The girl’s neat slight blue-serge figure made off for the elms and the carriages. Her back turned to the young man, the sternness left her face, and she smiled.
A blue-and-black sheep-dog, shaggy as a bear, and as big, leashed to the wheel of the buggy, began to whimper and to whine with furious ecstasy. The big dog’s big soul seemed to burst within him as the Angel of the Keys drew near. He had no tail to wag, so he wagged his whole body, putting back his ears, and laughing with his heart as he lifted his joyous face to his mistress.
She rested her hand a moment on his head.
“Billy Bluff,” she said. “Steady, you ass!—How can I loose you?—There!”
She eased the spring of his leash. He was off with a bound, gambolling about her like a wave of the sea.
Albert was messing about the buggy in leisurely fashion.
“Hurry, Albert!” came the deep voice.
“Yes, Miss,” replied the other, more leisurely than ever.
“Bring that clothes-brush along and brush Mr. Silver’s coat when you’ve finished fooling,” she said.
Then she took the rug from the buggy and went back to Goosey Gander.
The young man in his pink shirt-sleeves, his baggy white breeches, and polo boots, was walking the old horse gravely up and down, talking to him.
His back was to the girl, and she watched him with kind eyes.
She was thinking how like he and Goosey Gander were: good big uns both, as her father would say; clean-bred, large-boned, great-hearted, quiet-mannered. But the man was just coming into his prime, while the horse was well past his.
“Hullo, Bill, old boy,” said the young man in his quiet voice.
Billy answered deeply.
Silver had only come to Putnam’s the night before for the first time, but he and Billy Bluff were friends already. Boy Woodburn noticed it with swift appreciation. In her young and entirely fallacious judgment there were few shrewder judges of character than Big Dog Billy.
She paused a moment, pretending to shift the rug on her arm.
The group of three before her held her eye and pleased her mind. Her face was full of beauty as she watched, the spirit peeping shyly forth.
That horse, that man, that dog, so physically remote from each other, yet spiritually akin, filled her young heart with the same sense of satisfaction as did her familiar and well-beloved Downs. She felt the goodness of them and rejoiced in it. All three were sound in body and in spirit, honest, healthy, and therefore happy as the good red earth from which they came.
The Gypsy’s Mare
Monkey Brand in a long drab coat came limping toward them, his saddle over his arm.
“Best put in, Miss,” he said. “Mr. Woodburn’s comin’.”
The old man indeed was rolling slowly toward them, followed by the chaffing and expectant crowd to whom he paid no heed. His mouth was stuffed full of bank-notes, and he was absorbed in calculations made in a little book, and muttering to himself.