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
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
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,
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
George cast his eyes up at the dial as Tim wriggled himself into the
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.
"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.
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
"Well done, Harry," cried George, as he passed him. "Well done, pull
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
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
The field has become very select now; still what do remain in the chase
The excitement is intense; men are gnawing their lips and nails; ladies
are quivering with emotion and biting the tips of their
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
"Done," says the sly-looking little man, and again the metallics are at
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
"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
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
"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
"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
[This story was first published in Baily's Magazine