Is there such a thing as technique in kissing? Anstruther could have sworn that, at first, her lips met his eagerly—but suddenly she pushed him away.
W. A. FRASER
IT WAS Horace Anstruther’s look that did the whole thing—the devilish entanglement of who’s who.
Nature had played a trick on Anstruther; physically it had cast him in a mould preserved for turning out clergymen, authors, men of at least dilettante pose; and mentally, morally, Horace was a sport—one apt to peep into the pockets of Fate; moral pulchritude being too fine a shading.
Anstruther had anticipated a good day in his somewhat uncertain avocation. Roberts had wired from Newmarket that he was coming up; and Roberts up was full of Vulcan for the Devonshire Plate at Alexandra Park—the horse would be ten to one. Roberts had lain in the Newmarket ditch the early misty morning that Vulcan had been tried out over a mile-and-aneighth. Just beyond the finish of the Rowley Mile was where Roberts was hidden, and he had seen Vulcan come up the hill at the finish two lengths in front of Wheel of Chance, so the only thing was, as Roberts put it, “a bit o’ brawss.”
But even a man mentally equipped to trim his trusting fellows may be trimmed by Fate, and Anstruther had seen Vulcan finish down the course leaving him with but a half-sov. in his pocket.
“We’ll call it a bad day,”
Anstruthed advised himself, as, back in London he tripped down the marble stair of the Trocadero to the grill.
The ten shilling bit of gold he had carefully preserved in his left hand pocket for the inevitable desire to eat would see him through ; the Troc served a ripping good curry at threeand-six.
BUT the day had spoiled everything; even Abdul who served the curry, appeared to have a face like an evil Hindu god; and the curry had been cooked in brine—-no doubt about it.
Two ladies were dining, at a table near Anstruther.
When one of them smiled at him, even nodded her pretty head, he half turned his chair away, muttering:
“If she knew I had but ten shillings in my pocket she’d not waste time.”
Presently a faint perfume switched around the boulder of his shoulder, soft silks rustled at his elbow, and a pleasantly modulated voice, its music tintillating with the suspicion of a mocking laugh, was saying: “Why did you turn your back, Mister Bear?”
It was the lady who had smiled at him. One glance and he knew, out of sophistication, that she was simply making a mistake in identity—it wasn’t the usual thing; the eyes bore testimony to her caste, high caste.
“Don’t rise,” she said, “we’re in a hurry— the theatre. I told Hamar to invite you to stay with us— why didn’t you? You haven’t even Vs lied, but I’ll expect you for lunch. Tuesday, at one o’clock. Twenty-three Russell Square—don’t forget.”
■ She was gone, a ravishing smile thrown over her shoulder.
“By Jove!” Anstruther muttered, “I never saw such eyes. Yes I did—I’ve got it; the Greuze girls in the Wallace Collection. But who the dcuc3 am I—nobody’s ever named Mr. Bear?”
He wrote in his note book, “23 Russell Square, one o’clock Tuesday, Hamar.”
By Jove! Then he sat up: Hamar Canningsby’s wife! “Devilish odd! Vulcan sprawls me, and the owner’s wife invites me to lunch
Gad! he would like to accept that invitation. Hamar Canningsby had Gray Crusader in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot Wednesday, and the horse had a great chance—
Roberts had said so. That lunch with the owner’s wife was worth a hundred pounds. But who the devil was his double? He raised his eyes to the wall across the room to scan his own features in the way of visualizing the man: he was under the impression that it was a mirrored wall. There he was, a face not easily mistaken—rather different
rather clerical, the smooth black hair, the olive skin, a forehead suggesting mental equipment: but what was he grinning at? There was nothing funny on tap; and, heavens! he was salaaming to his reflection.
Perhaps he had had a bit too many happenings, plus the
rather stiffish blow he had sustained in his midriff.
Anstruther was switched to the realities by Abdul solicitously enquiring if the curry had been tic, perfect. Of course that was the wily native after his dustoor, his tip.
Anstruther drew forth his ten shilling piece, and there it lay in the palm of his hand—à sixpence; in the betting excitement Horace’s fingers had mistaken a sixpence for a half-sov. He gave the coin of depression to Abdul.
AND raising his eyes to the mirror observed that, notwithstanding this contretemp, he was still smiling. Next he had risen from the table and was walking toward his reflection. Then somebody had stopped at his table, blotting out the mirror, and a voice was saying: “Pardon me, sir, but as you are alone I couldn’t resist coming over. I’ve been looking at you—felt as if I were looking at myself—it’s wonderful.”
So many things had happened that day that Horace was not just up to the precise, so he managed to stammer: “Won’t you sit down, sir?”
“You bet I will,” the other answered. “I’m so ghastly lonesome—”
The stranger checked himself, and took a chair; probably he had been going to say that he would hobnob with the devil.
Anstruther now caught the full significance of the man’s minute resemblance . to him. With a quick thought he glanced at the wall—there was no mirror; his eyes focused on the other’s face, thinking it a reflection of his own, he had not taken a wider cognizance of things in and out of perspective.
“My name is John Forsythe,” the newcomer tendered. “Mine is Anstruther,” Horace reciprocated.
“Do you observe the resemblance?” Forsythe asked. “Yes—it’s remarkable.”
“But that’s not all; you’ve got my little tricks with the hand even—drawing your fingers across your eyes as if you were thinking. Shall we have a brandy—I see you’re at your coffee?”
Forsythe raised his hand, and when Anstruther’s waiter came forward said, “Two brandies, please, and ask my waiter for my check.”
“I’m New York,” he advised Anstruther, “drifted there from the West.”
“I’m a Canadian,” Anstruther contributed: “went to India in the Service— Kingston Military College stuff.”
