Who is to Ride Him? by "Old Calabar"

In a remote and lonely part of Dorsetshire stood, in a beautifully-wooded park, a fine old mansion, Bradon Hall, belonging to George Bradon, Esq., who at the time I speak of was about eight-and-twenty.

He was one of the old school, as his father had been before him. Early in life he had been placed in a crack regiment of Dragoons, so he was not without a pretty good knowledge of the world for his age. Allowed a liberal sum by his father, he had never exceeded it; on the contrary, there was generally a fair balance at the end of the year in the hands of his agent.

He was a remarkably handsome young fellow. Bred up in the country, and left to do pretty nearly as he liked, it was not wonderful he turned out an adept at all sorts of sports.

A good cricketer, a still better fisherman, a magnificent shot, and not only the straightest but the best rider in the country; indeed riding was his forte. Not so with our late friend Artemus Ward at "playing 'oss." With all these sporting accomplishments he was much looked up to in his regiment, and it was said that the man who could live with George Bradon in any country for twenty minutes was A1 in the pigskin.

Two years previous to the time I am speaking of, he found himself master of Bradon Hall; his mother had gone many years before.

The first thing he did was to sell out and come home, where he had ever since resided. All the men in his regiment had the blues when he left. "It was an infernal bore," Captain Swagger remarked, "to lose such a vewey fine fellaw as Bwadon; he should like to know who the devil could bwoo such a cwawat-cup as Bwadon?"

At any rate George left, taking with him a magnificent gold snuff-box, a present from his fellow-officers, "which would be," as the lieutenant-colonel said, "a doocid nice thing to push about the dinner-table when he and his old friends of the regiment came down to hunt and shoot with him."

Some of them had been true to their word, and paid him a visit now and then in the sporting season. George was delighted to see them; it put him in mind of old times, and he was always glad to know how matters were going on in his old corps.

His father had been a great breeder of horses, and as George was just as enthusiastically fond of them, the old blood had been kept up; and with the exception of a fine specimen of an old English gentleman, who used to be daily seen walking about in a blue coat with gilt buttons, buckskins and tops, looking over his brood mares and colts, everything was the same as before. All the servants had been retained; they loved "Master George" too well to quit, nor had they been asked to.

Bradon, when with his regiment, had been the crack rider in it, and many a good stake had he won for that gallant corps. His services had always been most anxiously sought after, and mounts given him in most of the great steeple-chases of the day.

He was so cool and collected, no bustle or flurrying with him. A fine eye, a fine hand, a famous judge of pace, and strong at the finish, with a knowledge, that must almost have been born in him, when to ease his horse, force the running, or take advantage of any mistake. "On the whole," Lord Plunger, who was no mean judge, used to say—"on the whole I consider George Bradon the finest cross-country rider in Europe."

Bradon, though uncommonly lucky in his mounts, bore his honours meekly, and when he sold out and came down to the old place to live, gave up steeple-chasing altogether. "He had so much to do, so much to attend to; after a bit he would have another squeeze at the lemon, but really he must attend to his affairs first."

Repeated refusals damped the ardour of his friends, so at last they gave up asking him to ride, and he was left in quiet to pursue his own way.

Time went on, and such a person as George Bradon had almost been forgotten by the sporting public. One morning, some eighteen months after he had come home, going into the harness-room, he carelessly seated himself in the weighing-chair, and exclaimed to the old stud-groom, an heirloom his father had left him: "The same weight, Tim, I suppose—eleven three?"

The person thus appealed to, standing on tiptoe, looked up at the dial as well as he was able; for, in addition to being short and stout, he had a very tight pair of trousers, which seemed to have been made on him, and was moreover incommoded by a stiff white neckcloth, which threatened to strangle him. After having studied the dial for a few seconds, he started back, and blurted out in a voice of horror and amazement: "Can I believe my haged heyes, Master George? You're twelve five, as I'm a miserable sinner!"

"What!" exclaimed George, jumping out of the chair considerably quicker than he had got into it, and throwing away the cigar which he had been indolently puffing—"what! twelve five? It cannot be; weigh me again, Tim."

