Silver indeed had hesitated awhile between the two stables. Then he had met Jaggers, and had decided at once—against Dewhurst. When the game was finally lost, and it was known that Putnam’s had come out top again in the struggle that had lasted between the two stables for thirty years, the tout changed his method but never lost sight of his ideal; yearning over the rich young man as a mother yearns over a child.
His dreams had been shattered finally in the wood a month back, and for that debacle the girl behind the rock must be held responsible.
Boy Sees a Vision
Joses when in liquor was wont to boast that his memory was good, and he was right upon the whole. But on this occasion he had forgotten something, and that something was Billy Bluff. Billy and Joses had met before, as Monkey Brand had pointed out to Mat, and had agreed to dislike each other. And when Joses began his stalk, Billy Bluff started on a stalk of his own.
Boy Woodburn, peeping between two rocks, watched with grim glee. Her senses, quick as those of a wild creature, had warned her long ago of the Great Beast’s approach. For Joses to imagine he could take her by surprise was as though a beery bullock believed that he could catch a lark. The girl was almost sorry for the man: his fatness, his fatuity appealed to her pity. Alert as a leopard, she was not in the least afraid of him. In the wood, true, he had caught her, but her downfall there she owed to a sprain. Here in the open, in her riding things, she could run rings about her enemy.
Lying on her face behind the rock, she watched the little drama.
Billy Bluff, wet still from the sea, his hair clinging about his ribs, and giving him the air of a heraldic griffin, crept on the puffing fat man and hurled at him with a roar.
The assault was entirely unexpected.
“You—bear!” blurted Joses, the picturesque phrase popping out of him like a cork from a heady bottle of champagne.
He struggled to his feet, picked up a stone, and slung it at the charging dog.
Billy Bluff meant business; and it was well for his enemy that the stone struck him on the fore-paw. The blow steadied, but it did not stop, the dog. He gave a little gurgle and came again on three legs in silent fury.
Joses made for the cliff, where a fall had constituted a steep ramp. He scrambled up it, an avalanche of chalk slipping away from beneath his feet and half burying the pursuing dog.
He panted up to the top of the ramp, and stood with his back to the cliff, looking down on his attacker.
Billy Bluff could not make his footing good upon the shale.
He lay at the foot of the cliff, one eye on his prey, licking his damaged paw, and swearing beneath his breath. And it was clear he did not mean to budge.
Joses turned his face to the cliff. He got his hands on the top, and lifting himself, could just peer over the edge of the cliff and see the green and the gorse beyond. Unaided, he could do no more.