Within the fence wild pandemonium broke loose. The crowd went mad with shouting. Hats, handkerchiefs, canes, umbrellas, flew into the air as if blown upward by the mad explosion of the crowd’s enthusiasm. The band was playing “Dixie.”
Frank and Neb rushed forward to lift from the winner the victorious jockey, who by such superb riding as that track had never seen before, had snatched victory from defeat after the mare had been delayed in the bad pocket which, from his distant point of survey, had alarmed the Colonel. The jockey eluded them, however and, with face averted, hurried with the splendid mare back to the paddock, and there disappeared, disregarding the crowd’s wild shouts of acclamation.
Holton stood near Frank, white-faced and angry. Old Neb, as he ran beside Queen Bess, looked back at him and grinned.
Miss Alathea, on the day after the great race, sat waiting for the Colonel in the handsome old library of Woodlawn, worrying about her unconventionalities of the preceding day. When she heard his voice, out in the hall, telling Neb to carry certain bundles into the library and knew, of course, that he would follow after them almost immediately, her heart throbbed fiercely in her bosom. She shrank back into a window recess, too embarrassed to face him without first pausing to gather up her courage.
“Put ’em there, Neb,” said the Colonel, pointing to the table, and then, after the packages had been arranged to suit him: “Here, take this, and drink to the jockey that rode Queen Bess.”
“T’ankee, Marse Cunnel, t’ankee,” Neb replied, pocketing the tip. “Oh, warn’t it gran’? An’ yo’ climbed de tree, arter all!”
“Sh! Clear out, you rascal!”
Neb did not go at once, but, with the boldness of an old and privileged retainer, stood there, chuckling. “Climbed de tree!” he gurgled. “An’ so did Miss ’Lethe!”
With this he slapped his knee, and, laughing boisterously, left the room as the embarrassed lady of the house stepped out of her concealment.
“Ah, Miss ’Lethe,” said the Colonel, “good morning.”
“I expected you back from Lexington last night, Colonel.” She looked at him reproachfully.
“Stayed over to celebrate, my dear,” the Colonel answered. “Stayed to celebrate the victory.” With a beaming face he advanced upon the lady, plainly planning an embrace.
But she eluded him. “Wait a moment, Colonel. On what did you celebrate?”
The Colonel laughed. “Oh, I didn’t forget. I celebrated on ginger-ale and soda-pop.”
Miss Alathea smiled with happy satisfaction. She eluded him no longer, but, herself, went to him and bestowed the kiss.
“I doubt if my stomach ever recovers from the insult,” said the Colonel, delighted by the kiss but remembering the mildness of the beverages which had marked his jubilation. “Miss ’Lethe, a julep—a mint-julep—before I perish.”