“She done got outen de paddock and nigh ‘bout bus’ herself wide open on de flank on dat dummed Mas-Chine what dey trims de hedges wid. She bleeged ter bleed ter death, Joshi say.”
Peggy turned white. “Excuse me, please—I must go as fast as I can. Home, Shashai, four bells and a jingle!” she cried and the colt swept away like a tornado, Tzaritza in the lead.
“Golly, but she’s one breeze, ain’ she, sah?”
“She is a wonderful girl and will make a magnificent woman if not spoiled in the next ten years,” replied Dr. Llewellyn, though the words were more an oral expression of his own thoughts than a reply to the negro boy.
As the half-wild colt swept up to the paddock from which the valuable brood mare Empress had made her escape, Peggy was met by one of the stable hands.
“Where is she?” she asked, her dark eyes full of concern and anxiety.
“Up yonder in de paster,” answered the negro, pointing to a green upland. A touch with her heel started Shashai. A moment later she slipped from her mount to hurry to a little group gathered around a dark object lying upon the ground. With the pitiful little cry:
“Oh, Empress! My beauty,” Peggy was upon her knees beside the splendid animal.
“Shelby, Shelby, how did it happen? Oh, how did it?” she cried as she lifted the horse’s head to her lap. The panting creature looked at her with great appealing, terror-stricken eyes, as though imploring her to save the life-spark now flickering so fitfully.
“God knows, miss,” answered the foreman of the paddock. “We did not find her until a half hour ago. If I’d a-found her sooner it would never a-come to this. We ain’t never had no such accident on the estate since I been on it, and I’d give all I’m worth if we could a-just have missed this one. Some fool, I can’t find out who, left them hedge shears a-hanging wide open across the gate and the gate unlatched, and she must a run foul of ’em, ’cause we found ’em and all the signs o’ what had happened, but we couldn’t find her for more ’n hour, and then this is what we found. I sent Bud for you and Jim for the Vet, but we’ve all come too late.” The man spoke low and hurriedly, and never for a moment ceased his care for the mare. The veterinary who had arrived but a few moments before Peggy stood by helpless to do more than had already been done by Shelby, the veteran horse-trainer who had been on the estate for years, and who loved the animals as though they were his children. It was evident that the Empress’ moments were numbered. She had severed one of the great veins in her flank and had nearly bled to death before discovered. Her little foal stood near, surprised at his dam’s indifference to his needs, his little baby face and great round eyes, so like his mother’s, filled with questioning