Now the waiter came .vith the brandy, in his hand Anstruther’s check, and with him Forsythe’s waiter. Forsythe took both checks, saying: “This is on me, Mr. Anstruther; I’ve butted in.” Horace made a feeble exDostulation; the gods had saved him from a humiliating controversy with the head waiter. It was the first "bit of luck he had had since sun-up. He had an illumination: Forsythe was “the bear,” the man he had been mistaken for—absolutely.
The other was now saying: “The Service, eh? I’m only a writer; broke into the . magazines through some Western yarns—I was a cow-puncher.”
“Gave up ranch life, eh?” “Had to: when the boys read my stories I hadn’t the life of a jack-rabbit. You know—” and Forsythe smiled whimsically— “there’s some difference between ranch life and the stories of it editors will buy —I picked that up from reading the magazines.”
Anstruther was wondering if Forsythe, being a friend of Canningsby’s, was a racing man.
“You don’t write race stories, like Nat Gould, do you?” he asked.
“Hardly—I mean, to write about exact things when one knows nothing about them is difficult. One can write about unbodied things and know nothing about the subject. That’s what I’ve done in my Terminal.”
Forsythe chuckled. “Almost—it’s the station to which all humans travel; psycho-analysis, the high-brows call it.” “What’s psycho-analysis—exactly?”
“It’s clay—potter’s clay. Of course there is no such thing, really; when an author sets up a hero and guesses the processes of the hero’s mind, it is called psychoanalysis. Do you know Freud?”
NOW Anstruther knew the names of all the sporting writers on the Referee, and the Sportsman—Vigilant, Augur—all of them, but Freud—he wondered if he’d seen the book on Mudie’s stalls at the railway stations. But Horace had finesse. Freud might be a book or an author. “I don’t read much—too busy,” he admitted.
“Neither do I—I fancy that’s why the magazines buy my stories—perhaps they’re different. We’ll have a whisky and soda—what about it? Talking books is as bad as reading them.” Forsythe ordered the whisky, then he said: “I’m glad I met you to-night. I was that lonesome I could have wept. This afternoon I went into a store in Bond Street to buy a pair of gloves, and the girl behind the counter was so deuced nice—I mean in the right way, that I wanted to ask her to have dinner, but I couldn’t make the grade—afraid she would think I was fresh.”
“Devilish thoughtful,” Anstruther commented— “bully stuff. Men of the outside are like that—sometimes.”
“A city,” Forsythe continued, “is the Valley of Achor to a stranger. Talk about solitude in the wilderness driving a man nutty; to wander around the streets of London is like being in a catacombs, and the people ghosts. To see men listening to the chatter of women, smiles on their lips, and realize that one is an outcast is a justification for suicide. I don’t know a soul in this burg except some writer chaps at the Savage,” he gave a whimsical smile, “I think a magazine writer from the States doesn’t cut much of a swathe in London literary life.”
“It’s the very devil to know no one in London—I mean ladies.”
“Really I do know some one—I had an invitation to put up with friends who live in Russell Square,” Forsythe corrected. “I knew the lady in New York.”
“Why didn’t you?” Anstruther knew it was the lady who lived at number twenty-three, Mrs. Canningsby.
“Well—well—” Forsythe sipped his whisky and soda as if somewhat diffident about giving his reasons—“it was perhaps because I did know her in New York, if you understand: and I didn’t want to be tied up.”
Forsythe evidently detected something in Anstruther’s tone which caused him to explain: “I hardly knew the lady well enough to take advantage of their hospitality; just dined with them twice. Her husband owns a magazine that buys my stories.”
ANSTRUTHER felt that while Forsythe’s statement ■ might be true as to the extent of his acquaintanceship with the lady, it did not give his real reason. Mrs. Canningsby's eyes had expressed an extreme liking for the man she thought was Forsythe. And Forsythe, evidently a man of fine principle, knew of this liking, and was averse to being thrown too closely into her society.
Since Anstruther had left the Service—the Service having had rather enough of him, chiefly over gambling entanglements—he had been an opportunist; a Kingfisher perched on a London tree watching the fish that swam in and out of the London pool: and here, under his very nose, was an extraordinary chance. Canningsby, if he put the money down, would win the Royal Hunt Cup; the owner was a close-mouthed one, ánd just two others would know—his wife and trainer Tyler: Forsythe knew Mrs. Canningsby, and Anstruther now knew Forsythe. Should he tell Forsythe about the invitation for lunch, casually induce him to accept, and then profit by whatever the author learned. Forsythe had declared he knew nothing about racing, wasn’t interested, and Anstruther couldn’t very well ask a comparative stranger to obtain for him a secret from Mrs Canningsby for his benefit.
“What you need, Mr. Forsythe,” he said, and his eyes steeled a little from the blue-gray, “is a change, London is depressing to some.”
“I’m going to Paris Monday,” Forsythe declared; “my lungs are full of fog, and my spirits depressed.”
“That settles my finding out anything through this Johnnie,” Anstruther commented to himself. There was another way—he wondered if he could go through with it: not convinced that it was feasible, yet his intent now travelled along those lines.
He would have suggested to Forsythe a visit to the Empire or the Alhambra but he had given his last sixpence to Abdul.
"How long shall you stay in Paris?” he asked.
“A week or two; I know two or three illustrator chaps over there—Americans.”
“You’ll find Paris more like New York than Rondon. Have you lived long in New York?”
“It’s curious, but your voice is like mine,” Anstruther declared. '
“I noticed it; if it weren’t for your English forms—” The other laughed. “At my club they call me ‘Yank’ sometimes; I’ve simply acquired certain flavorings of speech.”
