Herewith the Evidence in the Case When a Mere Author Encounters the Owner of the 192— Derby Favorite
G. APPLEBY TERRILL
ITEM 1. To FRANCIS R. FINLOCK, the eminent novelist—from a friend The Lord Warden Hotel, Dover. November 9th, 192-.
DEAR FIN, I see that some racehorse owner, a Mr. Naylerd, whose horses are trained by Felannoy at Newmarket, has done you the honour of naming one of his animals Pepita Pinktoes, after your latest novel. In the circumstances you ought to begin to take a mild interest in the Turf. Why not write and thank Mr. Naylerd for the compliment, and mention that you would very much like to hear from him whenever Pepita Pink-toes is expected to winl On receiving such information, don’t forget to telegraph to your particular friends. Your particular friend, BILLY—who has backed nothing but losers for a month past. ITEM 2. (Received by Francis R. Finlock in the course of November 10th and 11th—from other friends.) A grand total of 65 letters and postcards precisely similar in tenor to Item 1. ITEM 3. (From the indignant pen of Francis R. Finlock.) lí, Cambridge Grove, London, W. 2. November 12th, 192-. (To) MR. NAYLERD, c/o MR. FELANNOY, Trainer, Newmarket. SIR, It has been brought to my notice that you have seen fit to bestow upon a racehorse which you own the name Pepita Pink-toes—the title of my recently published romance.
I will not comment on the maudlin absurdity of designating as Pepita Pink-toes a creature whose extremities consist of hoofs, but I wall point out that, in using the title of my book for purposes of equine nomenclature without ascertaining my pleasure in the matter, you have treated me with a remarkable lack of courtesy. I wish to say, in addition, that the transference of the name Pepita Pinktoes to an animal which you meditate exploiting in public races, as a medium for gambling and for annexing the valuable prizes which foolishly are offered in these contests, is in itself utterly objectionable to me. Pepita Pink-toes, the little dancer who is the heroine of my book, is—may I remind you?—a figure of much pathos. I had hoped that her name would always be significant of winsomeness, sweetness, and pathos—of nothing different. By adopting it as a label for your horse you have ensured that, to a gambling-enfevered section of the populace, it shall signify chiefly something over which bets may be won. This, in my opinion, is pure vandalism—disgraceful vandalism. Be kind enough, sir, immediately to cancel the name Pepita Pink-toes. There are numerous excellent appellations, such as Dobbin, Neddy, and Dapple from among which you can select a new and suitable designation for your horse. Please certify me by return of post that the animal’s name has been altered. Faithfully yours FRANCIS R. FINLOCK. ITEM 4. (In reply to Item 3—typewritten.) Anderida Manar, near Pevenseyt Sussex. November 15th, 192-
(To) FRANCIS R. FINLOCK, ESQ., lí, Cambridge Grove London, W. 2. SIR, I must apologize very much foi having
I must apologize very much foi having inadvertently used the title of one of your novels. Personally I never read * * * (The asterisks indicate a carefully erased word which, however, under the magnifying glass, resolves itself into TOSH.) * * modem novels. I had no idea that “Pepita Pink-toes” was the name of one. To be quite honest, I somehow imagined that it was the name of a toilet preparation for the lower “extremities”— a pedicure ointment, in fact; and I thought that the manufacturers would be more pleased than otherwise if I gave it a little quiet advertisement. The “horse” or “animal” in question is a very sweet bay filly. I can assure you she possesses both sweetnese and winsomeness, though I cannot vouch for pathoa. The name Pepita Pink-toes seems to fit her exactly. I am very loth to exchange it for Dobbin, especially as I have registered it. Perhaps you will reconsider your attitude and allow Pepita Pink-toes to retain the name which she is now becoming accustomed to? Faithfully yours, NAYLERD. ITEM 5. ( Unavailable, and, strictly speaking, not an item. Written on November 16th by Francis R. Finlock, in the full seethe of the fury provoked by “TOSH” and “PEDICURE OINTMENT,” it was not despatched to Mr. Naylerd for, on second thoughts, Francis R. tore it up,' considering that his dignity would be better served by a frigid silence than by 500 words of spluttering vituperation.) ITEM 6. (Francis R. Finlock, in a calmer mood, breaks the silene*.) lí, Cambridge Grove, London, W. t. November 21 si, 19t-.
