, and had
held his seat, undisputed, for many years.  He was a Tory of the old
school, staunchly loyal, and to his mind no other views were
admissible.  Politics, therefore, in the sense of party division, did
not exist.  He loathed the very word.  He would say irritably, "Don't
talk to me of politics, I hate 'em--and, besides, there's no such
thing."  His Irishisms and unconscious word contortions contributed
to the amusement of the House as well as to his personal popularity.

"Bring young Clithero, Pierce," he said decidedly.  "It'll do him
good, open his eyes a bit.  He's too fine a lad to have his head
stuffed with such nonsensical ideas.  How old is he, did you say?
Twenty-five?  Well, he's quite old enough to have a will of his own."
All of which was perfectly true, but Sir Roderick, as well as Pierce,
overlooked the fact that Mostyn was utterly dependent upon his father.

As it happened, John Clithero was absent from London when Pierce
conveyed Sir Roderick's invitation to Mostyn, and so he could not be
consulted: the hopeless task of asking his approval could not be
undertaken.  It was open to Mostyn to keep his own counsel: to go to
the Derby on the sly--a course that did not commend itself to his
straightforward nature--or to make confession when his father
returned, which would be two or three days after the Derby had been
run.  Letter-writing was out of the question, too, for John Clithero
was actually on his way home from America, where he had been upon
business.  He was a banker, head of the old established house of
Graves and Clithero, a firm of the highest repute and universally
considered as stable as the Bank of England, all the more so because
of the high standard of morality demanded of all connected with it,
from the partners to the humblest employee.

Mostyn did not hesitate long.  He wanted to see the Derby, and he was
asked to go as the guest of a man who was universally respected.
Only rank prejudice could assert harm in this.  It was time to make
his protest.  And so, the evening before the race, he quietly
announced his intention to his horrified brothers.

"A beastly race-course," sniffed James.  "All the riff-raff of
London.  An encouragement to gambling, drunkenness, and vice."  James
was a perfect type of the "good young man"; than that no more need be

"Just because father happens to be away," remarked Charles; "I
suppose that's your idea of honour, Mostyn."  Charles was always
talking about honour.  He was unhealthily stout, had pasty cheeks and
long yellow hair that lacked vitality.

"I think Mostyn's quite right, and I wish I was going too,"
proclaimed Cicely the rebellious.

And so the wrangle proceeded.  It was distinctly uncomfortable, but
Mostyn was quite determined to abide by his decision.  Nor had he
changed his mind when the next day came.

Owing to the behaviour of Captain Armitage it had not at first been
particularly pleasant for Mostyn upon the coach, but Pierce and Mr.
Royce had come to the rescue, the former engaging the attention of
the captain, while the latter took the boy in hand and explained
certain things that he ought to know about racing.  It was all done
with such infinite tact that Mostyn was soon at his ease, able to
enjoy the fund of anecdote with which Anthony Royce enlivened the
journey, as well as the scenes by the way, the ever-changing
panorama, of which he had read, but which he had never expected to

He spoke little, but his eyes glittered with excitement.  To him it
was as though he was being carried into a new world, a world with
which his soul was in sympathy, but the gates of which had always
been closed.  And yet it was not so strange to him as he had
expected: perhaps in his dreams he had gazed through the gates, or
even travelled down that very road upon a visionary coach that
threaded its way proudly amid the heterogeneous traffic.  So, despite
his ignorance and inexperience, he felt in his element; he was a
sportsman by instinct, so he told himself, and all these years he had
been crushing down his true nature.  Well, it was not too late to
repair the mischief: for now he knew--he knew.

Anthony Royce watched him with kindly appreciative eyes.  There were
moments, though Mostyn was far too absorbed to notice this, when his
broad forehead wrinkled into a frown as he gazed into the young man's
face; it was a peculiar enigmatical frown, suggestive of an effort to
think back into the past, to pierce the veil of years.

Mostyn could hold himself in no longer when the coach had taken up
its place under the hill, and when Sir Roderick, by his little
speech, had discharged his obligation towards his guests.  A few
moments of bustle followed.  Captain Armitage, champagne bottle in
hand, was filling a glass for Lord Caldershot, who was stooping down
from his place upon the coach to take it; Rada was intently studying
a race-card and comparing it with a little pink paper--a paper issued
by some tipster or other; most of the other guests had already
descended and mingled with the crowd.  Among these was Pierce, who
had hurried off after his uncle in the direction of the Paddock.

Mostyn stood up in his place; he was quivering with excitement, all
his nerves seemed on edge.  He stared about him and took in at a
glance the whole wonderful sight--the restless mass of humanity
seething over hill and dale, humanity in all its gradations, from the
coster and his lass to the top-hatted men and smartly-dressed women
who mingled with the throng till they found their centre in the
enclosure and Grand Stand.  The highest in all the land and the
lowest--silk, satin, muslin, rags--Mayfair and Whitechapel--Tom,
Dick, Harry, as alive and playful to-day as in the forties--they were
all there just as Mostyn had read of them many a time.  The white
tents, the extravagantly dressed bookmakers, the itinerant musicians
and jugglers, the gipsies.  He drew a deep breath; he was looking
upon the world!

"I'm glad I came," he cried, forgetting for the moment that he was
not alone.  "For now I know what it is to be alive."

His voice shook.  Anthony Royce laid his hand gently upon the boy's
shoulder.  "I like your enthusiasm," he said, "I understand it.  You
are just making your debût upon a larger stage, and it is a little
overwhelming.  Well, I'll put you through your paces, my boy.  Leave
yourself in my hands and you won't regret it.  I'll guarantee that
your first Derby Day shall not be your last."

Mostyn accepted joyfully.  "You're awfully kind, sir," he said.  "I'm
afraid I should have a poor time by myself, and I don't like to
bother Pierce--besides, he wants to be with Sir Roderick.  It's good
of you to pity my ignorance.  I wonder why you do it?"

Royce made no reply--probably none was expected.  Only that strange
enigmatical smile came once more to his face, and for a moment his
eyes were vacant--again it was as though he were looking back into
the past.

To himself Mostyn muttered: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil



An hour before the big race Mostyn stood in the Paddock, by the side
of his mentor, and pretended to pass a critical eye upon the horses
generally, and upon Hipponous in particular.

The second favourite was a chestnut with three white stockings.  His
mane had been hogged, and he had--for a racehorse--an unusually large
tail.  Tyro as he was, Mostyn could understand the value of the large
roomy flanks and magnificent barrel, and as the colt picked its way
delicately round the circle, sweating slightly from excitement and
glancing intelligently from side to side, it seemed as if he
appreciated the fact that it was Derby Day, and realised the
magnitude of the task before him.

A kaleidoscopic crowd surged round the horse, a crowd that Mostyn
failed to understand till Royce explained that the "open sesame" to
the Paddock could be obtained by the payment of a sovereign, which
accounted for the general rubbing of shoulders and absence of class

Scraps of conversation, indistinctly overheard, amused, astonished,
and perhaps instructed, him.  There was a portly woman with a red
face and a large feather hat, who pushed her way to the front, and
said wheezingly to a thin little man at her side: "'Ullo, 'ere's
Black Diamond."

"No, it ain't," responded her companion.  "Look at the number.
That's 'Ippernouse.  He won the Middle Park Plate when I 'ad a dollar
on 'im, and I'm going to put a couple o' quid on 'im to-day."

"I'll back Black Diamond," returned the fat woman, "because my first
husband kept a small public called the 'Lord Napier' up past the
'Nag's Head' before we were married, and Black Diamond belongs to
Lord Napier, so that's good enough for my money."

They drifted away and their place was taken by a couple of
shrewd-looking club-men in long covert cloaks and bowler hats, with
glasses slung over their shoulders.  Mostyn heard one of them say to
the other in an undertone: "Here's Hipponous.  Look at his
magnificent quarters.  Don't forget to wire off immediately to Cork
if he wins, and tell Dickson that I'll take the colt he has in his
stables, brother to Hipponous, and if he throws the mare in I'll pay
two thousand guineas for the pair."

This was business, and presently Mostyn heard business of another
kind.  "I like the looks of 'Ippernous," said a loudly dressed
individual with white hat and check waistcoat--obviously a
book-maker--to his clerk.  "We can't afford to let him run loose, and
I'll put fifty on for the book."

The remarks, however, were not all appreciative.  There was a tall
man with a vacant stare and a monocle, who was drawling out his
comments to a well-dressed woman at his side.  "Not an earthly, my
dear.  Don't waste your money on Hipponous.  The favourite can't
possibly lose.  Algy told me at the club last night that he had laid
six monkeys to four on it, and if it doesn't come off he'll have to
tap the old man again or send in his papers."

Then again: "What on earth do they call this horse Hipponous for?"
queried a pretty little soubrette, hanging on the arm of a young
gentleman in a very long frock coat, suggestive of the counter.
"Don't know, Ellice," was the reply, "but give me Lochiel, the
fav'rit."  "Oh, no," she urged, "do back Hipponous!  He's got such
pretty colours--scarlet and silver--just like that dress I had last
Christmas for the Licensed Victuallers' Ball."

Finally, there was the comment facetious: "'Ippernous," said a
seedy-looking man with pasty face to the lad who was leading the colt
round, "W'y didn't they call 'im 'Ipperpotamus, an' a' done with it?
A fine lookin' colt, mind yer, but not quite good enough to beat the
fav'rit, 'oo will 'ave the satisfaction of carryin' a couple of
Oxfords for Jim Simson of Kemberwell."

Mostyn had but a dim understanding of all this, but his heart leapt
within him when Pierce came up, and smiting him cordially on the
back, carried him off to wish good luck to Sir Roderick, who was
standing by the side of his horse in the company of Joseph Dean, the
famous trainer, and of Fred Martin, the jockey, who held the record
of winning mounts for the year before.  Martin wore Sir Roderick's
colours--silver and scarlet--and his little twinkling eyes glittered
as he confided to Mostyn that he was proud to wear them, and that he
had every confidence in his horse--that he hoped to score his fifth
Derby success.

Mostyn felt in the seventh heaven, a privileged being, all the more
so since envious eyes were upon him.  It was all he could do to hold
himself with becoming gravity.  His great desire was to pose as a man
of experience, but, at the same time, there were so many questions he
wished to ask.  And at last his evil genius impelled him to an
ineptitude, one of those blunders that seemed to come so easily to
his tongue: he wanted to know Hipponous's age!  Something in the
jockey's stare as he made answer warned Mostyn of danger, and he
moved away as soon as he dared.

"That's 'Ipponous, ain't it?"  An ungrammatical stranger, who, in
spite of his horsey attire, was evidently but poorly informed, pushed
his way to Mostyn's side.  "A fine horse--what?"

"I should think so," responded the young man heartily.  "An Irish
horse; comes from Sir Roderick Macphane's stables in Ulster.  Trained
by Joseph Dean here at Epsom."  Mostyn felt on safe ground in giving
this information.

"Ah!"  The stranger leered out of the corner of his eye.  "I dessay
you know a bit, what?  I see you talking to Martin just now.  What
does Martin think of his mount?"

"Why, he says"--Mostyn got no further, for luckily at that moment
Anthony Royce appeared, and, laying his hand upon his young friend's
arm gently led him away, very much to the annoyance of the stranger.

"Be careful of affable folk who try to get into conversation with you
on the race-course," was all the reproach that Royce uttered; but
Mostyn felt that he had been about to blunder, and once more
anathematised himself for a fool.

The American did not lose sight of his young _protégé_ again after
that, but devoted himself to his work of instruction.  Mostyn
absorbed knowledge eagerly.  "I asked Martin how old his horse was,"
he was constrained to admit.

Royce's sides shook with silent laughter.  "Never mind," he said.
"You'll know better next time."  Then he went on to explain about
betting, and how easily the market may be affected.  "If you want to
have a bet," he added, "I'll introduce you in the right quarter.  You
can't do better than back Hipponous to win and a place.  He'll start
at four to one.  I don't believe in the favourite, though it's money

But Mostyn shook his head.  "I don't want to bet," he said.
"Gambling doesn't attract me a bit.  It's just the sport of the

And so the time had passed until the course was cleared for the big
race.  Mostyn had remained in the Paddock almost to the last minute,
and then Royce had hurried him back to the coach.  They had remained
close to the railings, however, to see the preliminary canter.

"I don't fancy the favourite," Royce repeated.  "Lochiel may have won
the Guineas, but he's got a devilish uncertain temper.  He'll either
win in a walk or come in with the ruck.  But there's a lot of good
stuff," he continued, as the horses galloped down the course,
followed by the comments of the crowd, "and it promises to be an
uncommonly open race."

Anthony Royce's prophecy was correct.  The race proved an extremely
open one, and moreover it was full of surprises, notably the early
defeat of the favourite and the prowess of a rank outsider.  Lochiel
made a bad start and dropped out long before the horses had come into
the straight, while Peveril, who had hardly been considered at all
and who stood fifty to one in the betting, got away ahead and
maintained his lead almost to the finish.  At Tattenham Corner
Peveril, a lanky, ungainly horse, bestridden by an American jockey
who bore the colours of an unpopular financier, was still, though
almost imperceptibly, in advance.  The jockey, craning forward and
sitting almost upon the horse's neck, was making liberal use of his

Royce took the field-glasses from Mostyn's unconscious hand.
"Peveril, by all that's holy!" he muttered.  "A dark horse.  Is this
one of Isaacson's tricks?"  The next moment he was yelling
"Hipponous!  Come along, Hipponous!" for he had caught the glitter of
the silver as Sir Roderick's horse, almost neck to neck with another,
swept into view.

And now a moment of palpitating silence fell.  Four of the horses
were almost abreast, and another couple only a few paces behind.
Mostyn, standing up upon the coach and straining his eyes, felt his
heart thumping against his chest and his knees knocking together
because of the thrill that ran down his spine.  He wanted to shout,
but he, too, was affected by the spell that had fallen upon that
great throbbing mass of humanity; his tongue clave to the roof of his
mouth; his lips were numb, paralysed.  In a few moments he knew that
he would lend his voice to the great cry that must go up from the
multitude; then would come relief from a strain that was near the
breaking point.

He had no bet upon the race, save for a couple of shares in a
sweepstake that had been organised on the way down; yet, perhaps,
none in that vast throng, however interested, however deeply
involved, felt the emotion of the moment as keenly as Mostyn
Clithero.  It was the awakening of a new sensation, the rousing of a
new passion, something that had been crushed down and was asserting
itself with the greater strength now that it had at last obtained the
mastery.  It was the love of sport for its own sake; Anthony Royce
had seen quite enough of his new friend during the day to realise

The silence broke.  Like an oncoming billow a low mutter, gradually
swelling and rising, went up from the crowd.  Mostyn had the
impression of two vast waves facing each other, arrested in their
onward rush and leaving a clear space between.  He felt himself an
atom amid a myriad of atoms in a turbulent sea: he had been in the
depths, unable to breathe, oppressed by a great weight, but now, as
he rose to the surface, the tension was relaxed, the strain broken.
He could see, he could hear, he was shouting with the rest,
alternately clapping his hands and lifting his hat in the air,
yielding himself absolutely to an excitement which was as new to him
as it was delightful.  Never before had his pulses throbbed so
quickly, his nerves felt so completely on the stretch.

The horses swept by.  It was a fine, a memorable race, a race to live
in the annals of great sporting events.  There was every excuse for
Mostyn's excitement.  His was not the only heart to beat quickly that

Three horses, almost abreast, approached the winning-post.  They were
Peveril, Black Diamond, and Hipponous; a fourth, Beppo, had dropped a
little behind, evidently done.  Peveril was not in favour with the
crowd; it was mainly for Hipponous that the cry went up.  Mostyn
yelled the name of Sir Roderick's colt till he was hoarse.

"Come on Hipponous!  Hip--Hip--Hipponous!"

And at the last moment, just as it seemed that Sir Roderick's hopes
were to be dashed to the ground, Hipponous made a brave spurt.  He
was placed between the other two, his flanks just visible behind
them.  Suddenly these flanks were no longer seen; the three horses
appeared a compact mass, a mass of blended and harmonised colour.
Mostyn seemed to see the silver and scarlet through a yellow mist,
for the sun's rays fell slantingly over the course; they caught the
gold, the pink and the mauve which distinguished the jockeys upon
Peveril and Black Diamond, as well as the silver and scarlet of
Hipponous, blending the whole into a scintillating gold, all the more
vivid for the black background of humanity rising tier upon tier to
the highest level of the Grand Stand.

Which horse, if any, had the lead?  It was impossible to say.

They flashed past the winning post, a gleaming mass of colour.  Three
horses, neck to neck as it seemed to the crowd.  Which had won?  Was
it--could it be--a tie for the three of them?  There was a note of
doubt in the yelling of the mob.

"Peveril--no, Black Diamond!" "I tell yer it was 'Ippernous!  Wait
till the numbers go up!"

Beppo and the other horses which had been well in the running, sped
by in their turn; then came the stragglers with the favourite,
Lochiel, last but one.  A groan of derision went up as he passed; it
was a bad day for his jockey, who happened to be Martin's chief rival.

After that the course became a sea of black, rushing humanity; the
two great waves had broken and the space between them was
annihilated.  And presently there was another roar from the crowd, no
longer of doubt.  The numbers had gone up, and, a little later, the
"all right" was cried.  Hipponous first; Black Diamond and Peveril
tied for second place.  Bravo, Hipponous!  Hurrah for Sir Roderick

Another Derby had been won, and the victory was to the best horse.
Sir Roderick Macphane had realised the ambition of his life, and
Mostyn Clithero had caught the infection of a great passion.  The
latter, no doubt, was but a small event in itself, but the young man
felt vaguely, as he stood there gazing straight before him, though
the race was over, that he had somehow reached a turning point in his



"You enjoyed it?"  Anthony Royce laid his hand on Mostyn's arm and
looked smilingly into his face.  It was palpably a superfluous
question, for Mostyn's appreciation was plainly writ upon every
feature.  He was flushed and his lips were quivering, nor could he
give an immediate answer, finding it hard to struggle back from the
new world in which he had been revelling to the commonplaces of life.

Yet he felt that he was being keenly scrutinised; that those sharp
grey eyes were fixed upon him, taking in every detail of his
appearance, reading him like a book, gauging his emotions, studying,
not only his face but his very soul.  He wondered if he appeared a
fool, and grew hot at the thought.

"It's my first Derby," he said apologetically, taking refuge in a
self-evident fact.  "I have never seen a race before."

"And you enjoyed it?"  Royce repeated his question, rather for the
sake of opening conversation than for any other reason.

"Enjoyed it!"  Mostyn placed a heavy accent upon the first word.
"Why, I don't think I have ever enjoyed anything so much in all my
life.  I haven't been alive till to-day.  Oh!" he cried, clasping his
hands together, and yet half ashamed of giving utterance to such a
sentiment, "how I should like to win a Derby myself!"

Royce laughed, aloud this time.  "Who knows?" he, remarked; "the
future is on the knees of the gods."  Once more his grey eyes
appeared to be reading the young man's face, taking in every detail
of his appearance.

Mostyn Clithero was good to look at, or so the older man was telling
himself, as he wondered if it could be possible that an idea which
had come into his head earlier in the day, might have foundation in
fact; that reminiscent look, that semblance of gazing back into the
past, had returned to Royce's eyes, and for the moment he seemed to
have forgotten all else.

"There is something in the boy's face that reminds me of her," he was
muttering to himself.  "It's about the eyes or about the mouth--I'm
not quite sure which.  Anyway, if I should turn out to be right, the
lad's got nothing of his father about him, and I'm glad of that; I'm
glad of that."

Mostyn was indeed a young man whose personal appearance might attract
attention.  He was tall, standing well over six foot, and broad of
shoulder in proportion.  His athletic training had done much for him,
and he was in every way, physically as well as mentally, a contrast
to his two brothers.  He had often been told, indeed, that he
resembled his mother, who in her younger days had been stately and
handsome, a recognised beauty in London society, while James and
Charles were always supposed to take after their father.  Mostyn had
fair hair, which he wore cut short, striving thereby to overcome its
tendency to curl, an attempt at which he was not always quite
successful; his eyes were blue, very large and gentle, though they
could be stern at times, as could his lips, which were otherwise
prone to smile.

Anthony Royce, who had a keen insight into the minds of men, and who
had observed the boy very carefully almost from the first moment of
their meeting, was pleased with what he had seen, and, for more
reasons than one, felt well disposed towards Mostyn Clithero.

He glanced at his watch.  "I guess we'll stop here awhile," he said;
"it's restful.  Besides, I want to have a quiet chat with you."  He
took a bulky cigar-case from his pocket, extracted a large and dark
cigar, which he proceeded to light up.  Then he offered the case to
his young friend.

Mostyn shook his head.  He did not smoke; it was one of those things
to which his father objected.

They had been standing upon the box of the coach, and it was here
that they seated themselves, Royce occupying the driver's place.  He
puffed thoughtfully at the cigar before breaking the silence.  Mostyn
sat silent too, wondering what this new friend of his would have to
say, and why Anthony Royce, the American millionaire, should have
apparently taken so much interest in him.  Mostyn had hardly given a
thought to the matter before, but now he was more collected, more
himself, and the things seemed strange to him.

"I have a curious idea," so Royce began at last, "that though you and
I have never met before, Clithero, I was once acquainted both with
your mother and with your father.  I thought so from the first moment
we met in Eaton Square, and I have been watching you and have noticed
all manner of little tricks of expression which remind me of Mary
Clithero--Mary Willoughby as she was, she who I fancy must be your
mother."  He was gazing straight before him, blowing out great clouds
of smoke.

"Yes, my mother's name was Willoughby!" cried Mostyn, surprised.
"How strange to think that you should have known her all those years
ago!  And you never saw her after her marriage?  She is dead now, you

Royce nodded his head gravely.  "She'd have been alive to-day"--he
began, then broke off suddenly.  "I never met your mother as Mrs.
Clithero," he continued after a pause.  "It would not have been well
for either of us.  We loved each other once: Mary Willoughby is the
only woman who has ever influenced my life.  We were to have been

"I never heard of this; I was never told."  Mostyn opened wondering
eyes and stared at his companion with new interest.

"No, it is hardly likely that you would have been told."  A great
bitterness had come into Royce's tone.  "The whole affair was a
discreditable one.  Your mother was not to blame; pray understand
that at once."  The words were called for because Mostyn had flushed
and glanced up quickly.  "I think as dearly of your mother to-day as
ever in the past, and it is for her sake, Mostyn--for I must call you
Mostyn--that I have been taking such an interest in you.  She was
deceived, and so I lost her."

He paused; for a second Mostyn could hardly see his face, because of
the volume of smoke that he emitted from his lips.

"Do you wish to speak to me of this?" Mostyn asked, a slight frown
wrinkling his brow.  He felt instinctively that the whole story might
be one that it would be better for him not to know.

Royce shrugged his shoulders.  "No," he said slowly; "the subject is
painful to me even after all these years, and it might be painful to
you to hear it.  I only wanted to know that you are really the son of
the woman I loved.  Your father dealt badly with me, Mostyn, and I
have never forgiven him.  I suppose he feels just the same towards
me.  John Clithero was always a hard man, the sort of man who would
never forgive anyone whom he has injured."  The words were spoken
with bitter sarcasm.  Mostyn looked away and shuffled with his feet,
for he knew that they were true, and yet, since they were spoken of
his father, he felt vaguely that he was called upon to resent them.

"That brings me to my point," Royce went on, after a moment's pause.
"I think I am right in believing that you have come to the Derby
to-day without your father's knowledge, and if he knows there will be
the devil to pay.  I don't suppose Clithero has changed much, and,
according to his ideas, a man who ventures upon a race-course is
travelling the devil's high road.  It's wonderful what some men's
minds are capable of!"  Royce took his cigar from his mouth and gazed
at Mostyn from under his heavy brows.  "I wonder you've turned out so
well," he commented.

"I expect I'm all in the wrong for being here at all," Mostyn said,
the colour flushing his face.  He could never rid himself of that
disposition to blush.  "But I couldn't help it," he went on; "I
wanted to come, the desire of it was in my blood."  He laughed
awkwardly.  "I suppose I am different somehow to the rest of my

"I am very glad you are.  You take after your mother, Mostyn, for she
came of a healthy-minded stock.  But now, tell me, what will happen
when you get home?  Or do you propose to keep this little jaunt a
secret?"  The grey eyes fixed upon Mostyn were searching.

"I shall tell my father that I went to the Derby," Mostyn replied
with some defiance in his tone, for he hated the suggestion of
underhand dealing.  "I have made no secret of it to anyone.  My
father is not at home just now, but I shall tell him when he returns."

"Good!"  Anthony Royce knocked the ash from his cigar, an ash which
he had allowed to grow to inordinate length.  "I like a man who acts
straight and isn't ashamed of what he does.  But there will be a row?"

"I expect so."  Mostyn nodded.  What was the use of denying the

"A serious row?"

"Very possibly."  Mostyn fidgeted.  What was the good of all these
questions?  He had put aside the evil day, determined to live in the
present.  He was enjoying himself; why spoil his pleasure?  A bell
rang and the police could be seen clearing the course.  Another race
was about to be run.  Mostyn fumbled with his programme.  "Who's
going to win this event?" he asked.

"A devil of a row, if I'm not mistaken," Anthony Royce said
reflectively, ignoring the question.  "John Clithero would sacrifice
his flesh and blood upon the altar of his principles.  I'm afraid you
will get into trouble, my boy.  Well, what I want to say is this.
Come to me if things go badly with you.  Don't let any silly pride
stand in your way.  I've got an idea in my head, and you can help me
work it out.  You will be doing me a favour, far more than the other
way about.  You needn't think it a matter of charity--I'm not that
kind of man.  Furthermore, it's nothing mean or underhand that I
shall ask you--to that you have my word."  Royce had evidently read
the young man's character very well.  "Now--supposing your father
shows you the door--he may, you know--will you come to me?"

"I will," Mostyn stretched out his hand, a strong, well-made hand,
and the elder man took it in his, holding it a moment, and looking
the boy squarely in the eyes.

"That's a deal," he said, heartily; "I shall expect to see you,

After the next race, a race over which Mostyn's enthusiasm was again
roused, though not to the same pitch as before, the guests upon Sir
Roderick's coach returned in little straggling groups to partake of
tea.  Sir Roderick himself, flushed with his victory, did the
honours, and received the congratulations of all his friends.  He was
bubbling over with good spirits, perpetrated innumerable verbal
blunders, at which he was the first to laugh, and distributed
"largesse" freely among the hangers-on about the coach--this, until
such a crowd of minstrels, gipsies, and such like had collected that
it was all the grooms could do to disperse them; but it was a
good-natured, cheering crowd, and Sir Roderick was distinctly
enjoying himself.

Captain Armitage, his white beard and moustache contrasting forcibly
with his rubicund complexion, disdained tea, and appropriated a
champagne bottle to himself.  He was less excitable than he had been
on the journey down, but then, as he would say himself, he was the
kind of man whom drink sobered.  Lady Lempiere and Major Molyneux
were conspicuous by their absence, but all the other guests had put
in an appearance.  Lord Caldershot was still assiduous in his
attentions to Rada, who, for her part, was in a state of delight at
having won the coach sweepstake, as well as several pounds, the
proceeds of her own investment upon Hipponous, plus many pairs of
gloves which she had apparently won off her cavalier.

She was a distinctly pretty girl; Mostyn, who had had some
opportunities of talking to her during the day, was constrained to
admit the fact.  He was attracted by her, and yet, at the same time,
in some peculiar manner, repelled.  She was unlike any girl he had
ever met.  She had no reserve of manner, she spoke as freely as a man
might speak, and yet her whole appearance was distinctly feminine.

"Rada Armitage is a little savage," so Royce had explained her to
Mostyn.  "She has lived all her life with that wretched old
scapegrace, her father, for her mother died when she was an infant.
She has never known a controlling hand.  Heaven knows how they
exist--Armitage's cottage at Partingborough is a disgrace to a
civilised man.  Rada's like an untrained filly, and you must take her
at that.  She was called after a horse, too, one upon which the
captain won a lot of money the year she was born."

The girl was small in stature, although she was slim and perfectly
proportioned, giving, perhaps, an impression of inches which she
really did not possess.  Her hair was deep black, glossy, and
inclined to be rebellious; her eyes, too, were black, very bright,
piercing, and particularly expressive.  They seemed to change in some
peculiar way with every emotion that swayed her; one moment they
would be soft, the next they would flash with humour, and then again
they would be scornfully defiant.  As with her eyes, so it was with
her mouth and with her face generally; to Mostyn she was a puzzle,
and he wondered what her real nature could be.

He took the opportunity of dispensing tea to improve his
acquaintance.  He felt that the girl watched him surreptitiously,
and, self-conscious as he always was, he had an idea that there was a
rather derisive curl upon her lips.  Probably she had not forgotten
his _faux pas_ of the morning.

Unfortunately he found it more difficult than he had anticipated to
take part in the conversation.  Sir Roderick was telling of the
merits of a two-year-old, named Pollux, which he had in his Irish
stables, and which he had entered for next year's Derby.

"If Hipponous hadn't won to-day," he remarked enthusiastically, "I
feel that I should have had a dead cert with Pollux.  That's saying a
lot, of course, but you never saw such a perfect colt.  Sired by
Jupiter, with Stella for dam--you can't have better breeding than

"Ah--ah," laughed Captain Armitage, lifting his glass to his lips
with shaking hand.  "That's all very well, 'Rory,' my boy, but what
about Castor?  His sire was Jupiter, too, and his dam Swandown; she
was a perfect mare, though I never had much luck with her, and she
died after the foal was born.  Still--there's Castor----"  He broke
into one of his cackling laughs.  "It'll be a race between Castor and
Pollux for the Derby next year."  He stood up, then realising a
certain unsteadiness of his limbs, sat down again.

Sir Roderick smiled benignly, and proceeded to explain to the company
that this rivalry between Castor and Pollux was no new thing.  The
two colts had been born within a week of each other, and had been
named, not so much according to their parentage as because they
resembled each other so minutely.  They were both perfect animals,
and there was little to choose between them.

Mostyn listened attentively to the conversation, gathering up scraps
of knowledge, and storing them in his brain.  He talked when he
could, but he would have been wiser to have kept silent, for, towards
the close of the day, and when preparations for departure were being
made, he committed a _faux pas_ which quite eclipsed his other

He had allowed his enthusiasm to master him once more, and had lost
guard of his tongue--as ill-luck would have it, in the presence of
Rada.  He could quite understand how it might be the height of
anyone's ambition to own a Derby winner, so he exclaimed; then he
added--as a little while earlier to Royce--"How I should love to win
a Derby!"  Immediately after which he turned and enquired of Sir
Roderick if Hipponous was not entered for the Oaks as well.

He bitterly regretted that speech, for even Anthony Royce and Pierce
were constrained to laugh, while as for Captain Armitage, he simply
rolled in his seat.  But it was not that so much that Mostyn minded,
though he stammered and blushed crimson, and began muttering some
excuse.  What hurt him was the look of scorn and derision that
flashed into Rada's eyes.

"You win a Derby!" she cried disdainfully.  "Are you sure you know a
horse from a cow?  Why, you silly boy, you couldn't win a Derby if
you lived to a hundred!  I'd stake my life on that."

Poor Mostyn choked with indignation, the insult was so deliberate and
spoken so openly.  How he wished it was a man with whom he had to

"I----" he began hesitatingly, then paused, for Rada interrupted him.

"Would you like to have a bet on it?" she asked mockingly.

Mostyn looked round.  He saw Captain Armitage's red face suffused and
congested with laughter; he caught a supercilious sneer on the lips
of Lord Caldershot.  He was boiling over with suppressed rage.

Suddenly he felt a nudge from the elbow of Anthony Royce, who was
sitting next to him, and a whisper in his ear.

"Say yes.  In ten years."

Mostyn did not understand.  The whisper was repeated.

"Bet anything you like you win a Derby in ten years."

The little diversion had passed unnoticed.  Rada repeated her mocking

Mostyn pulled himself together.  He had no time to think, to weigh
his words.  He did not even realise the import of them.  The wrath of
his heart dictated his answer.

"I never bet.  But all the same I'll undertake to win a Derby within
reasonable time: ten years--five years," he added recklessly, in
spite of the protesting nudge of Royce's elbow.

"Jove, what a brave man!" drawled Caldershot.  His languid tone
exasperated Mostyn to fury.

"In five years," he repeated.  "I'd stake my life upon it, too.  I
call you all to witness."

"Whatever's the boy saying?"  It was good-natured Sir Roderick who
intervened.  "I'm not going to have anybody staking their life upon
my coach.  We can't go upsetting the market like that."

In the laugh that followed Pierce deftly turned the conversation, and
soon, with the bustle of departure, the whole incident was more or
less forgotten.  Mostyn, however, sat silent and absorbed.

What had appeared a farce to others was to him very real.  What was
this that he had undertaken to do?  To win a Derby, and in five
years--he who was utterly inexperienced and who possessed no
resources whatever?

What had Anthony Royce meant by inciting him to such a speech?  He
wanted to put the question, but the American imposed silence upon him.

"We can't talk now.  Don't worry yourself; it will be all right.  You
shall hear from me first thing to-morrow.  It's no longer a matter of
waiting for the row at home: you've got to be a racing man, Mostyn,
whether your father approves or no."  He smiled his enigmatical
smile, and his shoulders shook with inward laughter.  During the
whole of the return journey he led the conversation, and would not
allow it to depart from general topics.

But at parting he pressed Mostyn's hand meaningly.  "You are a
sportsman from to-day, my boy," he said.  "Don't forget that.  It's
all part of the scheme, and you have pledged your word.  To-morrow
you shall hear from me and you'll understand."

Pierce walked with Mostyn a few paces, then hailed a cab.  "I'm going
to dine at the club," he said.  "What do you say to joining me?"  But
Mostyn shook his head; his one desire now was to return home, to be
alone to think things out.  He, too, called a hansom and drove to his
father's house in Bryanston Square.

A surprise awaited him there.  His sister Cicely came running down to
the hall to meet him, her hands outstretched, her face pale.  At the
same time Mostyn fancied that he caught sight of the pasty face of
his brother Charles peering through the half-closed dining-room door.

"Oh, Mostyn!" cried the girl.  "Father's come back.  He left by an
earlier boat and reached London to-day.  He knows all about the
Derby, and he is furiously angry; he is in his study and wants to see
you at once."



Father and son faced each other in the large oak-panelled study.  The
storm had burst, raged, and subsided, but the calm which had followed
was an ominous one, and liable to be broken at any moment.  Mostyn
recognised that the worst was yet to come.

John Clithero was unaccustomed to opposition.  His rule had been
absolute; he had governed with an iron rod.  He was that greatest of
tyrants, a man conscious of rectitude.  But, perhaps, for the very
rarity of such an event, he could not control his temper when
thwarted.  In this his son had the better of him.

Yet the situation was galling to Mostyn.  It was undignified to be
standing there in his father's study just as if he were a child
awaiting punishment.  His associations with this room were of no
pleasant order, and he hated it accordingly.  John Clithero had been
stern with his children, and had not spared the rod.

Mostyn glanced about him: the study was just the same to-day as it
had been in those early years.  There were the long book-shelves with
their array of handsomely-bound books, which, however, as far as
Mostyn knew, were never touched.  The heavy oak panelling was
oppressive, and the chairs, covered with dark red morocco, were stiff
and uncomfortable.  There were some plaster casts of classical
subjects on the top of the book-cases, casts that had become grimy
with age, and which Mostyn had always looked up to with peculiar
reverence.  He glanced at them now, and noticed that Pallas Athene
had been badly cracked, evidently quite recently, and that the crack
had extended to her nose, part of which had been broken away.  Pallas
Athene presented an absurd figure, and Mostyn felt inclined to laugh
at her.  She was no longer glorified in his eyes.

John Clithero sat beside his great desk, a desk that was
old-fashioned in make, for he disdained modern and American
innovations in his own home, however much he might make use of them
in his business office.  The desk was piled with papers, which were,
however, all carefully bound with tape--for the banker was, above
all, a man of method.  He had not asked his son to be seated, nor had
Mostyn ventured to take a chair; during the whole of the stormy
interview he had stood facing his father, his feet firmly planted
together, his head high.

In appearance John Clithero was not the ascetic that he professed
himself.  He was a stout, burly man, his head sunk low upon his
shoulders, his size and weight suggestive of ill-health.  His hair
was thin and grey, while his eyes appeared imbedded in heavy masses
of flesh.  He came of a good old country family, but one would not
have thought it to look at him; he was just the type that might be
found as the leading light of a nonconformist chapel.  He affected
black broadcloth, and his clothes hung loosely even about his portly
form.  It may be that his strict morality and his abhorrence of
worldly pleasures had stood him in good stead, and had helped him to
build up the reputation of his bank, incidentally making a fortune
for himself.  He was no hypocrite, but he knew the commercial value
of his doctrines.

"Am I to understand, Mostyn," he said, pouting out his thick lip,
"that you refuse--you absolutely refuse--to give me your word never
again to attend a race meeting?  If that is the case there is very
little more to be said between us."

"How can I give you my word, father?"  Mostyn's voice was not raised,
but he spoke with dogged determination.  "I am not a child.  I am old
enough to see the world with my own eyes.  What harm is there in a
race meeting?" he went on, though he knew that it was useless to
argue with such a man as his father.  "If one is sensible and

John Clithero waved his large fleshy hand with a commanding gesture.
"I don't intend to discuss this matter with you, Mostyn," he
interrupted, "or to consider the rights and the wrongs of racing.  I
disapprove of it, and that fact should be quite sufficient for you.
You have grievously offended me by your conduct to-day, and all the
more so since you had in mind to deceive me; you took advantage of my
absence to do a thing which you knew I would not permit; you thought
that I should be none the wiser."

"That is untrue!"  Mostyn flashed out the words, resenting the
imputation upon his honour.  "I should have told you what I had done
on your return to London.  I made no secret of it."

John Clithero sneered.  "I am at liberty to form my own conclusions,"
he remarked.  "It is not usual for young men who disobey their
parents to confess to their misdeeds.  Luckily, though I cannot trust
you, your brothers are to be relied upon."

A wave of anger passed over Mostyn, and his lips curved disdainfully.
He had quite expected to be "given away" by his brothers unless he
spoke first.  Their minds were too narrow to give him credit for
honesty of purpose.  Probably the mischief-maker was the fat and
unwholesome Charles, who had been addicted to sneaking ever since he
was a little boy.  What was more, he had always been listened to, at
least by his father, who had never discouraged that sort of thing.

Mostyn kept his temper under control, however, and merely shrugged
his shoulders.  "I can only repeat I should have told you that I had
been to the Derby, and that I see no ill whatever in what I did," he
said stolidly.

John Clithero drew himself upright in his chair, and his hands,
resting upon his knees, were trembling.  It was just as if they were
itching for the cane, to the use of which they had been accustomed.
"So you absolutely refuse to make any promise?" he said sternly.
"You will continue to walk the evil path?"

"I don't admit the evil path," replied Mostyn doggedly, "and so I can
make no promise to keep from it."

"Very well."  John Clithero's hands dropped from his knees and he
rose to his feet, pushing his chair violently aside.  "Then I cut you
adrift, now and for ever!  You are no longer son of mine.  I wash my
hands of you.  Hell is your portion and the portion of your
fellow-sinner!"  As with all his kind, the word "hell" came glibly
and sonorously to the man's lips.  There were times when he revelled
in biblical phrase, adopting it freely to the needs of the moment.
He sought to do so now, but, confused by his rage, he lost himself in
a maze of ambiguity.  Once Mostyn, who stood quietly listening,
supplied him with the word he needed, a course naturally calculated
to aggravate the situation.

"Silence!" stammered John Clithero.  "How dare you interrupt me,
sir?"  He came close to his son, his hands clenched as though it was
with difficulty that he repressed a desire to strike.  "Off with
you!" he yelled, quite oblivious of the fact that he was standing
between his son and the door; "and when you find yourself starving in
the gutter don't come to me, or to your brothers, for help.  The door
shall be shut upon you, understand that, as if you were a beggar!"
All unconsciously the man was betraying his disposition--for none was
harder upon the beggar in the street than he.

"I quite understand.  Will you allow me to pass?"  In contrast to his
father, Mostyn had lost none of his dignity.  As soon as John
Clithero moved away, recommencing his fierce raging up and down the
room, vowing his son to perdition in this world and the next, Mostyn
stepped firmly to the door.

John Clithero followed him, panting for breath, a sorry figure.
"Go!" he spluttered, "go to your vile haunts, to your race-courses!
Go!--go to the devil!"  The final exclamation was not meant in the
ordinary vulgar sense, but the man was quite beyond the measuring of
his words.

Mostyn made no reply.  He quietly left the room.  His father slammed
the door behind him with a noise that re-echoed through the house.
It was the end; the rupture was irreparable.

Mostyn, biting his lip, pale but determined, made his way slowly
upstairs to his own room.  He was glad of one thing--that he had not
lost his temper, and that he had not in any way failed in the respect
that he owed his father; for the rest he felt that he was in the
right, and that it was simply impossible for him to have given the
promise that was demanded of him.  Never to attend another race
meeting, with his instincts, the instincts that had been aroused in
him that day--such an undertaking was absurd, impossible.  Who could
say what the future might bring forth, especially after the events of
that day?  And John Clithero would not have been content with any
half promise; what he had demanded was in the nature of a vow.

