Part 2 out of 3
"Is there such a hurry? Won't you let me ferret out a pair of pajamas,
to say nothing of good-bys?"
"How silly you are!" she said coldly, rising. "The question, then,
rests entirely with you. Whenever you make up your mind to go--"
"Couldn't we let it hang fire indefinitely? Perhaps you could learn to
love me. Then there would be no need to go." Garrison smiled
deliberately up into her eyes, the devil working in him.
Miss Desha returned his look steadily. "And the other girl--the
clinging one?" she asked calmly.
"Oh, she could wait. If we didn't hit it off, I could fall back on
her. I would hate to be an old bachelor."
"No; I don't think it would be quite a success," said the girl
critically. "You see, I think you are the most detestable person I
ever met. I really pity the other girl. It's better to be an old
bachelor than to be a young--cad."
Garrison rose slowly.
"YOU'RE BILLY GARRISON."
"And what is a cad?" he asked abstractedly.
"One who shames his birth and position by his breeding."
"And no question of dishonesty enters into it?" He could not say why
he asked. "It is not, then, a matter of moral ethics, but of mere--
"Sensitiveness," she finished dryly. "I really think I prefer rank
dishonesty, if it is offset by courtesy and good breeding. You see, I
am not at all moral."
Here Mrs. Calvert made her appearance, with a book and sunshade. She
was a woman whom a sunshade completed.
"I hope you two have not been quarreling," she observed. "It is too
nice a day for that. I was watching the slaughter of the innocents on
the tennis-court. Really, you play a wretched game, William."
"So I have been informed," replied Garrison. "It is quite a relief to
have so many people agree with me for once."
"In this instance you can believe them," commented the girl. She
turned to Mrs. Calvert. "Whose ravings are you going to listen to
now?" she asked, taking the book Mrs. Calvert carried.
"A matter of duty," laughed the older woman. "No; it's not a novel. It
came this morning. The major wishes me to assimilate it and impart to
him its nutritive elements--if it contains any. He is so miserably
busy--doing nothing, as usual. But it is a labor of love. If we women
are denied children, we must interest ourselves in other things."
"Oh!" exclaimed the girl, with interest; "it's the years record of the
track!" She was thumbing over the leaves. "I'd love to read it! May I
when you've done? Thank you. Why, here's Sysonby, Gold Heels, The
Picket--dear old Picket! Kentucky's pride! And here's Sis. Remember
Sis? The Carter Handicap--"
She broke off suddenly and turned to the silent Garrison. "Did you go
much to the track up North?" She was looking straight at him.
"I--I--that is--why, yes, of course," he murmured vaguely. "May I see
He took the book from her unwilling hand. A full-page photograph of
Sis was confronting him. He studied it long and carefully, passing a
troubled hand nervously over his forehead.
"I--I think I've seen her," he said, at length, looking up vacantly.
"Somehow, she seems familiar."
Again he fell to studying the graceful lines of the thoroughbred,
oblivious of his audience.
"She is a Southern horse," commented Mrs. Calvert. "Rather she was. Of
course you-all heard of her poisoning? It never said whether she
recovered. Do you know?"
Garrison glanced up quickly, and met Sue Desha's unwavering stare.
"Why, I believe I did hear that she was poisoned, or something to that
effect, now that you mention it." His eyes were still vacant.
"You look as if you had seen a ghost," laughed Sue, her eyes on the
He laughed somewhat nervously. "I--I've been thinking."
"Is the major going in for the Carter this year?" asked the girl,
turning to Mrs. Calvert. "Who will he run--Dixie?"
"I think so. She is the logical choice." Mrs. Calvert was nervously
prodding the gravel with her sunshade. "Sometimes I wish he would give
up all ideas of it."
"I think father is responsible for that. Since Rogue won the last
Carter, father is horse-mad, and has infected all his neighbors."
"Then it will be friend against friend," laughed Mrs. Calvert. "For,
of course, the colonel will run Rogue again this year--"
'I--I don't think so." The girl's face was sober. "That is," she added
hastily, "I don't know. Father is still in New York. I think his
initial success has spoiled him. Really, he is nothing more than a big
child." She laughed affectedly. Mrs. Calvert's quiet, keen eyes were
"Racing can be carried to excess, like everything," said the older
woman, at length. "I suppose the colonel will bring home with him this
Mr. Waterbury you were speaking of?"
The girl nodded. There was silence, each member of the trio evidently
engrossed with thoughts that were of moment.
Mrs. Calvert was idly thumbing over the race-track annual. "Here is a
page torn out," she observed absently. "I wonder what it was? A thing
like that always piques my curiosity. I suppose the major wanted it
for reference. But then he hasn't seen the book yet. I wonder who
wanted it? Let me--yes, it's ended here. Oh, it must have been the
photograph and record of that jockey, Billy Garrison! Remember him?
What a brilliant career he had! One never hears of him nowadays. I
wonder what became of him?"
"Billy Garrison?" echoed Garrison slowly, "Why--I--I think I've heard
He was cut short by a laugh from the girl. "Oh, you're good! Why, his
name used to be a household word. You should have heard it. But, then,
I don't suppose you ever went to the track. Those who do don't
Mrs. Calvert walked slowly away. "Of course you'll stay for lunch,
Sue," she called back. "And a canter might get up an appetite.
William, I meant to tell you before this that the major has reserved a
horse for your use. He is mild and thoroughly broken. Crimmins will
show him to you in the stable. You must learn to ride. You'll find
riding-clothes in your room, I think. I recommend an excellent teacher
in Sue. Good-by, and don't get thrown."
"Are you willing?" asked the girl curiously.
Garrison's heart was pounding strangely. His mouth was dry. "Yes,
yes," he said eagerly.
The tight-faced cockney, Crimmins, was in the stable when Garrison, in
riding-breeches, puttee leggings, etc., entered. Four names were
whirling over and over in his brain ever since they had been first
mentioned. Four names--Sis, Waterbury, Garrison, and Crimmins. He did
not know whey they should keep recurring with such maddening
persistency. And yet how familiar they all seemed!
Crimmins eyed him askance as he entered.
"Goin' for a canter, sir? Ho, yuss; this 'ere is the 'orse the master
said as 'ow you were to ride, sir. It don't matter which side yeh get
on. 'E's as stiddy-goin' as a alarum clock. Ho, yuss. I calls 'im
Waterbury Watch--partly because I 'appen to 'ave a brother wot's
trainer for Mr. Waterbury, the turfman, sir."
Crimmins shifted his cud with great satisfaction at this uninterrupted
flow of loquacity and brilliant humor. Garrison was looking the animal
over instinctively, his hands running from hock to withers and back
"How old is he?" he asked absently.
"Three years, sir. Ho, yuss. Thoroughbred. Cast-off from the Duryea
stable. By Sysonby out of Hamburg Belle. Won the Brighton Beach
overnight sweepstakes in nineteen an' four. Ho, yuss. Just a little
off his oats, but a bloomin' good 'orse."
Garrison turned, speaking mechanically. "I wonder do you think I'm a
fool! Sysonby himself won the Brighton sweepstakes in nineteen-four.
It was the beginning of his racing career, and an easy win. This
animal here is a plug; an out-and-out plug of the first water. He
never saw Hamburg Belle or Sysonby--they never mated. This plug's a
seven-year-old, and he couldn't do seven furlongs in seven weeks. He
never was class, and never could be. I don't want to ride a cow, I
want a horse. Give me that two-year-old black filly with the big
shoulders. Whose is she?"
Crimmins shifted the cud again to hide his astonishment at Garrison's
"She's wicked, sir. Bought for the missus, but she ain't broken yet."
"She hasn't been handled right. Her mouth's hard, but her temper's
even. I'll ride her," said Garrison shortly.
"Have to wear blinkers, sir."
"No, I won't. Saddle her. Hurry up. Shorten the stirrup. There, that's
right. Stand clear."
Crimmins eyed Garrison narrowly as he mounted. He was quite prepared
to run with a clothes-basket to pick up the remains. But Garrison was
up like a feather, high on the filly's neck, his shoulders hunched.
The minute he felt the saddle between his knees he was at home again
after a long, long absence. He had come into his birthright.
The filly quivered for a moment, laid back her ears, and then was off.
"Cripes!" ejaculated the veracious Crimmins, as wide-eyed he watched
the filly fling gravel down the drove, " 'e's got a seat like Billy
Garrison himself. 'E can ride, that kid. An' 'e knows 'orse-flesh.
Blimy if 'e don't! If Garrison weren't down an' out I'd be ready to
tyke my Alfred David it were 'is bloomin' self. An' I thought 'e was a
dub! Ho, yuss--me!"
Moralizing on the deceptiveness of appearances, Crimmins fortified
himself with another slab of cut-plug.
Miss Desha, up on a big bay gelding with white stockings, was waiting
on the Logan Pike, where the driveway of Calvert House swept into it.
"Do you know that you're riding Midge, and that she's a hard case?"
she said ironically, as they cantered off together. "I'll bet you're
thrown. Is she the horse the major reserved for you? Surely not."
"No," said Garrison plaintively, "they picked me out a cow--a nice,
amiable cow; speedy as a traction-engine, and with as much action.
This is a little better."
The girl was silent, eyeing him steadily through narrowed lids.
"You've never ridden before?"
"Um-m-m," said Garrison; "why, yes, I suppose so." He laughed in
sudden joy. "It feels so good," he confided.
"You remind me of a person in a dream," she said, after a little,
still watching him closely. "Nothing seems real to you--your past, I
mean. You only think you have done this and that."
He was silent, biting his lip.
"Come on, I'll race you," she cried suddenly. "To that big poplar down
there. See it? About two furlongs. I'll give you twenty yards' start.
Don't fall off."
"I gave, never took, handicaps." The words came involuntarily to
Garrison's surprise. "Come on; even up," he added hurriedly. "Ready?"
"Yes. Let her out."