The old man did so with the same result. "Oh, hang it!" said George, "the scale is wrong; it cannot be. I am not a bit heavier than I was; the same clothes fit me I wore two years ago. It's all bosh."

"I don't know, Master George, if it's all bosh or no," replied his old servant, "but the scale is right. Now lookee, sir, I've been fourteen stun nine for the last eleven years—not a hounce more or less. See my weight, sir."

George cast his eyes up at the dial as Tim wriggled himself into the chair.

"Yes," he said, "you are right—fourteen nine to a fraction, Tim. How the deuce I came to be this weight I have no idea; but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that, instead of eleven three, my old walking weight, I am twelve five—sixteen pounds in less than two years," he muttered, as he sauntered away. "By George, I'll knock off that sixteen pounds pretty quickly, though. I detest fat people. An idle life will not suit me. I'll do Banting or something."

Tim looked after his young master as he walked away. "Well," he exclaimed at length, "Master George"—he was always Master George with the old servants—"twelve five; I'd never have thought it. There's something in his heye, though, that tells me he won't be that weight long. Although he is so cool he'll hunt every day the coming season, I'll bet my life; walk like blazes, and take physic enough to float a jolly-boat. I'll lay a sov," he remarked, as he slowly drew one out of a bag which he extracted from the depths of his capacious breeches-pocket, "that he is in his old form this day six months; dashed if I don't bet a fiver, or any part of it." But as no one was there to take him, he put back the coin, gave the neck of the bag a twist, and after a struggle managed to convey it to his breeches pocket again.

"What will my old woman say," he continued, "when I tells her o' this? she as nussed him as a foal, and said he'd never get fat like me. It's heart-breaking to think on. And there's Guardsman, the finest and fastest hunter in England, just coming six; how will he be able to carry him if he goes sticking mountains of flesh on like that?—he can't do it. He'll have to ride in a seven-pound saddle; but I don't let him do that, not if I knows it—he'd break his precious neck, and then I should like to be told where Tim Mason would be, the old woman, and all the kids. No seven-pound saddle for me. I ain't a-going to have my boy a-smashing of hisself, and all because he will put flesh on. He's the only one left of the old stock; it's time he married, and I hope he will. I'm almost afraid to tell the old woman. Twelve stun five!" he ejaculated, as he wended his way thoughtfully across the yard; "it seems almost impossible."

"Tim," said his master the next morning, "this idle life won't do for me. I'm going over to France for three or four months. Would you like a trip?"

"Me, sir?" said the old man. "Why in course I should like to see them mounseer fellows eat frogs, and taste their brandy, too."

"Well, Tim, so you shall," replied George; "and look here, we will take Guardsman and the gray with us. I will run them both at some of the meetings. Young Harry shall go with us; he is a good rider, a light weight, and can keep his mouth shut."

"Yes, sir," said Tim. "He and I can do the horses as they ought to be done, and a little work now will do them good."

"Well," continued his master, "I'm off to London this afternoon to make some arrangements. Travel the horses down to Southampton, and meet me at the 'Dolphin,' in High Street, you know. Be there on Monday morning; take saddles, clothing, and all you want. However, I need not tell you all this, or of the necessity of keeping our movements a profound secret."

"No occasion—no occasion, sir; I'll be there. Huzza!" he exclaimed, as soon as his master was out of hearing. "My words are coming true—racing again, by all that's jolly! This is a proud day for me. My boy will get into form again, I know he will. I should like to give him a leg up once more, and see him set a field." So saying he waddled off to inform his old woman, as he irreverently called her, of the change about to take place.

Some few days after this Bradon, his servants and horses, were located in a quiet little village in Lower Brittany.

"Well, Tim," said his master one morning, as the old stud-groom came in to say the horses were well, and ask what exercise they were to take. "What exercise?" said George; "why, I'll tell you. They are to go into regular training; they are in pretty good fettle now, but they must be better. We can do it in quiet here, without those confounded touts and fellows watching us, as they would have done at home. I should have had a scoundrel perched up in nearly every tree in the park if they knew the game I was flying at. I have found out good ground here, and have permission to use it. Now, Tim, I am going to astonish your weak nerves. I need not caution you of the necessity of being silent. All the races, I find, are over in France for the year; but, Tim, what do you think? I have entered both the horses for the Grand Silverpool Steeple-chase. I did it when I was in town the other day."