He led Forsythe to talk about his work, which naturally threw a picture on the screen of the author’s life, particularly his Western life. So Horace had gleaned juite a bit, useful if he really did carry through that which was nebulously in his mind, by the time he said goodnight and bon voyage to his new friend.
ALE Sunday Horace weighed the whole thing, pro • and con. A lunch would not be a long affair; he was almost sure to carry the part of Forsythe through for, say an hour; and from the author’s manner he felt there was no great intimacy between him and Mrs. Canningsby, not an intimacy such as gives birth to episodes which might turn up in conversation.
He searched a copy of Who’s Who at the Cecil, and
found John Forsythe and his literary output. There were six books: Sage and Sand—and others were also evidently western up to the Terminal. It had been rather fortunate that Forsythe had explained that this was a psycho story and not, as he had judged from the title, a railroad yarn,
If Mrs. Canningsby had talked of the Terminal, which she would, he would have been in a fix—sure to have made some blunder.
Tuesday morning he dropped in to the Metropole— the author said he was stopping there—and discovered that Forsythe had really gone to Paris. Walking up Northumberland Avenue he had had a humorous vision of what might have occurred had he been announced at number twenty-three Russell Square, and the real John Forsythe already there. Then Anstruther sent a telegram to Roberts at Newmarket to come up to Rondon, and meet him at six o’clock at the Criterion.
Tuesday Anstruther took a cab to Russell Square. He wore a blue serge. He had debated this matter of apparel —-Forsythe appeared to be a man not subservient to conventional form, morning-coat and all would perhaps not even be in his bags: also the lunch was an informal one.
All down that side of the square the houses were depressingly alike—drab brick structures, cheek by jowl, suggesting unostentatious competence.
Mrs. Canningsby came into the rather dim drawing room where Anstruther waited, with a happy swish that indicated gladness, saying; “I hardly expected you,. Mr. Forsythe.”
“Ungracious— to yourself. I put off a trip for this lunch.” He considered this a happy thought, right off the bat, for there might be a chance that Mrs. Canningsby had heard, through her husband, that Forsythe was going to Paris.
“You’re improving, Forsythe,” she laughed; “I was wondering if Rondon would civilize you.”
By Jove! she was stunning. At the Trocadero she had worn a hat, now the oval face, with the Greuze eyes, was haloed by a mass of burnt gold.
“Hamar won’t be home for lunch,” Mrs. Canningsby advised: her tone was most casual, but Anstruther found the eyes fixed on his, a deuced clever look of searching in them. “And lunch won’t be ready for a little—” She held out a hand, adding, “Come with me, and I’ll show you the stables.”
Anstruther could feel the fingers he had taken in his hand vibrating, transmitting, statically, something as they went down a sombre-wooded hall, and through a door on the left. A mellow light glinting through the colored glass of a window fell upon the green baize of a billiard table; the walls of the room were plastered—yes, plastered, with pictures. Anstruther had seen just such art in sporting clubs; horses, fighting cocks, coursing greyhounds, foxhound packs, race scenes were there, jostling each other for space.
Mrs. Canningsby indicated the walls with a sweep of -her arm. “The stables! My husband is thinking of having the billiard table changed so it can be made up as a bed to sleep here.”
ANSTRUTHER was sure there was a sneer in the little laugh that followed. That’s the whole thing, he thought, Canningsby neglects this charming woman because he is, like most racing men, mad on horses. That was why she had taken a fancy to Forsythe—he attracted her because he was different; and she, no doubt, was hungered for companionship, perhaps only mental stimulus. Curiously he caught the psychology of it, as he thought. Mrs. Canningsby was too well bred to indulge in these phillippics without a motive; she was justifying herself, perhaps beforehand, indicating her husband’s complete absorption in things that left her isolated.
It was the thing Forsythe had called psycho-analysis, the Freud hobby. Anstruther had keen perceptions and, curiously, he felt safe: he knew a lot about women, and was sure that Mrs. Canningsby would find something, a subtle something, missing in him that she absorbed in the presence of Forsythe. It wouldn’t lead to detection, for no doubt Forsythe would be reserved—on guard. He had come there not to philander, but to get a tip on Gray Crusader. He mustn’t!orget—mustn’t sacrifice a tangible matter of pounds to an impulse.
Anstruther pointed to a painting of a gray horse that held the center of a wall, feeling sure that was Gray Crusader; saying, “I love that chap; he represents the thing I like in a story, structure, a symbolism of strength, rough beauty, you know.”
He felt that he wasn’t doing so badly as an understudy; subconsciously he was thinking, “I’d like to have a thousand quid on him some day.”
Mrs. Canningsby laughed; “For the sake of happiness, Forsythe, don’t talk books! My husband talks horses morning, noon and night; but books for uneh!”
Anstruther had stepped around the billiard table; “Gray Crusader,” he read from a brass plate, “bully name.”
“My husband’s horse; and that one—” she pointed to a bay, on the same wall—“is another, Vulcan. He won a race Saturday—”
“I know it—I had five pounds on him, and—” Anstruther stammered, he was forgetting. He had been practically interrupted by Mrs. Canningsby’s gasp:
“What! You are coming on, Forsythe. Ten days in Rondon, and having five quid—I suppose you call it quid now, Hamar does—on a race.”
“They were talking about it down at the Club, and Beldon, a friend, really coaxed me into it; he had some information.”
“Well, the gods look after children, Mister Author, for Beldon’s information was some tout’s guess. My husband has been furious ever since—I ought to know he’s been like a bear; he’s always that way when things go wrong in his coups. He didn’t bet sixpence on Vulcan, and, well, he blames his trainer for putting up that jockey—says the jockey rides for a Manchester ring of bookmakers.”
“But the jockey wasn’t to blame; he won.”
