“Well?” said Geoffrey. “How about the time? Long? short? or middling?”
“Very good time,” said Perry.
“When did you say the lady was going, Mr. Delamayn?”
“In two days.”
“Very well, Sir. I’ll tell you ‘how long’ when the lady’s gone.”
Geoffrey made no attempt to insist on an immediate reply. He smiled faintly. After an interval of less than ten minutes he stretched out his legs and closed his eyes.
“Going to sleep?” said Perry.
Geoffrey opened his eyes with an effort. “No,” he said. The word had hardly passed his lips before his eyes closed again.
“Hullo!” said Perry, watching him. “I don’t like that.”
He went closer to the chair. There was no doubt about it. The man was asleep.
Perry emitted a long whistle under his breath. He stooped and laid two of his fingers softly on Geoffrey’s pulse. The beat was slow, heavy, and labored. It was unmistakably the pulse of an exhausted man.
The trainer changed color, and took a turn in the room. He opened a cupboard, and produced from it his diary of the preceding year. The entries relating to the last occasion on which he had prepared Geoffrey for a foot-race included the fullest details. He turned to the report of the first trial, at three hundred yards, full speed. The time was, by one or two seconds, not so good as the time on this occasion. But the result, afterward, was utterly different. There it was, in Perry’s own words: “Pulse good. Man in high spirits. Ready, if I would have let him, to run it over again.”
Perry looked round at the same man, a year afterward—utterly worn out, and fast asleep in the chair.
He fetched pen, ink, and paper out of the cupboard, and wrote two letters—both marked “Private.” The first was to a medical man, a great authority among trainers. The second was to Perry’s own agent in London, whom he knew he could trust. The letter pledged the agent to the strictest secrecy, and directed him to back Geoffrey’s opponent in the Foot-Race for a sum equal to the sum which Perry had betted on Geoffrey himself. “If you have got any money of your own on him,” the letter concluded, “do as I do. ’Hedge’—and hold your tongue.”
“Another of ’em gone stale!” said the trainer, looking round again at the sleeping man. “He’ll lose the race.”
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SECOND.
SEEDS OF THE FUTURE (SECOND SOWING).
AND what did the visitors say of the Swans?
They said, “Oh, what a number of them!”—which was all that was to be said by persons ignorant of the natural history of aquatic birds.
And what did the visitors say of the lake?
Some of them said, “How solemn!” Some of them said, “How romantic!” Some of them said nothing—but privately thought it a dismal scene.