The world had not forgotten. They remembered The Rogue’s last race. They remembered Garrison’s last race. The wise ones said that The Rogue could not possibly win. This time there could be no fluke, for the great Red McGloin was up on the favorite. The Rogue would be shown in his true colors—a second-rater.
Speculation was rife. This Carter Handicap presented many, many features that kept the crowd at fever-heat. Garrison had come back. Garrison had been reinstated. Garrison was up on a mount he had been accused of permitting to win last year. Those who wield the muck-rake for the sake of general filth, not in the name of justice, shook their heads and lifted high hands to Heaven. It looked bad. Why should Garrison be riding for Colonel Desha? Why had Jimmie Drake transferred him at the eleventh hour? Why had Drake scratched Speedaway? Why had Major Calvert scratched Dixie? The latter was an outsider, but they had heard great things of her.
“Cooked,” said the muck-rakers wisely, and, thinking it was a show-down for the favorite, stacked every cent they had on Swallow. No long shots for them.
And some there were who cursed Drake and Major Calvert; cursed long and intelligently—those who had bet on Speedaway and Dixie, bet on the play-or-pay basis, and now that the mounts were scratched, they had been bitten. It was entirely wrong to tempt Fortune, and then have her turn on you. She should always be down on the “other fellow”—not you.
And then there were those, and many, who did not question, who were glad to know that Garrison had come back on any terms. They had liked him for himself. They were the weak-kneed variety who are stanch in prosperity; who go with the world; coincide with the world’s verdict. The world had said Garrison was crooked. If they had not agreed, they had not denied. If Garrison now had been reinstated, then the world said he was honest. They agreed now—loudly; adding the old shibboleth of the moral coward: “I told you so.” But still they doubted that he had “come back.” A has-been can never come back.
The conservative element backed Morgan’s Swallow. Red McGloin was up, and he was proven class. He had stepped into Garrison’s niche of fame. He was the popular idol now. And, as Garrison had once warned him, he was already beginning to pay the price. The philosophy of the exercise boy had changed to the philosophy of the idol; the idol who cannot be pulled down. And he had suffered. He had gone through part of what Garrison had gone through, but he also had experienced what the latter’s inherent cleanliness had kept him from.
Temptation had come Red’s way; come strong without reservation. Red, with the hunger of the long-denied, with the unrestricted appetite of the intellectually low, had not discriminated. And he had suffered. His trainer had watched him carefully, but youth must have its fling, and youth had flung farther than watching wisdom reckoned.