W. A. FRASER
AS STEWART OWEN and Delilah whirred up the broad drive to Caven’s bungalow in Jack Andrews’ capable little car, Caven met them on the verandah. The Man from the Desert’s gray eyes, from under shaggy brows, busied themselves in an appraisement of Caven. Andrews knew his man at once—he had seen hundreds of him on the race tracks.
Behind that genial, strong face, with its healthy florid skin, and the philanthropic blue-gray eyes, was tenacity, not over much scrupulousness, and a bulldog courage that would take any chance.
And Caven, as if this essay were all wrong, was whole-souled geniality.
“Welcome to The Abbey, Mrs.
Owen; glad to see you,” he was saying.
“Funny name for a livin’ joint,
Tom,” and Owen grinned.
Caven indicate the blacklettered name over the stone doorway, “The Abbey of Theleme.”
“Highbrow stuff, Stewart—one of Gerry’s tricks,” and Caven laughed.
Delilah’s black eyebrows drew into a tiny query nr rk. Highbrow stuff, and Gerry! For Owen had said that Gerry was a stable boy when the name had cropped up in a phone message.
“It means,” Tom was explaining, “ ‘Do as you please,’ so just make yourselves at home.”
When they were seated in the big drawing-room, Caven said:
“After that hot drive, what about us, Stewart?”
“I’ll go you once,” and Owen smiled in anticipation; Andrews drew a heavy hand across the gray jungle that hid his capacious mouth in pleased surprise.
Caven stepped to a door that, as it opened to the side verandah, threw in a shaft of warm sunlight, and called “Gerry! Mrs. and Mr.
Owen are here, and we want a little refreshment.”
A low musical ripple of laughter floated in through the door, and a hot flush swept over the dark face of Delilah. Gerry the stable boy dabbling in the classics, and with a cultured soprano voice!
The hot blood had rushed to Owen’s face also, for, over the phone, he had understood that Gerry would not be at home. He had tried to persuade his wife not to come out with them on this horse business, but Delilah was in the habit of having her own way—especially when Stewart’s manner indicated that he had some hidden reason for his solicitude over her.
And Andrews, too, had wanted her with them as the horse business concerned her.
Then a vision appeared in the sunlight of the door. Delilah almost gasped, and Stewart felt his heart sink into his
Gerry was undeniably a girl, a beautiful girl. A mass of hair, wind blown in the orchard, that must have been spun rubies caught and held shreds of gold from the sunlight, and sparkled where drop» of red wine had fallen upon it in some ambrosial shower. The small oval face, shadowed, was like the face of a sylph framed in a golden halo and to the lithe slender figure clung a gown of shimmering burnt-
gold; beneath the slender straight ankles dainty feet rested firmly in bronze slippers.
/"\WEN groaned inwardly thinking cf the aftermath with jealous wifie; for he had expatiated largely upon his philanthropic endeavor to help out “poor Tom.”
And Delilah, knowing Stewart’s supreme weakness for a pretty face, set her firm white teeth. She was mentally sneering, “Poor Tom! So like Stewart to worry over any man’s troubles.” Delilah was roused by Caven introducing the symphony in gold as his sister Geraldine. The slim fingers of
Gerry lingered in Delilah’s firm hand, and the large soft brown eyes dwelt coaxingly on her face. “This is lovely Mrs. Owen. I’m so glad you came; I didn’t know you were coming.
Delilah’s mental comment was, “I fancy not.”
“It was an accident kept me at home to meet you,” Gerry purred on. “I was to have gone for a picnic with my friends the Conways, who live down the drive, but the stupid chauffeur ran their car into a motor truck to-day and they phoned that the picnic was off. I’m so glad now.”
“Damn that chauffeur!” Owen growled.
To Delilah this was illuminating; for while Stewart had presented at first many plausible reasons why she should not go out to The Abbey, he had given in quite cheerfully later on; he had, no doubt, phoned out and found that Gerry had expected to be away, that was all. In fact Static had made a fine mess of it.
“Now, Gerry,” Caven commanded, “these gentlemen would like a small sensation. How about a cocktail, Stewart?”
“A full-grown one,” Owen grinned.
“You, Mrs. Owen?” Gerry pleaded, her voice like a caress.
“May I have milk? On a farm it will be the real thing.”
“Certainly, dear. And you, Mr. Andrews?”
“Cocktails is kinder jinky for me,” the patriarch said solemnly; “they’re kinder too kittenish: a thimbleful of straight liquor—” “That’s the name of the place, Mr. Andrews, ‘Do as you please,’ ” Caven commented.
As Gerry flitted out to the dining-room and back again with a tray of glasses, Delilah likened her to an orchid; yes, an orchidorchids were parasites. She was a clinger—a gold-digger whose spade was a smile.
She pictured the past two or three weeks. . Stewart had been running out to see Tom Caven over a mine deal that was to bring them a fortune; and the strong plea always was that he was anxious to put “poor Tom” on his feet, for Tom was up against it. And the magic of the help was to be that Caven had a race horse that, if Andrews would train him, could win enough money in one race to buy the Midas claim that was certain to prove a gold mine worth a million.
Owen had been full of it; it was the chance of a lifetime.
NOW as Delilah realized just how a girl like Gerry would appeal to her susceptible husband, she more fully understood his enthusiasm over “poor Tom” and his prospects.
Owen was anxious to get their
visit to The Abbey over. Gerry arid Delilah together—in proximity, was like carrying dynamite over a rough road. There would be no explosion—not just now; he knew the subtle methods of wifie too well to fear that, so he said: “Tom, Mr. Andrews has come out to look the horse over, and give him a trial on your half-mile track. An’ I’ve got to get back to town soon ’s I can.”
“Right you are,” Caven acquiesced. “We’ll go down to the stable, you can look the colt over, Mr. Andrews. I’ll have him saddled, and Mike he’s a light boy will give him a gal-
"Better come, Lilah,” Owen suggested. He turned to Caven.
“You see, Tom, as 1 explained, this Shining Tree mine has got me tied up, but wifie here has got some loose change, an’ she’s a racin’ bug.”
“May I go too?” Gerry pleaded.
Owen frowned, and shook his head; but Gerry’s eyes had been looking into Delilah’s, full of admiring friendliness.
She missed Stewart’s pantomime, but Delilah didn’t.
“Of course you’re coming,
Gerry—may I call you Gerry?” and Delilah’s arm went round the girl’s waist.
At the stable Caven and Andrews were in the stall going over the points of the colt. “Sweep Up is a three-year-old by Broomstick, out of Merry Maid,” Caven explained.
“None better’n Broomstick’s get, they can run an’ stay,” the patriarch commented; “an’ Merry Maid—I remember her— she was a good mare. She was out of Australian, a imported hawse, an’ that strain, called the Melbourne breed, can run all day. Merry Maid got one or two good colts—don’t know where they are now, broke down, I guess.”
The colt, a rich brown, had poked his head over the closed lower-half of the door, and was snuggling at Delilah’s shoulder.