The big bay gelding was off first, with the long, heart-breaking
stride that eats up the ground. The girl's laugh floated back
tantalizingly over her shoulder. Garrison hunched in the saddle, a
smile on his lips. He knew the quality of the flesh under him, and
that it would not be absent at the call.
"Tote in behind, girlie. He got the jump on you. That's it. Nip his
heels." The seconds flew by like the trees; the big poplar rushed up.
"Now, now. Make a breeze, make a breeze," sang out Garrison at the
quarter minute; and like a long, black streak of smoke the filly
hunched past the gelding, leaving it as if anchored. It was the old
Garrison finish which had been track-famous once upon a time, and as
Garrison eased up his hard-driven mount a queer feeling of exultation
swelled his heart; a feeling which he could not quite understand.
"Could I have been a jockey once?" he kept asking himself over and
over. "I wonder could I have been! I wonder!"
The next moment the gelding had ranged up alongside.
"I'll bet that was close to twenty-four, the track record," said
Garrison unconsciously. "Pretty fair for dead and lumpy going, eh?
Midge is a comer, all right. Good weight-carrying sprinter. I fancy
that gelding. Properly ridden he would have given me a hard ride. We
were even up on weight."
"And so you think I cannot ride properly!" added the girl quietly,
arranging her wind-blown hair.
"Oh, yes. But women can't really ride class, you know. It isn't in
She laughed a little. "I'm satisfied now. You know I was at the Carter
Handicap last year."
"Yes?" said Garrison, unmoved. He met her eyes fairly.
"Yes, you know Rogue, father's horse, won. They say Sis, the favorite,
had the race, but was pulled in the stretch." She was smiling a
"Indeed?" murmured Garrison, with but indifferent interest.
She glanced at him sharply, then fell to pleating the gelding's mane.
"Um-m-m," she added softly. "Billy Garrison, you know, rode Sis."
"Oh, did he?"
"Yes. And, do you know, his seat was identical with yours?" She turned
and eyed him steadily.
"Yes," she continued dreamily, the smile at her lips; "it's funny, of
course, but Billy Garrison used to be my hero. We silly girls all have
"Oh, well," observed Garrison, "I dare say any number of girls loved
Billy Garrison. Popular idol, you know----"
"I dare say," she echoed dryly. "Possibly the dark, clinging kind."
He eyed her wonderingly, but she was looking very innocently at the
"And it was so funny," she ran on, as if she had not heard his
observation nor made one herself. "Coming home in the train from the
Aqueduct the evening of the handicap, father left me for a moment to
go into the smoking-car. And who do you think should be sitting
opposite me, two seats ahead, but-- Who do you think?" Again she
turned and held his eyes.
"Why--some long-lost girl-chum, I suppose," said Garrison candidly.
She laughed; a laugh that died and was reborn and died again in a
throaty gurgle. "Why, no, it was Billy Garrison himself. And I was
being annoyed by a beast of a man, when Mr. Garrison got up, ordered
the beast out of the seat beside me, and occupied it himself, saying
it was his. It was done so beautifully. And he did not try to take
advantage of his courtesy in the least. And then guess what happened."
Still her eyes held his.
"Why," answered Garrison vaguely, "er--let me see. It seems as if I
had heard of that before somewhere. Let me see. Probably it got into
the papers-- No, I cannot remember. It has gone. I have forgotten. And
what did happen next?"
"Why, father returned, saw Mr. Garrison raise his hat in answer to my
thanks, and, thinking he had tried to scrape an acquaintance with me,
threw him out of the seat. He did not recognize him."
"That must have been a little bit tough on Garrison, eh?" laughed
Garrison idly. "Now that you mention it, it seems as if I had heard
"I've always wanted to apologize to Mr. Garrison, though I do not know
him--he does not know me," said the girl softly, pleating the
gelding's mane at a great rate. "It was all a mistake, of course. I
wonder--I wonder if--if he held it against me!"
"Oh, very likely he's forgotten all about it long ago," said Garrison
She bit her lip and was silent. "I wonder," she resumed, at length,
"if he would like me to apologize and thank him--" She broke off,
glancing at him shyly.
"Oh, well, you never met him again, did you?" asked Garrison. "So what
does it matter? Merely an incident."
They rode a furlong in absolute silence. Again the girl was the first
to speak. "It is queer," she moralized, "how fate weaves our lives.
They run along in threads, are interwoven for a time with others,
dropped, and then interwoven again. And what a pattern they make!"
"Meaning?" he asked absently.
She tapped her lips with the palm of her little gauntlet.
"That I think you are absurd."
"I?" He started. "How? Why? I don't understand. What have I done now?"
"Nothing. That's just it."
"I don't understand."
"No? Um-m-m, of course it is your secret. I am not trying to force a
confidence. You have your own reasons for not wishing your uncle and
aunt to know. But I never believed that Garrison threw the Carter
Handicap. Never, never, never. I--I thought you could trust me. That
"I don't understand a word--not a syllable," said Garrison restlessly.
"What is it all about?"
The girl laughed, shrugging her shoulders. "Oh, nothing at all. The
return of a prodigal. Only I have a good memory for faces. You have
changed, but not very much. I only had to see you ride to be certain.
But I suspected from the start. You see, I admit frankly that you once
were my hero. There is only one Billy Garrison."
"I don't see the moral to the parable." He shook his head hopelessly.
"No?" She flushed and bit her lip. "William C. Dagget, you're Billy
Garrison, and you know it!" she said sharply, turning and facing him.
"Don't try to deny it. You are, are, are! I know it. You took that
name because you didn't wish your relatives to know who you were. Why
don't you 'fess up? What is the use of concealing it? You've nothing
to be ashamed of. You should be proud of your record. I'm proud of it.
Proud--that--that--well, that I rode a race with you to-day. You're
hiding your identity; afraid of what your uncle and aunt might say--
afraid of that Carter Handicap affair. As if we didn't know you always
rode as straight as a string." Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes
Garrison eyed her steadily. His face was white, his breath coming hot
and hard. Something was beating--beating in his brain as if striving
to jam through. Finally he shook his head.
"No, you're wrong. It's a case of mistaken identity. I am not
Her gray eyes bored into his. "You really mean that--Billy?"
"On your word of honor? By everything you hold most sacred? Take your
time in answering."
"It wouldn't matter if I waited till the resurrection. I can't change
myself. I'm not Garrison. Faith of a gentleman, I'm not. Honestly,
Sue." He laughed a little nervously.
Again her gray eyes searched his. She sighed. "Of course I take your
She fumbled in her bosom and brought forth a piece of paper, carefully
smoothing out its crumpled surface. Without a word she handed it to
Garrison, and he spread it out on his filly's mane. It was a
photograph of a jockey--Billy Garrison. The face was more youthful,
care-free. Otherwise it was a fair likeness.
"You'll admit it looks somewhat like you," said Sue, with great
Garrison studied it long and carefully. "Yes--I do," he murmured, in a
perplexed tone. "A double. Funny, isn't it? Where did you get it?" She
laughed a little, flushing.
"I was silly enough to think you were one and the same, and that you
wished to conceal your identity from your relatives. So I made
occasion to steal it from the book your aunt was about to read.
Remember? It was the leaf she thought the major had abstracted."
"I must thank you for your kindness, even though it went astray. May I
"Ye-es. And you are sure you are not the original?"
"I haven't the slightest recollection of being Billy Garrison,"
reiterated Billy Garrison, wearily and truthfully.
The ride home was mostly one of silence. Both were thinking. As they
came within sight of Calvert House the girl turned to him:
"There is one thing you can do--ride. Like glory. Where did you more
"Must have been born with me."
"What's bred in the bone will come out in the blood," she quoted
enigmatically. She was smiling in a way that made Garrison vaguely
SNARK SHOWS HIS FANGS.
Alone in his room that night Garrison endeavored to focus the stray
thoughts, suspicions that the day's events had set running through his
brain. All Sue Desha had said, and had meant without saying, had been
photographed on the sensitized plate of his memory--that plate on
which the negatives of the past were but filmy shadows. Now, of them
all, the same Garrison was on the sky-line of his imagination.
Could it be possible that Billy Garrison and he were one and the same?
And then that incident of the train. Surely he had heard it before,
somewhere in the misty long ago. It seemed, too, as if it had occurred
coincidently with the moment he had first looked into those gray eyes.
He laughed nervously to himself.
"If I was Garrison, whoever he was, I wonder what kind of a person I
was! They speak of him as if he had been some one-- And then Mrs.
Calvert said he had disappeared. Perhaps I am Garrison."
Nervously he brought forth the page from the race-track annual Sue had
given him, and studied it intently. "Yes, it does look like me. But it
may be only a double; a coincidence." He racked his brain for a stray
gleam of retrospect, but it was not forthcoming. "It's no use," he
sighed wearily, "my life began when I left the hospital. And if I was
Garrison, surely I would have been recognized by some one in New York.
"Hold on," he added eagerly, "I remember the first day I was out a man
caught me by the arm on Broadway and said: 'Hello, Billy!' Let me
think. This Garrison's name was Billy. The initials on my underwear
were W. G.--might be William Garrison instead of the William Good I
took. But if so, how did I come to be in the hospital without a friend
in the world? The doctors knew nothing of me. Haven't I any parents or
relatives--real relatives, not the ones I am imposing on?"
He sat on the bed endeavoring to recall some of his past life; even
the faintest gleam. Then absently he turned over the photograph he
held. On the reserve side of the leaf was the record of Billy
Garrison. Garrison studied it eagerly.
"Born in eighty-two. Just my age, I guess--though I can't swear how
old I am, for I don't know. Stable-boy for James R. Keene. Contract
bought by Henry Waterbury. Highest price ever paid for bought-up
contract. H'm! Garrison was worth something. First win on the
Gravesend track when seventeen. A native of New York City. H'm! Rode
two Suburban winners; two Brooklyn Handicaps; Carter Handicap; the
Grand Prix, France; the Metropolitan Handicap; the English Derby-- Oh,
shucks! I never did all those things; never in God's world," he
grunted wearily. "I wouldn't be here if I had. It's all a mistake. I
knew it was. Sue was kidding me. And yet--they say the real Billy
Garrison has disappeared. That's funny, too."