Mostyn had always feared that something of the sort might eventually
come to pass.  His home, especially since his mother's death, had
never been a real home to him; he had always felt himself out of
sympathy with his father and brothers, disliked by them.  There was
Cicely, whom he cared for, but that was all.  He blamed himself now
for not having made provision for such an eventuality.  What use to
him was his classical education, his reading for the Bar?  He should
have devoted himself to a more practical method of earning his
living.  For the rest he did not care: it was not as if his mother
were alive.

"He killed my mother!"  Mostyn muttered the words between his
clenched teeth.  He had often felt that such was indeed the case,
though he had never allowed himself, even in his own thoughts, to
give expression to the belief.  "I can see it all now.  She never
complained--oh, no, she never complained; but it was his treatment of
her that sent her to her grave."

Now that he was ready to admit this, little things, small events
which he had hardly noticed at the time, crowded into his brain.
Again and again he had found his mother weeping: he could remember it
even when he was quite a small boy, and she would never explain the
reason.  He recalled how silent she was in her husband's presence,
how she had gradually lost her strength and beauty, how she had
quivered under the lash of his stern denunciations.  John Clithero
had killed joy within her, then he had broken her spirit, till
finally she herself had drooped and died.  Mostyn remembered the day
of her death; it was very soon after he had gone to Oxford.  John
Clithero had shed no tear, and the day after the funeral he had gone
to business as usual.

"He killed my mother," Mostyn repeated bitterly; "he crushed the life
out of her; Mr. Royce is right to hate him."

Mostyn glanced at the clock upon his mantel-piece and realised that
it was after seven o'clock.  At eight the family would meet for
dinner: well, they would not have his company, neither to-night nor
ever again.  He decided that he would leave the house at once, taking
with him only a small hand-bag; later on he would send for the rest
of his belongings.  Cicely would see that they were packed and
delivered to him.  It was lucky, he reflected, that he was not quite
penniless--that he had, in fact, a sum that could not be much under a
hundred pounds lying to his credit at the bank, a sum that he had
saved out of his not ungenerous allowance; this would do to tide over
temporary difficulties, at any rate.

With feverish hands he began to pack, hoping that he would be able to
leave before the dinner hour.  He would have liked a word with
Cicely; but as for his brothers, he trusted not to meet them.  He had
kept his temper under control in the presence of his father, but it
would be different with James and Charles; with them he might express
himself in a manner that he would afterwards repent.  "The mean
sneaks," he muttered to himself; "and Charles, who is so fond of
talking about his honour!  I am glad to have done with Charles."

There was nothing that he regretted.  He could not even feel that he
was deserting Cicely.  Before very long she would be married to
Pierce Trelawny and then she, too, would be free.

As he thought of her, the girl herself burst into his room.  Her eyes
were tear-stained, and her fair hair was dishevelled.  She stood
still, breathing hard and staring at Mostyn, who was now struggling
with the straps of his dressing-case.

"I've told them what I think of them!" she panted, following the
train of her original thought.  "It was Charles who gave you away,
Mostyn.  He went straight up to father and told him that you were at
the Derby--the sneak!"

"It didn't matter," Mostyn said, glancing over his shoulder; "the
result would have been just the same."

"What are you doing, Mostyn?"  Her eyes--they were gentle eyes of
china-blue--were round with horror.  "Father is still in his study.
He hasn't come out, though the dressing-gong has sounded.  I heard
him tramping about as I passed; was he furiously angry?"  Then again,
as Mostyn had not yet replied to her first question, she asked, "What
are you doing?"

"You see."  He tugged viciously at a strap and then stood erect,
facing the girl.  "I am going, Cicely.  I am leaving the house
to-night.  I am never coming back."  With a low cry she threw herself
into her brother's arms, and her sobs broke out anew.  It was a long
while before Mostyn could comfort her.  At last he dragged her down
on to a sofa by his side, and explained to her that it was for the
best that he should go.  Luckily the thought of money and how he
should work for himself in the future did not seem to occur to the
girl; her grief was solely for the loss of her brother, the only one
in the household with whom she was in sympathy.

"It'll be all right, dear," he whispered.  "You've got Pierce; and
when you are married--

She started from him, appalled by a new terror.  "When we are
married!" she cried; then, her voice shaking with anxiety, "Will
Pierce and I ever be married, Mostyn?  I--I never thought of it
before, but father knows that it was Pierce who took you to the
Derby.  He won't forgive him either.  He will break off the
engagement! and I--oh, what will become of me?"

Her sobs broke anew, and this time she refused to be consoled.



Poor Cicely was still in tears when Mostyn kissed and left her; but
he had been able to show her the necessity of avoiding any further
scene, and he had promised to see Pierce that very evening and tell
him all that had happened.  "Pierce won't give you up, sis," he had
comforted her.  "Whatever happens you may be quite sure of that."

"But his father didn't like our engagement," she had sobbed.  "I know
he only gave way because Pierce was so much in love.  And now he
knows that my father objects--

"You don't know yet that father will object," Mostyn had interrupted.
"For my part, I should think it most unlikely.  The Trelawnys are
wealthy people, and Pierce will come in for a great deal of money
some day.  And father loves gold," he added bitterly.

Mostyn had decided to spend that night at one of the big hotels in
Northumberland Avenue.  On the next day he would look out for cheap
lodgings, and when he got settled Cicely could send him the rest of
his belongings.  In the meanwhile, should there be a letter for him
the next morning--he was thinking of Anthony Royce's promise to
write--would Cicely forward it to him at the hotel?  This having been
settled, Mostyn, carrying his bag, made his way down to the hall,
whistled for a cab, and drove away from the house without any
interference with his actions.  A new life was about to dawn for him.

He felt strange upon reaching the hotel and engaging his room.  He
had very little acquaintance with hotels of any kind, save, perhaps,
when he had stayed at the seaside in the company of his relations.
John Clithero was quite suburban in his ideas of the annual holiday.
It was a new experience, then, for Mostyn to find himself alone and
independent in one of London's huge caravansaries, and it was not
altogether without its element of charm.

He felt himself that evening more the man than he had ever done in
his life before; the whole world was before him, and he had to carve
out his own path through it.

He dined alone, in the great restaurant, but he was too excited to
take any particular notice either of the food that was put before him
or of the smart crowd by which he was surrounded.  He was anxious for
the time to pass so that he might wend his way to the Imperial Club,
which was in Pall Mall, and so not very far away, and there talk over
the whole matter with Pierce Trelawny.  He fancied that Pierce might
have friends dining with him, and so he did not like to intrude
himself too early at the club.

It was ten o'clock when he gave his name to the hall porter and asked
to see Mr. Trelawny.  Pierce came to him immediately.  His friends
had just taken their departure, for they were due at the Empire,
where the Derby crowd was sure to collect in force.  All of which
Pierce explained before he had time to notice how pale and distressed
Mostyn appeared.

"It's jolly lucky you found me, Mostyn," he said heartily, "for I
might have gone out in another ten minutes.  But what on earth has
brought you round to the club at this time of the night?  I never
thought you would have been allowed such a dissipation."

"Take me somewhere where we can have a quiet talk," Mostyn said
huskily.  "There has been trouble, Pierce, and I want to tell you all
about it."

Pierce glanced quickly into his friend's face and realised that there
must indeed have been trouble.  "Poor old chap!" he exclaimed.  "I
was blind not to see that there was something wrong.  Come along up
to the smoking-room; we can find a corner, and you shall tell me all
about it."

As they were about to set their feet on the broad staircase they were
buttonholed by Captain Armitage, who was coming downstairs to the
hall.  He laid a hand upon an arm of each of the young men--almost as
if to support himself--and began to talk hoarsely of the day's racing.

"I dropped a pot," he muttered.  "Infernal bad luck!  Didn't even
back Hipponous.  Lost my money in backing old Rory's horses so often
that I couldn't think his luck was going to turn.  Damnable--what?"

It was some moments before Pierce could shake him off; then, as the
two young men continued their way up the stairs, Pierce commented in
no unmeasured terms upon Captain Armitage as a member of the club.

"The fellow makes himself a general nuisance," he grumbled.  "He's
always hanging over the tape, and forces his conversation upon
everyone who happens to come near him.  He belongs to the genus 'club
bore.'  The waiters hate him, too, for he gives endless trouble and
never subscribes a cent to any of the servants' funds.  Then he is
always half-screwed; it's lucky that he doesn't live in town, for if
he did he would spend the whole of his time at the club."

"How did he get in?" asked Mostyn, for the sake of saying something.

"Oh, he was quite a decent sort in his younger days," returned
Pierce, "and it's for the sake of old times that my uncle and other
good-natured people put up with him.  Then they are sorry for his
daughter, Rada--she has quaint ways--but they suit her somehow."

"Do they?"  Mostyn spoke the words viciously, upon a tone of doubt:
from his experience of that afternoon he was not at all inclined to
attribute virtues to Rada.  He felt, indeed, that he disliked her

They installed themselves in a recess of the smoking-room, and
Pierce, summoning the waiter, ordered a couple of brandy-and-sodas,
though it was only after considerable persuasion that Mostyn could be
induced to touch spirits.  He was not a teetotaler, as his brothers
professed to be, but the habits of his home-life dominated him.  It
was necessary for Pierce to point out that a stimulant was palpably
required, and that Mostyn must look upon it as a medicine.

Pierce Trelawny was possessed of a rather dominant manner.  He was
not built upon such a large scale as Mostyn, though he was well made
and athletic.  He was equally at home plodding muddy fields with his
gun, riding to hounds, or as a young man about town.  He had dark
hair, very carefully parted on the left side, thin, refined features,
and his dress was always immaculately correct in cut and style.  He
enjoyed a liberal allowance from his father--a good old country
squire--and upon the death of the latter he would inherit a property
of very considerable importance.  He had no profession, finding life
quite full enough without one.

Mostyn made no further objection, but took a long draught from the
tall tumbler when it was set before him.  The piece of ice that
floated on the liquid was cool against his lips, and he liked the
touch of it.

And so, a little fresh colour creeping into his cheeks, he told his
story, and Pierce listened attentively, with only an occasional
interruption, an interruption that usually took the form of some
muttered comment by no means flattering to Mr. John Clithero.

"He's an impossible man, your father," Pierce exclaimed when Mostyn
had concluded, "And the ghastly part of it is that he is quite
sincere, fully convinced that he is in the right and that all the
world who disagree with him are in the wrong.  In a way he's just
like my old uncle with his Tory politics.  Your father is stubborn
and pig-headed in a different and unpleasant direction; that's all
there is between them."

"He killed my mother; he bullied her to death.  My brothers are his
idea of rectitude.  That's the kind of man my father is."  Mostyn
spoke bitterly, as he felt.  Never before in his life had he allowed
himself to breathe a word against his father, whatever his own
feelings may have been; but it was different now.

He gulped down one or two mouthfuls of his brandy-and-soda, then
glanced up at his friend, who appeared lost in thought.  "I'm not
only worrying about myself, Pierce," he said.  "It was Cicely who
asked me to see you this evening.  You see it is quite possible"--he
broke off, hardly knowing how to explain himself.

"I see it is."  Pierce drummed his fingers restlessly on the ornate
little table before him.  "Your father knows I induced you to go to
the Derby, and he may forbid Cicely to see me again.  I'm inclined to
think that that's what is going to happen."  He frowned, staring at
his tumbler.  "Of course, I shan't give her up," he went on, "but
things may pan out badly for us.  My old dad hates your father, and
he was wild when he knew that I had fallen in love with a Clithero.
I don't know how he'll take it if there should be any opposition on
your father's side.  He likes Cicely, so he may tell me to go ahead
and marry her, or he may say that it's a good thing for me the
engagement is broken off.  Cicely is under age, too, and won't be
free to do as she likes for another year.  It's a devil of a mess:
anyway, I shall see Mr. Clithero first thing to-morrow morning and
have it out with him," he added with decision; "and I rather think
the interview will be a stormy one."  He pursed up his lips, thinking
that he was perhaps better able than Mostyn to hold his own with the
redoubtable John Clithero.

"What about yourself, Mostyn?" he asked, after a pause.  "It strikes
me I've been selfish, thinking of my own troubles, which may or may
not eventuate, while you've got a very real one to face.  In some
ways it may be for the best, for you had a rotten time at home, and
the row was bound to come sooner or later.  I don't know how you and
Cicely were ever born in the Clithero family," he added sapiently.
"You are not like the rest of them, and so I suppose you must have
got the blood of some more sporting ancestor in your veins.  But what
do you mean to do?" he went on; "for I don't suppose you have any
idea of making up the quarrel?"

Mostyn shook his head.  "No," he replied.  "I'm going to fight for
myself.  Unfortunately I don't think I'm good for much.  Of course, I
shall have to give up the Bar."

"That's a pity," mused Pierce; "why should you?"

"I've got no money of my own except a hundred in the bank.  My father
won't give me another penny, so I must just put my shoulder to the

"A clerk on a pound a week, or something ridiculous of that sort,"
said Pierce half derisively.  "That won't do for you, Mostyn.  But
you needn't worry your head about it; I'll get my father or my uncle
to find you something more suitable: I've got plenty of influential

For a moment Mostyn made no answer, but once more lifted his tumbler
to his lips; when he spoke it was with decision.  "No," he said.
"It's awfully good of you, Pierce, and I haven't the smallest doubt
that you could do as you say, but there is nothing that your father
or your uncle could give me--nothing well paid, at any rate--that I
should be fit for.  It would be just the same as taking charity."

Pierce was loud in his protest against such principles as these, but
he argued in vain.  Mostyn had quite made up his mind; he had thought
it all over during his solitary dinner, and had decided upon his
course of action.  He would accept help from no one.  He would
undertake no work unless it was such as he conscientiously felt he
was able to perform.  Of course, he had not forgotten Anthony Royce;
but if it was money that the latter proposed to offer him, money to
be expended upon racing, then, in the light of the present position,
Mostyn did not see his way to accept.  What, after all, did his
foolish words spoken upon the coach matter?  They were uttered in a
moment of heat, and no one would remember them.  He had to think of
earning his living now: he had probably been to his first and last
race meeting.

He had decided to try his luck with journalism; he had an aptitude
for writing, and he had a friend who was on the staff of an important
London paper.  He would look up Arden Travers on the morrow and take
the journalist's advice as to the proper manner of setting to work.

Pierce expressed his opinion that this was a grievous folly, but at
the same time he could not help admiring Mostyn's pluck.  There was,
at any rate, no harm in trying.  So nothing was said on the subject
of help to be provided from outside sources, and the two young men
parted at about half-past eleven, after making an appointment to meet
the following evening, when Mostyn would report how he had got on
with his journalist friend, and Pierce would relate the result of his
interview with John Clithero.

As he was about to leave the club, Mostyn was accosted by Captain
Armitage, who was still hovering about the hall.

"Are you going?  That's a good thing, for I'm just off, too."  The
captain's voice had grown still more husky, and he dragged his feet
across the stone floor with a shambling gait; nevertheless, he was
quite master of himself.

"I'm glad I caught sight of you," he said with assumed geniality of
tone, "for I was going away by myself, and I hate being alone.  We'll
walk together a bit, my young friend, and you shall tell me of your
ambitions to run race-horses and to win the Derby."  He chuckled as
he spoke, with an irritating noise in the depth of his throat, and he
passed his arm under Mostyn's, leaning heavily upon it.

"I'm not going far," Mostyn said shortly; "only to Northumberland
Avenue.  Perhaps I'd better help you into a cab."

The old man shook his head.  "I want a little fresh air first," he
mumbled.  "It does me good to walk part of the way home, and I love
the London streets at this time of night."  He waved his free hand.
"It's life," he chuckled, "and it makes me think of the days when I
was a boy and full of life.  It's too early to go home yet."

"Where do you live?" asked Mostyn.

"Bloomsbury," was the muttered answer.  "Lodgings--a dirty hole; not
fit for a gentleman to live in--not fit for a girl like Rada.  People
don't know where we stay when we are in London; I keep it dark."  As
a matter of fact, everybody who knew Captain Armitage knew that his
lodgings were of the poorest; he made the same confession to
everybody, when, as was usually the case towards night, he exchanged
the braggart for a sort of maudling sentimentality.  By day he was
the old soldier, a man who was as good as any in the land--his
swagger was proverbial; at night, or after an exaggerated bout of
drinking, his mood would change, and it was sympathy for which he
craved.  There was nothing he enjoyed more at such times than to
dwell upon his bye-gone sins.

"Walk with me a little way, at any rate," he urged.  "There is
something I should like to tell you."

So Mostyn complied, his good-nature compelling him; and Captain
Armitage, with palpable enjoyment, recounted his tale of woe.  Of
course, it was false for the best part: the man was a failure through
drink, a fact that was plainly writ upon his mottled and congested
cheeks, which contrasted so forcibly with his fine white beard and
moustache.  Certainly, he had sufficient means to indulge his passion
for the racecourse, though none but himself knew if it was upon this,
and this alone, that he spent his income.

Mostyn felt constrained to remonstrate.  "I didn't think you were in
such desperate straits, Captain Armitage," he said.  "What about

"Ah!"  The old man drew himself up with a sudden jerk.  "You remind
me: that's just what I wanted to talk about.  Castor's my horse, a
two-year old; you wouldn't find a better if you searched the United
Kingdom from end to end.  Old Rory's Pollux isn't in it with the
colt.  A Derby winner, sir, if I know anything about racing.  Well, I
can sell Castor if I think fit."  He glanced meaningly at Mostyn as
he spoke.

"Why would you sell Castor if you feel so sure about him?" queried
Mostyn, "There may be a fortune in the horse."

"Perhaps, but I'm broke--broke to the world; things have been going
precious bad with me lately."  The old man tapped Mostyn on the arm
with his bony knuckle.  "Now, there's you," he continued, "a young
man of promise, a sportsman in embryo, keen as they make 'em.  You
were saying to-day that you wanted to win a big race.  Well, here's
your chance.  You can have Castor for a song, a mere song.  What do
you say to fifteen hundred pounds?"  He leered insinuatingly.  "It's
the chance of a lifetime."

Mostyn laughed aloud.  Fifteen hundred pounds!  He who had but a
tithe of that sum in the world.  However, Captain Armitage was hardly
to be blamed for the error into which he had fallen, for Mostyn had
certainly contrived to give a false impression that day.  It was all
due to that absurd enthusiasm of his.

"I shall never own race-horses," he said humbly.  "I've got no money
for such things.  I was only saying what I felt, not because I hoped
ever to do it really."

Captain Armitage's hand dropped from Mostyn's arm.  His jaw fell and
he muttered something in his beard.  He was annoyed at having been
deceived; he had taken Mostyn for a young man of wealth and position,
or he would not have wasted his breath upon him.

"Then it was bluff?" he said curtly.

"Call it what you like."  Mostyn was not prepared to argue the point.
"It's certainly true that I have no intention whatever of going in
for racing."

Once again Captain Armitage muttered in his beard, and Mostyn was
quite assured that the remark was not complimentary to himself.  They
walked on a few paces almost in silence, then suddenly the captain
turned his head, and muttering, "There's a friend of mine; so long!"
waved his hand airily and was hidden in the crowd that thronged the
street.  Mostyn stood still, and after a moment or so, he saw the
unmistakable figure of his military friend disappearing,
unaccompanied, under the flaming portals of a public-house.

Mostyn found himself standing alone close to the brilliantly-lit
entrance of a well-known music hall, through the doors of which a
crowd was pouring out, the entertainment being just concluded.  He
had never been inside a music hall in his life, and, indeed, the
whole aspect of the streets at this time of night was new to him.
Tired as he was he watched the scene with interest.  Here was Life,
as it was understood by most young men of his age.

Over-dressed men and under-dressed women passed across the pavement
to the cabs, broughams, or motors which were summoned for them by the
liveried messengers.  Mostyn, as he stood crowded against the
shuttered window of a shop, could see the bare shoulders,
insufficiently covered by rich opera cloaks, the glint of jewels, the
flushed faces; his nostrils received the vague impression of perfume;
his ears were pierced by shrill whistling, by the roar of traffic, by
the shouting and laughter, by all the discord--or was it harmony?--of
a London night.  And ceaselessly the restless crowd of the street
surged to and fro: all manner of man and woman--the satisfied and the
hungry, the well-clad and the ragged, the joyful and the sad.

It was a different aspect of life from that which he had studied
earlier in the day, and it was another emotion that stirred him as he
watched.  For was it not well that a man should see all sides, that
he should judge for himself?  The policy of repression, that which he
had known all his life long--John Clithero's policy--now, more than
ever, Mostyn saw the fallacy of it.  The thing forbidden has a
fascination which blinds the eyes to its danger; wilful ignorance may
engender excess.  Mostyn knew what it was to struggle with
temptation, but his sense of honour and duty had held him in check.
A weaker nature might easily have succumbed.  As he watched, he
reflected upon the attraction which this scene had had for his
imagination; but he was not so sure that he felt the same about it

By the curb stood a woman clad in the Salvation Army dress.  She
spoke to many, but was rudely repulsed.  A stout young man, whose
face Mostyn had not seen, was assisting a smartly-dressed woman into
the hansom which had been summoned for him.  The Salvation Army girl
approached him.  She lifted her arms and extended them straight out
to the right and left, finally bringing them forward and pressing
them together as if she were striving against a great weight.  In
that gesture she seemed to concentrate upon one man alone all the
veiled sin, the careless folly of the scene.

"Man," she cried appealingly, "behold thy handiwork!"

He repulsed her roughly, muttering an oath.  He pushed her from him
into the gutter.  Mostyn sprang forward, fearing that she would fall,
and at that moment, as he dragged her back to the pavement, he caught
a glimpse of the face of the young man who had acted so brutally.

There could be no mistaking those pale, pasty cheeks, nor the thin
streaks of nondescript coloured hair hanging over the forehead--it
was Mostyn's brother Charles--Charles, whose idea of honour had
impelled him to play the part of tale-bearer and slanderer.

Recognition was mutual.  For one moment Charles stood staring at
Mostyn in petrified dismay, then, without a word, he plunged after
his companion into the hansom and was whirled away.

As the cab drove off, Mostyn laughed aloud.  He was not really
surprised.  He had often had his suspicions of Charles in this
particular direction, though he had never voiced them.  Charles
professed to be keenly interested in some East End Mission work, and
it was understood that he stayed occasionally with his friend who
conducted the Mission.  Mostyn remembered that he had arranged to be
absent that particular evening.  Well--it all fell in with Mostyn's
reflections.  Charles was a weaker spirit, and he had yielded to
temptation--yielded dishonourably, hiding his weakness behind a lie.

Mostyn was not vindictive by nature, but he was human enough to be
glad that Charles had recognised him.  Charles--judging according to
his own nature--would certainly conclude that his brother would
retaliate upon him, and he would suffer accordingly.  "Serve him
right, too," was Mostyn's reflection.  "Charles won't enjoy being
found out--and by me.  I hope his conscience will prick him--the

"Paper, captain? last extry speshul?"  A small newsboy, keen-eyed and
ragged, thrust his wares before Mostyn, who fumbled in his pocket and
produced a coin.  He did not really want a paper, but he thought the
lad looked tired and hungry.  He folded his purchase, thrust it away,
and forgot all about it till he was back at the hotel and in the
solitude of his own room.

As he undressed he scanned the pages carelessly, his thoughts in
reality far away.  But suddenly an item of intelligence, under the
stop-press news attracted his attention.  He carried the paper under
the electric light, and, with a gasp of dismay and genuine regret,
perused the paragraph.

"At a late hour to-night, intelligence has come to hand of a fatal
accident to the well-known American financier and explorer, Mr.
Anthony Royce.  Particulars are still wanting, but Mr. Royce's death
is reported to be due to a motor-car mishap."

The paper dropped from Mostyn's hand.  Anthony Royce, in whose
company he had been that very afternoon, who had evinced so much
interest in him for the sake of his dead and gone mother--who had
instigated Mostyn's wild speech about winning a Derby--Anthony Royce
had met with a sudden and tragic death!

Whatever scheme may have been in the financier's mind, whatever the
suggestion that he wished to propose to Mostyn, here was an end to it
all.  Anthony Royce had carried his plan with him to the grave.



Some four or five days later, Mostyn found himself in the private
office of Mr. Gilbert Chester, head partner in the well-known firm of
Chester and Smithers, solicitors.  He had received a mysterious
letter from the firm, requesting him to attend that day upon a matter
of the utmost importance to himself--a matter which would be
explained in full when he visited the office.

The letter had necessarily reached him in a round-about way, for it
had originally been addressed to his father's house in Bryanston
Square, and had then been sent on to him to his lodgings--for he had
allowed no delay before settling himself in an unpretentious
apartment--by Cicely, to whom he had confided his address, and who
had seen to it that the rest of his personal belongings had been
packed and delivered up to him.  Mostyn had at first imagined that
the solicitors may have had some communication to make to him on
behalf of his father, but this would have been strange, for the
latter had never employed the firm of Chester and Smithers.

As he sat with other waiting clients in the outer office, Mostyn
reviewed the circumstances of the last few days.  These had been
anything but satisfactory, and, indeed, he had already made a great
gap in that hundred pounds of his, for he had remembered certain
debts to tradesmen which it was incumbent on him to pay since he
wished to begin his new life with a clean sheet.

He was very disappointed--he had found that his journalist friend was
not in London, having been sent to Scotland to report a big case at
Edinburgh; it might be a week before he returned.  In the meanwhile
Mostyn, in his humble lodgings, was occupying himself by studying
journalism according to the rules laid down in certain books which he
had purchased, and which professed to give complete instruction in
the art.  He varied this by visits to the British Museum, which was
close at hand, with some vague idea in his mind that this was a spot
he would have to frequent in the future, and that it was well to get
accustomed to it at once.

As he had feared, matters had gone wrong, too, with Cicely and
Pierce.  The latter had lost no time in visiting John Clithero.
There had been an angry scene between the two men, and Pierce had
been incontinently shown the door.  Mr. Clithero had declared that he
would never give his consent to his daughter's marriage with such a
man as Pierce Trelawny while he had any say in the matter, and if
Cicely chose to disobey him--well, it would be at her own risk.

Under these circumstances, Pierce had decided to go and see his
father, who lived at Randor Park, in Worcestershire.  What the result
of this visit would be was an open question, and as yet Mostyn had
received no news, though his friend had been gone a couple of days.

At last Mostyn was summoned to the presence of the great man.  Mr.
Chester received him with peculiar warmth.

"I am glad you have taken an early opportunity of seeing us, Mr.
Clithero," so Mr. Chester began.  He always spoke of himself as "we"
or "us," though, indeed, Mr. Smithers, the other partner of the firm,
had long since retired.  "We have some very important intelligence
for you."  He cleared his throat with a little suggestive cough.
"Very important indeed."

"Indeed?" said Mostyn interrogatively, seating himself in a chair
indicated to him by the solicitor.  "I am very much in the dark, Mr.

"The matter concerns the testamentary disposition"--Mr. Chester was
very precise in speech--"of our late client, Mr. Anthony Royce."  The
solicitor toyed with his gold-mounted glasses as he spoke, and stared
hard at his visitor.

"Mr. Royce?"  Mostyn repeated the name in amazement.  "Why, I only
met Mr. Royce once," he stammered, "and that was on the day of his

"Nevertheless you have an interest--a very considerable interest
indeed--in Mr. Royce's will, and this will, or, rather, codicil, I
may inform you, appears to have been written hastily, although duly
signed and witnessed, upon the day that ended so tragically for our
client."  The solicitor carefully polished his glasses with the
border of a silk pocket-handkerchief.

"But this is extraordinary--inexplicable!"  Mostyn could hardly
believe his ears.  It was true that Anthony Royce appeared to have
taken a peculiar interest in him that Derby Day, and then, of course,
there was the story about his having once been in love with Mostyn's
mother, but that he should have gone straight home and made a new
will, almost as though he had anticipated the tragedy that was to
come--this was past understanding.

"Our client was always a man who acted immediately upon any
resolution he may have taken," Mr. Chester explained.  "He had
evidently made up his mind that afternoon, the day upon which he met
you, and, as usual, followed his impulse.  Of course, poor man, he
could not have anticipated that he was to meet his death that night;
indeed, as we happen to know, all his preparations were made for a
second expedition into the heart of Africa.  A fine fellow, Mr.
Clithero, a man of sterling merit, and no one regrets his loss more
than we do.  It was a shocking accident: you know all the
particulars, of course?"

Mostyn nodded: the papers had been very full of the disaster on the
day after it had happened.  Anthony Royce, it appeared, had dined at
his London house after his return from the Derby, and then, at a
later hour of the evening, had left London in his motor-car for his
country residence, which was in the neighbourhood of Ware; it was
upon the road that the accident had happened.  The night had been
very dark, and Royce, who was driving himself, had apparently,
through some accident to the machinery, lost control of the car upon
one of the steep hills in the neighbourhood.  The motor had dashed
into a wall; Royce had been thrown out, receiving a terrible blow
upon the head, the result of which had been almost immediately fatal.

"Let us come to business, Mr. Clithero," the solicitor resumed after
a brief pause.  "I have here a copy of the codicil to Mr. Royce's
will--the codicil which affects yourself.  You will observe that
certain other legacies--legacies mainly to public bodies--are
withdrawn in order to make room for yours.  Mr. Royce was a bachelor,
and apparently he has no relatives in the world, any whom he, at any
rate, cared to benefit.  This is perhaps lucky for you," Mr. Chester
added meaningly, "for, as you will see, the will is a peculiar one,
and might possibly have been contested."

Mostyn was gazing at the paper before him, but at the moment he could
not make head nor tail of it--the words all seemed blurred and
jumbled together.  "What does it mean?" he asked helplessly.

"Mr. Royce bequeaths to you the sum of two and a half million
dollars," Chester explained slowly, tapping the table with his
knuckles as though to enforce the significance of his words.  "But
there are certain conditions--certain conditions," he added, "and you
will, no doubt, find some difficulty in complying with them."

"Conditions?"  Mostyn stared helplessly at the solicitor.

"Just so.  The capital sum of which I have spoken is not to be handed
over to you for the space of a year, though you may enjoy the
interest upon it.  Within this period it is incumbent upon you to win
any one of certain races, the names of which are formally enumerated.
Some dozen are mentioned, and they include the principal events of
the year, together with the five classic races.  A sum of one hundred
thousand dollars, in addition to the interest upon the millions, is
to be placed at your immediate disposal, so that as far as money
goes, Mr. Clithero, you should be well equipped for your task.
Finally, Mr. Royce leaves to you absolutely his property in
Cambridgeshire known as Partinborough Grange."  Mr. Chester ceased
drumming on the desk with his finger, and adjusted his pince-nez upon
his nose.  "I trust you are already well conversant with sporting
matters, Mr. Clithero?" he added.

"Good heavens, no!"  Mostyn stared aghast, the corners of his lips
drawn down.  "I'm as ignorant of sport as the babe unborn!  I don't
even know what the classic events are.  The whole thing is so
extraordinary that I don't know what to say about it; you have dazed
me--taken my breath away!"

"Of course we cannot say what actuated our client to make such a
bequest," said the lawyer smoothly.  "We have only to deal with
facts, and there is no doubt in the present case everything is in
order.  It is a strange will, but it is not likely to be disputed.  I
presume, Mr. Clithero, ignorant of sport though you may be, that you
will do your best to carry out Mr. Royce's wishes?"

"I--I suppose I shall."  Mostyn had taken up the paper from the desk
and was pretending to read it; this, however, was to hide his
embarrassment, and to give him time for reflection.  It was beginning
to dawn upon him that the extraordinary legacy was a result of the
scene upon the coach when he, Mostyn, prompted by Royce, had
undertaken to win a Derby in five years' time.  This eccentric friend
of his had wished to give him a sporting chance of doing so.  But
that Royce should have executed a will that same day, containing,
moreover, such drastic stipulations, that was the inexplicable part
of the whole thing.

Of course there was no question, however, as to what he must do.  He
was put on his mettle; the means were given him of carrying out his
own challenge.  A sense of exhilaration seized him.  Suddenly, and
for no particular reason, Rada's derisive words flashed into his
mind: "You silly boy, you couldn't win a Derby if you lived to a
hundred."  He had felt those words very deeply, they had stung and
wounded him--but now, in an extraordinary manner, the means had been
placed at his disposal, and Rada--not only Rada, but the whole
world--should see what he was made of.

He pulled himself together and sat upright in his chair.  "Mr. Royce
wanted to make a sportsman of me," he said, "I can see that.  Well, I
shall do my best to realise his ambition."

Mr. Chester smiled, the smile that he reserved for his most important
clients, to which number he hoped that Mostyn would be added.  "Well,
I'm sure we wish you all success, Mr. Clithero," he said.  He rose
and extended a white hand.  "Come and see us again to-morrow--let me
see--yes--at 11.15, and we will discuss the matter at length.  By the
way," he added, "since you will, no doubt, wish to visit your new
property shortly, we'll write to the gardener, whose name is Willis,
and who has the charge of it, to notify him that you may be expected
at any time."

As Mostyn reached the door Mr. Chester, suddenly recollecting a duty
omitted, called him back.  He searched for a moment among the papers
of his desk, and finally produced a sealed letter which he handed to
Mostyn.  "This was brought to us to-day, Mr. Clithero," he explained.
"It was evidently written by Mr. Royce on the day of his death, and
should have been posted in the ordinary way.  You see it is stamped
though it has not passed through the post.  Mr. Royce may have
intended to drop it in the box himself and accidentally omitted to do
so.  It appears to have been found in his study.  At any rate, it is
addressed to you, and perhaps it may throw further light upon the
matter of your inheritance."  With which Mr. Chester bowed Mostyn
from the room, and called to his head clerk that he was ready to see
the next client.

Mostyn returned to his humble lodgings, the spirit of elation still
upon him.  What an extraordinary twist had come into his life!  There
was no fear of poverty--no need to depend upon the charity of his
friends--for a year, at least, he was rich and independent, and
ultimately--unless he failed to carry out what was imposed upon
him--the laugh would be with him and not with Rada.  He wondered why
he should think so much about Rada, but of course it was because she
had insulted him, and he had conceived such an antipathy to the girl.

Alone in his own room he opened Anthony Royce's letter, a letter
written, no doubt, when there was no thought in the writer's mind of
the fate that awaited him.

"My dear Mostyn," so he read, "You have bound yourself to-day to win
a Derby in five years.  I suggested ten--but that is immaterial.
Well, I have my own reasons for wishing to help you to do so.  I am
going out of town to-night, but I shall return to-morrow; come and
see me the day after, and we will discuss ways and means.  I have not
the smallest doubt that when your father learns of your escapade
to-day he will turn you out--cut you adrift--but if he does not do
so, my offer may still be acceptable to you.

"You have the true instincts of the sportsman in you, I have seen
that for myself.  Besides, you are your mother's son and I took to
you instinctively from the first.  That is why I feel justified in
helping you to a sporting career.  I don't know what we may decide
between ourselves, but since I am a man who takes no chances, I have
this evening added a codicil to my will, and what I shall propose to
you will be much upon the same lines."

Here followed a recapitulation of the codicil.  "You will see from
this," the letter continued, "that I have no intention of making
things too easy for you.  It is a hard task for any man--even with
unlimited capital--to pull off one of these races in a year.  But if
you succeed, well--you will earn a big fortune, and you may be able
to manage the Derby within the stipulated time.  In any case it gives
you a sporting chance.

"You will ask why I do this, and if it is only out of regard for
yourself and for your mother's memory.  It is not only that, Mostyn.
I will confess that it is by way of revenge upon your father, whom I
have good cause for hating.  You will understand this when I tell you
that he lied about me to the girl to whom I was engaged--your mother;
that he took advantage of my absence from England to spread a calumny
which he, better than anyone else, knew to be absolutely false.  I
returned to England to find my good name injured and the woman I
loved the bride of the very man who had wrought me this wrong.  I
could do nothing at the time, there were reasons which made me
helpless--I was driven from England, and became a naturalised

"But my hatred endured, and, through you, I may obtain the kind of
revenge that is dear to my heart--no very bitter revenge perhaps, but
one that appeals to my sense of humour.  Narrow-minded Pharisee as is
your father, nothing will gall him more than that a son of his should
become known in the world of sport--and if you accept my offer you
will have to steep yourself in racing.  However, we will talk this
over when we meet--it is not very likely that you will be bound by
the terms of a will drawn up by a man in rude health like myself.  I
hope to live to see you win your Derby, my boy--and for many years
after that.  But, as a safeguard to yourself, it is just as well that
the will is there."

A few words of friendship followed, and the letter closed with
Anthony Royce's bold signature.  Mostyn, having read it through
several times, threw himself back in his armchair and gave himself up
to reflection.

He realised that the plot was aimed against his father.  He
remembered how Royce's sides had shaken with silent laughter--the
American was just the sort of man to devise so subtle a revenge.  Had
Royce been still alive--had John Clithero been kinder--Mostyn might
have hesitated before accepting, but now he had no compunction.

"Anthony Royce loved my mother," he muttered to himself, "and she--my
father killed her by his cruelty.  Yes, I'll steep myself in
racing--I'll do all that is desired of me.  I'll keep my word to
Rada, too, and win the Derby.  She won't scoff at me again.  Ah, Miss
Rada, it will be my turn to laugh!"

Suddenly he sprang to his feet and clapped his hands boyishly
together.  "Castor!" he cried.  "Captain Armitage's colt!  The very
thing--entered for the Derby and all!  Rada thinks a lot of the
horse--I heard her say so.  So does Sir Roderick.  And the captain
wants to sell--fifteen hundred pounds--what's fifteen hundred pounds
to me now?"

He thought intently for a moment.  "Jove, how it all works out!" he
cried.  "The Armitages live at Partingborough, and now I'm a man of
property in that neighbourhood.  I'll go and take possession of the
Grange--I'll go to-morrow.  Then I'll make my first investment--I'll
buy Castor.  Oh, Rada"--he laughed aloud in his glee--"I wonder what
you'll say if I win the Derby next year, and with the horse you think
so much of?"  His face grew reflective.  "I can't make up my mind
what I think of you really, Miss Rada Armitage," he said slowly, "I
ought to hate you, but I'm not sure--I'm not sure.  Yet I feel this;
you have come into my life--you have influenced it--and we have not
done with each other yet.  You've put me on my mettle, Rada, and it's
going to be a tussle between us."



On the following day Mostyn travelled down to Partingborough, in
Cambridgeshire, by a late afternoon train.  He had paid a visit to
Messrs. Chester and Smithers that morning, had fully discussed his
plans with Mr. Chester, had learnt that a large sum of money would be
placed to his credit that day, and that he could draw upon the firm
for more should he require it; then he had broached a subject which
had been worrying his mind during the night.

"If the details of this extraordinary will are given to the public,"
he said, "it's very plain that my task will be made more
difficult--for me.  Dealers will ask what they like for their horses
because they will know that I simply must purchase.  Every swindler
in England will be on my track.  I shall be exploited right and left.
That's clear, I think.  Now, Mr. Chester, is it essential that the
will shall be published before my year is up?"

Mr. Chester gave the matter his very careful attention.  It was
palpably a point of importance.  When he spoke it was in his usual
oracular vein.

"What you say is very reasonable, Mr. Clithero, and, upon
consideration, we think we can meet you in the matter.  There will be
no difficulty in realising the estate of the late Mr. Royce, since it
is mainly in American gold bonds, payable to bearer; and, since the
ultimate trusts are of such a nature that they will not come into
force for a full year, we see no reason why probate should not be
delayed for the period you require.  This must, of course, be subject
to the consent of the American agents, but we do not anticipate
difficulty with them."

Mostyn felt intensely relieved, and said so.  He had been dreading
the amount of public interest that would certainly have been aroused
in his undertaking.  Now he would confide in Pierce and Cicely, but
in no one else.

This point settled, Mostyn took his departure, after announcing his
intention of going down to Partinborough that day.  He had an idea in
his head that Mr. Royce may have had some subtle object in mind in
bequeathing him this estate, situated, as it was, so close to the
home of the Armitages.  Was it perhaps Castor of which he had been
thinking--or could he have desired to throw Mostyn and Rada together?
It was impossible to guess.  All Mostyn knew of his property was that
it had been rarely occupied by the American, and that the house was
an old one, only partly furnished and very much out of repair.

Mostyn studied racing literature as he travelled down in the train,
totally ignoring magazines, of which he was usually fond, and every
form of light reading.  He had purchased the evening paper solely
with the object of absorbing the sporting intelligence.  Ruff's Guide
and a stud book bulged prominently in the pocket of his blue serge
coat; he had promised himself that these works should be his
inseparable companions during the months to come.  Oh, yes, he would
soon be well up in sporting technicalities; he laughed at himself now
as he remembered his blunders on Derby day.  To have asked the age of
Hipponous--to have suggested that Hipponous should run in the
Oaks--and above all to have been taken in by that old joke about the
Waterloo Cup--his cheeks reddened even now as he thought of it.