"What!" said the astonished old man, "the Grand Silverpool?—my horses going to run for the Grand Silverpool? Oh, Master George, this is a joyful day. Guardsman will win it; he has never run, and if there is any justice he must be put in light. But who is to ride him?"

"Who?" returned his master. "For your life, Tim, not a word." And pulling him closer by the arm, whispered: "Myself!"

"You, sir?—but your weight, sir? Twelve stun five and your saddle. Oh, no, Master George, that won't do."

"Now, Tim, you are a clever fellow, but others are as knowing as you. Look here. You see this weighing-chair; well, I bought that in London. Now weigh me."

The old man did as he was bid. "Why, sir," he exclaimed, after looking at it, "only twelve stun one; four pounds lighter in less than a week, and without exercise."

"Or physic," continued Bradon. "Banting, Tim, Banting. No bread, no butter, no sugar, no beer, no saccharine matter of any sort; plenty of meat, biscuits, toast, claret, and seltzer-water. That is my diet, and I never felt so well. If wanted I shall be able to ride eleven stone with the greatest ease."

In a luxuriously-furnished dining-room, some three months after the events which we have described, five or six gentlemen were discussing their wine.

"I cannot make it out," said a heavy-built man of five-and-forty or so; "I have tried everything I know, and am not a bit the wiser than when I began. This Bradon is a most extraordinary fellow. I took the trouble of going down to Dorsetshire myself, and all I could arrive at was that Bradon was travelling. The servants knew nothing, or would know nothing. They were aware the stud-groom had gone and taken two horses and a lad with him; that was all I could get out of them. Well, I went to the groom's house and saw his wife. She looked at me, and received me as if I had been a thief. It was a regular mull. That Bradon has got two horses with him I am certain; but what they are, and where they are, hang me if I can find out. I have tried every tout and stable in the kingdom, but to no purpose, so I have given it up as a bad job."

"Ah!" replied a fashionably-dressed and bewhiskered young man, "with all your cleverness and knowing dodges, you are bowled out, old boy. I know a little more than you. In my opinion George Bradon is training his horses quietly somewhere for the Silverpool. Both are well in, and the handicap has been accepted by him. He is a knowing hand, is Bradon. Now, I got hold of a letter written to a friend of his just before he left England. No matter how or where I got it, this is what he says." And opening his pocket and taking out a letter he read the following:—

Bradon Hall, Nov. 1st.

"Dear Jack,

"In answer to yours of this morning I am sorry I cannot accept your kind invitation. I'm off on a bit of travelling, for I am not at all in form. Fancy my disgust on weighing myself yesterday morning to find I was considerably over twelve stone—so you see an idle life will not do for me. I shall go to France first; I may probably remain there for some time. I have entered two nags for the Silverpool. I must engage some one to ride one; it matters little who will get the second mount, as he will merely be wanted to make running for the one I declare to win with.

"Yours, ever,

"George Bradon."

"There!" he exclaimed, "you see I know more than all of you. As for Bradon's riding, that is an utter impossibility, for both horses are in at ten twelve, and it is equally impossible to get any good hand to ride them now, as all are engaged."

"By George, Fred!" exclaimed the first that had spoken, "you have done wonders, but still I can make nothing of it. No end of odds have been offered against his nags for win or a place, and all have been eagerly taken up by the fellows of his old regiment. Why, Plunger alone stands to win over ten thousand. However, the horses are really coming into the betting, which they must not do. I must go down to the rooms to-morrow and give them such a tickler that will knock them out at once. It will not suit my book their taking prominent places in the market. By heaven! if either of them was to pull through I should be a ruined man, and others are in for double as much as I am."

"My dear fellow," put in a quiet, sly-looking little man, who had not yet spoken, "you should not do such rash things. Flukes do happen—not that it is likely in this case. I always wait till the last moment, and then come with a rush when I know things are pretty safe."