“Yes, that’s where the trouble is. But you, Mister Man of Books, won’t even understand what I’m talking about. You see I’m schooled in it against my desires: horses, horses—‘two to one against—five to four on the field.’ Don’t you see, Forsythe, I’m hungering for something.”
“But you object to books.”
“I do—I hate them, sophistical vagaries in blackon ghastly white paper—souls in mourning.”
“Why don’t you try Freud?” It was the only thing Anstruther had to offer.
But whatever Anstruther, alias Forsythe, was in for, was averted by a tap on the door, and a soft voice saying, “Runcheon is served, Madam.”
“Yes, Mister Advisor, we’ll try food, not Freud; it’s about all that’s really left one—Come!” And again Mrs. Canningsby tipped her hand a little to lead Anstruther, as though they were exploring a dark cavern.
SHE pointed smilingly at the two cocktails that graced a table, saying, “I make believe we’re in New York. You know I have an idea that people in England are buried in stone coffins. What I mean about the hunger for something,” she resumed, as the sweet perfume of a delectable sole invited, “is, doing nothing, mentally, you know, and having everything.”
“Rike butterflies, eh?”
“No; butterflies are not mental—neither winged ones nor social ones. You, Forsythe, get what I hunger for out of your stories.”
“But I work.”
“You don’t; not for the thing-that is beatitude—that just comes. When you find a soul in your story you are as surprised as anybody—that just comes. Why does Hamar say you are what he calls ‘a comer,’ your books haven’t sold much yet? He puts it this way, that you have got ‘the thing’; he doesn’t know that himself for he doesn’t read—-Chatsworth told him that. He calls the ability to snap your finger and call up the beatitude ‘the thing’—something like a self-starter, I suppose.”
Anstruther’s head was swimming, though it was a pretty clever knob; he was mentally resolving that if he ever became owner of a yearling filly he would call her Beatitude—it was a corking name.
And Mrs. Canningsby, roused out of her cynical sneersmiling mood, was extraordinary. Though now she was mental he felt a physical appeal—perhaps his nature; her intensity had suffused her face with a radiant glow: Anstruther noticed this, büt attributed it to the ; cocktail. But if he could only switch her from books to horses. By Jove! that gray. He had an inspiration.
“I hate books as much as you do, Mrs. Canningsby.”
“ ‘Mrs. Canningsby!’ In New York I saw you twice, and the night you dined with us in Washington Square— were still rude, or always rude—I heard you tell Brookdale that the house with its long somber hail was like a catacombs—I made you call me Ethylyn. What I meant was, that books do not mean to me any more than those pictures mean to Hamar, not as much, perhaps; they represent to him the living gyrating things that he can gamble on, and, don’t you see, he can have the living things, and I can only have them in books.”
“You can have good company; an attractive woman, a beautiful woman, with wealth, can always command that.”
“That’s it—it’s too general; it’s like food. I mean, in my case, to have somebody one likes—”
“And perhaps tire of.”
“That’s it again—to have just enough of their companionship to not tire; to drift on the Thames in a canoe on a June day with that someone, and nothing more at stake than just to drift; very little talk, just enough; and talk as inconsequent as the chatter of a brook laughing in its rocky bed.”
“You like champagne?”
“A little, but champagne. That wouldn’t suit you at all, Mister Author, with serious thoughts of a trilogy of books—the theme strung on a thread called psycho-analysis. In short you said I was attractive, but your words mean nothing; you don’t even like me.”
She reached an arm across the table and laid her palm upon his hand—it was feverish, “Gome,” she said, rising.
AS SHE passed around the table Anstruther put a hand on Mrs. Canningsby’s shoulder, and, looking into her «yes, said softly: “You are wrong, Ethylyn, I do care for you.” He slipped an arm quickly about her waist, and •drawing her face to his kissed her passionately on the lips. He could have sworn that at first her lips met his •eagerly; but suddenly she pushed him away angrily—or •was it affected?—and stood panting, her eyes widened in ¿affright.
“You shouldn’t have done that, Forsythe. Do you think—”
“Forgive me, Mrs. Canningsby—I lost my head.”
A voice fell on their ears from the hall: “Lyn—oh, Lyn!”
“That’s my husband.”
Anstruther wondered at the sudden grip Mrs. Cannings•by had taken of herself—her voice was composed.
“Here, Hamar!” she answered; and as Conningsby appeared at the door, added, “We have just finished luncheon, but I’ll get you some.”
“Hello, Forsythe,” and Canningsby held out a hand; “thought you were going to Paris. No, I had a chop at the Woolpack, Lyn. I just motored up to get Gray Crusader’s papers. There’s some quibble âbout his entry in the Royal Hunt Cup to-morrow. I have to hurry back.” He turned to Anstruther. “Ever go to the races, Forsythe? Motor down to Ascot with us to-morrow, You arrange it, Lyn—I’m off.”
They heard him rummaging in the billiard room, opening and slamming drawers of a desk. Then he came back to the door of the diningroom, saying: “I’ve got the bally thing. Do something for me, Lyn. I’ve thrown papers all over the floor—have the maid put them back, will you?”
He was turning away when she said: “Haven’t you forgotten something, Hamar?”
Canningsby scratched his head, a thoughtful look in his eyes. “No, I—I—Oh, that! sorry!” He stepped forward and kissed his wife.
nmg in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot to-morrow, anyway—but they do call him the ‘Gray Ghost,’ so he may be a ‘dead un,’ as Hamar would put it. That”—she indicated a line-drawing of the same horse—“was done by the man who pictures the horse-salve things in Black and White, or The Sphere, or sbme magazine.” “Oh, I know,” Anstruther, a bit off guard, cried cheerfully: “Blake, who draws the horses for Elliman’s Embrocation.”