He wished he had been able to talk it all over with Pierce, but
Pierce was still away at his father's house in Worcestershire: Mostyn
had received a letter from him that afternoon, just as he was leaving
for the station.  He had perused it hastily, and then thrust it into
his pocket.  Now, having time at his disposition, he drew it out and
read it for the second time.

"Poor Pierce," he muttered to himself, "poor old chap!"  The letter
was not a cheerful one, as, perhaps, was to be expected.  Old Mr.
Trelawny had not shown himself very amenable, this although he was
admittedly fond of Cicely for her own sake.  He was a bluff old
gentleman of the old school, a thorough sportsman, and he cordially
despised John Clithero and John Clithero's doctrines.  He listened
with considerable interest to the story of Mostyn's rebellion and the
refusal of the latter to submit to his father.  "A brave lad!" he had
cried, "I like his spirit."  He had repeated this several times,
somewhat to Pierce's annoyance, whose thoughts were concentrated upon
his own affairs.

Finally, Pierce had obtained a concession.  Since Cicely would not be
twenty-one till the expiration of another twelve months, Pierce was
to wait a year without seeing or writing to the girl, and if he was
of the same mind at the end of that time, Mr. Trelawny would offer no
further opposition.  Pierce might marry his sweetheart, regardless of
John Clithero's disapproval.  But the year's probation was to be a
_sine qua non_.

"If you deceive me over that, my boy, there'll be a row," so the old
gentleman had asserted with a good deal of vigour and a quaint
raising of the eye-brows that was peculiar to him.  "Jove, I'll cut
you off like Clithero has cut off Mostyn.  Remember that.  Write to
Cicely and tell her what I say--and then not another letter.  That's
my decree, and you'd better stick to it."

"I can't quite make the governor out," so Pierce wrote.  "He spoke
very decidedly, but there was a queer look in his eyes, as though he
thought it was rather a joke to forbid me seeing the girl I love for
a whole year.  I suppose he thinks I shall find someone else in the
meantime, but I won't, and that's very certain.  We shall just have
to wait the year--and that will be hard enough for both of us."

Mostyn, having read the letter with genuine sympathy, put it
carefully away, reflecting that it was strange that Pierce, like
himself, should have a year's probation before him.  He had written
to his friend the night before, telling him, in confidence, something
of his accession to fortune and the conditions imposed thereon,
inviting him also to come to Partinborough Grange and talk the future
over as early as possible.

Partinborough station reached, Mostyn descended from the train and
looked about for Samuel Willis and the conveyance which he had asked
by letter to be sent to meet him.  But Samuel Willis was conspicuous
by his absence, nor was there a sign of any kind of carriage on the
long level road outside the little wayside station.  Could it be
possible that his letter had miscarried, and that the gardener had
not been warned of his coming?

Under these circumstances it was necessary for Mostyn to hire a cab,
and there was a delay of some twenty minutes--which Mostyn spent at
the Station Hotel--till the ramshackle old conveyance was brought
round.  The little town of Partinborough, he learnt, lay about a mile
from the station, on the main road to Newmarket, and the Grange
occupied a rather isolated position another mile further on.

It was nearly seven o'clock when, having passed through the little
town and then negotiated some extremely narrow and rutty lanes, the
cab came to a halt for a moment, while the driver descended from his
box to open a wooden gate that gave access to a drive through a small

Mostyn concluded, and concluded rightly, that he was now upon his own
property.  He gazed about him with curiosity.  The road branched, and
the wood was denser than he had first thought.  To the left there was
an incline, below which, and just visible through the thickly-massed
trees, Mostyn could discern the glimmer of a little stream.  Upon the
other side the trees became gradually less dense, till between them
an open space, evidently an undulating lawn, could be distinguished.
Presently, the road made an abrupt turn in this direction, and the
house came in sight.

Even at a cursory view it was evident that Partinborough Grange was
of considerable antiquity.  It was a house of no great size, but it
had many gables and was pleasantly irregular in proportion.  It was
ivy-covered, too, almost to the roof, and the windows were framed
with rose creepers.  The porch before which the carriage drew up was
a veritable mass of white and red blooms.

Mostyn's heart leapt delightedly within him.  He had often pictured
to himself a house like this, and now his dreams were realised.
Partinborough Grange was his own--absolutely his own--and not only
the Grange, but this wide expanse of wood, this spreading lawn with
its carefully-tended flower-beds, and its pergola of roses; however
negligent Samuel Willis, the gardener, may have been in not attending
to instructions as to meeting the train, he was undoubtedly
accomplished at his craft.

Mostyn alighted from the carriage, and almost as he did so, the door
was thrown open, and a tall man, curiously thin and cadaverous of
face, made his appearance.  His manner was nervous, but he spoke
civilly, and was evidently anxious to appear at his best.

"You are Mr. Clithero, sir?" he began, awkwardly.  "I am Samuel

"You had my letter?" interrupted Mostyn, seeing that the man
hesitated as though at a loss for words.  "I expected that you would
have sent a cart to meet me.  I mentioned the time that I should

"Yes, sir."  The man blurted out his explanation.  "But unfortunately
I didn't get your letter till about half an hour ago.  It was like
this, my boy, who's workin' for Colonel Marchmont at Mowbray Hall, a
couple of miles on the other side of Partinborough, met with a bad
accident last night, and me and my missus went out early this mornin'
to be with him.  That's how it was, sir, that neither of us saw your
letter.  It's a good thing I came back when I did.  I meant to fetch
the cart and bring him home, for the doctor says he must lie up a

"I see," said Mostyn, pleasantly, evincing no annoyance
whatever--this, evidently, very much to the gardener's relief.  "I
found my own way up quite safely, you see.  And I am very sorry to
hear about your son--I hope he isn't seriously hurt."

Willis replied that he anticipated no danger.  The boy was raw at his
work, and had carelessly damaged his foot with a scythe.  The doctor
had patched him up, and he would be on the mend in a day or two; but
in the meantime, there was the necessity of driving over to Mowbray
Hall that evening to fetch both Willis's wife and his son back to the

"You can go as soon as you have shown me over the place," Mostyn
said, "I don't the least mind being left alone--that is, if I can get
something to eat, and if there is a bed ready for me to sleep on.
What time do you expect to return?"

"Well, sir, the doctor's coming round again a little before nine, he
said.  I expect we could be back at the cottage by ten.  In the
meanwhile, I can arrange for your dinner, and make you quite
comfortable for the night."

"That's all right, then," agreed Mostyn, "I shall manage quite well
for myself after you have gone."  He turned and settled with the
driver of his cab, paying him liberally out of the fulness of his
heart, and then requested Samuel Willis to lead the way into the
house.  His luggage--such as it was, for he had not thought well to
bring much with him, being uncertain as to the length of his
stay--had already been carried into the hall.

"You know all about my having become the owner of the Grange?" Mostyn
said, as he followed the gardener.  "I suppose Messrs. Chester and
Smithers gave you the full particulars."

"Yes, sir," returned the man civilly, "but we did not expect that you
would be coming down so soon, or I should have been on the look out
for a letter."

Mostyn made some complimentary remark about the garden, and then
added with a laugh, "I understood that the house was in a dilapidated
condition, a sort of ruin, in fact.  I am pleasantly surprised to
find it so well kept."

"It's better from the outside than within," returned Willis, "as you
will see for yourself, sir.  My wife does her best, but there's more
work than one woman can manage.  There are only some four or five
rooms furnished, and the others--well, they would need a lot of doin'
up before they could be occupied.  As for the garden--well, I can
manage that, and I love my flowers."

Mostyn was staring round the hall in which he stood.  It was square
of shape, panelled in oak, and a gallery ran round two sides of it--a
gallery which was approached by an uncarpeted flight of stairs at the
far end.  There was but little furniture, though everything that
Mostyn's eyes rested upon was quaint and old-fashioned.  There were
high-backed chairs, elaborately carved, a great oaken coffer, and a
fine old grandfather's clock, the loud ticking of which sounded
pleasantly to the ear.  The fireplace was large in proportion to the
size of the hall, and the hearth was broad; there were delightful
ingle nooks to either side of it.  Against the opposite wall there
was an organ, a small affair, and evidently of modern make: its
pipes, which had been gilded and painted, were now discoloured, and
harmonised quaintly with the more antique decorations of the hall.
The floor was uncarpeted, but a few fine rugs, bear and tiger skins,
lay about.  A large lamp was suspended in the centre, and Samuel
Willis now occupied himself with the lighting of this, for the dusk
was closing in.

There were two other rooms upon the ground floor which had been
furnished, and these were just as quaint and old-fashioned, both in
design and equipment as the hall itself.  The broad oaken beams that
traversed the ceilings indicated their age.  Of the two, the
drawing-room presented the greater semblance of comfort and
modernity.  It had pretty chintz furniture, comfortable arm-chairs,
and the pictures on the walls were bright water-colour landscapes.
The walls themselves, above the oaken panelling, were distempered in
white, and, unlike the other rooms, there was a good carpet covering
the whole floor.  The windows gave direct access to the garden, and
as it stood partly open, the scent of roses was pleasantly wafted to
Mostyn's nostrils.  There were a couple of shaded lamps, which the
gardener proceeded to light, and some of the tall vases that stood
upon the mantel-piece and in other parts of the room had been filled
with bunches of great red roses; Mostyn imagined that this had been a
kindly attention upon the part of Willis, and felt grateful to the

The dining-room was not altogether so cheerful an apartment.  It was
panelled from floor to ceiling in oak, which in places was very
palpably rotting away.  There were no pictures upon the wall, nor any
attempt at the lighter ornamentations which prevailed in the other
room; the ceiling was dingy and discoloured between the great beams
which traversed it, and the floor was carpetless--little holes
appearing here and there in the boards close against the
wainscotting--to Mostyn's mind, unpleasantly suggestive of rats.  A
fine table occupied the centre of the room, and upon this a white
cloth had already been spread.

"I've done my best about your dinner, sir," Willis said
deprecatingly, "but I'm afraid, since I had no notice of your coming,
that there is not much that I can do.  I don't understand cookin'----"

"Never mind," Mostyn laughed, "I can manage with anything you've got,
or can go down to the inn for the matter of that."

Willis explained that he had brought up a cold chicken and some
accessories, also that Mr. Clithero would find that there were
bottles of good wine in the cellar; if he could do with these.

Mostyn declared that he could do with these quite well.  In fact, he
would need nothing else that night, and on the next day he could have
a long chat with Mrs. Willis and make all the necessary arrangements.

After this the bedrooms were explored, to reach which it was
necessary to pass along the gallery that skirted the hall.  Of these
only a couple were furnished, all the other rooms being in a state of
deplorable decay.

"Mr. Royce was always going to furnish the house," Willis explained
apologetically, "but when he gave up racing he didn't seem to care to
come down any more.  He took the Grange because it is near the
training stables, you know, sir.  William Treves has a big place just
outside Partinborough."

The beds were made in both rooms; and Willis explained that his wife
had seen to this when she heard that the Grange had passed into other
hands, and would probably be shortly occupied.  "She has tidied up
the place as well as she could," he added.  "I hope you'll be all
right and comfortable, sir."

Mostyn glanced round the large airy room which he had selected, and
told himself that there was every prospect of his comfort.  The room,
indeed, had not the appearance of having been long unoccupied, and
Mostyn noticed, somewhat to his surprise, that the attentive
Willis--or could it have been Mrs. Willis?--had even been thoughtful
enough to fill the vases here, as in the drawing-room, with rich and
fresh rose-blooms.

"It's awfully nice to have these flowers," he commented; "I must
really congratulate you, Willis, upon having arranged things so
comfortably for me."

A tinge of colour came into the gardener's sallow face, and he turned
away, as Mostyn thought, a little nervously.

"You're very good, sir," was all he said.

Mostyn enjoyed his dinner, impromptu meal though it was, nor did he
neglect an excellent bottle of claret that Willis produced from the
cellar.  He felt quite contented and happy, nor had he any sensation
of loneliness when, a little later, he heard the dog-cart pass the
front door and knew that Willis had taken his departure.  Mostyn had
told the gardener that there was no need either for him or for his
wife to return that night.  Their cottage, he had learnt, lay within
the little park by which Partinborough Grange was surrounded, some
five or six minutes' walk from the house.

After a while he amused himself by once more exploring all the rooms
on the ground floor, and then he mounted to his bedroom, determined
to unpack and put everything straight for the night.  After that he
thought that it might be pleasant to have a stroll amid the roses of
the now moon-lit garden.

He found, however, that it took longer to put things tidy than he had
anticipated, and, furthermore, he made one or two curious discoveries
in the room which he had determined to occupy.  There was a large
hanging cupboard, and here, very much to his amusement, he came
across some articles of feminine apparel--a jacket, a cape, a straw
hat, and sundry other garments which he did not venture to examine
more closely.

"I think it must be true," he smiled to himself, "that this room has
not really been so long unoccupied.  No doubt Mrs. Willis finds it
more to her taste than the cottage.  Or perhaps Mrs. Willis has a
daughter," he added, as he glanced critically at the dainty straw hat
and marked the juvenile cut of the jacket.  "I really don't think
that Mrs. Willis can be the owner of these!"

A little later he found a hairpin lying on the floor, and became
still more convinced that his room must have been occupied by some
member of the Willis household.  The fact troubled him, however, not
at all, and he laughed to himself as he recalled the gardener's
nervousness of manner when he had drawn attention to the roses upon
the mantelpiece.  "Whoever has made herself at home here," he told
himself, "must at any rate have a nice idea of comfort and the beauty
of things.  I can make every allowance for people who like flowers."

He was stooping over the portmanteau which he was engaged in
unpacking, and, at that moment, it seemed to him that he heard a
faint sound in the house, as of the opening and shutting of a door.
He raised himself to his knees and listened, but all was still.

"I didn't think I was so imaginative," he muttered, after a moment.
"I suppose that comes of being alone in a half-furnished house--so
far away from everything, too."  He glanced round the room and at the
open window, which looked out upon the lawn--a lawn intersected by
dark shadows and silver streaks of moonlight.  "It never struck me
before, either," he went on, "that there might be a ghost at
Partinborough Grange; it's just the place for one."  He laughed at
himself, not being in reality nervous, and, if anything, rather
enjoying the sense of his isolation.  He decided that he would finish
his unpacking quickly, and then make his way to the garden.  The
night was soft and balmy, and the air was fragrant with roses.  It
would be better there than in the house.

He bent himself once more to his task, throwing out his belongings to
either side of him in the careless way of a man.  Then of a sudden,
he paused, a pair of shoes in one hand, a case of razors in the
other, and listened attentively.  Another moment and he had dropped
shoes and razors and started to his feet.

He did not know if he was afraid, though certainly at the first
moment a cold shiver had run down his spine, and there had been a
peculiar sensation as if perspiration were about to break out on his
brow.  He felt hot and cold at the same time, and yet he was not
conscious of any actual fear.

It was such a strange thing to be happening in an empty house, and,
at first, Mostyn had hardly believed his ears.  But now there was no
doubt about it--someone was in the hall, and that someone was playing
the organ.

The sound had at first come so softly that it had been really like a
breath of wind stirring in the pipes; Mostyn had thought that it must
be something of the sort, till he had remembered that there was
practically no wind that night.  Yet it was possible that the sound
was due to some perfectly natural cause quite apart from human agency.

He listened with hazy ideas of the kind in his mind, until it was
evident that something like a tune--a weird, dreamy tune, certainly,
was being developed, and that it was impossible to doubt any longer
that human fingers were touching the keys of the organ.

But who could it be?  Who could have broken in and disturbed his
privacy in so extraordinary a manner?

Mostyn opened the door of his room and stole out upon the balcony,
moving as stealthily as he could, anxious to see without being seen.
He did not feel afraid--he was actuated by wonder and curiosity.

The great lamp that hung from the ceiling above illuminated the hall.
Mostyn looked straight down over the banisters at the mysterious
player of the organ.

It was a girl, and, as Mostyn recognised at once, there was nothing
ghostly or fantastic about her neat and well-fitting coat and skirt,
which were of some light material.  Her head was averted, and she
seemed to be allowing her fingers to roam over the keys half
unconsciously, as though she were simply giving way to her fancy.
She was wearing a hat, a neat straw, not very dissimilar to the one
which Mostyn had found in his room, and it was evidently she whom he
had heard enter the house not very long before.

Presently, as he stood there, silently staring at his strange
visitor, she turned her head, her attention attracted perhaps by the
light from the door which Mostyn had left open behind him.

Their eyes met.  The girl gave a sharp scream and started up,
overthrowing the carved music stool upon which she had been seated.
It was very clear that the apparition of a man in the gallery was as
unexpected to her as was her appearance in the hall to Mostyn.

And, simultaneously with her cry, an exclamation of surprise and
wonder escaped Mostyn also.  He could not help himself.

"Rada, by all that's holy," he cried.  And then, involuntarily, the
girl's name came again to his lips.  "Rada!"



For a few moments they stood, the man in the gallery, the girl in the
hall, staring at each other in petrified astonishment.  Neither the
one nor the other seemed capable of moving.

It was the girl who recovered herself first and broke the silence.
She was evidently possessed of a fine spirit.  "Who are you?" she
cried, her voice faltering a little, but raised sufficiently for him
to distinguish what she said.  "Who are you, and how dare you come

This was good, considering that it was Mostyn's own house, and the
incongruity of the question restored him to his normal power of
reflection.  It was Rada who was the trespasser, not he; there was
evidently a misunderstanding upon both sides, a misunderstanding that
must be explained away; but it was very awkward that it should be
Rada Armitage of all persons in the world with whom he must
parley--Rada, his pet aversion.

He drew close to the banisters, leaning over so as to make his voice
quite audible; even to himself it sounded hoarse and strained,
echoing through the emptiness of the house.  "My name is Mostyn
Clithero," he said, "and I have every right to be here.  We have met
before, Miss Armitage.  But please wait, and I will come down to
you."  He spoke the last words rather hurriedly, having some fear in
his mind that she might run away, make her escape by the front door
before he could reach her side.

This, however, she did not seem at all disposed to do.  Instead, she
broke out into a soft laugh--a laugh that was musical in tone, but
which grated upon Mostyn's ears, for it reminded him of her attitude
towards him upon Derby day.  She had remembered him, then, as soon as
he had mentioned his name, and the recollection was one to arouse her

Mostyn set his teeth firmly, and descended the broken and rickety
staircase with all the dignity that he could muster.

Rada was still standing beside the organ.  She had picked up the
fallen music-stool and replaced it in position.  She stood almost
directly under the over-hanging lamp, a lamp shaded in red, which
added its lustre to the rich colouring of her face.  An unruly lock
of black hair hung over her forehead, and she was still smiling as
Mostyn approached her--smiling, her lips parted over a row of white,
even teeth.  She had quite recovered her self-possession, whereas
Mostyn felt that he was trembling, partly with nervousness and partly
with indignation.

"I thought you were Willis, the gardener, when I first saw you up
there in the gallery, and had got over my surprise.  You made me
jump, you know, because I imagined I was all alone in the house."
She was quite taking command of the situation.  "So you are Mr.
Mostyn Clithero," she went on.  "I remember you quite well, though
what you are doing in Partinborough Grange at this time of night is a
mystery to me."

She had waited till Mostyn had reached the bottom of the stairs
before speaking; now she seated herself upon the music-stool, leaning
an elbow upon a corner of the organ, staring Mostyn fully in the
face, with a great assumption of ease and self-confidence.

"Perhaps you will explain yourself," she added, when he reached her

Mostyn felt himself in a ridiculous position.  It was he who was
being called upon to give an explanation, and yet Rada Armitage was
so palpably the intruder, the one who should be summoned to explain.

"I am here," he faltered, almost apologetically, "because the house
is mine, and I have to-day come down from London to take possession
of it."

"Partinborough Grange yours?"  Rada had ceased to smile, but she was
in no way disconcerted.  "How can that be?  The Grange belonged to
Mr. Royce.  He was no relation of yours, was he?"

"He left me the house by will," Mostyn explained; "that is the simple
truth.  And now, Miss Armitage----"

He was about to ask her to account for her presence, but she
interrupted him sharply.  "And how dared you call me by my Christian
name just now?  I don't think I have allowed you that privilege!"

She did not speak as though she were annoyed.  In spite of the
sharpness of her tone there was a curious laughing light in her eyes,
a half-mocking expression, which Mostyn could not understand, though
he felt that he was blushing scarlet, and was proportionately angry
with himself.

Why should he have called her Rada?  Why had he, ever since that day
upon the coach, thought of her by that name?  The word had escaped
him involuntarily, and no doubt the girl had every right to be

"I beg your pardon," he said humbly.  "I must apologise for that.  It
was in the surprise of the moment----"

"I see."  Her eyes were still sparkling, and she was palpably
enjoying Mostyn's discomfiture as well as the whole situation.  She
stretched out her hand, a daintily-fashioned hand with small, cool
fingers.  "I'll forgive you, Mr. Clithero, and I suppose it is I who
must humbly ask your pardon for my intrusion.  Awfully
unconventional, isn't it?  But I'm not a lady burglar come after the
silver--there is none, by the way--or anything of that sort.  I'm
quite a commonplace little person, really."

Mostyn took the girl's hand in his and held it, perhaps a little
longer than he needed.  "You're not commonplace," he faltered
awkwardly; "you're anything but that.  You're more like a sprite or a

It was curious how she attracted him, and yet he was quite sure she
was mocking him all the time, laughing at him in her heart.  He would
have liked to have refused her hand, to have spoken formally, to have
shown her that he was not the sort of man to be made mock of: and yet
all these impulses were put aside by that extraordinary fascination
which she had over him, and for which he could not account, the
fascination which had made him think of her so often during the last
week, and which had brought her Christian name to his lips in the
first moment of surprise.  He was sure that he hated her--and yet he
had held her hand longer than he need have done, and perhaps with
firmer grip than was necessary.

The worst of it was that Rada seemed to understand this, to have the
knowledge of her power: she would only laugh at him all the more.

"Call me a mischievous imp," she retorted, brushing back the
recalcitrant curl, "if that's what you mean.  Don't be shy, Mr.
Clithero.  After that I'll explain why I'm here, and then go."

Of course she must go.  What else could be suggested?  That is what
Mostyn thought, yet when he came to speak he gave expression to a
very different sentiment.  "I--I'm sure I don't know why you are
here, Miss Armitage," he faltered; "but if you really meant to
stay--well, I can clear out, you know, for to-night anyway.  I
believe there's an inn at Partinborough."

She laughed musically.  "Well, we'll see.  But let's go into the
drawing-room to talk: it's more cosy there, and I can make myself
comfortable in my favourite chair.  This hall's always full of
shadows, and we look like a pair of ghosts.  Then there are the roses
in the drawing-room that I put there myself this morning."  She spoke
as though she were the hostess, and with complete self-possession.
It was she who led the way and Mostyn who followed, still bewildered,
and at war with himself.

So there was no doubt about it now; it was Rada who had filled those
vases with flowers, and who had evidently occupied the room which he
had selected for his own.  But why on earth had Willis not given some

They entered the drawing-room, and Rada installed herself in one of
the comfortable chintz-covered arm chairs.  She was seated with her
back to the unshuttered window, through which the moon, fully risen
by now, could be seen riding in a cloudless and star-sprinkled sky.
At that moment a rumble of carriage wheels made itself heard along
the drive.

"What's that?" queried Rada, looking round sharply.

"It's the Willis's driving back to their cottage," said Mostyn
shortly.  "Their son met with an accident, and they had to bring him
home.  Since you seem to be a regular visitor here, Miss Armitage, I
cannot understand why Willis said nothing to me about you."  As he
spoke the dog-cart with its three occupants passed the window and
disappeared, the noise of wheels gradually dying away in the distance.

"I am never here for more than one night at a time," explained Rada,
"and I suppose, since I slept here last night, that Mr. Willis did
not expect me to turn up again.  I was about the garden all the
morning, and wondered what had become of him.  I put the roses in the
vases, but I suppose he thought they were yesterday's."

"I see."  Mostyn slowly nodded his head.  He had seated himself
facing the girl, and he could not withdraw his eyes from her face.
How bewitchingly elf-like she looked, as she sat there with the light
of the moon shining upon her--for the room was but dimly lit by the
shaded lamps at the far end.  Yes, elf-like was the word, or perhaps
Rada was even more correct in describing herself as an imp.  She had
taken off her flower-bedecked hat, and her black, glistening curls
framed a face that seemed to glow with life and mischief.

"It's all very simple," she went on.  "You see, Mr. Clithero, we
live, my father and I, not very far from here.  It's only a couple of
miles across the fields, though a bit longer by road.  Barton Mill is
the name of the place; it was once the old mill-house, but the mill's
been disused for years.  We are not well off, and my father got the
house for next to nothing."

Rada bit her lip, as though her explanation was not as easy as she
had thought, then continued: "My father's a queer-tempered man, and I
suppose I'm rather an impossible person myself at times.  We are apt
to have little quarrels."  She flushed slightly, a very unusual thing
with Rada, as she made the admission.  "When there's any little
difference between us," she went on, "I run away, and instal myself
here for twenty-four hours or so; then, when I go home things are all
right again.  I'm great friends with Mr. and Mrs. Willis, and they
are accustomed to have me about the place."

Mostyn, from his own experience with Captain Armitage, could easily
appreciate the discomforts of the girl's home.  Rada's father was a
drunkard--there was no other word for it--and it was easy to imagine
that there were times when he would become quite unbearable: it stood
to reason that the girl must sometimes have a hard time of it.

"I'm quite a wild creature when I'm in the country, you see, Mr.
Clithero," Rada resumed; "not at all the same girl whom you saw in
London playing at gentility."  She was speaking earnestly now, the
mockery of her manner put aside.  This was an extraordinary
characteristic of Rada's, and one that Mostyn had already noticed.
She would pass quickly from mood to mood; she was just as capricious
as an April day.

She sighed, and glanced round the room.  "I have almost come to look
upon everything here as my own," she said, "and I shall feel having
to be shut out in the future."

Mostyn leant forward, speaking eagerly, and again expressing himself
with words that he had no intention of saying.  "I hope you will come
here as often as you like, Miss Armitage.  I am glad to know that we
are such near neighbours.  I shall probably live here, because I want
to be near the training stables.  I am going in for racing," he added

Once more she broke out into musical laughter, laughter which had the
ring of derision in it.  Mostyn drew himself up stiffly; the
momentary spell which had fallen upon him was broken.

"You are going in for racing, Mr. Clithero--you!"  There was painful
emphasis upon the pronoun.  "Do you mean to say that you've taken up
my challenge of the other day seriously?  You are going to win the
Derby in five years' time?  Forgive me laughing, but really, I'm only
a girl, but I'll back myself to win the Derby before you, and with
some hope of success."

She spoke without measuring her words, and perhaps without the
intention of giving offence.  "Are you going to enter a horse for the
Waterloo Cup too?" she queried; this amid peals of soft but impudent

Mostyn drew himself up, but the worst of it was, that in the presence
of this girl, he could make such a poor show of dignity.  He could
not even restrain himself from that absurd habit of blushing.  "I
made a fool of myself that day, I know," he said heatedly, "but it
isn't generous of you to recall it; it isn't as if you knew all the
circumstances--I----"  He broke off suddenly, staring fixedly at the
window before him.

Rada saw that her words had stung and wounded.  She was not spiteful
at heart, though despite herself her tongue would run away with her.
She had no dislike for Mostyn; on the contrary, she had told herself
that day upon the coach that he was quite a good-looking boy, and
that she would have preferred his company to that of young
Caldershot, who was, after all, nothing but an empty-headed fop,
whose conversation was all about himself.  Rada had quite decided in
her own mind that Mostyn was to be her cavalier that day, and she had
been more than a little piqued at his lack of attention, which
perhaps accounted for the snubbing he had received.

"Don't be cross," she began, a little conscience-stricken.  "I didn't
mean----"  Suddenly she realised the fixity of his gaze upon the
window.  "What are you staring at?" she asked, turning her head and
following the direction of his eyes.

Mostyn sprang from his chair, and without answering her strode across
to the window, throwing it open, and gazing out into the night.  He
had imagined, just as he was replying to Rada, that he had caught
sight of a face, the face of a man, staring in at the window--a face
flattened against the glass, appearing through it distorted,
malignant, and hideous.

He had been so occupied with his own sense of wrong that it had been
a few moments before he had actually realised the face.  The ivy and
creepers grew thick about the window, and as he stared vacantly he
had thought that what he saw was merely due to the peculiar form
taken by an overhanging spray of ivy.  But, as he looked, the face
had taken shape; he had seen a pair of glistening eyes, a flattened
nose and an ugly, grinning mouth.  It was then that he sprang up and
made his sudden dart to the window.

But when he opened it and stepped out upon the soft grass there was
no one to be seen.  He looked up and down the road; he took a few
steps in either direction, then told himself that he must have been
deceived: it was the ivy, after all, which had caused the delusion.
He stepped back into the drawing-room, closing the window after him
and attempting to put up the shutters, which had evidently not been
touched for years.

"What was it?" asked Rada, who had risen and was standing by his side.

He told her.  "I thought I saw a face--the face of a man," he said.

"What was he like?" Rada looked concerned, almost frightened.

"I don't know; I can't describe him, for the face was contorted by
the glass.  But it was all an absurd mistake of mine, and there
wasn't anything there really, but just the ivy."

"I wonder."  Rada's voice shook.  "This is a lonely place."  She
glanced at a little gold watch which she wore.  "It is nearly ten
o'clock," she went on nervously, "and we have been sitting here
talking without making up our minds what we are going to do."

"Let me go to the inn," Mostyn said; then he glanced doubtfully at
the girl, "though I don't think it's right that you should stay in a
lonely house like this all by yourself," he added.

"I've done so many times before."  The girl spoke with some defiance;
then her eyes turned nervously in the direction of the window, before
which Mostyn was vainly struggling to fix the shutters.  "But I don't
know that I care to to-night," she added, the look of challenge
fading from her eyes with one of those rapid changes peculiar to her.
"I--I think I'm frightened."

Indeed she looked frightened, more frightened, perhaps, than the
occasion demanded, and it was quite useless for Mostyn to try and
argue that what he had seen was in reality nothing more than a
cluster of ivy.

"You must walk with me to the Willis's cottage," she said.  "We know
that they have returned, and I shall be quite safe there."  Her eyes
were timorous, and she trembled as she stood by his side.  It was as
though she was conscious of some personal danger, of a threat, a
menace, to herself.  All Mostyn's anger faded away.

And so it was arranged.  Rada was restless and nervous, unable to
talk on any topic whatever, quite incapable of listening to the
explanation which Mostyn had desired to make as to his taking up
racing.  He would have liked to have told her, too, about Castor, and
the offer which had been made to him by Captain Armitage.  It seemed
only fair to do so, for he had an idea that she might not approve of
the captain's decision to sell his horse.  Not that Mostyn would
allow this to affect him, so he told himself.  He had been challenged
by Rada to a sort of contest, a challenge repeated that day, and he
could use any tactics he chose, as long as they were straight and

But she gave him no opportunity to speak.  She hurried him down the
broad drive, a road which was as yet strange to him, and which, like
the one that he had already traversed, skirted the lawn and then
plunged into the wood, leading direct to the Willis's cottage, which
was on the further boundary of the estate.

As they stepped rapidly among the trees, she kept turning her head to
the right and the left.  "What's that?" she would say, and then,
gripping his arm with real alarm, "I'm sure I heard footsteps
following us; there's someone hiding in the wood!"

Perhaps Mostyn caught the infection of her nervousness; at any rate,
there were moments when he, too, heard, or imagined he heard, the
sound of the cracking of dry wood, as if the twigs were being broken
under a heavy heel.  Once he halted and cried out, "Who's there?" but
there was no reply, and he comforted his trembling little companion
with the assurance that they were both in safety.

It was he who was self-possessed now, for they stood in a different
relation to each other.  He was the man, and Rada was just a
sensitive, frightened girl, who needed his support and protection.
That walk through the wood, small event as it was, was not without
its effect upon Mostyn's subsequent relations with Rada.

Whether they were being followed or not, they reached the gardener's
cottage in safety, and presently the door was opened to them by Mrs.
Willis herself, a homely, comfortable woman with an engaging smile.

Rada quickly explained her wish to stay at the cottage; then she
turned to Mostyn, and once more extended her hand.  "Thank you for
bringing me," she murmured, "and if I said things to make you cross,
please forgive me."  She was altogether charming at that moment, and
once more the touch of her fingers sent a thrill through Mostyn's
whole being.

"Shall I see you to-morrow?" he asked hastily.

"I don't know."  She shrugged her shoulders.  "I may go back home, I
may not; I always act on impulse."  She was smiling now, secure in
the company of the gardener's wife.  Presently, with a nod and a
smile, she disappeared into the cottage, and Mostyn was left to make
his way back to the Grange alone.

This time there was no sound in the wood on either side of him, and
he was quite certain that his footsteps were not dogged.  It must
have been imagination, after all.

He thought of Rada as he walked.  "What a witch she is," he muttered,
"and how she fascinates me!  Do I hate her, I wonder, or----"  He did
not finish the phrase, perhaps because he could not answer the



At an unreasonably early hour the next morning Mostyn, who had slept
peacefully enough in his new quarters, was aroused by the advent of
Willis, the gardener.  The latter, as on the day before, seemed
concerned as to the reception which might be offered him.  He rubbed
his lantern jaws nervously with a work-hardened forefinger while he
informed Mostyn that it was a fine day, and that he had brought up
the hot water for shaving.

"How's the boy?" asked Mostyn, stretching himself and yawning, but
half awake.

"Nicely, thank you, sir."  Willis drew a breath of relief.  No doubt
he had expected to be taken severely to task for not having revealed
to his master the fact of Rada Armitage's frequent occupation of the
Grange, a trespass which he had palpably condoned.  "Miss Rada's been
very good to him, pore lad, and is goin' to send him some books to
read.  Reads a treat, does our Jim."  Willis spoke Miss Armitage's
name as though to give the necessary opening for explanations.  And
these were immediately demanded by Mostyn, who woke up completely at
the mention of the girl's name.

The explanation was as Rada had hinted.  Her appearance had not been
looked for since she had slept at the Grange the night before, and
had never yet spent two consecutive nights there.  Willis meant to
have taken the earliest opportunity of warning her that the Grange
was no longer unoccupied; he had thought it would not be necessary to
mention the matter to Mr. Clithero at all.  As for the clothes in the
cupboard, he had quite forgotten all about them, and he had thought
that the roses in the vases had been left from overnight.  He was
very penitent, as was his wife, and they both hoped the matter would
be overlooked.

Mostyn took it all as a joke, much to the gardener's relief.  It was
a perfect June morning: the sun shone in at the latticed window,
bearing the scent of roses and jasmine, and he felt that he had
awakened to a new day, a new life.  How different this was to his
dingy London lodgings!  How different, even, to the pretentious gloom
of his father's house!  Yet everything about him was his own,
absolutely his own!  The blood coursed quickly through his veins.
How could he be angry with Willis?

Mostyn proceeded to put some questions as to Rada.  The girl's name
came glibly to his lips.  A desire had come upon him, born, no doubt,
partly of that strange fascination which she exerted and partly of
the revelation of his own masculine power which had followed her fear
of an indefinite danger, to master the little vixen, as he mentally
described her, to curb and break her in as an untrained filly--he was
already beginning to use sporting metaphor, even to himself.

But Willis, who appeared very ready to discuss Rada, almost took
Mostyn's breath away by his first statement.

"She's a hangel!" he said emphatically.

"A what?"  Mostyn had regarded Rada in anything but an angelic light.

"A hangel," repeated the gardener, laying great stress on the
aspirate.  He proceeded to sing Rada's praises with evident
enjoyment, and palpably from a sense of conviction.  She was, it
appeared, although as poor as a church mouse, the Lady Bountiful to
all the cottage folk in the neighbourhood, by whom she was simply
adored.  She would minister comforts to the sick and needy, often
little more than a cheerful word and the sunlight of her presence,
but no less welcome for all that.  She would take charge of unruly
children and attend to the house-keeping in the unavoidable absence
of the mother; she would cook little dainties with her own hands; she
had an extraordinary capacity for lulling restless babies to sleep.
Willis declared stoutly that she had pulled his own little daughter
through a fever when the doctor had been despondent, and she was not
afraid of infection either, he added proudly.

Here, indeed, was Rada in a new light!  What a queer and complex
little creature she must be!  She had treated him with such shocking
rudeness: he had thought her the very contrary to the "hangel"
described by Willis, but now it was evident that there were depths in
the girl's nature which had not yet been revealed to him.

Having praised Rada to the full, Willis proceeded to abuse her
father, and that in no measured terms.  He was a shiftless, idle
ne'er-do-well, who had lost all pretensions to being considered a
gentleman, though up in London, Willis had heard, he did play the
"high and mighty."  He went about to race meetings when he could, and
had sometimes been away for days without leaving provision for his
daughter.  He kept one or two race-horses at Treves's stables, but
had not brought off a win for some time past.  When at home he
lounged about in his shirt-sleeves, read the sporting papers, and
drank himself silly.  Rada, very naturally, found her own
distractions, and her chief joy was to career about the country upon
her black mare, Bess, a creature as wild as herself.

"The captain don't take no stock of his girl," said Willis
emphatically, "an' he'll be sorry for it one of these days.  I see
her about with young Jack Treves more'n enough, an' Jack ain't the
right sort for her, not by a long way."

This was a revelation at which Mostyn felt vaguely annoyed.  He took
an immediate dislike to Jack Treves.  Yet why should he worry himself
over Rada's flirtations?

Later that morning, while he ate a comfortable breakfast served up by
Mrs. Willis, he heard all the gardener's ideas recapitulated by the
good woman.  She was just as emphatic on the subject of the captain
as her husband had been, nor did she swerve from her opinion when she
learnt that Mostyn was already acquainted with the Armitages, though
the knowledge of this fact reduced Willis to awkward silence and to
much rubbing of his jaw.

Rada, it appeared, had left the cottage early that morning, probably,
Mrs. Willis opined, to return home, though it was quite possible she
might have gone to other friends.  Captain Armitage had been on the
drink, and was best left alone.

After an hour or so spent in surveying his new domain, and in
discussing plans for the future with the Willis's, Mostyn set out to
pay a visit at Barton Mill House.  Captain Armitage might be in an
objectionably bibulous condition, but Mostyn was not afraid of
meeting him.

Of course, he told himself that he wanted to discuss the matter of
Castor, and that there was really no time for delay; also that
Captain Armitage might very well introduce him to the trainer,
William Treves; all of which was good and plausible, but it was
neither of the horse Castor nor of the trainer that Mostyn thought,
as with some difficulty he found his way through the narrow lanes to
Mill House: his reflections were concentrated upon Rada.

He found Captain Armitage at home, but to his great disappointment
Rada was not at the Mill House, nor had Captain Armitage the smallest
idea where she had gone to.  He didn't seem to mind.  He laughed
immoderately when he heard the story of the rencontre at the Grange
the night before, and conjectured that Rada must have gone off to
stay with some friends of hers, some folk who were accustomed to her
erratic ways, and who lived in the neighbourhood of Newmarket.  She
had turned up at the Mill House, it appeared, quite early in the
morning, had selected some books from her little library, had had
Bess saddled, and had then ridden off.  Captain Armitage had not seen
her because he was in bed.

"We don't always hit it off together," he explained jerkily, "and
Rada's quite capable of taking care of herself.  She is a little
devil, but I like her spirit."

Mostyn found it difficult to reconcile the divergent views of his
gardener and of Captain Armitage as to Rada's character, but he did
not feel called upon to make any comment upon the subject.
Personally he was inclined to agree with the captain.

Of course Captain Armitage was very surprised to receive a visit from
Mostyn, and he broke off into a volley of oaths when he learned that
the latter had profited under the will of Anthony Royce; this, though
Mostyn did not give the full particulars as to his strange bequest,
seeing no reason why he should do so, but merely mentioned that he
had inherited the Grange and a certain sum of money as well.

"He never left me a penny, not a brass farthing," said Captain
Armitage solemnly, "yet I was one of his oldest friends, a
school-fellow and all the rest of it."  This was a lie, and Mostyn
knew it to be a lie, but the matter was not worth discussing.

The captain did not present an imposing figure that morning.  Mostyn
found him lounging in a disreputably worn arm-chair, clad in a soiled
but brilliantly-flowered dressing-gown, smoking an old meerschaum
pipe, and perusing a sporting paper.  His white hair was untidy, his
beard unkempt, and his slippers down at the heel.  The little
sitting-room was dingy and uncared for; Rada had evidently abandoned
the hopeless task of tidying it.

"I told you that I was a poor man, Mr. Clithero," Captain Armitage
said, waving a deprecating hand round the room, "and now you can see
for yourself."  Suddenly his dull eyes brightened.  "You say Royce
has left you some brass," he insinuated.  "Have you thought better of
that offer I made you the other day?"

"That's what I'm here for," explained Mostyn.  "Are you still willing
to sell Castor, Captain Armitage?"

"I should say I was, my boy."  The old man sprang from his chair with
something of the nervous energy that Mostyn remembered he had
displayed when on the coach.  "Fifteen hundred pounds!  Why, it would
be the making of me just now."  He spoke eagerly.  "I know how I
could turn it into five, into ten thousand.  There's Cardigan, a sure
thing for the Liverpool Cup, and Boscowen, a perfect snip at Sandown.
Give me fifteen hundred down, and I'll make a fortune.  You shall
have the tips, too; I'll throw them into the bargain."