"Come with a rush," replied a tall, delicate-looking stripling; "a pretty rush you made of it last year. You prevented my getting on, and not only put me in the hole, but every one else who attended to you."

"I could not help it, my dear boy," returned the other, with a crafty smile. "There is no occasion for you to ruin yourself too quickly, which you will do if you go on in such a reckless manner."

"Reckless manner!" passionately exclaimed the young fellow; "why, you have had more of my money than any one else. Where others have had pounds you have had thousands, and now you talk to me of 'recklessness.' That is rather hard lines."

"I meant no harm," replied the other. "I only think it is dangerous to lay against Bradon's horses at present."

"No doubt you do," said the youth, a little pacified; "but I do not mean to take your advice in this case, and to-morrow, if I do not knock them out of the betting it shall not be my fault."

So it was settled between them all over their wine and cigars that Bradon's horses should be set at on the morrow and sent out of market.

They were attacked, and such extravagant sums laid against them that astonished every one, many of which odds were booked by Lord Plunger and a few others.

How this came about we will now explain. Lord Plunger, as before stated, thought George Bradon "the finest cross-country rider in Europe," and from a letter which Bradon sent in confidence to his lordship, he started for France. Here Bradon put him up to what was going on, and asked him to take some of the heavy odds offered against Guardsman "to win and a place."

"I won't have anything to do with it myself," remarked George. "You are a betting-man, Plunger, which I am not; but I will have one more shy, hit or miss. This will be my last appearance in public in the pigskin. I don't admire the way in which matters are carried on in the racing world now; and I am not going to risk my fortune and reputation in having any more to do with it. Of course there are honest people connected with it, but they—like angels' visits—are few and far between; and besides, I know nothing of betting, but this I feel sure of, that such a horse as mine has not been out for years."

"That," said his lordship, "I am quite certain of, or you would not run him, and you are too good a judge to be deceived. You may depend on my doing all you wish. I shall be as silent as death on the subject, and not a word shall escape me. Let me see"—consulting his note-book—"I am to go as far as five hundred for you; that ought to win you a handsome sum. I shall go as far for myself. You are to come to me four days before the Silverpool, and I am to take you there in the drag. That is the order of march, is it not?"

"Exactly," said George. "Now let's have a cigar—you have plenty of time before you start. If you have any luck you will be sitting chez vous to-morrow evening."

It turned out as his friend predicted. The following evening Lord Plunger was comfortably lolling in his arm chair, thinking what a clever fellow Bradon was, and how secretly his own journey to France had been managed. This then was the reason Lord Plunger had taken some of the extravagant long odds that had been laid against Bradon's horse.

The morning of the Grand Silverpool broke bright and beautiful; though there had been a good deal of rain during the night, it had cleared off, and the day promised to be all that could be desired.

Bradon and Lord Plunger sat at breakfast in a quiet little country hotel some ten miles from the course.

"Well, George," said his lordship, "so far, I think we have managed things admirably, not a soul knows of your being in England. They fondly imagine you are roaming about the Continent, and, to crown all, a rumour has got about that your horses will not start, and will be scratched at the last minute. It was a capital idea our coming down here last night."

"Yes," replied Bradon, "it was a famous dodge; so they think the horses will be scratched, do they? Well, it strikes me they will be slightly deceived about three o'clock to-day. Nothing can be in more beautiful fettle than the nags are, and if man ever had a certainty I have one in Guardsman; although I have had no trial with him against anything else, he is, I know, a flyer, and a sticker. It will be heavy to-day, and no horse I ever rode goes better through dirt than he does. Bar accidents, I look on the Silverpool as landed."

"Bravo, bravo, George!" said his friend; "your heart is in the right place, and if we should pull it off, it will be one of the grandest coups that has been made on the Turf for many a day. We will go in half an hour, if you like, to look at your nags. They are only three miles from this, at a quiet farmhouse; then we will return here, dress, and start at twelve in the drag."

The horses were inspected, and nothing could look more beautiful. Tim was in his glory.