She opened her handbag, saying to Gerry: “I’ve always got some lumps of sugar here to give my horse, Slipper Dance; I carry them so I won’t forget it.”
She held a cube in the palm of her slim, strong hand to the colt, and Sweep Up picked it off the palm with his silky upper lip daintily.
“Oh, you’re just a baby,” Delilah cried—“just a baby! You’ve got a pretty mouth.” She stroked the soft muzzle, saying in a lowered voice to Gerry, “If he were a man I wouldn’t trust him—with that weak jaw.”
Then Sweep Up was saddled, and, as he was brought out, Stewart asked: “Comin, over to the course, Lilah, to see the colt gallop?”
“I can’t go,” Gerry pointed to her bronze slippers. “I’ll get some tea ready.”
“I’ll stay with Gerry,” Delilah declared.
“But you want to see the colt work?” Owen expostulated. “No, I don’t Tootie; I’ll leave that to Mr. Andrews; I’d rather chat with Gerry.”
“You dear!” and the girl’s hand rested on Delilah’s arm affectionately, her dark, soft eyes full of appreciation.
“The devil!” Owen muttered as he strode away.
Gerry linked her arm in Delilah’s saying, “We’ll chef up a tea, and have a chat, dear. I’m glad you didn’t go with the men. I get so lonesome here at The Abbey.”
AS THEY started there was a loud, raucous neigh, a shrill whinny from a stall lower down in the row, followed by a thumping crash as if a horse belted the door with his hoofs. The lower door, being bolted, held, but the upper, lightly latched, swung open, and a brown head with distended nostrils and wide, eager eyes was thrust out, the horse’s breast surging against the closed half-door.
Gerry, followed by Delilah, ran to the stall, the girl reproving the excited horse: “Duster, you bad boy—back
As she pushed at the horse’s head she turned a troubled face to Delilah: “He knows that Sweep Up has gone out; scent or something; they generally go out together.”
Delilah was staring at the horse. If was as if by some necromancy Sweep Up had been magicked into the stall. She worded this: “Why, he’s the image of the other colt!” “Yes,” Gerry admitted, “nobody could tell them apart except for that,” she indicated a white mark, like a long slim arrowhead, on the fetlock joint of the colt's right foreleg.
“They must be brothers,” Delilah declared.
“Yes, I believe they are. I think he’s Sweep Up’s fouryear-old brother.”
Delilah was stroking the brown forehead, running her hand down the bony nose. “Wait,” she said to Gerry, “let me give him a lump of sugar; let’s quiet him and then shut the door.”
Duster fumbled the sugar in Delilah’s palm so awkwardly that it rolled to the straw-covered floor.
“Clumsy!” she reproved; “try again.” This time, with a little pushing assistance from Delilah, the horse retrieved the sweet. “There,” she commented, “but you’re not as clever as baby-mouth!”
And something of what she had said of the weak mouth on Sweep Up came back to her; the wider nostrils, the firmer mouth and jaw of Duster, caused her to say: “Gerry, I like this horse better than the other one; he’s got a face firmer, more like a man who does things. Why doesn’t your bruther race him?” Delilah was sure she detected confusion in Gerry’s j hasty, “Oh, 1 don’t know—there’s some‘ .thing, Tom is going to keep him for
breeding. I don’t know much about the horses—I’m not interested much.”
Gerry had closed the door, saying, “We must hurry back to The Abbey and get some tea ready.”
At the bungalow the orchid flitted in and out, humming something soft, sensuous, the droon punctuated by the tinkle of silverware against shell china, the gold drape whisping about the slim, quick ankles with a suggestion of a zephyr ruffling apple blossoms.
Delilah, after the refusal of her tendered help, sat in a wicker chair watching the girl complacently; also, with a joy of endeavor in her active mind. Curiously she wasn’t as bitter with Stewart as she had been in the Stella affair; she was a good sport, inherently, the Spanish or gypsy strain, whichever it was; and she had to admit that, given a man like Stewart, irresponsible, fond of immaterial things—diamonds, expensive ties, pretty women—that she could understand it in the case of Gerry.
And Gerry was deep. That clinging girlishness, rather cultivated, subdued gush, was the joker in the pack.
r^ELILAH etched the whole thing as she sat there. ^ Stewart, deeply interested in a man’s welfare—poor Tom!—had been the improbability that had roused her suspicions at first.
And Caven, totally void of finer sensibilities, would view with satisfaction the enmeshing of his friend, Owen, in the tendrils of the orchid.
Long before the men returned from the trial, Delilah had determined that Sweep Up should be taken into the patriarch’s barn; this would mean that she would be holding a hand in this delightful game of using Owen—poor Tom would have a chance.
When the three men came into the bungalow, Delilah read in their faces depression; Sweep Up had evidently proved a frost. Even the bright smile and golden swish of the orchid failed to lift the gloom.
Over the tea, Delilah, having broken the ice of reserve that shrouded the men by a query, Andrews explained that Sweep Up had not given much encouragement.
“In the fust place, Mrs. Owen,” he said, “the clock is agin him; he run the half-mile, with a light weight on his back, in 52 seconds, an’ he was all out, cause the boy didn’t spare the flail none.”
“But, Uncle,” Owen objected, “you’ve got a horse in your barn that won’t work much faster ’n that, an’ in a race he’ll reel off three quarters in 1.12 on a fast track.”
“That’s right, son, ’s far ’s ft goes; timin’ a hawse in a stable trial ain’t none too sure. I had another hawse that was the other way about—he was a mornin’ glory. In the mornin’ he’d show me a trial of 1.13 for three quarters, goin’ with his mouth wide open, an’ in a race he’d get beat in 1.14. No, trials don’t land the purse. But Sweep Up don’t seem to be able to extend himself; he’s got a choppy gallop: he can’t run, or he don’t know how.”
Delilah put her fingers on the patriarch’s arm. “Perhaps that’s just it, Mr. Andrews—he doe.-n’t know' how to
Owen stared. Delilah was stringing with them; and she always had a reason for taking an interest in anything or anybody. Evidently Gerry and Delilah liked each other—
little touches showed that they were chummy. What the devil had happened while they were out at the course?
“That’s what I’ve been claiming,” Caven thrust in.
“And that’s what I told Tom when he spoke of the colt,” Owen added; “I said that Mr. Andrews could make him run if he had it in him.”
“Mr. Andrews,” Delilah interposed. "Stewart and Mr. Caven think it would mean a fortune over the Midas mine if they could win enough on Sweep Up to buy it; wouldn’t it be worth while your taking the horse to give him a fair trial? I’m willing to pay all the expenses; and you’re so efficient.”
“I kinder know the game, Mrs. Owen, but I ain't no miracle worker. This is jus’ why I wanted you to come out; the funeral ’s yours; what you say goes.”
“Mr. Andrews will take the horse and see what can be done,” Delilah declared.
Gerry whisked from her chair and laid her warm cherry lips against the olive cheek of Delilah, saying, “Dear, you are a sport—isn’t she, Tom?”
“Stewart’s a good picker,” Caven asserted.
Owen should have felt \ . elated—should have, but
-■*.% Static was muttering some-
thing he could not interpret.
