“If you don’t, you’ll rue it,” said Feltram coldly, and walked away.
“Penny in pocket’s a merry companion,” says the old English proverb, and Sir Bale felt in better spirits and temper than he had for many a day as he replaced the guineas in the purse.
It was long since he had visited either the race-course or any other place of amusement. Now he might face his kind without fear that his pride should be mortified, and dabble in the fascinating agitations of the turf once more.
“Who knows how this little venture may turn out?” he thought. “It is time the luck should turn. My last summer in Germany, my last winter in Paris—d—n me, I’m owed something. It’s time I should win a bit.”
Sir Bale had suffered the indolence of a solitary and discontented life imperceptibly to steal upon him. It would not do to appear for the first time on Heckleston Lea with any of those signs of negligence which, in his case, might easily be taken for poverty. All his appointments, therefore, were carefully looked after; and on the Monday following, he, followed by his groom, rode away for the Saracen’s Head at Heckleston, where he was to put up, for the races that were to begin on the day following, and presented as handsome an appearance as a peer in those days need have cared to show.
On the Course—Beeswing, Falcon, and Lightning
As he rode towards Golden Friars, through which his route lay, in the early morning light, in which the mists of night were clearing, he looked back towards Mardykes with a hope of speedy deliverance from that hated imprisonment, and of a return to the continental life in which he took delight. He saw the summits and angles of the old building touched with the cheerful beams, and the grand old trees, and at the opposite side the fells dark, with their backs towards the east; and down the side of the wooded and precipitous clough of Feltram, the light, with a pleasant contrast against the beetling purple of the fells, was breaking in the faint distance. On the lake he saw the white speck that indicated the sail of Philip Feltram’s boat, now midway between Mardykes and the wooded shores of Cloostedd.
“Going on the same errand,” thought Sir Bale, “I should not wonder. I wish him the same luck. Yes, he’s going to Cloostedd Forest. I hope he may meet his gipsies there—the Trebecks, or whoever they are.”
And as a momentary sense of degradation in being thus beholden to such people smote him, “Well,” thought he, “who knows? Many a fellow will make a handsome sum of a poorer purse than this at Heckleston. It will be a light matter paying them then.”
Through Golden Friars he rode. Some of the spectators who did not like him, wondered audibly at the gallant show, hoped it was paid for, and conjectured that he had ridden out in search of a wife. On the whole, however, the appearance of their Baronet in a smarter style than usual was popular, and accepted as a change to the advantage of the town.