THE JUNE 1 ISSUE will have another story by Gilbert K. Chesterton—"The Vengeance of the Statue.” It is the eighth, and concluding story in this famous author’s' masterly series of mystery stories: "The Man Who Knew too Much.”
(To) MR. NAYLERD. Anderida Manor, near Pevensey. SIR, My attention has been drawn to the fact that your bay filly Pepita Pink-toes contested on Saturday in a "Great T. Y. O. Stakes" (whatever that may mean), and distinguished herself extremely by finishing 24th in a field of 24 competitors. I might mention that my milkman, whose thirty-yearold pony has just died, is anxious to replace it by an animal whose habits will not contrast perceptibly with the placid and somnolent demeanour of the deceased drawer of the milk-cart. If you feel an inclination to sell Pepita Pinktoes, I shall have pleasure in supplying you with the milkman’s address.
man’s address. Faithfully yours, FRANCIS R. FINLOCK. ITEM 7. (In acknou-ledgment of Item 6—typewritten.) Anderida Manor, near Pevensey, Sussex. November 22nd, 192-. (To) FRANCIS R. FINLOCK, ESQ.
(To) SIR, What happened to poor Pepita Pink-toes, whom you make the victim of your stinging wit, ia this:At the start of the T.Y.O., which means a race for two-year-olds, Pepita Pink-toes, with an awfully uncanny realization of the duty she owed to her name, instead of racing, stood on her hind legs and danced. She simply refused to stop dancing until the 23 other “competitors” were three parts of the way to the winningpost; so naturally she had no chance of catching them— even if she had not resumed her dancing at intervals when in pursuit. Pepita Pink-toes’ idea that she ought to dance, just because her namesake was a dancer, bad heaps of pathos in it—and it was pretty pathetic for her backers. I shall try to discourage her from this sort of thing by altering her name, though I shall not alter it much, as I like the rhythm of it. I shall re-register her as Pepita Pink-nose. This is not the title of anybody’s novel; so now I shall be free of puerile objections and malevolent sarcasms. Faithfully yours, NAYLERD. ITEM 8. (In acknowledgment of Item 7.) lit, Cambridge Grove, London, W.2. November 23rd, 192-. (To) MR. NAYLERD. SIR, The veiled impudence of your letters, culminating in the threat to aim ridicule at my work by naming your truly “pathetic” animal Pepita Pink-nose, is likely to result unfortunately for you. I don’t know what your age or weight may be; I don’t care. I merely assure you of this —if you use the name Pepita Pink-nose, I shall straightway come down to Anderida Manor and subject your own nose to a treatment that will render its colour much more vivid than pink and will alter its shape permanently. Faithfully yours, FRANCIS R. FINLOCK. ITEM 9. (In acknowledgment of Item 8—not typewritten.) Anderida Manor, near Pevensey, Sussex. November 2J,th, 192-. (To) FRANCIS R. FINLOCK, ESQ. SIR, In reply to your favour of November 23rd. My age is twenty-two, my weight is 109 pounds. After careful consideration of a photograph of yourself, however, which I had the pleasure of seeing in a magazine to-day, I am bound to confess that if you attempted to change the shape of my nose, in all probability I should be unable to prevent you. But, as I am sure you would be deeply pained if unwittingly you laid yourself open to a charge of vandalism, I feel I ought to tell you that the subjection of my nose to violence would be regarded as an act of “pure, disgraceful vandalism” by a large number of persons who rather admire its present shape. To what extent, sir, do you agree with them? Having asked that question, I must, of course, enclose a portrait which affords a view of my nose. Faithfully yours, NINA AYLERD (MISS). ITEM 10. (Telegram: handed in at Cambridge Grove Post-office at 8 a.m., November 25th.) (To) MISS NINA AYLERD, Anderida Manor, near Pevensey, Sussex. The most sincere apologies. Letter follows. FRANCIS R. FINLOCK.