“Jus’’s you say, Mrs. Owen,” Andrews confirmed. He turned to Caven: “You send the colt in to my barn at the Grapevine Course soon’s you can.”
“I’ll send him in.” Caven promised. “You’ve got about three weeks before the Fall Meet, and Sweep Up is in good condition. £ He’s entered in the Boundary Stakes, and that’s three thousand.”
“Huh—the Boundary Stakes!” and Andrews executed the pondering act of caressing his long beard. “That kinder makes a dif’rence. I got a couple of hawses in that stake, an’ your hawse would be coupled in the bettin’ with ’em if he was trained by me. You wouldn’t get no long odds.”
A HUSH fell over the group at this seemingly unsurmountable obstacle.
“I guess,” the patriarch drawled, “I might kinder fix that. Hank Armour handles a hawse, Yellow Tail, that I’m sorter interested in, an’ I guess I could nominally have Sweep Up trained by Hank; his stalls is jus’ nex’ mine.” “But you would look after Sweep Up, Mr Andrews— you’d really train him, wouldn’t you?” Caven asked.
“Hank’s kinder a lazy feller an’ he wouldn’t kick none if he got the honor of trainin’ sev’ral hawses, an’ wasn’t asked to work too much. I guess it wouldn’t make no dif’rence to the colt, Hank’s name bein’ tacked on to the programmes an’ entry sheets. If I’m goin’ to try an’ make good wdth this hawse for Mrs. Owen, I’ll look after him myself.” “Now, Stewart,” Caven continued, “that being settled, I wish you’d come up to my room and I’ll show you the gold ore that Billy Cliff brought down from the Midas.” Owen opened his mouth to say “I’ve seen it a dozen times,” but Caven’s right eye, blanked by the lid, checked him. “Right-o, Tom. We won’t be five minutes,” he said to Delilah.
“Oh, don’t hurry; it’s delightful here. Gerry and I will go out to the cherry orchard.”
Mentally vowing that it was the last time for Delilah at The Abbey, Owen followed Caven up to the room.
“Sit down,” Caven said indicating a chair, “we’ve got to talk fast. Only for Mrs. Owen, Stewart, that old salamander would ’ve turned us down cold. I guess she took a fancy to Gerry.”
“Say, Tom, you don’t know Delilah; I promised her a trip to Paris if we won out on the Midas. See! That got her. Some women you can fool all the time, but with Delilah if I win one throw out of ten I’m satisfied.”
“Yes, the Midas. But to get that, Stewart, we’ve got to act quick; we’ve got to tie Armstrong up with a purchase or an option, because if there’s a leak about that rich gold vein in the Croesus heading at the thirty foot level for the Midas, that joins, that old tight-wad will jump the price to a hundred thousand and we can’t touch it. We’ve got to pay him a thousand down for an option to buy at ten thousand. The Midas didn’t cost the old cuss but fifteen hundred; he grub-staked a prospector, and then squeezed the poor devil out because he was broke. Armstrong doesn’t know the claim is any good, because I promised Billy Cliff I’d take care of him if we got the mine. Armstrong’s holding out for ten thousand thinking that some sucker from New York will come along and buy it.”
“Well, Tom, as I told you, I’m up against it for coin over the Shinin’ Tree mine; I’m all tied up, but Delilah’s got a fair wad, an’ she’ll put up the money if Sweep Up makes good in his trials.”
OAVEN took a turn of the floor, and stopping in front of '—' Owen, said: “And Sweep Up won’t make good! It’s taking too big a chance on him—there’s too much at stake.”
“Then the thing’s off, eh?”
"It isn’t off, Stewart—if you’re game.”
“I’m game if I say so. Whatisit?”
“I’ve got in my stable a four-year old, full brother to Sweep Up, called Duster, and nobody on earth can tell them apart, except for a white spot on one fetlock. I can hide that. A strong permanganate of potassium wash, brushed in three times, and not even Jack Andrews will know but what he’s got Sweep Up. Duster could lose Sweep Up at a mile.”
“Then we’ll take Duster,” Owen acclaimed.
“Wait! Duster was a good two-year-old; he won three races. Then,atNewOrleans,the man that had him, pulled him when he was a hot favorite, and the play was so raw that jockey, horse, and trainer were ruled off. When I bought this. place from that owner, both colts were thrown in cheap, because Sweep Up was a yearling, and Duster, on account of being ruled off, was only good for breeding. I thought of trying to get Duster reinstated, being a different owner, but if he could run in that stake as Sweep Up he’d be 50 to 1, and he’d carry nine pounds less as a three-yearold, and have ten pounds allowance as a maiden—he’d have only 105 lbs. on his back. Sweep Up never won a race, and is a maiden.”
“By gad!” Owen sprang from his chair and paced up and down the room. “Gee, what a play! But if they caught on?”
“We could take that chance. What’s the old man like, Owen—how far’ll he go?”
“Nothin’ doin’, Tom—nothin' doin’. I call him the lone wolf—he hunts by himself.”
“Well, that simplifies it, Stewart. Andrews will be innocent, he won’t know; he’ll never suspect. I don’t care that he didn’t see Duster. If he did discover it, and knew what a killing there was in sight, he’d never squawk, because they couldn’t do anything to him; he’d simply claim that he thought he got the horse he saw out here. If it came to a show down, and I couldn’t get out of it, all they could do is rule me off, and I should worry about getting ruled off—I’m not ón. If we get the Midas we can give them all the merry ha-ha. There’ll be just two men know it, you and me; and if they ever come looking for the other horse, Sweep Up, to prove the case, they won’t find him—the day after Duster goes in as Sweep Up, the three-year-old disappears.”
“It’s high play, Tom; the very devilish cheek of it gets my fancy.”
“I wouldn’t sit into the game, Stewart, for what we could win over the race, but the Midas is worth a million —don’t forget that.”
“Oh, you Paris for mine!”
“I’ve been a sucker long enough,”
Tom declared lugubriously. “I’ve staked racing men, and I’ve staked prospectors and mining men, and played the stock market till this whole iang place is mortgaged to the neck.
When the ‘drys’ put me out of the hotel business I had some money, but it’s gone.”
“You said, Tom, just you an’ me; what about Delilah?”
“Keep her out of it, Stewart. If it did fall down—which it won’t— wouldn’t it be better that she could swear she didn’t know anything about t. I’ll take care that Gerry doesn’t
“I guess you’re right, Tom. But [’ll tell you, Delilah can read your mind when you’re asleep. But you’re •ight. Let me think it over for a min-
OWEN paced the room for a dozen turns; then he said: “If I quit you now. Tom, it would look as if I lad a yellow streak.”
“Gad! they couldn’t do anything to you -you wouldn’t know anything »bout it; there couldn’t be anything aut that I had put something over on lack Andrews.”
“I guess there won’t be anything to it,” Stewart agreed; “if you can get by Andrews with it nobody else will tumble. And the old cuss is a sport loo, he’d just send word to you to come ind take the horse away as he wouldn’t lo.”