"Yes, my lord," said he, in answer to a question put to him by that gentleman. "I am glad to be back in the old land, not but what the Moossoos was very jolly and haffable. Still, France ain't up to my notions of a sporting country; but we was in quiet there—no touts, no interlopers, or anything. Now, if I'd a-brought the horses down here by rail, every one would have knowed it; so they came in a van. It's a little more expensive, but by far the best and safest way. Not a soul knows they are here, and no one will be aware of it till I takes them to the saddling-post. I'm just going to start with them now. I've got a couple of boxes close by the course, so you must excuse me, my lord." And, touching his hat, the old man disappeared.

"Whose yellow drag and grays is that coming up the course?" said one of the occupants of the lawn in front of the Grand Stand. "I do not know it." A dozen glasses were at once levelled at the object.

"Whose drag?" said the sly-looking little man we have alluded to before. "Why, Lord Plunger's. George Bradon is sitting on the box seat with him, and the rest are officers of his old regiment—I know their faces."

"By jingo!" burst out a score of voices: "then he is in England, and come to see his horses run, or scratch them. Now we shall know something."

"I wonder if he will be flattered when he hears the price his nags are at now?" said another.

"He will not care a rap," said the sly-looking little man. "Look out, my boys, there's something up, you may depend. Bradon, if his horses do go, has something pretty good, you may rely. I warned you all before. Now, I have not laid a penny against his nags. I have let them alone—till the last minute. But here they come."

"Hallo, Bradon!" burst out fifty voices. "What, in England! Come to see the nags beaten?"

"Well, I do not know," said George, shaking hands with some of them. "I hope they will be there, or thereabouts; pretty heavy the ground to-day. My horses can stand it, which a good many of the others cannot."

"Are your horses here?" said the sly-looking little man.

"Not yet," returned Bradon, "but they will be by-and-by. Old Mason has got them stowed away somewhere; but upon my soul I don't know where they are myself at present."

"Which shall you declare to win with?" asked the sly-looking little man continuing his interrogations.

"Oh, with Guardsman," said George.

"And your jocks?" put in another. "All the talent is engaged. A pity you are so heavy—why, you've grown immense. You will want a dray-horse to carry you soon."

"Think I have?" said George. "It's my coats, man. Every fellow looks large with a couple of top-coats on, and a huge-wrapper round his throat. I know all the talent is engaged. One of my lads will ride the gray."

"I say, Bradon," put in another, "I heard you weighed twelve stone five; is that a fact?"

"Yes," said George; "I put on sixteen pounds in less than two years—an idle life at home did for me."

"But, Bradon," persisted the sly-looking little man, "you say one of your lads is going to ride the gray. But Guardsman—who is to ride him?"

"Oh," said George, "who is to ride him?—why, I will tell you in one word, it's a fellow you all know pretty well—Myself."

Had a thunderbolt fallen amongst them they could not have been more astonished.

"What!" they one and all exclaimed, "you? Why you told us not an instant ago that you weighed twelve stone five."

"No, my friends, I did not. I said, in answer to a question, that I had weighed twelve stone five. I told you I had put sixteen pounds on, but I did not tell you I had not taken it off. I walk ten stone ten now—Banting, my boys, Banting. And, listen to me, I shall win if I can, and I have a good chance; but, win or lose, this is my last appearance in public. I've grown immense, have I not, old fellow?" addressing himself to the one who had made the remark. "I shall want a dray-horse soon, shall I not?"

"By G—," said the sly-looking little man, "I thought there was something up. The very best hand in England going to ride his own horse. I'll be off to back him."

The tall youth before alluded to turned deadly pale, but not a word did he utter as he walked away.

In less than five minutes it became known in the ring and the stands that George Bradon was to ride his own horse. The utmost consternation ensued and many tried to hedge off their bets—but little or nothing could be done.

In the meantime our friend was quietly getting himself ready in the dressing-room.

The time at last came, the horses were saddled, and cantered.

"Here comes Guardsman," cried the crowd, as the gallant horse came sweeping up the course in magnificent style, with the gray beside him.

"By heaven!" muttered a well-known betting-man, and one of the best judges in Europe, "a truly splendid horse—far better in appearance and style than anything here. Bar accidents, he will win in a canter, and if he does, I'm ruined."

