Next morning he was on the race-course of Heckleston, renewing old acquaintance and making himself as agreeable as he could—an object, among some people, of curiosity and even interest. Leaving the carriage-sides, the hoods and bonnets, Sir Bale was soon among the betting men, deep in more serious business.
How did he make his book? He did not break his word. He backed Beeswing, Falcon, and Lightning. But it must be owned not for a shilling more than the five guineas each, to which he stood pledged. The odds were forty-five to one against Beeswing, sixty to one against Lightning, and fifty to one against Falcon.
“A pretty lot to choose!” exclaimed Sir Bale, with vexation. “As if I had money so often, that I should throw it away!”
The Baronet was testy thinking over all this, and looked on Feltram’s message as an impertinence and the money as his own.
Let us now see how Sir Bale Mardykes’ pocket fared.
Sulkily enough at the close of the week he turned his back on Heckleston racecourse, and took the road to Golden Friars.
He was in a rage with his luck, and by no means satisfied with himself; and yet he had won something. The result of the racing had been curious. In the three principal races the favourites had been beaten: one by an accident, another on a technical point, and the third by fair running. And what horses had won? The names were precisely those which the “fortune-teller” had predicted.
Well, then, how was Sir Bale in pocket as he rode up to his ancestral house of Mardykes, where a few thousand pounds would have been very welcome? He had won exactly 775 guineas; and had he staked a hundred instead of five on each of the names communicated by Feltram, he would have won 15,500 guineas.
He dismounted before his hall-door, therefore, with the discontent of a man who had lost nearly 15,000 pounds. Feltram was upon the steps, and laughed dryly.
“What do you laugh at?” asked Sir Bale tartly.
“You’ve won, haven’t you?”
“Yes, I’ve won; I’ve won a trifle.”
“On the horses I named?”
“Well, yes; it so turned out, by the merest accident.”
Feltram laughed again dryly, and turned away.
Sir Bale entered Mardykes Hall, and was surly. He was in a much worse mood than before he had ridden to Heckleston. But after a week or so ruminating upon the occurrence, he wondered that Feltram spoke no more of it. It was undoubtedly wonderful. There had been no hint of repayment yet, and he had made some hundreds by the loan; and, contrary to all likelihood, the three horses named by the unknown soothsayer had won. Who was this gipsy? It would be worth bringing the soothsayer to Mardykes, and giving his people a camp on the warren, and all the poultry they could catch, and a pig or a sheep every now and then. Why, that seer was worth the philosopher’s stone, and could make Sir Bale’s fortune in a season. Some one else would be sure to pick him up if he did not.