“What is it?” she asked.
Jim Silver showed her.
“Only this,” he said. “Right across the track.”
The girl took it as all in the day’s work.
“Did you catch him at it?” she asked.
“No; he was lying doggo near by—to watch results.”
She examined the wire.
“He means business all right,” she said.
“We must look a bit lively.
I’ll have the track patrolled.”
“I shall patrol it,” said Jim.
In her darker moods Maudie held that the world to-day only possessed one man who could take his place beside the knights of old; and that man, to be sure, was Monkey Brand.
The lads teased or ignored her; the various Four-legs were uncouth to a degree; and the Monster-without-Manners was, of course, just himself.
Therefore Maudie passed all the time she could on the shoulder of Putnam’s Only Gentleman. Perched up there, aloof, lofty, and disdainful, she would purr away like a kettle on the simmer.
That evening she was enthroned in Paradise, when Joses shambled by.
Monkey Brand, stroking her back as he stood at the gate of the yard exchanging greetings with the passers-by in the road, shook his head disapprovingly as Joses passed.
“Mug’s game, Mr. Joses,” he said sotto voce.
The fat man, who had not seen the jockey in the dusk, drew up short.
“What’s that?” he said keenly.
“That wire business,” continued the little man in the same monotonous undertone without moving his lips. “Ought to be able to do a little better than that with an edication like yours. Where’s the good of Oxford else?”
Joses came closer swiftly.
“See here, Monkey Brand,” he said. “Do you mean business, or don’t you?”
The jockey’s face was inscrutable.
“I never said no to good business yet,” he answered.
“This is good business all right,” laughed the tout. “Big money, and safe as houses.”
At the moment a voice called from the office.
“Comin,’ sir,” answered the little jockey. “That’s the Gov’nor. Back o’ Lads’ Barn. Eight o’clock,” he whispered, and was gone.
* * * * *
Joses kept the tryst, and went straight to the point.
He had burned his boats now.
“When do they box him to Liverpool?” he asked.
“Monday,” answered the other, who seemed very surly. “If you want to do anything, you must move sharp, Mr. Joses. It’s here or nowhere, mind. You won’t get no chance at Aintree. Too many cops around.”
“Who’s watching him at night?”
“Does Monkey ever nod?”
The little man looked at the stars.
“No sayin’ but he might—if he was to took a drop o’ soothin’ syrup.”