“That’s the way I figure it,” Caven ieclared. “There ain’t any of the ■acing men in these parts ever saw Duster on the track; but they saw 5weep Up?* for he ran here in the Spring. And the three-year-old is
just as big as the four-year-old; Dieter hasr’t grown any since he was three. And this very trick has been done before. The biggest race in the world, the English Derby, has been won twice by a four-year-old run as a three-yearold.”
“Let’sgetdownstairs',’’Owenadvised; “the whole thing’s cooked—it’s pretty well planned; an’ if we’re in luck it’ll go through.”
When the Owens end Jack Andrews had screeched away in Miss Elizabeth, Gerry turned to her brother as they stood on the verandah, saying eagerly: “I knew that Delilah was boss in that family as soon as I saw her, and felt that if I could make her like me they would tak > your horse on, Tom.”
Caven gave a gruff chuckle. “You’ve got another little think coming, girl. Didn’t you look into that woman’s
“Yes, I did; nobody could help it; they made me shrink at first, they seemed to stab. But that is just intensity, she’s intense.”
“Intense is good, Gerry; she’s that, and some. Perhaps it’s all right if you didn’t overplay your hand. If she thinks you are working her-—well, good night.”
“But, Tom, it was Delilah that really made Andrews take the horse, and wasn’t that because she liked me?”
“It was because Owen promised her a trip to Paris if we snaked the Midas out of Armstrong’s grip; and she sees a chance to play a thousand-to-one shot, scoop a half million iron men, perhaps a million—for a mighty small investment. I’ll tell you something else, Gerry,” he put a hand on the girl’s shoulder and gently turned her round till their eyes met—“I’ve spent a barrel of money over you, but I guess it was worth it. You’ve got the looks, the dainty ways, and the education; you’ve been trying to pay it back by helping me out in this deal—isn’t that so?”
The girl’s eyes drooped a little. “Yes, good old Tom!”
“And you don’t care two beans for Owen?”
“No, Tom.” Her voice had shed its suspicion of artificiality and was just a woman’s soft voice!
“No, you couldn’t; he’s flash; he’s good hearted, and that lets him out. He hasn’t got the it, the million things that you spell m-a-n. I’m not much better myself because,
kind cf like Owen, I guess I had to rustle. I was thrown to the w’olves when I was young; I wasn’t taught anything but get what you want—get it, and forget it.”
THE girl stroked the strong-firm jaw with petting fingers. “I know what you mean, Tom; you’d like to see me marry the Prince of Wales, eh?”
“You’d be good enough, girl. But now, since Delilah’s been here—I saw her eyes blaze when you came into the room. That was because she knows Stewart. He can’t help it—he’s just a grown-up kid.”
“But why was she so nice to me, Tom, if—if?”
“That’s Delilah. If she was nice to me I’d take to the
“Well, Tom, I think I understand. I was nice to Mr. Owen, and he’s such a great boy that it was easy; that was so that he would help you, I understood that he had lots of money. But, Tom—” and Gerry’s voice was anxious with the startling thought—-“Andrews is a very shrewd racing man, and he didn’t like Sweep Up. If the colt can’t win what you are going to do—you won’t get the mine.” “Little girl,” and Caven pinched the oval cheek, “don’t knock. The Lord hates a coward. I think the horse will make good. And, Gerry, if those bright eyes of yours see anything, don’t get inquisitive, don’t ask questions.”
“I don’t understand.”
“That’s right—I don’t want you to.”
“I promise, whatever it is.”
Owen’s mind beat a staccato to the purring whirr of Miss Elizabeth all the way back to town. His mind was not an acute one; it did not assimilate, tabulate a thrilling sequence of events with precision.
Delilah’s ready acquiescence in the adoption of Sweep Up to pry loose a fortune didn’t ring quite sincere. Knowing what he now didit was a good gamble, but Delilah didn’t know that hidden thing, and the three-year-old was certainly not an alluring prospect. If Delilah had not seen Gerry of course it would have been purely business; having seen the girl Delilah’s interest might be similar to the interest she had displayed in Stella. However, Owen’s motto was, “When in doubt, drift.” So he waited, expending his energy on a cigar.
Back in their room at the hotel the matter came up; at first little dribbling reminiscences of the afternoon.
“You’ve seen Caven now, Lilah,” Stewart used to punch a hole in the ice, “don’t you think that he’s a good fellow? He’s spent a ton of money over his sister.”
STEWART checked himself wisely in a flash glance at Delilah’s face. “You’ve got Gerry wrong, girl,” he said carelessly; “if it wasn’t for lookin’ after Tom she’d ’ve been married long ago.”
“Oh! I was wondering. Is she really much older than she looks, Tootie?”
“Damn—I don’t know! I guess she’s about twenty-one.”
“Yes, she’s all of that,” Delilah agreed simply.
“Oh, hang the girl! It’s Tom, and the Midas Mine I want to talk about.” “Yes, of course; we’ve discussed that so often—poor Tom! Y ou see, T ootie, I hadn’t heard of Gerry before, and naturally I’m interested.”
“Well, now that Andrews is to take over the horse, what about the deal?”
“What about it?”
“Speed is the ticket, girl: bang the hot iron; the old tide of fortune stuff —grab it. If Armstrong is put wise to that vein they found on the Croesus we’re dished; we’ve got to tie the old cuss up quick—pay him that thousand for the option.”
“You mean, Tootie, that poor Tom plays heads he wins tails you lose.” “That’s not fair, Lilah; he's got the info about the Midas, an’ knowledge is always worth somethin’. An’ for putting up the money I get a half interest; I risk a thousand now to get a half-interest in a half-million dollar property. If the home wins the winning’s go to pay for the Midas. Tom furnishes the horse and the information, and I furnish the thousand to tie it up.”
“ƒ furnish it. you mean."
“We furnish it, Lilah."
“It comes to the same thing in the end: you might he able to paddle your canoe without money, but 1 can t
continued on page 47
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I'm a woman. We’ll wait a few days, and if Andrews thinks we can win the price of the mine on the horse I’ll pay the thousand to make it secure.”
“And if somebody beats us to the mine?”
“They might get a lemon; a mine on paper is all in the air. I know that you are worrying a lot over poor Tom, but I’ve got quite a bit of responsibility in taking care of Delilah.”
“You can’t lose, girl. If Sweep Up failed to cop, and Tom couldn’t make good, you’ve won enough over Condor to pay for the mine.”
‘‘Pay for poor Tom, eh, Tootie? Gerry would kiss me on the cheek if I did that.”
“But it’s Tom’s scheme,” Stewart pleaded.
“If he can make good it is,” Delilah objected. “Look here, Stewart, I’ll tell ou just what I’ll do. If Andrews says the orse is promising I’ll pay the thousand, and the option will be taken out in my ñamé. I wouldn’t trust Tom Caven farther than I could tickle his nose with a feather. You can draw up a separate agreement that he is entitled to a half-interest when he pays half the purchase price.
If the horse fails I’ll send an engineer up there, and if the Midas is worth it I’ll pay the balance myself.”