The betting and other men were positively paralyzed as Bradon and his horse came sweeping by, and it was allowed on all hands that no such animal as Guardsman had been seen for years.

"There, my boys," said Lord Plunger, dashing into the ring, "there's a man and horse for you. If he does not do the trick to-day I shall be very much astonished; and if he does, we shall both land a handsome sum, which you will drop."

The anxious moment is at last come, the horses are in line—the old stud-groom, Tim Mason, stands close by, with wipers, sponge, and bottle in hand. There is a curious nervous twitching at the corners of his mouth, the lips are dry and parched, and two small red spots adorn each cheek.

Not so with our friend. He sits his noble animal with confidence, ease, and grace, and as cool as a cucumber. Spying out his faithful old servant, he said, "What do you think of him, Tim?"

"Why, sir," he called out, "he's the best horse as was ever foaled; and if he don't beat that lot"—pointing with extreme contempt towards the line of horses—"Tim Mason knows nothing about it, and is jolly well d——d."

The word is at last given, and at the first attempt the lot are off.

"They're off!" shouted the hoarse voices of thousands, and streaming along were some thirty gallant animals striving for the pride of place—thousands, nay hundreds and hundreds of thousands, depending on the lucky animal that first caught the judge's eye.

The conspicuous colours of George Bradon—scarlet and white hoops—were in the extreme rear, but suddenly as they got into the grass land his gray took first place and made the pace a cracker.

"The gray in to pump the field," muttered the sly-looking little man to his neighbour.

"The fastest thing I have ever seen," said another. "By jingo, one, two, three down, and look, Bradon is taking quite a line of his own. By George, how well his horse jumps; it's a dead certainty."

"So I think," returned the other.

There is an awful tailing off now, the pace has told its tale; only eighteen or twenty are really in it. The dangerous brook and the double bank are passed, and the gallant gray who has set the field has shot his bolt.

"Well done, Harry," cried George, as he passed him. "Well done, pull him up."

The great water jump in front of the Grand Stand is approached again. "Here they come!" roared the multitude. "Who's first? Scarlet and white hoops," cried the excited thousands—"scarlet and white over the water first for money!"

George knowing the danger of a lot of horses, which he thought would be down at this, resolved to lead over it. Dropping his hands a bit the gallant animal rushed to the front, a length or so, and there he was kept.

The water is approached, the excitement of the multitude is something fearful as they sway to and fro to catch a glimpse.

"Magnificent!" burst from thousands of throats, as Guardsman hopped over the formidable eighteen feet like a bird.

George turned slightly in his saddle to take stock. "All safe but three," he uttered; "well, that is more than I thought would get over. Now, old man, I must take a pull at you. You have only done part of the journey. I can't afford to pump you yet."

"Guardsman has cut it," shouted a hundred voices as the gallant horse was pulled back.

"The cowardly brute!" bawled another.

"Don't you believe it," cried the sly-looking little man, in a shrill voice that was heard all over the place. "I'll take three to one in thous, and do it twice, that Guardsman wins, or is placed."

"Done," said the pale delicate youth; "I'm on for twice." And the pencils went to work.

There was but one opinion amongst the countless thousands that Guardsman was the best horse in the race, and that, bar accidents, he must win.

The field has become very select now; still what do remain in the chase go well.

The excitement is intense; men are gnawing their lips and nails; ladies are quivering with emotion and biting the tips of their delicate-coloured gloves.

Wild and staring eyes are everywhere. Men eagerly grasp each other by the arm with a wild convulsive clutch as the horses clear each obstacle. Some stand stony and immovable, without the slightest appearance of interest. Little is known of the fearful beatings of their hearts under that cold, calm exterior.

"Here they come!" said the crowd, as some eight or ten horses make the turn for home.

"Guardsman baked!" shouts the ring, as the horse is seen nearly last.

"The Irish horse wins for a thousand," shouts an over-excited speculator.

"Done," says the sly-looking little man, and again the metallics are at work.

Lord Plunger looks on with a calm indifferent demeanour.

