no next

Part II.

  ― 137 ―

Chapter XIII. London Bound

WHEN Alastair de Vere Fysshe, ninth Earl of Fysshe and Fynne, Baron Seawood, G.C.B., Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, Conservative whip, owner of pictures by Reynolds and Gainsborough — when the owner of all these titles died, it was found that (contrary to the general opinion) he really had married the music-hall star whose presence in his baronial halls had caused many dowagers to sniff and stop away.

Not only had he married her; he had left to her all his disposable estate: freeholds in London, factories in the Midlands, coal-mines, and a successful stud of thoroughbreds. Lady Seawood (as she preferred to be called, having an aversion to the name of Fysshe) had been the idol of the halls for ten years or so, and was a personality to be feared if not respected. She was a peroxide blonde, with the face of a Roman emperor. Her broad sloping shoulders topped a chest like that of a coal-heaver; her hips and legs, originally like those of an Epstein statue, had been further developed by years of dancing; her voice, when she chose to let it go, could outroar a bos'n's mate.

Perilously near the age of forty, she had kept herself in perfect physical trim by constant exercise and rigid

  ― 138 ―
abstention from all that she most desired in the way of eating and drinking.

When the Oronia, with Sensation and his entourage on board, pulled into Colombo, a thrill ran through the ship as soon as it was known that among the passengers to join her at that port were Lady Seawood and her companion Miss Fysshe. And the ship had hardly got under way again when Her Ladyship made her appearance in the saloon.

“'Ere, Frogmouth,” she said — addressing a steward who certainly was a bit down in the gills — “'ere, Frogmouth, go and find me the chief stooard. Tell him Lady Seawood wants 'im. At the double.”

Though he did not exactly come at the double, the chief steward lost no time in making his appearance and started on some commonplace about having the honour. But Her Ladyship cut him short with an imperious “Sit down, old Fishface, and lissen to me.

“There's a man on board,” she went on, “I want to meet. Name of Carstairs. 'E owns this racehorse you've got up forrard. What sort of a proposition is he? Who's with him? Where does he sit? I want you to put me at his table. Savvy? No captain's table for me. All the old tabbies on the ship will be at that table, and if I cut loose I might make some of 'em jump overboard.”

The chief steward was by no means rattled. He had paid many a shilling to see Her Ladyship's legs in the old days, and he had carried music-hall stars on previous voyages.

“There's a party of them with that horse,” he said.

  ― 139 ―
“They got on at Sydney, but they're not all Australians. I put them at a table by themselves, because I had to keep room at the captain's table in case any real swells came on with the Indian passengers. There's the Honourable Captain Salter, aide-de-camp to the Governor of New South Wales, and an old Irish gentleman and his daughter, and this Mr Carstairs that owns the horse, and his secretary, a Mr Fitzroy.”

“Right-oh,” said Her Ladyship. “Now we've got the cast give us the scenario. What part does this Carstairs play? Does he keep the 'orse or does the 'orse keep him? Is he a rich juggins, or could he walk down Threadneedle Street without somebody selling 'im the Bank of England?”

“Well, he's a very quiet man, Your Ladyship. Hardly says anything. I heard him say he'd been a shearer, but I believe he's a very wealthy man.”

“Ha, the mysterious stranger lurking in the wings! What time do they carry round the slush — tea and bovril and that — on this hooker? Eleven o'clock? Well, you give 'im my compliments, Lady Seawood's compliments, and I'd be glad if he would join me and Fishy at the eleven o'clock swill. By the time I've drunk a cup of concentrated ox with 'im, I'll know more about 'im than you know — and you've 'ad three weeks' start on me.”

At eleven o'clock the awkward and shambling figure of Red Fred bore down on the corner of the deck where Her Ladyship and Miss Fysshe were waiting for him.

“Sit down and rest your legs,” said Her Ladyship, eyeing the freckled and weather-beaten countenance of

  ― 140 ―
her visitor. “I 'ear you're taking an 'orse to England. Well, I've got the best 'orse in England an' I want to know wot you've fixed up. 'Ave you got a trainer? I think my trainer's a bit of a thief, but there's some worse than 'im. I can get you a straight trainer if you 'aven't got one.”

Any other person than Red Fred might have questioned the bona fides of such an unlikely lady of title, but he had seen her name in the passenger's list. For all he knew, the whole British aristocracy might be addicted to slang and to making friends with perfect strangers. Anyway, she seemed a most friendly sort of person, and he managed to drink half a cup of soup without his hand shaking.

“We've done nothin' yet,” he said. “We had to clear this horse out of Australia quick and lively because a Chinaman was tryin' to shoot him. Would have shot me too, if I'd have gave him the chance.”

“Gosh!” said Her Ladyship. “Sounds like a movie. What do you think of it, Fysshe?”

Miss Fysshe, a distant relative of the late earl, was a great contrast to her employer; while one was built on the lines of a barge the other was a racing skiff. Of any age from twenty-five to thirty-five, Miss Fysshe was a trimly built little woman, tightly buttoned up in a beautifully-cut tailor-made suit. A certain American lady tennis-player has been described as “little poker face.” She had nothing on Miss Fysshe. The only sign of expression that that lady allowed herself was an occasional flicker of her little black eyes. In many ways she was more sophisticated than her patroness, for she was bred in the purple and had the entree to circles

  ― 141 ―
which Connie Seaweed, as she was familiarly called, had no chance of entering.

“I think they've been pulling his leg,” said Miss Fysshe, whose conversation was as sparse as her appearance.

“Oh, no, lady,” said Red Fred. “It's all right. They had two shots at him. With a gun. They sent me a letter that they'd do me in.”

Lady Seawood shook her head.

“Beats me,” she said. “But you can tell me the story of your life another time. Now, lissen 'ere. There's nothin' like puttin' your cards on the table, especially when you've got an ace up your sleeve. You own the best racehorse in Australia. I own the best racehorse in England, and the best in France belongs to a pal of mine. We can get the best horse in America if we make it worth his while to come. Do you get that?”

Red Fred was puzzled as to what all this portended, but he signified that he understood the situation up to a certain point.

Then Her Ladyship abruptly changed the subject and embarked on an entirely new tack.

“You wouldn't think to look at me,” she said, “that I'm a Yid. But that's what I am — a Whitechapel Jewess. I used to work in a rag factory for ten bob a week.”

Here, by way of enlivening the dialogue she covered her nose with her hand and exclaimed in dramatic tones: “Mother, vot am I?”

“I used to work in a rag factory,” she repeated, “for ten bob a week. And now look where I am. These old

  ― 142 ―
fossils that run everything in England, they think I'm only a noise, and a nasty noise at that. They wouldn't let me into the enclosures at the big meetin's. So now I'm going to take 'em on. Me and a few of my pals, we reckon that London wants livenin' up. So we formed a syndikit and bought a racecourse just a few miles out of town. We bought more land and put up good stands, and now the place'll hold a hundred and fifty thousand people. We're going to start off our first meetin' with a bang. We want to get the best horses in the world to come and run each other at a three days' meetin', two Saturdays and a Wensday. What distances did you say they ought to run, Fishy?”

“Six furlongs first day. Mile and a quarter second day. Two miles third day,” said Miss Fysshe.

“Fishy knows all about it,” the Countess said. “She does in all her money bettin'. Now, we want you to come in with us. The syndikit is mostly Yids, but you'll get a square deal with the Yids, and they are the best show people in the world. I sometimes go to the board-meetin' just to see their beaks hangin' over the table like pelicans at feedin' time. Of course we'll have to have a lord or two on the board, but they're cheap these days. We'll pay good appearance money for real first-class horses, like yours, and we won't let any second-raters run in the big races. Only the best 'orse from each country. What's your 'orse, short distance, long distance, or no distance?”

“He's won at six furlongs and he's won at two miles,” said Red Fred who was quite relieved to find that he was to be a person of considerable importance,

  ― 143 ―
right straight away as soon as he landed. More than that, he had had some very disquieting news from Australia by wireless, and was just in the frame of mind to do anything that anybody told him.

“That was out in the sticks,” said Miss Fysshe — “out in Australia where they time 'em with a kitchen clock. I'll bet even money he don't win any of the three races over here. Let's go and see him.”

They went up forrard where Sensation was accommodated in a double loose-box with padded sides and floored with heavy coir mats. It was in an exposed position where it got all the wind and occasional splashes of spray, but Bill the Gunner, who had made trips to India with horses, had insisted on this position; the more air a horse got the better he travelled, he said. Red Fred had really wanted to put Sensation down in the 'tween decks where it was nice and warm; but as usual he had shirked fighting a battle with Bill the Gunner on the subject.

A coir matting led from the loose-box to the forehatch and strips of matting laid on the deck round the hatchway formed a safe exercise ground in fine weather. There was also a small sand-yard where the horse had just finished his roll and was pacing round the hatchway, the picture of health and contentment.

“Hello,” said Miss Fysshe, “he's some horse. I'll bet even money that he does win one race out of the three.”

This pleased Lady Seawood very much. She had great reliance on the judgment of the lady companion and had been wondering how she would face her co-

  ― 144 ―
religionists if she brought them what is known in certain financial circles as a “stumer.”

“You think 'e's all right, Fishy, eh? 'Ere, Lord Nelson,” she went on, addressing Bill the Gunner, who was leading the horse round, looking neither to the right nor to the left and taking not the slightest notice of his employer or anybody else. “'Ere, Lord Nelson, 'ow do you think 'e'll get on in England?”

“He'll lob in,” said Bill the Gunner, and moved off with the horse as though any further conversation were out of the question. Waiting till he came round again Her Ladyship had another shot at him:

“What's his best distance?”

“Any distance,” said Bill the Gunner, never pausing for a moment in his solemn walk.

“Come on,” said Her Ladyship. “That feller gets my goat. If I stop 'ere I'll 'ave to take 'im to pieces just to see what makes him so chatty. Come and interduce me to your friends. They'll be lappin' up the tea somewhere down aft. There they are now, the Rajah of Bhong, the leading lady, and the two extras” — meaning thereby Mr Delahunty, his daughter, and the two young Englishmen.

Introductions were effected and after half an hour's chat Her Ladyship, like an expert bridge player, knew not only what cards they all held but what cash they had in their pockets. Realizing that all four of them came out of what she would have called the top drawer, she was guarded in her speech and behaviour. She left most of the general conversation to Miss Fysshe, for she wished to make a good impression and knew that Miss Fysshe was born with the instinct to do and

  ― 145 ―
say the right thing; while she herself, when following her own instincts, had done and said things that set all London talking.

After a while Miss Fysshe and Captain Salter, both ardent horse-lovers, went forward to have another look at Sensation; Mr Delahunty asked to be excused as he had to write some letters; and Lady Seawood was left with Red Fred and his secretary. On the principle that if you are going to do a thing you had better do it now, she decided to clinch the matter about Red Fred's horse.

“About this 'ere syndikit,” she said, “we want you to come into it. We want you to sign an agreement not to race your 'orse anywhere else until you've raced him with us. And we want you to take some shares. We'll float a company later on and you must get in early on the ground floor. It'll be a gold-mine. The shares will go up out of sight. The Yids all over the world will fight to get into it, when they see the names we've got.”

The mere thought of money seemed to throw her into a state of exaltation, for she came of a breed that had parted with their teeth rather than make a bad investment by lending their gold to bankrupt kings. Her powerful personality dominated Red Fred; he had no more chance against her than a rabbit caught in the open by an eagle-hawk.

“Of course, I'll come in with you,” he said. “But I don't know how many shares I can take. I've just got a wireless from Australia. Run down, Fitz, and get that book that tells you what them things mean.”

While Fitzroy was away, Red Fred unfolded a telegraphic

  ― 146 ―
slip which read “Exalts daybreak humidity ashpan,” and a reference to the code showed that these words meant as follows:

Exalts: Production has been stopped.

Daybreak: Daybreak mine.

Humidity: The mine is flooded with water.

Ashpan: Considerable expense necessary before resumption.

“There you are,” said Red Fred. “I was gettin' thirty thousand a year out of that mine and now I might have to spend fifty thousand to put it right. The stations are payin' real good, but if there came a drought and I had to feed — well, when you start feedin' you never know when you'll stop. I paid ten thousand for the horse, and if I spend too much money the Empire Pastoral might buck.”

Here his natural instinct for compromise asserted itself and he hastened to make terms with the invader.

“I'd like to put in five thousand,” he went on — “if it'd be all right to wait and see if there was no fuss with the cheque. I thought I'd better tell yer all this, lady, 'cos you know these things better'n I do.”

Like a conjurer, Lady Seawood produced a type-written agreement from some hidden pocket in her jacket.

“Sign right 'ere,” she aaid. “That's the way I like to hear a man talk. Most of 'em are all talk and no money. I'll post your cheque back from the next wharf, and if there's any fuss, I'll put old Manasses on to it. Give 'im a bit o' paper with one wrong un's name on the foot of it, and another wrong un's name on the back, and he'd buy you the Tower of London.

  ― 147 ―
There's the luncheon gong. Come along an' let me look at the grub, even if I daren't eat it.”

This financial deal appeared to give satisfaction to everybody except Fitzroy. For some time he had felt that things were too good to last. He knew that if the Empire Pastoral had to cut down on Red Fred's expenditure the money spent on his' (Fitzroy's) salary would be about the first to go. Moira Delahunty was constantly in his thoughts, and he felt that he would be a poor specimen of humanity if he allowed any tenderness to grow up between them, and then found himself out of a job in England. It would not be fair to the girl.

There was a ship's dance that night. Any doubts that Fitzroy might have felt as to whether he should ask Moira or the Countess for the first dance, were settled for him when Lady Seawood seized him by the arm and said:

“Come on, Rudolph Valentino, let's give 'em a treat. If you step on my feet I'll crack you on the jaw.”