“Holy smoke, girl! where d’you get that promotor’s grab-all stuff—where’d you learn it?”
“From you and your mining chums. I’ve been bored stiff fifty times while you and the others tried to put it over each other on mines.”
“But Tom!” and Owen’s voice was â
“For Gerry’s sake, Stewart, if I grabbed the mine, I’d make Tom a present of a quarter-interest.”
“All right, girl, all right!” Owen agreed, knowing that Delilah had written on the wall. “I’ll phone Tom that I’ll make good on the thousand.”
“That’s all right, Tootie. He knows you; he’ll know that you mean you will if you can. And tell Gerry to cheer up.”
Owen involuntarily shot a quick look at his wife, but Delilah was idly sorting bric-à-brac on her dresser, most disinterestedly.
Three more days and Duster, without a white mark on him, was standing as Sweep Up in a stall which adjoined Andrews’ stable and, nominally, in charge of Hank Armour.
CAVEN had come in ahead of the horse, who was brought by Mike, and was there when he arrived. He watched with keen interest the patriarch’s reception of Duster, alias Sweep Up. There was no indication in the old man’s eyes or his manner that any suspicion had been aroused; indeed the similiarity between the two horses now was so remarkable that a question of identity would have been improbable.
The first thing the patriarch did was to have the plates taken off Sweep Up’s feet and thrown into the scrap heap; he had been badly shod, the “Village Blacksmith’s” handicraft. Then for three days the colt was given gentle exercise—the slowest kind of a gallop. Even at his work the patriarch rubbed his eyes, for the horse had a springy lope quite different from his staccato gallop out at The Abbey; it must be that the old plates had been pinching the toes, and riding the frogs. And Mike, Caven’s boy, had been possessed of hands like a bricklayer, but under Kelly’s gentle handling the colt seemed really to have something in him. And then on the fifth day when Andrews asked Sweep Up a question as to speed the colt had reeled off three furlongs in thirty-six seconds.
Andrews slipped his stop watch back into his pocket, pulled a big hand down his flowing beard, and muttered; “By gum! yes, sir, by gum!” That was all, there was no explanation in sight; nothing but that he had made a mistake in Sweep Up’s
Íjossibilities. “Yes, sir, by gum! one swalow doesn’t make a Spring, and one workout of a hawse doesn’t prove nothin’, by gum!”
Of-course this was nothing unusual; even in actual racing the patriarch had seen many a horse run like a dog one day, and perhaps within a week come out and run a sparkling race, show dazzling speed, and win.
It was the afternoon of this morning gal-
lop that the stable boy said, “Sweep Up didn’t clean up his oats, sir. I don’t think he’s got any fever or anythin’.”
“Huh!” Andrews grunted.
He looked the colt over carefully. Then he put a finger under the horse’s jaw and held it against his pulse, counting slowly, a watch in his hand. The pulse was fifty-two—normal; no fever there.
Sometimes their teeth bothered these baby horses, hurt them when they were grinding their oats. Andrews put a strong thumb under the upper jaw, and one over the lower, opened Sweep Up’s mouth and peered at the teeth; then he let the horse close his mouth, and said to the boy, “Go out to my car and see if I dropped my glasses there.”
When the boy had slipped from the stall Andrews opened the colt’s mouth again—his glasses now riding the bridge of his nose—and examined the teeth carefully. Then he stood back and stared at the brown colt, pulling irritably at his gray beard; he was puzzled.
“By gum!” he muttered.
He walked around the horse examining each leg, then stood back again against the stall, and took off his wide-brimmed hat with a gesture of perplexity.
“Wisht I’d looked into your mouth out at the farm,” he confided in a low voice to the horse. “Accordin’ to the registration you’re a three-year-old, accordin’ to ’em incisors you’re a four-year-old. By gum!”
SWEEP UP had four permanent incisors and two temporary ones, one on each corner in both jaws; and no respectable three-year-old should have been possessed of other than two permanent and four temporary incisors in either jaw. And, also, as conclusive proof, in each jaw the two tusks, or bridle teeth were just break• ing through. A three-year-old would not show these at all. At a casual glance from outside this was not apparent. It was by examining the ends of the incisors that the difference wras discoverable.
“I’ve heerd of babies being born with teeth, but I never see a three-year-old cut his second permanent incisors before: you’re a wonder—you’re a percocious kid. My advice to you is to keep your mouth shut,” the old gent muttered.
Andrews stripped off the bandages, and swung the colt to the sunlit door, wondering if the fore-legs carried any mark of identification. But they were both a solid brown—the color of Sweep Up’s.
The boy came back saying, “I couldn’t find ’em, sir.”
“I got ’em, lad; they was in my pocket all the time. Guess I’m gettin’ ol’ an’ forgetful. Jus’ put ’em bandages back on.” All the way back to his hotel the Man from the Desert kept up a mental review; there were so many angles to this discovery.
Caven had declared that Sweep Up was a three-year-old, and the registration papers showed that Sweep Up was; but this horse in Andrews’ stables was a fouryear-old—the incisors proved that. In all nature there were abnormalities; perhaps the chances were one in ten thousand that a colt three-and-a-half-years old, as Sweep Up now was, might have the incisors of a four-year-old—yes, one in fifty thousand.
And then the colt’s extraordinary improvement! Yes, it must be another horse —must be a full brother, one of the good colts that Merry Maid had given birth to; Caven must have had the two of them. But why had he bothered over the threeyear-old if this were the better horse? Of course there was the nine pounds allowance that the horse would have running as a three-year-old; that was something— but it seemed hardly enough to justify the chances.
Andrews felt that Caven was unscrupulous; he would worry little over the ethics if he could make a killing. And Andrews had learned from Owen that Caven was in a hole financially. Yes, it was the gold mine that, would make him take any chance, it was a big stake.
Did Owen know? He must. And Owen was depending upon the patriarch’s friendship to say nothing if he discovered the deception. By gum! And it was like Owen not to ask him to help put over this crooked thing for fear of his being ruled
off, . .
The patriarch scratched his bead irritably. Yes, nobody could prove he was a
party to it—and such a chance! The horse was good, his work showed it. With a light weight he’d pack as a three-year-old, if be kept on improving, he’d dang near land that stake.
And if Owen was in it likely Delilah was. She had seemed so anxious for him to take the colt, even when it was evident Sweep Up was not very good. “By gum!” Probably the suggestion to not make him, knowingly, a party to the deception was Delilah’s. And he couldn’t ask her— he couldn’t ask Owen; he must pose as having been deceived completely to make perfect an alibi; that is, if he didn’t send the horse back.
THE patriarch’s racing life had been one of keeping out Of the bad books of the Jockey Club, and turning every trick he could to win as much as he could every time he ran a horse—that is, when he ran a horse to win. He had no compunction—no throbbing sensibilities. This roguery was not of his planning; it was a case of expediency plus a desire to help Delilah, of whom he was very fond.
He would wait developments—give no sign; train the horse that had been sent to him as Sweep Up, and win with him if he could, just the same as any other trainer would. The only evidence that Sweep Up was a four-year-old was hidden in the horse’s mouth and nobody would be apt to discover that.
