THOROUGHBRED

MRS. WILSON WOODROW October 1 1923

THOROUGHBRED

MRS. WILSON WOODROW October 1 1923

THOROUGHBRED

MRS. WILSON WOODROW

CHAPTER XI.

ABOUT the same hour, Jeffries, who

had driven in from a remote town in Kentucky, reached Beachey’s hotel in Cineinnati to keep an appointment with him, a final conference on the coal-lands compromise.

Both of them had read the newspaper accounts of Constance's sensational achievement, and naturally the subject was uppermost in the mind of each. Jeffries, thinking Beachey might have heard from her or know w hat her object had been in taking such a frightful risk, was full of questions.

But Beachey professed himself quite unable to account §0( her escapade, and seem» i genuinely, worried and ann»>yed over what he characterized as her mad folly.

Nevertheless, her acute attorney had a more or less accurate idea of the facts. To his mind, this eager effort to reach Latonia before the opening of the race-meeting could only indicate one thing; that she had somehow got wind of the projected swindle, and was resolved, neck or nothing, to prevent it. He knew her too well to believe that she had been actuated by mere foolhardiness. Some deep. Imperative motive had driven her to this desperate and uncalculated action.

Beachey had been in the court-room all day, and had r ing of the circumstance until lie glanced over the evening paper as he sat at dinner. Thrilled by the narrative, appalled at the danger she had incurred, he drew x -igh of thankfulness that the experience was ■u»ie!> over, and then his thoughts veered sharply to his ow n interest in the premises.

If Gabriel and DeVries were successful in their coup, he stood to win a very decent fortune—something like a quarter of a million a delectable prospect. But Constance's dramatic victor}' over the flood had put an extinguisher on any hopes of that sort. Or, wait! Had it? With such a stake as they had in view, would DeVries and Gabriel calmly accept defeat—allow her to appear and smash their golden egg if there were any way to prevent it?

He balanced a teaspoon on his finger, watching it oscillate as he considered; then, putting it down precisely, he reuse and crossed the dining-room to a table where Gabriel sat alone.

The latter gave a start as he heard himself addressed in suave, measured tones, and a quick, upward glance of apprehension

“What do you want now?" he asked irritably. His nerves were on edge.

"Nothing, my dear fellow; nothing. I was only wondering if you had any later advices in regard to Mrs. Lee.”

“Mrs. Lee!” Gabriel affected an air of unconcern. “How the devil should I know anything about Mrs. Lee?”

“Why, I assumed that like all her other friends you would be interested. I have been so occupied all day that I only learned of the affair just now; but I supposed that you. with plenty of leisure on your hands, would have '".eard the news much earlier and might possibly have kept in touch with the newspaper offices to get later details of her progress.”

“Well. I did hear,”

Gabriel vouchsafed guardedly, "that she got down to that junction on the main line.

That was the latest they had about her.”

“Ah! And that means she will arrive in Cincinnati before midnight. eh?”

Gabriel about to checked Beachey thoughtfully table with

seemed peak, but himself, drummed on the

his fingertips before speaking.

“Traveling is uncertain just now,” he suggested, “and she may. of course, be delayed. There would be nothing strange in that—nothing nearly so strange as, for instance, the oddly opportune breaking of that dam.” He leaned over, and dropped his hand suddenly on the other man’s shoulder. “Listen, Gabriel,” he said, “so far, I am sitting on the side-lines—merely a spectator, you might say. I have no wish to interfere with the game; it is not to my interest to interfere. But no rough play, remember. Strategy, tactics, ingenuity; yes. But any question of her personal safety and I shall take a hand. We understand each other, I hope?” And, bowing pleasantly, he returned to hi3 own table.

But there was no hint of his real opinion of the matter in the later discussion with Jeffries.

“My dear Judge”=—he shrugged away conjecture—“it

seems idle to speculate why she did it. She will be here in an hour or so“ he glanced at the clock—“and then she can explain for herself.”

“1 doubt if it will be that soon.” Jeffries frowned anxiously. “That is what is bothering me. Hadn’t you heard that all traffie was annulled between here and Maysville?” "You don't tell me?” Beachey looked as surprised as if he had not discovered that fact for himself half an hour before. “Still, that is no cause for anxiety. Mrs. Lee is a seasoned traveler; she will know what to do—either take another route or stop over somewhere until conditions improve. There is nothing we can do for her, so far as I see, except to take up this proposal of yours in regard to the coal-suit.”

