“And the mare’s got twelve-seven,” said the young man meditatively.
“Twelve-three,” said the trainer. “And she’ll carry it, too. But I’ll back my Berserk against their Iroquois any time o’ day this side o’ ’Appy Alleloojah Land.”
The hacks were being led out into the yard with a pleasant clatter of feet, and Boy was already mounted.
“Come and see for yourself,” panted the old man. “I’m goin’ to send him along to-day. See whether he can reelly get four mile without a fuss. I was only waitin’ till you come.”
The Fat Man Emerges
The old man, the young man, and the girl rode out of the yard into the Paddock Close.
“Where’s Billy Bluff?” asked Silver. He was on Heart of Oak, she high above him, perched like a bird on tall old Silvertail, who looked like a spinster and was one. Almost you expected her to look at you over spectacles and make an acrid comment on men or things.
“In front with his friend,” replied Boy.
“Are you going to pace him?” asked Jim.
“I believe so,” replied the girl casually. “Dad’s going to send him the full course to-day. Jerry and I are to take him over the fences the first time round. And then Stanley’s to bring him along the flat the last two miles.”
They travelled up the public path past the church amid the sycamores. Mat on his fast-walking cob rode in front, kicking his legs. Boy and Jim followed more soberly.
She rode a little behind him that she might see his profile. Suddenly he reined back and met her face, his own gleaming with laughter. At such moments he looked absurdly young.
“I say, Boy!” he began, dropping his voice.
She snatched her eyes from his face, and then peeped at him warily.
He drew up beside her.
“I’m not a gentleman any more.”
She looked straight before her. Her fine lips were firm and resisting, but about her eyes the light stole and rippled deliciously.
“I’m not sure,” she said, half to herself.
He pressed up alongside her, lifting his face.
“I’m not!” he cried. “I’m not!” eager as a boy in his protestations. “You can’t chuck that up at me any more.”