ITEM 11. (The letter that followed.) H Cambridge Grove, London, W.2. November 25th, 8.S0 a.m. DEAR MISS AYLERD, May I repeat my most fervent apologies for the heinous tone of my letters to you? I need not tell you that no thought ever entered my mind that “Mr. Naylerd” was a nom de race, a pseudonym which concealed the identity of a lady, whose portrait—if I may meanly take advantage of her jesting invitation to criticize it—discloses a face which I consider more beautiful than any face I have ever The best of good luck to the little filly Pepita Pink-toes
or Pepita Pink-nose—call her which one you like. Please be forgiving enough to call her by one of these two names. Although I have not been on a racecourse in my life, I shall go to see Pepita Pink-toes run in her next race, if you will kindly give me the date of that. Can I hope that I shall see you on that occasion? Yours most sincerely, FRANCIS R. FINLOCK. ITEM 12. (In reply to Item 11.) Anderida Manor, near Pevensey, Sussex. November 25th.—6 p.m.
p.m. DEAR MR. FINLOCK, You so generously take upon yourself the blame for the tone of our correspondence, that I must point out to you at once, that, from beginning to end, the fault was wholly mine. I must even confess that my telling you I had confused “Pepita Pink-toes” with a “preparation” was a malignant little fib—for which I am very, very penitent. I got a copy of “Pepita Pink-toes” at Eastbourne yesterday. I have been reading it hour after hour. Dear little Pepita! How wonderfully you tell her story. You made me cry like anything. I am “dying” to read every one of your books now—I have ordered them all to be sent out to Algiers to me—I will explain that in a moment. It does seem vandalism to retain Pepita’s name for the filly; but I will if you really wish—Pepita Pink-ioes of course, not that detestable other. I shall not let the filly run again this year—possibly not until the Derby, next May. Pepita Pink-toes is a young lady of extremely good birth. She is in the Derby. Would you have guessed that? The Derby—though I expect you know this— is the greatest of all races. It is for three-year-old colts and fillies, and is run at a place called Epsom. For some reason poor Pepita Pink-toes’s chance of winning the Derby is not thought very highly of. Certain bookmakers who are already “making a book” on the race are offering odds of 750 to 1 against her. If you put 1 pound on her, they will pay you 750 if she wins. I have also a colt in the Derby, William the Wise. His chance, though considered better than Pepita Pink-toes’s, is not esteemed. The odds against him are 300 to 1. He ran in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, but was a long way last. I don’t think he was able to do his best. I think he was worried by the thought that Champagne Stakes was much too frivolous a name for him to be mixed up with. He is very staid. He cannot possibly find faultwith the term Derby Stakes, but I far, far prefer Pepita’s chance to his. I pin my hopes to her. I have a sort of idea that she will win the Derby for me. If you knew how I should love to win it! With regard to Algiers. I was going to beg you to come down to Anderida Manor to-morrow and stay for a few days with my people and me. But unfortunately we have just received a wire saying that my aunt, who is wintering in Algiers, is not well. I am going out to her immediately. I probably shall not return to England until the re-opening of the Flat Racing season at Lincoln in March. I am very much looking forward to meeting you then or soon after—certainly at the Derby. My address in Algiers will be “Villa Mignarde.” Very sincerely yours, NINA AYLERD. ITEM 13. (Despatched between November 28th and December 16th, letters all identical, to sixty-odd friends, from Francis R. Finlock who is actuated by a hazy idea that themcre a filly
is backed for the Derby the more chance she has of winning it.) 1 i, Cambridge Grove, London, Wjt. DEAR “SO-AND-SO,” The owner of Pepita Pink-toes has great hopes of winning the Derby with this very delightful bay filly. I have already backed her at the odds of 750 to 1. You might do worse than follow my example. Tell your friends to do the same. F. R. F. ITEM 14. (Excerpt from daily newspaper—typical of a number of paragraphs appearing in the Press.)