With this prospect before him, he kept his feet to himself and they got along very well. Her Ladyship wrapped herself round him in a sort of grape-vine hug that was not so bad when one got used to it. Just then two stewards in fancy dress started to do a comic turn on the deck, and Fitzroy and his partner found themselves at the back of the crowd. It would never do that Connie Galbraith (to use her stage name) should be in obscurity, while the wretched amateur stewards were getting all the limelight.

“I can't see, I can't see,” she roared in a voice that nearly drowned the band. Just by way of a joke, Fitzroy

  ― 148 ―
picked up her twelve stone of humanity on one arm, lifted her to his shoulder and carried her a couple of steps up a companion-way. As he did so, the electrician turned the spotlight on them and a yell of recognition went up from cabin and steerage passengers alike.

“Connie! It's good old Connie! Give us a high kick Connie! Gee, that bloke must be strong!” The disgruntled stewards stopped their act, and Connie, after kissing her hand to the crowd, jumped down alongside Fitzroy and posed there for just the correct number of seconds. Then, to round off the turn properly, she threw her arms round him and kissed him; then the spotlight was shut off. Everybody had seen it, including Moira.

The rest of the voyage was much like other voyages — perpetual meals, perpetual sleep, perpetual gossip and perpetual bridge. Moira was very dignified and distant in her conversations with Fitzroy, and devoted herself to enslaving the Honourable Captain Salter; while the Countess treated Fitzroy much as a child treats a puppy, rumpling his hair in public, planting his hat, and playing other music-hall tricks on him — all with the idea of getting what she called “a rise” out of Moira. As for the others, those who were not bridge players sometimes envied Bill the Gunner who really had some work to do. He must have covered fifty miles in his constant pacing round the hatchway with the big horse following contentedly behind him.

  ― 149 ―

Chapter XIV. A Cure For Betting

LONDON, the city where, as Tennyson might have said, “the individual withers and the type is more and more.” London, where the outlander feels so unimportant that he could dress himself up as a Choctaw Indian and walk down Piccadilly waving a scalping-knife without attracting the slightest attention. London, where on the other hand, the rules that guide the dress and conduct of Londoners are as the laws of the Medes and Persians; where, for instance, the Prince of Wales once arrived at a garden-party without spats, and hundreds of visitors slunk into a shrubbery, took their spats off and threw them into an ornamental lake.

Of our party of visitors, Fitzroy and the Honourable Captain Salter were the two who really sensed the importance of doing in London as London does. The Honourable Salter put it into words:

“Fitz,” he said, “do you think they'll let us get to the club alive in these hats?”

This was the city which Lady Seawood and her associates were about to enliven and, hopeless as the task might appear, it is nevertheless a fact that a gnat can occasionally enliven an elephant.

  ― 150 ―
Arrived in London, the Countess and her troupe, as she called them, decided to have a breaking-up luncheon and pay a visit to the Countess's horse before dispersing to their various destinations. They were welcomed by her trainer whose establishment was a great contrast to that of Long Harry. Her Ladyship employed one of the increasing class of gentlemen trainers who are making quite a success of the business, and the visitors had sherry and biscuits instead of tea before making their inspection. Mr Geoffrey Stradbroke, trainer to the Countess, was a sort of male duplicate of Miss Fysshe — small, wiry, and tightly buttoned up. But while Miss Fysshe specialized in an absolute silence, the trainer was prepared to hand his patrons any amount of conversation without giving them any information. To use his own words, he could get them to go the right way without pulling their heads about.

When the English crack was led out for inspection the visitors gasped. Crusader had won the Triple Crown — the Two Thousand Guineas, the Derby and the Leger — and was now in his fourth year, an age at which a horse looks his best. At that age he has his full size and strength without any of the heavy appearance which comes out in later years. A whole bay with hard black legs, he threw true to the line of Bend Or, while the St Simon blood in his dam had given him an extra dash of quality.

For some reason or other (possibly climatic) the English horses have more vitality and more quality than any other horses in the world. While Sensation was a big, sleepy, good-natured giant, this was a fiery domineering horse, snorting, rearing and showing himself off

  ― 151 ―
like a picture actor. He had neither the length nor the substance of the big Australian horse, but he was as compact and muscular as a pocket Hercules. A fine, fiery head was followed by a crested neck, and his shoulder, while neither so high nor so deep as that of the Australian, was high enough and deep enough for modern ideas. Like Mercutio's wound his shoulder was neither as deep as a well, nor as wide as a church door, but it would serve.

Behind the shoulder he had a short back with barrel-like ribs, a broad loin and hips, and his hind quarters were so built up with muscle that the insides of his thighs touched each other almost down to the hocks. Apart from his shape, he had the indefinable gift of quality, the steel-like look about his bones and sinews, that told of immense strength compressed into a relatively small area.

“There you are,” said his trainer. “He's not such a wonderfully big horse, but the blade of a steel knife is worth twice its weight in hoop-iron, isn't it? Not that I mean your horse is too big, Mr Carstairs; he must be one of these really good big ones. I'm speaking more of the big fellows, we beat over here. I don't suppose any of you have seen the American or the French horse, have you?”

“How's the show shaping?” said Her Ladyship, who expressed herself always in theatrical terms. “Have the stars signed their contracts — the American and French horses I mean? Will we have to close the doors against the crowd, or will we have to give out some paper to fill the house? I've been away out where the

  ― 152 ―
nigger minstrels come from, and I haven't seen a paper or heard a word of news. Let me know the worst.”

Here the horse gave a scream and a bound in the air that scattered his audience somewhat, and the trainer told the boy to put him back in his box.

“There's no worst that I know of,” he said. “Some of the old brigade have been making speeches, saying that it is against all the traditions of racing to pay these men to bring their horses here. But these horses can make so much money in their own countries that their owners won't spend a lot of money to come over here and perhaps get beaten. Give 'em their expenses and a bit for appearance money, and they'll come over and have a crack at us.”

“Loud applause,” said Her Ladyship. “Loud applause. This study in scarlet 'ere,” she went on, indicating Red Fred with the point of her parasol, “he has paid his own expenses but we'll give 'im an order on the treasury so as he gets the same as the others. If Manasses is in his old form I'll bet he has secured the picture rights and taken an option on half the theatres in London for the crowds that'll come over. . . . So the old boys don't like it, eh? I'll bet the man who likes it least is that crawling little brother-in-law of mine! 'Ow I do 'ate that man!”

In this unchristian spirit the party broke up, Moira and her father going off to stay with relatives in Ireland; the Honourable Captain Salter going off to his recently inherited estates; and Red Fred and his secretary betaking themselves to an hotel strongly recommended by the Countess. “Under Yid management, and the Yids buy the best food in the world,” she declared.

  ― 153 ―
The parting between Moira and Fitzroy was of the most perfunctory nature. She had not forgiven the exhibition he had made of himself on the night that the music-hall star kissed him; and he on his part thought it better for them to part now rather than have a perhaps more painful parting later on.

As the curtain descended on the gathering Her Ladyship struck an attitude and spoke the tag.

“Farewell, friends. We will meet again at the Mont de Peet. Farewell!”

Then, observing that Fitzroy was not listening to her, she walked behind him, kicked his hat off, then jumped into her car; thus making a most successful exit according to the exigencies of dramatic art. She felt free, now, to turn her attention to her brother-in-law.

When General Sir Ponsonby Fysshe succeeded to the title and entailed estates of his late brother the Earl of Fysshe and Fynne, he was a man with a grievance. He had never believed that his brother was married to the music-hall star who shared with him sumptuous Fysshe Castle, or as it was usually called the aquarium. And the General had made up his mind that when he succeeded to the title and estates, his very first act would be to hunt into outer darkness the lady to whom he had always referred as “my brother's concubine.” When the blow fell, and he found that this woman had got pretty well all the money and all the racehorses, while he himself had got little except the title and a few frightfully expensive family seats, he shut himself up for a week and refused to see anybody.

He was a middle-sized man with a choleric temperament and a protruding red moustache which had

  ― 154 ―
earned him in the army the sobriquet of “the Lobster.” As his ancestors for a dozen generations had never done anything for themselves — even their clothes and food were chosen for them — Nature had revenged herself by denying to him the initiative and intelligence for which he appeared to have no particular need. He was a robot — a very presentable robot certainly — still, a robot, and he walked through life as a robot might walk, performing various functions to which his machinery was adjusted but knowing nothing else. In his military career he had collected a couple of rows of medals of the type known in the Army as “piccadillies,” given for Coronation and Jubilee parades, or presented by foreign powers. These were eked out by several South African decorations.

He had commanded a brigade in that affair. But he had committed the faux pas of ordering one of his regiments to fire on their own advance party, which happened to consist of Canadian mounted infantry. When the officer hesitated to give the order, the General roared:

“Damn it sir, why don't you fire?”

A volley was fired well over the heads of the Canadians. These latter promptly scurried round the corner of a hill, and were lost to sight. But it takes an expert to tell whether a bullet is twenty yards or twenty inches over a man's head, so the Canadians were convinced that a deliberate attempt had been made to murder them. Just as the General was dictating a heliographic message to say that he had engaged and defeated a large body of the enemy, the Canadian Colonel — a most impossible person arrived and said he would like to meet

  ― 155 ―
the nameless offspring of shame who had fired at his men.

This resulted in the shelving of the Lobster to a staff job, where he collected all available medals and came home. Then he retired from the Army and became Fault-Finder-General and Depreciator in Chief to the various clubs, committees and boards of directors to which he belonged. He was a great stickler for the proprieties and insisted on everybody keeping his proper place. At a settling after a race-meeting he hailed a bookmaker who rejoiced in the name of “the Major” because of his military appearance:

“Why do they call you the Major? You never were in the Army.”

To which the bookmaker replied:

“Why do they call you the Lobster? You never were in the sea.”

As already stated, the whilom Connie Galbraith loathed and detested her brother-in-law with a bitterness which usually exists only between persons of different religions. When he, in his turn, heard of her intention to enliven London with a new sort of race-meeting, he became almost inarticulate with rage; said that the affair was a damned hippodrome; and that he would give a thousand pounds at any time to see her horse beaten.

Nothing was further from the poor old gentleman's thoughts than parting with any such sum for any such nefarious purpose; but words spoken cannot be recalled and sometimes a bird of the air will carry the matter. This injudicious remark was made in a club where all communications are sacred. Unfortunately it was overheard

  ― 156 ―
by a waiter who was polishing glass behind a screen. Being under notice of dismissal fell an incurable habit of attending race-meetings when he was supposed to be on duty, this waiter thought he saw a chance to make a few pounds to carry him on until he got another job, or backed a long-priced winner. He wrote down the date and time of the remark and the names of the persons present; then went into the hall to see what had won the four o'clock race.

While the Lobster and his associates were predicting all sorts of disaster for the new venture, the “International Racing Syndicate,” as they called themselves, were exhibiting no end of showmanship. For instance, they directed that Sensation should be left in the nominal charge of Bill the Gunner who would also ride him in his races, thus ensuring the international element that was the basis of their plans. Privily, they placed Bill the Gunner under the orders of a leading English trainer, for it was not to be expected that a partially civilized Australian could train the horse properly under new conditions. The French and American horses had their own trainers and riders.

Then the world woke up to the fact that an international racing championship meeting was to be held. Hotels were flooded with telegrams for accommodation; theatres were booked out for weeks in advance; and the ten thousand reserved seats in the racecourse stands, issued at five guineas each, went to a premium in twenty-four hours. As Mr Manasses put it, hunching up his shoulders and spreading out his palms:

“Vot did I tell yer? Thereth any amount of money in the vorld if you can only get at it.”

  ― 157 ―
While the chosen people were preparing their feast of racehorses and their flow of finance, Red Fred and his secretary had nothing in the world to do with themselves all day long. The management of Sensation had been taken over by the syndicate under their written agreement, and the only connexion Red Fred had with the horse was to go out occasionally to see him work. Here he had to listen to the biting criticisms of Bill the Gunner on English trainers and English methods.

It appeared that quite early in the proceedings Bill the Gunner had taken it on himself to give the horse what he called a “twicer” (a working gallop twice round the course) in defiance of the trainer's orders; whereupon the trainer, being one of the old school, had promised him a good flogging with a horse-whip if he ventured to do such a thing again. The horse had become acclimatized in a week and was looking beautiful, but Bill the Gunner professed to see nothing but disaster ahead. “This Englishman,” he said, “wouldn't be allowed to train billy-goats at Rockhampton” — a city where goat-racing is brought to a fine art, and hundreds of pounds can be won on a derby for goats driven in miniature sulkies with rubber tyres and ball-bearing wheels.

Tiring of the lamentations of Bill the Gunner, Red Fred and his secretary paid only occasional visits to the stables, and found the rest of the time hang very heavy on their hands. It was then that Miss Fysshe, a confirmed frequenter of racecourses, stepped into the picture and started taking Red Fred to the races.

Miss Fysshe, a most sophisticated person in ordinary matters, was still a child when it came to racing.

  ― 158 ―
She had never really grown up, in a racing sense. She still believed in fairies, hoarse-voiced men who whispered in her ear that Timbertoes was a good thing at two to one in a field of twenty-six maiden horses, or that the road to affluence lay in following the betting operations of a notorious bankrupt. A touch of mystery will intrigue any woman, and so long as the tips were sufficiently mysterious she could not resist them. Having appointed herself guide, philosopher, and friend to that vacillating character Red Fred, she directed his operations with the best intentions in the world but with the worst results.

“They tell me it's unbeatable,” was her only answer to any questions on his part. And when they proceeded to reckon up, their losses at the end of the day she silenced all criticism by saying: “Look what a royal day we would have had if that boy hadn't gone to sleep on Monkey Tricks.”