Anstruther watching this little domestic lÿuff—he felt it was that—took it as a rebuke; there was the kiss wiped out by her husband.
Then the door closed noisily; there was the gutteral, fussy complaint of a motor engine pricked to activity.
“Come along to the stable while I play valet,” Mrs.
Canningsby said; and Anstruther noted that this time he was left without a guiding hand—the atmosphere wasn’t just right.
Deuced queer creatures, women. Seemingly Mrs.
Canningsby had led him on, and then he was in the wrong. He had always understood that a woman scorned was vindictive; in fact he had summed the relationship between Forsythe and Mrs. Canningsby as just that, Forsythe hadn’t been responsive enough. It was perplexing.
He offered to assist over the papers that most certainly had been cast about in a regardless way, but Mrs. Canningsby wouldn’t permit it, saying: “Hamar is sure to find some paper missing, having lost it himself, and declare that it wasn’t put back, overlooked, he’s as fussy as a guinea hen.”
A NSTRUTHER, leaning ^ against the billiard table contemplated the picture of Gray Crusader. “Is that horse still alive?” he asked innocently.
She laughed. "He's run-
She looked at him quickly, and he covered: “I know him as a wonderful illustrator who, for money, has taken up commercial work.”
Mrs. Canningsby had closed the last drawer with its displaced papers, and she said: “Well, that’s fixed— let us go along to the other room.”
Anstruther was dying to ask if Gray Crusader would win, but he had a patient finesse—he would perhaps do so as he left. *
Mrs. Canningsby picked up a Sportsman as they left the billiard-room, and, in the drawing-room, after scanning this paper, she asked: “Will you do a little commission for nie?”
“I won’t be a minute,” she said, and he heard her running up the oak stairway. Presently she was back, some Bank of England notes in her hand. She tendered them to Anstruther, saying: “Will you bet this twenty pounds on a horse called Edipus in the Royal Hunt Cup for me?”
“I saw in the paper that he is 10 to 1,” she said. Anstruther almost gasped aloud; here was the thing —such luck!
“You see,” she explained, “I don’t want my husband to know that I’ve bet on Edipüs, and I couldn’t bet it at Ascot without his knowing. Besides, if he—I mean if people, bet heavily on Edipus he may be only five or six to one at the start—don’t you think so?” “Certainly,”
“Don’t tell anybody, will you?” she-coaxed. . “What about Gray Crusader?”
“Mr. Forsythe, do you think it would be right for me to tell anything about my husband’s horses, even if I did know? People are always saying things about owners when they don’t win a race. Even if I were to bet on Edipus at Ascot, and he beat Gray Crusader, that might be misconstrued.”
“I understand. I’ll put the twenty pounds on at the Club.”
“About motoring down with us to Ascot?” Mrs. Canningsby said, as Anstruther held out a hand in' farewell.
“If you don’t mind—I don’t know that I can go at all: I’ve important matters on.”
Anstruther had—the matter of raising fifty or a hundred pounds to bet on Edipus; that most certainly would keep him busy.
“If I can manage it,” he added, “I’ll go by train.” “You’ll find us in a box in Tattersall’s ; that will cost you a guinea extra,”
A block along Anstruther swung to the top of a bus. He didn’t want the motor ride to Ascot with Hamar Canningsby—there might be questions about Forsythe’s stories in Canningsby’s magazine that he couldn’t answer; and that kiss had somewhat destroyed the atmosphere.
“I was a deuced fool!” he confided to himself— “anyone is who lets woman stuff—what Forsythe calls the Freud thing—interfere with business. Fancy I’ve got the psycho touch of it. The little woman is like a lot of them; Forsythe is offish, and it was a kind of game to draw him out; when I succumbed she was startled. The game wasn’t worth the candle. By Jove! she did rub it in though, kissing the old man.”
He congratulated himself upon his success in the impersonation; Mrs. Canningsby hadn’t detected the fraud. His most serious trouble had been to switch his manner of speech back to his earlier American life— avoid the London expressions, idioms, he had acquired, but he had been successful, and he had secured the information he was after—the tip. Perhaps he had done Canningsby a good turn with his temperamental faux pas.
j~S ANSTRUTHER swung from Piccadilly Circus into the Criterion at six o'clock he saw a small,
wizened, ex-stable boy that was Roberts having a Scotch with a stout, red-faced man in a wide-shouldered box-cloth coat, atop his bullet head a coachman’s tophat. Anstruther knew the man; he was “Chippy” Morton, a bookmaker.
“We’ll have dinner,” Anstruther said when Roberts came to meet him.
They went into the cafe just off the bar, and found a small half-shut-off compartment with leather-covered seats and a single table.
. Roberts had been searching Anstruther’s face with his small furtive eyes as the latter ordered sherry: “I can see, Cap’n,” he said, “there’s somethin’ up— somethin’ bloomin’-’ot, I take it.”
“Then somebody’s goin’ to get ’is fingers burnt—not Cap’n Anstruther, I’ll lay five bob.”
Anstruther’s military title was an euphemism; a very common touch practised by such men.
“Tell me all you know about Edipus, Roberts.” -“My word!” The little man shot up in his seat: “That un—where’d you ’ear about ’im, Cap’n?” “Westminster Abbey.”
“I see, sir,” and Roberts grinned sheepishly. “I’m bloomin’ like an Irisher answerin’ one question by arskin’ another. . Edipus is one of the fastest ’orses on the course, but ’e ’s got a crooked forefoot—they say that’s why ’e ’s called Edipus, it’s a French name for a club-foot or somethin’. ’E got it twisted when ’e was a yearlin’; but ’e’s won two races; the other ’orses was all down the course— good ’andicap ’orses they was, too.”
“Did he ever win from Gray Crusader?”
