“Thank you,” she said simply. Her voice was soft and throaty.
Garrison absently raised his hat and was about to resume the defunct paper when he was interrupted. A hand reached over the back of the seat, and before he had thought of resistance, he was flung violently down the aisle.
He heard a great laugh from the Behemoth’s friends. He rose slowly, his fighting blood up. Then he became aware that his ejector was not one of the crowd, but a newcomer; a tall man with a fierce white mustache and imperial; dressed in a frock coat and wide, black slouch hat. He was talking.
“How dare you insult my daughter, suh?” he thundered. “By thunder, suh, I’ve a good mind to make you smart right proper for your lack of manners, suh! How dare you, suh? You—you contemptible little—little snail, suh! Snail, suh!” And quite satisfied at thus selecting the most fitting word, glaring fiercely and twisting his white mustache and imperial with a very martial air, he seated himself majestically by his daughter.
Garrison recognized him. He was Colonel Desha, of Kentucky, whose horse, Rogue, had won the Carter Handicap through Garrison’s poor riding of the favorite, Sis. His daughter was expostulating with him, trying to insert the true version of the affair between her father’s peppery exclamations of “Occupying my seat!” “I saw him raise his hat to you!” “How dare he?” “Complain to the management against these outrageous flirts!” “Abominable manners!” etc., etc.
Meanwhile Garrison had silently walked into the smoker. He tried to dismiss the incident from his mind, but it stuck; stuck as did the girl’s eyes.
At the next station a newsboy entered the car. Garrison idly bought a paper. It was full of the Carter Handicap, giving both Crimmins’ and Waterbury’s version of the affair. Public opinion, it seemed, was with them. They had protested the race. It had been thrown, and Garrison’s dishonor now was national.
There was a column of double-leaded type on the first page, run in after the making up of the paper’s body, and Garrison’s bitter eyes negligently scanned it. But at the first word he straightened up as if an electric shock had passed through him.
“Favorite for the Carter Handicap Poisoned,” was the great, staring title. The details were meager; brutally meager. They were to the effect that some one had gained access to the Waterbury stable and had fed Sis strychnine.
Garrison crumpled up the paper and buried his face in his hands, making no pretense of hiding his misery. She had been more than a horse to him; she had been everything.
“Sis—Sis,” he whispered over and over again, the tears burning to his eyes, his throat choking: “I didn’t get a chance to square the deal. Sis—Sis it was good-by—good-by forever.”
Beginning A new life.