Jeffries assented, although he continued perturbed and abstracted; and the two plunged into a discussion of legal details. There was really very little chance for argument, though, since Jeffries was surrendering all claims. So, by the end of an hour, they had reached an entire agreement.

“Now,” said Beachey, unable to conceal his satisfaction, “if you will wait a moment, Judge, I will get a stenographer and we will draft this into formal shape.” ~ He had hardly left the room before the telephone-bell rang, and Jeffries answered the call.

“Is this Mr. Beachey?” asked a woman’s voice—he would have known it anywhere in the world.

“Constance!” he cried. “Constance! Where are you?” “Oh, Clay!” There was a tremendous relief in her tone. “To think I should have gotten you! I have so much to tell you, but I can’t talk now. I need help. I am under arrest here at Portsmouth, on the Kentucky side.”

“Under arrest!”

“Yes; on suspicion of being a diamond-thief called ‘Torpedo-boat Sue.’ It’s absurd, but I must get out at once. I must. I coaxed the marshal’s wife to let me telephone to Beachey. But, thank God, you answered. And don’t tell him you have talked to me. I’m afraid of him. I don’t trust him. You can get me out, can’t you?” “Can I? I will—if I have to turn the whole state of K e n t u cky u pside down to do it. Trust me.”

He clapped the receiver back on the hook and, snatching up his hat, started for thedoor. Outside, in the corridor, he met Beachey

returning with t,he stenographer.

“I can’t stop now,” he said curtly. “Forgot something important. See you to-morrow.” He was gone.

Down-stairs, in a telephone-booth, he fairly burned up the wires getting in touch with various influential men who lived in the neighborhood of Portsmouth. It took time, of course—centuries, it seemed to him—and more time until he got a report as to the result of his intervention.

But at last a call came to him from a lieutenant governor, announcing that Mrs. Lee and her companion were released from custody and were starting for Cincinnati. They would arrive at nine o’clock the next morning.

Jeffriçs was on hand to meet the train. It was two hours late. But at last it pulled in, and he ran down the platform as he saw Bell and a woman step off. It was not Constance but Delia.

“Where is Mrs. Lee?” he asked, looking beyond the two at the alighting passengers.

Bell stared at him in amazement.

“Isn’t she here? She should have got in at seven o’clock this morning.” He turned and gripped Delia by the arm. “Look here; have you been giving me a swrong steer?”

“No. I told you the whole truth. I got in to see her at the marshaLs house and changed places with her. She told me she could catch a midnight train. That’s all I know.” •

Bell pondered this a second.

“On the chance that she’s giving it straight, you’d better call up the hotels, Judge, and make some inquiries at other stations. You’ll find us in the waiting-room.”

Jeffries wasted no time in getting to the telephone. Mrs. Lee, he found, was not registered at any hotel in Cincinnati, nor could he get any trace of her arrival in the city. He telephoned back along the line of every route she could have taken to ticket-sellers and station-agents. But not a shred of information. Apparently she had not left Portsmouth on either side of the river; but there was no news obtainable of her there. She seemed simply to have vanished.

WHILE Jeffries was at the telephone, broadcasting inquiries up and down the Ohio Valley, Bell led Delia to a secluded corner of the waiting-room, and motioned her to a bench.

Delia sat down, wringing her hands.

“Oh, I’m afraid something has happened to her!” she cried.

“Afraid?” Bell’s face was hard; his eyes like blue marbles. “Come clean, Delia! Out with the whole thing now! Where is

she?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know!”—wildly. “I’m afraid Jim DeVries has kidnapped her.”

“And you were in on the deal? You notified DeVries when she and I left the Logan place. Come now; didn’t you?” She nodded, biting he trembling lip.

“But I never dreamed, they’d blow up the dam to stop her,” she wailed, “or that they’d—”

“Ah!” a grim light on his face. “So that was it? It wasn’t an accident, then? And don’t tell me you weren’t in on it. As soon as the explosion was over, you hurried right out to see if it was successful, and report to them.”

“I didn’t!”—frantically. “My one thought was for Connie. Every step I ran down to the trestle, I was praying that she’d be saved. Why, if anything had happened to her, I’d have thrown myself right into the water after her.

