‘How’s the boss?’
‘Splendid! Gives ye time t’ think an’ see what yer passin’. Like t’ set ‘n think once in a while. We don’t do enough thinkin’ here in this part o’ the country.’
‘Yd orter buy this mare an learn how t’ ride fast,’ said Dean.
‘Thet one,’ said Uncle Eb, squinting at the mare, ’why she can’t go fast ‘nough.’
‘She can’t, hey?’ said Dean, bridling with injured pride. ’I don’t think there’s anything in this town can head her.’
‘Thunder!’ said Uncle Eb, ‘I can go by her with this ol’ plug easy ‘twixt here an’ our gate. Ye didn’t know what ye was sellin’.’
‘If ye pass her once I’ll give her to ye,’ said he.
‘Mean it?’ said Uncle Eb.
‘Sartin,’ said he, a little redder in the face.
‘An’ if I don’t I’ll give ye the whistler,’ said Uncle Eb as he turned about.
The mare went away, under the whip, before we had fairly started. She was going a fifty shot but in a moment we were lapping upon her hind wheel. Dean threw a startled glance over his shoulder. Then he shouted to the mare. She quickened her pace a little but we kept our position. Uncle Eb was leaning over the dasher his white locks flying. He had something up his sleeve, as they say, and was not yet ready to use it. Then Dean began to shear over to cut us off- a nasty trick of the low horseman. I saw Uncle Eb glance at the ditch ahead. I knew what was coining and took a firm hold of the seat. The ditch was a bit rough, but Uncle Eb had no lack of courage. He turned the horse’s head, let up on the reins and whistled. I have never felt such a thrill as then. Our horse leaped into the deep grass running like a wild deer.
‘Hi there! hi there!’ Uncle Eb shouted, bouncing in his seat, as we went over stones and hummocks going like the wind.
‘Go, ye brown devil!’ he yelled, his hat flying off as he shook the reins.
The mare lost her stride; we flashed by and came up into the road. Looking back I saw her jumping up and down a long way behind us and Dean whipping her. Uncle Eb, his hands over the dasher, had pulled down to a trot Ahead of us we could see our folks — men and women — at the gate looking down the road at us waving hats and handkerchiefs. They had heard the noise of the battle. Uncle Eb let up on the reins and looked back snorting with amusement. In a moment we pulled up at our gate. Dean came along slowly.
‘Thet’s a putty good mare,’ said Uncle Eb.
‘Yer welcome to her,’ said Dean sullenly.
‘Wouldn’t hev her,’ said Uncle Eb.
‘Why not?’ said the trader a look of relief coming over his face.
‘Can’t go fast enough for my use,’ Uncle Eb answered. ’Ye can jest hitch her in here awhile an’ the first day ye come over with a hundred dollars ye can hev her ’n the whistler, both on ’em. Thet whistler’s a grand hoss! Can hold his breath longer’n any hoss I ever knew!’