He took a few restless paces about the room. "I'll go down and pump
the major," he decided finally. "Maybe unconsciously he'll help me to
remember. I'm in a fog. He ought to know Garrison. If I am Billy
Garrison--then by my present rank deception I've queered a good
record. But I know I'm not. I'm a nobody. A dishonest nobody to boot."
Major Calvert was seated by his desk in the great old-fashioned
library, intently scanning various racing-sheets and the multitudinous
data of the track. A greater part of his time went to the cultivation
of his one hobby--the track and horses--for by reason of his financial
standing, having large cotton and real-estate holdings in the State,
he could afford to use business as a pastime.
He spent his mornings and afternoons either in his stables or at the
extensive training-quarters of his stud, where he was as indefatigable
a rail-bird as any pristine stable-boy.
A friendly rivalry had long existed between his neighbor and friend,
Colonel Desha, and himself in the matter of horse-flesh. The colonel
was from Kentucky--Kentucky origin--and his boast was that his native
State could not be surpassed either in regard to the quality of its
horses or women. And, though chivalrous, the colonel always mentioned
"Just look at Rogue and my daughter, Sue, suh," he was wont to say
with pardonable pride. "Thoroughbreds both, suh."
It was a matter of record that the colonel, though less financially
able, was a better judge of horses than his friend and rival, the
major, and at the various county meets it was Major Calvert who always
ran second to Colonel Desha's first.
The colonel's faith in Rogue had been vindicated at the last Carter
Handicap, and his owner was now stimulating his ambition for higher
flights. And thus far, the major, despite all his expenditures and
lavish care, could only show one county win for his stable. His
friend's success had aroused him, and deep down in his secret heart he
vowed he would carry off the next prize Colonel Desha entered for,
even if it was one of the classic handicaps itself.
Dixie, a three-year-old filly whom he had recently purchased, showed
unmistakable evidences of winning class in her try-outs, and her owner
watched her like a hawk, satisfaction in his heart, biding the time
when he might at last show Kentucky that her sister State, Virginia,
could breed a horse or two.
"I'll keep Dixie's class a secret," he was wont to chuckle to himself,
as, perched on the rail in all sorts of weather, he clicked off her
time. "I think it is the Carter my learned friend will endeavor to
capture again. I'm sure Dixie can give Rogue five seconds in seven
furlongs--and a beating. That is, of course," he always concluded,
with good-humored vexation, "providing the colonel doesn't pick up in
New York an animal that can give Dixie ten seconds. He has a knack of
going from better to best."
Now Major Calvert glanced up with a smile as Garrison entered.
"I thought you were in bed, boy. Leave late hours to age. You're
looking better these days. I think Doctor Blandly's open-air physic is
first-rate, eh? By the way, Crimmins tells me you were out on Midge
to-day, and that you ride--well, like Billy Garrison himself. Of
course he always exaggerates, but you didn't say you could ride at
all. Midge is a hard animal." He eyed Garrison with some curiosity.
"Where did you learn to ride? I thought you had had no time nor means
"Oh, I merely know a horse's tail from his head," laughed Garrison
indifferently. "Speaking of Garrison, did you ever see him ride,
"How many times have I asked you to say uncle, not major?" reproved
Major Calvert. "Don't you feel as if you were my nephew, eh? If
there's anything I've left undone--"
"You've been more than kind," blurted out Garrison uncomfortably.
"More than good--uncle." He was hating himself. He could not meet the
major's kindly eyes.
"Tut, tut, my boy, no fine speeches. Apropos of this Garrison, why are
you so interested in him? Wish to emulate him, eh? Yes, I've seen him
ride, but only once, when he was a bit of a lad. I fancy Colonel Desha
is the one to give you his merits. You know Garrison's old owner, Mr.
Waterbury, is returning with the colonel. He will be his guest for a
week or so."
"Oh," said Garrison slowly. "And who is this Garrison riding for now?"
"I don't know. I haven't followed him. It seems as if I heard there
was some disagreement or other between him and Mr. Waterbury; over
that Carter Handicap, I think. By the way, if you take an interest in
horses, and Crimmins tells me you have an eye for class, you rascal,
come out to the track with me to-morrow. I've got a filly which I
think will give the colonel's Rogue a hard drive. You know, if the
colonel enters for the next Carter, I intend to contest it with him--
and win." He chuckled.
"Then you don't know anything about this Garrison?" persisted Garrison
"Nothing more than I've said. He was a first-class boy in his time. A
boy I'd like to have seen astride of Dixie. Such stars come up quickly
and disappear as suddenly. The life's against them, unless they
possess a hard head. But Mr. Waterbury, when he arrives, can, I dare
say, give you all the information you wish. By the way," he added, a
twinkle in his eye, "what do you think of the colonel's other
thoroughbred? I mean Miss Desha?"
Garrison felt the hot blood mounting to his face. "I--I--that is, I--I
like her. Very much indeed." He laughed awkwardly, his eyes on the
"I knew you would, boy. There's good blood in that girl--the best in
the States. Perhaps a little odd, eh? But, remember, straight speech
means a straight mind. You see, the families have always been all in
all to each other; the colonel is a school-chum of mine--we're never
out of school in this world--and my wife was a nursery-chum of Sue's
mother--she was killed on the hunting-field ten years ago. Your aunt
and I have always regarded the girl as our own. God somehow neglected
to give us a chick--probably we would have neglected Him for it. We
love children. So we've cottoned all the more to Sue."
"I understand that Sue and I are intended for each other," observed
Garrison, a half-cynical smile at his lips.
"God bless my soul! How did you guess?"
"Why, she said so."
Major Calvert chuckled. "God bless my soul again! That's Sue all over.
She'd ask the devil himself for a glass of water if she was in the hot
place, and insist upon having ice in it. 'Pon my soul she would. And
what does she think of you? Likes you, eh?"
"No, she doesn't," replied Garrison quietly.
"Tell you as much, eh?"
Again Major Calvert chuckled. "Well, she told me different. Oh, yes,
she did, you rascal. And I know Sue better than you do. Family wishes
wouldn't weigh with her a particle if she didn't like the man. No,
they wouldn't. She isn't the kind to give her hand where her heart
isn't. She likes you. It remains with you to make her love you."
"And that's impossible," added Garrison grimly to himself. "If she
only knew! Love? Lord!"
"Wait a minute," said the major, as Garrison prepared to leave.
"Here's a letter that came for you to-day. It got mixed up in my mail
by accident." He opened the desk-drawer and handed a square envelope
to Garrison, who took it mechanically. "No doubt you've a good many
friends up North," added the major kindly. "Have 'em down here for as
long as they can stay. Calvert House is open night and day. I do not
want you to think that because you are here you have to give up old
friends. I'm generous enough to share you with them, but--no
"I think it's merely a business letter," replied Garrison
indifferently, hiding his burning curiosity. He did not know who his
correspondent could possibly be. Something impelled him to wait until
he was alone in his room before opening it. It was from the eminent
lawyer, Theobald D. Snark.
"BELOVED IMPOSTOR: '/Ars longa, vita brevis/,' as the philosopher
has truly said, which in the English signifies that I cannot
afford to wait for the demise of the reverend and guileless major
before I garner the second fruits of my intelligence. Ten thousand
is a mere pittance in New York--one's appetite develops with
cultivation, and mine has been starved for years--and I find I
require an income. Fifty a week or thereabouts will come in handy
for the present. I know you have access to the major's pocketbook,
it being situated on the same side as his heart, and I will expect
a draft by following mail. He will be glad to indulge the sporting
blood of youth. If I cannot share the bed of roses, I can at least
fatten on the smell. I would have to be compelled to tell the
major what a rank fraud and unsurpassed liar his supposed nephew
is. So good a liar that he even imposed upon me. Of course I
thought you were the real nephew, and it horrifies me to know that
you are a fraud. But, remember, silence is golden. If you feel any
inclination of getting fussy, remember that I am a lawyer, and
that I can prove I took your claim in good faith. Also, the
Southerners are notoriously hot-tempered, deplorably addicted to
firearms, and I don't think you would look a pretty sight if you
happened to get shot full of buttonholes."
The letter was unsigned, typewritten, and on plain paper. But Garrison
knew whom it was from. It was the eminent lawyer's way not to place
damaging evidence in the hands of a prospective enemy.
"This means blackmail," commented Garrison, carefully replacing the
letter in its envelope. "And it serves me right. I wonder do I look
silly. I must; for people take me for a fool."
THE COLONEL'S CONFESSION.
Garrison did not sleep that night. His position was clearly credited
and debited in the ledger of life. He saw it; saw that the balance was
against him. He must go--but he could not, would not. He decided to
take the cowardly, half-way measure. He had not the courage for
renunciation. He would stay until this pot of contumacious fact came
to the boil, overflowed, and scalded him out.
He was not afraid of the eminent Mr. Snark. Possession is in reality
ten-tenths of the law. The lawyer had cleverly proven his--Garrison's
--claim. He would be still more clever if he could disprove it. A lie
can never be branded truth by a liar. How could he disprove it? How
could his shoddy word weigh against Garrison's, fashioned from the
whole cloth and with loyalty, love on Garrison's side?
No, the letter was only a bluff. Snark would not run the risk of
publicly smirching himself--for who would believe his protestations of
innocency?--losing his license at the bar together with the certainty
of a small fortune, for the sake of over-working a tool that might
snap in his hand or cut both ways. So Garrison decided to disregard
But with Waterbury it was a different proposition. Garrison was
unaware what his own relations had been with his former owner, but
even if they had been the most cordial, which from Major Calvert's
accounts they had not been, that fact would not prevent Waterbury
divulging the rank fraud Garrison was perpetrating.
The race-track annual had said Billy Garrison had followed the ponies
since boyhood. Waterbury would know his ancestry, if any one would. It
was only a matter of time until exposure came, but still Garrison
determined to procrastinate as long as possible. He clung fiercely,
with the fierce tenacity of despair, to his present life. He could not
renounce it all--not yet.