When a man has arrived at middle age without any experience of racing and then suddenly tastes the thrill and excitement of backing a few winners, he is apt to go fantee and to take to betting as some people take to cocaine. He becomes an addict; and it is said of this addiction that the only cure is death. Be that as it may, Red Fred started to bet in a fashion reminiscent of the Jubilee Juggins. Before long his plunging operations had attracted notice even in the City of London. His lady friend derived a vicarious excitement from “planking on” five hundreds and thousands for him, and the lower class of sporting papers took to referring to them as “the Australian Copperhead and the Shrimp.” Their sporting columns would record that a certain

  ― 159 ―
double had been backed for twenty thousand pounds and as the wager was taken by the Australian Copperhead, it was obviously inspired by the stable.

To Red Fred this was fame, fame with a capital F. To Fitzroy it was simply lunacy. He was experiencing a bad attack of the blues, so when he found himself with nothing to do except supervise the sending out of huge cheques every settling-day it was hard to keep his self-respect. News from Australia was not reassuring; the bailing-out of the Daybreak mine was costing a lot of money without any certainty that it would resume production. And he, Fitzroy, was drawing a big salary and doing nothing for it. Overhearing one day some remark about a parasite he suddenly resigned from Red Fred's service and went away to look for a more honourable job.

Red Fred accepted this as he accepted everything, without protest of any sort. Now that he was relieved of Fitzroy's supervision he began to bet worse than ever. Every day Miss Fysshe and he experienced the delirious excitement of a hunt through the list of runners, the gathering of information from people who, being blind themselves, were always ready to lead the blind, and occasionally the supreme moment when their fancy rounded the turn hard held with everything settled and only a furlong to go. Unfortunately these occasions were so few that not even the Bank of England itself could have carried him on indeinitely.

Betting had already begun on the great championship races and almost every day Red Fred put what the sporting papers described as a packet on Sensation for the long race, and he also backed the horse in

  ― 160 ―
doubles and trebles. Shrewd racing men whose acquaintance he had made at the meetings advised him not to try to win too much money at once, for there were ways and means of “fixing” a favourite that threatened to take too much money out of the ring. They might as well have proffered some advice to the Sphinx as try to influence Red Fred.

Matters were at this stage when the Dowager Countess of Fysshe and Fynne got to hear of what was going on. Without the loss of a moment she sent for Fitzroy and told him off in true Whitechapel fashion:

“You,” she said. “You, to leave your boss just when he wanted someone to look after him! Didn't he treat you well? Didn't he give you a job when you were down and out, sacked from the police? The only man I ever knew that wasn't on the take-down, or on the make, and that wouldn't tell you lies. And when he wants a friend you run out on him like a yeller dog. I've told 'im to come and stop 'ere with me and you've got to come back and look after 'im. You've drawn a lot of money for nothin'; now let's see you earn some of it. That damned little Fysshe, if I catch her takin' 'im away bettin', I'll take the scales off her. Now go away and get your traps before I reelly start to talk to yer.”

Within the next few days a chastened Red Fred and a Fitzroy with a new sense of duty were established with the Countess at one of her houses near Newmarket, where there was every luxury including a few loose-boxes for the use of the horses when they came up to race. Nothing could be gleaned from either the appearance or the conversation of Miss Fysshe as to what

  ― 161 ―
had transpired between her and the Countess, but the betting partnership between the Copperhead and the Shrimp was irrevocably dissolved.

Her Ladyship only referred once to the affair, when she said at dinner that the only people who could make money at racing were people that could make a fortune if turned loose with a shilling in the streets of Aberdeen — a statement that was received in silence by all parties.

Neither Red Fred nor Miss Fysshe had any interest in life other than betting. Fitzroy on the other hand had, for the time being, no interest in life at all. He was somewhat cheered up by the receipt of the following letter from Ireland:

Kilgannon Castle,

via Dublin,



Dear Mr Fitzroy,

Father has asked me to write this letter for him as he has rheumatism in the hand. He has had a letter from his manager and he desires me to inform you that your colt has been recovered by the police. He was being trained in a shed at the back of a Chinaman's garden up on the Diamantina, and there is no doubt that Jimmy the Pat put him there. The colt is in great order, nearly ready to run, and he is said to be something quite out of the common, and may be the colt of the year. Father says that his nominations were all transferred to your name and you will be able to race him as soon as legal matters are fixed up.

There is a warrant for murder out against Jimmy the Pat for stabbing a man in a gambling dispute. His gang is all broken up and that is how the police got the information about the horse. The police think that Jimmy has cleared out of Australia and that he has come over to England. There is an old suit of armour here which I daresay they would lend you. I hope the Countess is well.

Yours truly,


PS. We shall be staying at Claridge's for the races and Father hopes you will come to dinner one evening.

  ― 162 ―

Chapter XV. The Dopers

THE Chinese are a peaceful people — up to a certain point — and they always prefer diplomacy to more violent methods. Thus it came that when two truculent American toughs became obstreperous at the low-class Chinese restaurant known as the House of the Rising Sun, and stated that they intended to knock the block off the waiter who had served them, the proprietor did not send the waiter out to them. Instead, with a sort of grim humour, he sent, them out a boarder at the restaurant, a Chinaman newly arrived from Australia and well known to our readers under the name of Jimmy the Pat.

One look at Jimmy the Pat satisfied them that here was no defenceless Chinaman to be clouted with impunity. Instead of giving him a punch on the jaw, they offered him a drink of samshoo and asked him to sit down with them.

“Sit down, guy,” they said, “and have a shot of the curse of China. We b'long big Amellican lacehorse. You savvy lacehorse?”

“Me plenty savvy lacehorse,” said Jimmy the Pat, who had got away from Australia with most of his money and was finding life insupportable among a lot

  ― 163 ―
of his countrymen whose ideas of gambling were limited to perpetual games of fan-tan for pitifully small stakes. “Me plenty savvy lacehorse. What name lacehorse belong you?”

As already stated Jimmy the Pat could talk quite good English when it suited him to do so, but in his character of refugee from justice it was necessary to give nothing away. His shrewd brain told him that these were no owners of a racehorse but were “wrong uns” of the worst description, such as he had often employed in Australia.

They were vultures that had come over in the wake of the money-spending army, in the hopes of getting their beaks into something payable, by fair means or foul. The smaller man was an Italian-American with sleek black hair and quick beady eyes. In the crime sheets of his own country his name figured as Dominic Salvatore better known as Dominic the Doper. His friend was a Spaniard or Mexican or some sort, yellow-visaged, with an utterly expressionless face. When any racecourse swindle occurred in the States a police call would go out for Ramon Hialeah, a name that he had adopted from a leading American race-track.

Like most criminals they specialized in one particular line, the fixing-up of favourites for big events; and with the curious vanity of criminals they would often boast to the police of cases in which they had managed to beat the rap (escape from justice) through the aid of a good mouthpiece and some suborned evidence.

Normally, they would never have talked to a stranger; but they were full of samshoo and felt boastful and

  ― 164 ―
vain-glorious. Sensing some sort of kindred spirit in the Chinaman, Dominic put out a feeler.

“Any guy with money could make a big rise over here,” he said. “Fix'em up one, two favourites, back 'em other horse. You savvy any man got money bet longa horse?”

“Hi-yah,” said Jimmy the Pat, “me savvy man got plenty money — 'ow you fix'em lacehorse?”

“Never you mind how me fix'em lacehorse. You show us the mazuma and we'll show you the fix. Look here, brother,” he went on, “I ain't going to talk Chow talk to you any more. You savvy English all right. You didn't get that pin in your tie growing cabbagee. This place ain't so all-fired slow after all. We met one guy already had the right idea. A waiter in a club he was, and he heard one of the big shots say he'd give five thousand dollars — what you call a thousand pounds — to have this English horse fixed up. That's the way to talk.

“Now, see guy, this is the lay of the cards. Our American horse can burn up the track for six furlongs, but he'll quit cold at anything over a mile. That's right, ain't it, Ramon? If we can fix up the English and the Australian horses for the long race on the last day, we can back the Frenchman and he'll be the outsider at a long price. We'll have money in our ears. But we must get someone that will bet big and give us our chop out of it. We'll see that we get it too. How does this sound to you, brother? Do you know any one that wants to pick up fifty grand, easy money?”

Needless to say, Jimmy the Pat felt this programme was ideal in every way, but having three times the

  ― 165 ―
brain-power of the two American crooks he was careful not to appear too eager. Also he continued to act the unsophisticated Chinaman.

“You say you fix'em two horse,” he said. “Welly, ni'. But s'pose you no fix 'em! My countlyman velly lich man, but no like lose money.”

Professional pride lent indignation to Dominic's answer:

“Say, you. Whadda you think we are? Just tin-horn sports talkin' through our hats? We got the fast stuff and the slow stuff. We can make a horse beat a railroad train or we can make him lie down and go to sleep on the track. This dead-and-alive old burg ain't seen nothin' like we've got. You show us the horses and the money, and you can go home and have a shave and a hair-cut till it's time to bring round a bag for the kale. We must wait till the last day, 'cos they'll watch these hosses like they was diamonds the first two days. Then they'll let up a bit and we'll get a chance to put in the work.”

In the end it was agreed that all parties concerned should meet at the restaurant the next night to fix up details, and the star boarder of the House of the Rising Sun went into the fan-tan room with the feeling that once more he was on the track of something really worth while.

The meeting of the International League of Dopers next evening resolved itself into a committee of ways and means. As nobody trusted anybody else, all sorts of precautions had to be taken about the obtaining of the reward for their enterprise and the division of the reward when obtained. The two Americans and the

  ― 166 ―
Chinaman were reinforced by the dismissed waiter, a self-satisfied little Cockney who thought himself a past master in turf roguery. When he saw his associates he began to think that he might be lucky if he got out of it with his life. The huge muscular Chinaman and the two tight-lipped American crooks were very different propositions to the servants' hall breed of bandits among which he had cut quite a dashing figure. Still, it was a case of over shoes over boots with him, so he decided to go through with it.

“It's a Hearl,” he said. “A Hearl what I 'eard sayin' 'e would give a thousand to see Connie's 'orse beaten. An' 'e said it to a Baronite and a Marquis. I 'ave the names wrote down, an' the date, and everythink. Now, if we can bring this horf we can write to the Hearl and tell 'im to spar up with the money or we'll go to the Jockey Club and call the Baronite and the Marquis to give evidence. An' they'd love it — I don't think — to have to go into the dirty water and through the mangle before that nasty sneerin' Jockey Club lot. Fix Connie's 'orse up an' the money's all right, but wot do I get out of it? That's the point. Wot do I get out of it?”

“You've said a mouthful, kid,” said Dominic, “that's the point. What do we all get out of it? Speakin' for me and Ramon, if anybody tries to scale us for our share, well, they won't live very long nor enjoy theirselves very much. Wot about you?” he went on turning to the Chinaman.

“Me no likee fightee,” said Jimmy the Pat. “But my countlyman, he b'long hatchet-man Tong, longa China. Hatchet-man Tong all over world, longa London,

  ― 167 ―
longa Sanfrisco, longa Sydney. Use automatic, no use hatchet now.”

This brief sketch brought to the mind of the waiter a vision of himself going for his life, with the hatchet-men after him with automatics. Even the American crooks were impressed, for they knew better than anybody else the danger of offending one of these Chinese secret societies.

“Why worry, guys?” said Dominic. “Why worry? We ain't goin' to play no skin game on each other. We're all gentlemen 'ere. There'll be plenty for all of us. We'll get it off the sheet boys [bookmakers]. Now, let's come down to tin tacks. We want somebody to put up ten grand on the right horse. Will your countryman do it?”

Ten grand, or in English figures two thousand pounds, was a big stake, but Jimmy the Pat had dealt in big figures and he still had plenty of money. Like all Chinese he would sooner gamble than eat. He decided there and then to go on with the business.

“All li,” he said, as casually as though he were clinching a deal for a jar of ginger. “All li. My countlyman he find'em money. I go long, see you fix'em horse.”

This did not suit the plans of the dopers at all, and Ramon Hialeah, speaking for the first time, made a few ill-chosen remarks.

“Chee,” he said, speaking out of the corner of his mouth, “who's goin' to give dis horse de woiks? Us or you? You yaller Chink . . .”

He got no further. Jimmy the Pat had summed up the situation quickly, and he knew that if he sailed with

  ― 168 ―
this pirate crew he had to be either captain or cabin-boy; and he had no intention of being cabin-boy. Quick as a flash, he hit Ramon on the chest with his right hand and at the same time dropped his left hand into his coat-pocket, where a bulge suggested an automatic. It is said that when an amateur wishes to hit a man on the chest, he aims at his chest, but a professional wishing to hit a man on the chest, aims at his backbone. Ramon flew out of his chair as though kicked by a horse and lay on the floor gasping, while Jimmy the Pat glared down on him and said:

“Me b'long hatchet-man Tong, too.”

He kept his hand in his pocket as he said it, and the two crooks expected an automatic bullet at any moment. Realizing that Jimmy had the drop on them, they did not attempt to draw their guns but hurriedly conceded all points in dispute and cleared out.

Thus was a new captain elected to the International League of Dopers. After the others had left the room Jimmy the Pat drew a large pipe from his pocket, lit it, and proceeded to enjoy a well-earned smoke.

In the next few weeks a tide of visitors flowed into London from all countries of the world, lured by the attraction of the great international series of horse-races. The American horse duly arrived, a big plain-bodied and somewhat ungainly animal trained to jump out at top speed and go for his life on the hard dirt tracks of his native country. As he had several strains of American blood in his pedigree he had drifted somewhat away from the original English type and was short in the neck and carried all his power in his rump. The Americans specialize in speed, for a speed horse

  ― 169 ―
can get two or three races to suit him on any programme while a stayer can only get one race a day.