10th, 192-. From our travelling Racing Correspondent. A well-known north-country bookmaker waa telling me this afternoon that already he is doing a very brisk business on the Derby. But a most extraordinary feature of it is that practically all the money is for a filly that—we frankly admitted to each other—we should not have had the remotest expectation of seeing in the rôle of “one of the fancied brigade.” The miniature furore is for Pepita Pink-toes. This queerly-named daughter of Lonturo and Demurity has made but one public (and ignominious) appearance, in the Great T. Y. O. stakes at Hurst Park a month ago, when, having twice unshipped her jockey on the way to
on way the post, she was hopelessly left after the tapes rose—dancing in frenzy. She displayed, in fact, a fiendish temper which should impel backers to leave her severely alone. Nevertheless this move to support her, which has reduced her price from a farcical 750 to 1 against to the almost respectable figure of 100 to 1 against, may be not without significance. As Dick Felannoy, who has charge of the filly, is about the most reticent (and most shrewd) trainer in existence, it is useless to approach him for the elucidation of what is a genuine mystery. Those of my readers who do not mind taking a long shot in the dark may find that a modest investment on Pepita Pink-toes for the Derby will prove extremely remunerative. ITEM 15. (Excerpt from another daily newspaper whose Racing Correspondent, “Steely Eye," is not one of those who made the suggestion—acted on by the public— that a “long shot in the dark" might be taken.) January 9th, 192-. PEPITA PINK-TOES AND THE DERBY. By “Steely Eye.” The inexplicable backing of Pepita Pink-toes for the Derby continued; and it is not confined to trivial wagering. The bet of 3,500 pounds to 100 pounds, registered yesterday by a prominent bookmaker, is by no means a solitary instance of what really looks like serious business. Several layers now refuse to offer odds of more than 20 to 1 against the filly, and there seems a prospect that she will soon be installed as favourite—a distinction which she is totally unworthy of. What, in the name of sanity, we ask, has Pepita Pinktoes done, that she should threaten to oust in popular favour such rivals of proven merit as Narion, the Champagne Stakes winner, who very rightly is favourite—as Hill Range, winner of the Middle Park Plate, Stately Stella, who “walked away” with the July Stakes, and Carlisle Knight, who carried off the New Stakes? What has she done? Nothing—except to waltz like a three-fold demented idiot when she should have been exhibiting her paces, which paces—considering that neither her sire nor her dam was ever able to last a mile— would have had to be very remarkable to impress discriminating racegoers with her chance of "getting” the 1 mile 4 furlongs 29 yards of the Derby course. The psychology of folk who adventure their money on a creature of this kind is very hard to understand. I doubt much that Pepita Pink-toes will go to the post for the Derby. I predict confidently that, if she does run, she will have no more influence on the result of the race than if she had remained in her stable. ITEM 16. (Self-explanatory. ) Villa Mignarde, Algiers. January 29th, 192-. DEAR MR. FINLOCK, Thank you so very much for your autograph portrait, which I so wanted to have. Of course you may keep mine. I am a little unhappy that you put a whole 100 pounds on Pepita Pink-toes on January 8th, that makes 150 pounds which you stand to lose. But I am hoping that, instead of losing it, you will win heaps of money. Oh, I should love to win the Derby! TO WIN THE DERBY! Whenever I sit quietly here on the veranda my thoughts travel to Pepita Pink-toes, who perhaps is going to win it for me— and to friends who share my hopes. Thank you so much also for the cuttings from newspapers, referring to Pepita. I think that man “Steely Eye"
Continued on page 47
Continued, from page 12
is as horrid as his name. Fancy abusing poor little Pepita so! She was merely frightened out of her wits that time at Hurst Park. She did not in the least know what she was expected to do, dear little thing! I have hinted to Felannoy to give her lots of “private tuition” to get her used to things.
Felannv is a grumpy person. He writes that Pepita Pink-toes has doné her best to kill four of his lads. The fact must be the lads do not understand her temperament. Pepita is always docile when I am patting her. Felannoy also writes that though he considers my colt William the Wise’s chance of winning the Derby “not worth a ha’penny” yet it is «. far better chance than Pepita Pink ;3’s would be if she were 1,000 per cent, better than she is. Felannoy is nearly as bad as “Steely Eye.”
“Steely Eye!” How infinitely nobler to be a novelist than to be a man who writes abuse of poor little scared fillies!
I have read every one of your books now. I never dreamed that novels could be so wonderful. If I WIN THE DERBY I am going to buy a lot of yearlings. I shall name each of them after one of your books —if I may, please!
With Very Kindest Regards,
Most Sincerely Yours, NINA AYLERD.
P.S. Felannoy practically suggests that I shall withdraw both Pepita Pink-toes and William the Wise from the Derby. The idea! Scratch Pepita Pink-toes! And nice sober-looking William the Wise, though he will be “streets” behind Pepita may not be quite last. I shall run them both.
Between ourselves, I am very keen to see my “second colours” sported. I did think of running William the Wise in the Two Thousand Guineas, towards the end of April, but I am afraid he might do so badly that I should not have any excuse for keeping him in the Derby. Then my second colours would not be sported. So William, like Pepita, shall not be “on show” until the Derby.
Persistent interchange of letters between Villa Mignarde, Algiers, and 14, Cambridge Grove, London.
(To) FRANCIS R. FINLOCK, ESQ.H, Cambridge Grove, London, W. 2.