“My God!” She twisted lier wet ball of a handkerchief. “You don’t know what I went through all that night and the next day, jolting over those mountain roads, headed off every way by the high water, twisting and turning; crossing at fords where the water was over the tops of the wheels, and all the time seeing her drowned, and knowing it was my fault.

“I never found out any bettei, either,” she went on more quietly, “until I reached the junction an hour after your train had left. They told me she’d been there and had gone on with you to Portsmouth. But I knew she’d need me after all she’d been through—need me to pet her and look after her, like I’ve always done—and I got them to take me along on a freight train.

“Then, just as I told you this morning, at Portsmouth I ran into this hick marshal, and I got out of him about her being arrested. He wouldn’t let me see her; so I went to his house and met his wife. She was a woman, and had some sense; and Connie had won her, like she does everybody else. So I got in.

“Connie felt good, of course, over getting Judge Jeffries on the telephone; but still she was in a terrible wax. She was afraid he couldn’t get her out in time for her to reach Latonia before the race, or else that Jim and Gabriel might scheme out some new way of stopping her.

“ T must outwit them somehow.’ She was walking up and down the room while she talked. ‘I must get there in time myself. I can’t leave it to anybody else, not even Judge Jeffries. There would be a scandal and a sensation, and I couldn’t stand thatf.’ '

“Then she stopped all of a sudden and whirled on me. ‘Delia, I’ve got it!’ she said. ‘You and I are going to change places. Quick now!’

“She made me undress and get into bed. Then she put on my hat and veil and the long cloak I was wearing, and called the marshal’s wife.

“ ‘Mrs. Lee is pretty well done up,’ she said, ‘and I’ve persuaded her to go to bed.’ She can mimic me almost perfectly if she wants to.

“Then she went out and shut the door behind her. And that’s the last I know.”

Bell looked at her skeptically.

“All right, Delia. Have it your own way. But it’s not diamonds and a Havana trip with Jim DeVries that you’ll get out of this; it’s a long term in state prison. Don’t think but what Judge Jeffries’ll see that you get the limit.” He glanced down the waiting-room. “Here he comes now!”

But Jeffries, as he came toward them, looked anything but a personification of vengeance. He was a different man. Smiling, he waved an open telegram.

“It’s all right!” he said. “News from Mrs. Lee herself. This telegram sent at nine o’clock this morning, but delayed in transmission, says that she is on her way down the river in a motor-boat and expects me to meet her at the track."

THE opening day at Latonia is to the Middle West what the Harvard-Yale football game is to the East, or the New Orleans Mardi Gras to the South.

June at its zenith, cloudless skies and golden sunshine, a natural amphitheater of green, Kentucky hills. The most picturesque race-course in America; the lawns in front of the club-house and stands are emerald velvet, the wide tracks smooth and lightning-fast, and in the infield a shimmering, mirrorlike lake surrounded by flower-beds that are glowing masses of color.

In the stables, on edge and groomed to a satin finish, are the kings and queens of the turf—the horses whose names rank in the news of the day with those of presidents and prize-fighters and great financiers—and to see them fighting down to the wire for purses running into the thousands crowds flock from every direction.

From all over Ohio and Indiana and Kentucky the people come; the big owners and trainers of the East are there, the breeders and horse-lovers of the West and South. With the opening of the gates at eight o’clock in the morning until long after the races have started in the afternoon, there is a steady stream of humanity pouring into the enclosure to fill the stands to overflowing and pack, hundreds deep, along the rail for fully three-eighths of a mile. On that day all roads lead to Latonia, and they are choked with vehicles of every description. As a gathering of the multitudes, the spectacle can only be compared to Derby day at Epsom Downs.

But of all the thousands who made the pilgrimage on this especial opening day, there was none who employed a stranger means of transportation or who so ardently desired to reach the track in time a° Constance Lee.

When she had stolen fiom me marshal’s house the night before, she was persuaded that she must continue her journey as obscurely as possible, lest Gabriel and DeVries, learning of her escape, should contrive some fresh method of hindering her.

The first and most important thing was to get across the river, and after blundering about through various back lanes in the darkness, she was finally lucky enough to reach the ferry.

But, to her consternation, the ferry-house was dark and deserted, the boat tied up, and no signs of a watchman about. As she stood there, hesitating what to do next, a dark figure shuffled up the bank toward her. She ran down to him.

“Can you tell me when the next boat leaves?”

“Ain’t no more ’til six o’clock to-morrer mornin’.”

