He left Holly Street and turned into Holly Park. Here from the grass that bristled so freshly, so ferociously green, the tree trunks rose black and damp. Brown pools of water reflected a blue radiant sky through blossoming branches. Gething subsided on a bench well removed from the children and nurse maids. First he glanced at the corner of Holly Street and the Boulevard where a man from his father’s racing stable would meet him with his horse. His face, his figure, his alert bearing, even his clothes promised a horse-man. The way his stirrups had worn his boots would class him as a rider. He rode with his foot “through” as the hunter, steeple chaser, and polo-player do—not on the ball of his foot in park fashion.
He pulled off his hat and ran his hand over his close-cropped head. Evidently he was still thinking. Across his face the look of pain ebbed and returned, then he grew impatient. His wrist-watch showed him his horse was late and he was in a hurry to be started, for what must be done had best be done quickly. Done quickly and forgotten, then he could give his attention to the other horses. There was Happiness—an hysterical child, and Goblin, who needed training over water jumps, and Sans Souci, whose lame leg should be cocained to locate the trouble—all of his father’s stable of great thoroughbreds needed something except Cuddy, who waited only for the bullet. Gething’s square brown hand went to his breeches pocket, settled on something that was cold as ice and drew it out—the revolver. The horse he had raced so many times at Piping Rock, Brookline, Saratoga had earned the right to die by this hand which had guided him. Cuddy’s high-bred face came vividly before his eyes and the white star would be the mark. He thrust the revolver back in his pocket hastily for a child had stopped to look at him, then slowly rose and fell to pacing the gravel walk. A jay screamed overhead, “Jay, jay, jay!”
“You fool,” Geth called to him and then muttered to himself. “Fool, fool—oh, Geth——” From the boulevard a voice called him.
“Mr. Gething—if you please, sir——!” It was Willet the trainer.
“All right, Willet.” The trainer was mounted holding a lean greyhound of a horse. Gething pulled down the stirrups.
“I meant to tell you to bring Cuddy for me to ride, last time, you know.”
“Not that devil. I could never lead him in. Frenchman, here, is well behaved in cities.”
Gething swung up. He sat very relaxed upon a horse. There was a lifetime of practice behind that graceful seat and manner with the reins. The horse started a low shuffling gait that would take them rapidly out of the city to the Gething country place and stables.
“You know,” Geth broke silence, “Cuddy’s got his—going to be shot.”
“Not one of us, sir,” said Willet, “but will sing Hallelujah! He kicked a hole in Muggins yesterday. None of the boys dare touch him, so he hasn’t been groomed proper since your father said he was to go. It’s more dangerous wipin’ him off than to steeplechase the others.” Geth agreed. “I know it isn’t right to keep a brute like that.”