"By G—, Plunger," said one of George's old messmates, with a scared countenance, "Bradon is done. We shall all drop finely."

"Wait!" was the quiet answer.

The last hurdle but one is taken, which the Irish horse jumps first; but what a change has taken place in the field! Scarlet and white hoops, instead of being nearly last, is hanging on the leading horse's quarters, and it is very patent to all those skilled in racing matters that from the manner Guardsman skimmed over the hurdle the other horse was only permitted to lead on sufferance.

Turn where you will, the same look of intense excitement is discernible on every countenance; the vast mass surges to and fro, the hoarse murmur of the frenzied multitude has something unearthly in it.

"The Irish horse wins,—Guardsman wins!" is shouted on all sides. The horses come up closely locked together; never moving on his horse Bradon sits as quiet as a statue, but the heels of the other horseman are at work; the whip arm is raised, but just as it is the strain on Guardsman's jaws is relaxed, and the noble horse, without the slightest effort, quits the other, and is landed an easy winner by some half-dozen lengths.

"There," said Lord Plunger, heaving a vast sigh, which seemed to relieve him immensely; "did you ever see such a horse, and such a bit of riding?"

His lordship is not calm now; there is a wild feverish light in his eyes; he trembles, too, slightly; a bright hectic spot is on either cheek, and the veins in his temples are swollen, and seem ready to burst as he takes off his hat to draw his hand across his clammy brow.

"Thank God!" he muttered, as he turned to meet his friend, who was returning to the weighing-stand, amidst such shouts as are seldom heard. Cheer after cheer rent the air.

"God bless you, old fellow!" said his lordship, as his friend passed him in the enclosure; "there never was, and never will be, such a Silverpool again. I will never bet another farthing! I'm square again."

George is now dismounted. Taking the saddle off his noble favourite, as he has it on one arm, he fondly and proudly pats his neck. Tim is standing at the horse's head, with a rein in each hand; tears are coursing down the old man's cheek. "God spare you many years, sir!" said he to his master, who looked kindly at him; "but never ride another race whilst I am alive; I can't bear it; one more day such as this would be my last."

George entered the weighing-room. "Guardsman, ten twelve," said he, seating himself in the chair.

The clerk of the scales approached with book in hand and pencil in mouth, looking up to the dial for an instant said, "Right!"

Cheer after cheer rent the air again as he came out in his top-coat.

"For God's sake, George, come to the drag and have some champagne; I'm ready to faint," said Lord Plunger, as he seized his arm.

"Come on, then," returned Bradon; "I'm thirsty too; but just let me look to the horse and Tim first."

But Tim had clothed the horses up, as he said the boxes were only a few paces off, and they would be better dressed there. As he turned to follow Lord Plunger, he was seized by a host of his old companions-in-arms, hoisted up, and carried to the drag on their shoulders.

"Bradon," said Lord Plunger, after he had drained off a silver goblet of the sparkling wine, "we have pulled out of this well, right well; for myself, I have now done with betting and the Turf. I have been hit, and hard hit, but this coup more than squares me. I'll tempt the fickle goddess no more."

"My decision you knew long ago," returned his friend. "This is my last appearance in public. I shall only hunt, and I think with such a horse as Guardsman I may be a first-flight man."

His lordship and Bradon were ever afterwards only lookers-on at the few race-meetings they attended, and here we must take leave of them.

In a snug little cottage close by Bradon Hall lives Tim Mason, now rather an infirm old man; still he looks after the stud as usual.

In his pretty little parlour, on a side table, stand two glass cases. Under one is a saddle, bridle, &c., in the other a satin racing jacket and cap—scarlet and white hoops. It may easily be divined whose they were.

"They were only used once," he would say, pointing them out to some friend who had dropped in to see him, "only once; but they won a pot of money for my boy. Lord, you should have seen him ride and win that Silverpool—it was a sight for sore eyes, I can tell you. Never were two better horses than Guardsman and my gray. It's rather the ticket to see them in the field now; they're the best hunters as ever was foaled."

[This story was first published in Baily's Magazine (1870).—Ed.]