He had covered the course of seven miles in thirty minutes and six seconds, while two minutes behind came Dan, just in time to offer loyal homage on the altar of friendship and success. There was a warm clasp of the hand, and a sincere if brief tribute. “You are some swell racer, George,” and, as one making a vow, “you can bet I’ll never throw rocks at another black cat so long as I live.”
Shortly Bob and Bill arrived, well pleased that they were so close to the Victor—but there was no sign of Jim; whereupon Mr. Kelly delivered himself of a scathing comment. “I guess next time Jim ’d better enter the High School Girls’ Handicap; these real races ain’t any place for him.”
The presentation of the tiny Trophy Cup was a formal function. George, held up in the Judge’s arms that he might be seen as he received it, was filled not only with present pride, but also with an inward determination to devote the rest of his existence to the high calling of dog racing; with perhaps an occasional descent into the lower realms of school affairs and business, as a concession to the wishes of his parents and in deference to their age and old-fashioned ideas.
His happiness in the accomplishment of his dogs was complete. His hard work in their training had been fully repaid; for Spot had not only proved his cleverness as a leader, but Queen had been no worse than he had anticipated, and Baldy had faithfully performed his duty as a wheeler in keeping the trail when it was most necessary.
It was a triumph worth while for the boy and the team.
That night at a full meeting of the “Bow-Wow Wonder Workers,” the exciting affairs of the day were discussed at length.
Dan announced that he could recommend the Mego Pups to “Scotty” without a single unfavorable criticism. If there had been any weakness, it was, he admitted freely, in his driving. “I don’t seem to put the ginger into ’em the way George does at the finish. But I guess he takes it from his father; and my dad,” regretfully, “never drove anything better ’n horses in his whole life. Then there was that black cat, too.”
Ben Edwards, with his arm around Baldy’s neck, listened with delight as the minute details of the race were given by those who knew whereof they spoke. He was proud indeed when George told how Baldy had steadfastly held out against the efforts of Spot and Queen to bolt; and of the dog’s stoical indifference to the bitten ear, which was, fortunately, only slightly torn.
“I guess, Ben, that Baldy’ll be somethin’ like old Dubby. You can count on him doin’ the right thing every time. He’ll pull ’most as strong as McMillan, and he sure was good not to chew Queen up, the way she tackled him. But I don’t know,” judicially, “that we can make a real racer of him. He don’t seem to have just the racin’ spirit. He ain’t keen for it, like Spot. But he’s a bully all ’round dog, just the same.”
“Mebbe it’s cause he don’t understand the game,” answered Ben loyally. “Moose Jones allers said that Baldy had plenty o’ spirit; an’ I kinda think he’s like the ship she was tellin’ us about the other day. He ain’t really found himself yet.”