Each day Sweep Up improved, and when Delilah asked Andrews to tell her about the horse’s prospect of winning, explaining that she must decide whether to pay the thousand dollars for an option to purchase the Midas at ten thousand, the old gentleman took off his hat, rubbed his gnarled fingers through the massive gray thatch, and answered: “Well, Mrs. Owen, I ain’t asked Sweep Up the big question yet.”
As Andrews drawled this slowly, his keen gray eyes beneath the shaggy brows were fixed on the girl’s face to see if she started when he said Sweep Up; hehademphasized the name purposely.
“The big question?” she queried, and there was no trace of disquietude in her voice.
“I mean I ain’t give him a trial with his proper weight up for a mile, the distance of the stake; but judgin’ from what he showed me, I’d say with the light weight he’ll pack, bein’ a three year old, he’s got a mighty good chancet,” and the gray eyes had again hung on Delilah’s face as Andrews put the emphasis on the threeyear-old.
“Then I’ll chance it,” Delilah declared; “I’ll pay the money on the mine, and we’ll try to win enough on the horse to come out ahead whether the mine is any good or
“It seems a good gamble, Mrs. Owen. Mind, missus, I don’t know a thing ’bout this hawse except what he showed me.” “You mean that you’ve never raced him?”
“Kinder that. Hawses is the same ’s men; they’ve sometimes got tricks that you don’t find out till it’s too late.”
“Well, we’ll take the chance,” Delilah declared.
The patriarch’s visual cross-examination had revealed nothing; Delilah was evidently innocent, or some actress, the old man de-
So that afternoon Delilah wrote out a cheque for a thousand dollars and gave it to Owen, who had it certified in the bank; and the next day the deal was completed with Armstrong for the purchase of the Midas for ten thousand dollars, the balance to be paid in sixty days. This little variation of a purchase instead of an option was a brilliant thought of Owen’s; it tied Armstrong up more effectively if there were a leak about the value of the mine, and it rather bound Delilah, who really had money, to buy the mine whether the horse won or not.
“Putting it over on little wifie!” Caven had exclaimed with a grin when Owen had explained the Machiavellian touch.
Owen smiled cheerfully; “It’ll be my first win over wifie if it goes through.”
“I guess she won’t kick if she gets that trip to Paris; and, if we get the Midas, no matter how we get it, everybody ’ll be happy.”
A FEW days before the race, the Boundary Stake, Delilah was down at the course with Andrews, and the latter, as if mentioning it casually, remarked: “The way Sweep Up is workin’ I’m glad you got him, Mrs. Owen, ’cause Slipper
Dance seems to ’ve kinder trained off; somethin’ else in that stake might’ve beat your hawse.”
“Slipper Dance!” It was a cry of astonishment, of sudden consternation. “Is my horse in the same race? I didn’t know that.”
“Oh, yes, Mrs. Owen; he was entered in all the stakes along with a couple of my hawses, Drummer an’ Red Devil. An’ I was goin’ to scratch Drummer, an’ was aimin’ at Slipper Dance for this stake afore I hooked up with this three-year-
Delilah twisted her gloves nervously— this was startling; she was paying for a horse to beat her own.
“That’s a fine situation, Mr. Andrews,” she said, anger in her voice. “I’d rather have Slipper Dance win—he’s my horse.” “Yes, ma’am, so ’d I. But if you hadn’ took Sweep Up some other trainer ’d ’ve got hold of him, an’ as Slipper Dance don’t seem at his best, you might’ve lost quite a bit over your hawse. I thought p’raps that you knowed more ’bout Sweep Up ’n I did, ’case you was the one that got me to take him.”
“I didn’t know anything about him. I had my own reasons for—well, for helping Stewart’s friend, poor Tom.” The anger that was still in Delilah caused the “poor Tom” to trail off into a bitter sneer.
A sudden flash illumined the patriarch’s mind; he knew how jealous of the fickle Stewart Delilah was, and he hadn’t been uncognizant of the sublet by-play out at The Abbey that day, nor unobservant of one or two glances between Stewart and Gerry when Delilah’s back was turned.
And twice Gerry had come in to the course with Caven, and Owen had been there, naturally, to meet Caven; Owen had motored back to The Abbey with the Cavens. With a grin Owen had asked Andrews to not mention these two friendly episodes, as Delilah had some temper, and made it unpleasant for him if he even looked at a pretty girl.
So Mrs. Owen had not been made aware of these friendly reunions, the patriarch fancying it was just as well to let sleeping dogs lie; that is, he thought she didn’t know, but Delilah had adroitly drawn from Zeb, Slipper Dance’s darkey rubber, this information.
This sudden inspiration that Delilah was suspicious of Tom and Gerry made it all the more confusing; who was in the know and who was out of it?
“Come and look at the colt, Mrs. Owen," Andrews suggested; “I guess you never see such a improved hawse.”
OWEEP UP was being rubbed down in ^ his stall after having done a gallop of a mile. He stood with his brown head toward the door, and out of habit, Delilah opened her bag and put a lump of sugar in the palm of her hand, holding it toward Sweep Up.
The colt took a step forward, stretched his long neck, and fumbled the cube so awkwardly that it rolled to the floor.
“Clumsy!” Delilah reproved; “at The Abbey you picked it out of my hand daintily”
She put another cube in her hand, and as the horse again lipped it, it also fell to the floor. But this was Delilah’s fault, she had been startled. Her eyes went wide in sudden astonishment; they had told her that that heavy mouth with its wider nostrils, was not the baby mouth of the real Sweep Up—it was Duster’s.
She shot a look down the fetlock joint, the rubber having removed the bandages after the gallop, to rewind them later on; she was looking for the white arrow; but it wasn’t there—the joint was a plain brown.
Andrews had been watching Delilah covertly, and now the very same spirit of inquisitiveness possessed her. She was certain that Caven had substituted one horse for the other, there could be no ■doubt about it. She remembered Gerry’s remark that Duster was a good horse, and Gerry’s very unsatisfactory evasive answer when Delilah asked why they didn't run him. Duster had not even been ■shown to Andrews, not mentioned.
Caven and Gerry were in on the conspiracy, of course; also, most undeniably Stewart—Stewart and Gerry playing a crooked game, and not confiding in her! And it must have been Andrews who had colored the white arrow. And the sly old villain had brought her there to the stall on purpose to see if she would know that St was not Sweep Up. His present question confirmed this as he asked;
“Don’t you think that he looks a dif’rent hawse, Mrs. Owen?”
Quick, subtle, suspecting a lead, Delilah answered, “The colt looks in much better form for racing, Mr. Andrews. I suppose his gallops have taken some of the flesh off.”
“Ugh-huh!” the patriarch gutteraled; and mentally he thought, “She’s a wonder —if she knows.”
The patriarch found himself wishing that Delilah was out of it; he had an uneasy feeling, a presentiment, that something would happen with the unknown quantity of Delilah’s knowledge, or lack of it, plus the deviltry that was possible in a jealous woman’s mind.