So it came about that, without loss of time, Captain Armitage,
muttering and mumbling to himself, had shuffled out of the room,
leaving Mostyn to gaze out of the uncleaned window over a strip of
garden where the grass grew rank, and where weeds choked the few
hardy flowers that had endured.  Whatever she might be elsewhere,
Rada evidently took no pride in her own home; Mostyn told himself
that the Mill House, practically little more than a tumble-down
cottage, was one of the most dreary spots he had ever visited.

It was not long before the captain reappeared, a little more spruce
in his attire and ready to go out.  It was, it appeared, not more
than half an hour's walk to the training stables, and there was no
reason why the bargain should not be clinched at once.

This was all very well, but Mostyn did not feel capable of relying
upon his own judgment, nor did he trust Captain Armitage's word.
Fifteen hundred pounds was a large sum, and not to be merely thrown
away to put cash into the pocket of a drunkard.  Would he do well to
purchase Castor?  Certainly Sir Roderick had admitted the value of
the colt.  That went for a good deal, but at the bottom of his heart
Mostyn knew that his desire to own the horse had something to do with
the struggle which he felt, in an indefinite sort of way, had
commenced between himself and Rada.  "I'm a girl, but I'll back
myself to win a Derby before you!" she had cried contemptuously, and
the words had galled and stung him.  She had great faith in Castor,
he knew that; well, it would be a fitting punishment upon her if, by
extraordinary luck, he contrived to carry off the race with that
particular horse.  Mostyn was not spiteful by nature, but he was very

As they walked together, passing through the little town and then
emerging upon open country, Captain Armitage exerted his powers of
persuasion to the full, and he had a plausible tongue.  Mostyn had an
eye for a horse, so the old man asserted, and he had recognised that
fact upon Derby day, or he would not have dreamed of making his
offer.  He had taken a fancy to Mostyn from the first, especially
because the latter had taken his joking in good part.  What he was
doing was purely out of personal consideration.

"Look here, Clithero,"--he halted in that sudden and abrupt manner
peculiar to him, and seized the young man by the arm--"we don't want
a lot of palaver over this business.  Treves will tell you that the
colt's all right, and his word's as good as gospel.  Settle on the
nail and we'll cry quits at a thousand."

They reached the training stables at last, a low narrow building,
lying a little back from the road, a building that formed three sides
of a square and was approached by a large gate.  Beyond it, and
indeed, on either side of the road, was open level country.  "A
capital pitch for exercising," as Captain Armitage put it, pointing
to a row of horses that were following one another in steady line
over the down.

Castor had just returned from exercise, and they found him in his
stable where he had been groomed by one of the boys.  William Treves
himself, an important personality, a man who had accumulated a
considerable fortune, but who had no pride about him, and who was not
ashamed of his humble origin, nor of the fact that he had never
acquired a mastery of the king's English, discoursed volubly on the
perfections of the colt.  Apparently he already knew of Captain
Armitage's desire to find a purchaser.  The man gave Mostyn the
impression of honesty.

As for Castor, little as Mostyn knew of horses he was impressed by
the animal's appearance.  Stripped of his clothes, he appeared a
black colt of such magnificent proportions as to give one the idea
that he was a three-year-old, instead of a nursery youngster.

After much talking, in which Mostyn took small part, the bargain was
struck.  In return for his cheque for a thousand pounds, Mostyn
became the proprietor of "as fine an 'oss as the eye of man could
look upon;" so William Treves put it.

"'E 'as a terrific turn of speed," the trainer continued, "and there
isn't a three-year-old in this country that can 'old 'im at a mile at
weight for age.  I borrowed a couple of Colonel Turner's youngsters
the other day to try 'im with, an' 'e left 'em fairly standing still,
and the Colonel's 'ed man went 'ome with a wonderful tale about 'em,
although 'e didn't know I'd put an extra five pound on Castor.  Take
my advice, if you're set on winnin' next year's Derby, don't pull 'im
out too often this year.  'E's entered for the Eclipse at Sandown and
the National Produce Breeders' Stakes, and you might let 'im run
about four times just to give 'im a breather and get 'im used to
racecourse crowds.  No man livin' can say to-day wot will win the
Derby next year, but if 'e trains on and puts on more bone, as I
expect 'e will, 'e must stand a grand chance."

"You hear that?  He'll win the Derby for you."  Armitage smote his
young friend heartily on the back as he spoke.  "Take my word for it."

Mostyn was content with his purchase, proud of himself.  There was
but one hitch, and that occurred later in the morning when Armitage
and Treves had moved away to inspect a new arrival at the stables,
leaving Mostyn standing alone, a little awkwardly, in the great
square yard.

A young man approached him, a tall, broad-shouldered youth,
good-looking after a coarse and vulgar style.  He was aggressively
horsey in his attire, and wore a cap set at the back of his head,
displaying sleek hair plastered down over his forehead.  This, as
Mostyn was subsequently to learn, was Jack Treves, the son of the
trainer.  He had a familiar way of speaking, and made use of slang
which jarred at once upon Mostyn's ears.

He began by making a few casual remarks, then he jerked his head in
the direction of his father and of Captain Armitage.  "I hear you've
bought Castor," he said.  "A fine horse, sir."

"Yes," replied Mostyn, "I've bought the colt."

"Well, it may be all right."  Jack Treves shook his head doubtfully.
"And of course the captain can do what he likes with his own--that
is, if it is his own--but I'll bet there'll be ructions, for Castor's
entered for the Derby in the name of Miss Armitage, and she's always
looked upon him as her particular property."  He stooped and picked
up a wisp of straw, passing it between his fingers.

"Her property?" faltered Mostyn.  "I don't understand."

Jack Treves nibbled at his straw.  "The captain didn't tell you then?
I thought not.  You see, when he went broke three years ago and
appeared in the forfeit list at Weatherby's, she sold all her
mother's jewels and paid his debts, and it was then that she
registered her colours--

"_Her_ colours!" gasped Mostyn.  "Do you mean to tell me that
Rada--er, Miss Armitage--has registered racing colours?"

"Lor lummy, yes!" was the reply, spoken with a certain malice.  "A
bit young, of course, but she's not like other girls.  She's not had
the best of luck, though, up to date, and that's why she's so keen on
seeing the lemon and lavender carried to victory at Epsom next year.
She simply dotes on Castor, and considers that the colt is hers in
return for that jewellery."

Jack Treves threw his whittled straw away.  "I guess," he said,
"there'll be the devil of a row."



Some seven or eight days after the sale of Castor, Captain Armitage
reclined at his ease in the dilapidated arm-chair which he
particularly affected.  He had grown to like the untidiness and the
dirt of his dismal little sitting-room, and he would not have altered
his immediate surroundings for anything better, even had he been able
to do so.

It was about nine o'clock at night.  He had partaken of a meagre
supper--he never ate much at the best of times--served up in
haphazard fashion by the one wretched serving maid, a poor little
slut, who did the whole work of the house.  The plates and dishes had
not been cleared away but were piled up anyhow on a clothless table
by his side, and within easy reach of his hand was a bottle of
champagne, three parts empty, with which he had been regaling
himself.  Close by, too, was another bottle which contained brandy;
Captain Armitage was very fond of champagne, only he used to say that
he preferred it diluted--but he was accustomed to dilute it with
brandy instead of water.

He had returned from London the day before, where he had had what he
would himself have called "a good time" upon the proceeds of Mostyn's
cheque for a thousand pounds.  What had become of the money and how
much remained over was a secret only known to Captain Armitage; at
any rate, to judge by his complacent smile, the smile of a man who
was three parts intoxicated--he was not suffering from any pricking
of conscience for having disposed of property which did not actually
belong to him.  He knew that there would be an unpleasant scene when
Rada returned, and there were times when he was a little afraid of
his petulant, self-willed daughter; but Captain Armitage was the kind
of man who lived in the present, and did not unnecessarily worry
himself about what might come to pass in the future.  He had had his
thousand pounds, and that, after all, was the great point.

He had been obliged to tell a lie or so, but that was a matter of
very minor importance.  He had explained to Mostyn, who had come to
him hot with excitement, and dragging young Treves in his wake, to
demand an explanation, that it was by Rada's own wish and permission
that he had sold the horse.  This was the same tale that he had spun
for the benefit of old Treves when the idea of raising money upon his
daughter's property had first occurred to him.  Mostyn had been
silenced, but the ominous giggle which had followed him when he
turned away was by no means reassuring.  He had felt a strange desire
to turn back and punch Jack Treves's head, all the more so since the
latter had spoken of Rada in a familiar manner, which he resented;
but he had restrained himself for the sake of his dignity.

In the days which followed Mostyn had worried Rada's father not a
little.  He had wanted the girl's address in order that he might
write to her, but this Captain Armitage had professed himself quite
unable to supply.  The girl came and went as she chose, he didn't
worry his head about her.  She was all right with her Newmarket
friends--but he couldn't even remember their name.  Finally Captain
Armitage departed for London, and then Mostyn hung day after day
about Barton Mill House keeping watch for the girl's return.  He felt
certain that her father had made no provision for her if she arrived
home before he did.  Very often Mostyn called himself a fool for his
pains, for what, after all, was Rada to him?  It was all very well to
tell himself that he wanted confirmation of her father's story about
Castor from her lips--that was true enough, but he wanted more
besides, and knew it.  It was the magnetic thrill of his whole being
induced by her presence that he desired, and, though he could not
account for it, the feeling was there and had to be recognised.

Captain Armitage, alone in his dingy sitting-room, had just drained
his glass, crossed his slippered feet, which were stretched out upon
a second chair, dropped a stump of his cigar--it had been a fine
cigar--one of a highly-priced box that he had brought back with him
from London--and closed his heavy lids, preparatory to slumber, when
Rada herself swept into the room.

She came in like an avalanche, slamming the door behind her; for a
moment she stood contemptuously regarding the semi-intoxicated man,
then she unceremoniously aroused him to full consciousness of her
presence by jerking away the chair upon which his feet reclined.
Captain Armitage sat up grumbling and rubbing his heavy eyes.

The girl stood before him, indignation plainly written on every
feature.  "Father, you've sold Castor!" she cried.  "I met Jack
Treves not half an hour ago, and he told me.  It's the truth, I

The man gazed at her vacantly.  He had not expected to see his
daughter that night, and he was not prepared with any explanation.
Weakly he tried to turn the tables.  "Where have you been?" he asked,
plaintively, "leaving your poor old father all alone like this----"
She deigned no reply.  He knew where she had been.

"It's the truth, I suppose?" she repeated.  "I want to hear it from
your own lips."

"Well, you see, my dear," he began, "we are very poor----"

"Is it true?" Rada's lips were compressed together; she was drawing
long deep breaths.

He went on mumbling.  "We must live.  I had debts.  They had to be
paid somehow.  A thousand pounds----"

"So it is true.  You've sold Castor for a thousand pounds!  You
pretended that you were doing it with my permission.  Oh father! oh

Her mood changed with its usual lightning velocity.  Her eyes were
brimming over with tears.  Her father was the one man with whom she
always sought to hold her temper in sway.  It was the instinct of a
lifetime.  Pitiful, degrading object as he was, long ago as she had
given up all hope of effecting any reformation in him, of making him,
at least, clean, and manly, and wholesome, he was yet her father, and
she had lived with him ever since the death of her mother when she
was little more than a child.  His deterioration had been gradual;
she had fought and struggled against it.  She had taken upon herself
responsibilities unsuited to a girl of her age, but all her efforts
had been in vain.  She despised the degraded old man, and that
because she saw him with no prejudiced eyes, she saw him for what he
was, but at the same time--he was her father.

Regardless of his protests she began to clear away the bottles from
the table; she did so by force of habit, though she knew quite well
that as soon as her back was turned he would be after them again;
there had been times, however, when he had not allowed her to
exercise even this authority, when he had stormed in violent fashion,
when he had even struck her.  On this occasion, however, he ventured
nothing more than a feeble protest, lolling back in his chair,
smiling foolishly.

"A thousand pounds, my dear, think of it!" he muttered with a drunken
chuckle, "think of it!  Needs must when the devil drives, you know,
and he's been driving at me, goading at me--oh, yes! an ugly devil,
and a lot of little imps besides.  They wanted gold, and they've got
it.  But we're going to make our fortunes," he went on, in maddening
sing-song monotone, "for there's enough left to back our luck at
Sandown and Ascot.  That's what I had in mind, my dear.  A quick
fortune--cash in hand in a week or so--not to wait a whole year for
the Derby, and then perhaps come down.  There's Pollux, remember--old
Rory's Pollux."  His head lolled over to one side, and he spoke
sleepily.  "Besides, young Clithero will give you the colt back when
he knows the truth--it's ten to one on that.  It'll be all right for
you, my dear, and you needn't worry about me."

"Listen to me, father," said Rada, biting her lip to restrain an
outburst of anger and disgust at the meanness, the vileness of the
whole thing.  Her father had calculated upon Mostyn Clithero giving
her back her horse when he found out how he had been defrauded.  He
did not mind what might be thought of himself--he had had his
thousand pounds.  She dashed her tears away, and stood up by the
cupboard before which she had been stooping, attempting to hide the
bottles away.  "Listen to me," she went on, "try to understand me if
you can.  Castor was my horse.  You gave him to me when he was
foaled.  Now he has a big chance for the Derby.  He was entered in my
name.  I was his registered proprietor--he was to be ridden in my
colours.  All my dreams were of Castor; I would sit building castles
in the air by the hour together.  It brought colour into my life and
made me glad to live.  You don't know what it has been to me; you
cannot understand how I delighted in watching Castor at his gallops,
whispering to myself, 'The horse is mine--mine--and in two years'
time--in eighteen months' time--in fifteen months' time--I shall
watch my horse winning the big race!'--that's how I used to go on; I
counted the months, the days, even the hours.  All my pride was
centred in Castor; and you have sold him--sold him for a thousand

Her voice quivered and shook.  She was speaking with an intensity of
feeling unusual to her.  "I watched the little colt as he grew up,"
she went on, and her tone was low and plaintive now.  "I fed him with
my own hand, just as I feed Bess, and he got to know and to love me.
I gloried over him as I saw him growing handsomer and
stronger--growing into what I had expected he would.  I knew he would
win the Derby for me, every instinct I have told me so.  And do you
know, father"--she drew a little closer to the old man's chair, but
she was not looking at him, she was absorbed in the train of her own
thoughts--"it was not only pride that possessed me; Castor was going
to make our fortune for us--I felt that, too--and the money would be
mine, mine to do with as I wished.  I used to sit and dream of the
way I should spend that money.  We were going to leave this ugly
cottage, and have everything nice and pretty about us; we were going
to start a new life altogether."  Poor Rada!  It was such a vain,
such a hopeless dream!  for, as far as her father was concerned at
least, any new life was out of the question.

She caught her breath, and went on speaking, more to herself than to
him, quite heedless of the fact that she received no answer.  "Oh! it
would have been my money--mine, just as Castor was my horse.  If you
knew, if you could guess, how I have built upon this!  But now there
is to be no more dreaming for me: the gold has been fairy gold, it
has slipped through my fingers like so many dead leaves.  You have
taken Castor from me--you have sold him for a thousand pounds!  And
now what is to be done?"

She choked down her sobs, clenched her little fists with
characteristic energy, vaguely conscious of the futility of her
emotional outburst, and her natural energy of disposition once more
coming to the fore, she took a quick step towards her father.  "What
is to be done?" she repeated.

There was no reply, save for a dull, unintelligent grunt.  Captain
Armitage's head was lolling over the side of his chair, his eyes were
closed, his mouth open.  He was asleep--he had been asleep all the

Rada's first impulse was to take him by the shoulders and to shake
him violently, for, small as she was, she knew that she possessed
more strength than he.  Her nerves were tingling with suppressed
passion, her cheeks were suffused with colour.  She touched him on
the shoulder; he stirred and muttered, then his hand went out
instinctively towards the table as though in search of his glass.

Rada drew back, nauseated.  She knew that it was hopeless to protest
with such a man as her father--she must leave him to himself.  It was
for her alone to act.

A few moments later, having loosened his collar and settled him as
comfortably as she could in his chair, a horrible task to which she
was no stranger, she stole quietly out of the room.

That same evening, Pierce Trelawny, who had been detained by his
father at Randor Park, arrived to stay the night with Mostyn at
Partinborough Grange.  It was too late to visit the paddocks that
night, and, unfortunately, Pierce had to hurry on to London by an
early train the next day; but it was arranged that Willis should take
charge of his bag, so that a hurried inspection of Mostyn's purchase
might be made the first thing in the morning, after which Pierce
could walk or drive to the station.

The two young men had discussed the situation as they sat together in
the drawing-room of the Grange after dinner.  Pierce had learnt the
full facts by letter, and, acting upon Mostyn's instructions, he had
kept the secret to himself.  He agreed with Mostyn that this was the
wisest plan, though he asked, and obtained, permission to reveal
everything to his uncle, Sir Roderick, who, he opined, might be of
considerable assistance--if he chose--to Mostyn in a difficult task.

For himself, he was prepared to lend all the help in his power, and
place his experience--such as it was--quite at Mostyn's disposition.
It would distract his thoughts from Cicely, and from the hardship of
his own year's probation.  "The governor hasn't yielded an inch," he
explained mournfully.  "And, of course, I've written everything to
Cicely.  I can't make the old man out.  He threatens me with all
sorts of horrible consequences if I disobey him, and all the time
there's a sort of twinkle in his eye, as if he found it amusing to
bully me.  But about yourself?  You've got to buck up, you know.
There's no time to be lost."

Mostyn acquiesced.  "I've made a start by purchasing Castor," he
said.  "That has cost me a thousand pounds."

"Cheap, too, if the horse is all you tell me," commented the other.
"Well, you may run Castor for the Guineas and for the Derby, but you
mustn't neglect your other chances.  What about the Royal Hunt Cup?
That is the race which falls first upon your list, I believe."

Mostyn quite agreed that the Royal Hunt Cup must not be overlooked,
although there only remained a fortnight or three weeks in which to
purchase a horse, already entered, for this race.  "I suppose I ought
to have set about it before," he said rather limply, "but the fact
is, you see, I've been busy getting this house in order, and----" he
broke off suddenly.  He did not like to tell Pierce the actual reason
for which, having purchased Castor, he had remained on at
Partinborough.  The fact was that he had been on the look-out every
day for Rada, that he could not tear himself away.

Suddenly he blurted out the truth.  "The girl fascinates me," he
said, in conclusion.  "I can't understand how, or why.  I don't quite
know if I hate or love her, but I'm quite sure that I want to master
her, to punish her somehow for having mocked me.  She has challenged
me twice, and I want to be even with her.  That's how we stand."  He
blushed as he spoke, staring viciously at the toe of his shoe.

Pierce gave a low whistle.  "You're in love, Mostyn," he said, "and
you've taken the complaint rather badly and in a particularly
dangerous style.  I shall have to get you out of this, and as quickly
as possible: you may think of Rada as much as you like next year, or
when you've won your title to the legacy, but till then you must be
on probation, old chap, just as I am."

Mostyn agreed that his friend was right, and so it was decided
between them that he should join Pierce in London in two or three
days' time, and that they should devote their energies to finding
suitable horses to run for the Hunt Cup as well as the Goodwood Cup a
little later on.  As a necessary preliminary step, Pierce had already
entered Mostyn for the National Sporting Club and also for the Albert
and the Victoria, and the sooner he put in an appearance there, to
make the acquaintance of the leading sporting men, the better.

The two friends reached the paddocks very early the next morning, and
Pierce looked Castor over before the colt was led out of his stable
to exercise.  He scrutinised the animal with the eye of a man of
experience, and commented upon this and that point in a manner which
filled Mostyn with envy.

"Plenty of mettle and spirit," he said, dodging quickly out of the
way, as Castor, conscious no doubt of a strange hand upon his hock,
pranced to and fro in his stall.  "In fine condition, too.  I can see
nothing to carp at; if half of old William Treves's tales are true, I
should say you've got a good thing, Mostyn, and cheap at the price
you paid."

Pierce's good opinion was in no way altered when he had seen the
horse at exercise.  He stood with his friend by the stable wall
facing the great bare track of country, over which Treves's horses
followed each other in straight, unbroken line.  William Treves
himself was absent that day at Newmarket, but presently the two young
men were joined by his son Jack, who strolled leisurely up, and began
to talk in his usual familiar fashion.

Mostyn had seen a good deal of Jack Treves during the past week, and
nearer acquaintance had not improved his liking.  He was quite sure
that the trainer's son had conceived a jealousy of him, imagining, no
doubt, that he and Rada were old friends.  It was very evident by the
way he spoke of her that Jack considered he had a claim upon Rada's
affections, a claim which Mostyn, jealous in his turn, resented.

Having seen Castor put through his paces, Pierce was loud in his
praise of Mostyn's purchase, repeating all he had said in the stable,
and even appealing to Jack Treves to confirm his opinion.  The latter
stood lounging against a post, smoking a cigarette, his thick lips
parted in an irritating smile.  Mostyn could not help thinking that
there was something at the back of his brain to which he did not wish
to give expression.  He had laughed outright once or twice without
apparent cause, and there was a palpable sneer on his lips as he
turned to Mostyn and informed him that Miss Armitage had returned the
day before, and would no doubt put in an appearance that morning.

Jack had divined correctly.  It was as Castor, bestridden by a stable
lad, was drawn up almost opposite to them, and while the attention of
all three was bestowed upon the horse, that Mostyn heard a voice
close behind him, calling him by name, and turned to find himself
face to face with Rada.  She had ridden up upon Bess, had dismounted,
leaving the mare to wander at will, and had approached unnoticed.

"Mr. Clithero."

Mostyn felt that peculiar thrill pass through him which was always
called forth by her presence.  As on a former occasion her Christian
name had nearly escaped his lips, but this time he was able to check
himself.  There was a glitter in the girl's eyes, and her lips were
drawn together in a manner which appeared to him rather ominous.  It
was the first time he had seen her dressed in a riding habit, and he
thought how well it became her; at the same time he was glad that she
had not abandoned her straw hat, the red poppies of which toned in so
well with the dark tresses beneath them.  She was looking deliriously
pretty, but Mostyn wondered in what mood she would display herself.
He had been forced to accept Captain Armitage's assurances about
Castor, but, all the same, he had not been wholly satisfied.  He
remembered her challenge as to winning a Derby, "with some chance of
success, too," she had said.  Could she have been thinking of Castor?

But of course the colt was his by every right.  He turned, smiling
brightly, and extended his hand to the girl.  She responded, but her
fingers lay cold and passive in his grasp.  "We've been watching
Castor at exercise, Miss Armitage," he said with enthusiasm.  "He's a
beauty, and I can't tell you how grateful I am to you for letting me
have him.  I've brought my friend Mr. Trelawny to see him: you know
Mr. Trelawny, I think."

Pierce, with every intention of saying the right thing, piled fuel to
the fire as he, in his turn, shook hands with Rada.  "I was awfully
surprised," he said, "to learn that Mostyn had been lucky enough to
buy such a horse as Castor.  I was saying only just now, that if one
could judge of a Derby winner from a two-year-old----"

The frown on Rada's forehead deepened, her lips puckered up, and her
uncontrollable tongue had its way.  "I should hate Castor to win the
Derby for Mr. Clithero or for anyone else.  Castor is my horse, and
he was sold without my consent."  She turned passionately upon
Mostyn, her black eyes shining.  "It was mean and cowardly of you!"
she said.  "You did it because of what I said to you the other day.
You did it to spite me!  Can't you fight fair?  Aren't there enough
horses in the world for you to buy, without robbing me of the one
ambition, the one hope of my life?"

Jack Treves chuckled.  The scene had begun just as he had
anticipated.  But Rada turned and fixed her eyes indignantly upon
him, and he took the hint and moved away.

"Miss Armitage, I had no idea," stammered Mostyn; "believe me--I----

"May I have a few words with you alone?" she interrupted.

Mostyn glanced helplessly at his friend.  Pierce awkwardly pulled out
his watch.  "It's time I was off," he said hurriedly.  "It will take
me a few minutes to get to the station, and really there's only just
time.  We shall meet on Friday as arranged."

He took hasty leave of his friend and of Rada.  "Jove, how her eyes
glistened!" he muttered to himself as he hurried away.  "Can Mostyn
really have fallen in love with the girl?  Why, she's--she's a
regular little spit-fire; what's more, she'll have the horse back, if
I'm not mistaken."  He gave one of his characteristic whistles.
"Poor Mostyn!" he added sympathetically.



"Take the horse away!" commanded Rada, petulantly, as soon as Pierce
had disappeared.  The stable-lad mounted upon Castor had been staring
at the little group, undecided if he was still wanted, or if the
inspection of the horse was concluded.

"Take him away!" she repeated, flashing angry eyes upon the boy.  "I
can't bear to look at him now," she added under her breath.

The lad touched the reins and Castor trotted quickly away.  Mostyn
and Rada were left in the comparative solitude of the great open
space, though every now and again the sound of shouting came to them
from the distance, and through the mist of the morning they could
discern the shadowy forms of men and horses.

Rada sank down upon a bench, clasping her little hands about her
knees; Mostyn stood by her side, waiting till she should have
composed herself.  He anticipated a painful scene: his worst fears
had been realised, and even from the few words she had spoken, he
understood what Rada must think of him.  Of course, he was really
guiltless of offence; he had been deceived, swindled, but even though
Rada recognised this, she would still think that, actuated by his
desire to checkmate her, he had taken the opportunity of gaining an
unfair advantage.

He was sorry for Rada, and he was sorry for himself as well, for he
saw at once where lay his duty.  He knew even now what he would have
to do.  There must be no imputation of unfairness against him: he was
bound, by the force of circumstances, to a contest with the girl, but
he would fight in the open.  She had issued the challenge with all
the advantage on her side, but he felt no animosity against her for
this: she had spoken just as she, a wayward, impulsive girl, might
have been expected to speak.  His only trouble was that she should
have grounds for thinking ill of him.

He no longer felt bashful and shy in her presence.  So much, at
least, was in his favour.  He seemed to know and understand her
better for having seen the squalor and wretchedness of her home, for
having realised the surroundings in which she lived.  Then the
Willis's had spoken so freely of her, almost every day, encouraged,
of course, by Mostyn; he had felt at last that he had known the girl
for years, and that her vagaries were no new thing to him.

Perhaps he knew her better than she knew herself; so Mostyn, who had
had no experience of women, told himself in his conceit.  It was all
very well for her to pretend to be hard and wayward and selfish: he
knew better.  He knew what reason the villagers had for loving her;
why, only yesterday old Mrs. Oldham at the post office had told him
how Rada had given up days and days to nurse a little child who was
ill with bronchitis, and who might have died of it had it not been
for Rada's care of her.  "If I could make her see herself and show
herself to me in her true character," Mostyn muttered, "then we might
be--well, friends, as well as rivals.  If I could!"

Unfortunately, as well as having no knowledge of women, Mostyn was
not possessed of much tact.  And so, as usual, he blundered
egregiously when he attempted to put his ideas into practice.

"I think, Mr. Clithero," Rada began, "that you have taken a very mean
way of revenging yourself upon me.  I thought you would have had more
manly feelings----"

He knew what she meant, but he was in such a hurry to defend himself
that he failed to find the words he wanted.

"I was rude to you the other night," Rada went on relentlessly.  "I
was rude to you at the Derby.  I couldn't help myself.  I always say
just what comes into my head."

Mostyn was quite aware of this, but he did not mean to say so; he
wanted to be very gentle with Rada, quite unconscious that gentleness
was the one thing which in her present temper she would resent.  "I
don't think you meant to hurt," he said softly.

"I did," she retorted viciously.  "You made such an idiot of
yourself, nobody could have helped being rude and laughing at you.
And yet it's you--a man who hasn't the smallest idea of racing, a man
who'd buy a donkey and enter it for the Derby if he acted upon his
own intelligence--it's you who, because you know I laid store by my
horse, and because you've got some insane idea in your head of
besting me on the racecourse--it's you who've played me this trick!"
She spoke violently without the smallest attempt to weigh her words.
"You knew Castor was mine," she went on.  "You must have guessed it
from what I said the other night.  You knew, too, that my father is
not to be depended upon.  And if you had not known all that, Jack
Treves told you the truth immediately after you had made the
purchase; there was plenty of time to repair the error, if you had
not been spiteful against me."

Mostyn flushed, stung by the injustice, but he was quite determined
that he would not lose his temper.  "You misjudge me," he said, "you
misjudge me utterly.  The whole thing has been a mistake, and if I
have been to blame in any way I am quite willing to repair the
error."  He had no wish to enter into any long explanation, or to
cast the blame where he knew it was merited, upon Rada's father.  He
realised, and very probably correctly, that this would only appear a
further meanness in the girl's eyes.  "The position is very simple,"
he went on, "and there is no need for you to scold me, Miss Armitage;
please consider that Castor is yours."

It was Rada's turn to flush, for this was just what her father had
hinted at, what he had no doubt relied upon.  To accept Castor as a
gift at Mostyn's hands was the very last thing which, in her present
mood, she was prepared to do.

She drew herself up stiffly.  "You are very kind," she said, "but do
you think that we are beggars, my father and I, that you dare to make
such a suggestion?  What are you to me that I should accept a present
from you?"

"Since there has been a mistake," Mostyn said, vainly striving to
reconcile the girl's inconsistency in his mind, "I want to repair it
the best way I can."

"Quite forgetting that there is such a thing as pride," Rada
interrupted, "and that I have my fair share of it.  No, Mr. Clithero,
you have bought Castor, and Castor is yours, unless I am able to
purchase him back.  That is what I wish to see you about.  I love my
horse," she went on, sucking in her lips as though she found it
difficult to make her explanation, "and there are many reasons why
Castor should be particularly dear to me.  So, since, as you say, the
whole thing has been a mistake, you will let me buy Castor back.  My
father is bound to let me have the money," she added mendaciously,
"when he knows how badly I want my horse."

Mostyn knew that this was not true, that Captain Armitage was the
last man in the world to disgorge any money that he had become
possessed of by any means whatsoever.  He knew, too, that there were
certainly no funds upon which Rada could draw, and he wondered
vaguely how she proposed to raise a thousand pounds to repay him.

"I'd far sooner give you the horse," he said, "for, after all, I
should be returning you your own.  I want to have a shot for the next
Derby, Miss Armitage," he went on, "and it isn't only because I have
a sort of a bet with you.  That's a motive with me, certainly, but it
isn't all.  However, I can find another horse, and really the money
is of no importance to me.  We are rivals, you and I, both eager to
win, but both wanting to play the game fairly.  You shall have Castor
and I will look out for myself; is that a bargain?"

"Not unless I can pay you the thousand pounds," she retorted.  "But
if I can succeed in doing that, and without undue delay, Castor shall
be mine again, and our rivalry can begin as soon as ever you like."
She laughed derisively.  "If it does, I don't think there'll be much
chance for you, Mr. Clithero."

He shrugged his shoulders, seeing no use in argument.  He did not
want to accept Rada's thousand pounds, but he had sense to see that
it was quite useless, as matters stood, to suggest any other solution
of the difficulty.

"It shall be just as you please, Miss Armitage," he said with an
effort to appear cheerful.  "I'm going to do my best to win the
Derby, but it won't be with Castor."

She rose from the bench upon which she had been sitting and once more
extended her cold hand.  "Thank you," she said.  "There's nothing
more to be settled for the present between us.  You shall have your
money and I my horse.  That's decided."

Mostyn held her hand in his for a moment, despite her effort to
withdraw it.  He looked straight into her eyes.  "I wonder," he said,
"why we always meet to quarrel?  I should like to be on better terms
with you, Miss Armitage.  We can be rivals and yet good friends,
can't we?  I am sorry that this misunderstanding should have
happened, but really I'm not to blame."

He released the girl's hand, which fell to her side.  Rada tapped the
ground petulantly with her foot.  Truth to tell, she was a little
ashamed of herself.  Mostyn may not have been so much to blame, after
all; her father had a plausible tongue.  But she was in a mood when
to admit herself in the wrong would have been an impossibility for
her.  Had Mostyn been wise he would have left her alone; reflection
and repentance would have come in due course.  As it was, she hated
him at that moment even for his offer to return Castor to her.  How
dared he even think that she would consent to such a thing?

She had no dislike for Mostyn really.  In her heart she admired his
clean, well-cut features, his stalwart, manly frame.  More than once
she had mentally compared him with other men of her acquaintance,
especially with Jack Treves, and the comparison had been all in
Mostyn's favour.  Perhaps it was because she did not understand her
own feelings, because she was too contradictory to yield to them,
that she had always instinctively adopted an aggressive attitude when
with Mostyn.  In a sense it was against herself that she was
fighting.  How could she, who had been brought up almost from
babyhood to the love of sport, have any esteem for such a greenhorn
as this otherwise good-looking and good-tempered boy?  It was that
feeling that had impelled her to make fun of him, and which had
caused her to resent bitterly what she had regarded as an attempt on
his part to get the better of her.

A peculiar pugnacity had been aroused within her; perhaps the wild
and wayward little creature was moved, without knowing it, by the
natural strife between sex and sex.  She felt instinctively the
desire of the man to subdue and win her, and all her senses were
accordingly in revolt.

"I suppose you think I'm a little minx, a sort of wild cat," she
said, not looking at him but at the ground.  "It's been my fault that
we've quarrelled, and now you are reproaching me for it."

"You're hard to understand, Ra--Miss Armitage," Mostyn said; "there's
no doubt whatever about that, but I don't think you are a bit the
minx you are inclined to make yourself out to be."  He was staring at
her, admiring her neat figure with its delicate curves, her nicely
poised head, and her black curls that, in the sunlight, had a tint of
glowing blue in them; he could not see her eyes, but he imagined that
they must glint with the same blue.  He wanted her to look up, but
she still stared at the little well-shod foot with which she was
still tapping the ground.

"Yes I am, I'm bad-tempered; I say cruel things; I hurt people!  But
why shouldn't I?" she added defiantly, "when there's no one I care
for and no one who cares for me?  I've been brought up like that.  I
am hard by nature, and I don't see why I should pretend to be any
other than I am."

Mostyn laughed a little.  "I know better," he said.  "You've got a
heart of gold, Miss Armitage, though out of sheer perversity you
don't like people to know it.  But I've found you out, you see,
though we've only known each other such a little while and quarrelled
every time we've met."

"What do you mean?" she cried.  She was looking up now, and her eyes
had the blue glint in them, just as he had expected.  They flashed
upon him, but he could not tell if it were with anger or surprise.

"You say that nobody loves you, and you love nobody.  If so, why are
you always doing little acts of kindness to people?  Why do all the
villagers adore you?"

She stamped her foot.  "I've got to do something," she cried.  "I
must occupy myself somehow.  But that isn't the real me, the real
Rada Armitage; you are quite mistaken if you think so.  I'm as you've
seen me, as I appear up in London--hard, cruel, a flirt, everything
that's bad.  Ask my father; he always calls me a little devil; I've
been called a little devil ever since I can remember."

"I know others who call you an angel, with an aspirate tacked on,"
Mostyn laughed.  He was rather enjoying himself; it was amusing
telling the girl her good qualities and hearing them so violently
contradicted.  It was Rada's nature to contradict, that was very
evident, but it was quite delicious to make her protest that she was
all that was bad when the truth was so palpably otherwise.

"What is one to believe, what you say yourself or what others say of
you?  I know what I think," he went on, more than half-conscious that
he was goading the girl into a fresh passion.  But how could she
resent it when he was really praising her?  "The real Rada Armitage
is kind-hearted and good----"

"No she isn't, she's--oh, I don't know what you are making me say!
You are perfectly horrid!  What's the good of telling a girl she's an
angel when she feels quite the reverse?  That's just like a man."
Rada turned away, angrily biting her lip.  "I don't want to hear any
more of my virtues, thank you, Mr. Clithero; I'd like you better if
you told me I was a beast.  And now please excuse me, for I'm going
to the stables to see Jack Treves.  He doesn't tell me I'm an angel,"
she added viciously.

Mostyn made no reply; and after waiting a moment as though she
expected him to speak, Rada turned on her heel and went in search of
her mare, which was quietly grazing close at hand.



"A misunderstanding!  Yes, of course, absolutely a misunderstanding."
Captain Armitage waved his arm airily, as he expressed this opinion.
"I'm sorry that it should have happened, but Rada quite gave me to

"Yes, of course.  I understand you would not have sold Castor to me
unless you had concluded that the sale had your daughter's approval."
Mostyn spoke quite seriously, though he knew well enough that the old
man's excuses were not genuine; but he had no desire to hurl
reproaches at the wretched drunkard, who, after all, was Rada's
father.  Mostyn told himself, with something of that good humour
under adverse circumstances which was typical of him, that he ought
to have known better at the beginning; that he ought to have judged
his man, and that it was his own fault he had been taken in.

The loss of a thousand pounds seemed of little importance to him just
then, for he had resources behind him which, to his inexperience,
seemed inexhaustible.  He was at heart an optimist, and did not
doubt, in spite of this reverse, that he would successfully carry out
the terms of Anthony Royce's will.  Taken altogether, there were a
dozen races open to him, and surely, with so much money at his
disposition, he would be able to find a winner for one of them.

So it was that in the afternoon of that day, Mostyn had come to
Captain Armitage's house, had explained that there had evidently been
a mistake over the sale of Castor, and announced his desire to return
the horse to Rada, its legitimate proprietor.  Since Rada had refused
to accept the horse, Mostyn had seen this as the only possible way
open to him.  He did not for a minute believe that the girl would be
able to raise the thousand pounds, and he thought that when her
temper subsided and she understood what had been done she would
accept the situation without further protest.  Mostyn rather plumed
himself upon his diplomacy.

Since the sun was shining brightly, Captain Armitage was lolling in a
deck-chair which he had placed very near the centre of the wretched
little lawn of Barton Mill House, and he had been indulging in a nap
when Mostyn had interrupted him.  He had not been in the best of
humours at first, evidently preparing to meet an attack, anticipating
a demand for explanations; but Mostyn had quickly undeceived him, and
stated clearly what he intended to do, after which, as well he might,
Captain Armitage had subsided into smiles and amiability.

"You want me to take Castor back?" he said.  "Very well, very well."
There was certainly no pride about Captain Armitage.  "A mistake has
been made "--he rubbed his bony hands together--"and nobody is to
blame; neither you nor Rada, nor I--certainly not I--and you want to
put matters straight."

"You are certainly the one who has profited by the mistake," Mostyn
could not help saying.

"Ah, my dear young friend"--Armitage puffed at his cigar, another
extracted from the expensive box which he had brought back from
London, and which had been purchased with Mostyn's money--"somebody
must usually profit, and somebody lose by every mistake.  In this
case it's you who lose, and of course I'm sorry for you.  I'd
willingly stand my share of the loss; I'd refund--yes, I'd willingly
refund you five hundred pounds--only, unfortunately, the money is
already involved--that is, I've made the bets I spoke to you about.
But look here"--he started up from his chair in the jerky manner
peculiar to him--"you shall have the tips, and that's just like
putting money into your pocket.  You won't regret having had a deal
with Captain Armitage.  You back Cardigan for the Royal Hunt Cup; put
your bottom dollar on it----"

"Thank you," said Mostyn coldly.  "I don't bet; I never intend to

"Don't bet!" Armitage sank back into his chair again.  "Well, I'm
blessed!  Here's a young man who professes to be going in for racing,
and who says he doesn't bet!  Never heard of such a thing, never!"
Armitage stared at Mostyn as though he were looking upon some new and
remarkable species of animal.

"I suppose you don't understand racing for the mere sake of sport,"
Mostyn said.  "Anyway, that's how it appeals to me, and though I've
lost Castor I propose to look out for another horse for next year's
Derby.  Your daughter and I are going to be rivals, Captain Armitage."

The captain was on the alert again.  "Another horse--next year's
Derby," he mused.  "Well, let me see; perhaps I can be of use to you
after all."  He was evidently turning over in his mind the means of
effecting another deal, probably as advantageous to himself as the

But Mostyn wanted no further business dealings with Captain Armitage.
"Thank you," he said, "but I need no assistance in this matter.  But
now as to Castor," he went on; "I want it to be clearly
understood--and you must write me a letter to this effect, Captain
Armitage--that the horse is to be, and to remain, your daughter's
property: Castor is to run in the Derby in her name, and of course,
should he win, the money that accrues is to be her property
absolutely.  Upon that understanding, and that understanding only, I
give up possession."

"Surely, surely.  It shall be just as you wish.  I always meant Rada
to have Castor, and I don't grudge her the money a bit," said
Armitage magnanimously.  "I'll write you the letter--yes, certainly.
And now you'll have a drink, won't you, since this matter has been so
amicably settled?  And perhaps I can find you one of these cigars; I
can recommend them."  To give away a cigar was an extravagance of
which Captain Armitage was rarely guilty, but one, upon this
occasion, he felt he could afford.

Mostyn, however, refused both the drink and the cigar.  He took his
leave of Captain Armitage, feeling after this, his second dealing
with that gentleman, that Rada was more than ever to be excused for
her waywardness and inconsistency.