Clean Sweep, as he was called, after his Broomstick breeding, was accompanied by his owner, a wealthy young American who said that his horse might get beaten but he himself was from Missouri and they would have to show him. As befitted his importance, Clean Sweep travelled not exactly with a full band but with a retinue comprising his private chemist, his Press agent, a motion picture outfit, and several galloping partners. The Americans stand their horses up to a lot of work and they have a lotion, an embrocation, and a cough mixture for every change of weather or every variation in the horse's temperature. Bill the Gunner was allowed to visit the American stable and came away saying that the horse had a separate strapper for every leg and a “messer” (masseur) for each side of its body.

The French horse Edouard, a scion of the Teddy breed, came over with much flourish of trumpets and was easily the smallest horse of the internatioaal quartette. But the French specialize in stayers, for their racing is largely supported by Government subsidies given to encourage the breeding of horses' tough enough to stand a military campaign. A lithe, wiry gentleman, this French horse, with a well-earned reputation for going to the front and beating off challengers one after another as they came at him. Still, as Crusader's trainer said, a weight-for-age race is not like a handicap, and if the Frenchman had to make all his own running the English and Australian horses would have the last run at him and their greater stride and speed should be able to smother him at the finish.

  ― 170 ―
The early betting favoured the American horse for the six-furlong race, while Crusader was a strong favourite for the two longer races. The cognoscenti voted that the Australian horse looked lonely without a cart. But every time he drifted in the betting Red Fred's money put him back to his old place again. What psychologists call the herd instinct is strong in the English, who all like to back the same horse, and in the various betting-clubs Crusader was a strong favourite. As one of the johnnies put it: “These chaps that back outsiders always have something wrong with them.”

Not that the early betting was very heavy, for there is no chance of winning a fortune at long odds in a field of four. There was, however, constant support from some unknown quarter for the French horse in the long race. After a time Mr Manasses became uneasy and ordered Connie Galbraith — she was always Connie Galbraith to the multitude — to come and see him.

Finance is supposed to be a soulless business, but just as there are artists in surgery there are artists in finance. The soul of the artist needs the stimulus of difficulty to make him do his best, and Mr Manasses was a financial artist. He dearly loved to get hold of a semi-bankrupt concern and put it on its feet by stretching credit; by putting good men in charge; and by asking — nay, by compelling — support from the big Jewish interests. When the Saxonite Motor Company was drifting to ruin under the guidance of an expert engineer and a gifted inventor, did not Mr Manasses take charge and make it pay thirty per cent under the management

  ― 171 ―
of his nephew and a staff of super-salesmen? The management of Connie's racing syndicate had been merely a routine job, but things had occurred which called for a master mind. An elderly and unimpressive Jew, of the type that would have defied the greatest make-up artist in the world to make him look like anything else, Mr Manasses sat in his office and took charge of the situation.

He had known Connie in her rag-factory days. In fact, Connie's widowed mother had many a time been helped by one of the gigantic Jewish charities administered with marvellous efficiency by Mr Manasses. Also, he was an aristocrat of his race, and the fact that Connie had become an English countess was — in his eyes — just one of those accidents that are liable to occur to anybody. To him she was still the Whitechapel Jewess with whom he was accustomed to chat in the Whitechapel lingo and he saw no reason for making any change.

Connie blew into his office like a sirocco, dragging Fitzroy and Red Fred after her like bits of wind-blown paper. She sat herself down in a chair, and opened on him in pure Whitechapel:

“Now, Manasses, wot's on yer mind? 'As somebody been givin' yer a bad two bob? Tell Auntie wot they've been doin' to yer.”

Seeing that Connie had elected to play the part of a dialect comedienne Mr Manasses answered her in kind.

“Connie, vere are your ears that 'aven't 'eard the people that are workin' underground? Vere is your nose” (here Connie clapped her hand over that organ), “that you 'aven't smelt somethin' in the air? Vere

  ― 172 ―
are your eyes that you 'aven't seen in the papers all the money that is comin' for the French 'orse? His owner don't bet at all and yet there are men bettin' as if they knew something. Vot's the meanin' of that Connie? It means that somebody is goin' to settle the other horses. We can't afford to have anything go wrong you know.”

“'Ow can anything go wrong?” said Connie. “There's enough seats sold now to show a profit.”

“Never mind about the profit, Connie. If we give the people a bad show that's somethin' goin' wrong ain't it? It mustn't 'appen, Connie. Vere 'ave you got your 'orse?”

“Where would you think I'd 'ave 'im,” said Connie. “In a wooden 'utch in the back yard? 'E's down at the trainer's, o' course.”

Mr Manasses felt it was time to drop the Whitechapel and to talk impressively:

“Tell your trainer to slip him away quietly up to your own place at Newmarket. You've got loose-boxes there. You must put a guard on him day and night, but I don't know where you'd get a man you could trust. There's not hundreds in this job, there's thousands in it if they can fix the favourite.”

“Listen 'ere,” said Connie, waving her hand towards Fitzroy. “You see Percy the Pet sittin' at the end of the table lookin' like a counter-jumper out of a job? Well, 'e's Sandow at six stone seven. 'E lifted me with one 'and.”

Here Connie relapsed into the Yiddish. “'E'th that throng,” she said, “that I think 'e muth be vun of uth. If any dopers comes along my money's on little

  ― 173 ―
pansy-face 'ere. 'E's fell out with 'is girl and that'll make 'im fight savage. And 'e don't know the value of money. 'E wanted to sling up a thousand-a-year job just because 'e wasn't earnin' his pay. Could you make yourself believe that Mithter Manattheth?”

Mr Manasses looked very hard at Fitzroy. But he had seen so many freaks in his life that one or two more made little difference to him.

“What have you been doing, Mr Fitzroy?” he said.

Fitzroy reflected that for the past year or two his life had been just one thing after another. He seemed to have an incurable flair for getting into trouble and anything was better than hanging round the Countess's establishment doing nothing.

“I'll take it on if you like,” he said. “But it's all nonsense about my being so strong. I know a hold or two, that's all. I was a policeman for a bit.”

Here Red Fred thought he ought to get into the argument.

“My oath,” he said, “he was. He arrested me. An' he threw a twenty-stone Chinaman all over northern Queensland. That same Chow's wanted for murder now.”

This sounded to Mr Manasses like the outline for a movie scenario, but he supposed that it must be the sort of thing they habitually did in Australia. To him it was far more surprising that Fitzroy should want to give up a thousand-a-year job because he wasn't earning the money. Remarking that he was prepared to insure Fitzroy's life in a very good company, he turned to the next item on the agenda which was the protection of Red Fred's horse.

  ― 174 ―
“Get two men with revolvers,” he said, “and let them watch your horse day and night. I'll give you a letter to a cousin of mine and he'll let you have the revolvers at wholesale price. No use wasting money. Have you got any men you can trust?”

“Too right, I have,” said Red Fred, “I've got one anyhow. Bill the Gunner. He'll shoot 'em like crows if they come pokin' round. He'll shoot first and ast 'em what they want afterwards.”

“Yes,” said Connie, “and look at the publicity if he shot a chap. There's no Press agency stuff about a dead man. Every paper in London 'd 'ave to print it.”

Bitter experience had taught Manasses that when a music-hall star interferes in business there is always trouble and generally disaster.

“You Ieave the publicity to me, Connie,” he said. “You look after your horse and I'll look after the publicity. Now run along, I've got something important to do.”

Little did Mr Manasses know the publicity this affair was to get!

  ― 175 ―

Chapter XVI. In Aid Of Charity

NEARER and nearer came the great day for the International Meeting and the trainers began to send their charges along in earnest. Sensation's trainer had the most difficult task, for his horse had left Sydney in full racing condition and had to be strung up again after a very brief spell. Few horses would have stood it, but Sensation was one of the easy-going, contented type and had taken a great fancy to Bill the Gunner, who looked after him and rode him at his work. Shut up by themselves the greater part of the day, racehorses thrive best when looked after by someone in whom they have absolute confidence.

Many a good horse has been spoiled by an irritable or unsympathetic attendant. Bill the Gunner simply worshipped his horse and spent most of his time in his company, rubbing his head and talking to him, assuring him that he would lob in. Sensation repaid him with absolute trust and confidence, slouching contentedly down to the track and doing his work without getting excited or taking anything out of himself. On one occasion Sensation slipped down on his side while going fast round a slippery turn and Bill the Gunner came off him. Instead of galloping wildly about the

  ― 176 ―
place Sensation walked back to his fallen rider, apparently to see if he were hurt.

The more fiery English horse, Crusader, wanted his own way all the time. He was being worked into condition after a long spell. While he was fresh he would rear up and whinny to the other horses on the track, and get himself into a great state of excitement. When his work had sobered him down a little, he took to pulling very hard and wanting to race every horse that came alongside him. His trainer had to resort to the device of putting up one rider for slow work and, another for fast work. Crusader got to know that the stable-boy meant slow work and the jockey fast work; he would canter round contentedly with the stable-boy, but was into his stride like a flash when the jockey got on him.

Owing to a milder winter in France the French horse had begun his preparation earlier than Crusader and had a good deal of hard work “inside him,” as the trainers say, when he came over. Like most true stayers he was a quiet worker and his trainer did not hurry with him, keeping him at slow work and building muscle on to him every day. He was a laconic individual, this French trainer. Asked when he would begin to send his horse along he said in his own language that he would build him up first and fine him down afterwards.

To the initiated it was evident that the American horse was being prepared specially for the sprint race as he was sent for short dashes against the watch on almost every galloping morning, and was never allowed to take the edge off his speed by long gallops. When

  ― 177 ―
asked why he did not send his horse for long gallops his trainer replied: “Say, bo, that's a job for a railroad train, this is only a hose.”

The course itself lay in the centre of a circle of hills with grandstands perched on one slope and with almost unlimited room for the cheaper spectators on a hill at the other side of the course. By way of gaining publicity, Mr Manasses had directed that this hill country should be thrown open free to spectators on galloping mornings and the place soon earned the nickname of the Tower of Babel.

At first the horses thought they were at a race-meeting and were inclined to get on their toes; but they soon quietened down and it had a valuable influence in getting them used to the crowds.

Among the most constant watchers on the hill were two small Latin-Americans and a burly Chinaman, the latter so muffled, up in wraps that it was hard to see anything of his face. Jimmy the Pat knew that if once his associates got to hear of the reward for his arrest, they would sell him out to the police or murder him for his share of the doping venture. So, every day the Australian horse galloped, the Chinaman asked all sorts of questions about Australia — where it was, and whether it was part of America. Not that Ramon and Dominic paid much attention to this babble. They never took their eyes or their minds off the horses.

Both were expert track watchers. After one good look at a horse they would know his hide on a bush, as Dominic put it. Also, they had followed the horses from the track to their stables and knew every move in their routine — when and by whom they were fed, and when

  ― 178 ―
they were bedded at night. Before making any move they wanted to get the general lay of the land: to see which horse really had a chance and which could be disregarded.

Then came the trial gallops, when the cracks were sent against their stable-mates and the two dopers watched every stride of these trials. Crusader was always a very free worker so he was usually sent with one mate for the first half of the journey and with another to bring him home. It takes a champion to beat off a fresh horse at the end of a mile-and-a-quarter gallop, but the jockey had hard work to hold Crusader back to the fresh horse at the end of each gallop.

Nudging Jimmy the Pat with his elbow Ramon pointed out one of these finishes.

“Say, guy,” he said, “you mightn't know it, but dere's not two horses in de woild could do dat. Dat hoss he beat won a big handicap at York last week wid top weight.”

Sensation was a problem to the track watchers. Not being allowed to have his own way with the horse, Bill the Gunner had decided to show his boss a point or two, and when riding slow work he had made a habit of shaking a stick at Sensation. He never hit him with it, and after a while Sensation would swing along without taking any more notice of the stick than a polo pony takes of a polo mallet. When the trials came on, and Sensation was asked to gallop with a stable-mate, Bill the Gunner would flourish his whip and appear to be riding hard but the lazy horse never responded and was constantly beaten by his galloping companions.

“Lynx” of the Sporting Argus, said that Sensation

  ― 179 ―
was a wash-out and should be running in selling plates, while “Searchlight” of the Racing Omniscient said that the horse was a false alarm and couldn't beat a carpet. Sensation's trainer was as much puzzled as anybody. When he asked Bill the Gunner what was the matter with the horse, the only answer he got was that the horse was all right and was home and dried.

“Perhaps he's a natural slug,” said the trainer hopefully. “Did he always work like that in Australia?”

“I never rode him in Australia,” said Bill the Gunner, and walked away leaving the trainer more puzzled than ever.

With things in this state, all sorts of nasty rumours began to get about. The great International Meeting was a mere hippodrome; the owner of the Australian horse was living with Connie Galbraith or she was living with him, according to the taste of the talker; they would put their heads together and win with whichever suited them. The French and American owners were in their pay and would do as fhey were told; the good old public were due to get it in the neck once more; and so on and so on.

These rumours were not long in getting to the ears of Mr Manasses and he sent for Connie in a great hurry. He was too much upset to go through his usual pantomime of talking Yiddish:

“Connie, what's all this! I'm not going to have all my work spoiled. They say you are living with this Australian and that you and he will fix up the races. What do you mean by it?”

“I've got him stayin' with me,” said Connie. “He

  ― 180 ―
was bustin' himself bettin', and I pulled 'im out of it. Any 'arm in that?”

“No, but they say you are living with him.”

“Who says that?”

“Your brother-in-law for one.”