The race was only three days away, thank heaven; and after the race Andrews would yank Sweep Up out of his barn, and—never again!
It was as they journeyed back to town Andrews suggested that they might scratch Slipper Dance, adding, that of course with this horse in the race the odds against Sweep Up would be greater.
“I don’t want Slipper Dance scratched,” Delilah declared with decisiveness.
“Jus’ ’s you say, missus—jus’ ’s you say.”
This unhesitating determination faintly suggested that Delilah was not a party to the exchange.
Then Delilah took a turn at the mental probe; from under the wide-brimmed hat her eyes covertly fixed on the ancient one’s leather face:
“If Sweep Up loses this sudden improvement,” she said, in a voice that suggested nothing but guessing, “and couldn’t win, we’d lose all around if I scratched Slipper Dance; I’d lose that $3,000 stake.”
“The sudden improvement,” re-echoed jn the patriarch’s mind; that sounded ominous; but his face was as expressionless as the milage gauge that chronicled Miss Elizabeth’s progress.
“Yes, by gum! missus, that is so, that is so,” he commented. “It was jus’ kinder that I thought that, knowin’ how fond you are of your hawse, you’d hate to see him get beat. Another thing, Mrs. Owen.
I was calc’latin’ if Slipper Dance was scratched I’d put my boy, Kelly, on Sweep Up.”
“You can have nim, Mr. Andrews. I’ve arranged to have Soren ride Slipper Dance. He rode the horse before, and he’s a good boy; I’d trust him implicitly.” The patriarch almost swerved Miss Elizabeth into a street car; he was startled out of his habitual equilibrium. This Delilah was certainly going some; she had taken the engagement of a jockey out of his hands. What the devil was up?
But Andrews commented: “That’s
fine, Mrs. Owen—that’s fine. I was bothered over gettin’ two jocks. An’ Soren won’t ride for everybody; he’s so good he can pick an’ choose. That’s mighty fine.”
DIGHT up to race day nothing had ^ happened to interrupt the smooth flow of this gentle stream of duplicity. There was nothing to indicate to Caven and Stewart that Andrews had the slightest suspicion he was being used. They didn’t know that he had discovered the fading out of the permanganate of potassium on the white arrow, and had assisted it in retaining its seal brown.
And Delilah had arrived at no certainty as to the patriarch’s complicity.
Andrews was still guessing as to how much Delilah knew; veering from one opinion to the other, and pursuing his habitual course—as he expressed it “say nothin’ an’ saw wood.”
The colt had shown no let-up in his racing quality, and the old man, nominally Hank Armour, had taken care that none of the touts or dockers had seen Sweep Up reel off a fast trial for a full mile. It would be too dangerous; the odds would be so great, twenty or thirty to one unless the horse was touted. That they could afford to take this chance, they would have to bet so little.
He knew that many a race had been left, on the track by too great an anxiety to give a horse a fast trial. As he told himself the horse mast be a full brother to Sweep I Up, and so, bred to stay, being by Broomj stick out of Merry Maid; and he had shown speed. And he had had plenty of long work to thin the fat off his w'ind-
Caven and his sister Gerry had come in to see Sweep Up’run: win, as Caven declared emphatically, for Andrews had expressed a little more optimism than was his
Owen would have kept Gerry and Delilah apart if he could have managed it without too apparent an effort; but Gerry had expressed herself as being so happy over meeting Mrs. Owen again, declaring (hat the real enjoyment of seeing Sweep Vp win the race would be in being able to thank Delilah for having helped Tom.
And Delilah herself had seemed so pleased over having Gerry to sit beside her that Owen, with a muttered, “Dang too many women anyway!” let matters drift.
Owen was positive that wlfle knew nothing of the switch in horses. She had not given the slightest indication of anything, not even of a jealous feeling towards Gerry. Of course this was ominous; he remembered how silent, how subtle she had been over the Stella affair. He flattered himself that it was the prospect of great wealth, the trip to Paris, that had glamoured that acute mind into restfulness.
When the third race had been run, Andrews rose from the bench on the lawn where he had been sitting beside Delilah, saying: “Well, Mrs. Owen, this next race is ours: I’ll go saddle up Slipper Dance and throw an eye over Hank gettln’ Sweep Up ready.” Delilah strolled beside him, somethjng about Soren and Slipper Dance floating back to Owen and Caven as she moved
“I’m not goin’ into the paddock,” Owen declared to Caven. “I’ve got a hunch that the less we’re seen near Sweep Up the less interest the people will take in
“I’m not goinfe either,” Caven declared. “I’m just scared stiff that my dang hoodoo ’ll get my goat,and I’ll saysome fool thing.” “Soon’s the machines open I’ll go in an’ plank down a thousand—five hundred your money, and five mine,” Owen declared.
Presently Delilah returned, saying; “Mr. Andrews thinks that between the two horses we ought to win the stake.” Owen winked at Caven, meaning, Andrews hasn’t discovered anything, or is the sly old fox; he hasn’t put Delilah wise.
“It’ll only take one of ’em, girl—Sw'eep Up will roll home,” Owen delcared. “You’ll pretty near win that thousand on Slipper Dance for second money though.” “I wish we could both win, Mrs. Owen,” Caven soothed.
“Thank you,” Delilah answered curtly. “But as we both can’t win—”
“But, Lilah, if Tom’s colt wins we all win—and a big stake. But I must go now and feed the Iron Men; I wouldn’t get shut out for the world. Where’re you goin’, girl?” he queried, as Delilah walked at his side.
“Into the club to bet.”
“Sweep Up óf course—give me the money—I’ll put it on for you.”
“I’m going to bet on Slipper Dance,” she answered quietly.
“You’re crazy, Lilah,” Owen gasped— “you’re throwin’ the money away!”
They were abreast of the steps that led down into the betting room of the club. The stóps were like the entrance to a bee-’ hive, men and women were jostling and pushing, some going out and some going in, and they could see beyond six long queues of men and women in line, slowly, by attrition, working their way up to the wickets of investment.
“You’d better go back and sit down, Lilah,” Owen suggested, pointing at the throng. “You’ll neverget your money on in time. The club clerks close here a full three minutes before the machines down in the ring, and I’ve got to hurry to get on there, even.”
“I believe you’re right, Tootie,” Delilah agreed. “Here”—she placed in his hand a roll of bills—"take this five hundred and put it on Slipper Dance for me, that’s a good hoy.”
“I don’t want to listen—I want action. If you won’t do this for me I’ll have to go down there myself.”
"You couldn’t make it, girl; it’s a mob— they’d tear the clothes off you.”
“Well, you do it then for me—it isn’t your money, it’s mine.”
“Heavens! yes; Good night! Here, kiss this five hundred goodbye, girl.”
Then Delilah went back to where Gerry was sitting alone, and sat down returning the girl’s sunny smile with one that suggested a quiver from the Northern Lights.
“Shall we have a stroll on the lawn, dear?” Gerry asked. “I’m so nervous, so excited, I can’t keep still.”