Two hopes, secreted in his inner consciousness, supported indecision.
One: Perhaps Waterbury might not recognize him, or perhaps he could
safely keep out of his way. The second: Perhaps he himself was not
Billy Garrison at all; for coincidence only said that he was, and a
very small modicum of coincidence at that. This fact, if true, would
cry his present panic groundless.
On the head of conscience, Garrison did not touch. He smothered it.
All that he forced himself to sense was that he was "living like a
white man for once"; loving as he never thought he could love.
The reverse, unsightly side of the picture he would not so much as
glance at. Time enough when he was again flung out on that merciless,
unrecognizing world he had come to loathe; loathe and dread. When that
time came it would taste exceeding bitter in his mouth. All the more
reason, then, to let the present furnish sweet food for retrospect;
food that would offset the aloes of retribution. Thus Garrison
And, though but vaguely aware of the fact, this philosophy of
procrastination (but another form of selfishness) was the spawn of a
supposition; the supposition that his love for Sue Desha was not
returned; that it was hopeless, absurd. He was not injuring her. He
was the moth, she the flame. He did not realize that the moth can
extinguish the candle.
He had learned some of life's lessons, though the most difficult had
been forgotten, but he had yet to understand the mighty force of love;
that it contains no stagnant quality. Love, reciprocal love, uplifts.
But there must be that reciprocal condition to cling to. For love is
not selfishness on a grand scale, but a glorified pride. And the fine
differentiation between these two words is the line separating the
love that fouls from the love that cleanses.
And even as Garrison was fighting out the night with his sleepless
thoughts, Sue Desha was in the same restless condition. Mr. Waterbury
had arrived. His generous snores could be heard stalking down the
corridor from the guest-chamber. He was of the abdominal variety of
the animal species, eating and sleeping his way through life,
oblivious of all obstacles.
Waterbury's ancestry was open to doubt. It was very vague; as vague as
his features. It could not be said that he was brought up by his hair
because he hadn't any to speak of. But the golden flood of money he
commanded could not wash out certain gutter marks in his speech,
person, and manner. That such an inmate should eat above the salt in
Colonel Desha's home was a painful acknowledgment of the weight of
What the necessity was, Sue sensed but vaguely. It was there,
nevertheless, almost amounting to an obsession. For when the Desha and
Waterbury type commingle there is but the one interpretation. Need of
money or clemency in the one case; need of social introduction or
elevation through kinship in the other.
The latter was Waterbury's case. But he also loved Sue--in his own
way. He had met her first at the Carter Handicap, and, as he confided
to himself: "She was a spanking filly, of good stock, and with good
His sincere desire to "butt into the Desha family" he kept for the
moment to himself. But as a preliminary maneuver he had intimated that
a visit to the Desha home would not come in amiss. And the old
colonel, for reasons he knew and Waterbury knew, thought it would be
wisest to accede.
Perhaps now the colonel was considering those reasons. His room was
next that of his daughter, and in her listening wakefulness she had
heard him turn restlessly in bed. Insomnia loves company as does
misery. Presently the colonel arose, and the strong smell of Virginia
tobacco and the monotonous pad, pad of list slippers made themselves
Sue threw on a dressing-gown and entered her father's room. He was in
a light green bathrobe, his white hair tousled like sea-foam as he
passed and repassed his gaunt fingers through it.
"I can't sleep," said the girl simply. She cuddled in a big armchair,
her feet tucked under her.
He put a hand on her shoulder. "I can't, either," he said, and laughed
a little, as if incapable of understanding the reason. "I think late
eating doesn't agree with me. It must have been the deviled crab."
"Mr. Waterbury?" suggested Sue.
"Eh?" Then Colonel Desha frowned, coughed, and finally laughed. "Still
a child, I see," he added, with a deprecating shake of the head. "Will
you ever grow up?"
"Yes--when you recognize that I have." She pressed her cheek against
the hand on her shoulder.
Sue practically managed the entire house, looking after the servants,
expenses, and all, but the colonel always referred to her as "my
little girl." He was under the amiable delusion that time had left her
at the ten-mile mark, never to return.
This was one of but many defects in his vision. He was oblivious of
materialistic facts. He was innocent of the ways of finance. He had
come of a prodigal race of spenders, not accumulators. Away back
somewhere in the line there must have existed what New Englanders term
a "good provider," but that virtue had not descended from father to
son. The original vast Desha estates decreased with every generation,
seldom a descendant making even a spasmodic effort to replenish them.
There was always a mortgage or sale in progress. Sometimes a lucrative
as well as love-marriage temporarily increased the primal funds, but
more often the opposite was the case.
The Deshas, like all true Southerners, believed that love was the only
excuse for marriage; just as most Northerners believe that labor is
the only excuse for living. And so the colonel, with no business
incentive, acumen, or adaptability, and with the inherited handicap of
a luxurious living standard, made a brave onslaught on his patrimony.
What the original estate was, or to what extent the colonel had
encroached upon it, Sue never rightly knew. She had been brought up in
the old faith that a Southerner is lord of the soil, but as she
developed, the fact was forced home upon her that her father was not
materialistic, and that ways and means were.
Twice yearly their Kentucky estate yielded an income. As soon as she
understood affairs, Sue took a stand which could not be shaken, even
if the easy-going mooning colonel had exerted himself to that extent.
She insisted upon using one-half the yearly income for household
expenses; the other the colonel could fritter away as he chose upon
his racing-stable and his secondary hobby--an utterly absurd stamp
Only each household knows how it meets the necessity of living. It is
generally the mother and daughter, if there be one, who comprise the
inner finance committee. Men are only Napoleons of finance when the
market is strong and steady. When it becomes panicky and fluctuates
and resolves itself into small unheroic deals, woman gets the job. For
the world is principally a place where men work for the pleasures and
woman has to cringe for the scraps. It may seem unchivalrous, but true
Only Sue knew how she compelled one dollar to bravely do the duty of
two. Appearances are never so deceitful as in the household where want
is apparently scorned. Sue was of the breed who, if necessary, could
raise absolute pauperism to the peerage. And if ever a month came in
which she would lie awake nights, developing the further elasticity of
currency, certainly her neighbors knew aught of it, and her father
least of all.
The colonel recommenced his pacing. Sue, hands clasped around knees,
watched him with steady, unwinking eyes.
"It's not the deviled crab, daddy," she said quietly, at length. "It's
something else. 'Fess up. You're in trouble. I feel it. Sit down there
and let me go halves on it. Sit down."
Colonel Desha vaguely passed a hand through his hair, then,
mechanically yielding to the superior strength and self-control of his
daughter, eased himself into an opposite armchair.
"Oh, no, you're quite wrong, quite wrong," he reiterated absently.
"I'm only tired. Only tired, girlie. That's all. Been very busy, you
know." And he ran on feverishly, talking about Waterbury, weights,
jockeys, mounts--all the jargon of the turf. The dam of his mind had
given way, and a flood of thoughts, hopes, fears came rioting forth
His eyes were vacant, a frown dividing his white brows, the thin hand
on the table closing and relaxing. He was not talking to his daughter,
but to his conscience. It was the old threadbare, tattered tale--spawn
of the Goddess fortune; a thing of misbegotten hopes and desires.
The colonel, swollen with the winning of the Carter Handicap, had
conceived the idea that he was possessor of a God-given knowledge of
the "game." And there had been many to sustain that belief. Now, the
colonel might know a horse, but he did not know the law of averages,
of chance, nor did he even know how his fellow man's heart is
fashioned. Nor that track fortunes are only made by bookies or
exceptionally wealthy or brainy owners; that a plunger comes out on
top once in a million times. That the track, to live, must bleed
"suckers" by the thousand, and that he, Colonel Desha, was one of the
He was on the wrong side of the table. The Metropolitan, Brooklyn,
Suburban, Brighton, Futurity, and a few minor meets served to swamp
the colonel. What Waterbury had to do with the case was not clear. The
colonel had taken his advice time and time again only to lose. But the
Kentucky estate had been sold, and Mr. Waterbury held the mortgage of
the Desha home. And then, his mind emptied of its poison, the colonel
slowly came to himself.
"What--what have I been saying?" he cried tensely. He attempted a
laugh, a denial; caught his daughter's eyes, looked into them, and
then buried his face in his quivering hands.
Sue knelt down and raised his head.
"Daddy, is that--all?" she asked steadily.
He did not answer. Then, man as he was, the blood came sweeping to
face and neck.
"I mean," added the girl quietly, her eyes, steady but very kind,
holding his, "I had word from the National this morning saying that
our account, the--the balance, was overdrawn--"
"Yes--I drew against it," whispered Colonel Desha. He would not meet
her eyes; he who had looked every man in the face. The fire caught him
again. "I had to, girlie, I had to," he cried over and over again. "I
intended telling you. We'll make it up a hundred times over. It was my
only chance. It's all up on the books--up on The Rogue. He'll win the
Carter as sure as there's a God in heaven. It's a ten-thousand stake,
and I've had twenty on him--the balance--your balance, girlie. I can
pay off Waterbury--" The fire died away as quickly. Somehow in the
stillness of the room, against the look in the girl's eyes, words
seemed so pitifully futile, so blatant, so utterly trivial.
Sue's face was averted, eyes on floor, hands tensely clasping those of
her father. Absolute stillness held the room. The colonel was staring
at the girl's bent head.
"It's--it's all right, girlie. All right, don't fret," he murmured
thickly. "The Rogue will win--bound to win. You don't understand--
you're only a girl--only a child----"
"Of course, Daddy," agreed Sue slowly, wide-eyed. "I'm only a child. I
But she understood more than her father. She was thinking of Billy
A BREATH OF THE OLD LIFE.