“That lobster. I'll shut 'im up. Now lissen 'ere, Manasses. I'm gettin' on, and it's lonely livin' by yourself. I been thinkin' of marryin' this Red Fred, a decent man, not one of these sham swells or hungry loafers that'd marry me for me money and leave me for some tart. I ain't said nothin' to 'im about it yet, but I'll fix it up when I go back. 'Ow does that strike yer?”

Being absolutely impervious to shocks, Mr Manasses never batted an eyelid.

“Suit yerself, Connie. Suit yerself. But what about the races? This will make it worse than ever — husband and wife racing against each other. I'd believe it was straight; but thousands wouldn't.”

“Damn the horses. I wish I'd never seen them. Wait a minit now, till I think. We must get some publicity out of it.”

For a moment or two Connie prowled about the room like a hungry lioness. Then she danced a few steps and gave a whoop.

“I got it, I got it,” she roared at the top of her voice, making Manasses jump out of his chair. “I got it. It's a motzer. It's a schnitzler. We'll have to pack 'em in on the roof of the grandstand. What do the shows do when they can't fill the house, Manasses? They do something for a charity. They offer to give half

  ― 181 ―
the house to a charity. You can always get a crowd in for a charity in England. Now lissen! You pick out two big charities, something the Royal Family is patrons of (just as well do it in style while we're about it), and Fred and I'll each hand over a horse to charity and the charity'll get whatever the horse wins. Do yer get me? Each horse might win fifteen thousand quid and which ever charity gets the best horse'll get the money. They can 'ave their own trainers and their own riders. Me and Fred'll 'ave nothin' to do with it. Ain't that a wow of a notion?”

Mr Manasses, as a rule, adhered strictly to the proverb which says praise nobody till he is dead. He did not always praise them then; but Connie's suggestion carried him off his feet.

“You're a wonder, Connie,” he said, “a living wonder. Of course it will pull 'em in. I'll pick out two charities, one for soldiers and one for sailors. We might get the King and Queen, to come. Then nobody'd be game enough to stop away. I'll order ten thousand extra race-books and we'll want them all. Have you spoken to Mr Carstairs about it yet?”

“Of course I 'aven't. I only just thought of it. Anyway why should I ask 'im. Don't be silly.”

“I only thought he would like to know that he might have to give away five or ten thousand pounds. Some of 'em don't like it. What made you think of it?”

“To tell you the truth, I wanted to get level with the Lobster. If this goes over the way it ought — with a bang — the Lobster'll go and drown himself for spite.”

Every paper in London, even the Tailor and Cutter's

  ― 182 ―
, had a paragraph next day, unpaid and in the centre of the opening page.


The engagement is announced of Connie, Dowager Countess of Fysshe and Fynne, to the Australian millionaire, Mr Fred Carstairs, who has been staying with the Countess at her palatial seat in Newmarket.

Interest is added to the announcement by the fact that the Countess is the owner of the English champion Crusader, while Mr Carstairs owns the Australian horse Sensation, and the two are to run against each other at the forthcoming International Meeting. By way of celebrating their engagement the happy pair have decided to hand over their horses to run in the interests of two separate charities, one for soldiers and one for sailors.

The charities will have the right to nominate their own trainers and riders if they choose to do so, and one or other charity is almost sure to benefit largely. When this news was conveyed to the owners of the French and American horses they at once expressed a desire to be allowed to follow such an admirable example.

Connie's master-stroke changed the whole outlook for the International Race-meeting. The royal patronage was accorded to the affair, and people who had been industriously forecasting failure were now fighting desperately for tickets. In all countries of the globe there is a certain percentage of people who specialize in getting free tickets for everything. No matter how exclusive the affair, these people will get in, if the air can get into the room. Race-meetings are always happy hunting-grounds for the free-ticket fiends and they descended on Mr Manasses like flying-foxes on an orchard. From him, however, they got lots of civility but no free tickets.

Dominic and Ramon and Jimmy the Pat still attended all the morning gallops, weighing up the chances and waiting their time to strike. They knew that the really solid betting would take place after the first days racing,

  ― 183 ―
when the public had seen the horses; they also knew that the plodding French horse would cut but a poor figure in the six-furlong and mile-and-a-quarter races. Their associates had already secured a lot of money about him for the two-mile race and they meant to go in again, after the first day, and back him for all the money in sight. Then it only remained for them to “fix up” Crusader and Sensation, and they would win so much money that they could afford to eschew the sacking of racecourses and live cleanly ever after, if such a life had any attraction for them.

Watching the work, Ramon grew critical.

“He's a cheese champion dis Australian hoss,” he said. “Why worry about heem? Even if we gave heem de fast stuff he wouldn't beat de clerk o' de course.”

“Not on your life,” said Dominic. “That guy on him is sore from hittin' himself down the leg with the whip. Some day he'll hit the horse by mistake and then you'll see him breeze. That guy's been feeding you on apple-sauce and you been fallin' for it. We'll fix the Englishman first and him afterwards. It's no good sewin' a thing up unless you sew it proper.”

Jimmy the Pat had watched all the work without saying anything. It did not suit him to let his associates know that he was a first-class judge of racing; but as chief of the gang it was necessary for him to give a decision.

“I think Dominic too right,” he said. “More better we make sure.”

  ― 184 ―

Chapter XVII. The First Day's Racing

A glorious day marked the opening of the International Race-meeting. A scent of summer was in the air and the stately English trees rustled and whispered as the breeze, passing through their leaves, made mosaics of light and shade on the ground. There is a sort of dignity, a repose, about an English countryside. From the grandstands the eye looked across the course, to uplands covered with a profusion of trees through which the rides ran like the aisles of a cathedral.

The course itself was just a mass of humanity. The grandstand, the flat land in the centre of the course, and the hill at the back, were packed with perhaps the most conglomerate crowd ever assembled to a race-meeting. By some sort of instinct the various nations had sorted themselves into racial groups, and bookmakers were calling the odds in every language under the sun. Black firemen from the China coast were betting in Mexican dollars; Arabs were digging into their voluminous clothing and producing — of all things — sovereigns hoarded since the days when the British Army was in Egypt. In recognition of the liberality of the horse-owners, the best naval and best military

  ― 185 ―
bands had volunteered their services, the former playing in front of the grandstand and the other among the people on the hill at the other side of the course. A few preliminary events were run off and then came the first of the three great races, the Six Furlongs Championship for international horses.

By way of working up the excitement, Mr Manasses had ordered that the horses should trot round the course separately before the race, and that these parades should be accompanied by international music, music being the one thing that is the same in every language. The selection of appropriate tunes he had left to a musical genius on the staff of one of the theatres, and the genius did his job perhaps a little too well.

Sharp on time a horse wearing a jacket of stars and stripes stepped out on to the track and was greeted with a roar of cheering. Most animals would have been scared to death, but a thoroughbred horse is born with an instinct for crowds and the American drew himself up and broke into a trot through that dense human lane, feeling by some animal telepathy that everything was all right and that he himself was the hero of the occasion.

Hardly had he started to trot round when the band at the grandstand gate broke into “Dixie” played as only a great band could play it. The rap tap tap of the kettle-drums seemed to mark the time for the horse's trot, and the blare of the brasses sounded like a call to battle. Southern Americans threw up their hats and gave the rebel yell; niggers in all directions started to cake-walk, accompanying the performance with what they conceived to be appropriate gestures, a North

  ― 186 ―
American prize-fighter from the State of Maine spat out his chewing-gum and said: “I'Il sure take a sock at that big nigger in a minute. He's getting too fresh.” As the horse reached the back of the course the naval band stopped dead and the military band broke into “Marching Through Georgia” with its triumphant refrain of “Hurrah, Hurrah, we bring the jubilee.” The North American section sang the old marching song as Sherman's soldiers sang it in the days that are gone but not forgotten. As the horse got safely back to the enclosure the genius wiped his brow and said:

“Well, I got 'em goin', didn't I? But what was up with 'em. They seemed to want to go for each other.”

Then came the French horse to the strains of “Partant pour la Syrie,” winding up with “Malbrook s'en va't en guerre,” an appropriate enough sentiment. But the genius had been troubled as to the tune that he should allot to the Australian horse. He had an idea that Australia was a remote sort of place so he played for safety with “Ten Thousand Miles Away” and “It's a Long Way to Tipperary.” Being as unexcitable as crack billiard players, the French and Australian horses took it all as a matter of course. When, however, the highly-strung English horse came out, he pranced on the track and blew through his nostrils like Job's warhorse sniffing the battle. Fear was absolutely foreign to his nature, but he knew that he had to race and he snorted defiance as he looked round for his competitors. By some lucky accident the genius awarded him “A Fine Old English Gentleman” for the first half of his parade, and he came home to the strains

  ― 187 ―
of “Rule Britannia” sung by a massed choir of a hundred thousand voices. Far-away Britishers listened in on the wireless and wondered what it was all about and whether the Prince of Wales had got engaged.

When they went to the post the American horse was a short-priced favourite, with Crusader second in demand. The distance was voted too short for the plodding French horse, while the Australian was looked upon as out of his class in this company at any distance. Old campaigners, they gave no trouble at the post, and as the starter pressed the lever and shouted “Go,” the American horse was into his stride like a flash. So quickly did he begin that he set up a lead of three lengths in the first two hundred yards, and it seemed that he would go right away from his field. But a really good horse is a good horse at any distance, and as the others got their longer strides into action he ceased to gain and the race was on in earnest. Hunched on his horse's back, the American rider hugged the rails, for a horse will run better with a rail to guide him than out in the centre of a track. Three lengths behind him came Crusader racing desperately to make up the lost distance, with Sensation and the French horse a couple of lengths farther back. Finding himself left behind at the start, Bill the Gunner's warped mentality asserted itself, and instead of embarking on a hopeless chase after the leader he decided to let Sensation make no show at all. Flourishing his whip, he appeared to be riding his horse hard, but Sensation took no notice of the whip and dropped back till he was an inglorious last. Even the French horse outpaced him, and Messrs Lynx, Searchlight and Company were more than ever convinced

  ― 188 ―
that the Australian horse was one of the worst false-alarms ever seen on the English turf.

The furlong posts flashed past and at the half mile the American had exhausted his first great burst of speed. But he still had a two lengths lead and his rider was able to give him just an instant's relief from the pressure, just long enough for him to snatch a breath of much-needed air. Crusader closed on him and a roar went up as the English horse's head drew to his girth. Three lengths from the post, the American rider gave a squeeze of his knees and a twitch of his hands and his horse's great natural speed landed him a winner by half a length from Crusader, with the others beaten off. The first engagement in the international battle had been won by America, and the naval charity was richer by five thousand pounds.

Press reporters crowded round the jockeys to get their stories of the race. But the jockey's story to the Press and his story to his trainer are not always one and the same. Speaking in his soft Southern drawl the American rider said to the Pressmen:

“Waal, gents, ah never saw the other horses. Ah was looking for the winnin'-post. How did he finish with me? Waal, he knew, he'd been racing but ah never noticed that he stopped none.”

To the trainer he said:

“Say, Eli, that track here is measured wrong. That last furlong is half a mile, and then some. Ah thought that winnin'-post was galloping on ahead of us, and ah'd never catch it.”

The English rider, whose valet was waiting to take him home in his car, said:

  ― 189 ―
“Put in anything you like. I think the winner went too fast for me. I may have been wrong; but that was my general impression.”

To the trainer he said:

“That Yank's a certainty at six furlongs; a possibility at a mile; but not an earthly at a mile and yard.”

The Frenchman said much the same things in his own language. Bill the Gunner when asked how his horse was going through the race said: “Flat out,” and walked away to lead the horse home. When the trainer asked him what he thought of Sensation's chance in the longer races Bill said that he would lob in and went to work making the horse comfortable for the night.

Financially, the day's racing had been one of the greatest successes on record. On the way home in Connie's car Fitzroy had to listen to that lady bubbling over with enthusiasm as to the amount of the takings, and the prospects of Crusader in the longer races. He himself felt like a teetotaller at a big dinner, who sits silent and glum while other people are laughing at what passes for wit when everybody had a bottle or so of champagne to stimulate his sense of humour.

Things were all right for Red Fred, for the pumps had sucked dry at the Daybreak mine and production had been resumed, with the mine paying as well as ever. Mr Delahunty, too, was all right, for there had been five inches of rain on his station and fifty thousand sheep that were worth five shillings apiece before the fall were now worth twelve shillings and sixpence. Fitzroy alone was out of luck: he felt that if the heavens were to rain duck soup he would have only a

  ― 190 ―
fork. Then again if Connie married Red Fred, he (Fitzroy) would find his occupation gone. There is no sense in keeping a dog and barking yourself; Red Fred would have no need of a watchdog while Connie retained her health and strength. It was a parasite's job anyhow, and Fitzroy was anxious to be quit of it.

But what was he to do? He had no liabilities, certainly. Red Fred had paid him well and had kept him in food and lodging. But his only assets appeared to be an ability to throw people about and some few hundred pounds he had saved from his pay. Not much of a balance-sheet, this, to present to any prospective father-in-law. Milling the thing over in his mind he suddenly thought of the colt Red Fred had given him in Australia. According to the news from Australia this colt gave great promise and might sell for a fairly large sum of money. As he put it to himself why not sell the colt and give the money a chance — buy shares in a gold-mine; pick up an Old Master for a few pounds in a dealer's shop; or go to Monte Carlo and break the bank? Other people made money quickly, and youth is always ready for adventure.

On the way home from the races he asked Connie to stop the car. He jumped out and hunted up the cable office. There he dispatched an urgent-rate message to Charley Stone at the Empire Pastoral Company in Sydney, asking him to see what he could get for the colt. About midnight he received the reply:

“Can get a thousand. Do you want it?”