“But I can’t wait until six o’clock!” she cried. “There must be some way of getting to the other side.”

She noticed now that he was one of those almost amphibious characters to be found in river-towns, barefooted, frowzy, half-fisherman, half-loafer.

“Couldn’t you take me?” she begged.

“S’pose I could. But I don’t know ez I’d keer to resk takin’ a passenger acrost in a rowboat. Current’s awful tricky round yere. Mebbe”—appraising her—“ef you’re willin’ to go ez high ez ten dollars, I could hire Link Mellish’s motor-boat. She’d make it all right.”

“You can run it?”

“Ef I couldn’t, Link wouldn’t never trust me with it.” “Then go and get it.” She took a ten-dollar bill from her bag. “Or, stop!” A sudden suggestion coming to her. “Do you think this motor-boat could take me to Cincinnati?”

“Take ye to Noo Orleens, ef you wanted to go there. But not for no ten dollars.”

“I’ll give you a hundred to take me there; and if you make it by nine o’clock to-morrow morning you shall have two hundred. But remember you’re not to tell—Link Mellish, is it?—or anybody else where you are going. You can say—oh, you can say that you have a moving-picture man who wants to take photographs of the flood, and will need the boat for a couple of days.”

“That’ll be all right. I don’t even have to see Link; I got a key to the boat-house. He won’t make no holler when he finds out all the money I’ve airnt for him.”

She realized that she was taking a long chance as she followed the disreputable stranger along the river-bank to the little shack of a boat-house. There was nothing to prevent him from robbing and murdering her and then throwing her body into the river. He looked capable of it. But in for a penny in for a pound.

Yet she had to confess that he gave no evidences of sinister designs, and when they had pushed off and she saw how carefully he looked out for her, she felt so secure that, wrapping herself in her long cloak, she laid down on the cushions in the bow and went to sleep.

Utterly worn out, she slept through the night and woke to find the sun high, the muddy river all about her shimmering and winking in the light of a glorious day. She sat up.

“Where are we?” she asked, and, looking at her watch, was surprised to find that it was almost nine o’clock.

“Well, we ain’t at Cincinnati yit”—with a crestfallen grin. “Reckon I lose out on that bonus you promised me. Derned old engine’s been cuttin’ up monkey-shines all night. Couldn’t git no speed out’n her at all.”

A town was before them, and hoping that she might catch a train, Constance ordered a landing; but so indefinite and confused were the answers of railway officials that, recalling her experience on the way to the junction, it seemed best to stick to the motor-boat. So, after they had made a hasty breakfast, and she had sent her telegram to Jeffries, they once more embarked.

But the balky engine soon went wrong again, and although the ragged skipper swore and tinkered with it, he could only get it to run by fits and starts. Hour after hour they merely drifted, with him fussing over the motor, while she managed the wheel. And when, looking ahead, she saw at last the sooty, smoke-screen and the bridges of Cincinnati, it was long after one o’clock. Her heart sank.

But at that moment—either because it got over its sulky fit or because the trouble had been remedied—the engine started. “Chug, chug, chug, chug,” its staccato throb kept up, smooth and steady as a watch. At full speed they chured the remaining distance down the river and swept smartly to a stop on the Covington side, almost under the shadow of the suspension bridge.

Dragging a handful of bills from her bag, Constance flung them to her boatman and sprang ashore. Along the coal-docks she sped and up a steep succession of streets to the bridge terminal, where she hailed a taxi-cab.

“Get me to Latonia before half-past two,” she panted, “and I’ll give you a hundred dollars.”

The driver slammed the door on her, jumped to his seat and swung recklessly off. He was out to earn that extra money, and he tried his best. But the roads to Latonia on an opening day are merely processions of coming and going vehicles. There is little opportunity to get out of line. And the hands of the clock were moving steadily forward, with nothing to halt or obstruct them. In the contest, the clock won by four minutes.

As they reached the gate of the race-track, they saw a cloud of dust rise above the wire and heard the roar of shouting thousands.

“I’ve lost,” said Constance, as she stepped out of the cab and paid her driver.

She could not stop to feel despair; she must find DeVries and see if anything could still be done.

Buying a ticket, she went inside.