“I say, Cap’n!” The tout’s weasel eyes opened wide in astonishment: “you are pickin’ somethin’—they must know a bit down to Westminster Habby. No, Edipus never met Gray Crusader; but give ’im a track smooth as a glass o’ stout an’ ’e could beat ’im at any distance under a mile. Gray Crusader is a stayer—’e’s like the breed, the Heroids; but ’e can sprint, too. ’E ’s as big as a camel; an’ ’is gray coat is put on as if ’e’d been a ’eavy drinker an’ was all blotches. ’E’s got brains, Gray Crusader ’as—that’s ’is trouble; there ain’t but one boy can ride ’im, Don. nelly. Crusader likes to run ’is own race, an’ Donnelly knows that; ’e stands there—at the post, ’is eye copped on the web, an’ the minute it wiggles ’e ’s off, out in front; an’ ’e stays there. If the pace is too ’ot, a sprint, an’ they get alongside o’ ’im, ’e’s been known to chuck it.”
“Crusader and Edipus are both in the Royal Hunt Cup, to be run to-morrow,” Anstruther interrupted.
“Canningsby’ll win the Cambridgeshire with Gray Crusader. ’E was in the Czarewitch last year an’ they didn’t bet a sixpence on ’im—too much weight. I was down by The Bushes, a bit over a mile from the start, wratchin’ for a winner for the Cambridgeshire, an’ at The Bushes the gray was in front an’ the boy a-pullin’ ’is ’ead off. The Cambridgeshire is a mile-and-a-distance, an’ the Gray could ’ave won it, but two days afore the race ’e wasn’t eatin’ nothin’—’e’d gone off. The Cambridgeshire is run at Newmarket, Cap’n, an’ that’s the Gray’s own ground—’orses for courses, as they say. I’ve been watchin’ ’im gallop there, an’ it ain’t a sprint like the Hunt Cup ’e ’s been 'eaded for.”
“There seems plenty of money for Gray Crusader; he’s only 5 to 1.”
“That’s nothin’, sir; they never lay a long price on one of Bob Tyler’s ’orses till they see ’ow the wind blows.” “Edipus is 10 to 1,” Anstruther added.
“An’ if Edipus was right ’e’d win. But you can’t find out nothin’ about ’im. ’E’s owned by Saddler that got ruled off, an’ ’e runs as Mr. ’Awkesbury’s ’orse. Saddler’ll slip ’im one of these days.”
A NSTRUTHER sipped his coffee, and leaned back, blowing a cloud of smoke toward the ceiling. Then he fastened his gray eyes on the little man’s face, and asked, “If I gave you the absolute about Edipus and Gray Crusader could you get the money put down?” “Chippy Morton wmuld wipe ’im off ’is book, an’ lay a couple of thousand quid with the other chaps down at the Victoria; but Chippy’d ’ave to ’ave the thing right.”
“I’ve got it right.”
“If you ’ave, Cap’n, Chippy ain’t the only one; Cap’n Mitchell ’ll bet twenty ponies any time I tell ’im it’s right—five ’undred pounds, that’s ’is bet.” Anstruther’s gray eyes hardened. “And where would I stand, Roberts?”
“You’d split with me.”
“We’d cut it in two. An’ I’d make Chippy agree to ’ave two ’undred quid on for me, an’ the Cap’n another ’undred.”
“I wouldn’t know whether Chippy bet it or not.” "You mean, Cap’n, that my word ain’t good?”
“No, I don’t; it’s Chippy’s word.”
“Bookies like Chippy, that belongs to the Victoria Club, don’t go back on their word—they can’t afford to. If you say the word, Cap’n, I’ll ’ave Chippy in for a talk.”
"There’s a lady in the affair—I can’t tell Chippy who she is.”
“That’s a little bit o’ all right, Cap’n; there never was a leak over a big job that it didn’t come from a woman. You can trust me with the laidy’s name, an’ Chippy’ll take my word that it’s right.”
Anstruther knew that he would have to divulge the source of his information; he also had found Robberts a shrewd, honest fellow.
“I had what I know from Mrs.
“My eye! that’s ’ead quarters.”
“Yes—she gave me twenty pounds to place for her on Edipus.”
“Whew-w-w!” The little man, rendered inarticulate by this crashing statement, had let off steam in a whistle: “What did Mrs. Canningsby say about Crusader?”
“That was rather a delicate matter,
Roberts; one couldn’t ask: Is your husband going to pull his horse?’ ”
“I should say not, Cap’n.”
“But I did ask her about the horse.”
“What’d she say?”
"That’s a woman for you; when they won’t tell they ’and you out a laugh. She’s a deep un.”
“She wanted me to bet the money so Canningsby wouldn’t know anything about it; and in London; because, as she put it, if the wife of Crusader’s owner bet on another horse in the race at Ascot, it might leak and cause trouble.”
"Money talks. ’Er twenty quid— it ’s a biggish bet for a woman—is the straight office. An’ I’ll tell you more, Cap’n, it won’t be the first time that Canningsby’s strung along of Saddler who owns Edipus. ’E ’s a shrewd un, that same Canningsby.”
Roberts rose, saying: “I’ll ’ave Chippy in; an’ ’e ’s got to take my word for what you don’t want to tell ’im.”
When the bookmaker was seated at the little table, Roberts adroitly conveyed to him that the Captain’s information had come straight from head quarters; if he had said from Canningsby Chippy Morton would have scoffed at his statement; so Roberts, before Anstruther was fully aware of it, had let Chippy understand that it had come to the Captain through Mrs. Canningsby. But before all this Roberts had stated the terms. Chippy had sworn a round British oath emphasizing his indignation at two hundred quid. He’d bet a pony for them—twenty-five sovs.