Reflecting that, as the Americans say, a thousand was the one thing he wanted, he hunted up the code-book

  ― 191 ―
and replied: “Saucepan audacity emporal”; which on being interpreted meant:

“Must have it, wire at once to my credit Empire Pastoral Company London.” Then he retired to bed, to dream that he had established a stud and was breeding horses, none of which were worth less than a thousand and some up to ten thousand guineas apiece.

Charley Stone must have worked fast, or Fitzroy's colt must have been very cheap at a thousand guineas. The cable to sell was only dispatched on the Saturday night, and early on Monday morning the money came to hand. This was settling-day after the first day's racing, and having nothing in the world to do, Fitzroy thought he might as well stroll down and see the settling.

One of our greatest dramatists — Barrie, was it not? — once wrote about the ten-pound look. Has any one ever done justice to the thousand-pound feeling? With that sum in cash and an honorary member's ticket in his pocket Fitzroy strolled into the settling at the big betting-club. He had no definite ideas but felt like an emperor, or, rather, like emperors used to feel before so many of them became “stonkered” — if one may use the word. Once before in his life he had known a similar feeling: when be landed in Australia with a thousand pounds given him by his uncle. That thousand pounds had vanished like fairy money; but its passing had left no tracks on the india-rubber temperament of youth. Once again he had a thousand pounds, so why worry about the past?

For a while he listened to the babel of the settling and nodded to an acquaintance here and there. Among them was a tight-lipped little man who had been at

  ― 192 ―
school with him and, after having floated companies, sold shares, and owned racehorses, had settled down into one of London's best-known racing commissioners. He executed commissions for other people and did not forget to help himself when any particularly good information came his way. This man was paying and receiving piles of notes as though they were grocery coupons. Fitzroy, watching his operations, became more than ever convinced that where there was so much money about some of it should fall to his share.

But looking at money was one thing; getting it was quite another. He had vague thoughts of how easy it would be to grab a pile of notes, double up the doorkeeper and make for the great open spaces. He glanced through the window, saw a policeman on guard at the door, and abandoned that method of doubling or trebling his capital. Then just as he was debating whether to go straight home or look in at his club he caught sight of his hereditary foe, the immaculate Mr Noall. Fitzroy decided to make for his club. Mr Noall, however, had other ideas. He had learnt that Fitzroy had some very influential relatives who might be of great assistance to a rising young politician, and he was not of the type that would let a little matter like a fight stand in the way of his personal advancement. Looking more of a swell — and more Levantine — than ever, he bore down on Fitzroy, exuding affability.

“Well, well,” he said. “We haven't met since that affair at Randwick. It was just as well the police stopped it. We might have hurt each other. I met Miss Delahunty in Ireland and made my peace with her. I

  ― 193 ―
seem to have offended her in some way at that luncheon, but you know ladies don't understand racing.”

Fitzroy reflected that perhaps some ladies understood more about racing than some Levantines, but he did not wish to drag Moira's name into any betting-club brawl. He hated the sight of this man, and nothing would have pleased him better than to finish their Randwick fracas there and then, but he managed to choke down his temper. He even thought of offering Mr Noall a drink, but decided there was no need to go to extremes in hypocrisy. He was trying to think of something to say when Mr Noall went on:

“I met your uncle the other day. Being the head of the Foreign Office he could get me the nomination for that Bucks division. Would you come to dinner some evening, and we might be able to get the old gentleman to come along. I'd like to meet him privately. It would do me a good turn, and of course I would be glad to put something in your way later on.”

Reflecting that if he saw Mr Noall drowning he would sooner throw him a grindstone than a life-buoy, Fitzroy said he had no influence with his uncle and turned to walk away. His manner offended the Levantine in his most sensitive point, for he had a great idea of his own importance and a great desire to get into society. He had looked on Fitzroy as one able to open the door for him and here he found it banged in his face.

“All right, Fitzroy,” he said, “you're a queer fellow. I wanted to help you. I was going to ask you to dinner to meet Miss Delahunty, but we'll consider that off.”

Just as he spoke one of the bookmakers started to call the double.

  ― 194 ―
“I'll lay the double. The two last Internationals. Crusader and any way. Crusader and Edouard, Crusader and Clean Sweep. Ten to one Crusader and Sensation. Come on, don't nobody want to back the bushranger?”

“I should think they wouldn't,” said Mr Noall. “A nice brute to bring all the way from Australia. I've got half a dozen horses, myself, which could beat him. I'd lay twelve to one the double Crusader and Sensation and think I was picking up money.”

Looking at this man, so sleek and prosperous, while he himself had only a thousand pounds in the world, Fitzroy recalled the saying of the big Australian bookmaker that it took a rat to bet like a gentleman. He himself was a gentleman — by birth at any rate — and it was up to him to show that a gentleman could bet like a rat. Prudence and common sense went to the winds, for here was a chance to make a fortune at a stroke.

“Do you mean that?” he said. “Do you mean that you would bet twelve to one against Crusader and Sensation?”

Mr Noall wondered what was coming next. He knew that Fiteroy was very hard up, and he had not heard of the sale of the colt.

“Of course I mean it,” he said. “It would be like picking up money in the street. But I wouldn't be interested in any threepenny-bit bets.”

The taunt about the, threepenny-bit bets settled it.

Fitzroy's temperament was that of a schoolboy, and a schoolboy will do anything on a “dare.”

“Will you bet twelve thousand to a thousand?” he said.

  ― 195 ―
“Yes, for cash. I'd like to know that I was going to get the money if I won it.”

Without another word Fitzroy pulled out of his pocket a guaranteed bank cheque for a thousand pounds and beckoned the little commissioner over:

“I've just made a bet with this gentleman. He has laid me twelve thousand to a thousand the double, Crusader and Sensation. Take this cheque and pay him if it loses, and collect for me if it wins.”

Then without even saying good-bye to Mr Noall he turned and stalked out of the club, cursing himself for the greatest fool on earth. That pocket felt so empty without the thousand pounds.

  ― 196 ―

Chapter XVIII. Second Day's Racing

THE success of the first day's racing sent everybody off their balance. Even Connie, who was fond of saying that she would not bet on the sun rising, secretly rang up Mr Manasses and told him to put a hundred pounds on Crusader for her in the mile-and-a-quarter race on the second day. Her trainer had told her that she was absolutely certain to beat the American, equally certain to beat the Australian, and that it was ten to one on her beating the French horse. To which Connie replied:

“I've heard of them certainties before. I've 'ad some. I wouldn't back a racehorse with bad money” — and then set off and rang up Mr Manasses as before said.

Red Fred, too, being under orders not to bet, was leading a double life and was betting through his valet de chambre. This latter gentleman was, to the naked eye, the acme of respectability; on the quiet he was an agent for a big starting-price bookmaker and received a commission of two shillings in the pound on all business brought in by him. A discouraging thought, this, to those who tilt at the ring, for a backer cannot have much chance when a bookmaker can afford to pay ten per cent to get his business.

  ― 197 ―
But ten per cent or any other per cent meant nothing to Red Fred who had caught the punting fever for which the only cure is death. What with Connie's homilies on the folly of betting and Red Fred's sycophantic agreement therewith, Fitzroy felt that they would at least have him arrested as a lunatic if he said anything about his big double. He spent the Tuesday in keeping away as far as possible from human intercourse, and waited feverishly to see how the first leg of his double would shape on the Wednesday.

The way of the transgressor is hard and things were not made any easier for Fitzroy when Sensation's trainer turned up at Newmarket Lodge full of mystery. As Connie was out he had an uninterrupted interview with Red Fred and Fitzroy and stated his case to them.

“There's something wrong,” he said. “This boy of yours, this Bill the Gunner, isn't getting your horse out. I'm certain the horse can do better. I'd like to put another rider on him to-morrow, and I think we might beat Her Ladyship's horse. This horse of yours wouldn't blow a match out after his gallops yet he'll let anything in the stable beat him. Let me put O'Rourke — Jimmy the Butcher — they call him — on your horse to-morrow and if Jimmy the Butcher can't win on him, we'll let your boy ride him again on the last day.”

Red Fred was always ready to fall in with any suggestion made by anybody, but he trembled to think what Bill the Gunner would have to say to this arrangement. As usual he compromised.

“Well, you can put this butcher cove of yours up to-morrow if you like, but I won't take Bill the Gunner

  ― 198 ―
off him altogether. Let your cove ride him to-morrow and Bill can ride him on Saturday. I don't know what's up with the horse meself. He could go like a blue-flyer kangaroo in Australia, but here he's like a shearer's horse — goes a long way in a long time.”

With that the trainer took his departure, and Fitzroy was left to conjure up pictures of this ruthless rider driving Sensation home ahead in front of Connie's horse and settling the first leg of his twelve-thousand-pound double. It seemed to be all in keeping with the rest of his luck.

By request of the trainers the grand parade of the horses with musical accompaniment was cut out the second day. The horses had to run three hard races in eight days and the modern racehorse, temperamental to a degree, is easily upset by excitement. Crusader had not relished the first day's parade, in fact it had upset him more than the race and his trainer would have no more of it.

“If you start 'em cake-walking and dancing the can-can again,” he said, “I'll have to sit up to-night and drop oats into the stems of sow thistles to make my horse eat anything. We've had enough of the circus business and enough is too much if you ask me.”

This ultimatum was delivered to a committee consisting of Mr Manasses and several other gentlemen, some of whom had but the scantiest knowledge of the subject. As is usual on committees those who knew the least felt compelled to make suggestions, just to show that they were not altogether passengers on the voyage.

  ― 199 ―
One of these worthies caught the word circus and hopped in with a helpful remark.

“It is a pity we didn't know about this,” he said, “there's a circus in camp just over here and we could have got them to give us a parade. Fine elephant they've got.”

“Look gentlemen,” said the trainer, “if you bring an elephant, or even a Bengal tiger, anywhere within scent of my horse I'll scratch him.”

“All right, all right,” said Mr Manasses who was used to dealing with temperamental people, and saw that the trainer, for some reason or other, was getting quite excited. “We won't have any parade. There's nothing about it in the programme. They can't ask for their money back.”

With these troubles adjusted, the first few races were run off and then came the signal for the great Mile-and-a-quarter International Race. The Americans wagered on their horse, trusting on his speed to pull him through, but the English public put their money behind the opinion that Crusader would “get him” in the last quarter of a mile. In the paddock Bill the Gunner, saying nothing as usual, glumly saddled Sensation and gave him a parting slap on the rump for luck as he went to the post. O'Rourke, who took the Gunner's place on Sensation, was a very strong rider, a first-class man to handle an awkward or lazy horse, but he was no artist. As the barrier lifted Crusader and Clean Sweep jumped away together, but Sensation dwelt for a second and, instead of giving him time to strike his stride and get balanced, O'Rourke started to hustle him along. With his rider hard at him Sensation started to scramble,

  ― 200 ―
trying to take a fresh stride before he had finished the last. He did not get into his rhythmic swing till he had run nearly a furlong, and by this time Clean Sweep and Crusader had set up a four lengths lead, with the American horse holding his own rather easily with the English crack.

All were great gallopers and so easily did they move that it was hard to believe that they were going a pace which would have made the average horse look as though he were tied to the fence. For the first seven furlongs there was nothing between the two leaders, while Sensation and the Frenchman had not made up any of the ground. As they approached the mile the American rider began to niggle at his horse while Crusader, going straight as a gun-barrel with his ears pricked, began to draw away. Another hundred yards saw the end of the American and Crusader's rider was able to ease his horse for a fraction of a second while waiting for another challenger to come along. Gamely the French and Australian horses struggled after him, but it was no race. They were never able seriously to challenge him and he passed the post an easy winner, going well within himself and looking as if he could go on for another mile if wanted. Sensation shook off the French horse in the straight and finished second in fine even style, with the American beaten off. Pandemonium broke loose. Connie waltzed with her trainer and the air was thick with hats. Away on the hill a Chinaman and two Latin-Americans watched the finish through their glasses and Ramon said “Gee, ain't he a hoss? What a pity that he won't run so well next Saturday.”

  ― 201 ―
Dominic looked round to see that no one could hear and said: “What did I tell yer about the Australian? See him breeze when that butcher boy hit him? Give him time to settle down and he shakes 'em up. He ain't got a five-cent chance of beatin' this winner, but he might beat the others. We'll take care of him, and, oh boy, what a diamond price we'll get about the Frenchman next Saturday.”

At the settling next day Crusader was a warm favourite for the Two Mile International. He had won at a mile and a quarter so easily that it was hard to see anything troubling him in the long race — the last of the series. Fit and well, Crusader must win the remaining big race. When they finished their settling the bookmakers got to business on the two-mile race.

“Take two to one” was the cry. “Take two to one about Crusader.” Sensation was second favourite, while the Frenchman and the American were at long odds, but nobody wanted anything but the favourite. Before long, the books were shortening Crusader's price and were trying to get money in on the others.

“Coom on now,” roared the Yorkshireman, “ah'll stretch it a bit. 'Ere's ten to one the Boy de Bologne. Ain't there onny Frenchmen aboott”

No Frenchmen made their appearance. But Fitzroy's little English commissioner friend began to drift round the tables taking a thousand to a hundred about the French horse from every bookmaker that would lay it. He got pretty well round the room before the ring-men woke up to the fact that a big commission was being worked. By the time that he had got round to the Yorkshireman, he had invested two thousand pounds at a

  ― 202 ―
steady price of ten to one, and then he put his notebook in his pocket.

Even a racing commissioner must talk sometimes, and when a friend asked him if he had backed the horse for himself he drew his friend to one side and whispered in his ear.

“You'll hardly believe it,” he said, “but I don't know whose money I'm putting on. Two Americans that I never saw before and a Chinaman — a Chinaman if you please — came to me and gave two thousand pounds and asked me to put it on the French horse for them. Can you beat that? I wouldn't have touched it, only they gave me the money and the money was good, even if those birds weren't. What do you make of it? The Chinaman told me he knew I was plenty good man and he'd give me two hundred if it came off. I never thought I'd take money from a Chinaman. But there's not many men will give you two hundred for two minutes' work, you know.”