March 1st, 192-.
Yes, we should be very delighted indeed if you were to meet us at Dover pier. I shall recognize you instantly. You must come on to Anderida Manor with us.
(Excerpt from daily newspaper.)
From our Special Correspondent.
AI arch 16th, 192-.
Undoubtedly the most charming figure in the assemblage which foregathered for the opening of the “Flat” was Miss Nina Aylerd (“Mr. Naylerd”—the identity is no longer a secret) the youthful owner of , Pepita Pink-toes, the much fancied but enormously discussed Derby candidate, and of William the Wise, also in the Derby but with an entirely negligible chance. Miss Aylerd, looking radiantly beautiful, was accompanied on her excursions to the paddock by the tall and commanding form of Mr. Francis R. Finlock, the famous novelist. One wishes sincerely that Miss Aylerd could have had better fortune than to see her horses Winter Cloud and Smiksky come in absolutely last in their respective races.
(Excerpt from daily newspapers.)
April 2nd, 192-
18 to 2 against Pepita Pink-toes.
7 to 1 against Carlisle Knight.
8 to 1 against Narion.
100 to 7 against Blue Sea.
ITEM 21. (Excerpt from daily newspaper.) PEPITA PINK-TOES A FIRM FAVOURITE FOR THE DERBY Considerable money for Pepita Pinktoes, and the consequent easing a point off Narion, who in virtue of hisTwoThousand Guineas victory has looked like supe»» seding Miss Aylerd’s filly in favouritism, formed the chief feature of last night’s Derby market. Wagering was confined principally to the half-dozen candidates at the head of the quotations. LONDON BETTING The Derby. 4 to 1 against Pepita Pink Toes. 6 to 1 against Narion. 100 to 12 against Carlisle Knight. 100 to 8 against Blue Sea. 100 to 6 against Stately Stella. 20 to 1 against Marcher Earl. ITEM 22. (To FRANCTSR. FINLOCK. From MISS NINA AYLERD.) Andcrida Manor, May 18th, 192My Very Own Precious Darling, (The paragraph which ensued, being merely of a prívale nature, is omitted here.)
I have just motored back from Newmarket. We had the trial, awfully early in the morning andawfullysecretly, withHollinger, whom now that Hill Range isscratched we have succeeded in securing to steer Pepita Pink-toes in the Derby, up on her. Really we were obliged to have two trials. Pepita Pink-toes was certainly rather excitable and naughty in the first— because she was displeased at having to get up so early, I think. She would do nothing but kick or stand on her hind legs and waltz. William the Wise, who is always delightfully placid, did not turn a hair when she kicked him. He just devoted his attention to the business in hand, nice fellow! and proceeded to gallop his best and straightest.
I am afraid he did not gallop very fast; he could not catch the trial horses, to whom he was not giving away much weight. But Felannoy, amiable for a wonder, says that William may do a trifle better on the great day, if we have some rain to soften the ground. I see the bookmakers are offering 150 to 1 against him. But tranquil William the Wise is not in the least offended by that. Then we had another trial (without William) for Pepita Pinktoes’s benefit. It was arranged, though it seemed wretchedly cruel, that at the very start Hollinger should “steady her with half a dozen ‘solid ones’ from his whip.” He did, and, my Darling, the result was marvelous! Pepita went like an arrow, like a streak. Felannoy only grumbled—said that at the pace she would drop dead in six furlongs. I felt dreadful at the thought. It was a relief when, just on the six-furlong mark, Pepita, instead of dying, decided to dance, sosuddenly that she and Hollinger nearly pitched heels over head. But Pepita is so clever that somehow she kept her feet. Hollinger broke his nose by knocking it against her head. I am sorry, but I don’t see that this was all Pepita’s fault— and it must have hurt her tender little »kull abominably. We now have a plan of campaign. In the Derby Hollinger— though at present he declares he “won’t ride the maniac”—will start Pepita with a "steadier” and repeat the “steadier” at intervais. Felannoy says it is no good— she will not nearly last the distance. But I believe she will last it. I believe that Pepita is unique—that she will “streak” all the way home. If she really does! If she really makes me winner of the Derby! (The remainder of the letter, again,is purely of a private nature.)