But Roberts was obdurate, asking Morton since when had he started booking in the five-shilling ring. There was a delightful exchange of vituperation, but in the end Chippy had agreed to the terms.-
Roberts left Anstruther assuring him that he would get Mitchell to put down a hundred pounds for them.
'T'HEN Anstruther took up the matter of raising a A hundred sovereigns to bet on Edipus, no light task. This promised share of the betting was, so to speak, all in the air—he simply must make a certainty by betting something worth while himself. His own modest income of twenty pounds a week, derived from an inherited share in family property, would hardly stand the.strain of this borrow.
He bet Mrs. Canningsby’s twenty pounds, getting 10 to 1; he would turn the winnings over to the little lady; and he chuckled over the jolly mystification that ’ would occur when shebrought this matter up with the real Forsythe.
In the matter of finance he drew the evening blank— evidently nobody in London was possessed of a hundred pounds.
In the morning Anstruther was up early; he had simply to raise that hundred, or at least fifty, before train time for Ascot. He had in mind Ignace Wyse, a London Jew money-lender on a huge scale from whom the sons of the aristocracy raised money on their future prospects when they had come a cropper. Of course Wyse would consider a hundred pounds not worth bothering over; he might do it if Anstruther got a good endorser to his note; and an endorser might be coaxed into it by being let in on the tip.
Anstruther headed for the Overseas Club, and just within the entrance came face to face with Hall Ramsden. He had known him in Calcutta, and Ramsden simply reeked of wealth. He was partner in a big jewelry ffrm in Calcutta; and because the firm sold jewelry over a counter, Hall had been classed as a shop-keeper— never could get into the Bengal Club, for instance; and Ramsden had felt with bitterness this caste distinction.
Anstruther learned that Ramsden had just landed back home in London, and therefore would not, as yet, have been borrowed dry; also he would think nothing
of a hundred pounds to a man like Anstruther who would introduce him to people worth while socially. In India Anstruther, still in the Service, had been all right.
Anstruther knew that Ramsden had been quite a bettor on the horses in Calcutta, so he interested him by a frank confession of why he was about so early. He hadn’t time even for breakfast with Ramsden because he must get down to his agents, the law firm that handled his estate, to get two hundred pounds to put down on a horse at Ascot that day—must get it in time to motor down with the owner of the horse. And Fitzgerald, the man of the law firm, was not one to be in office early.
‘ Anstruther was not going down with Canningsby, but it sounded good, for he had designs on his moneyed friend.
“I could let you have a hundred, my dear boy,” Ramsden said; “I haven’t two hundred on me.”
Anstruther gasped: “By Jove, old man, that will do! I’ll give you a cheque for it—the Club here will only cash a five-pound cheque.”
“Never mind a cheque—you can leave it here for me.”
“Do you want to have a bit on for yourself?” Anstruther asked.
“Fancy I’d like to put down twenty-five pounds.”
At Fisher’s they learned that Edipus was now 7 to 1. The bookmaker, not to be caught napping, kept in close touch with the Victoria Club, and Chippy Morton had hacked the horse down from tens to sevens. This was cheering, this support by professionals.
So Anstruther bet seventy-five pounds, retaining twenty-five as a sinking fund. Ramsden bet his pony, twenty-five pounds, and as they walked away said: “Fancy you’ve got it right, Anstruther; looks as if I’d jolly well get good interest on my loan. Sorry I can’t go down to Ascot, but I have business in the City.”
Anstruther was elated; there was a tang in the air that June morning. How the gods did throw the dice for or against a man; Saturday had been one devil of a day, but now, Wednesday, he was on the high road to fortune.
He swung along blithely, mentally running up what his winnings would be. Already he stood to win, with his share of Roberts’s commission and his own bet, over £1,500. By gad!
ASCOT is a place not only of struggle between the giants of the turf but, also, a fairyland in which beautiful women, looking like animated orchids in dreamy gowns, saunter with listless grace about the tree-shaded paddock, and back to stand-boxes to watch the noble, lion-hearted thoroughbreds battle on the green-sward course.
Anstruther felt all this as he stood on the grassed lawn of Tattersall’s Ring. Across the course motor cars, drags, and coaches were lined up beyond the rail; liveried servants were getting out the hampers, and the air vibrated joyousness. Off to the right was the place of the mob, the five-shilling ring. Strident voices of bull-necked bookies came wafting on the gentle June air: “I’ll back the Field! a pony the Field! two to one bar one! ’Ere you are, three to one bar one, I’ll back the Field!”
To Anstruther’s left was the Royal Enclosure, holier still than Tattersall’s Ring, reserved for Royalty and their friends of the titled aristocracy. Royalty would coach over from Windsor; the King would be coming, and the Prince of Wales. Ascot was Ascot—nothing like it in the world, breeding—of man and beast.
And now there was a great commotion, people hurrying down to the rail; there were cries of “The King!” Yes, coming up the course Anstruther could see a coach drawn by four white horses—the Royal Coach; and now as it passed to turn into the paddock he saw the King and Queen seated in it. Behind followed a long string of coaches.
Anstruther had not located Mrs. Canningsby yet;1 in fact had it not been for the thought that there might be a possible switch—a last minute advice that Canningsby meant to win with Gray Crusader, he would have kept out of view; some devilish unforeseen contretemp might betray him. However, he had better locate her, and .if she advised a saving bet on Crusader, he had twenty-five pounds in his pocket.
Continued on page 34
Continued from page 32 It was after the second race that, looking up into the stand, he saw a programme vibrated gently in his direc-' tion. It was Mrs. Canningsby beckoning, and Anstruther joined her.
“You did manage it, Forsythe,” she said; “sit down, and, -well, let me compliment you on—on your remarkable coming on.”
“I haven’t made a bet,” he answered, not quite understanding.