"With such a father," he muttered to himself, as he swung along the
leafy lanes, "brought up by him in the atmosphere of that wretched
cottage, with no other example before her--good heavens!  It's a
wonder she's turned out as well as she has.  And beautiful, too--for
she is a beauty, there's no denying that; she must inherit her looks
from her mother.  What a pity--what a terrible pity for the
girl--that her mother died when she was little more than a baby.
It's just that that she has missed out of her life, the influence of
a woman, the tender hand of a mother."

So Mostyn mused.  The only thing that troubled him really was what
Pierce would say about his quixotic conduct.  Pierce did not seem as
sanguine as Mostyn upon the subject of the purchase of a colt
suitable to run in the Derby; Pierce, too, had expressed decided
approval of Castor, and would probably call his friend a fool for
having given him up.  And Mostyn hated above all things appearing a
fool, either in his own eyes or those of anyone else; which perhaps
accounted for the great desire that was in him to set himself right
with Rada.

Upon his way home, taking a short cut, he had to pass by a footway
that led through some meadows and then skirted a little wood, a path
that was very popular with the young people of the neighbourhood, and
which had been given the name of "Lovers' Walk."  So it happened that
he was not at all astonished when, upon a bench conveniently placed
in the shadow of a large elm, a bench set back a little from the
footpath and partially concealed by the leafy branches of the tree,
he found a man and a girl seated in the usual close proximity to each
other.  It was not, however, till he came abreast with them that he
recognised Jack Treves and Rada.

The girl, hearing footsteps, had started to her feet.  Jack remained
seated, his long legs stretched out, and his lips curved derisively
as Mostyn approached.  Rada had flushed red and she took a step
forward, as though she would have spoken to Mostyn; then she changed
her mind and merely recognised his presence by a little perfunctory
nod of her head.  As for Mostyn himself, after a quick glance at
Jack, he altogether ignored that individual.  He raised his hat to
Rada and passed on his way.

He walked on without turning his head, unconscious of the scowl that
followed him and the muttered oath.  But all the beauty had gone out
of the day for him, all the colour from the trees and hedges.  He saw
a stretch of ugly, undulating, monotonous country, devoid of charm.
It depressed him.

"What possesses her to care for a fellow like that?" he muttered
under his breath.  "A low-down cad, and one whom it isn't safe for
her to be about with?  She must know his reputation, and how
everyone's talking about him and Daisy Simpson even now.  Why, I saw
him with Daisy only this morning outside the stables!  I saw him kiss
her."  Mostyn waved his stick and viciously decapitated an
unoffending dandelion as he spoke.

It was quite true that Jack Treves enjoyed, literally enjoyed, for he
was proud of it, a bad reputation in Partinborough.  Those gossips,
the Willis's, were responsible for Mostyn's knowledge.  Mrs. Willis
hated to see her dearly beloved Rada in Jack's company, and spoke her
mind fluently on the subject.  "Let him stick to his Daisy Simpson,"
she said.  "Daisy's good enough for the likes of him.  They're birds
of a feather.  But Miss Rada is a lady, though her father's an old
drunkard, and there's the width of the world between her and that
scapegrace Jack."

Daisy Simpson, as Mostyn soon found out, was the daughter of a
well-to-do farmer in the neighbourhood.  She was, according to Mrs.
Willis, a "fast lot," notorious for her flirtations.

Mostyn would not have enjoyed the conversation between Rada and Jack
that followed his passing, had he overheard it.  Yet, in a way, his
mind might have been set at rest as to the existing relationship
between the pair, and he would certainly have appreciated Rada's
immediate championship of his name, when Jack applied an insulting
epithet to it.

"None of that, please, Jack," said the girl firmly, lifting a small
but authoritative hand.  "I may laugh at Mr. Clithero, if I choose,
to his face, but I won't hear him abused behind his back.  That's not
cricket.  Remember that he offered to give me back Castor for
nothing, though he's got some wild sort of notion in his head that he
must win a Derby before I do.  He was tricked into buying
Castor--there's no blinking at that fact--and he has taken his
disappointment like a man."

"Look here," said Jack, in a voice that would have been harsh had he
been speaking to anyone but Rada, "I want to know how I stand.  If I
help you as you want me to----"

"As you have promised," she interrupted.

"Well, as I have promised.  What I mean is, I can't have any
sentimental foolery between you and any other chap, see?  You say you
won't marry me till this time next year in any case----"

"Can I think of marrying," asked Rada, indignantly, "or give any
promise even, when all my thoughts are fixed on Castor and the Derby?
You've just got to wait, Jack."

"All right," he grumbled, "though I don't think you're treating me
fair.  But this little service I'm doin' you will make a bit of a
bond between us, Rada.  I take it for as good as an engagement; you
understand that, don't you?"

"Yes, yes," said the girl petulantly, and with her usual
thoughtlessness.  "But don't worry me now, Jack.  I'm all impatience
to get this business settled.  Let's go back to the stables."

The man did not move.  He was digging a hole in the soft earth with
his heel.  "No hurry," he said.  "I brought you out here to talk this
matter over.  I know I'm all right up to date.  Your father's quite
ready that I should marry you; he knows I've got the brass.  It's
only you I'm not sure about since this fellow Clithero came along.
You may have seen a lot of him in London, for all I can tell.  What
were you doin' round at the Grange the other night?"

"So it was you, was it?" exclaimed Rada.  "I thought so.  You
frightened me.  Why were you hanging about the house?  Was it because
you thought I should be alone?"  She spoke out fearlessly, and from
the man's manner she knew she had divined the truth.

"I was jealous," he muttered.  It was a palpable lie, since he could
not have known of Mostyn's arrival.

Rada let it pass.  She was too eagerly bent upon attaining her own
desire to weigh consequences.

"It's getting late," she said impatiently.  "We must be going, Jack."
She tugged at his sleeve, seeking vainly to induce him to rise.

"Tell me first," he said, "that this fellow Clithero is nothing to
you.  I'm not afraid of anything else.  Whether Castor wins the Derby
or not you'll be engaged to me this time next year.  But let me hear
you say what I want."

"Mr. Clithero is nothing to me, nothing at all," exclaimed Rada,
biting her lip.  "I only met him once before that evening at the
Grange, and then I was rude to him.  I was rude to him again that
night.  I expect he hates me, and will hate me all the more because
of Castor."  She spoke vehemently, just as the words came to her lips.

"Good!"  Jack rose languidly and slowly from the bench.  "Then we'll
be gettin' back and I'll do as you ask me."  He passed his arm under
hers with an air of proprietorship; then, as they stood under the
shadow of the trees, stooped to kiss her.

She started away from him.  "No, not that, Jack," she cried.  "Don't
treat me like another Daisy Simpson.  I'm not that sort.  We're not
engaged yet, whatever we may be next year.  If you want me you've got
to wait, and that's irrevocable."

"All right," grumbled the man.  "But you're a maddenin', aggravatin'
little vixen, Rada, and the Lord knows why I should trouble myself so
much about you.  You've got a hold on me somehow, and I expect you'll
keep it."

And, so, walking now staidly by her side, he conducted her back to
his father's house, which adjoined the stables.

About nine o'clock that night Mostyn sat in the drawing-room of the
Grange, studying a book on breeding, "Hodgson's Breeding Tables."  He
was quite alone in the house.  After a time, however, his thoughts
wandered, and, naturally, they turned to Rada.

As he thought of the girl there came a tap upon the open window, and
looking up, he saw her there, a small elf-like figure standing in the

He started up from his chair, dropping the book upon the floor, as
she entered the room.  There was a smile upon her lips, a smile that
was triumphant but not altogether happy, and he thought that there
were dark borders to her eyes, black rings which he had not noticed

"I knew that you would be alone in the house," she said, "and that's
why I did not trouble to go to the front door."

"Rada, I'm delighted," he began.

"So am I," she interrupted, "delighted that I am able to settle up
the matter of Castor so quickly.  Here is your money."  She had been
holding her left hand behind her; now she drew it forward and dropped
upon the table a little crumpled packet of bank-notes.  "A thousand
pounds," she said defiantly.  "You'd better count them and see if
they are right."

"Rada!"  Mostyn spoke her name boldly.  He had noticed the trembling
of the little white hand which had dropped the notes upon the table;
he had noticed, too, a tone of desperation in the girl's voice--a
tone which she had attempted to conceal by assumed bravado.  He
seized her hand before she could draw it away, and held it tightly in
his own.  "Rada, where did you get that money?"

She struggled with him, but ineffectually.  "What does it matter to
you where I got the money," she panted, "and how dare you call me
Rada?  Let me go.  I've paid my debt, and that's all I came for."

"I don't want the money."  He took the notes in his free hand,
crushing them in his strong fingers.  "Don't you understand that
Castor is yours already?  I've given him back to your father, who has
accepted him on your behalf.  He made no suggestion of repaying the
thousand pounds, and I know that it isn't from him that you've got
the money."

A suspicion of the truth had flashed into Mostyn's brain, and he
spoke sternly, keeping his eyes fixed upon the girl's face.

She made another effort to release her hand, but a more feeble one.
Somehow the touch of Mostyn's fingers upon her wrist, the firm grip
of them, was not unpleasing to her; she felt his mastery, she felt
that she was dealing with a man.

"What right have you to question me?" she panted.

"No right--except that I love you."  The words came out against his
will; he had had no intention whatever of speaking them.

"You love me!"  Suddenly she ceased to struggle.  A look that was
almost one of terror came into her eyes.  Of his own accord Mostyn
released her hand.  She stood staring at him, motionless, save for
the quick rise and fall of her bosom.

"You love me!" she repeated, then she broke out into wild, almost
hysterical, laughter.

"Yes, you little untamed, self-willed thing!  I do love you, and I'm
not going to let you make a fool of yourself.  I shouldn't have told
you I cared, if it had not been for that."

"But you love me!" she repeated, breaking off in her laughter.  "Why
do you love me?  I can't understand it.  I've never been even nice to
you--I've been a little beast.  And we've hardly met more than four
times in our lives.  Yet you love me."

"Heaven knows why," he returned.  "Who can understand or explain
these things?  You've wound yourself round my heart in some
extraordinary way.  I've hated and loved you at the same time.
You've never been out of my thoughts.  Sometimes I don't know even

She turned upon him sharply.  "Whether it's hate or love," she
prompted, laughing again, but at the same time clasping her hands
nervously together.  "They say the two are akin.  But it had better
be hate, Mr. Clithero.  You said yourself this morning that we must
be rivals, and rivals can't love each other, you know.  You want to
beat me out of the field, and I want to beat you--that's why I've
bought back my Castor.  Do you think I would ever have accepted him
from you as a gift?  Never, never!  Without that money I should have
given Castor up.  But I knew how I could get it when I spoke to you
this morning: yes, I knew what I had to do."

She had moved away from him, and had placed the width of a little
table between them.  She stood by this, leaning her hands heavily
upon it as though she needed its support.

"We are to be rivals," she continued, "there's no getting away from
it.  You'd better hate me, Mr. Clithero, for if you get the better of
me at the Derby I shall hate you--I can tell you that."

"No, I love you."  Mostyn moved round the table as though to take her
in his arms, to crush her into submission.  But she lifted one hand
with an imperious gesture.

"Don't speak of loving me," she cried; "it's absurd, impossible."
Again she laughed hysterically.  Her eyes were soft, and Mostyn
thought he could detect a suspicious moisture glistening upon her
lashes; but her voice belied her eyes.  "It's just like with Castor,"
she panted.  "You wanted Castor when there were so many other horses
you might have bought.  Now you want me, when there are hundreds of
other girls."

"Tell me"--Mostyn paid no heed to her wild and unreasoning words--"is
there anyone else, Rada?"  The recollection of the meeting that
afternoon came to his mind.  "Do you love Jack Treves?  Is it from
him that you have obtained this money--money that I don't want, and
won't touch?  You are not engaged to him--I should have heard of it
if you were.  My God!"  A thought struck him, and he stepped quickly
forward and passed his strong arm about the girl.  "Rada, oh, you
poor little thing!  Look at me, if you can--tell me that you haven't
promised yourself to him in return for this wretched money."

Her head was bent, he tried to lift it, and to look into her eyes.
He felt her yielding to him; he felt the trembling of her limbs, the
heaving of her breast, the quick panting of her breath.  He was
trembling, too, as he gradually raised her face to his, as he gazed
down into her eyes that were glistening with tears and with a strange
light he had never seen in them before, as he marked her full, red
lips, lips a little parted, and that seemed to shape an appeal.

"Rada," he cried wildly, "you don't love any other man?  I can read
it in your eyes.  Rada, I love you."  His lips were to hers, and for
one moment--a moment in which all the emotions of a lifetime were
crowded, she lay impassive in his arms.

Then, as if she were suddenly aroused from a dream, a shudder passed
through her, her body stiffened, and with a low cry, a sob, she
struggled free.

"How dare you, how dare you?" she gasped.  She sped swiftly to the
window, leaving Mostyn standing aghast before this fresh
inconsistency of woman.  "I'll never forgive you--never!  I--I hate

With which she swung out into the night, and a moment later Mostyn
could hear her sobbing as she ran down the gravel path.



"Well, my boy, I'm glad to have seen you, and to have heard all about
this curious business from your own lips.  Gad, I could hardly
believe it, when Pierce first told me, but thought he was trying to
pull my leg!  The young dog, it's just the sort of thing he might
have been capable of."

Genial "Old Rory" smiled indulgently at his nephew, and then turned
again to Mostyn, to whom he had been addressing himself.

"Anyway, you may depend upon me to do all I can to help you.  It's
about the finest sporting event I've ever come across in my life, and
there's humour in it, too"--Sir Roderick's broad features reflected
his appreciation of this--"just the sort of humour that I should have
expected of my poor old friend, Anthony Royce.  To give a man--one
who knows nothing about racing--forgive me Clithero, but that's true,
isn't it?--a big capital, and oblige him, if he's going to win a
still bigger legacy at the end of it, to steep himself in racing,
just because there's an old grudge to be paid off against the
legatee's father, who abhors racing as he abhors the devil--well,
there's something that appeals to me in that, and I wouldn't miss the
fun of watching your progress for the next year, no, not if I never
won another race in my life.  Here's luck to you, Clithero!"--the old
man lifted a foaming glass of champagne to his lips as he spoke--"may
you do justice to yourself, to Royce's memory, and to your father."

"Old Rory" laughed again as he spoke the last words.  He was
picturing to himself the expression of John Clithero's face when the
latter came to learn that his son was becoming a prominent figure
upon the turf.

"He'll moan about the sins of the children being visited upon the
fathers," Sir Roderick muttered to himself, then continued: "But
don't you let out your secret, my boy, not to a living soul except
those who are already in the know.  It's a good thing your solicitors
could keep it quiet for you.  If anything of the truth leaked out
before you had carried the job through, the difficulties of your task
would be magnified a hundred-fold.  You may take that from me, and I
know what I'm talking about."

Mostyn and Pierce had been dining, as Sir Roderick's guests, at the
Imperial Club.  Mostyn had only arrived in town the day before, and
Pierce, who had been impatiently awaiting him, was not prepared to
allow the grass to grow under their feet.  He was as keenly
interested in Mostyn's success as was the latter himself.  The dinner
with Sir Roderick had been arranged at his suggestion.

"'Old Rory' is the best fellow in the world," he had told Mostyn,
"and he can do more for you than any man I know of in
London--introduce you to the right sort of people, and all that kind
of thing.  If we can get him really interested in our struggle, why,
the battle will be more than half won before it has commenced."

Mostyn had been anxious at first that nothing should be said to Sir
Roderick MacPhane about the unsatisfactory deal he had made over the
colt Castor; he was very shy of any allusion to Rada, and the whole
story of Captain Armitage's duplicity could hardly have been touched
upon without some reference to the girl.

Besides, after all, so Mostyn had argued with himself, Captain
Armitage might be a disreputable and altogether unscrupulous old man,
but, nevertheless, he was Rada's father, and so a privileged person
in Mostyn's eyes.  However, Pierce had advised that the truth should
be told, although, of course, it was not necessary to mention by what
means Rada had succeeded in paying for the colt.  It was quite enough
to explain that, after having purchased Castor, Mostyn had discovered
his mistake and, out of consideration for Rada, had consented to the
whole transaction being annulled.

To Pierce, Mostyn had unbosomed himself, making a clean breast of
everything; not even keeping back the incidents of that passionate
moment when he had held Rada in his arms, and, goaded on by some
impulse that he hardly understood himself, had told her of his love.
As a consequence he had been forced to listen to what Pierce was
pleased to call a lecture upon worldly wisdom.  He had indeed been
rather severely taken to task.

"Look here, Mostyn," Pierce had concluded by saying, "you've got a
stiff job before you, a task which is far more difficult than you
seem to think; well, if you're going to win you must put all thoughts
of love-making and suchlike nonsense out of your head.  I know it's
jolly hard when a man gets taken that way--I ought to know, oughtn't
I? but I've got my year's probation, and now you've got yours as
well.  Look at it in that light.  You've got to think of horses for
the next year, and horses only.  You'll come to grief if you go
running after the petticoats as well.  As for Rada, she is like an
untrained filly, and you will have your work cut out for you if you
think of breaking her in.  Do as you like in a year, old man; but you
can't stand a handicap yet."

"You needn't worry about Rada, Pierce," Mostyn returned, without any
loss of temper.  "There's not going to be any more love scenes
between her and myself.  Why, she said she hated me, and we've never
met yet without quarrelling."

"That's all right, then."  Pierce had glanced sharply at his friend's
face as if to convince himself that Mostyn was quite serious.  The
innocent!  Why, according to his own tale, Rada had allowed him to
kiss her; she had rested for a few moments in his arms before she had
torn herself away, crying and protesting, just as Pierce would have
expected of her, wayward little creature that she was; and yet Mostyn
did not seem to realise that the game was in his own hands!  He had
taken Rada quite seriously!

Such was, indeed, the case, for Mostyn had left Partinborough without
seeing Rada again, quite convinced that his company was odious to her.

Well, this was all for the best--so argued Pierce to himself, and, as
a wise man, with Mostyn's best interest at heart, it would be folly
for him to point out any possibility of mistake.

After dinner was concluded that evening the three men retired to the
club smoking-room, in order seriously to discuss Mostyn's projects
for the future, and, of course, Sir Roderick MacPhane was allowed to
be spokesman.

"Well, Mostyn," he said--he had easily dropped into the way of
calling the young man by his Christian name--"since you've lost
Castor, I expect you'll have to give up all hopes of doing anything
in next year's Derby.  You're not likely to find another colt worth
the buying--certainly not one that could hold a candle to Castor--or
to my Pollux, for the matter of that.  But, of course, if I have
correctly grasped the situation, the Derby is not a race that you
need consider seriously just yet.  You have plenty of other chances
to win your money, and it is over those that you had better lay
yourself out.  You've got to earn your legacy first, and then you'll
be in the position to direct all your attention to the Derby--that
is, if you're still anxious to make good what you said upon my coach
at Epsom a week or so back--that you would win the classic race in
five years' time."

Sir Roderick laughed heartily as he recalled the scene.  "I didn't
know what to make of you that day, Mostyn," he continued, "but I
understand now, that it was Royce who instigated you to that quixotic
speech of yours.  You were being laughed at.  Oh, my dear boy, how
you flushed! and how angry you looked with that little spitfire, Rada

Mostyn flushed now as if to prove that he had not yet lost the habit.
"I didn't understand what Mr. Royce meant either," he replied, "but I
just said what he told me.  In fact, I said I would win the Derby in
five years' time instead of ten, as he suggested in my ear.  Of
course, I was an arrant fool, and didn't know what I was talking

"Well, you stand a very good chance, thanks to our friend, Royce, of
carrying your words into effect," said Sir Roderick, "but, as I was
saying, unless you are absolutely pushed to it, I wouldn't worry my
head too much over next year's Derby.  If you should fail in all the
other races that are open to you, then, of course, we must see what
is to be done--for the Derby is the last chance you've got, isn't it?
The year granted you by the terms of the will terminates with the
Epsom Summer Meeting next year?"

"That is so," acquiesced Mostyn.  "The Oaks will be absolutely my
last chance."

"I understand."  The old sportsman was silent for a few moments,
leaning forward, his elbows resting upon his knees, as if in thought.
Once, a club friend, passing close to him, addressed him by name, but
"Old Rory" only looked up and grunted, immediately afterwards
resuming his attitude of profound thought.  The man passed on with a
smile--"Old Rory" and his quaint habits were well known and
understood by every member of the club.

On his side Mostyn was in no hurry to interrupt the silence.
Everything that Sir Roderick had said so far quite coincided with his
own ideas.  He had no wish whatever to run a horse for the next
year's Derby unless he was absolutely compelled by the circumstance
of forces to do so.  The fact was that he did not wish to oppose
Rada, Rada who had set her heart upon winning that race.  True, she
had in a way challenged him--he remembered the words quite well, for
she had spoken them on the first occasion of their meeting at
Partinborough Grange: "I'm only a girl, but I'll back myself to win
the Derby before you."  That's what she had said, and later on, when
she found that he had purchased Castor she had jumped to the
conclusion that he had done so for the purpose of avenging himself
upon her--she, like everyone else, being ignorant of his real motive.

For a little while he had felt that it would be pleasant to enter
into competition with her and to beat her upon her own ground, but
that was before he had become convinced that he loved her; now things
appeared differently to him, and he desired nothing more than that
Rada should win her cherished ambition; for himself he had to
concentrate his attention upon realising his legacy by winning one of
the other races that were open to him, and, that done, he would still
have four years left him in which to find a Derby winner--no light
thing, of course--but then, his means would be almost unlimited.  He
felt that he owed it to Royce's memory to attain this end, quite as
much as for the gratification of his own self-esteem.

But he would not hurt Rada if he could help it--that was the one
thing upon which his mind was made up.  There was no reason whatever,
as he looked at the position now, why they should be opposed to each
other.  The only rivalry between them lay in the undoubted fact that
she had defied him to win the Derby within five years, and he had
quite made up his mind to do so.

Sir Roderick looked up at last, and turned his attention to his
coffee, which had been growing cold in front of him.  He began to
stir it slowly and reflectively with a long cigar cutter, which he
had taken up in mistake for his spoon, a mistake over which he
laughed heartily when Pierce hastened to rectify it.

"It's not only in my speeches that I blunder, apparently.  That's
just what I am always doing in the House," he pronounced, "stirring
up things with the wrong sort of spoon.  But the stirring gets done
all right, which is the main thing.  But now to business," he went
on, "and this is my advice to you, Mostyn.  You tell me you are going
to have a shot for the Royal Hunt Cup, the first race open to you;
well, of course, you can do so if you like, and there's no harm
whatever in trying your stride, but I can tell you right away that
you can't expect to do anything either for the Hunt Cup or at
Goodwood.  The time is much too short.  After Goodwood I see you have
the Leger--" Sir Roderick was inspecting, by means of one of the
circular magnifying glasses provided by the club, a written list of
the races which had been scheduled in Anthony Royce's will.  "Well,
as to the Leger," he continued, "I really don't see that I can hold
out any hope for you there either.  You are not likely to get a
three-year-old capable of beating either Hipponous or Peveril, and
they are both bound to run if fit.  So it's as clear as a pike-staff
to me that your best chance will be for the Cesarewitch or the
Cambridgeshire, and with luck you might pull one of those races off.
Anyway I'll do what I can for you if you really think my advice and
assistance of any use--in fact, I've already got an idea that I may
be able to secure a horse for you for the Cesarewitch; I won't tell
you its name just yet, however, but you can take it from me that it
will be a good thing."

Mostyn was loud in his thanks, and before the little party broke up
that evening, he was as confident of winning his legacy as if the
money were already in his pocket.

"Well, good-bye, my boy," Sir Roderick said, when he rose to go--he
always observed early hours on those occasions when he was not
sitting late in Parliament.  "You've been set a task that I envy you.
Go straight at it for all you are worth, and don't be afraid of
spending your money--that's the safest way of putting it in your

Of course, both Pierce and Mostyn laughed heartily over this
characteristic bull, an inversion of ideas that had a sound basis of
truth as far as Mostyn was concerned.  It was perhaps significant of
the real interest that "Old Rory" was taking in his subject that he
had only perpetrated one bull in the course of that evening.

Left alone, the two young men ordered whisky and soda, and then they
fell to discussing their own more intimate affairs.  It may be
assumed that the names of Cicely and Rada--this in spite of Pierce's
eloquent discourse on worldly wisdom--were repeated many times before
the sitting came to an end.  For now that Mostyn had come to town
there was no reason why he should not see his sister; of course, he
could not go to Bryanston Square, but they might easily meet by
appointment somewhere else--say at Mostyn's rooms in Jermyn Street.
And naturally, since Pierce was forbidden to see Cicely, he was eager
to hear all about her from her brother.

"I don't see why you should scold me about Rada," Mostyn smiled,
when, a little before midnight, he parted from his friend at the
corner of Jermyn Street, "you have spoken of nothing but Cicely for
the last hour, and I haven't been able to get in a word edgeways."

"Cicely and I love each other," returned Pierce thoughtlessly.

Mostyn reflected upon those words rather bitterly as he walked slowly
down Jermyn Street.  Yes, of course, it was different--very
different.  Pierce and Cicely had been engaged, were presumably
engaged still, in spite of the year's probation that had been imposed
upon them.  At the end of that year, whether further opposition were
offered on the part of John Clithero or not, the two young people
would come together again, and all would be well between them.

How different it was with himself!  How extraordinary that he should
have fixed his affections upon a girl with whom he could do nothing
but quarrel, who had made sport of him in public, and who had
declared that she hated him.  What a fool he was, and how he wished
he could get the vision of Rada--Rada, with her glossy and rebellious
hair, and with her piercing black eyes--out of his brain.  Rada, who
had called herself a devil when he had insisted that she was an angel!

Well, it was a good thing that he had so much to occupy his thoughts.
Pierce was right, and he must give himself up wholly to the task
before him--he must leave Rada to Jack Treves, if it could really be
possible that she cared for the trainer's son.  Rada was not for him.

He sighed heavily as he entered his room and switched on the electric
light.  A little pile of letters awaited him upon the table, and
topmost of all was one addressed in a rather straggling, feminine
handwriting; Mostyn, taking it up curiously, perceived that it bore
the Partinborough postmark.

He knew at once, instinctively, that the letter was from Rada
herself--from Rada, whom he was trying his best to forget.



"I don't hate you!" Rada's letter began quite abruptly.  "Indeed I
don't, Mr. Clithero, and I was a little beast to say I did, and I am
writing to you now because my conscience pricks me.  You were very
good--awfully good--to me about Castor, and I am grateful to you, I
really am.  I know how you insisted on giving the colt back to my
father, and the terms you exacted from him.  I don't believe you
bought Castor out of any malice towards me, and I only said so
because I was in a temper and couldn't control my tongue.  Then you
would insist upon my being an angel, a paragon of virtue, when I was
feeling myself a wicked little devil--and that was silly of you, you
know--you ought to understand women better.

"But I feel I want to be friends with you, Mr. Clithero, and that is
why I am writing.  I haven't got so many that I can afford to part
with one.  We are rivals in a way, and since I have got Castor back,
I do think I stand the best chance of winning the Derby first.  As
far as that part of our bet goes--since you will insist upon looking
at it as a bet--I have the advantage.  But, then, it wasn't fair to
you from the start.  I spoke, knowing that I had got Castor, while
you didn't even know that I had registered my colours.  That was just
like me, so I won't attempt to excuse myself.

"But since you are so eager to win a Derby, and prove me wrong in
what I said upon the coach, I do hope you will be successful.  You
gave yourself five years, you remember, so you need not grudge me
Castor next June.  Only I don't want you to go on spending a lot of
money over what was only, after all, a silly speech.  Wouldn't it be
better for me to retract every word I said, and for us both to forget
all about it?"

"Poor Rada!" mused Mostyn, smiling as he read.  "She little knows,
she little guesses why I have taken up racing so keenly.  I wonder
what she'll say later on when she sees me throwing my money about
right and left--in order to put it in my pocket, as 'Old Rory' would
say.  She'll think I'm doing it only out of bravado, and just because
I want to get even with her.  She'll think me a silly young fool," he
added, rather ruefully, "but I can't help it if she does.  I won't
tell the truth, even to her, until I've succeeded in my task.  Then I
don't mind who knows."

A few minutes ago Mostyn had been telling himself that he must put
Rada out of mind altogether; now, as a consequence of her letter, he
found himself half unconsciously contemplating what he should say to
her upon their next meeting.

Their ways were not to lie so far apart, after all.  The girl did not
hate him, and it was only his colossal innocence which had made him
think she did.  Mostyn was beginning to learn his lesson.

But there was Jack Treves.  Did she say anything in her letter about
Jack Treves?  With fingers that trembled a little, he turned over the
page, and there, about half-way down, he espied the name of the
trainer's son.  After that he resumed his reading of the letter at
the place where he had left off, his heart fluttering foolishly, the
written words upon the page dancing before his eyes.

"And now, just a few words on another subject," so the letter went
on.  "It's a thing that I can write better than I can speak--it's
about Jack Treves and that thousand pounds.  It's true I got the
money from him, and that there's a sort of promise of marriage
between us.  It's not only because he helped me to buy back Castor,
but there has been a vague kind of understanding, for the last year
or two, that I am to marry him some day.  My father wants it.  You'll
respect my confidence, I know, so I will tell you that there's a
considerable debt, and it must be paid off somehow."

"The old blackguard!" commented Mostyn forcibly, when he reached this
point.  "He's selling his daughter to pay off his debts--that's just
what it means.  But to sell her to a low-down bounder like young
Treves--it's cruel and disgusting.  And she, I don't believe she
cares for Treves a bit, really, and she's probably angry with herself
now because she's bound the fetters all the tighter about her by
going to him in one of those tempestuous tempers of hers and
borrowing a thousand pounds.  A curse upon the money--if only Rada
had taken it back!"

Mostyn had thrust the notes away in his safe at the Grange that
night, and there they had remained.  It was a foolish thing to have
done, no doubt, but he could not bring himself to touch the money--it
was like fire to his fingers.

Mostyn continued his reading.  "The truth is, that I don't love
anyone--at least, I don't think I do.  It did not seem to me to
matter if I married Jack Treves or not.  He would do as well as
another--since I had to marry some day.  And just now my mind is far
too full of other matters--of Castor, for instance, whom I think I
love better than any man upon earth--to think of marriage, or
anything of the sort.  Jack understands that, and he's promised not
to bother me till after the Derby next year.  I like him for that;
it's nice of him, don't you think so?

"Now, Mr. Clithero, I think I've explained everything as well as I
can.  You'll come back to the Grange soon, won't you?  We'll be
friends, and try not to quarrel again."

It was with mingled feelings that Mostyn, having read and re-read the
letter, folded it up and thrust it in his pocket.  The one point that
stood out clearly in his mind was that Rada did not really love Jack
Treves, although she had allowed herself to drift into a sort of
engagement with him.  Mostyn could not flatter himself, from anything
she said in her letter, that she had any deeper feeling towards
himself; but, after all, there was no saying what might happen in the
course of the next year.  It was very clear that, till after Castor
had run in the Derby, Rada did not want to be bothered--that was her
own expression--with questions of love from him or from anyone else.

Well, no doubt it was all for the best.  He, himself, had quite
enough to occupy his attention till after the next Derby was raced
and won; in the meanwhile, it was an excellent arrangement that he
and Rada should be good friends, and he would willingly undertake, as
Jack Treves had evidently undertaken, not to "bother" her with any
further suggestion of his affection.  Ultimately, if she should care
for him better than for Jack--his lip curled derisively at the mere
idea of the comparison--well, there was very little doubt that
Captain Armitage would not mind who married his daughter as long as
his debts were paid.

"I shall be something like a millionaire by then, I hope," Mostyn
muttered to himself, "so Master Jack, if it's a question of money, I
think I shall stand a better chance than you."

With which reflection and a satisfied smile upon his lips, Mostyn
retired to bed.

"Well, all I can say is I hope you'll stick to the arrangement of
being just friends," Pierce grumbled when, the next day, Mostyn told
him of the letter he had received, and how he had answered
it--answered it, perhaps, with a little more enthusiasm than Pierce
altogether cared for, explaining that he was looking forward to the
day when he could return to Partinborough Grange.  This, however,
could not be for a week or so, Mostyn had added, at any rate not till
after Goodwood.  But the Cesarewitch was bound to bring him to
Newmarket.  "Just the race that's going to mean so much for us,"
Pierce commented with a sigh.

"Don't be afraid, old man," laughed Mostyn, who was happier that day
than Pierce had seen him since his arrival in London--a bad omen, the
latter argued.  "I give you my word that I'll put the Cesarewitch
before everything else.  Rada doesn't want to be bothered, and I
won't bother her."

And with this promise Pierce was constrained to be content.

The days passed, and, as they had anticipated, their first essay--for
the Royal Hunt Cup--met with most indifferent success; they had,
indeed, been quite confident of failure long before the day of the

The same fate befell them, just as "Old Rory" had predicted, at
Goodwood, and later on, at the St. Leger.  The latter race cost
Mostyn a good deal of money.  The only animal that he had been able
to secure was a dark horse from the Manton stables, which, for
various reasons, could not be trained earlier in the year, and was
thought to have some chance.  He proved an expensive bargain, and
came in with the ruck.  The actual race was, as had been foretold, a
struggle between Hipponous and Peveril.  These two horses fought out
their battle a second time, and the Doncaster course suited the
chestnut even better than that of Epsom.  Once more Sir Roderick
MacPhane secured a victory.

These defeats having been anticipated, neither Mostyn nor Pierce were
in any way discouraged; on the contrary, they were all agog with
excitement, for the day of the Cesarewitch was approaching, and for
this race they had secured a horse through the kind offices of Sir
Roderick, who had remembered his promise, with which they hoped to do

Gulliver, the horse in question, came of an irreproachable pedigree,
and could already boast of a good record.  He had run third the
previous year, and was only carrying seven pounds more than on the
former occasion.  Indeed, under the training of old Treves, to whom
Mostyn had naturally sent him, Gulliver soon become a hot favourite
for the Cesarewitch.

Of course, by this time Mostyn and Rada had met again, not once but
many times.  Gulliver being in the charge of Treves at Partinborough,
there was nothing to be wondered at in Mostyn running up and down
between London and his country home.  Certainly his visits to the
Grange were brief, but then Pierce was always at his elbow to hurry
him away.  Mostyn sighed but obeyed.  His life seemed to be
compounded of long railway journeys all over the country; he had even
been dragged to Dublin for the Horse Show, and on another occasion he
had journeyed to Paris to view some horses which had been
particularly recommended to him.

He was beginning to be talked about; the sporting papers were taking
notice of his name.  His face had become a familiar one upon the
racecourse.  A little later, unless he attained his object either at
the Cesarewitch or Cambridgeshire, he knew quite well that he was
bound to become an object of general curiosity, a young man who was
throwing himself wildly into the track of the spendthrift, the way
many had gone before him, those who foolishly dissipated fortunes on
the Turf.  But then, of course, the world did not know, and, after
all, it mattered very little to him what the world should say.  Let
it be clearly stated here that, apart from his genuine love of sport,
Mostyn took no pleasure in the apparently reckless course to which he
was pledged.  He did not bet.  His object was to achieve the task
which had been set him as quickly as possible, and then to take up
the position of the man who went in for racing reasonably, with
discretion and without the inordinate passion of the gambler.

That John Clithero was already raging and fuming over his son's
growing notoriety, so much Mostyn already knew.  He had seen Cicely
on several occasions soon after his first return to London from
Partinborough.  These meetings had been a great pleasure to himself
as well as to the girl, as long as they could be continued, but
eventually, by some misfortune, John Clithero obtained an inkling of
them, and summarily brought them to a conclusion by denying his
daughter the liberty which she had till then enjoyed.

Poor Cicely!  Mostyn thought her sadly changed in those days.  She
had always been a little shy and nervous in manner, not very strong
physically, but now these peculiarities were so markedly increased
that Mostyn had asked her anxiously, more than once, if she were sure
that she were not ill?

She had replied that there was nothing amiss with her health, only
that she was not happy.  Could it be expected that she should be
happy?  Prevented from seeing her lover, she was always torturing
herself as to what the end of it all would be.  Her father was
constantly telling her that she should never marry Pierce, that he
would see her in her coffin first, and though Pierce had declared to
her, taking all his gods to witness that he spoke the truth, that as
soon as the year's probation imposed upon him by his father had
passed, he would take her away from home and cheerfully set John
Clithero at defiance; although over and over again Mostyn, inspired
by Pierce himself, would repeat this statement to her, yet she always
shook her fair head, nervously clasping and unclasping her fingers, a
bright spot of colour rising ominously to the centre of each pale

"Who can say what will happen in a year's time?" she would murmur
half under her breath.  "Our father is a strong man, Mostyn, and he
has always had his way.  I feel that he will have his way with me."

No arguments that Mostyn could adduce had any effect upon her, nor
would she consent to his suggestion that she should leave her home
and settle with him.  His idea was that he could easily have
installed her at Partinborough Grange.

But again Cicely shook her head, though her eyes glistened and became
wet with tears at her inability to accept.  The truth was that she
was afraid, and perhaps not without reason, for, if she were free
from her father's yoke, living under her brother's care--her brother,
who was so constantly in the company of Pierce--well, then, the
temptation that both she herself and her lover would have to endure
might be more than their strength could withstand.  They might meet,
the probability was that they would meet, and then Pierce would want
to set not only Mr. Clithero but his own father as well at defiance.
And to do this would mean his ruin: Cicely quite understood that, and
she was not going to allow him to run the risk.  It was wiser, far
wiser, for her to endure her life at home, almost unbearable though
it was becoming because of her father's ill-temper so often directed
against herself, and because of the overbearing manner which both
James and Charles had adopted towards her: it was better for her to
put a brave face upon all this and to wait till the year's probation
had expired, hoping against hope that all might be well in the end.

Mostyn, concerned as he was for his sister, had seen the reason of
her arguments, and he had comforted her as best he could, assuring
her of Pierce's fidelity, and pointing out, adopting a tone of levity
that he did not feel, that some months of the year had already
passed, and that the rest would go by quickly enough.  But all the
same, his heart bled for his sister, and he would have liked nothing
better than to have had a few minutes uninterrupted conversation with
those brothers of his, James the Prig and Charles the Sneak; it was
against them that his animosity was chiefly directed, for he knew
that his father acted rightly according to his lights; but as for the
two younger men--well, Mostyn had good reason to mistrust them both.

He had explained to Cicely that his sudden accession to wealth was
due to a legacy bequeathed to him by Anthony Royce; beyond this he
had entered into no particulars.  Let John Clithero believe, as
undoubtedly he would believe, that his son had thrown himself into
the world of sport by his own inclination; Mostyn did not care very
much what interpretation might be put upon his acts.  He had, indeed,
been more amused than annoyed when he was approached by his father's
solicitors with the request that, if he must go racing and squander
good money, he should adopt another name for the purpose.  This was
only evidence of the fact that Anthony Royce's subtle revenge was
already taking effect, and that John Clithero was raging impotently
at the fancied degradation of his family honour.  Yet what had
happened so far was nothing to what might be expected in the future:
so Mostyn, a little irritated by the tone adopted by the solicitors,
had felt bound to tell them.  His father had cast him off cruelly and
unjustly, and now Mostyn was his own master, at liberty to face the
world as seemed best to him.

When Pierce learnt that the meetings of Mostyn and Cicely had been
prohibited he was furiously angry, and it was all that Mostyn could
do to keep him from there and then proceeding to Bryanston Square and
summarily carrying Cicely off.  But he calmed down after a time, and
admitted that the girl was right, that it was best not to precipitate
matters, nor to incur the anger of old Mr. Trelawny.

"Although I must say," Pierce grumbled, "as I have said before, that
I can't make my governor out.  He was loud in his praises of you for
having struck out your own course, but if I went and did the same
thing--well"--Pierce shrugged his shoulders disconsolately--"I
believe that Cicely and I might beg our bread for all that he'd care."

So matters stood when Mostyn and Pierce took up their residence at
Partinborough Grange some ten days before the Newmarket meeting.  The
house had been thoroughly put in order, and was now as comfortable a
residence as anyone could desire.  As for the garden, this had
become, under the careful auspices of Willis--who had now someone to
work for--a very floral paradise.  Perhaps it was for the sake of
Rada that Mostyn had given special care to the cultivation of roses;
he knew how she loved the flower, and how they had attracted her to
the Grange before he came.

Mostyn and Rada met almost daily, but they met as good friends,
nothing more.  Pierce could have had no possible reasons for
grumbling.  Mostyn had quite made up his mind that the girl must not
be bothered by his attentions, and she herself seemed to appreciate
his decision, for she never referred in any way to that explanatory
letter which she had written to London.

Mostyn had no particular reason to be jealous of Jack Treves, in
spite of the understanding which he knew existed between the girl and
the trainer's son.  Rada showed herself, as far as she could, to be
impartial, and her one desire during these days seemed to be to
avoid, as far as she could, any reference to love or marriage: Castor
was her one care.