ITEM 23. (From FRANCIS R. FINLOCK, in acknowledgment of Item 22.) H, Cambridge Grove, London, W.2. May 19 th 192-. My Incomparable Darling, My Very Own Niña, (Private paragraph which need not be transcribed.) The news that Pepita Pink-toes-to whom, in spite of virulent opposition, you have so confidently and bravely kept your hopes pinned—gave such a display of her true form in the second trial has caused me to walk about this morning with a joyful air of triumph that excites the comment of my friends. I have given several of them the broad reason of it, without entering
into details of the trial, which, since it was secret, you will not wish talked of; and they have gone off to increase their stakes on Pepita. I have invested a further 60 pounds on her.
What a moment it will be for me if I see my Ñifla leading in Pepita Pinktoes the victor of the Derby!—if I can greet my Niña as owner of the Derby winner!
(The remainder is of an entirely private nature.)
(Evening before the Derby—excerpt from late edition of daily newspaper.)
May 80th. 192-.
Undoubtedly the most charming figure in the huge concourse which foregathered for the opening day of the great Epsom racing carnival was Miss Niña Aylerd (“Mr. Naylerd”) whose filly Pepita Pinktoes is looked on by so many hundreds of thousands of people throughout the civilized world as the certain winner of to-morrow’s Blue Riband of the English Turf.
Miss Aylerd will be doubly represented in the historic race, as she will also run William the Wise, whose chances, however, are negligible.
Miss Aylerd, looking radiantly beautiful, was escorted in the paddock by the tall and impressive form of Mr. Francis R. Finlock, the famous novelist. One wishes very much that Miss Aylerd could have derived a pleasant omen from the Wallington Plate—the only race in which she ran anything to-day—instead of seeing her representative Bagiolo finish last
* ITEM 25.
(Same Evening—from late edition of another newspaper. Portion of an article headed:-)
THE DERBY “BOGEY” HORSE.
By “Steely Eye.”
Finally I reiterate what I have been saying for months past. Pepita Pink-toes will have no more influence on the result of the Derby than if she had remained in her stable.
So let us be done with this crassly false favourite, and with very different feelings turn to another of her sex, the thoroughly deserving Stately Stella, who will be well Served by the recent days of rain, and to Narion and Carlisle Knight—one or another of which trio, I am convinced, will be the winner of to-morrow’s event.
(Morning of Derby Day—excerpt from London newspapers.)
4 to 1 against Pepita Pink-toes.
11 to 2 against Narion.
11 to 2 against Carlisle Knight.
8 to 1 against Stately Stella.
100 to 9 against Blue Sea.
20 to 1 against Marcher Earl.
(Afternoon of Derby Day—excerpt from London newspaper.)
William the Wise ..................1
Flashing Sword ...................3
(Evening of Derby Day—studies in newspaper headlines.)
100 TO 1 CHANCE WINS AMAZING DERBY
Victory For Beautiful Lady Owner In Most Astounding Derby On Record
WILLIAM THE WISE WINS “NIGHTMARE” DERBY
Incredible Scene of Falling Horses At Tattenham Corner. 15 of 22 Runners Share In The.Calamity. Hairbreadth Escapes of Jockeys and Horses.
No Serious Injuries.
A “NIGHTMARE” DERBY Race Wrecked by Pepita Pink-Toes, Favourite Causes Colossal Spill At Tattenham Corner
(Morning after the Derby—excerpt from daily newspaper.)
THE FIENDISH ACHIEVEMENT OF PEPITA PINK-TOES:
By “Steely Eye.”
Never, while Racing survives as a topic of conversation, will the Derby of 192-. (of which I give more critical details in an adjoining column) be allowed to lie in oblivion. Think of it! The race for the Blue Riband of the English Turf turned into a débâcle, into a grotesque, dumbfounding spectacle of horses dropping like ninepins and of a finish in which the barest fraction of the field took a part. And all this devastation the work of one demoniacal creature who merits but one fate—to be shot immediately, the work of Pepita Pink-toes!
Pepita Pink-toes is not a filly. She is a mentally deficient kangaroo, or rather a dangerously lunatic kangaroo. Alternately revolving or step-dancing on her hind legs and lashing out with her heels, she delayed the start for twenty-five minutes, upset the nerves of most of her rivals, and punished her stable companion William the Wise with a nasty kick in the flank. The winner-to-be, however, a singularly impassive colt, showed no resentment whatever. Possibly he had a premonition of the service Pepita Pink-toes would shortly render him. For without her aid, be it said, William the Wise would not have won the Derby if he had tried a thousand times. A fifty pound Selling Plate is his mark.