Major Calvert's really interested desire to see his pseudo nephew
astride a mount afforded Garrison the legitimate opportunity of
keeping clear of Mr. Waterbury for the next few days. The track was
situated some three miles from Calvert House--a modern racing-stable
in every sense of the word--and early the next morning Garrison
started forth, accompanied by the indefatigable major.
Curiosity was stirring in the latter's heart. He had long been
searching for a fitting rider for the erratic and sensitive Dixie--
whimsical and uncertain of taste as any woman--and though he could not
bring himself to believe in Crimmins' eulogy of Garrison's riding
ability, he was anxious to ascertain how far the trainer had erred.
Crimmins was not given to airing his abortive sense of humor overmuch,
and he was a sound judge of horse and man. If he was right--but the
major had to laugh at such a possibility. Garrison to ride like that!
He who had confessed he had never thrown a leg over a horse before! By
a freak of nature he might possess the instinct but not the ability.
Perhaps he even might possess the qualifications of an exercise-boy;
he had the build--a stripling who possessed both sinew and muscle, but
who looked fatty tissue. But the major well knew that it is one thing
to qualify as an exercise-boy and quite another to toe the mark as a
jockey. For the former it is only necessary to have good hands, a good
seat in the saddle, and to implicitly obey a trainer's instructions.
No initiative is required. But it is absolutely essential that a boy
should own all these adjuncts and many others--quickness of
perception, unlimited daring, and alertness to make a jockey. No truer
summing up of the necessary qualifications is there than the old and
famous "Father Bill" Daly's doggerel and appended note:
"Just a tinge of wickedness,
With a touch of devil-may-care;
Just a bit of bone and meat,
With plenty of nerve to dare.
And, on top of all things--he must be a tough kid."
And "Father Bill" Daly ought to know above all others, for he has
trained more famous jockeys than any other man in America.
There are two essential points in the training of race-horses--secrecy
and ability. Crimmins possessed both, but the scheduled situation of
the Calvert stables rendered the secret "trying out" of racers before
track entry unnecessary. It is only fair to state that if Major
Calvert had left his trainer to his own judgment his stable would have
made a better showing than it had. But the major's disposition and
unlimited time caused him more often than not to follow the racing
paraphrase: "Dubs butt in where trainers fear to tread."
He was so enthusiastic and ignorant over horses that he insisted upon
campaigns that had only the merit of good intentions to recommend
them. Some highly paid trainers throw up their positions when their
millionaire owners assume the role of dictator, but Crimmins very
seldom lost his temper. The major was so boyishly good-hearted and
bull-headed that Crimmins had come to view his master's racing
aspirations almost as an expensive joke.
However, it seemed that the Carter Handicap and the winning by his
very good friend and neighbor, Colonel Desha, had stuck firmly in
Major Calvert's craw. He promised to faithfully follow his trainer's
directions and leave for the nonce the preparatory training entirely
in his hands.
It was decided now that Garrison should try out the fast black filly
Dixie, just beginning training for the Carter. She had a hundred and
twenty-five pounds of grossness to boil down before making track
weight, but the opening spring handicap was five months off, and
Crimmins believed in the "slow and sure" adage. Major Calvert, his old
weather-beaten duster fluttering in the wind, took his accustomed
perch on the rail, while Garrison prepared to get into racing-togs.
The blood was pounding in Garrison's heart as he lightly swung up on
the sleek black filly. The old, nameless longing, the insistent
thought that he had done all this before--to the roar of thousands of
Instinctively he understood his mount; her defects, her virtues.
Instinctively he sensed that she was not a "whip horse." A touch of
the whalebone and she would balk--stop dead in her stride. He had
known such horses before, generally fillies.
As soon as Garrison's feet touched stirrups all the condensed,
colossal knowledge of track and horse-flesh, gleaned by the sweating
labor of years, came tingling to his finger-tips. Judgment, instinct,
daring, nerve, were all his; at his beck and call; serving their
master. He felt every inch the veteran he was--though he knew it not.
It was not a freak of nature. He had worked, worked hard for
knowledge, and it would not be denied. He felt as he used to feel
before he had "gone back."
Garrison took Dixie over the seven furlongs twice, and in a manner,
despite her grossness, the mare had never been taken before. She ran
as easily, as relentlessly, without a hitch or break, as fine-spun
silk slips through a shuttle. She was high-strung, sensitive to a
degree, but Garrison understood her, and she answered his knowledge
It was impressive riding to those who knew the filly's irritability,
uncertainty. Clean-cut veteran horsemanship, with horse and rider as
one; a mechanically precise pace, heart-breaking for a following
field. The major slowly climbed off the rail, mechanically eyeing his
watch. He was unusually quiet, but there was a light in his eyes that
forecasted disaster for his very good friend and neighbor, Colonel
Desha, and The Rogue. It is even greater satisfaction, did we but
acknowledge it, to turn the tables on a friend than on a foe.
"Boy," he said impressively, laying a hand on Garrison's shoulder and
another on Dixie's flank, "I've been looking for some one to ride
Dixie in the Carter--some one who could ride; ride and understand.
I've found that some one in my nephew. You'll ride her--ride as no one
else can. God knows how you learned the game--I don't. But know it you
do. Nor do I pretend to know how you understand the filly. I don't
understand it at all. It must be a freak of nature."
"Ho, yuss!" added Crimmins quietly, his eye on the silent Garrison.
"Ho, yuss! It must be a miracle. But I tell you, major, it ain't no
miracle. It ain't. That boy 'as earned 'is class. 'E could understand
any 'orse. 'E's earned 'is class. It don't come to a chap in the
night. 'E's got to slave f'r it--slave 'ard. Ho, yuss! Your neffy can
ride, an' 'e can s'y wot 'e likes, but if 'e ain't modeled on Billy
Garrison 'isself, then I'm a bloomin' bean-eating Dutchman! 'E's th'
top spit of Garrison--th' top spit of 'im, or may I never drink agyn!"
There was sincerity, good feeling, and force behind the declaration,
and the major eyed Garrison intently and with some curiosity.
"Come, haven't you ridden before, eh?" he asked good-humoredly. "It's
no disgrace, boy. Is it hard-won science, as Crimmins says, or merely
an unbelievable and curious freak of nature, eh?"
Garrison looked the major in the eye. His heart was pounding.
"If I've ever ridden a mount before--I've never known it," he said,
with conviction and truth.
Crimmins shook his head in hopeless despair. The major was too
enthusiastic to quibble over how the knowledge was gained. It was
there in overflowing abundance. That was enough. Besides, his nephew's
word was his bond. He would as soon think of doubting the Bible.
For the succeeding days Garrison and the major haunted the track. It
was decided that the former should wear his uncle's colors in the
Carter, and he threw himself into the training of Dixie with all his
painstaking energy and knowledge.
He proved a valuable adjunct to Crimmins; rank was waived in the
stables, and a sincere regard sprang up between master and man, based
on the fundamental qualities of real manhood and a mutual passion for
horse-flesh. And if the acid little cockney suspected that Garrison
had ever carried a jockey's license or been track-bred, he respected
the other's silence, and refrained from broaching the question again.
Meanwhile, to all appearances, things were running in the harmonious
groove over at the Desha home. Since the night of Mr. Waterbury's
arrival Sue had not mentioned the subject of the overdrawn balance,
and the colonel had not. If the girl thought her father guilty of a
slight breach of honor, no hint of it was conveyed either in speech or
She was broad-minded--the breadth and depth of perfect health and a
clean heart. If she set up a high standard for herself, it was not to
measure others by. The judgment of man entered into no part of her
character; least of all, the judgment of a parent.
As for the colonel, it was apparent that he was not on speaking terms
with his conscience. It made itself apparent in countless foolish
little ways; in countless little means of placating his daughter--a
favorite book, a song, a new saddle. These votive offerings were
tendered in subdued silence fitting to the occasion, but Sue always
lauded them to the skies. Nor would she let him see that she
understood the contrition working in him. To Colonel Desha she was no
longer "my little girl," but "my daughter." Very often we only
recognize another's right and might by being in the wrong and weak
Every spare minute of his day--and he had many--the colonel spent in
his stables superintending the training of The Rogue. He was
infinitely worse than a mother with her first child. If the latter
acts as if she invented maternity, one would have thought the colonel
had fashioned the gelding as the horse of Troy was fashioned.
The Rogue's success meant everything to him--everything in the world.
He would be obliged to win. Colonel Desha was not one who believed in
publishing a daily "agony column." He could hold his troubles as he
could his drink--like a gentleman. He had not intended that Sue should
be party to them, but that night of the confession they had caught him
unawares. And he played the host to Mr. Waterbury as only a Southern
That the turfman had motives other than mere friendship and regard
when proffering his advice and financial assistance, the colonel never
suspected. It was a further manifestation of his childish streak and
his ignorance of his fellow man. His great fault was in estimating his
neighbor by his own moral code. It had never occurred to him that
Waterbury loved Sue, and that he had forced his assistance while
helping to create the necessity for that assistance, merely as a means
of lending some authority to his suit. But Waterbury possessed many
likable qualities; he had stood friend to Colonel Desha, whatever his
motives, and the latter honored him on his own valuation.
Fear never would have given the turfman the entrée to the Desha home;
only friendship. Down South hospitality is sacred. When one has
succeeded in entering a household he is called kin. A mutual trust and
bond of honor exist between host and guest. The mere formula; "So-and-
So is my guest," is a clean bill of moral health. Therefore, in
whatever light Sue may have regarded Mr. Waterbury, her treatment of
him was uniformly courteous and kindly.
Necessarily they saw much of each other. The morning rides, formerly
with Garrison, were now taken with Mr. Waterbury. This was owing
partly to the former's close application to the track, partly to the
courtesy due guest from hostess whose father is busily engaged, and in
the main to a concrete determination on Sue's part. This intimacy with
Sue Desha was destined to work a change in Waterbury.
He had come unworthy to the Desha home. He acknowledged that to
himself. Come with the purpose of compelling his suit, if necessary.
His love had been the product of his animalistic nature. It was a
purely sensual appeal. He had never known the true interpretation of
love; never experienced the society of a womanly woman. But it is in
every nature to respond to the highest touch; to the appeal of honor.