Certainly Mostyn was not jealous, nor did he ever attempt, by word or
deed, to belittle Jack Treves in Rada's eyes--this though not
infrequently she would appeal to him for his opinion as to this or
that in the behaviour of Jack.  He had fully made up his mind that he
would hold himself quite neutral and await events--the crisis that
would have to come after the following year's Derby.

But as for Jack Treves, he did not look upon matters quite in the
same light, and when trouble came it was due wholly to his jealousy,
for he had quite decided that he had cause to be jealous.  Thus it
was that he was the first to break the stipulation about not
bothering Rada, and she, in revenge, retaliated by cutting him for
days together and allowing herself to be more than ever in the
company of Mostyn.  Of all this the latter knew nothing until, as was
to be expected, the storm broke.

It was two or three days before the Cesarewitch and Mostyn had
strolled over to the stables to have a look at Gulliver after he was
brought in from exercise.  He was strolling leisurely across the
stretch of open country towards the gates when he was suddenly
confronted by Rada, emerging flushed and excited, her lips pursed
angrily together, her eyes glittering with that look of irresponsible
defiance which Mostyn had already grown to recognise, though of late
it had not been directed against himself.

Nor could it be so on the present occasion; he was quite sure of
that, for it was more than a fortnight since he and Rada had had
anything approaching a quarrel, and then it had been merely over some
trivial matter quickly forgotten.  The girl would have passed him
with a little quick nod of her head, but he held out his arm and
impeded her.

"What's up, Rada; what's wrong?" he asked.

At first she would give him no explanation at all; she begged him to
let her go; her father was expecting her at home, and she was in a
hurry.  But Mostyn, although he knew it was at some risk to himself,
took her by the arm and quietly demanded particulars.  He had grown
in daring of late.

"You must tell me, Rada," he said, "you really must.  I insist."

She looked at him, startled.  It was the first time that he had
adopted a tone of command towards her.  Perhaps in her heart she was
not altogether displeased, although for a few moments she was
inclined to resent his interference.

But the truth came out in the end.  She had just had a scene with
Jack Treves, and she was furious with him, so she asserted, perfectly
furious.  He had been worrying her, making her life wretched, and now
matters had come to a climax.

Mostyn did not guess that he was in any way the cause of this, nor
did Rada care to admit the fact.  The trouble, however, on the
present occasion was more deeply seated.

It was due, in a great measure, to Daisy Simpson.  Jack had refused
to break off his intimacy with this young woman, even after his
semi-engagement to Rada had become generally known, with the very
natural result that tongues had wagged and scandal been hinted at.
Daisy had finally put an end to all this by taking her departure for
London with the avowed intention of going upon the stage.

Jack had raged furiously and unreasonably, nor had he made any secret
of his annoyance.  Since there was no definite engagement, he argued,
between himself and Rada he was clearly justified in maintaining his
old friendship; if there was any scandal about the matter it was the
fault of Rada and her ridiculous decree, a decree which placed him in
an absurd and quite anomalous position.  He therefore demanded that
the girl should consent to her engagement to him being officially

Such had been the cause of the trouble, and Jack Treves had just been
treated to a touch of Rada's temper.  And, no doubt, to judge from
her flashing eyes and the contemptuous curve of her lips, he had been
badly worsted in the encounter.

Rada appeared somewhat relieved when she had unbosomed herself of her
troubles.  It was something new for her to find a confidant; under
ordinary circumstances she would have gone straight home, and there,
never having been accustomed to give way before her father or to tell
him anything of her doings, she would have shut herself up in her own
room to brood for hours together, or she might have saddled her mare
and ridden away, just for the mere want of sympathy, as she often did
when Captain Armitage happened to be in a particularly obnoxious
frame of mind, or muddled from drink, now more often than ever the

These ideas flashed quickly through Mostyn's brain as, awkwardly
enough, he attempted to speak words of consolation.  All his heart
went out in sympathy to the wayward girl.  How could it be expected
that Rada should be anything than just what she had become?

"I won't have it announced to all the world that some day I am going
to be married to Jack," Rada cried, petulantly tapping the turf with
an impatient little foot.  "When I have said a thing I mean to abide
by it, and I told Jack that there was to be no mention of any
engagement between us till after next June.  It's bad enough to think
that I've got to be married at all----"

"Rada, do you really care for Jack?"  The words were upon Mostyn's
tongue, but he did not speak them.  He was quite certain that Rada
did not really care for Jack, but at the same time he had no reason
to believe that she cared any better for himself.  And what danger of
harming himself in her eyes might he not be running if he suggested
anything of the sort?  Rada would only have two men bothering her, as
she expressed it, instead of one.  Far better for him to bide his
time and let matters take their own course.

Rada, of her own accord, made answer to the unspoken question.  "I
think I'm beginning to hate him," she asserted.

Mostyn turned his head away and, despite himself, his lips parted in
a smile, for he understood the words were spoken in temper and bore
no real significance.  Had she not said the same to him?  And for the
time being he had been fool enough to believe it.

The truth was, so he told himself a little sadly, after Rada had left
him, that she cared for no one at all.  It was the truth that she had
written in her letter.  But could she not grow to care?  She had had
so little of love in her life that, as yet, she hardly knew the
meaning of the word.

"You are very good to me," so she had said when she left him that
morning, refusing his company on her way home: not that she would not
have been pleased to have it, but because she knew his time was
valuable.  "I'm glad that we are friends, Mostyn"--she had come to
call him by his Christian name by now--"though I can't see what there
is in me for you to trouble yourself about."

Mostyn would have liked to have told her there and then, but once
more discretion urged silence.

His adventures of that morning were, however, not yet concluded, for
before he turned in at the stable gates he met Jack Treves himself
lounging heavily out, his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his
breeches, his cap tilted to one side of his head, a cigarette thrust
between his lips and carried at an aggressive upward angle.

"Good morning, Treves," said Mostyn.  He was always on terms of armed
neutrality with the trainer's son, and he affected to take no notice
of the scowls with which the latter usually met him, and the scarcely
veiled impertinence of the tone which he was wont to adopt.  Mostyn
had no wish to quarrel with Jack Treves, mainly for Rada's sake, but
also because he had a sincere respect for Jack's father, the rough,
simple-minded, and uneducated old trainer whom, nevertheless, he
recognised as a straightforward and honest man, one who was serving
him faithfully, and who was doing his utmost to ensure Gulliver's

Jack came to a halt, standing aggressively between Mostyn and the
stable gates.  He drew his hands from his pockets, removed the
cigarette from between his lips and blew out a cloud of smoke--smoke
the odour of which fell offensively upon Mostyn's nostrils.  Jack's
fancy in tobacco was not of the most refined order.

"I saw you talkin' to Rada just now," he said.  "Been tryin' to
comfort her, I suppose, because I thought it time to have my say?  A
nice sort of comforter you are!"  There was a vicious sneer upon his
lips.  "Look here," he went on, taking a menacing step forward and
dropping the tone of sarcasm which he had not the wit to maintain,
"what do you mean by it?"

"Please explain yourself."  Mostyn spoke very quietly; on such
occasions he never lost his temper, and always held himself under
complete control.  His calmness galled his adversary.

"You know jolly well what I mean.  You're always hanging about Rada,
and ever since you've been here you've tried to make mischief between
us.  Well, I'm not going to have it; I tell you that straight."

The young man's words were liberally intersected with oaths.

"You're labouring under a delusion," Mostyn said; then he too
advanced a step, as if to indicate that he had had enough of Jack's

But the latter, already goaded into a passion by Rada, appeared
anxious to vent some of it upon Mostyn.  He was not lacking in pluck,
so much can be said for him, for he was in truth the smaller and
sparer man of the two.  Mostyn, with his splendid physique, might
well have warned him to think twice before he ventured, as he
actually did, to break out with a string of invectives and foul
words.  He had quite a remarkable vocabulary at his disposition.

Even then Mostyn did not lose his temper, recognising that Jack
Treves was in a rage and not responsible for what he said.

"You're a silly fellow, Treves," he remarked with perfect composure,
"and a foul-mouthed one at that.  Just stand out of my way, please,
and let me pass.  I've some business to talk over with your father."

As he spoke he raised his arm to thrust Jack aside.  But this was too
much for the latter; the idea that he should be treated with this
calm disdain, his protest simply ignored, and he himself pushed aside
as if he were of no account whatever, all this caused him completely
to lose control of himself..  He threw himself blindly upon Mostyn
and struck out wildly, not as he would have done in calmer moments,
for, as a matter of fact, lie rather fancied himself upon his
pugilistic powers.

The next moment the natural result came about.  Mostyn, forced to it
against his will, retaliated with a well-directed blow, and Jack
Treves measured his length upon the ground.  The fight, if fight it
could be called, was very soon at an end, for Jack showed no further
inclination to renew the combat.

"I'm sorry if I hurt you, Treves," Mostyn remarked, as his late
adversary sat up and dabbed a handkerchief to his damaged face.  "But
really, you know, if you have anything to say you should be a little
more careful in the way you say it."  With which Mostyn passed on.
The matter was concluded as far as he was concerned.

But Jack Treves, behind him, scrambled to his feet.  His lip was cut
and the blood was trickling down his chin.  There was blood in his
mouth too, and he spat it out as once more a volume of oaths escaped

"D---- you, Mostyn Clithero!" he cried, safely now, for the object of
his hatred was well out of ear-shot.  "You haven't downed me for
nothing, I can tell you that.  I'll be even with you some day, you
mark my words!"



"Pierce, old man, I'm afraid we are going to be beaten."  Mostyn
pushed his chair back from the dinner table, lit a cigarette and
disconsolately watched the little rings of smoke which he blew in
quick succession from his lips.

The two friends were seated in the dining-room of the Grange, and
they had just partaken of a good dinner, which had been well served
up by a quiet man-servant, who had been in Mostyn's service for the
last eight months.

The winter, following a series of reverses, had come and gone, and
now, though the prescribed year had nearly elapsed, Mostyn found
himself apparently as far as ever from successfully carrying out the
terms of his bequest.

On the following day the Two Thousand Guineas would be run, then
there was the Thousand; after that there remained the Derby and the
Oaks--and that was all.

Pierce stared straight at the wine-glass which he had just filled
with fine old port, of which Mostyn had found a good supply in his
cellar.  He had little to say by way of comfort.

"I am afraid Asmodeus will go down, like the rest of them," he
muttered.  "He hasn't an earthly chance against Don Quixote.  And
then there's Bouncing Boy."

"Bouncing Boy won't win either," commented Mostyn.  He was very
proficient in racing by now, an excellent judge of winning form.  He
had formulated quite a theory in his own mind of horses for courses,
but whenever he tried to buy a good horse that had already won a big
handicap he was always met by difficulties in the way of refusal to
sell.  "Don Quixote will win, and win easily.  Asmodeus may be
second, but what's the use of that to me?" he added.  "I'm sick of
horses that are placed second."

Herein, indeed, was disclosed much of the irony of the whole
position.  Three times in quick succession on the flat Mostyn's
horses had been accorded the second place, which was palpably no use
to him whatever.  The Lincolnshire, the Chester Cup, and the City and
Suburban--in all three of these races Mostyn's horses had come in

"We've done our best," commented Pierce, after a moment's pause; "at
least there's that to be said.  But it was too hard a task, Mostyn:
Anthony Royce made it too stiff for you."

"At any rate he obtained what he wanted."  Mostyn looked up with a
quaint smile.  "He steeped me in racing and he made my father wild;
he got his revenge right enough.  The papers are always advertising
my name.  It is 'Mr. Clithero, that ubiquitous young sportsman, has
purchased so and so'; or 'Mr. Clithero, the irrepressible, will run
so and so for such a race.'  They write articles about me, comment on
my not betting, on my personal appearance, and all the rest of it.
I've seen my portrait in the papers till I'm sick of the sight of it.
Some call me plucky; others laugh at me for my folly and think I'm
just a wild young spendthrift.  My father sees all those papers;
Cicely tells me in her letters that he has them sent to him.  He must
simply rage with fury.  That's just what Royce wanted.  You remember
how my father tried, through the solicitors, to put a stop to my
racing under my own name?"

Pierce nodded.  The mention of Cicely had set up a new train of
thought in his mind; he heard what was said without paying particular
heed to it.

"Of course I couldn't do that," Mostyn went on; "and my refusal must
have made the poor old man more angry than ever, and I expect the
very idea that I had been left money by Anthony Royce, his enemy,
must have driven him half crazy."

"He's making things almost impossible at home," put in Pierce,
following his own thoughts.  "You know how Cicely, poor child, writes
of him.  His temper is abominable, and she always has to bear the
brunt of it.  Cicely hardly dare send you a letter now because she is
accused of abetting you in your misdeeds."  Pierce frowned and kicked
viciously at the leg of the table.  "And then, hasn't he threatened
to turn her out of the house unless she will consent to promise never
to marry me?  Oh!  I tell you, Mostyn, her life must be a hell, a
hell!"  He rose and promenaded the room with long strides.

Cicely's relations with her father were perhaps even worse than
Pierce was aware of.  She had written long letters to Mostyn--though
of late he had guessed, from the rarity with which she wrote, that
her correspondence had been placed under surveillance--and had poured
out her heart to him.  She had begged him, however, to observe
discretion with Pierce, fearing to cause the latter unnecessary
trouble.  She was still convinced that she must hold out till the end
of the year, but it was hard, very hard, to do so.

The chief cause of offence was her constancy to her lover.  She
steadily refused to give him up, even though, day after day, John
Clithero poured out upon her the vials of his wrath.  The smallest
word would lead to a scene, and she had no one to turn to for
comfort, for both her brothers were united against her.

"Go and join Mostyn, the profligate," John Clithero would cry,
lifting his fists in impotent rage.  "You are children of Belial,
chaff for the burning.  My sin is upon me, that I have begotten such
as you!"

Knowing of these scenes, Pierce had gone to his father and again
begged to be allowed to take Cicely away at once; but the old man had
relented nothing of his stubbornness, though when he spoke of the
year's probation which he had imposed upon his son, there was always
that queer look upon his face which Pierce could not understand.

"Don't let's worry our heads over these things to-night, old chap,"
Mostyn said at last.  "To-morrow's the Guineas--another step in my
progress.  Come and sit down, and let's talk over our chances."

After a few more rapid strides up and down, Pierce adopted the
suggestion, and soon, for the time being, he had forgotten his own
troubles in fighting anew with Mostyn their past battles, in
preparing a brave face for what was still to come.

There was not one race out of all those scheduled in the will which
Mostyn had neglected.  He had thrown himself, heart and soul, into
his task.  Pierce, with his better knowledge of the Turf, had ably
advised and seconded him.

In so many instances they had come near to victory--that was the
heart-rending part of it all.  Success had seemed within their grasp,
only to be snatched away at the last moment.

The Cesarewitch--that had perhaps been the greatest disappointment of
all.  A horse like Gulliver, with his pedigree and his record, hot
favourite, too, as he had been made--Mostyn and Pierce had indeed
been justified in their belief that with Gulliver their great object
would be achieved.

But Gulliver failed, and that apparently by sheer ill-luck.  How
clearly all the particulars were engraved upon Mostyn's brain!  The
bad news had come to him--the news that forecasted the failure that
was to follow--a couple of days before the race, and almost
immediately after the short, sharp tussle which he had had with Jack
Treves outside the gates of the stables.  He had found the trainer
awaiting him, an ominous yellow paper in his hand, an expression of
keen anxiety upon his honest face.

"I'm sorry, sir, upon my word, I'm as sorry as if the affair were my
own."  Thus had spoken the blunt old man.

"What's up, Treves?" Mostyn had asked, a sense of misgiving seizing
upon him.  Old Treves would not have looked so worried without a real

The latter handed over the telegram without another word, and Mostyn
realised what had happened.  The jockey who was to have ridden
Gulliver--none other than the redoubtable Fred Martin himself, the
same who had steered Hipponous to victory at the Derby--Fred Martin
had been taken ill, was lying in hospital, and had been forced now,
at the eleventh hour, to throw up the sponge.

"It's all true, sir," Treves said, as if he had an idea that Mostyn
might have doubted the genuineness of the story.  "I'd stake my life
that Fred Martin wouldn't give up unless he was forced--the lad's as
straight as they make 'em."

The blow was irreparable, and Mostyn realised it at once.  At such
short notice it was practically impossible to find an adequate
substitute, and the jockey who finally rode Gulliver, a mere boy,
proved himself unequal to the task.  The horse was bad-tempered, and
realised at once that a stranger was on his back.  He made a bad
start, and, though he picked up afterwards, only succeeded in running
into third place.

Mostyn, who had felt that with Gulliver the game was in his hands,
was terribly cast down; but there was, luckily perhaps, no time for
serious reflection.  The Cambridgeshire followed on so quickly, and
here again, all his plans having been carefully laid, he stood a very
fair chance.

When the weights for the Cambridgeshire had been announced, it was
found that Silver Star, the property of a well-known nobleman, had
been treated most leniently by the handicappers.  The mare at once
became a raging-hot favourite, and Mostyn spared no expense in his
endeavours to purchase her.  The noble owner was by no means inclined
to sell, but, finally--and here again Mostyn had to thank Sir
Roderick for his good offices--the deal was carried through, though
it made a terrible inroad into Mostyn's diminishing capital.

But the day before the race, just when she was about to be
transferred from Treves's stables to Newmarket, Silver Star was found
to be ailing.  There were suspicious circumstances about the case,
too, for the horse's illness was so very sudden and unexpected, also
it appeared difficult to diagnose the actual cause of the trouble.
On the other hand, it was impossible to throw suspicion upon anyone.
Had Jack Treves been at home, Mostyn might have felt interested in
his movements at that time, but Jack had been sent away by his father
to purchase horses in another part of the country, and so, as far as
Silver Star was concerned, he seemed beyond suspicion.

It was due to the discretion of old Treves himself that Jack had been
sent away.  The trainer had learnt of the assault upon Mostyn, and
had immediately taken vigorous and characteristic action.  He had not
spared his son, but had rebuked him in round and unmeasured terms,
both for his treatment of Rada--having regard to his philandering
with Daisy Simpson--and for his utter folly in risking the making of
bad blood between his father and his father's best client.

Old Mr. Treves had every wish to see the engagement between Jack and
Rada a settled thing; having made money himself, he was now anxious
that his son should raise himself in the social scale.  But, from his
point of view, Jack was busily engaged in spoiling his best chances.

"Mark my words," he said, "you will lose the girl altogether if ye
don't treat her as a real lady--which she is.  Daisy Simpson,
indeed!"--the old man sniffed indignantly--"carrying on with a drab
like that!  Why, you are just askin' to get the chuck, that's what
you're doin'--askin' for it."  Here his indignation almost
overpowered him.  "It's a good thing you caught it from Mr.
Clithero," he went on, "an' wot you got served you right.  If you
hadn't been punished already, I've a mind to hide you myself--yes, to
take the stick to you, as I did when you was a lad--what's more, I
could do it, too!"

Old Treves was bulky, broad of shoulder, and in rude health; as
father and son stood there together it looked very much as if the
elder man could easily have carried his words into effect.

"Anyway, you shan't be hangin' about the place, making a nuisance of
yourself, more'n I can help till after next June.  Miss Rada shall
have the clear run she wants, and I expect the less she sees of you,
in the meanwhile, the more she'll be likely to take to you in the

It was, as a consequence of this, that Jack, despite his grumbles and
the consciousness that he was giving a clear field to his rival, was
packed off from Partinborough, and troubled Mostyn and Rada very
little more during the months that ensued.

Silver Star was scratched for the Cambridgeshire, and so Mostyn's
last hope for that year expired.  He had now some four months to wait
in which to make his preparations for the big steeplechase in the
following March, as well as for the Lincolnshire.

Mostyn had taken no advantage of Jack's summary dismissal from
Partinborough.  He was, indeed, only on and off at the Grange,
finding that he had plenty to occupy him in London.  He had taken up
a definite position with regard to Rada, and he was resolved to
adhere firmly to it.  She knew he loved her; it was for her to
choose, when the time came, between him and Jack.  She could break
off her semi-engagement to the latter if she pleased; should Castor
win the Derby, she would certainly have the means of paying off her
debt; besides, apart from this, she was already making money with her
horse, whose record was as yet unbroken.  Castor had won everything
for which he had been entered.  Then there was the thousand pounds
still reposing in Mostyn's safe--this money was quite at her
disposition if her pride would allow her to take it.  All this Mostyn
had told her.  So it was for Rada to choose.  Mostyn would not speak
of his love, he would not "bother" her.  They met constantly, they
teased each other, they quarrelled now and then--always making peace
very quickly--and there were times when Mostyn thought that the eyes
of the girl were wistful, times when he could not help fancying that
she would show no bitter resentment if he opened his arms to take her
to them, as he had done once before.

In his way he was stubborn, stubborn in his determination to abide by
the conditions he had imposed upon himself.  It was true that he did
not understand women, and Rada was, of course, a particularly complex
study.  "I'll wait till after the Derby," so he told himself over and
over again.  "Rada wants no talk of love till then; has she not said
so?"  He often wondered why Rada should sometimes be cross with him
without a cause; and once--he remembered quite well--she had burst
into tears and run away; it was just before he left Partinborough for
a longer stay than usual in town.

All this while, although, so far, failure had befallen him, there was
not the smallest doubt in his mind that he would ultimately be
successful in carrying out the terms of Anthony Royce's bequest.

But a fresh series of failures awaited him at the opening of the
season.  The Lincolnshire--that was the first of the three races in
which his horse had run into second place; then had followed the
Grand National, and here, having successfully negotiated Beecher's
Brook and Valentine's Brook on the first round, Mostyn's mare,
Giralda, had come badly to grief upon the second round; both jockey
and mare were injured, the latter so much so that she had then and
there to be shot.

The Chester Cup--second again; and finally, the City and Suburban,
with exactly the same result.

Now there remained Asmodeus, who was second favourite for the Two
Thousand Guineas, and a filly for the Thousand, whose training,
however, had been insufficient for Mostyn to place much reliance upon
her.  She might possibly do better for the Oaks--absolutely Mostyn's
last chance--but even with regard to this he had little confidence.
For a long while he had steadily refused to have anything to do with
the Derby, and so valuable time had been lost.  Now he had a colt
named Cipher in training, but Cipher was not a patch upon either
Castor or upon Sir Roger's Pollux, and could hardly be looked upon as
standing a chance.  Such was the present position, and, considering
it squarely and without bias, both Mostyn and Pierce had to admit
that it was a desperate one.

"That beast of a Jew, Isaacson, will carry off the Two Thousand,"
groaned Pierce.  "Don Quixote is bound to win on his form.  We shall
be in for another second.  The only thing is, that we've got a better
man up.  Stanhope is a fine jockey, while Wilson is a fellow whom I
never trusted, and they speak badly of him in the ring.  But I expect
he's being well paid for his job."

Isaacson, the owner of Don Quixote, was the same man whose horse,
Peveril, had so nearly won the Derby against Hipponous.  He had only
made his appearance upon the Turf within the last year or so, since
some successful speculation had brought him a fortune.  The only good
point about him, so Pierce was wont to aver, was that he had not
shown himself ashamed of his name, or of the method by which he had
earned his living.  He had been a bill discounter and money lender
upon rather a large scale, and though he was reputed hard, no
imputation had ever been made upon his honesty.  Since wealth had
come to him, he had given away large sums in charity, but this was
probably in order that he might win the popularity which he coveted.
He liked to make a big show, and his racing colours were all gold.

After a while Pierce rose, yawned, and expressed his determination to
go to bed.  The two young men had dined late, and their discussion
had been a prolonged one.  "Good-night, old chap," he said, "and
don't worry your mind more than you can help.  Things may come all
right, after all.  Asmodeus is a good horse, and there are a lot who
fancy him."

Mostyn looked up brightly as he nodded good-night.  "Oh, I'm not
worrying!" he said, "the whole thing has been a gamble, hasn't it,
Pierce?  And he's a poor gambler who growls at his losses."



Left alone, Mostyn drew his arm-chair nearer the fire, and settling
himself comfortably, gave himself up to solitary reflection.  The
evenings were still fresh, for May had set in unseasonably, and a
fire was by no means to be despised.  It was, indeed, because the
dining-room was the warmer of the two sitting-rooms that Mostyn had
elected to occupy it that evening.  Frazer, the man-servant, had long
ago cleared the table, and so Mostyn did not expect to be disturbed.

Of course, as was only natural, his thoughts turned to Rada.  And
now, as he sat gazing into the fire, he knew that he had been very
dense.  That foolish stubbornness of his--it was there that the blame
lay.  He had made up his mind that Rada's injunction was to be obeyed
strictly and to the letter, and so he had put temptation behind him,
even when his common-sense, combined with his racing experience, told
him that the time had come to force the pace.

He had refrained from speaking, although, over and over again, he had
read invitation in Rada's eyes; he had given his word to her, he had
given his word to Pierce; besides, Rada's semi-engagement to Jack
Treves was still an accepted fact, and so Mostyn argued that until
she, voluntarily and of her own accord, elected to break with Jack,
he had no right to interfere.  He had never doubted that she would do
this after the Derby, when the question of a formal engagement was to
be raised.

Of course, there was much overstraining at honour in all this, as
well as a lamentable ignorance of the feminine nature; but then that
was Mostyn all over.  He did not--in this case, it was almost would
not--take into account the possibility, the inherent probability, of
a woman changing her mind.  He was quite aware that Rada's moods were
as variable as those of the proverbial April day, and yet he insisted
upon taking her literally, with the natural result that his attitude
was sorely misunderstood.

For Rada had come to the conclusion that his feelings towards her had
undergone a change--that he no longer cared--and she was miserable in
consequence.  Mostyn had been aware of this fact for some little time
past; he was now only too conscious of all that he had left undone.
He would have asked nothing better than to go to Rada and speak out
his love; it was no longer stubbornness and a straining at honour
that hindered him.  It was something more potent than that.

For, now that all might have been well, another factor in the case
had arisen, another opponent had sprung into being, and poor Mostyn
was beginning to realise that he was beaten all along the line.  Rada
was further away from him than ever just when she seemed to be most

Ruin stared him in the face--irrevocable ruin.  He was a
failure--Anthony Royce's millions would never be his.  In another
month's time he would be plunged back into poverty--he would have
nothing left, nothing save the Grange, which he would not be able to
keep up.  All the ready money which had been handed over to him had
been expended--he had even the possibility of debts to face.

For himself he did not care--he had had his sporting chance and fate
had been against him.  The world would say that there was another
young spendthrift gone under; his father and his brothers, not
knowing the truth, would have some excuse for pointing the finger of
scorn at him; but these things troubled him little.  He would fight
for himself, as he had meant to fight before he had known of Royce's

If it were not for Rada--Rada whom he loved so passionately!  How
could he ask her to share his poverty?  The thing was impossible--he
had realised the impossibility of it for some weeks past--just as the
truth of her love for him was filtering into his brain.  How
tragically ironical it all was!

"Asmodeus won't win the Guineas," he muttered to himself,
disconsolately enough, since there was none present before whom he
must keep up the farce of cheerfulness.  "And as for the filly, she
is quite hopeless.  So what remains?  Only the Derby, and that I
should have to fight out against Rada.  I don't know that I would win
it from her, even if I could.  But I can't, so there's an end of it.
There's an end to everything, so far as I can see--to fortune, to
ambition, to love--yes, jolly well an end to everything.  That's what
I see in the future."

He could see no brighter picture by staring into the dying fire, and
presently he rose with a sigh and a yawn, preparatory to making his
way upstairs to bed.  It was at that moment that he heard the front
door bell ring, and a minute or so later the sedate Frazer put in an
appearance and announced that there was a man, who had not given his
name but who looked like a stable-man, who wished to see Mostyn upon
urgent business.

"It's not Stanhope, Frazer?" asked Mostyn anxiously.

"No, sir," Frazer shook his head decidedly; he knew Stanhope by sight
quite well.  "I've not seen the fellow before," he added.  "He's
never been to the house, I'm quite sure of that."

"Show him in here, Frazer," Mostyn commanded.  "I'll see him, whoever
he is."

Accordingly, after a brief interval, the stranger was admitted.  He
stood in the doorway fidgetting from one foot to the other, his cap
in his hand, his tightly-fitting coat buttoned close over his chest.
The buttons were big and flashy; the man's general appearance--his
expression as well as his attire--was unprepossessing.

Mostyn recognised him at once, and wondered what on earth he had come
for.  He waited, however, till Frazer had withdrawn, till the door
was closed upon them both.

"You are Wilson," he said then, "Ted Wilson, the jockey.  Why do you
want to see me, and at this hour of the night?"

"I couldn't come afore, sir," Wilson shifted from one foot to the
other in an undecided sort of manner.  He had little twinkling eyes,
and sandy hair brushed over his forehead in a carefully oiled curl.
He had yellow teeth, which protruded like a rabbit's, and a weak,
receding chin; he was a clever jockey, which is about as much as
could be said in his favour.

"I couldn't come afore becos the guv'nor wouldn't let me out of his
sight.  He's a jolly sharp 'un, is David Isaacson, I give you my

"Well, what's your object in coming to see me?" repeated Mostyn
rather sharply.  He neither liked the man himself, nor did he care
for this intercourse with one of the servants of his rival.

Wilson took a few steps forward into the room and seated himself,
without being invited to do so, upon the very edge of the most
unpretentious-looking chair that he could pick out.  "I want a word
with you, private like," he said in a hoarse, throaty voice.  His
eyes rested nervously upon the spirit tantalus in its place on the
sideboard.  He had, perhaps wittingly, seated himself in close
proximity to it.

"I've walked across from the Crathorn Stables," he said pleadingly,
"an' I can tell you it's dry work."  The Crathorn Stables were those
at which Don Quixote had been lodged, and they were distant, as
Mostyn knew, a good half-dozen miles in the direction of Newmarket.

"You can help yourself.  You'll find a tumbler close beside you, and
there's whisky in the stand."  The jockey did not await a second
invitation, but helped himself largely to the spirit, adding to it a
very small quantity of water.

"That's better," he said, as he tossed off the spirit.  "Now we can

"I'm waiting," said Mostyn drily.

"Well, it's like this," said the jockey, fixing his little eyes upon
Mostyn as though attempting to read his thoughts.  "I've had a row
with the guv'nor; he's a rotter, that's wot he is!"  He paused

Mostyn gave him no assistance.  "Well?" was all he said.

"A rotter," repeated Wilson, "a low-down, measly Jew.  I've never
ridden for a Jew afore, an' I'm sorry I consented to this time."

"Well?" repeated Mostyn.

"Carn't you see wot I'm drivin' at, Mr. Clithero?  Carn't you help a
chap a bit?" protested Wilson, who thought that the object of his
visit should have been guessed at once.

"Hadn't you better speak clearly, and come to the point?" suggested
Mostyn, who had a pretty shrewd idea of what was about to be proposed
to him.

Wilson accordingly made the plunge.  "Don Quixote is goin' to win the
Two Thousand," he said.  "Asmodeus ain't.  There's no getting round
that to us as knows; that is, of course, if all goes normal like.
Well, Mr. Clithero, sir, I guess you want to win this race, and
that's why I've come to you, Mr. Clithero, sir."

Mostyn hated the constant repetition of his name, and he was boiling
over with indignation at the suggestion made to him, though he kept
his features under control, and allowed the little man to have his

To the jockey it seemed that the owner of Asmodeus must be
particularly dense.  He did not like to put his proposition into
plain words.  What was the necessity for it?

"Between man and man who understand each other," he began, "these
little things can be arranged, you know."  He rose from his chair,
putting his empty glass aside, and sidled nearer to Mostyn.  "I'm
ready to strike a bargain with you, Mr. Clithero, sir, if so be ye're
willing.  It needn't be such a dead cert for Don Quixote, after all."
Mostyn sat silent, staring straight before him, though he kept one
elbow well out in order to prevent Wilson coming too near.  Of
course, he knew quite well what was meant--had understood all the
time.  This little rogue was willing to pull Don Quixote for a
consideration--a consideration which, though no doubt it would be
heavy, Mostyn was quite capable of providing, and, as far as he was
concerned, there was no actual danger.  If any objection were raised
to the riding--which was most unlikely, for Wilson was clever at that
sort of thing--it would all be put down to a manoeuvre on the part of
Isaacson, or to spite on the part of the jockey--as far as Mostyn was
concerned, it didn't matter which.

The boy's face was burning, the blood coursing quickly through his
veins, his heart beating quickly.  A few moments ago, when he had
first realised what was being proposed to him, his inclination had
been to get up, to take the jockey by the scruff of his neck, and
throw him out without more ado; then, suddenly, and as if someone had
whispered in his ear, a temptation, such as he had never known before
in his life, had come upon him.

There was so much at stake for him--so vast a sum of money, which
seemed about to slip through his fingers.  And there was Rada, too.
If Asmodeus should win this race, why, all might still be well.  He
would not be a beggar in another month's time, and then, what was
there to prevent him going to Rada and saying: "You love me--you
don't love Jack Treves--I want you, Rada, and mean to have you!"  He
was sure--at that moment--that she would fall into his arms, and that
he had only to speak.  All this--success, wealth, love--might be his,
if Asmodeus won.  At that moment, sharper than ever, he felt the
bitter sting of defeat.  "There is no other way," whispered the
insinuating voice in his ear.  "You'd much better accept a good offer
when it's made to you."

"It's a fair deal I'm proposin' to you, Mr. Clithero, sir," muttered
the jockey, his voice seeming to harmonise and blend with that of the
imaginary tempter.  "I can do it easy as easy, and who wants a
beastly Jew to win?  You can back Asmodeus for all you like--put your
shirt on 'im--for if we get to understand each other he's bound to
win, there ain't another horse in the race.  It'll be worth your
while, I tell you that straight."

Perhaps, all unconsciously, the jockey had made a mistake when he
spoke of making money upon the horse's victory, which was the last
thing that Mostyn, who never made a bet, cared about doing.  In some
insidious fashion, this new suggestion touched a cord in the boy's
nature and made him realise the peril in which he stood.  He, who had
never in his life done an act which he could call dishonourable, what
was he thinking of now?  How could he have allowed himself, even for
a moment, to listen to so vile a suggestion?  His cheeks flushed with
shame.  With a mighty effort he thrust the temptation aside.  He
smote the table violently with his fist, and broke out with an
oath--an oath that came strangely to his lips.

"D---- you, you dirty hound!"  He pushed his chair bark, and stood
trembling with wrath, towering huge over the wretched little man.
"How dare you come to me with such a proposal?  How dare you? how
dare you?  Get out of the room, and out of the house, and be sharp
about it, or before God----"  He raised his fist threateningly.

The little jockey slipped from his chair, nearly sliding on to the
floor in his dismay, and held up his puny fists as if to ward off a
blow.  "Look 'ere, Mr. Clithero, sir," he whined, "what are you
a-gettin' at?  I came 'ere as a friend--for your good."

"Go!" thundered Mostyn, pointing a trembling forefinger at the door.
"I told you to go."

"Very well, I'm goin'."  The jockey, seeing that he stood in no
danger of bodily hurt, pulled himself together and shuffled towards
the door.  "You ain't treated me fair, Mr. Clithero," he grumbled, as
he went.  His little eyes shot malice.  He muttered something else
under his breath--a remark that was evidently not intended for
Mostyn's ears; nor did the latter, who had turned to ring the bell
for Frazer, notice the clenched fists or the vindictive look.

At the door the jockey halted once more.  "Look 'ere," he growled,
"you're not a-goin' to say anythin' about this?  I trust you as a

"You may cheat your master, for all I care," said Mostyn, "as long as
you don't do it for me.  That's his own look out, not mine, but
remember that I have nothing to do with you or with your dirty
tricks.  Now go!"  Once more he pointed to the door, and the next
moment, mouthing an ugly word under his breath, the jockey was gone.

As for Mostyn, he stood for a moment, breathing hard, his teeth
tightly clenched together; then he threw himself down upon a chair,
leaning his elbows upon the table, and pressing his hands to his

"My God!" he muttered to himself, "and there was a moment when I
might have yielded!"



The following morning Pierce Trelawny appeared at breakfast with a
pale face and a look of determination about his lips.

Mostyn, who was already seated at the table, glanced up, mystified at
his friend's unwonted appearance.

"What's wrong, old chap?" he asked.  "You look worried."

Pierce poured himself out a cup of coffee before he responded, Mostyn
watching him the while with increasing anxiety.  "You haven't got bad
news, have you?" he asked.

"It's about Cicely," Pierce explained at last.  There was a heavy
frown upon his brow.  "Look here, Mostyn, I can't stand this sort of
thing any longer--something has got to be done.  Cicely has written
to me.  Oh, it's the first letter she has written."  He laughed
hoarsely.  "We have kept to our promise right enough up till now, but
matters have come to a crisis."

"Tell me," said Mostyn, drawing his chair nearer to that of his
friend with that display of sympathy which was with him so charming a
characteristic.  "But I can guess," he added with a melancholy shake
of the head.  "Cicely finds it impossible to get on at home, even for
the month or two that remain."

"That's just it," said Pierce, tossing the letter over to his friend.
"Read what she says for yourself.  It makes one's blood boil, that
any girl can be treated in such a fashion, and I tell you I've made
up my mind to take matters into my own hands."

Mostyn read the letter through carefully, the frown deepening on his
brow as he came to the end.  Cicely had penned the epistle under the
stress of deep emotion, and the page was blotted here and there where
her tears had fallen upon it.  The gist of her letter was that she
could stay no longer at home--that her father's insults and cruelty
had become unbearable--that he had even raised his hand against her.
It was in her very misery of spirit that she had at last yielded to
the temptation to write to Pierce, whom she loved so utterly, so
devotedly.  She had been seized by a terrible fear, too, a fear which
had haunted her for weeks and months, that his love for her was on
the wane; she could bear it no longer, and so in her misery she had
broken her promise.  Would he come to her?  The request was repeated
over and over again, in the course of the letter.  She wanted his
comfort--his support--his kiss--and if she were denied these any
longer, she feared her health would break down.

"I'm going to her--I'm going to her to-day!"  Pierce rose from the
table, having swallowed his coffee almost at a gulp, and eaten
nothing.  He pushed his chair back viciously and began parading the
room with long, angry strides.  "I'm not going to be kept from Cicely
another day, and I don't care a hang what my father, or anybody else,
may do.  It was a shame--an infernal shame--to keep us apart, and
I've suffered more than you can guess, Mostyn.  We love each other,
and what do you think it has been to me to know that she has been
left with that infernal old----  I beg your pardon, Mostyn," he added
hastily, "but I'm so upset I hardly know what I'm saying."

"Why shouldn't Cicely come to me?" suggested Mostyn, who was trying
to keep his head cool.  "She could stay here at the Grange till after
her twenty-first birthday.  Wouldn't that satisfy your father?"

Pierce wheeled round sharply and indignantly.  "And I not see her all
the time," he exclaimed, "just because of a silly fad of a silly old
man!  And how could you and I go about together, Mostyn, if she were
with you?  No, that won't do either.  I've made up my mind.  I'm
going straight to London; yes, to-day, in spite of the race, in spite
of everything, and I'm going to beard the lion in his den.  I'm going
to take Cicely out of his clutches--carry her off by force if needs
be.  She can stay with my aunt, Lady Fenton, who knows her and is
fond of her, and who will do anything for me.  Cicely shall stay
there till we can be married, and that shall be just as soon as ever
I can get the licence."

"But the Squire--your father?" protested Mostyn.

"He must do as he pleases," was the tempestuous reply.  "I'm not
going to worry myself about him.  He can cut me off if he likes, just
as yours did you.  I've got a little money of my own, thank God!
enough to live on quietly somewhere in the suburbs."  He made a wry
face as he spoke.  "It'll be a bit of a change, but I shall have to
lump that, and I daresay Cicely won't mind.  There, Mostyn, old
chap"--he came and stood by his friend's side--"You must forgive me
if I'm excited, but you can see how it is and understand what I feel.
I'm sorry that I shan't be with you at the races, but I should be a
shockingly poor companion for you if I were.  I can't be of any
service, either, there's that at least to be said."

And so at last matters were settled, though it was not without
further parley.  Mostyn succeeded in calming his friend after a
while, and they sat down together and talked the matter out seriously
and reasonably.  Their deliberations, however, brought them to no new
conclusion.  Pierce's mind was made up, and he was quite prepared to
defy his father and to bear the consequences.

"You'll come for the wedding, Mostyn, won't you?" he asked, when the
sitting came to an end.  "It'll have to be an absolutely quiet
affair.  Lady Fenton and yourself will be the only two to be present.
Cicely will be my wife long before Cipher wins the Derby for you."

"I can quite believe that," commented Mostyn drily, though he
understood the sense in which the remark had been intended.  "Anyway,
Pierce, I wish you luck, and I'm glad that you are going to do
something to make Cicely happy."