“Look out!” warning voices yelled all about her. She glanced up' to see a streak of golden chestnut burst out of the paddock and come bearing down upon her. She sprang aside, just in time, as an unmistakable Bonny Bells horse galloped madly by, the stable-boy on his back unable to do more than merely cling on. Down the driveway he tore, out through the gate, and, still uncontrolled, disappeared in the direction of the hills.

“Looks like an overdose of slim-jack to me,” a horseman near her cynically commented. “When a goat like Sleighbells can win the Wide-awake hands down, and then do a crazy runaway on top of it, there’s sure something wrong somewhere.”

Constance went into the paddock and began a search for DeVries; but no one seemed to know where he was. She w'as still inquiring when suddenly she heard her name called, and turning, saw Jeffries striding toward her, Bell and Delia behind him.

J. K. Munro returns in the October fifteenth issue, with an unusually shrewd—and caustic—sizingup of the political situation, from the federal view-point.

“You’re here at last—and safe!” He caught her hands in a close, warm clasp. Then he laughed and straightened his shoulders. “I am throwing off tons of worry. Did you know' that Sleighbells w'on the Wide-awake? Great; isn’t it? And all due to you. DeVries has justified your belief in him.” His expression altered as he looked at her. “But all that can wait. I want to hear about you.”

She stood dumb, strangely white and limp. She wanted to speak, to tell him what had happened. But her voice was gone.

“You’re tired, ill,” he said tenderly. “I must get you to my car at once and back to the hotel.

Delia!” he called. “Bell! Mrs. Lee is---”

A track-attendant interrupted him.

“Mr. Jeffries, the judges would like to see you in the stand, if you please.”

He lifted his eyebrows.

“Bell, find my car, and look after Mrs. Lee.” And then to Constance, in a lower voice, “I will be w'ith you in ten minutes.” He raised his hat, and w’alked away.

Constance’s eyes, filled with anguished reproach, turned to Bell.

“Why didn’t you stop it?”

“I thought you would be here in time,” he said miserably. “We were looking for you everywhere; but I never doubted we had just missed you in the crowd until the race was started.”

“But you let him believe that he had won.”

“What else could I do? I didn’t want to butt in, then.” There was nothing more to say. She leaned heavily on Delia’s arm. A curtain of blackness wavered before her eyes. The crow'ds about her seemed unreal, the whole scene illusory. She had failed. She had spent her last ounce of strength—and failed.

She let Bell and the maid guide her along. And as they pukhed through the crowds she became aware of some undercurrent of excitement. She caught words and snatches of talk: “The way reports are coming in from the pool-rooms, he must have cleaned up over a million dollars.” “Biggest swindle in the history of the turf.” “Oh, they’ve got the goods on him.” “He bet ten thousand here at the track at tw'elve to one—sure he was in on it.” “This means his finish in every way.”

Then she saw' Beachey.

“My dear Constance, I have been looking for you. You must get out of here at once.”

“Not until I know7 w'hat is happening. Tell me.”

“I will. But not here.” He took her arm. “Do come.” “No.” She leaned against Delia, and looked at him defiantly, her eyes hollow in her ghastly face.

He sighed.

“Judge Jeffries,” he said reluctantly, “is involved in a terrible racing-scandal. He has been ruled off the turf for life!”

/CINCINNATI, both from the viewpoint of Clifton and of Vine Street—local synonyms for the world of society and the world of sport—was stunned, staggered, flabbergasted.

Report following report from widely-scattered sections show'ed that there had been a concerted and thoroughly organized raid against the pool-rooms of the entire country. Such a spoiling of the Egyptians had not taken place w'ithin the memory of the oldest race follow'er. It w'as estimated that the ring which had engineered the coup must have reaped a harvest of well over a million dollars.

The Cincinnati evening papers carried the flaring headline, “Kentucky’s Best-Known Gentleman Sportsman Ruled Off At Latonia!” and told how shortly' after the conclusion of the questioned race, Judge Jeffries had been called to the judges’ stand and confronted with the evidence against him. His colt, Sleighbells, in w'inning easily' the Wideawake Stakes for tw'o-year-

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olds had shown a startling reversal of form from all previous performances, and when the news began to filter in of tremendous winnings in the pool-rooms, and on top of this it was learned that Jeffries had backed his horse for ten thousand dollars at odds of twelve to one, the victory began to appear so suspicious that the track officials declared all bets off, and ordered an investigation. This ruling, however, affected only bets laid at the track, practically but a single wager, Jeffries’. To be Continued