When trust is reposed, fidelity answers. It did its best to answer in
Waterbury's case. His better self was slowly awakening.
Those days were wonderful, new, happy days for Waterbury. He was
received on the footing of guest, good comrade. He was fighting to
cross the line, searching for the courage necessary--he who had
watched without the flicker of an eyelash a fortune lost by an inch of
horse-flesh. And if the girl knew, she gave no sign.
As for Garrison, despite his earnest attention to the track, those
were unhappy days for him. He thought that he had voluntarily given up
Sue's society; given it up for the sake of saving his skin; for the
fear of meeting Waterbury. Time and time again he determined to face
the turfman and learn the worst. Cowardice always stepped in.
Presently Waterbury would leave for the North, and things then would
be as they had been.
He hated himself for his cowardice; for his compromise with self-
respect. It was not that he valued Sue's regard so lightly. Rather he
feared to lose the little he had by daring all. He did not know that
Sue had given him up. Did not know that she was hurt, mortally hurt;
that her renunciation had not been necessary; that he had not given
her the opportunity. He had stayed away, and she wondered. There could
be but the one answer. He must hate this tie between them; this
parent-fostered engagement. He was thinking of the girl he had left up
North. Perhaps it was better for her, she argued, that she had
determined upon renunciation.
Obviously Major Calvert and his wife noticed the breach in the
Garrison-Desha entente cordiale. They credited it to some childish
quarrel. They were wise in their generation. Old heads only muddle
young hearts. To confer the dignity of age upon the differences of
youth but serves to turn a mole-hill into a mountain.
But one memorable evening, when the boyish and enthusiastic major and
Garrison returned from an all-day session at the track, they found
Mrs. Calvert in a very quiet and serious mood, which all the major's
cajolery could not penetrate. And after dinner she and the major had a
peace conference in the library, at the termination of which the
doughty major's feathers were considerably agitated.
Mrs. Calvert's good nature was not the good nature of the faint-
hearted or weak-kneed. She was never at loss for words, nor the spirit
to back them when she considered conditions demanded them.
Subsequently, when his wife retired, the major, very red in the face,
called Garrison into the room.
"Eh, demmit, boy," he began, fussing up and down, "I've noticed, of
course, that you and Sue don't pull in the same boat. Now, I thought
it was due to a little tiff, as soon straightened as tangled, when
pride once stopped goading you on. But your aunt, boy, has other ideas
on the subject which she had been kindly imparting to me. And it seems
that I'm entirely to blame. She says that I've caused you to neglect
Sue for Dixie. Eh, boy, is that so?" He paused, eyeing Garrison in
"No, it is not," said Garrison heavily. "It is entirely my fault."
The major heartily sighed his relief.
"Eh, demmit, I said as much to your aunt, but she knows I'm an old
sinner, and she has her doubts. I told her if you could neglect Sue
for Dixie your love wasn't worth a rap. I knew there was something
back of it. Well, you must go over to-night and straighten it out.
These little tiffs have to be killed early--like spring chickens. Sue
has her dander up, I tell you. She met your aunt to-day. Said flatly
that she had broken the engagement; that it was final--"
"Oh, she did?" was all Garrison could find to interrupt with.
"Eh, demmit; pride, boy, pride," said the major confidently. "Now, run
along over and apologize; scratch humble gravel--clear down to China,
if necessary. And mind you do it right proper. Some people apologize
by saying: 'If I've said anything I'm sorry for, I'm glad of it.' Eh,
demmit, remember never to compete for the right with a woman. Women
are always right. Man shouldn't be his own press-agent. It's woman's
position--and delight. She values man on her own valuation--not his.
Women are illogical--that's why they marry us."
The major concluded his advice by giving Garrison a hearty thump on
the back. Then he prepared to charge his wife's boudoir; to resume the
peace conference with right on his side for the nonce.
Garrison slowly made his way down-stairs. His face was set. He knew
his love for Sue was hopeless; an absurdity, a crime. But why had she
broken the engagement? Had Waterbury said anything? He would go over
and face Waterbury; face him and be done with it. He was reckless,
desperate. As he descended the wide veranda steps a man stepped from
behind a magnolia-tree shadowing the broad walk. A clear three-quarter
moon was riding in the heavens, and it picked out Garrison's thin set
The man swung up, and tapped him on the shoulder. "Hello, Bud!"
It was Dan Crimmins.
"THEN I WAS NOT HONEST."
Garrison eyed him coldly, and was about to pass when Crimmins barred
"I suppose when you gets up in the world, it ain't your way to know
folks you knew before, is it?" he asked gently. "But Dan Crimmins has
a heart, an' it ain't his way to shake friends, even if they has
money. It ain't Crimmins' way."
"Take your hand off my shoulder," said Garrison steadily.
The other's black brows met, but he smiled genially.
"It don't go, Bud. No, no." He shook his head. "Try that on those who
don't know you. I know you. You're Billy Garrison; I'm Dan Crimmins.
Now, if you want me to blow in an' tell the major who you are, just
say so. I'm obligin'. It's Crimmins' way. But if you want to help an
old friend who's down an' out, just say so. I'm waitin'."
Garrison eyed him. Crimmins? Crimmins? The name was part of his dream.
What had he been to this man? What did this man know?
"Take a walk down the pike," suggested the other easily. "It ain't
often you have the pleasure of seein' an old friend, an' the
excitement is a little too much for you. I know how it is," he added
sympathetically. He was closely watching Garrison's face.
Garrison mechanically agreed, wondering.
"It's this way," began Crimmins, once the shelter of the pike was
gained. "I'm Billy Crimmins' brother--the chap who trains for Major
Calvert. Now, I was down an' out--I guess you know why--an' so I wrote
him askin' for a little help. An' he wouldn't give it. He's what you
might call a lovin', confidin', tender young brother. But he mentioned
in his letter that Bob Waterbury was here, and he asked why I had left
his service. Some things don't get into the papers down here, an' it's
just as well. You know why I left Waterbury. Waterbury----!"
Here Crimmins carefully selected a variety of adjectives with which to
decorate the turfman. He also spoke freely about the other's
ancestors, and concluded with voicing certain dark convictions
regarding Mr. Waterbury's future.
Garrison listened blankly. "What's all this to me?" he asked sharply.
"I don't know you nor Mr. Waterbury."
"Hell you don't!" rapped out Crimmins. "Quit that game. I may have
done things against you, but I've paid for them. You can't touch me on
that count, but I can touch you, for I know you ain't the major's
nephew--no more than the Sheik of Umpooba. I'm ashamed of you. Tryin'
on a game like that with your old trainer, who knows you--"
Garrison caught him fiercely by the arm. His old trainer! Then he was
Billy Garrison. Memory was fighting furiously. He was on fire. "Billy
Garrison, Billy Garrison, Billy Garrison," he repeated over and over,
shaking Crimmins like a reed. "Go on, go on, go on," he panted. "Tell
me what you know about me. Go on, go on. Am I Garrison? Am I? Am I?"
Then, holding the other as in a vise, the thoughts that had been
writhing in his mind for so long came hurtling forth. At last here was
some one who knew him. His old trainer. What better friend could he
He panted in his frenzy. The words came tripping over one another,
smothering, choking. And Crimmins with set face listened; listened as
Garrison went over past events; events since that memorable morning he
had awakened in the hospital with the world a blank and the past a
blur. He told all--all; like a little child babbling at his mother's
"Why did I leave the track? Why? Why?" he finished in a whirlwind of
passion. "What happened? Tell me. Say I'm honest. Say it, Crimmins;
say it. Help me to get back. I can ride--ride like glory. I'll win for
you--anything. Anything to get me out of this hell of deceit,
nonentity namelessness. Help me to square myself. I'll make a name
nobody'll be ashamed of--" His words faded away. Passion left him weak
Crimmins judicially cleared his throat. There was a queer light in his
"It ain't Dan Crimmins' way to go back on a friend," he began, laying
a hand on Garrison's shoulder. "You don't remember nothing, all on
account of that bingle you got on the head. But it was Crimmins that
made you, Bud. Sweated over you like a father. It was Crimmins who got
you out of many a tight place, when you wouldn't listen to his advice.
I ain't saying it wasn't right to skip out after you'd thrown every
race and the Carter; after poisoning Sis--"
"Then--I--was--not--honest?" asked Garrison. He was horribly quiet.
"Emphatic'ly no," said Crimmins sadly. He shook his head. "And you
don't remember how you came to Dan Crimmins the night you skipped out
and you says: 'Dan, Dan, my only friend, tried and true, I'm broke.'
Just like that you says it. And Dan says, without waitin' for you to
ask; he says: 'Billy, you and me have been pals for fifteen years;
pals man and boy. A friend is a friend, and a man who's broke don't
want sympathy--he needs money. Here's three thousand dollars--all I've
got. I was going to buy a home for the old mother, but friendship in
need comes before all. It's yours. Take it. Don't say a word. Crimmins
has a heart, and it's Dan Crimmins' way. He may suffer for it, but
it's his way.' That's what he says."
"Go on," whispered Garrison. His eyes were very wide and vacant.
Crimmins spat carefully, as if to stimulate his imagination.
"No, no, you don't remember," he mused sadly. "Now you're tooting
along with the high rollers. But I ain't kickin'. It's Crimmins' way
never to give his hand in the dark, but when he does give it--for
life, my boy, for life. But I was thinkin' of the wife and kids you
left up in Long Island; left to face the music. Of course I stood
their friend as best I could--"
"Then--I'm married?" asked Garrison slowly. He laughed--a laugh that
caused the righteous Crimmins to wince. The latter carefully wiped his
eyes with a handkerchief that had once been white.
"Boy, boy!" he said, in great agony of mind. "To think you've gone and
forgot the sacred bond of matrimony! I thought at least you would have
remembered that. But I says to your wife, I says: 'Billy will come
back. He ain't the kind to leave you an' the kids go to the poorhouse,
all for the want of a little gumption. He'll come back and face the
"What charges?" Garrison did not recognize his own voice.