Thus it came about that, later that day, Mostyn found himself without
his friend in the paddock of the Newmarket racecourse.  He missed
Pierce badly, for this was the first time that they had not been
together when one of the races in which they were interested had been

There were, however, many faces that he knew.  Rada and Captain
Armitage had been driven over by Jack Treves.  The latter had been
settled at Partinborough for the last month or two, and had done his
best to monopolise Rada.  He had not intruded his company upon
Mostyn, though, of course, it was inevitable that the two men should
meet now and then.  On these occasions Jack was surly, his malice but
thinly veiled.  Of Rada herself Mostyn had lately seen but little.  A
sense of restraint had arisen between them, and half instinctively
they had avoided each other.  But now she came to his side, and
slipped a little soft hand into his.  Just as soft as the hand were
the dark eyes he looked into, the smile that played about her lips,
and the tone in which she addressed him.

"I do hope you'll win to-day, Mostyn," she murmured.  "Asmodeus is a
fine horse, and should make a fight for it.  At any rate I wish you
success, I do indeed."

There was something in the girl's expression, something beyond the
softness and tenderness which he had already noticed, that made
Mostyn scrutinise her face more carefully.  There were black rims
under her eyes, and he could have sworn that she had been crying and
that quite recently.

He felt instinctively, too, that in this gentleness of demeanour, so
unusual to the wayward girl, there was something of appeal, and of
appeal directed to himself.  It was as though she wanted him to
understand more than she dared say.

He looked down pitifully into the girl's dark eyes.  "Rada," he
whispered, "you are not happy.  I have been certain of it for a long
time.  Will you tell me what has happened?  Oh"--he hesitated--"is it

"Oh!  I wish I could speak to you," she sighed.  "I've wanted to ever
so many times."  She hung her head, evidently struggling with her
pride.  "Oh, you don't know," she cried at last, clasping her hands
together, "what it has been like for me!  There is no one that I can
talk to--no one who can sympathise with me."

"Why not have come to me?" asked Mostyn reproachfully.  "Are we not
good friends?"

"Good friends, yes!"  Her words were bitter.  "But that it must be
you to whom I have to come and admit that I have been a silly little
fool--oh! the silliest little donkey ever born!  Don't you understand
how it hurts me--how it lowers me in my own eyes?"

"Never mind that," said Mostyn pitifully.  "You poor little thing,
don't you think that after all this time I have got to know you
better, and that I can make allowance for your whims and all those
wayward tricks of yours?  Tell me the truth, Rada."  He trembled as
he spoke, for he felt that he had no right to put the question since
Rada could not be for him.  "You don't love Jack Treves; you don't
want to marry him?"

Rada shook her head, and then fixed her eyes upon her race-card as
though she were intensely interested in it.  These two, who were
talking of matters of such vital interest to them both, stood there
in the midst of the pushing throng of the paddock.  They spoke in
lowered tones, and now and again, when anyone passed close to them or
came to a halt by the railing where they stood, Mostyn would make
some remark in a louder voice in order to make it appear that they
were merely discussing the races.

"He has been a brute to me," she murmured, "a brute.  Just now,
driving to the course, he insulted me; he--he made me cry.  Love
him?"  She stamped her little foot.  "I hate him!"  This time the
words were genuine; they came from her heart.

"And it was all because of that wretched thousand pounds, and because
of your pride.  Oh, Rada!  Rada!  But it isn't too late," he went on.
"Thank God for that.  You are not bound to the man."  Though he
himself could never ask her to be his wife, Mostyn reflected quickly,
yet she was not obliged to marry that scamp, that bounder, Jack.

"I'm not sure that he wants to marry me."  She sighed wearily.  "He's
always comparing me to Daisy Simpson--think of that!  He says she's
so much smarter than I.  But it's his father and my father who insist
that we shall be married.  Old Mr. Treves wants his son to marry a
lady, you see, and my father--well, you know it's a question of money
with him.  Far more has been borrowed than we can ever repay."  She
flushed as she made the admission.

"I only know that you mustn't marry a man you don't love!" cried
Mostyn heatedly.  "Surely the money can be found.  Castor will bring
you in enough if he wins the Derby.  Then there's that thousand
pounds you paid me: I've never touched the wretched notes.  They're
still lying at the Grange in my safe--

"No, no, no!" interrupted Rada.  "I couldn't accept any money from
you; indeed I couldn't, not a single penny.  I should never forgive
myself, and it would be worse than the other.  No," she repeated
despairingly, "there is no help for it."  She paused, then broke into
a laugh that grated upon Mostyn's ears.  "What does it matter after
all?"  She was choking down a sob.  "There's no one who cares what
becomes of me; it doesn't matter a scrap to anyone if I marry Jack or

Mostyn clenched his fists.  "You're wrong, Rada," he said with all
the energy he could express.  "I care.  The fellow's not worthy of
you.  Besides, he's a bounder and a scamp----"

"Who's a bounder and a scamp?"  Mostyn looked up quickly and Rada
gave a little cry, for Jack Treves, who had approached unseen by
either of them, was standing close by.  He took Rada viciously by the
arm; then turned scowling upon Mostyn.  "Who's a scamp," he repeated,
"and what were you two talking about?"

"It was nothing, Jack, nothing!" gasped Rada.  "Mr. Clithero and

"I've had enough of Mr. Clithero and you," said Jack roughly.  "The
sooner you both understand that, the better.  I'm sick of Clithero
hanging about you and making mischief between us.  I'd lay any odds
that's what he was doing when I came up."  He turned again sharply
upon Mostyn.  "Who is the scamp you were talking about?" he asked
again aggressively.

"You!" replied Mostyn with fine nonchalance.  "I was talking about
you.  I just said what I thought."

Jack Treves took a step forward, his fists clenched.  His face was
purple and congested.  But no blow fell; he had had his experience,
and did not wish to repeat it.

Already the little scene had attracted some attention, although it
was only among the immediate bystanders.  But these, if they expected
a fight, were doomed to disappointment.  Jack stood scowling, then
muttering "This isn't the place for a scrap; but I'll be even with
you, for God I will!" he slipped his hand under Rada's arm and
unceremoniously bustled her away.

The onlookers, robbed of their fun, growled disapproval and dispersed
likewise.  One of them, however, whom Mostyn had not noticed before,
since he had kept himself well in the background, remained.  Mostyn
recognised the evil and malicious face of the jockey, Ted Wilson.

The little man was dressed as Mostyn had seen him the night before.
He wore the same tightly-fitting covert coat with big shiny pearl
buttons, but he had replaced the cap by a bowler hat, pressed down
well on the back of his head.

"I wish 'e'd gone for yer!" Wilson muttered between his teeth,
drawing a few steps nearer.  "I wish 'e'd thrashed yer, Gawd 'elp me
I do!"

This was a fresh attack, and one which Mostyn had not expected.  He
supposed the jockey was still incensed because his proposition had
been refused, and, not desiring any further discussion on the
subject, he turned away without deigning a reply.  Wilson, however,
followed at his heels, yapping and snarling like a mongrel cur.  "A
low down trick you played me," he muttered.  "What did you want to do
it for?  The Lord knows I 'aven't done you no 'arm.  But to give a
chap away and get 'im the sack--why, you ought to be bloomin' well
ashamed of yerself!"

Mostyn turned at this.  "What on earth do you mean?" he asked.

"Why," screeched the indignant little man, "just listen to 'im!  As
if 'e didn't know!  Wot should I 'av got the sack for if you 'adn't
split to my boss?  Given me the chuck without a word of explanation,
'e 'as, and not more'n a couple of hours ago.  Why should 'e 'ave
done it if you 'adn't rounded on me?  D---- 'im for a dirty Jew!  and
d---- you too for----"

The jockey's language was charged with strange oaths, and there was a
lurid monotony about his epithets.  However, he appeared to have a
grievance, and that being so, some explanation seemed due to him.
The refinement of Mostyn's speech sounded almost ridiculous when
taken in conjunction with that of the jockey.

"I assure you that you are absolutely mistaken if you think that I
have had anything to do with your discharge, since I understand that
you have been discharged.  This is the first I have heard of it, and
I have not the smallest idea why Mr. Isaacson should have acted so."

"You're a liar!" retorted Wilson.  "Is it likely that Isaacson would
have sacked me, an' put up a chap like Jones, who may lose the race
for 'im, if 'e 'adn't thought that I might ride crook?  Do yer think
I don't see through yer little game?"  His narrow eyes sparkled with
spite and malice as he stared up into Mostyn's face.  "Got me the
chuck, yer did, so that Don Quixote might be handicapped and yer own
'orse 'ave a better charnce!  Oh, you're a sharp 'un, you are, but,
strike me pink!  I'll be even with yer for it, Mr. Clithero, sir, if
not to-day, then some other time.  Ted Wilson ain't the man not to
get a bit of 'is own back, you can bet your bottom dollar on that.
My friend, Jack Treves"--he accented the words--"'as got 'is knife
into yer, too, I see, and between the pair of us I'll lay you come
off bad in the end."

He had been speaking so volubly that Mostyn had not been able to get
a word in.  Now, once more, and with all the patience he could
muster, he sought to convince the angry jockey that he was quite
innocent of the offence with which he was charged.  But argument was
futile, as he quickly found out.  Wilson was convinced that he had
Mostyn to thank for what had happened.

It was some time before Mostyn could throw off his adversary, and it
was only with renewed threats of vengeance, and because he saw no
less a person than Mr. Isaacson himself approaching, in the company
of Sir Roderick Macphane, that Wilson at last took himself off, and
disappeared in the direction of the nearest bar.

Mostyn reflected that he had another enemy to contend with, and one
who was even more likely than Jack Treves to hit below the belt.
Luckily, Asmodeus was quite safe in the charge of Stanhope, and
Mostyn could not conceive of any other way by which he could be
damaged; this since he was not afraid of personal attack.  He did not
worry himself, therefore, when, later in the day, he saw Wilson in
the company of Jack, and realised that the jockey had spoken the
truth when he mentioned Treves as his friend.

Mostyn looked up in response to a hearty slap on the back, and found
himself confronted by the smiling face of Sir Roderick Macphane.  It
was a pleasure after the scowls with which he had been met that day
to look upon the genial face of the old baronet.  Behind Sir Roderick
stood a tall man, of Jewish cast of features, whom Mostyn recognised
at once, though he had never met the man, as David Isaacson, the
owner of Don Quixote.

"Mr. Isaacson wished to be introduced to you, Mostyn," Sir Roderick
said, "and so, as I caught sight of you ten minutes ago, I brought
him up.  You are opponents to-day, of course, but that's no reason
why two sportsmen shouldn't know each other.  I won't wish good luck
to the best man," he added heartily, "but to the best horse, and as
matters stand, it promises to be a good race."

The Jew extended his hand to Mostyn and smiled, showing a straight
row of white teeth.  He was not ill-looking, and there was very
little to suggest the hardness with which he had been accredited as a
money-lender.  It was a little surprising to find him on such good
terms with Sir Roderick, but then "Old Rory" was "hail fellow well
met" with all the world.

"It's even money on the horses," Isaacson remarked; "I don't suppose
one stands a better chance than the other."  He turned to Mostyn,
scrutinising him rather closely.  His voice was not unpleasant,
though it possessed the Jewish rasp.  "You know, of course," he
continued, "that I had to dismiss my jockey, Wilson, at a moment's
notice this morning, and that I've put up Jones in his place.  Jones
is a smart man, but, of course, the handicap is a pretty severe one.
You see, Mr. Clithero, I have reasons to believe that Wilson wished
to pull my horse so that yours might win.  I got my knowledge in
rather a roundabout way.  It appears that someone has backed Asmodeus
pretty heavily, and when this person found that Don Quixote was the
favourite he approached Wilson and offered to pay him to pull the
horse.  I understand that Wilson had consented to do so; so, as you
may imagine, I fired him this morning, and I shall probably place the
whole matter before the stewards.  It was the intermediary who acted
between the backer and Wilson who gave the story away to one of my
own men, and that's how it came out.  It's bad luck on me," he added,
"but I shan't grudge you the race, Mr. Clithero, if luck comes your

Mostyn saw how it was.  "The little skunk!" he muttered to himself as
he thought of Wilson.  "He was going to pull the horse whatever
happened, but thought he might make a bit more out of me at the same
time.  But he over-reached himself, and has been given away by one of
his pals.  And he'll never believe that I didn't betray him; he'll
loathe me none the less if the truth comes out."

Sir Roderick had a luncheon party that day, holding, as usual, open
house to all the friends he might happen to meet.  Here, among
smiling, happy faces, Mostyn forgot some of his troubles of the
morning; moreover, he was keenly excited about the race, for it
seemed, indeed, that Asmodeus stood an excellent chance of winning.
Don Quixote had naturally gone down in the betting.

Sir Roderick was keenly interested, and discussed the whole matter
with the young man.

"By Jove!  Mostyn," he opined, "you've got to win this time, or I
don't know how you'll pocket your cash.  Cipher's not going to win
the Derby for you, you know"--he shook his head
prophetically--"Cipher can't get away from Castor, to say nothing of
my Pollux."

To this Mostyn agreed.  He knew that it was true.  Castor and Pollux
were the two colts who gave real promise for the coming Derby.  They
had never met, and yet they were both unbeaten, each holding a record
of some half-dozen victories in the course of the year.

"Jove! what an extraordinary Derby it'll be," Mostyn commented,
trying to distract his thoughts from the excitement of the moment.
"Two horses, Castor and Pollux, so exactly alike, as I understand
them to be, both having the same sire, both boasting similar records,
and not a line to go upon to show which is the better!  It'll be a
Derby worth seeing, Sir Roderick."

The baronet agreed.  Nevertheless, as was only to be expected, he
favoured his own horse.  "Not that I care so much about winning," he
observed with his broad, genial smile.  "One Derby should be enough
for any man.  Hipponous pulled that off for me as well as the Leger.
I'm far keener now," he added bluffly, "upon trying to drive sense
into the noddles of all those Socialists, Radicals, Home Rulers, and
agitators that grow up like weeds about us.  A lot of disloyal
fellows who are so blind that they can't hear sense when it's talked
to them.  They simply don't know upon which side their bread is
feathered, and they are only playing to butter their own nests!"

It was a muddled metaphor worthy of "Old Rory" at his best.  Mostyn
could not refrain from laughing, as did Sir Roderick himself when he
realised what he had said.  He always roared over his own tangled
speeches, even in Parliament, enjoying them quite as much as anyone

He had certainly been very much to the fore at Westminster of late,
and his wild attacks upon the Government had added much to the
enlivenment of a dull session.  Yet "Old Rory" was more popular than
ever, and that with all parties in the House.

Time passed pleasantly enough till the bell rang and the course was
cleared for the big race.  Mostyn remained in the paddock till
Asmodeus, a fine bay, long of limb and strong of barrel, strode
proudly out and was greeted by a cheer from the crowd as he galloped
easily past the Grand Stand.

The puce and black diamonds of Mostyn's colours were quickly put in
the shade by an aggressive vision of gold as Asmodeus was followed by
Don Quixote, and now the crowd cheered again, though in a minor key.
The horse had been heavily backed, and there was no little discontent
at the fall in his price that morning; people were asking each other
the reason for the sudden change of jockey.  Isaacson was unpopular,
and there was considerable prejudice against him, wholly without
reason; whereas Mostyn, who in barely a year had become so prominent
a figure upon racecourses, stood high in popular favour.

"It's a match between you and me, Clithero," Isaacson said as the two
men took up their places to watch the race.  "They're off," he added
a moment later, levelling his glasses.  "A good start, what?"

Mostyn remembered little of that race.  He stood, indeed, his
field-glasses raised, to all outward appearance as calm and placid as
Isaacson himself.  He followed the horses as they ran, he marked the
failure of Bouncing Boy, he even commented upon the riding of the
jockey who was up on Wisdom, a chestnut heavily backed for a place,
and who was palpably giving the horse his head over much; but all the
while he was staring through a mist: it was as though a fog had
settled over the course, a fog which his eyes could penetrate but
which made everything appear contorted, disproportionate, ridiculous.
Somehow the thought came to him of that face which he had seen
peering through the window at the Grange; every object he looked upon
was disfigured in just the same way.  There were men and women close
by at whom he could have laughed, so absurd did they appear.  And all
the while there was a great thumping going on in his ears like the
working of a vast machine; it was so loud that he could hardly hear
the shouting of the crowd.

Asmodeus was leading; he knew that.  Asmodeus had been leading for
quite a long time.  Don Quixote, with his glitter of gold, was
several lengths behind, and there were two or three horses in
between.  Which were they?  Mostyn tried to distinguish them but
failed.  What did it matter?  Asmodeus was leading.

Suddenly the thumping that was the beating of his heart stopped.  It
was like the sudden cessation of work in a factory or the stopping of
the engines on board a steamer.  Mostyn swayed a little from side to
side; he could imagine the rolling of a vessel.  Asmodeus was no
longer in the front.  What did that matter?  Stanhope was holding him
in.  There was time enough yet for a spurt.

There was a cold wind blowing that afternoon, and the sky was grey.
A drizzling rain began to fall.  Here and there umbrellas made their
appearance till angry protests from the crowd compelled them to be
lowered.  Mostyn noticed all these minor events through the mist that
rendered everything so grotesque to his view.

The horses were near by now, very near.  They had swung round the
bend and were nearly level with the Grand Stand.  Asmodeus had
dropped still further behind; there were several of his opponents who
had caught up and passed him.  The glitter of gold was to the fore.
Don Quixote led.

How the crowd was roaring!  As a rule this was music to Mostyn's
ears, but to-day it was a fantastic discord.  He could distinguish
nothing, not a single articulate word.  Why on earth did not Stanhope
spurt?  Surely, surely he was waiting too long?

Mostyn's brow was wet.  He did not know if this was due to
perspiration or to the rain; he could not say if he felt hot or cold.
This was his last chance--literally his last chance--and still that
spurt was delayed.

Ah!  Stanhope is giving Asmodeus his head now!  "Come on,
Asmodeus--brave horse!--for the love of heaven, come!"  The chestnut
is passed; that is good: now another is held and left behind; now
another.  Asmodeus has forged into the second place, but the
winning-post is close at hand, and Don Quixote of the maddening,
aggressive gold is still foremost.  Curse the gold!

It was a brave effort, but it failed, for Don Quixote, too, was
capable of a spurt.  All but overhauled, the horse seemed to gather
his whole strength into that supreme moment.  Once more he shot
ahead--yellow, huge and grotesque to Mostyn's eyes--and passed the
winning-post just a palpable length ahead.

It was over: Mostyn had played and lost!

He descended from the chair upon which he had been standing, quite
forgetting that Isaacson was by his side, and strolled away.  The
rain beat in his face, his cheeks were dripping with moisture, but it
did not occur to him to put up his umbrella.  Now and then he
collided with someone in the crowd and muttered an apology without
looking round.

A heavy hand was laid upon his shoulder.  He recognised the voice of
Sir Roderick.

"Mostyn, my boy, this is a knock.  I didn't expect it.  With Jones up
on Don Quixote I thought Asmodeus would win.  But look here; you
mustn't give in.  I've got a plan for you: it isn't a cert, but it'll
give you a sporting chance.  Now, understand, I'll take no denial.
Pollux shall run for you in the Derby--and Pollux is as good a horse
as Castor.  Come along and we'll talk it over."

He led Mostyn away.  The latter was still too dazed to understand
clearly what had been said to him.



It was early afternoon of the first day of the Epsom Summer Meeting.
Mostyn had just finished lunch, of which he had partaken in the
solitude of his Jermyn Street chambers.  He had not been tempted down
to Epsom that day, for he had had a hard week's work, and he wished
to keep all his strength in reserve for the morrow, the great Derby
Day that was to decide his fate.

Pollux, of course, was at Epsom, in the charge of Joseph Dean, the
trainer who had had the care of him from the first.  Pollux was to be
ridden by Fred Martin, now completely recovered, who, upon this
occasion, would sport the puce and black of Mostyn's colours instead
of the scarlet and silver of Sir Roderick's.

Never, perhaps, in the history of the great race had so much popular
interest been aroused.  There was no first favourite, but, instead,
there were two horses who would both go to the post with unbroken
records, and between which, upon form, there was not a line to
choose.  As a result, the two horses naturally stood even in the
betting; it was two to one against either of them, and there was a
considerable drop between this and the betting upon the next horse,
Pendragon, who was third in popular estimation.

Then, not only did Castor and Pollux stand level in the betting, but
the similarity of the two animals, even their names, which betokened
kinship, could not fail to arouse interest.  Those who had seen them
together at Epsom--now that they had actually met for the first
time--reported them as being so exactly alike that they could hardly
be recognised apart.  They were both tall, black horses, and there
was nothing to choose between them as regarded height or breadth or

Perhaps, just as much as the horses, the owners excited attention.
Castor was the property of a girl, and one so young as to seem
totally out of place in the racing world.  Pollux, which everyone
knew to have belonged to popular and genial "Old Rory," had been
suddenly transferred, little more than three weeks ago, to Mostyn
Clithero, that meteoric young man whose prowess upon the race-course
was so remarkable, and who had been buying horses wildly and madly
all over the country, and who seemed bent, for no explicable reason,
upon making a name for himself upon the Turf.

Mostyn sat musing over the events of the past few weeks, as well as
on those which were still concealed by the obscurity of the future.
Whatever the result might be, at least this could be said--he had had
his sporting chance, and he had taken it like a sportsman.  If he
failed, it was through the chance of war, not through any fault of
his.  The morrow might see him a vastly wealthy man or a pauper.  Had
it not been for Sir Roderick, there would have been no doubt as to
the issue weeks ago, for Mostyn had indeed lost his last chance when
Asmodeus failed for the Guineas.  It had taken all the kind-hearted
baronet's eloquence, as it was, to induce Mostyn to accept Pollux,
and in the end the young man would only yield by striking a
particularly hard bargain for himself in the event of the colt
winning.  "Old Rory" had been forced to take up a selfish line.
"Heavenly powers, lad!" he had cried at last, testily, "aren't your
millions worth more than the blessed Derby stakes?"  And Mostyn had
been constrained to see it in this light.

The worst of it was that he was thrown into such direct antagonism to
Rada.  The race lay between him and her--there was no doubt about

He would have liked to tell her the whole truth, so that she should
not misunderstand his motives, as she was bound to do.  But it was
impossible for him to speak now--for the girl's own sake he saw that
it was impossible.  To win the Derby with Castor was her dream, her
ambition, the one thing she asked of life.  Why should he make her
unhappy, as she was bound to be if she knew how great a loss he would
suffer from her success?  She could not help him in any way--she
could not scratch Castor even if she wished to do so--there was far
too much money already involved upon the colt.

Of course, she had misunderstood, "So you have bought Pollux!" she
had cried.  "It makes no difference to my chances, of course, but I
didn't think that you"--there was a world of reproach in her
tone--"would have fought me to the end.  I shall hate you if Pollux
wins--I shall really hate you."  There was something of the old
defiance in her tone.

"Rada," he had said, striving hard to give her a hint, "remember our
wager.  It was your life or my life.  If Pollux wins----"  If Pollux
won, he could claim his reward, he could ask Rada to marry him; if
Pollux failed, she was lost to him for ever--he would be a beggar.

But Rada interrupted him.  She would not understand.  She bit her lip
and stamped her foot.  "So you are still thinking of that foolish
challenge?" she cried.  "You are still fighting to win a Derby before
me?  I think you are mean, mean and cowardly.  I--I----"  She had
broken off and run away from him, but he was certain that there were
tears in her eyes, and he had hated himself for the pain he gave her.
But there was nothing to be done.  He must wait, bear her disdain,
till after the Derby, and then if Pollux won he could explain.  If
Pollux lost, why, then, everything must go.  It didn't matter.

He left for London the next day, and did not see Rada again.  But he
was bound to meet her at Epsom--he thought of the meeting with
mingled feelings.

It was as he mused thus, that visitors, who turned out to be Pierce
and Cicely, were announced.  They had been married now for some three
weeks, and they had but just returned to London from a visit which
they had been paying to Pierce's father in Worcestershire.  They had
gone down in fear and trepidation as to the manner in which they
would be received by the bluff and rather choleric old squire.

The latter had made no sign when the news reached him of his son's
intention to disobey the strict injunctions laid upon him.  The
marriage had taken place just as Pierce had schemed it out, and the
two young people had gone to Paris for a brief honeymoon.  While
there, Pierce had received a summons, worded with characteristic
brevity, to return to England with his wife, and to present himself
at the parental domain.  So much Mostyn knew; of the result of their
visit he had not yet heard a word.

Evidently nothing very tragic had occurred, for Pierce and Cicely
entered laughing, and palpably in the best of spirits.  Mostyn kissed
his sister affectionately; she looked charming as a young bride, and
there was colour in her cheeks such as he had not seen there for many
a long day.  Pierce, too, scrupulously dressed as ever, seemed
particularly well satisfied with himself and with the world at large.

"Well, how is it?" asked Mostyn.  "Have you been forgiven and taken
back to the fold?"

Pierce sank down into a chair, his sides shaking with laughter.  "You
will hardly believe it, Mostyn," he said as soon as he could find his
breath, "but the sly old boy was having a joke with me all the time!
He wanted me to run off with Cicely against his express will.  He
wanted to see if I would have the pluck to do it!  Think of
that--there's a facetious old sportsman for you!  You remember how he
threatened me, how he gave me to understand that all sorts of
penalties would fall upon my unhappy head if I disobeyed him; of
course, I imagined that I should be cut off with the proverbial
shilling, and all the rest of it, and the old chap knew that I would
think so.  All the time he was laughing in his sleeve and simply
pining to be disobeyed--just wanted to prove my mettle--that's what
he said himself, roaring with laughter, and as pleased as Punch about
it all.  Oh, what an idiot I was to have waited all those months
without so much as seeing Cicely, and I verily believe that if I had
conscientiously allowed the year to pass the old governor would have
disinherited me for that!"

Cicely, too, joined in the laughter that Pierce's story gave rise to;
she was looking very happy, a little bashful, but her eyes were soft
and gentle, and Mostyn went over and kissed her again, congratulating
her now from the bottom of his heart, as well as Pierce, for the
happy issue out of their troubles.  All was well with them, at least,
and, doubtful as he was as to his own position, he would not grudge
them a fraction of their happiness.

After a little while, however, a slight cloud crossed Cicely's face.
"We've so much to say about ourselves," she remarked penitently,
"that we are quite forgetting about you, Mostyn, and about another
matter--a very serious matter, too, which is troubling us, and which
will trouble you when you hear of it."

"Never mind me," said Mostyn, "I'm all right.  I stand as good a
chance to win to-morrow as to lose, and what more than that can any
man expect?  We'll discuss my affairs later on.  Tell me the trouble."

"It's about father," said Cicely gravely.  "But perhaps you've heard,

Mostyn shook his head.  He had heard no news as to his father for
several months.  His time had been so wholly taken up that he had
been unable to give his attention to anything except the matter in
hand.  "Is anything wrong?" he asked a little anxiously.

"Very, very wrong, I'm afraid," replied the girl, shaking her head
ominously.  "I shouldn't have heard anything about it any more than
you have, only it came to my ears in a roundabout way when we were in
Worcestershire.  There was a man staying with the Pentons, who are
neighbours of the Trelawnys, you know, and he knew James and Charles
very well--I think he had some sort of connection with the bank; he
told me all about the misfortunes which have suddenly befallen our

"Misfortunes?" queried Mostyn, puzzled.  "I hadn't an idea that there
was anything wrong.  I should have thought that father was the very
last man on earth to have got into any sort of trouble, and the
bank--why, the bank must be as stable as any in London."

"Oh! it's not the bank, and it's nothing for which father is to
blame," Cicely went on hurriedly.  "It's James and Charles who've
turned out wrong.  Oh, isn't it sad?" she went on, "for you know how
absolutely he believed in them; you and I were the black sheep,
Mostyn, but they were everything that they should be."

"That's why they've gone wrong," put in Pierce, with a grunt of
disapprobation.  "A couple of beastly prigs.  I always hated them,
though they are your brothers, Sis.  Well, there's one consolation,
which is that your father must have found out his mistake by now, and
recognised that he blundered when he turned you and Mostyn out of
doors.  It ought to have been the other two."

"What have they done?" asked Mostyn.

"Charles has run away with a ballet girl or some terribly impossible
person," Cicely explained.  "He induced father to make over a large
sum of money to him, professing that he wanted it for that charitable
work he pretended to be so interested in.  I don't believe there was
ever anything of the sort," she added indignantly; "it was only an
excuse of Charles's to get a little more liberty while he was living
at home."

Mostyn said nothing, but smiled to himself.  He knew that Cicely was

"As soon as he had got his money," the girl went on, "he showed
himself in his true colours.  He laughed at father, and called him a
pious old fraud, or something of the sort, which was wicked and cruel
of him, for whatever he may be, our father is at least no hypocrite.
Then Charles threw up his position at the bank, announced that he was
going to marry the impossible person, and disappeared from home."

"So much for Charles," said Mostyn.  He had very little sympathy with
Charles.  "What about James?"

"Ah! that's worse still, very much worse," Cicely continued, a little
quiver at the sides of her lips proving that she was really moved.
"James has been getting into money troubles, though how he can have
managed it, I haven't the remotest idea.  For, of course, he didn't
gamble or bet or anything of that sort."

"Stock Exchange," interjected Pierce, his upper lip curving.  "It's a
deadly sin to back a race-horse, but you may stand to lose or win
your thousands upon the rise or fall of stock.  That's one of those
things which your father may be able to explain, but which knocks the
ordinary man silly."

"I suppose it was on the Stock Exchange," Cicely went on.  "Anyhow,
he lost a great deal of money, and at last it is supposed that he
must have contrived to tamper with the books at the bank.  Of course,
he meant to put everything right, but, as usual, when the time came,
he could not do so, and so he forged father's name to a bill, or
whatever you call those dreadful things, for a large sum of money,
and the worst of it is, that that bill has got into the hands of a
man who knows the signature to be a forgery.  You can see what
terrible trouble there is, and father--I saw him yesterday--is nearly
off his head with anxiety.  He's all alone in that great house in
Bryanston Square, for James, mean coward that he is, has absconded to
America, and Charles hasn't been anywhere near the house."

"Is the sum so large," asked Mostyn, "that father is unable to settle
with this man?  I suppose, after all, it's only a question of money,
and that if the bill is met, nothing will be said about the forged
signature.  If that's the case---well, if Pollux wins
to-morrow--there won't be much difficulty in pulling father out of
this hole."

Cicely shook her head.  "No, it isn't only a matter of money," she
explained.  "That's just the horrible part of it.  It was because we
thought that money might settle it that Pierce and I went to
Bryanston Square last night.  Then we learnt that the man who holds
the bill is a bitter enemy of father's, and he vows that he'll show
the whole thing up; it's no good offering to pay him, to meet the
bill at maturity, or anything of that sort; he is a very rich man,
and doesn't care what he loses.  His one wish is to make things
uncomfortable for the Clithero family, and he'll do it, too, for he's
hard and cruel--a Jew."

"Who is this man?" asked Mostyn.  "Do I know him?"

"Yes."  It was Pierce who volunteered the information.  "It's
Isaacson, the fellow who owns Don Quixote."

"Isaacson!"  Mostyn wrinkled his brows.  "Isaacson is a hard nut to
crack, and, as you say, money doesn't mean much to him.  He's on the
way to becoming a millionaire as it is, and if he's got a private

"It's both a private and a business spite, I believe," Cicely
declared.  "I heard father speak of him, I remember, about a year
ago, and of a row there had been between them in the City.  And then,
after that, they met at some dinner-party or other, and there was a
scene.  Father expressed his opinion in his usual forcible way, and I
expect Mr. Isaacson did so, too.  Anyway, they have never forgiven
each other, and this is the result.  Isaacson will show James up for
what he is, and the whole family will be discredited."

"According to father, we have already disgraced the family," remarked
Mostyn with some bitterness.

"Ah!"  Cicely lifted her fair head, and a tear glistened in her eye.
"He is a changed man now, Mostyn.  You would be sorry for him if you
saw him, indeed you would.  I believe he realises the mistakes he
made.  He asked me after you, and his voice shook as he spoke--he is
just a poor, broken-down old man, and I think his health is giving
way.  The wheels of time have ground our revenge for us, Mostyn."

Mostyn sat for a moment, thinking deeply.  "You are right, Cicely,"
he said.  "He is our father, and he acted justly according to his
lights.  It's not for us to bear malice.  I'll tell you what I'll
do----"  He started up from his chair.  "I'll go and see Isaacson at
once.  He lives in Portman Square, I believe, and if he's not at
Epsom it's very likely that I shall find him.  I'm bound to see him
at the Derby to-morrow if I miss him to-day, but one can't talk
'shop' down there.  Of course, I don't know that I can do anything,
but I'll have a try."

"And go to father afterwards, will you, Mostyn?"  Cicely rested her
hand upon her brother's arm.  "He will see you, I'm sure of it.  His
eyes were quite wistful when he spoke of you, though he did not ask
me to bring about a meeting.  And he will be grateful when he knows
that you have tried to help him.  He's never needed to turn to anyone
for help and comfort before, and it's that, I think, more than
anything else, that has broken him."

And so it was decided, and, after making their arrangements for the
following day, Pierce and Cicely took their departure.  Cicely was to
spend the whole day with her father, while Pierce was to meet Mostyn
in Eaton Square, whence, as the year before, they were to go down to
Epsom on Sir Roderick's coach.

Mostyn drove without any delay to David Isaacson's house, and he was
lucky enough to find the financier at home.  As he had expected, he
found the house a particularly luxurious one.  The door was swung
open by two liveried and powdered flunkeys, while a grave butler
appeared to enquire his business.  The hall was lavishly decorated in
marble, and the room into which Mostyn was shown, although not on a
large scale, was suggestive, even to the very smallest item, of
ostentatious wealth.  Yet it was not so many years, as Mostyn knew,
since David Isaacson had occupied humble little offices somewhere off
Regent Street, living and sleeping in a couple of dingy rooms just
over them.

"Ah!  Mr. Clithero, I'm glad to see you."  Isaacson, attired in a
resplendent afternoon lounge suit, entered the room, a large cigar
held in the corner of his mouth.  He appeared a strange figure in the
midst of the almost feminine luxury of his apartment, and yet there
was something about the man which rather appealed to Mostyn.  There
was a good-humoured twinkle in his dark eyes, and a certain sincerity
about his lips which rather belied his reputation for hardness.  A
sharp man of business, one who would insist upon his pound of flesh,
but honest withal--so Mostyn summed him up.  "Nice little place I've
got here, eh?"  The Jew gazed complacently round the ornate
apartment, fully conscious of the immense value of the draperies, of
the pictures, and of the various objects of art.  There was hardly
anything that was not a _chef d'oeuvre_ in its way.  "I am glad you
have come to see me.  But why not at Epsom?  I should have thought
that you would have been down for the first day's racing."  He
offered Mostyn a cigar, and then proceeded to discuss the prospects
for the morrow's Derby.

"Fancy!" he said, as Mostyn, in obedience to his invitation, seated
himself and lit the cigar which he had accepted.  "When I heard there
was a Clithero to see me, I fancied it was someone else altogether.
It was lucky you gave my man your Christian name as well as your
surname, for I shouldn't have been at home to any other Clithero.  By
the way, it never struck me before, and I hope you won't be insulted
by the question--you're no relation to that blatant, conceited,
self-righteous prig, old John Clithero, the banker, are you?  But of
course, it's not likely, a sportsman like you----"

"I am John Clithero's son," Mostyn said quietly.

"God of my fathers!"  Isaacson muttered another exclamation under his
breath, which Mostyn failed to understand, but which he took to be a
Hebrew oath.  "You the son of John Clithero?  Well, I'd never have
believed it--never!  I'm sorry--I'm downright sorry, if I've offended
you, but really, upon my word, you know, I never associated you with
that lot.  Now I come to think of it, though, I believe I did see
something in the paper--but I forgot all about it, and I didn't know
you then.  There's no friendship between your father and me, Mr.
Clithero," he went on, "but you--well, that's a different matter.  I
admire your pluck; a true sportsman always appeals to me."  He had
begun his apology awkwardly, but he ended it with candour, stretching
out his hand, which Mostyn took readily enough.

"To think that you're a son of John Clithero!" the Jew repeated.
"Well, that beats everything."

Mostyn took advantage of the opening thus offered him, to explain the
object of his visit.  He had nothing to say in defence of his
brother, nor, very wisely perhaps, did he attempt to say much for his
father, for it was palpable that Isaacson felt very strongly upon the
subject of his supposed wrongs at the hands of John Clithero.  He
stated his case in simple words, and pleaded as though it were a
personal favour that he was asking.

Isaacson did not allow Mostyn to conclude.  He sat listening for a
few minutes, chewing at his big cigar; then he started to his feet,
crossed the room quickly, and rang the bell.

For a moment Mostyn fancied this to be an indication that the
interview was terminated, that Isaacson would hear no more, but he
was quickly undeceived by the smile upon the man's face and by his
genial tone.

"Say no more about it, my boy," Isaacson cried heartily.  "I've rung
the bell for my secretary, and I'll ask him to look out the bill and
hand it over to you.  It's a different thing altogether now that I
know you're concerned in the business.  We are both of us sportsmen,
what? and one sportsman isn't going to round on a friend or play a
shabby trick.  Old John's been taken down a peg or two as it is, I
expect, and he'll feel it all the more when he knows that it's you
who've pulled him out of the mire.  You shall have the bill here and

"But----" faltered Mostyn, taken aback by Isaacson's generosity, "I'm
not prepared to take up the bill immediately.  It's for a large sum,

"Oh, never mind taking up the bill!  I'll trust you for that,"
responded the other.  "Get the thing in your hands while you can,
that's the best plan.  This brother of yours has bolted to America, I
understand.  Well, let him stick there, for he's a good riddance to
the country, and as to old John, I hope he'll learn his lesson, and
show a little more charity in his dealings with the world."

As Isaacson spoke, the secretary entered the room in response to the
bell, was given his instructions, and retired.

Isaacson seated himself once more by Mostyn's side, leaning forward
and tapping him familiarly upon the knee.  "Folks say I'm a hard
man," he went on, "and perhaps I shouldn't be here if I hadn't
refused to listen sometimes to the appeals that are made to me; but
when it comes from you, Clithero, there's no thinking twice.  You're
straight as they make them, and I should be very sore if I felt I'd
hurt you.  I happen to know," he went on, lowering his voice, "that
that infernal little jockey of mine, that rascal Wilson, tried to
make a bit off you by promising to pull Don Quixote.  That came to my
ears through the same individual who gave Wilson away--also that you
refused, and kicked the little scoundrel out.  Well, though I never
thought you would have been a party to such a trick, I liked you all
the better for it, for, after all, you'd have run no danger, and you
must be jolly keen on winning a big race, judging by the number of
horses you've run in the course of a year.  There, my boy, now you
know all about it, and why it's a pleasure to me to hand you over the

It was news to Mostyn to learn that Isaacson knew all about Wilson's
proposal to him, and he flushed a little to think that, even for a
moment, the Jew might have thought it possible for him to yield; but
at the same time he remembered how he had been tempted, and the
thought of this heightened the colour in his cheeks.

Wilson, he knew, had lost his licence as a consequence of Isaacson's
complaint against him.  The case had been clearly proved, and
evidently there had been no necessity to bring Mostyn's name into the
matter.  Of Wilson himself, he had seen nothing more since the day of
the Two Thousand Guineas, nor, indeed, had he had word with Jack
Treves.  The latter had studiously avoided him, even when the two men
had met, as they were bound to meet, upon the day of the One Thousand
Guineas, when Mostyn's filly had proved, as he expected, quite
unequal to the task of even running into a place.  If Wilson and
Treves still thought of avenging themselves against Mostyn, they had,
so far, made no move.

A quarter of an hour later, refusing the hearty invitation to return
and dine, the incriminating document safely in his possession, Mostyn
took his departure.  He was anxious to proceed straight to his
father's house, and to set the mind of John Clithero at rest.  It
would be strange to meet his father again, and he wondered how he
would be received.

He stood on the doorstep while one of the gorgeously liveried men
servants whistled sharply for a hansom.  The house stood at the
corner of the square, and presently Mostyn could hear the sound of
rapidly approaching wheels, though he could not see the vehicle
itself.  It sounded to him, however, as if two hansoms were racing
each other in answer to the summons.

At that moment a little child, a fair-haired baby girl, escaped from
her nursemaid, whose attention had been distracted by the extravagant
golden livery of the footman, and toddled into the road just as the
two hansoms swept round the corner.

Mostyn saw the danger.  With a shout he sprang forward and seized the
little girl almost from under the horses' hoofs.  He regained the
curb, escaping almost by a miracle, but so quick had been his
movements that, once out of danger, he slipped and fell, rolling
over, his arm bent at an awkward angle beneath him.

The nursemaid, wailing with fear, gathered the little child into her
arms, but Mostyn lay where he had fallen till the two footmen and a
policeman came to his assistance.

He was not unconscious, and presently he moved and sat up.  But his
arm hung limply at his side and he realised a ghastly pain close to
the shoulder.

Yet he tried to smile reassuringly into the faces of those who were
bending over him.  "It's all right," he murmured.  "I'm quite safe,
but--but I think I've broken my arm."

With which he promptly fainted away.  They carried him back carefully
into the house of David Isaacson.