As the two girls strolled up and down the beautiful green lawn it would have been difficult to decide which one was the mag-
net that drew admiring glances from the men, and the critical, not too friendly, appraisement of the women—they were such artistic foils: Delilah, with her tall lithe, capable figure, and the dark face so full of passion possibilities, and draped in the well-tailored simplicity of perfect art; or Gerry, the veritable orchid.
HER slender, gentler figure seemed to cling to the taller woman. As they walked, Gerry with one hand hooked into Delilah’s arm, the sunlight detached itself into little streamers of gold that clung to the full mass of golden hair; she was a girl, just a girl, one almost to be pitied as having to travel the rough paths of life with so much of beauty in the face, and so much of trustfulness in the limpid eyes.
Thus from the apparent. Inwardly Delilah was thinking, “This clever little devil is at the bottom of all this.”
And Gerry was communing with her unrest: “I hope Stewart doesn’t do or say anything—I’m afraid of this woman!”
A tremor of vindictive Static seemed to tremble along her fingers from that sinewy arm, and when the black eyes suddenly looked into hers at times, she shivered— and smiled.
“I can see the horses coming out of the paddock,” Delilah said; “we had better get that bench before somebody else gets it.”
Caven was standing beside the bench, and Andrews came lumbering through the paddock gate and joined them.
As the horses passed to the point of alignment, the start, just beyond the Judges’ Stand, Caven said;
“By jinks! Mr. Andrews, Sweep Up looks good. You’ve made a big improvement in him; hasn’t he, Mrs. Owen?”
“Yes,” Delilah answered readily; “he’s a different looking horse to what he was out at The Abbey.”
Caven involuntarily looked at Delilah, but she was placidly contemplating the horses.
Owen came bustling back just as the racers had swung from the parade and marshalled against the starting gate. “I punched my way in, and punched it out again, but I was in time. Dang few of ’em bettin’ on Sweep Up; it’s all Slipper Dance, Blaekstock, an’ The Piper,” he said.
"They’re off!” a multitude of voices in the stand roared, and there was the pushing sweep, the hammering drum of hoofs, the flicking of gaudy silks as the leannecked, eager steeds, driven by the mannikins atop, raced for the turn.
“Hell!” It was Caven’s voice. Sweep Up had got away in the ruck, he was in the jumble of horses that were fourth, fifth, sixth.
And the lean, black, symmetrical förm, Slipper Dance, was out in front, the red sleeves of the black jacket of the jockey Soren, skimming along as if the boy ran on the top plate of the rail, he had lain the black in that close.
“By gum!” the patriarch muttered; “Soren, Soren!”
And still the brown, Sweep Up, was in the mêlée of trailers. They could see jockey Kelly, his green-sleeved arms twisting up and down, and knew that he was riding, fighting for an opening. Once Andrews muttered, “Kelly’s gettin’ a rough journey—an! Sweep Up’s a hard hawse to place.”
“Kelly’s riding a damn bad race!” Caven growled; “he's riding like a green boy. Why doesn’t he sit down and wait for an opening?”
“I never saw him ride such a bad race before,” Owen muttered. “That kid’s got a nut like a cool prize fighter, but he’s ridin’ ’s if he had a door knob on the end of his neck.”
. Between Slipper Dance and the struggling Sweep Up was a bay, Blaekstock, and lapped on his quarter a chestnut, The Piper; that meant, as the patriarch knew, that Kelly would have to take Sweep Up around the three leaders, and, if he tried that, perhaps he would be carried wide into the stretch.
DEPRESSION had hushed Caven into sullen silence. He knew enough of
racing to know that Kelly, having lost the advantage of the start, should have waited for an opening; but there he was taking out of the brown, Sweep Up, the energy that would be needed for the final pinch.
As the horses raced down the back stretch and their colt still trailing, there were tears in Gerry’s voice as she cried, “Oh, Sweep Up is losing—he’s losing! Why doesn’t the jockey make him go faster?”
Now the brown colt seemed to have found his stride; before, it had been all jumble, knock; he crept up foot by foot till he was lapped on The Piper. And Kelly seemed to have regained confidence; he had sat down and was nursinghis mount.
The Man from the Desert pulled at his beard and said; “At las’ Kelly’s got a chancet, but Sweep Up’s got to be a good hawse to win from there.”
But Sweep Up was going with a rhythmic swing that suggested to the eager w-atchers that he would yet win.
Then the old man gave a loud groan, and muttered; “Oh, Lor’!”
For Kelly, as if his horse had stumbled and fallen back, pulled him in against the rail behind the leaders.
“Kelly’s took a chancet,” Andrews said to Delilah who w-as standing against his shoulder; “I guess he felt Sweep Up tirin’ an’ thought he couldn’t make it by goin’ round; he’s took a chancet for an openin’.
I guess ’tain’t no sure thing for him now.”
But as the horses swung into the stretch they could see the bay horse, Blaekstock, bore in flat on the quarter of Slipper Dance and The Piper, who had carried a little wide, now pulled in and all but knocked Sweep Up to his knees as Kelly tried to shoot him through the opening.
“That’s a bad ride your boy is putting up, Mr. Andrews,” Caven declared, anger in his voice; “he’s thrown the race away
“It’s kinder my fault,” the patriarch answered. “When I throwed Kelly inter the saddle he was sick—he’s been wastin’ too much to make the weight. But it was too late to make a change. I thought he’d be all right when he got goin’, but I’m feared it’s too late, he can’t win from
NO, HE couldn’t. To the thunderous roar of the stand beyond, the mad scramble of men who raced here and there across the lawns, the black form of Slipper Dance caught the Judge’s eye half a length to the good.
And Sweep Up, proving he was game,had made up half-a-dozen lengths and finished second.
With a gasp, tears welling in her eyes, Gerry had collapsed on the bench, a shrivelled orchid.
Caven’s face was a blank, sullen with the stupor of despair.
“By gad!” Owen rasped as his throat loosened.
Andrews stepped from the bench in solemn despondency. He lifted his big gray hat, saying: “Mrs. Owen, I got to take off my hat to you; you was right, an’ I don’t blame you.”
Then he strode solemnly off into the paddock. -
Delilah stepped blithely down, andcarrying Stewart a little to one side said, “Give me the winning tickets on Slipper Dance.” “There ain’t no winnin’ tickets on Slipper Dance!” he growled. “The other was a sure thing accordin’ to Jack, an’ I didn’t bet it—here’s your money.”
“Didn’t bet it!” Delilah gasped.
“No. If it wasn’t for that dang crook, Kelly, throwin’ the race you’d’ve lost it anyway. There was somethin’ in that race, you didn’t know anythin’ about. It was a sure thing if Kelly hadn’t thrown it away.”
“I did know, Stewart, though you didn’t confide in me. I knew you and poor Tom were running Duster, a four-year-old, as Sweep Up, a three-year-old. When I walked out to the paddock with Andrews I heard a little bird whisper in his ear that if Sweep Up beat Slipper Dance he would get ruled off and I would claim the race.” “You—Lilah—you did this! Why?” “To mark ‘paid’ to Gerry’s account. Tootie, dear.”