“Do you think it's got any chance?”

“Not an earthly, unless these chaps know something. I'd rather listen to two thousand cash than to all the tips in the world. They don't put on two thousand unless they know something.”

With one leg of his big double safely home Fitzroy simply could not keep away from the settling. He saw Mr Noall across the room and thought that that amateur bookmaker might ask him to lay some of the double money back to him. But Mr Noall thought that the money was as good as in his pocket and had no idea of saving a single shilling. How could the Australian horse have any chance against Crusader?

  ― 203 ―
Finding no hope for adventure, Fitzroy made for home, and he had to hurry, for during the afternoons he filled the position of watchman over Crusader's box. With an automatic in his pocket he strolled up and down the yard, occasionally looking out in the manner laid down in police regulations. He did not expect that anything would happen, but it was just as well to be on the safe side, so he refused admittance to everybody, no matter how plausible their stories.

Cranks of all sorts are attracted by notoriety as flies are attracted by treacle; they haunt Chief Justices, Prime Ministers, and great racehorses with impartiality. Several such characters hung round the gates of Newmarket Lodge trying vainly to get in and to give the horse some miraculous specific that would make him run a mile in a minute. What with throwing these people out, and hunting for rats with the stable terrier, Fitzroy found the afternoon pass quite pleasantly. And he was delighted to receive a short-notice invitation to dinner and a theatre party with Moira and her father that evening. He determined to say nothing about the double, because there is many a slip between the first leg and the second; but he went to the dinner in a more cheerful mood than he had known for months. There was at any rate a chance that Sensation might get home.

Discarding his automatic and donning his dress clothes he spent a most enjoyable evening. And it felt like old times when he realized that the music-hall they visited was the place where he had thrown the chucker-out down the stairs. Moira's attitude towards him was much more friendly since Connie's engagement to Red

  ― 204 ―
Fred had been announced, and he was feeling quite bucked when he returned to Newmarket Lodge about midnight. It was a dark windless night, and the brightness of the stars turned his mind to Australia. Feeling inclined for a final pipe before he turned in, he decided to stroll down to the stables just to pass the time and to enjoy the fragrance of the tobacco in the open air. He let himself into the stable-yard with his key and walked up to speak to the night-watchman, who was sitting on a chair at the door of Crusader's box with Sam the stable terrier at his feet.

Much to his surprise Sam did not run to meet him, nor did the night-watchman speak to him. He walked up to the watchman and found that he was to all intents and purposes a dead man. Fitzroy's police training had taught him to distinguish between the effects of drink and the effects of drugs, and a hurried examination of the watchman showed that he had been drugged, and heavily drugged at that. The little dog lay as though dead, but there was no time to make any examination in his case. Springing to the door of Crusader's box, Fitzroy threw it open and was relieved to find the horse apparently unharmed. Crusader knew him and greeted him with a cheerful whinny which showed that if anything had been administered to him it had not yet got in its work. It dashed through Fitzroy's mind that the dopers must have in some way conveyed drugs to the man and the dog, and that they would come back as soon as the drugs had taken effect.

Entering the box, he felt along the wall till he found a flashlight torch that was kept on a shelf ready for emergencies at night. Then he spoke to the horse to give

  ― 205 ―
him confidence, and the big stallion came and nuzzled against his shoulder as though to say “We are all right, you and I.”

Feeling satisfied that the horse would not get frightened nor fly round the box, Fitzroy closed the box and waited there in the pitch darkness rubbing the horse's head and listening for any sound. He heard nothing; but the doors of the box opened slowly and a flashlight was thrown into a corner of the box, evidently with the idea of getting the horse used to the light before flashing it full on him. So far, the visitors had seen only the corner of the box and the horse's hind quarters, and it must have been a severe shock to them when Fitzroy switched on his light and flashed it in their faces. There were three men there, but only one that he knew. He found that he was holding the light within two feet of the face of Jimmy the Pat.

The horse sprang back to the far end of the box, but Fitzroy sprang forward, straight for the Chinaman's throat, as he did so, Jimmy the Pat struck him over the head with an iron bar and Fitzroy went down among the straw with a fractured skull. Having one murder to his account, the Chinaman probably did not want another, but there was no safety for him while Fitzroy knew of his presence in England, and he stooped over Fitzroy's prostrate form to finish his work.

But he had to reckon with an unexpected foe. A thoroughbred stallion is not without ideas of defending himself, and as the Chinaman bent forward Crusader reared up and struck out with his iron-shod front feet. One of them landed fair on the top of the head of Jimmy the Pat and crushed in his skull like an eggshell.

  ― 206 ―
Then the stallion jumped over the two prostrate figures and rushed down the yard, whistling and snorting in a fashion to awake the whole establishment. When the head lad and the stable-boys came flying down from their sleeping-quarters, they found the horse trembling with excitement in the far corner of the yard, and two apparently dead men lying in the box. The Americans had made themselves scarce.

A hurried call was sent out for the police, a doctor, and a vet. Fitzroy was rushed away to a hospital, the doctor saying that he had just a chance for his life, but Jimmy the Pat was beyond human aid. By heroic measures the watchman was brought round and the vet was just in time to save the life of the little dog. The police were thoroughly puzzled as to how the two men, one of them entirely unarmed, had managed to inflict such injuries on each other; and all sorts of theories were current until an examination of the Chinaman's body at the morgue showed the mark of Crusader's hoof clearly imprinted on his shaven skull.

  ― 207 ―

Chapter XIX. The Last Day's Racing

IT takes a lot to stir up London. But London was thoroughly stirred up by the attack on Connie's horse, the death of the Chinaman and the injury to Fitzroy. Occurring as it did about midnight, the news set sub-editors on a hundred papers tearing the formes to pieces and discarding Prime Ministers' speeches, threats of war in the Balkans, and articles on the fishing-fleets in the North Sea. This attack on Fitzroy was front-page stuff, and many a weary stone-hand who had hoped to get home early, found himself in for the job of making up extra editions till daylight.

Flashlight photographers, when they were denied admittance to the Newmarket Lodge stables, erected step-ladders outside the walls and snapped away until the magnesium flares made the place look like a front line in Flanders. The newspaper people regarded it as a piece of luck that the affair had happened to Connie and Crusader, for they had numberless photographs of those celebrities; photos of Red Fred and Fitzroy would have fetched ten pounds per square inch. Every photographer in London was rung up from his slumbers, to see if by any chance he had a snapshot of the Newmarket Lodge party at the races. When one such photograph

  ― 208 ―
came to light, the newspaper that secured it put a reliable man on to watch it through every stage of reproduction. Crusader's trainer disconnected his telephone to avoid answering inquiries as to whether the horse would be fit to run on the following Saturday. This availed him little as inquirers got in over his fence or through his back yard and hammered at the door till they got some sort of an answer.

Reporters claiming to be friends of the family got into Newmarket Lodge in dozens and were violently ejected by the staff. Finally a police guard was put round the place and the invading army moved on to the establishments of the doctor and the veterinary surgeon. As one Chinaman is much like another, several sons of the flowery land made good money by posing as the corpse of Jimmy the Pat. By the time that the last forme was locked up and the last linotype operator had put on his coat the Press felt that they had done the affair reasonable justice.

Neither Connie nor Red Fred went to bed that night, waiting on news from the hospital. Nor did they intend to go to the races on the last day though they had to run their horses under their agreement with the syndicate. Thursday and Friday passed without any appreciable change in Fitzroy's condition. There was nothing to be done but wait, and at last came the winding-up day of the great International Race-meeting.

It was no wonder that, after such publicity, the huge racecourse was taxed to hold the crowd. People who had never been to a race-meeting in their lives determined to go out and see the horse that had killed a man. They shouldered and elbowed one another at the gates

  ― 209 ―
and as each lot got in they made straight of Crusader's stall.

When they found that the horse had not arrived they did not go away. They stood there and waited, and more and more kept pouring in at every moment, massing round the stall. When Crusader's trainer arrived he took in the situation and sought out Mr Manasses.

“Look, Mr Manasses,” he said, “what am I to do? I can't take that horse in there. He's terribly upset at home, pawing up the ground and snorting if a stranger comes near him. What he'll be like here I don't know. The crowd at the back will shove those in front and they'll be forced right into the stall. There'll be a lot of people killed, and the horse will go mad. Where can I put him?”

Though Mr Manasses did not know a great deal about racing he knew a lot about handling crowds.

“No matter where you put him,” he said, “they'll find him, and we've got to give them some horse to look at, or they'll tear the place down. That parade ring has a strong picket fence round it, and I'll put a guard of bluejackets three deep all round the fence.”

“But that's no good,” interrupted the trainer. “The horse'll go mad in there.”

“I won't put your horse in there,” said Mr Manasses. “I'll get an old selling plater all rugged up with hood and necksweaters on, and walk him round and start somebody to pass the word that it's Crusader. They won't know the difference, and they'll be pleased to see him so quiet. Don't bring your horse in till it's time to go to the post.”

So for an hour, the bluejackets strained against the

  ― 210 ―
picket fence and held the crowd back while the old selling plater, utterly unconcerned, strolled round and round. The ineffable London bobbies got to work at each end of the crowd and kept it in circulation with the monotonous order, “Now you've seen the horse, move on.” So well did they work that before long the crowd were marching past the old selling plater as though they were viewing the body of somebody lying in state. They were thoroughly convinced that such a terrible matter as killing a man had not upset the horse at all.

Meanwhile the French, American, and Australian horses had arrived almost unnoticed. The preliminary races were run off, and then the military buglers sounded the fall in and the four cracks stepped out on to the track. Crusader was very much on his toes and it took a little trouble to get him through the gate. Out on the track he snorted and shied if anybody so much as lifted a hand, and the starter's assistant had to take hold of his bridle and lead him down to the post. The American horse had been thoroughly strung up for his race on the first day and was feeling the reaction. It is said that a horse can only be kept in supreme condition for about as long as a pear will keep at its best on a tree. He looked somewhat drawn and uneasy, but he gave no trouble. The other two slouched down as though they had not a care in the world and Bill the Gunner, restored to jockeyship, amused himself by pretending to whip Sensation while moving at a walk. The crowd laughed, but Sensation's trainer caught a friend next him by the arm and said:

“Look at that. That infernal Australian thief has

  ― 211 ―
taught the horse that trick. I don't believe he's ever made him do his best on the track or in the race. If he beats Connie's horse the crowd'll have my life.”

“Better give me your watch then,” said his friend. “I could do with a good watch and it would be a pity for them to spoil it.”

Neither Moira nor her father would go to the races while Fitzroy was hovering between life and death in the hospital, so that the Honourable Captain Salter was the sole representative of the party that had come out from Australia on the Oronia. Captain Salter was hunting about the ring for information, as busy as a dog hunting for truffles, when he was accosted by a well-dressed stranger, perfectly turned out, and with a most charming manner.

“You don't remember me, dear boy,” said the stranger. “But of course you wouldn't remember everyone that you met at Government House, in Sydney. My name's Dickson, Dickson of Australia I call myself because there are so many other Dicksons. I left my stations to look after themselves and took a run over here to see the racing. Great idea, isn't it, dear boy, international spirit and all that you know. Splendid! I'll tell you what you might do, dear boy, for a stranger in a strange land. You might give me a card to some of these bookmakers so that I can have a bet or two. I must have a little on the Australian horse, though I think Crusader's the goods. What do you think your self?”

Captain Salter was flattered by this appeal to his judgment and felt that his late official position in Australia made it incumbent on him to help the inhabitants

  ― 212 ―
of that uncivilized country. Besides, Mr Dickson was obviously a prosperous man and might be able to put him on to some good Australian investments.

Without hesitation he pulled out his card bearing the name of a very exclusive club and handed it over, scribbling on it “Introducing Mr Dickson of Australia.”

“Here you are, old chap. Glad to do anything for an Australian. Had a ripping time out there, what! I saw Sensation run in Sydney, but he doesn't seem quite up to this class, I'm afraid. They're just going to the post so you'll want to get on quick. Good luck.” With that the Honourable Captain Salter returned to the task of trying to get a point over the odds about the English horse.

Armed with the card, Mr Dickson of Australia cruised up and down the rails, booking a bet here and a bet there, producing the card each time and being received with the greatest civility and deference, a man sufficiently important to be known as Mr Dickson of Australia must be somebody of consequence; and the name of the club would have commanded credit in any part of London. It was noticeable that Mr Dickson made his bets at fairly wide intervals about the ring, but there was nothing remarkable in that, for when a man makes a fairly large bet with a bookmaker the ring-man on the next position is apt to offer shorter odds. Altogether Mr Dickson appeared quite satisfied with himself when he put away his note-book and climbed up into the stand to see the race.

And now they were at the post for the last great deciding event — the Two Miles International. Much to the dismay of those who thought they had seen him

  ― 213 ―
walking like an old hack in the parade yard, Crusader was in a lather of sweat, snorting, trembling, and refusing to stand still for a moment. His jockey tried to soothe him; the only result, was a snort and a vicious drag at the bit. In contrast to his excitement, Sensation strolled down with Bill the Gunner sitting on him with a slack rein. There is such a thing as a two-mile temperament, and the Australian horse had it with plus values, as they say in the bridge books.

The American horse had felt the strain of his two races, and it was just as well that he did not know what was ahead of him or he might have given a lot of trouble. The Frenchman's racing had fined him down till he was about at his best, and it was generally voted that if Crusader should “blow up” the Frenchman might beat the Australian horse over two miles.