"Why, poisoning Sis. It's a jail offense," exclaimed Crimmins.
"Indeed," commented Garrison.
Again he laughed and again the righteous Crimmins winced. Garrison's
gray eyes had the glint of sun shining on ice. His mouth looked as it
had many a time when he fought neck-and-neck down the stretch,
snatching victory by sheer, condensed, bulldog grit. Crimmins knew of
old what that mouth portended, and he spoke hurriedly.
"Don't do anything rash, Bud. Bygones is bygones, and, as the Bible
says: 'Circumstances alters cases,' and--"
"Then this is how I stand," cut in Garrison steadily, unheeding the
advice. He counted the dishonorable tally on his fingers. "I'm a
horse-poisoner, a thief, a welcher. I've deserted my wife and family.
I owe you--how much?"
"Five thousand," said Crimmins deprecatingly, adding on the two just
to show he had no hard feelings.
"Good," said Garrison. He bit his knuckles; bit until the blood came.
"Good," he said again. He was silent.
"I ain't in a hurry," put in Crimmins magnanimously. "But you can pay
it easy. The major--"
"Is a gentleman," finished Garrison, eyes narrowed. "A gentleman whom
I've wronged--treated like--" He clenched his hands. Words were of no
"That's all right," argued the other persuasively. "What's the use of
gettin' flossy over it now? Ain't you known all along, when you put
the game up on him, that you wasn't his nephew; that you were doin'
"Shut up," blazed Garrison savagely. "I know--what I've done. Fouled
those I'm not fit to grovel to. I thought I was honest--in a way. Now
I know I'm the scum I am--"
"You don't mean to say you're goin' to welch again?" asked the
horrified Crimmins. "Goin' to tell the major--"
"Just that, Crimmins. Tell them what I am. Tell Waterbury, and face
that charge for poisoning his horse. I may have been what you say, but
I'm not that now. I'm not," he reiterated passionately, daring
contradiction. "I've sneaked long enough. Now I'm done with it--"
"See here," inserted Crimmins, dangerously reasonable, "your little
white-washing game may be all right to you, but where does Dan
Crimmins come in and sit down? It ain't his way to be left standing.
You splittin' to the major and Waterbury? They'll mash your face off!
And where's my five thousand, eh? Where is it if you throw over the
"Damn your five thousand!" shrilled Garrison, passion throwing him.
"What's your debt to what I owe? What's money? You say you're my
friend. You say you have been. Yet you come here to blackmail me--yes,
that's the word I used, and the one I mean. Blackmail. You want me to
continue living a lie so that I may stop your mouth with money. You
say I'm married. But do you wish me to go back to my wife and
children, to try to square myself before God and them? Do you wish me
to face Waterbury, and take what's coming to me? No, you don't, you
don't. You lie if you say you do. It's yourself--yourself you're
thinking of. I'm to be your jackal. That's your friendship, but I say
if that's friendship, Crimmins, then to the devil with it, and may God
send me hatred instead!" He choked with the sheer smother of his
Crimmins was breathing heavily. Then passion marked him for the thing
he was. Garrison saw confronting him not the unctuous, plausible
friend, but a hunted animal, with fear and venom showing in his
narrowed eyes. And, curiously enough, he noticed for the first time
that the prison pallor was strong on Crimmins' face, and that the hair
above his outstanding ears was clipped to the roots.
Then Crimmins spoke; through his teeth, and very slowly: "So you'll go
to Waterbury, eh?" And he nodded the words home. "You--little cur, you
--you little misbegotten bottle of bile! What are you and your
hypocrisies to me? You don't know me, you don't know me." He laughed,
and Garrison felt repulsion fingering his heart. Then the former
trainer shot out a clawing, ravenous hand. "I want that money--want it
quick!" he spat, taking a step forward. "You want hatred, eh? Well,
hatred you'll have, boy. Hatred that I've always given you, you
miserable, puling, lily-livered spawn of a--"
Garrison blotted out the insult to his mother's memory with his
knuckles. "And that's for your friendship," he said, smashing home a
Crimmins arose very slowly from the white road, and even thought of
flicking some of the fine dust from his coat. He was smiling. The moon
was very bright. Crimmins glanced up and down the deserted pike. From
the distant town a bell chimed the hour of eight. He had twenty pounds
the better of the weights, but he was taking no chances. For Garrison,
all his wealth of hard-earned fistic education roused, was waiting;
waiting with the infinite patience of the wounded cougar.
Crimmins looked up and down the road again. Then he came in, a black-
jack clenched until the veins in his hand ridged out purple and taut
as did those in his neck. A muscle was beating in his wooden cheek. He
struck savagely. Garrison side-stepped, and his fist clacked under
Crimmins' chin. Neither spoke. Again Crimmins came in.
A great splatter of hoof-beats came from down the pike, sounding like
the vomitings of a Gatling gun. A horse streaked its way toward them.
Crimmins darted into the underbrush bordering the pike. The horse came
fast. It flashed past Garrison. Its rider was swaying in the saddle;
swaying with white, tense face and sawing hands. The eyes were fixed
straight ahead, vacant. A broken saddle-girth flapped raggedly.
Garrison recognized the fact that it was a runaway, with Sue Desha up.
Another horse followed, throwing space furiously. It was a big bay
gelding. As it drew abreast of Garrison, standing motionless in the
white road, it shied. Its rider rocketed over its head, thudded on the
ground, heaved once or twice, and then lay very still. The horse swept
on. As it passed, Garrison swung beside it, caught its pace for an
instant, and then eased himself into the saddle. Then he bent over and
rode as only he could ride. It was a runaway handicap. Sue's life was
the stake, and the odds were against him.
SUE DECLARES HER LOVE.
It was Waterbury who was lying unconscious on the lonely Logan Pike;
Waterbury who had been thrown as the bay gelding strove desperately to
overhaul the flying runaway filly.
Sue had gone for an evening ride. She wished to be alone. It had been
impossible to lose the ubiquitous Mr. Waterbury, but this evening The
Rogue had evinced premonitory symptoms of a distemper, and the greatly
exercised colonel had induced the turfman to ride over and have a look
at him. This left Sue absolutely unfettered, the first occasion in a
She was of the kind who fought out trouble silently, but not placidly.
She must have something to contend against; something on which to work
out the distemper of a heart and mind not in harmony. She must
experience physical exhaustion before resignation came. In learning a
lesson she could not remain inactive. She must walk, walk, up and
down, up an down, until its moral or text was beaten into her
mentality with her echoing footsteps.
On this occasion she was in the humor to dare the impossible; dare
through sheer irritability of heart--not mind. And so she saddled
Lethe--an unregenerate pinto of the Southern Trail, whose concealed
devilishness forcibly reminded one of Balzac's famous description: "A
clenched fist hidden in an empty sleeve."
She had been forbidden to ride the pinto ever since the day it was
brought home to her with irrefutable emphasis that the shortest
distance between two points is a straight line. It was more of a
parabola she described, when, bucked off, her head smashed the ground,
but the simile serves.
But she would ride Lethe to-night. The other horses were too
comfortable. They served to irritate the bandit passions, not to
subdue them. She panted for some one, something, to break to her will.
Lethe felt that there was a passion that night riding her; a passion
that far surpassed her own. Womanlike, she decided to arbitrate. She
would wait until this all-powerful passion burned itself out; then she
could afford to safely agitate her own. It would not have grown less
in the necessary interim. So, much to Sue's surprise, the filly was as
gentle as the proverbial lamb.
As she turned for home, Waterbury rode out of the deepening shadows
behind her. He had left the colonel at his breeding-farm. Waterbury
and Sue rode in silence. The girl was giving all her attention to her
thoughts. What was left over was devoted to the insistent mouth of
Lethe, who ever and anon tested the grip on her bridle-rein;
ascertaining whether or not there were any symptoms of relaxation or
It is human nature to grow tired of being good. Waterbury's better
nature had been in the ascendancy for over a week. He thought he could
afford to draw on this surplus balance to his credit. He was riding
very close to Sue. He had encroached, inch by inch, but her oblivion
had not been inclination, as Waterbury fancied. He edged nearer. As
she did not heed the steal, he took it for a grant. We fit facts to
our inclination. The animal arose mightily in him. In stooping to
avoid an overhanging branch he brushed against her. The contact set
him aflame. He was hungrily eyeing her profile. Then in a second, he
had crushed her head to his shoulder, and was fiercely kissing her
again and again--lips, hair, eyes; eyes, hair, lips.
"There!" he panted, releasing her. He laughed foolishly, biting his
nails. His mouth felt as if roofed with sand-paper. His face was
white, but not as white as hers.
She was silent. Then she drew a handkerchief from her sleeve and very
carefully wiped her lips. She was absolutely silent, but a pulse was
beating--beating in her slim throat. The action, her silence, inflamed
Waterbury. He made to crush her waist with his ravenous arm. Then, for
the first time, she turned slowly, and her narrowed eyes met his. He
saw, even in the gloom. Again he laughed, but the onrushing blood
purpled his neck.
Desperation came to help him brave those eyes--came and failed. He
talked, declaimed, avowed--grew brutally frank. Finally he spoke of
the mortgage he held, and waited, breathing heavily, for the answer.
There was none.
"I suppose it's some one else, eh?" he rapped out, red showing in the
brown of his eyes.
Silence. He savagely cut the gelding across the ears, and then checked
its answering, maddened leap. The red deepened in Sue's cheek--two red
spots, the flag of courage.
"It's this nephew of Major Calvert's," added Waterbury. He lost the
last shred of common decency he could lay claim to; it was caught up
and whirled away in the tempest of his passion. "I saw him to-day, on
my way to the track. He didn't see me. When I knew him his name was
Garrison--Billy Garrison. I discharged him for dishonesty. I suppose
he sneaked home to a confiding uncle when the world had kicked him
out. I suppose they think he's all right, same as you do. But he's a
thief. A common, low-down--"
The girl turned swiftly, and her little gauntlet caught Waterbury full
across the mouth.
