“So he is, plea Gob,” said Jim.
Boy looked at him severely. Then she tapped him with her crop.
“He may,” she said. “You mayn’t. And you mustn’t mimic dad.”
He touched his forehead.
At the Bottom, not far from the place where the old mare had died, a rough thatched shed of tarred sleepers had been run up for the colt.
“There he is!” said the girl. “By the wood,” and called him.
The yearling came, trotting proudly at first, and then breaking into an ungainly gallop. A gawky creature, with a coat like a bear’s, he moved with the awkward grace of a puppy, slithering and slipping in the mud, yet always recovering himself with surprising speed and precision.
Boy dismounted, and Silver followed her example.
She held out her hand toward the colt.
“Come on, the boy!” she cooed. “Billy Bluff’s not here to rag you.”
The colt came delicately with outstretched neck and wide nostrils, fearing for his liberty, yet poking out his nose toward the extended palm on which there lay a piece of bread.
“Looks as if he might make into something, don’t you think?” said the girl. “Lots of bone.”
“What colour’s he going to be?” asked the young man.
“Black-brown with bay points. Black-and-tan, mother calls him.”
“Black-and-tan,” said the young man. “That’s Berserk, isn’t it?”
“I believe so,” replied the girl.
“Is that sure?” asked the young man.
“Father seems to think so,” replied Boy evasively. “Monkey Brand met the gypsy afterward, who pitched him a tale.”
“Who’s he belong to?” asked the young man.
“Me, of course,” laughed Boy.
“I’ll go shares with you!” said Silver. “Halve expenses and winnings. There’s an offer now!”
“Right,” she cried.
They shook hands with laughter, and led their horses across the Close.
The girl edged off to the right.
“We’ll look in on old Ragamuffin,” she said. “I always used to give him an apple on my birthday.”
As they put the wood between them and the Bottom, a man who had been lying in the shelter out of the wind came to the door and called to the colt.
“Whoa, little man!” he said. “Whoa then!”
The Fire in the Dusk
It was Jerry who gave the alarm ten minutes later. He had been busy at his garden in the Sloperies when he saw the smoke rise from the shelter on the hill, and rushed into the yard to say the shed was ablaze.
Boy and Silver, after their leisurely walk home, had just entered the yard and surrendered their horses to two of the lads. The girl was releasing Billy Bluff from his chain, to Maudie’s open annoyance, when Jerry panted in with his news.
Silver ran to the gate.
“By Jove, so it is!” he cried.