The fatal circumstance that Pepita Pink-toes, with Hollinger’s whip, at the psychological moment, smashing her into keeping straight, got the best of a ragged start was the prelude of the tragedy. Though for half a mile she continued to increase her clear lead, it was obvious to everyone that she would exhaust herself long before the finish. But unhappily she was in the one position which could enable her to perpetrate the dire havoc that ensued.
Hollinger, who apparently had received orders not to check her, used his whip once or twice again, but, approaching Tattenham Comer, she was tiring so rapidly that everything else in the field was travelling three yards to her one—with the exception of William the Wise and Flashing Sword, jaunting leisurely in the rear. Rounding the Corner into the straight she led by little more than her own length, her immediate attendants being Stately Stella and Narion. And then came the “Nightmare.”
One had the briefest glimpse of Pepita Pink-toes turning broadside on, in the act of rising on her hind legs for (there was no mistaking it!) one of her maniacal dances; and then she was down, with Stately Stella turning a complete somersault over her and bringing down Narion, who, in the twinkling of an eye, had grassed Marcher Earl and Lamperdon.
Carlisle Knight, swung outward by his jockey in a desperate effort to clear the mêlée, was hurtled into by Phlixon, and the two went to earth bringing down Valley Sunset, Apelouse, and Ladder Boy, these three rolling clear of one another and completing a line of obstacles to avoid which Briverk was pulled by his jockey diagonally across the course, to be knocked clean off his feet by Tom o’ Storms, who fell with him bringing down Tylenos and River Bridge. Blue Sea, swung outward at right angles, fought savagely to bolt in the new direction, ruining his chance of winning a race which, with every formidable opponent laid low, he could have won in a canter; and wide round the edge of the chaotic débris came sailing the “any price you like” squadron led by Descent, tailed off by William the Wise.
It seemed that the calm, untroubled gait which William the Wise and Flashing Sword had thus far observed would now stand them in good stead, having left them with a little something in reserve. At a touch of the whip, though no visible quickening of their action resulted, they nevertheless began to draw up to Descent. A furlong from home the three were neck, while far in the background the straightened Blue Sea was bearing down like a hurricane.
Thirty yards from the winning post Flashing Sword weakened. For twenty yards further the lethargic pair to whom he abandoned the issue were nose levelwith nose. Then William the Wise, stretching his neck in a peculiar, pensive manner which, in other circumstances,_ would have been irresistibly comic, got his head
in front and kept it there—to earn fame as the worst horse that ever won the Derby. ITEM 30. (Telegram—despatched the following day.) Newmarket. ■ (To) FRANCIS R. FINLOCK, ESQ., 14, Cambridge Grove, June 2nd, 192-. London W.2. Is not “St-E-” detestable? I do hate him. NINA. ITEM 31.
(Excerpt from newspaper of same day— “Steely Eye,“ unwilling of the telegram.)
June 2nd, 192-. After having, in my capacity of a critic of racing, been compelled to write of Miss Aylerd’s Derby in a way that must have been displeasing to her, I most heartily welcome the opportunity to offer her my sincere congratulations with respect to another matter—her betrothal (just announced) to Mr. Francis R. Finlock.
To my “steely eye,” which for nearly forty years has looked upon the world of racing, the sight of Miss Aylerd’s young, happy face, perhapsappearingunexpectediy on some drab day at some dull meeting, has been an exquisite pleasure—as it has been to many other eyes.
May every happiness be in store for her and for her future husband, whose books so enhance for us our quiet hours of recreation.
(Excerpt from letter of Miss Nina Aylerd to her fiance—written at Anderida Manor on June 3rd.)
Isn’t “Steely Eye” a dear! Will you get to know him and bring him down here. Perhaps, though he does not think much of them, he would like us to take him over to Newmarket and show him my horses. Ought we to show him Pepita Pink-toes? Or would he be offended?
I am glad I came down to Newmarket with her on Thursday, poor little Pepita!
I have been very busy soothing and petting. I did not leave her till last evening. She was better then, but still very miserable; not so much from her torn muscle and bad leg, I think, as from the appalling fright of having that Stately Stella blundering into her and tumbling right over her.
William the Wise—how proud I am of him!—will not let you see that he is the least elated at having made Turf history. He slept—his boy says—all the way down in the train.