The company had assembled, as the year before, at Sir Roderick
Macphane's house in Eaton Square for the drive to the Derby.  There
were some new faces, but for the greater part the party was the same
as that which had been present on the occasion of "Old Rory's"
victory.  Lord Caldershot had arrived early, just the same
immaculately dressed Lord Caldershot, with eye-glass in eye and
inordinately tall collar, uncomfortably tight round his neck.  He was
enquiring diligently if Miss Rada Armitage was to be present that
day, ready to declare himself as before, her cavalier, all the more
proud of being so because "the little minx is going to win the Derby,
by Jove!  Fancy a girl of her age owning a Derby winner!"

Rada was expected, and duly arrived, but Captain Armitage, who
accompanied her, walked with the assistance of a stick, and had
completely lost all his irresponsible gaiety of demeanour.  He
appeared morose and sullen, the result of a week or so of enforced
abstinence from strong drink.  He had, indeed, been very ill, and it
was against the orders of the doctor that he had ventured out that
day.  But it was the Derby--Castor's Derby, Rada's Derby--and the
temptation was too great for him.

"Where is Mr. Clithero, my hated rival?" smiled Rada, as Pierce
Trelawny approached and shook hands with her, freeing her for the
moment from the attentions of the assiduous Caldershot.

"Didn't you know?"  Pierce shook his head sympathetically.  "Poor
Mostyn had a bad accident yesterday and broke his arm.  He saved a
little girl from being run over, with happy results as far as the
child was concerned, but just the reverse for himself."

Rada paled as she listened.  "He is not in danger?" she asked
eagerly; then, reassured by Pierce's smile, she drew her breath in
sharply.  "Of course you wouldn't be here if he was.  But how brave
of him: he saved the child's life?"

"Yes, he saved the child's life," repeated Pierce.  "He fell from his
own momentum when he had got back upon the kerb.  It was just outside
David Isaacson's house, and they carried him inside and made him as
comfortable as they could.  He's there now; he'll be well in a week
or so, but, of course, it was all up with the Derby.  Poor chap, he
won't see one of the finest races that we have been promised for
years.  His own horse, too, pitted against yours, Miss Armitage."

The girl said little, but the colour returned only slowly to her
cheeks.  A sense of faintness had come upon her when she had learnt
of Mostyn's accident, and this had revealed to her, more forcibly
than ever, how much she really cared.

She did care.  What was the use of attempting to deceive herself?
That day when Mostyn's lips had met hers she had learnt that she
loved--yes, though she had torn herself away crying aloud that she
hated him.  Then he had gone away, and she had eagerly desired him to
return.  She had written to him, and, like a foolish man, he had
taken her letter far more literally than she had intended it.  She
had expressed her desire to be friends, and had hinted her approval
of Jack Treves because he had promised not to "bother" her with
love-making that year.  She would have broken with Jack, ready to
defy him and her father, if Mostyn had spoken again, if he had shown
any desire to be more than just the friend he now professed to be.
She had given him plenty of hints--or thought she had--but Mostyn had
been too blind to see them.  So poor Rada had concluded that he did
not care any more; that, if he had ever cared, the love he bore her
had been killed, perhaps by her own folly.

There was a time when she had seen her way to paying off her debts,
and her father's debts, to Jack Treves.  Castor had done so well, and
promised to do better in the future.  But in the meanwhile fresh
debts were incurred, so that, indeed, when she had opened her heart
to Mostyn in the paddock at Newmarket, it was true that she was more
closely bound to Jack than before.  And yet she could not help
thinking that the latter had grown tired of her--no wonder, perhaps,
since she treated him with scant ceremony--and, as for herself, how
sick and tired she had grown of a bond that galled and vexed her!
She had come to hate Jack Treves: yet what did it matter what became
of her since Mostyn had ceased to care?

"It's hard luck, isn't it," Pierce was saying, "but, after all,
Mostyn is in good hands and will be quite all right.  I'd have stayed
behind with him, but he insisted that I must go to look after you.
My wife is with Mostyn"--he lowered his voice--"and his father is
with him, too," he continued.  "You know that they have been on bad
terms for the last year, and they have just been reconciled.  Mostyn
did something for his father, something that I can't tell you about,
and which has saved old Mr. Clithero from a very awkward position.
And now"--Pierce smiled--"the old man is at his son's bedside, in the
house of a man whom he professed to loath and despise; and I verily
believe that he, to whom racing has always been the devil's work, is
as anxious as Mostyn himself for Pollux to pull off the Derby."

"Pollux won't," said Rada, with something of her old spirit.
Whatever she might be feeling, her pride was in arms against anyone,
and especially Pierce, guessing her secret.  "I think it is mean of
Mostyn to wish to beat me," she continued, her cheeks flushing now.
"If he was so keen on carrying out his word he might have tried for
the Derby next June.  He gave himself five years.  Besides, the whole
thing was so silly; no one has taken it seriously but he."

Pierce noted the girl's flushed cheeks and he read the truth of her
love in her eyes.  He understood what she must feel, and how
heartless Mostyn's conduct must seem to her, since she knew nothing
of the will and of the incalculable importance it was for him that
Pollux should win the race.  Was it not for her sake, too, that
Mostyn was depending upon Pollux?  But she did not know--she could
not know.

How he longed to explain!  Could he not give her a hint?  But he
quickly found himself involved in totally unexpected difficulties.

"Don't be hard upon Mostyn, Miss Armitage," he ventured.  "Really, I
assure you, he hasn't done this out of ill-will to you.  If only I
could get you to feel that!  Nor is it that silly wager which makes
him so keen upon winning the Derby.  It may look to you like spite,
but believe me--try to believe me--it's quite the reverse."  Poor
Pierce stammered painfully.  He wanted to do the right thing both by
his friend and by Rada.  He could see that the latter had been deeply
wounded in her affection, and he felt that if by chance Pollux should
win the race she might be too deeply offended with Mostyn to listen
to any explanation.  And yet it was for her as much as for his
millions that Mostyn was fighting.

"I don't understand you, Mr. Trelawny," said Rada.  "Please try to
explain yourself."  She tapped the floor impatiently with the toe of
her little shoe.  Her dark eyes were fixed upon Pierce, who felt
particularly uncomfortable.

"Mostyn cares for you far too much----," he began hesitatingly.

"Cares for me!"  Despite her determination not to betray herself Rada
could not help interrupting.  "When he wants to be the one to rob me
of my victory!  If Pollux wins he will laugh at and mock me, because
I laughed at and mocked him once: he will say that I challenged him
to win a Derby before me, challenged him unfairly because I already
had a horse in training.  He wants to humiliate me--that's what he is
playing for--and you say he cares!"  Rada poured out her words
tempestuously, though they were spoken in an undertone lest they
should be overheard.

"Oh, how can I explain?" Poor Pierce was conscious by now of the
slough into which he had blundered.  He was quite unable to extricate
himself, and only made matters worse by his attempts.  "Mostyn loves
you, Miss Armitage," he faltered.  "It's for your sake that he wants
Pollux to win; for your sake and----"

"For my sake!"  Rada broke into a harsh laugh.  "When he knows what
this Derby means to me, that it is the ambition of my life!  For my

"But it is!"  Pierce had gone too far to withdraw.  "I tell you
Mostyn loves you.  But unless Pollux wins"--he faltered and
hesitated.  Mostyn had bidden him keep the secret, from Rada most
especially.  For what would happen if she knew?  The girl would be
robbed of all her happiness in victory, should victory be hers.  How
could she rejoice knowing that her triumph meant the ruin of another?

"Yes," she prompted, "unless Pollux wins?"  She had suddenly imagined
that she understood the situation.  Perhaps it was because Mostyn saw
ruin staring him in the face that he had not ventured to speak to her
again of his love.  He had been foolishly spendthrift: she had
scolded him often enough for his extravagance.  What if he was making
his last plunge--upon this Derby--and, if successful, meant to claim

She was trembling with excitement.  She wanted to know everything and
that immediately.  "Go on!" she cried petulantly.  "What will happen
if Pollux loses?"

"I'm a blundering fool," stammered Pierce.  "It's a secret, Miss

"A secret I mean to share," she said decidedly.  Again she stamped
her foot.  "Tell me!  I must know everything--I must."

The explanation that might have followed here--for Pierce saw no
means of escape--was interrupted by a general movement in the
direction of the coach.  The party was ready to start.  "You must sit
by me and tell me about it as we go down," Rada commanded.

There was a slight difficulty, in consequence of this, when it came
to allotting seats upon the coach.  Rada stuck close to Pierce, in
spite of all the efforts of Lord Caldershot to intervene.  The latter
found himself at last, very much to his chagrin, settled on the back
seat in the company of a simpering young lady not at all to his
taste, while on the other side he had the morose Captain Armitage,
who, as a matter of fact, hardly uttered a word during the whole of
the journey down.

Rada and Pierce were seated in front, and it was not long before the
girl had elicited from her companion all that was to be told.  She
learnt the full story of Anthony Royce's will; learnt, too, the true
reason why Mostyn, loving and desiring her as truly as ever, had been
constrained to silence.  Pierce, once having committed himself, had
been as straw in her hands; and perhaps, since he saw that there was
now every chance of the misunderstanding between the pair of lovers
being cleared up, he was not, after all, so sorry that he had spoken.

"If Pollux wins it's all right," he muttered to himself, "and if
Castor wins--well, I believe, though poor Mostyn will be ruined, Rada
will want him to stick to her all the same.  And Mostyn would never
have thought of that.  Perhaps it's just as well I spoke."  In this
way he sought to comfort himself for his indiscretion.

As for Rada, she was swayed by varying emotions.  First and foremost
came the knowledge that Mostyn loved her, that he had never ceased to
love her.  "I've been such a little cat to him," she said, penitently
clasping her hands together, and quite careless now of revealing the
truth of her own love.  "But why didn't he tell me everything?  Why
should he have kept the secret from me?  I'd have let him have
Castor--I'd have done anything--anything.  But it's only now"--she
drew her breath quickly--"when it's too late, that I get to know the
truth, and that only by bullying it out of you, Mr. Trelawny!"  She
dashed her hand to her eyes.  "I feel that it's I--I--who am standing
in his way of gaining all this money," she whispered, "and if Castor
wins now--oh, I shall hate myself!"

"It's just that that Mostyn feared," said Pierce quickly.  "That's
why he wouldn't tell you.  Castor had to run.  Miss Armitage, you
must just take it as a sporting chance.  Things must be allowed to go
on exactly as they are.  There isn't a shade to choose between one
horse or the other.  Castor may win or Pollux may win; the one means
a lot to you, the other means a lot to him.  It's fair for both
sides: the issue rests upon a race, a race where the chances are
absolutely even.  One couldn't have anything better or finer than

But Rada turned her head away, and Pierce could see by the quivering
of her shoulders how deeply moved she was.  It was a few moments
before he ventured to speak again.

"You love Mostyn, Miss Armitage?"  He lowered his voice, even though
his conversation with the girl had passed quite unheeded, for she was
occupying the outside seat, while his neighbour on the other side, a
Parliamentary friend of Sir Roderick's, an Irishman like himself, was
deeply engaged in discussing the question of cattle driving with a
lady of prominence in London society.

"Perhaps I do," the girl admitted, in a curiously subdued tone of
voice, "but I wouldn't own it, even to myself, at first.  The more I
knew it and felt it, the more I was compelled to struggle against it.
That's the sort of girl I am--a hateful, wayward little creature
altogether.  But I'm suffering for it now, and I deserve to suffer."

She was crying very softly now, but it was a relief to her to have
opened her heart, and for the rest of the way down she talked freely
to Pierce, telling him of the life she had led with her father, the
semi-savage life of so many years, giving him an insight into her
character such as she had never allowed to any man.

They reached the course and took up their position under the hill,
the coach being greeted, if anything, by more public interest than
the year before.  "Old Rory" himself was always an object to attract
attention, but, on the present occasion, it was upon Rada that all
eyes were fixed.

The girl looked so young, almost a child, and yet it was quite three
years since she had registered her colours.  The lemon and lavender
quartered were already well known and recognised by most race-goers.

Sir Roderick made his traditional little speech very much in the same
words as the year before, save that he ended up by wishing good-luck
to Castor and to Pollux, and expressed a fervent wish that both
horses might win.  After that, as was usual, the company dispersed to
follow their own pleasures.  Captain Armitage alone remained stolidly
seated in his place, and he shook his head savagely when the butler,
who knew him well and was accustomed to administer to his fancies,
handed him up a brimming glass of champagne.  Champagne was strictly
forbidden; Captain Armitage was allowed a little weak whiskey and
water with his meals, and no more.  It was with a curse muttered
under his breath that he informed the butler of the fact, and
requested a little plain soda-water instead.

Pierce stuck close to Rada that morning, though on one occasion he
nearly came to high words with Lord Caldershot, who, as soon as the
little party had begun to disperse, waited at the foot of the coach
for Rada, eager that he should have the honour of conducting her to
the paddock.

"There's a horse belonging to a friend of mine running in the first
race, Miss Armitage," he drawled, "and I want you to come and have a
look at it.  You can't do better than back Galahad to win, and a
shop.  I'll get the money on for you, if you like," he added eagerly.

"Thank you," replied Rada coldly, "but I'm not going to back anything
to-day.  I've got quite enough interest in the one race.  Mr.
Trelawny has promised to walk with me to the paddock."

Lord Caldershot drew back, feeling unwarrantably snubbed, and was
perforce obliged to continue his attentions to the gushing little
damsel who had been his companion on the way down, and whom he
regarded as altogether too inexperienced to merit the time which he
had wasted upon her.

For the nonce Rada seemed to have lost all her reckless carelessness;
she was quiet and subdued, and she went about her work with all the
calm self-possession of a woman of the world.  She interviewed her
jockey and her trainer--old William Treves himself--who had brought
Castor to Epsom, and who was prepared to stake his reputation upon
the ultimate success of his stable.  He would turn up his nose
defiantly at all mention of Pollux, and the state of the betting did
not influence him in the least any more than did the unbeaten record
of Castor's adversary.  As the horses paraded in the paddock, he
would even point out to his cronies certain fancied defects about
Pollux which were visible only to his imagination.

The absence of Mostyn Clithero, the owner of the latter horse, caused
some remark, but the story of his accident had got abroad, and
sympathy with him was very generally expressed.  The reason why "Old
Rory" should have disposed of his colt to that remarkably
enthusiastic young sportsman was a matter for far greater
speculation, and it was estimated that the sum paid by young Clithero
must have been enormous.

The most astonishing stories had got abroad as to Mostyn's wealth and
as to his desire to win a big race.  His name was coupled with that
of Rada, and there were many who had evolved a romance out of the
rivalry of Castor and Pollux.

It was some time after lunch, and within an hour of the big race,
when Rada, who was strolling in the enclosure with Pierce, suddenly
stopped, gave a low laugh, and laid her hand upon her companion's
arm, forcing him to stop.  "Look there!" she whispered.

Pierce, following the direction of the girl's eyes, perceived Jack
Treves, conspicuous for his flowery waistcoat, his tight-fitting
trousers, the horsiness of his coat, and the peculiar angle at which
his hat was tilted.  He was leaning against the lower row of stalls
in the Grand Stand, talking to a remarkably smart-looking woman, who
wore a feather of exaggerated dimensions in her picture hat.  One of
her hands, ungloved--probably to show the many rings she was
wearing--rested in close proximity to the big fingers of Jack Treves.
The pair were laughing and talking, quite unconscious of being

"Who is it?" whispered Pierce.

"It's Daisy Simpson," returned Rada.  "Another hated rival," she
added, with a return of her natural humour.  "She's an old flame of
Jack's.  She used to live down at Partinborough, and they were great
friends before, and after, he did me the honour of wanting to marry
me.  She went up to town and became an actress, or something of the
sort.  She calls herself Daisy Montague and she must be getting on
remarkably well," Rada continued ingenuously, "to be able to flaunt
about in such clothes as that; but I've always heard that people make
a lot of money at the music halls."

Pierce glanced again quickly at the young woman in question.  "Daisy
Montague!" he repeated.  "Ah, yes, I've heard of her."  He smoothed
his dark moustache with his hand, as if to hide the smile that curved
his lips.  "I've no doubt she's very clever," he remarked; "a light
of the music halls.  I'm quite sure that her talent has been

"Jack doesn't look as if he was worrying about me over much, does
he?" asked Rada, with a little laugh.  "I've often had an idea that
he's rather regretted being off with the old love.  I never could
understand why he preferred me.  Miss Daisy is so much more his
style.  Look at him now.  Why, he's positively fawning over her!
They used to say that he treated her rather badly in the old days,
but I suppose he admires her now she's successful."

At that moment Jack turned and recognised Rada.  He raised his hat,
then after a few words to Daisy, spoken in a quick undertone, he
turned away and sauntered up to the couple.

"I've been on the look-out for you all day, Rada," he said jauntily.
"Must just have missed you in the paddock an hour ago, but knew that
I should have to run across you soon."  He stared pointedly at
Pierce, who, however, refused to take the hint.

"Where are you going to watch the race from?" Jack enquired, after an
awkward pause.

"I am going back to the coach," replied Rada, carelessly.

"Oh, I say, that's not fair!" exclaimed Jack.  "You promised to be
with me to see the race, Rada, you know you did."  He scowled
offensively upon Pierce.

"I can't help it," said Rada easily.  "I've come down with the party
and I've got to be with them.  You looked quite happy without me,
Jack."  She cast a glance in the direction of the stalls, where Daisy
Simpson was now sunning herself, smiling upon a tall, fair man, who
had just taken his place beside her.  "I've no doubt that your friend
over there will effectively fill my place," she added meaningly.

"Oh, you're jealous!" Jack exclaimed.  "I can see that.  But Daisy
Simpson's a jolly fine girl, and I'm glad to have met her again."  He
spoke with intentional malice.  "Now look here, Rada," he went on,
"if you can't be with me to see the race I want a word with you here.
I'll take you back to the coach afterwards.  We'll have this matter
out once and for all, see?"

"Very well."  Rada turned to Pierce, who had been standing a little
apart.  "Will you excuse me for a few minutes, Mr. Trelawny?" she
said.  "If you'll go back to the coach I'll join you there very soon."

Pierce nodded, and Rada and Jack moved away together.

"Now I want to have a definite understanding with you, Miss Rada,"
Jack said roughly, after they had taken a few steps.  "Do you mean to
marry me, or don't you?  I'm not the sort of man to be kept dangling
for long at the end of a piece of string.  If you want to cry off,
say so.  Clear up the money you and your father owe me and have done
with it."  He cast a furtive glance from under his heavy brows in the
direction of Daisy Simpson.  "I don't believe you care a hang for me,
really," he went on, "while Daisy--well, I've just been having a chat
with her and she's as fond of me now as ever she was.  London's made
a different woman of her too, as you can see for yourself.  She's the
kind of girl any chap might be proud of."

"No doubt you're quite right, Jack," said Rada.  "I can quite
understand Miss Simpson's attraction for you."

"Well, I'm talking straight to you, aren't I?  If you want to give me
the chuck, just say so.  Though, mind you," he repeated
threateningly, "I shall expect payment in full.  That's plain enough,

"It's very plain, Jack," replied Rada quietly, "and really I think I
had better pay you the money.  If Castor wins I can do so quite
easily."  A shade of anxiety crossed her brow as she spoke.  If
Castor won!  Yes, it was upon that that she had been depending to
escape from this foolish tangle in which she had involved herself.
If Castor won she could pay Jack what she owed him, and be free.  But
then, on the other hand, if Castor won, what would be the consequence
to Mostyn Clithero?

"Oh, Castor will win right enough."  Jack tugged at his scrappy
moustache and smiled maliciously.  "You can take that as a tip from
me, Rada, though it's your own horse we're talking about.  Castor's
going to win, my word upon it."  He chuckled under his breath.  "I've
seen to that," he added.

Rada drew up abruptly, staring at her companion.  "What did you say?"
she asked quickly.

"Oh, nothing," responded Jack a trifle uneasily.  "Only I've backed
Castor pretty heavily myself.  That's all I meant."

Rada was only half reassured, but she could elicit nothing more,
though she questioned Jack closely.  The latter was inclined to be
rough, threatening, and impertinent.  From his point of view he had
been treated badly, and it made no difference that he himself was
willing to cry off the engagement.  He pointed out to Rada--a fact of
which she was already aware--that her father's affairs were so
involved that, even if Castor won, she would hardly be able to put
them straight.  It was not only to the Treves's that they were in
debt; Captain Armitage had consistently raised money in any way that
suggested itself, and now he was about to reap the harvest of his

"I suppose you know your own affairs best," grumbled Jack, "but it's
a fool's game to give me the chuck, I can tell you that.  I suppose
you're lookin' to Clithero--damn him!--to pull you through, but
you're backin' a wrong 'un there, Rada.  He'll come a smasher when
Pollux fails to-day.  No man can stand the pace at which he's been
goin'; it's not in reason."

"Will you please take me back to the coach?" Rada spoke imperiously.
"I have promised to be with Sir Roderick and Mr. Trelawny for the
race.  They will look after me then and afterwards."

Indeed, there was little time to spare.  The bell was ringing; people
were scurrying across the course.  Rada and Jack had barely reached
the other side when a low cry went up from the crowd and a black
horse emerged from the paddock, a horse which was proclaimed by the
puce and black of the jockey to be Mostyn Clithero's Pollux.

It was at that moment, as they stood watching for Castor to appear,
that a rough-looking fellow pushed his way to Jack's side, thrust a
note into his hand, and then remarking, "I've had a hunt for you,
guv'nor," edged away again.

"What's that letter about?" Rada put the question as Jack read the
communication.  All her suspicions had returned to her.  She felt
possessed of a curious clairvoyant power, and knew that she had
reason to be on her guard.

"It's nothing to do with you."  Jack crushed the note in his hand,
preparatory to thrusting it in his pocket.

With a sudden sharp movement, totally unexpected, Rada seized the
paper.  She hardly knew why she did so; she was impelled by the
action of some unaccountable power.

"Give that to me.  Curse you, what d'you mean by it?"  Jack sought
vainly to rescue his property, but since he could not exercise actual
violence there under the Epsom Hill, he was powerless.  Rada unfolded
the crumpled paper and read the missive.

"It's all right, Jack.  I've got Ben to do the job.  Only found him
this morning.  It's all up with Pollux.  We've wiped off our little
debt, and you can turn your brass upon Castor.  Meet you after the
race--you know where."  The note was signed "Ted."

For a moment Rada stood still, then she found tongue.  "You
blackguard!"  But her breath was coming in deep gasps, and she could
say no more.

"Look here, Rada," growled the man, "you've no right to read my
letter.  But let that pass.  Since it's all for your good you won't
be such a fool as to kick up a shindy.  Your horse will win the
Derby, and that's what you want.  Give me that paper, and say no more
about it."

"No!" Rada crushed the incriminating document in her hand.  "I won't!"

He seized her arm.  "Give it to me," he hissed.  "Rada, if you make a
fool of yourself, I swear before God that you shall suffer for it.  I
can ruin you and your father, and I'll do it."

"Let me go!"  The girl struggled free.  They were surrounded by a
crowd, and the man was helpless.  "If you dare to try and hold me,
I'll strike you.  Yes, here before everyone--I'll strike you with my
fist in the face."

Jack swore under his breath.  He hurled vile oaths at the girl, but
he was powerless.  As a cheer from the crowd proclaimed that Castor
was galloping down the course, Rada, his owner, darting in and out
wildly and ingloriously among vehicles of all kinds, sought the coach.

She failed to find it, but she ran into the arms of Pierce Trelawny,
which was more to the point.

"Miss Armitage---why, what is the matter?"

"I want you to come with me, Mr. Trelawny."  She was gasping for
breath.  "You must come at once.  I must see the stewards.  There
isn't a moment to be lost."

It was very evident, from the girl's demeanour, that the matter was
one of vital importance.  Pierce asked no useless questions, but
placed himself unreservedly at Rada's disposition.  He contrived to
steer her, though not without difficulty, to the other side, and
directed their course to the Grand Stand.

"There's going to be foul play," Rada panted as they walked.  "Pollux
is to be got at--I don't know how."

"And you will warn the stewards?"

She made no direct reply, but muttered something under her breath.
Pierce could not quite distinguish the words, but he thought he
heard: "Castor will win--Castor is bound to win."

* * * * * *

Upon the coach they wondered what had become of Rada, but assumed
that she was with Pierce Trelawny, watching the race from the other
side.  She would want to be upon the spot to lead her horse in--if
Castor should prove victorious.

The start was delayed longer than usual, owing to the vagaries of a
bad-tempered colt.  Sir Roderick, gazing through his field-glasses,
stamped his feet with excitement.

"They're off!" he shouted at last, and for the rest of the race he
kept up a running commentary of the principal events.

"Bad-tempered beast that--Prince Eugene--wasn't it?  He's no
good--not a bit of good.  Won't be in it.  Being left behind already,
unless I'm mistaken.  The rest are coming along nicely.  Can't make
out either of the favourites, though--they're too far off as yet.
Who's that forging ahead?  Green sleeves, and yellow, I fancy.  It
must be Candahar.  He won't keep up that pace for long.  Going well,
though.  Ah, here comes another--level with him now!  Goliath, by
Jove!  Where the deuce are the favourites?"

He swept the field with his glasses, and presently gave vent to a
shout.  "Come along, Pollux!"  He glanced down in sudden trepidation.
"Oh, it's all right!  Miss Armitage isn't there.  I may cheer my own
horse.  Come along, Pollux!"

Castor and Pollux were running practically level.  Some four or five
horses were in advance of them, and about the same number followed
behind.  Between these, the two big black colts, suddenly revealed by
the dividing up of the field, stood out conspicuously.  The lemon and
lavender--the puce and black diamonds--the two horses that might have
been twins--Castor and Pollux--battling together for Rada and for
Mostyn--shoulder to shoulder, like brethren, yet, in very truth, the
sternest of adversaries.

On they came, running easily, each palpably being held in by his
rider, reserving force till it should be needed.  The rest of the
field was straggling by now.  Two or three, including Prince Eugene
and Candahar, had already dropped far behind, "stony," and quite out
of the running.  Pendragon was leading and looked like making a brave

One by one the horses that were in advance of the favourites were
overtaken, passed, and left behind.  The crowd roared its delight at
each succeeding achievement, for Castor and Pollux, once they elected
to take the foremost place, would certainly not again drop behind.
And still they came neck to neck and shoulder to shoulder.

Near Tattenham Corner, Pendragon still held the lead.  The tussle was
short and sharp.  Castor and Pollux made a simultaneous spurt, and
forged to the front amid the uproarious cheers of the vast, heaving
mass of humanity that crowded Epsom Downs.  It was a struggle now
between the favourites, for there was none to challenge their
advantage.  But what a struggle! what a contest! what a race!

At Tattenham Corner, Pollux was leading by a little--very gradually,
and without any display of premature energy, he was forcing the
running.  "Come along, Pollux!" yelled Sir Roderick, waving his arms,
and perspiring with eagerness.  "Brave horse! the race is yours!"  He
lowered his voice and muttered: "God send you first to the post!"
The words were breathed like a prayer, and there was no irreverence
in them.  Sir Roderick knew all that the victory of Pollux meant to
Mostyn--and to Rada.

"Hullo! what's up?"  The cheers of the crowd changed to a yell of
dismay.  Those who were at the back and could see but ill, put the
question frantically to the more fortunate ones in front.  "A horse
down?  Which is it?  Pollux?  Good God!"

The name of Pollux swept from lip to lip.  At the moment of rounding
the Corner, Pollux had been seen to sway, to stumble--then, carried
on by his own velocity, to go down head first.  Castor swept by,
unchallenged now, a clear course to victory before him.

Sir Roderick struck his fists violently together.  "The devil's in
it!" he roared.  "Yes, the devil himself!"  He dashed his hand over
his eyes, which had suddenly grown dim.

"Poor Mostyn!"  The words came from his heart.



"Three o'clock!  The race should be starting in a few moments now,
Clithero."  David Isaacson bustled into the room where Mostyn lay
upon an improvised bed.  Isaacson had not gone to the Derby.  An
important piece of business had detained him in London, and when that
was concluded he had devoted his time to his young friend.

Mostyn had been moved very tenderly and with the utmost care from the
bed-chamber, which had at first been allotted him, to a room where
Isaacson, some months before, had set up a tape machine.  In this
way, Mostyn would learn the result of the race with no delay at all.

His injury was a simple fracture of the upper arm, and when the bone
had been well set by a skilful surgeon, called in at once, Mostyn had
found himself fairly comfortable, though, of course, it was necessary
for him to remain absolutely at rest.  A message had been sent to his
father, a letter written for Mostyn by Isaacson, with which the bill
was enclosed, and John Clithero had come round at once, even to the
house of the much-hated David Isaacson, and there, by Mostyn's
bedside, the reconciliation between father and son had been complete.

"I have fallen low, Mostyn," the old man had muttered, "and it is I
who have to crave your forgiveness."

He would have said much more, but Mostyn would not allow him to do
so, and presently, Cicely coming in, John Clithero was able to
realise that, though he had lost two of his sons, he had at least
regained the son and daughter whom he had so ruthlessly turned from
his door.  These two had stood by him in his hour of need.

"I have learnt my lesson," he sighed.  "And it is you, Mostyn, and
you, Cicely, who have taught it to me."

Upon the following day--Derby Day--he was, perhaps, as keenly excited
as anyone else in the result of the race, for he knew now all that
depended upon it.  He superintended the carrying down of his son to
the room where they could watch the tape, and he would hardly consent
to leave Mostyn's side even for his meals.  When Isaacson arrived to
announce the hour, it was as much as he could do to sit still.

He was sadly changed--there was no doubt as to that.  All his
arrogance had fallen from him, to give place to a kind of apologetic
demeanour; it was as though he was asking pardon from one and all for
the mistakes of his life, mistakes which must have been borne in on
him by much solitary reflection, by a very agony of self-examination.
He had been his own judge, and he was as hard in the verdict
pronounced against himself as he had ever been against one whom, in
his pharisaical self-righteousness, he had condemned as a sinner.
All that John Clithero had endured was plainly writ on his face.  He
was a broken-down man--one who had lost faith in himself.  Even David
Isaacson had felt sorry for him and had treated him with rough
kindness--for Mostyn's sake.

Three o'clock.  How slowly the minutes passed!  Mostyn lay, propped
up by his pillows, his free hand clasped in that of Cicely, and he
was trying to talk of all possible subjects except that which was
uppermost in his mind.  Isaacson sat by the tape machine, and John
Clithero kept hovering backwards and forwards, his agitation
painfully apparent.

In his mind, Mostyn could see all that was happening.  The horses had
left the paddock by now and had galloped down to the starting-post.
How the crowd must have cheered first Castor and then Pollux!--or,
perhaps, it was the other way about.  He wondered if Rada was
watching the race from the coach; he thought she probably would be,
for Sir Roderick and Pierce would take care of her, and, if Castor
won, she would, of course, wait to lead her horse in.

He drew a deep sigh as he thought of Rada.  How would she behave when
she learnt the truth?  If Castor won, would he even have the courage
to tell her why he had thrown himself into such direct competition
with her?  Would he not be afraid to do so because of the trouble
which such knowledge must necessarily bring to her?  She would be
horrified to learn that her success meant his ruin.  Mostyn was
inclined to think that he must leave her in ignorance, even at the
expense of never gaining her forgiveness.

The horses must have started by now.  As he lay there, he could
almost hear the shouting of the crowd, that sound so familiar to him,
so musical in his ears.  The noises in the square without blended and
harmonised with his fancy.  A boy was whistling, further away an
organ was playing--then there came a sudden hush--yes, the horses
must be running!  He wondered if they had got away at once; somehow
he had a strong impression of a false start.

The tape clicked out the information.  It kept up a monotonous
tick-tick that was jarring to the nerves.  "Off 3.15.  Delay at
start!"  Then followed a list of the starters and jockeys--a long
list--there were fully a dozen in all.  Isaacson held out the tape,
and read them off one by one.

Then came a pause.  It was a clock on the mantel-piece, an elaborate
affair of antique French china, that was ticking now.  Mostyn had
hardly noticed it before, but it was extraordinary that he should not
have done so.  Why, the sound was so loud and aggressive that it
seemed to be beating directly against the drums of his ears.  He
pressed his left hand upon his ear, but it made no difference.  The
noise went on just the same--if anything augmented in strength.  How
fast his heart was beating, too--perhaps that had something to do
with it.

"Ah, here we are!"  A cry from Isaacson, as the machine recommenced
its ticking.  He almost dragged upon the tape.  The Jew was as
excited as anyone else in the room--of them all, Mostyn was the
calmest.  "Now we'll see.  Pollux for ever!  I don't mind betting----"

He broke off, the tape hanging in his hand.  His jaw fell.  Mostyn
noticed at that moment that his scarf-pin, a huge diamond, had nearly
worked its way out of his tie.  It looked as if it must scratch his

"Well, let's have it.  Is the result out?"  Mostyn put the question
calmly, but he knew already that Pollux had lost.

"Clithero, my boy, I'm sorry--I'm damned sorry!"  Isaacson stood up,
his eyes still fixed upon the tape that was now hanging in coils,
like a snake, about his fingers.  The ticking went on cruelly,
remorselessly; it was like the needles of the weird sisters spinning
out the fate of man.

"Let's hear it!"

"Castor first, Pendragon second, Goliath third."  The Jew's voice
sounded very far away as he spoke the words.

"And Pollux?"

"Blessed if I can make it out!  Paragon was fourth.  And here are the
names of the others."  He tore the offending tape into shreds.
"Ah"--the machine was ticking again.  "What's this?  Pollux, one of
the favourites, fell at Tattenham Corner when leading.  Horse and
jockey uninjured."

Mostyn broke into a laugh.  "So that's the end of it," he exclaimed.
"Something was bound to happen to any horse that ran in my colours.
Well, the tension's over, anyway."  He fell back upon his pillows.
He was quite calm; something seemed to have snapped, and with it had
come infinite relief.  There would be no more harassing of his
nerves, no more blood on the boil.  It was over and he had lost.  At
any rate he could rest.

His father was leaning over him, pressing his hand.  "It's all right,
Mostyn," the old man was urging in a voice thick with emotion.
"You've lost a big fortune, but what does it matter?  You will come
back to me--my son: I've only got one son now--you, whom I drove from
my door."

Mostyn pressed the hand in return.  On the other side of him Cicely
was whispering words of comfort, words such as only a woman can find.
"It will be all right with Rada, too, Mostyn.  I'm as sure of that as
of my life.  She will be so happy at winning that she will forget
everything else.  And you're not a pauper now, remember that, since
you're friends with father again.  You can just go to Rada and ask
her to be your wife: she'll say 'yes,' or I know nothing of my sex."

Isaacson, too, was voluble in sympathy.  "It's not your fault that
you've come down, Clithero, my boy.  You did your best, and no man
can do more.  I admire you for your pluck, and every sportsman will
admire you as much as I do when the truth is known."

The starting prices were ticked out unheeded while Mostyn's friends
stood about his bed; the tape was falling in long coils upon the
floor.  Outside, in the square, a newsboy could be heard shouting
"Winner!" at the top of his voice.  The momentous news had been given
to London.

Isaacson stepped back to the machine and began once more to run the
tape through his fingers, reading out the starting prices as cheerily
as he could, as well as any other information that had come to hand.
Suddenly he was silent; he held a long strip before him, lifted close
to his eyes--for he was a trifle short-sighted--and he was apparently
reading the writing upon it over and over again.  During these
moments his face expressed the most remarkable changes of emotion.
He had begun to read carelessly, then his attention had been
concentrated; finally, with a great wrench, he tore off the strip,
waved it in the air, and gave vent to an undignified and apparently
inappropriate shout.

"God of my fathers!" he cried, literally dancing across the floor,
"but who would have thought it?  Why, the girl's a champion, a
heroine"--he could not find words to express his feelings--"a brick!"

"What are you driving at?"  Mostyn dragged himself up again.  For a
moment he wondered if Isaacson had taken leave of his senses.

"It's all right!  That's what I'm driving at.  Read for yourself;
read!"  He held out the strip of paper before Mostyn's eyes.  The
latter took it in his left hand, but presently let it fall.  The
letters all seemed to run into each other, and the print was blurred.

"What does it mean?" he gasped.

"It means that at the very last minute Miss Armitage appears to have
transferred Castor from herself to you.  The whole thing is very
vague at present, for Castor certainly ran in her colours.  But, from
this, she seems to be no longer the owner of the horse.  Castor is
yours, Mostyn, and won the Derby for you!"

Mostyn lifted his hand to his head.  "It isn't possible," he
muttered.  "There must be some mistake.  It couldn't have been done."

"It's right, you mark my words!" cried Isaacson, whose exultation had
by no means passed away.  "It will be explained before long.  And you
owe it all to Miss Armitage, my boy!  She must have found out why you
wanted so badly to win.  There's a noble girl for you!  I tell you
what it is, Clithero: it's your duty to fall in love with her and
marry her--yes, by Jove, it is!"

"Ah, if I could!"  Mostyn sighed in answer.  Nevertheless he
continued to express his disbelief, though the tape message was read
to him over and over again, and though it was confirmed by a later,
but still rather vague, announcement.

It was not till about a couple of hours later that everything was
cleared up by the arrival of Rada herself, who, in the company of
Pierce, had motored up to London from Epsom.  Sir Roderick would have
liked to have accompanied them, but he had his coach and his guests
to attend to.

After the first excited greetings, Pierce told the story, while Rada
stood bashfully aside--yes, perhaps for the first time in her life
she showed symptoms of shyness.

"That scoundrel Jack Treves appears to have arranged with Ted Wilson,
the jockey--both enemies of yours, Mostyn--to play a dirty trick upon
Pollux.  They got Benjamin Harris to do it.  Ben Harris was one of
old Treves's stablemen once, and I expect it was he who doctored
Silver Star at Jack's orders, but that's by the way.  I'm glad to say
he was caught by the police, and he's given the whole plot away.
Jack and Wilson will catch it hot, and serve them right, too!  What
the scoundrel did was to hide, as he thought, behind a tree, and
shoot at Pollux with an air-gun, or a catapult or something of the
sort.  No wonder the poor beast swerved and fell.  Pollux was leading
at the time and was going to win."

"I'm not so sure of that," put in Rada, in spite of her shyness.

"Well, never mind.  What is really of importance is that Miss
Armitage, just before the race, surprised a note written to Jack by
Wilson, which gave the whole game away.  And, as it happened, Miss
Armitage knew just how you were situated, Mostyn.  It was my fault,
for I let it all out, and I'm glad I did."  He stared defiantly at
his friend, and laughed.  "Don't scold me now, however--you can do
all that when I've finished my yarn.  Well, as long as things were
straight and above board Miss Armitage would have let matters take
their course--you stood a good sporting chance to win.  But when she
found out the plot she came to me--the race was just about to
start--and made me take her to the stewards.  I didn't know what she
meant to do till we were in the presence of those august individuals.
Then she announced that she wanted to make Castor over to you.  Of
course, there were all sorts of difficulties in the way, but Miss
Armitage got over them all.  I think she must have fascinated the
gentlemen.  Of course I don't know what they thought"--he glanced
slyly at Rada, who turned away blushing.

"Anyway," Pierce went on, "the stewards are omnipotent, you know.  So
a transfer was signed and attested, countersigned by the stewards,
and a wire was sent to Weatherby's.  It was all in order, I can
assure you, and quite legal.  Of course, it was too late to make any
immediate announcement, so the race had to go on as it was, Castor
being ridden in Miss Armitage's colours.  But Castor is your horse,
Mostyn; no one can dispute that, nor your right to Anthony Royce's
millions.  I congratulate you a thousand times.  There, now I've told
you everything."

It was when Pierce ceased speaking, and as Mostyn, his eyes fixed
upon Rada, could find no words to reply, that John Clithero stepped
across the room and took the girl's hand in his.

"Bless you for what you have done," he said.  "My son has spoken to
me of you to-day, Miss Armitage--your name has been constantly on his
lips.  He is afraid that he has offended you; but I don't think that
he can have done so, or you would not have sacrificed yourself for
his sake.  But I am sure that he would like to hear you say he is
forgiven, and that he will want to thank you--alone."

He led the girl to Mostyn's bedside, then, followed by all the rest
of the party, stole out of the room.

* * * * * *

"Do you remember," Mostyn whispered, some time later, in Rada's ear,
when all had been explained between them and every difficulty
smoothed away, "do you remember, my darling, the terms of our
wonderful wager upon the coach last Derby Day?"

Rada needed no reflection.  "I said I would wager my life that you
would never win a Derby," she murmured, "and I have lost."

"You staked your life, and I have won it," he replied.  "That is a
finer thing than money.  I am happy, Rada--so very happy!  In a
single day I have won a big race--a huge fortune--and, best of all,
your life--the life of the girl I love."

His sound arm was resting on her shoulder.  He drew her face to his,
and kissed her on the lips, and this time she did not repel him.

"Do you really love such a little vixen, such a little devil, as I?"
she asked wonderingly.

"You're a 'hangel,'" he answered, laughingly recalling the words of
Samuel Willis.  "I always knew it, and to-day you've proved it.  Kiss
me again, Rada, and then we'll summon the others and tell them the

Smiling softly, she bent and obeyed.  "This is better than winning a
Derby!" she sighed happily.


London: Ward, Lock & Co., Limited.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The sporting chance" ***

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