“I mean knowing things. Yankees are popularly supposed to attend afternoon functions in evening attire—dress suits; but for an American, a bookworm, to come to Ascot as perfectly groomed as a Guardsman is, well, perfect.”
“I didn’t know,” Anstruther stammered, “but I asked the Club fellows— as you were to be here. These things I had acquired because literature in London is half social propaganda.”
Mrs. Canningsby laughed: “Very
clever,” she murmured, “very clever. W.e won’t see anything of Hamar,” she added—“not until the Royal Hunt Cup is on—until they’re going down to the post; then he’ll come tearing in, and if he doesn’t even speak to you don’t mind.”
“I put your twenty pounds on,” Anstruther advised; “only got 7 to 1, though.”
“You were lucky. Coming down Hamar said he was at fives.”
“Did your husband bet on Edipus?” "I don’t know—he wouldn’t tell me; he knows I have my eye on a set of emeralds, and if he had a big win I’d simply order them sent. Did you back Edipus, have your five pounds on?” “Oh, yes, you bet I did.” He had almost blurted out “rather.” “Are you going to bet any more on Edipus—or have a saving bet on Gray Crusader?”
MRS. CANNINGSBY laughed. “You’ll soon be as mad about betting as Hamar. No, I haven’t bet any more on Edipus—that twenty pounds, I fancyj will do nicely.”
Satisfied that there had been no change in the situation, Anstruther made excuses now and then to drift down to the lawn—to have a pound on some horse in one of the races. Just before the Royal Hunt Cup he went back to the box; it would look better. And presently a long line of thoroughbreds filed out of the gate from the paddock on the left, and came down the green sward of the course past the stand on their way to the start.
Gray Crusader, sixth in the procession, caught Anstruther’s eye: his gigantic size, his strange mottling of color, gray and battleship gray, in patches almost black. He was lean, angular; power beyond doubt, but carrying nothing of the accepted idea of symmetrical beauty. His head was long, large, suggesting the heavy head of a patriarch, perhaps of a deep thinker; the eyes full and brooding —honest and brave; the ears were placidly pointing forward as if he were wondering where they were to start from.
“Oh!” the exclamation was from Mrs.
Canningsby. “That’s Donnelly riding Gray Crusader—Hamar said there was some dispute about his second call on the jockey; Lord Cardiff, who has first call, hasn’t a horse in the race.”
A little shiver of apprehension passed over Anstruther; Donnelly up—what did that mean?
“There’s Edipus,” he said, after looking at his programme, “that brown with the blue and white cap.”
“He’s beautiful,” Mrs. Canningsby murmured. “If his foot doesn’t bother him they say if it weren’t for that he’d have won the Derby last year.”
And Edipus was beautiful. He was all that Gray Crusader was not in equine structure; he was symmetrical, as if the gods had modeled something to challenge the perfection of man. lie, too, had placid, fearless eyes; as he swung head sidewise he seemed to be peering into the sea of humanity as if looking for someone. He was far smaller than the giant gray, but glorious loins. And a long tapering neck; his body seemed carried forward over the forelegs in a way that suggested speed.
But now the thoroughbreds had passed on; broken out of line, and were all over the course cantering to the post.
Canningsby came bustling up to the box, unslinging his glasses as he entered. “Hello, Forsythe!” and he nodded. He
was focusing his glasses down the course. “We’ll soon know all about it, Lyn,” he was saying; “it doesn’t take long to gallop seven furlongs and a bit. I did the best I could for the Gray; I got Donnelly—after a battle. I don’t like it though, he’s gone back in the betting, he’s 8 to 1, and they’ve hammered Edipus down to fives—these fellows must know something.”
He lowered his glasses for a second and asked: “Have you got a bet on, Forsythe?”
“Yes, £5,” Anstruther answered. “That’s good; rather fancy you’ll win it.” Then he said, sharply: “They’re off —all in a flock!”
ANSTRUTHER was on his feet. He
■ turned to look at Mrs. Canningsby, to assist her up. She was idly flicking a spot of dust from her frock, and . as she raised her face there was a whimsical smile on her lips.
Anstruther trained his glasses dowTn the course. He could see the thoroughbreds coming up the slight hill—rather, he could see a gray, a gigantic gray; the web of gold and green and blue and red and white behind, seemingly lengths away, was something detached, from the race, almost like a crowd of humans that had burst in on the course to follow on. He groped foolishly with his eyes for the brown, for Edipus—in vain. The gray, flat against his withers the maroon and old-gold colors of Canningsby, filled Anstruther’s vision.
Once Canningsby gave a gasping guttural mutter of: “He’s got it! Donnelly knew: he said if he’d sit still that the gray would take care of the others!” Then seconds, and beyond the jumping, yelling, shrieking mob, Anstruther saw a creature like a gray ghost sweep along, and behind him, three lengths, was a chestnut, lapped on his quarters a bay.
With a mighty sigh from his deep chest Canningsby dropped his glasses into the leather case, placed a hand on his wife’s shoulder, and said: “Lyn, you get the emeralds; I’ve given the bookies something to remember. I’ve got to lead tha._ Gray in,” and impetuously he clattered down the steps.
Anstruther sat down wearily. He turned to Mrs. Canningsby saying bravely enough, “Fancy that bad hoof must have bothered Edipus.”
“You take it well, Mr.—Mr. Forsythe,” she said, and her voice carried some unknown timbre.
“Do you mind telling me why you did it?” Anstruther asked, and his gray eyes searched hers.
“If you will tell me your name I will tell you,” she answered.
He hesitated a second or two; then he said: “My name is Anstruther.”
“Thank you. I did it because you kissed me.”
“When did you discover I was not Forsythe?”
“When you kissed me.”