Off they went on their two-mile journey, with the American in the lead. His rider had a very faint hope that if he could dawdle along in front, and slow the others down, his horse might be left with a run at the finish.

Crusader's rider tried to steady his horse but the English stallion would have none of it. Thoroughly upset, he kept his head down between his front legs and threw it from side to side, and his rider soon saw that the only thing to do was to let him go, as he might run more quietly if out in the lead by himself.

Unfortunately, the American horse went with him for half a mile or so, making him pull and fight worse than ever. Then the American rider decided that this was no good and that he had better wait at the back, so he took a pull and dropped back a few lengths. Meanwhile,

  ― 214 ―
the two stayers were swinging the ground under them, galloping contentedly side by side, their jockeys watching every move of the horses in front. Crusader's rider tried to hold him back to them, but every time they closed on him, and he could hear their hoofs drumming on the turf, he made a fresh bound in the air, trying to get away again. No horse in the world can stand this sort of thing, so with a mile to go, Crusader's rider let his horse stride out, and then for a while the spectators saw some galloping. With beautiful effortless strides he drew away and, opened up a gap of half a dozen lengths and the roar went up “the favourite walks in.”

It was time now for the French and Australian riders to go after him, and for the first time Bill the Gunner let Sensation have the whip in earnest. Just one cut awoke his fighting spirit and he bounded away from the Frenchman and went after the leader. But the Frenchman did not mean to be left behind and at five furlongs from home he was again up alongside Sensation, and the two of them were closing on Crusader. The latter's rider had managed to steady his horse again and was trying to save up a run for the finish. As they swung into the straight the three of them were practically level, with the Frenchman forcing the pace. He could stay for ever, but was just a little bit short of speed and his rider knew that if it came to a short dash home he would be beaten. The English rider knew that if he could steady his horse even for a few strides, he could beat the others for speed, but Crusader's temper was so thoroughly roused that he would not let a horse pass him while he had a breath in his body.

  ― 215 ―
Seeing the position, Bill the Gunner let his horse drop back a length, trusting to get the last run at the Frenchman and beat him for speed, and hoping that Crusader's early contest with his rider might have left him without a finishing run. The English horse was feeling the strain, but he fought on and kept the Frenchman at top pace to live with him. A hundred yards from the post Bill the Gunner called on the staying power that his lazy horse had kept in reserve. With whip and spur he drove him up to the leaders and the three of them battled it out without flinching. They flashed past the post locked together, with whips going, and until the number went up no one could say what had won. The judge's verdict was Sensation first, Crusader second, and the Frenchman third, with only half heads between them. The American was tailed off.

Fitzroy had won his double, but no double in the world seemed to be much good to him just then.

  ― 216 ―

Chapter XX. Red Fred's Marriage

AT the settling on Monday after the races everything passed off pleasantly, and the bookmakers marked off as paid the great bulk of their wins and losses. Then came a lull and they began to chat among themselves.

“'Ow was it, Charley?” said a Cockney bookmaker. “Did they all come up all right?”

“Pretty well, all. There's some I'll have to wait for, but I'll get it all right. There's one chap hasn't settled, a Mr Dickson of Australia. Anybody know anything about him? He owes me two hundred.”

“He owes me two hundred too,” said another. “But he'll be along all right. He's a big swell is his own country, got millions of sheep. I don't suppose he knows his way in here.”

Here a Jewish bookmaker chipped in from farther up the table. “He knowth his way in here all right, because he'th been in and thettled.”

“How could he been in and settled?” said the first man. “He ain't a member.”

Among certain classes noise is considered a good substitute for argument, so the Jew roared at the top of his voice:

“I tell you he hath been in and thettled. I paid him

  ― 217 ―
five hundred he won over the Australian horse. Now what about it?”

“Not so good,” said the Cockney. “'E backed the Frenchman with me.”

“He backed the favourite with me,” said a voice from across the table.

“Ah laid him six oondred to fifty aboot th' American,” boomed the big Yorkshireman. “Ah met him going down t'stairs just now and he said he'd be back in a minute.”

“Backed 'em all, an' only settled on the winner,” said the Cockney. “But 'ow did 'e get in 'ere? 'E ain't a member.”

The door-keeper was asked whether he had admitted any strangers, and he said that the only stranger he had admitted was a great swell with a card from the Honourable somebody or other in the Guards' Club.

“Them sort generally loses,” he added defensively. “You'd have made a great row with me if I'd a' turned him away.”

Just then a bookmaker from another club put his head in at the door and said: “Do any of you gentlemen know anything about a Mr Dickson of Australia? He owes me two hundred.”

“It's all right, Joe,” said the Cockney. “'E's just gone down to Australia to get the money. 'E said 'e'd be back in a minite. But they 'ave very long minites in Australia you know.”

While the settling was going on, Fitzroy was lying in the hospital fighting for his life. The brain had been injured, and when Connie called at the hospital the

  ― 218 ―
surgeon told her that nothing more could be done, they must wait and hope for the best. All the way back home in the car she wept bitterly, and when her servants told her that a man was waiting to see her, she was in two minds as to whether or not to send him away.

Thinking that, perhaps, he might have some news that would take her out of herself, she walked into the visitors' room and found a small man with a tight-lipped mouth and the indelible stamp of the turf on his features.

“If it's anything about the racing,” said Connie, “you can do your song and dance outside. I never want to hear anything more about racing as long as I live.”

“It's about Mr Fitzroy,” said the man. “I only wanted to tell you —”

“You can't tell me anything about Mr Fitzroy,” said Connie who was loosing control of herself again. “Such a fine young feller.” Here she relapsed into tears. “There's all these wasters you see about, and nothing happens to 'em and this young feller gets killed.”

“He's not dead is he? I thought he had a chance —”

“So he has a chance,” said Connie. “Buckley's chance, the way his luck is. Fell out with his girl he did, and lost his job, and now 'e's goin' to lose 'is life. The unluckiest man that ever lived.”

The little man got up and put his hand on her shoulder, while Connie sobbed into her handkerchief.

“Cheer up, Countess,” he said, “I've known him a good many years. He's a game un and a game un is hard to beat. Perhaps his luck has turned. I just called to say that I've got twelve thousand pounds for

  ― 219 ―
him that he won in a double. And I'd like to give it to you as I don't know what else to do with it.”

Theatrical people are always superstitious and Connie took this astounding news as a certain sign that the luck had turned.

“What!” she screamed. “'E's won twelve thousand pounds! Then 'is luck must 'a' turned. That means that the Lord hasn't forgotten us.” And Connie threw her arms round the little man's neck and kissed him, “for luck,” as she explained.

From the depths of despair she had gone to the heights of hope in one bound. She felt absolutely certain that Fitzroy would get right.

Connie's faith was justified for Fitzroy took a turn for the better that very day and before long he was able to see visitors. The first person he asked for was Moira Delahunty, and as he was no longer a penniless wastrel, matters were soon fixed up between them. It was arranged that he should buy a partnership with his prospective father-in-law and thus give that gentleman time to devote his mind to breeding really good horses.

The affair between Connie and Red Fred did not go so smoothly. Connie's craving for publicity had had a good deal to do with the arrangement in the first place; and now that the publicity had served its turn, she wondered whether she would go on with the marriage. Red Fred had many good points; but he was so unassertive, so unable to hold his own in argument, that she felt she would be apologizing for him all her life. She couldn't bear a man without any vices to keep her on the qui vive. And life with Red Fred

  ― 220 ―
promised to be like drinking milk and water after a steady adherence to brandy and soda.

To tell the truth, Red Fred's existence at this time was spent in a sort of daze. His comings in and his goings out were controlled by one of Her Ladyship's grooms of the bedchamber, a man who had lived in the best houses and would have infinitely preferred to look after a nobleman or even the younger son of an aristocratic house. He felt rather like a trainer who had been accustomed to look after a Derby winner and now had to take charge of a Clydesdale. He confided to his particular pal in the servants' hall that he often wondered how long he could stand it. His principal grievance was that Red Fred persistently attempted to be friendly with him which was against all the traditions of upper-class houses. It was not until Red Fred came in one night flushed with wine and wanted to fight him, that he recovered his equanimity.

“By gad, Orthur,” he said to his pal, “I'll make somethin' of that Australian yet. I 'aven't heard nothin' like it since I lived with old Lord Pepperpot. Of course Pepperpot was in a class by hisself. But this feller 'as a lot of new hoaths that I don't think even Pepperpot 'ad ever 'eard of. French hoaths, and all the like o' that. 'E gets me to do a bit of bettin' for 'im on the sly, too, 'cos Connie has knocked 'im off bettin'. Of course 'e ain't what I'm used to, for I used to look after the late Hearl; but this chap's a hoddity all right, and if you can't have a Hearl I suppose a hoddity is the next best thing.”

Fitzroy's man on the other hand, had no reason to make excuses for his charge, because he could talk by

  ― 221 ―
the hour together about the great people to whom Fitzroy was related. The question whether Fitzroy's aunt, Lady Gwendoline, had married one of the Cavendishes or one of the Pagets occasioned a spirited debate in the servants' hall — a debate that had to be adjourned until the butler could get a look at Debrett in the library.

Fitzroy's engagement to Moira was announced. But Connie was still wondering what she would do about her marriage, when the question was settled in a most unexpected way.

When the boys at Sensation's stable opened the boxes one morning they found that the horse had gone, Bill the Gunner had gone, and more significant than all, the little dog Sam had gone. Evilly disposed people might have thought it worth while to steal the horse and to kidnap Bill the Gunner, but who would bother to kidnap Sam? The little dog had made great friends with the Australian horse and jockey, and evidently the lot of them had shifted their quarters together. Where they had gone, and why they had gone, were impenetrable mysteries. The trainer rang up Newmarket Lodge and proposed to raise a hue and cry, but was told to wait, as there must be some explanation.

A hurried call was sent up to Red Fred's room at Newmarket Lodge. Then it was found that Red Fred had gone — had disappeared without leaving a trace. Connie was equally intrigued and bewildered, for her literature consisted mostly of detective stories and here was a situation after her own heart. Fitzroy could offer no suggestions except that they ought to see if there were any black-trackers in London. Connie was just thinking of drawing up an advertisement: “Lost

  ― 222 ―
a racehorse, a millionaire, a jockey and a dog,” when a letter delivered by hand cleared up the whole thing.

It was from Red Fred and it ran as follows:


I beg to inform you that I and Miss Fysshe got married yesterday at a registery office, and we hope you won't mind. Her and I are both fond of racing and you are not fond of racing, so you would get on better with someone that didn't like racing. We have taken a house near Epsom with stables at the back, and we are going to get Bill the Gunner to train a few prads for us, and we will let you know if we have anything any good. The chestnut horse is well and I think he was very lucky to beat your horse, but Bill the Gunner said he had it won any time. It looks like keeping very dry, doesn't it?

Yours respectfully,


This was a situation in which most people would have found it difficult to know what to do or what to say. Connie's master mind, however, which arranged all the charity side of the International Race-meeting did not fail her. Calling in Mr Manasses to aid her in the wording she wrote the following reply:

The Dowager Countess of Fysshe and Fynne presents her congratulations to Mr and Mrs Carstairs, but regrets that they should have found it advisable to get married on such short notice. Otherwise the Dowager Countess would have been pleased to attend the wedding. The Dowager Countess suggests that the fact that her engagement to Mr Fred Carstairs was recently broken off, should be made as public as possible.

“That'll hold 'em,” said the Countess. “Of course there's no more harm in 'em than a couple of jellyfish. I don't know how they ever had the pluck to get married. She must have waited till she got him opposite that registry door and pushed him in. But this'll let Fishy know that, if she starts to talk, I'll talk! I'll

  ― 223 ―
go and see 'em in a day or two and we'll get along fine.”

This programme worked out to a nicety. The public scenting a scandal at first, had all the wind taken out of their tongues by the spectacle of Connie as a welcome and honoured guest at Red Fred's residence. The whole affair had to be put down to the vagaries of music-hall life, where such things as marriages and divorces are but ammunition for the publicity agent. Connie shortly afterwards married a titled husband who beat her, and thus conformed fairly well to her ideas of what a husband ought to be.

Red Fred and his taciturn little wife were ideally happy. They thought and talked about nothing but racehorses; and they soon gathered round them a large circle of friends who also thought and talked about nothing but racehorses. Their Sunday mornings, when the horses were paraded, were attended by some of the highest in the land. Mrs Red Fred became a vogue and was able to pick and choose among the aristocracy for her dinner parties. Whenever Sensation raced she was surrounded by a sort of court but she would never let the horse run against Crusader again. Bill the Gunner wanted to have another go at him, but Mrs Fred thought that it was better to let well alone. There are so many big meetings in England that there was no need for the two stars to appear on the same stage.

As for Red Fred himself perhaps a brief picture — what the movie people call a short — may serve to illustrate his last appearance.

It is early morning and a red-haired man in an old but fashionably-cut suit of clothes strolls through the

  ― 224 ―
streets of an English country town. He is followed by a little dog. Stopping opposite a butcher's window he reads the legends on the carcasses and says:

“Sam, how would you like some dairy-fed pork for your breakfast?”

Sam sits down and stares appreciatively into the window, drumming on the ground with his tail, and groaning with expectation. Then the man goes into the shop and asks the butcher for threepenn'orth of dog's meat. The butcher, very haughtily, says that he does not sell dog's meat. Whereat the red-haired man places two pound notes on the counter and lifts from the hook a carcass of lamb ticketed at that price. Laying it on the block he cuts off a liberal portion for Sam and with the skill of a professional, divides the remainder into four quarters. Calling in some poverty-stricken little boys who are hanging round the door, he gives each of them a quarter and tells them to take them home to their mothers. As he walks out of the shop he says:

“Sam, a man must get some fun for his money somehow.”

no next