"You lie!" she whispered, very softly, her face white and quivering,
her eyes black with passion.
And then Lethe saw her opportunity. Sensed it in the momentary
relaxing of the bridle-rein. She whipped the bit into her fierce,
even, white teeth, and with a snort shot down the pike.
And then Waterbury's better self gained supremacy; contrition, self-
hatred rushing in like a fierce tidal wave and swamping the last
vestige of animalism. He spurred blindly after the fast-disappearing
Garrison rode one of the best races of his life that night. It was a
trial of stamina and nerve. Lethe was primarily a sprinter, and the
gelding, raised to his greatest effort by the genius of his rider,
outfought her, outstayed her. As he flew down the moon-swept road,
bright as at any noontime, Garrison knew success would be his,
providing Sue kept her seat, her nerve, and the saddle from twisting.
Inch by inch the white, shadow-flecked space between the gelding and
the filly was eaten up. On, on, with only the tempest of their speed
and the flying hoofs for audience. On, on, until now the gelding had
poked his nose past the filly's flying hocks.
Garrison knew horses. He called on the gelding for a supreme effort,
and the gelding answered impressively. He hunched himself, shot past
the filly. Twenty yards' gain, twenty yards to the fore, and then
Garrison turned easily in the saddle. "All right, Miss Desha, let her
come," he sang out cheerfully.
And the filly came, came hard; came with all the bitterness of being
outstripped by a clumsy gelding whom she had beaten time and again. As
she caught the latter's slowed pace, as her wicked nose drew alongside
of the other's withers, Garrison shot out a hand, clamped an iron
clutch on the spume-smeared bit, swung the gelding across the filly's
right of way; then, with his right hand, choked the fight from her
And then, womanlike, Sue fainted, and Garrison was just in time to
ease her through his arms to the ground. The two horses, thoroughly
blown, placidly settled down to nibble the grass by the wayside.
Sue lay there, her wealth of hair clouding Garrison's shoulder. He
watched consciousness return, the flutter of her breath. The perfume
of her skin was in his nostrils, his mouth; stealing away his honor.
He held her close. She shivered.
He fought to keep from kissing her as she lay there unarmed. Then her
throat pulsed; her eyes opened. Garrison kissed her again and again;
gripping her as a drowning man grips at a passing straw.
With a great heave and a passionate cry she flung him from her. She
rose unsteadily to her feet. He stood, shame engulfing him. Then she
caught her breath hard.
"Oh!" she said softly, "it's--it's you!" She laughed tremulously. "I--
I thought it was Mr. Waterbury."
Relief, longing was in the voice. She made a pleading motion with her
arms--a child longing for its mother's neck. He did not see, heed. He
was nervously running his hand through his hair, face flaming.
"Mr. Waterbury was thrown. I took his mount," he blurted out, at
length. "Are you hurt?"
She shook her head without replying; biting her lips. She was
devouring him with her eyes; eyes dark with passion. The memory of
that moment in his arms was seething within her. Why--why had she not
known! They looked at each other; eye to eye; soul to soul. Neither
She shivered, though the night was warm.
"Why did you call me Miss Desha?" she asked, at length.
"Because," he said feebly--his nature was true to his Southern name.
He was fighting self like the girl--"I'm going away," he added. It had
to come with a rush or not at all. And it must come. He heaved his
chest as a swimmer seeks to breast the waves. "I'm not worthy of you.
I'm a--a beast," he said. "I lied to you; lied when I said I was not
Garrison. I am Billy Garrison. I did not know that I was. I know now.
"I knew you were," said the girl simply. "Why did you try to hide it?
"No." In sharp staccato sentences he told her of his lapse of memory.
"It was not because I was a thief; because I was kicked from the turf;
because I was a horse-poisoner--"
"Then--it's true?" she asked.
"That I'm a--beast?" he asked grimly. "Yes, it's true. You doubt me,
don't you? You think I knew my identity, my crimes all along, and that
I was afraid. Say you doubt me."
"I believe you," she said quietly.
"Thank you," he replied as quietly.
"And--you think it necessary, imperative that you go away?" There was
an unuttered sob in her voice, though she sought to choke it back.
"I do." He laughed a little--the laugh that had caused the righteous
Dan Crimmins to wince.
She made a passionate gesture with her hand. "Billy," she said, and
stopped, eyes flaming.
"You were right to break the engagement," he said slowly, eyes on the
ground. "I suppose Mr. Waterbury told you who I was, and--and, of
course, you could only act as you did."
She was silent, her face quivering.
"And you think that of me? You would think it of me? No, from the
first I knew you were Garrison--"
"Forgive me," he inserted.
"I broke the engagement," she added, "because conditions were changed
--with me. My condition was no longer what it was when the engagement
was made--" She checked herself with an effort.
"I think I understand--now," he said, and admiration was in his eyes;
"I know the track. I should." He was speaking lifelessly, eyes on the
ground. "And I understand that you do not know--all."
"Um-m-m." He looked up and faced her eyes, head held high. "I am an
adventurer," he said slowly. "A scoundrel, an impostor. I am not--
Major Calvert's nephew." And he watched her eyes; watched
unflinchingly as they changed and changed again. But he would not look
"I--I think I will sit down, if you don't mind," she whispered, hand
at throat. She seated herself, as one in a maze, on a log by the
wayside. She looked up, a twisted little smile on her lips, as he
stood above her. "Won't--won't you sit down and tell--tell me all?"
He obeyed automatically, not striving to fathom the great charity of
her silence. And then he told all--all. Even as he had told that very
good trainer and righteous friend, Dan Crimmins. His voice was
perfectly lifeless. And the girl listened, lips clenched on teeth.
"And--and that's all," he whispered. "God knows it's enough--too
much." He drew himself away as some unclean thing.
"All that, all that, and you only a boy," whispered the girl, half to
herself. "You must not tell the major. You must not," she cried
"I must," he whispered. "I will."
"You must not. You won't. You must go away, go away. Wipe the slate
clean," she added tensely. "You must not tell the major. It must be
broken to him gently, by degrees. Boy, boy, don't you know what it is
to love; to have your heart twisted, broken, trampled? You must not
tell him. It would kill. I--know." She crushed her hands in her lap.
"I'm a coward if I run," he said.
"A murderer if you stay," she answered. "And Mr. Waterbury--he will
flay you--keep you in the mire. I know. No, you must go, you must go.
Must have a chance for regeneration."
"You are very kind--very kind. You do not say you loathe me." He arose
abruptly, clenching his hands above his head in silent agony
"No, I do not," she whispered, leaning forward, hands gripping the
log, eyes burning up into his face. "I do not. Because I can't. I
can't. Because I love you, love you, love you. Boy, boy, can't you
see? Won't you see? I love you--"
"Don't," he cried sharply, as if in physical agony. "You don't know
what you say--"
"I do, I do. I love you, love you," she stormed. Passion, long stamped
down, had arisen in all its might. The surging intensity of her nature
was at white heat. It had broken all bonds, swept everything aside in
its mad rush. "Take me with you. Take me with you--anywhere," she
panted passionately. She arose and caught him swiftly by the arm,
forcing up her flaming face to his. "I don't care what you are--I know
what you will be. I've loved you from the first. I lied when I ever
said I hated you. I'll help you to make a new start. Oh, so hard! Try
me. Try me. Take me with you. You are all I have. I can't give you up.
I won't! Take me, take me. Do, do, do!" Her head thrown back, she
forced a hungry arm about his neck and strove to drag his lips to
He caught both wrists and eyed her. She was panting, but her eyes met
his unwaveringly, gloriously unashamed. He fought for every word.
"Don't--tempt--me--Sue. Good God, girl! you don't know how I love you.
You can't. Loved you from that night in the train. Now I know who you
were, what you are to me--everything. Help me to think of you, not of
myself. You must guard yourself. I'm tired of fighting--I can't----"
"It's the girl up North?"
He drew back. He had forgotten. He turned away, head bowed. Both were
fighting--fighting against love--everything. Then Sue drew a great
breath and commenced to shiver.
"I was wrong. You must go to her," she whispered. "She has the right
of way. She has the right of way. Go, go," she blazed, passion
slipping up again. "Go before I forget honor; forget everything but
that I love."
Garrison turned. She never forgot the look his face held; never forgot
the tone of his voice.
"I go. Good-by, Sue. I go to the girl up North. You are above me in
every way--infinitely above me. Yes, the girl up North. I had
forgotten. She is my wife. And I have children."
He swung on his heel and blindly flung himself upon the waiting
Sue stood motionless.
GARRISON HIMSELF AGAIN.
That night Garrison left for New York; left with the memory of Sue
standing there on the moonlit pike, that look in her eyes; that look
of dazed horror which he strove blindly to shut out. He did not return
to Calvert House; not because he remembered the girl's advice and was
acting upon it. His mind had no room for the past. Every blood-vessel
was striving to grapple with the present. He was numb with agony. It
seemed as if his brain had been beaten with sticks; beaten to a pulp.
That last scene with Sue had uprooted every fiber of his being. He
writhed when he thought of it. But one thought possessed him. To get
away, get away, get away; out of it all; anyhow, anywhere.
He was like a raw recruit who has been lying on the firing-line,
suffering the agonies of apprehension, of imagination; experiencing
the proximity of death in cold blood, without the heat of action to
render him oblivious.
Garrison had been on the firing-line for so long that his nerve was
frayed to ribbons. Now the blow had fallen at last. The exposure had
come, and a fierce frenzy possessed him to complete the work begun. He
craved physical combat. And when he thought of Sue he felt like a
murderer fleeing from the scene of his crime; striving, with distance,
to blot out the memory of his victim. That was all he thought of.
That, and to get away--to flee from himself. Afterward, analysis of
actions would come. At present, only action; only action.
It was five miles to the Cottonton depot, reached by a road that
branched off from the Logan Pike about half a mile above the spot
where Waterbury had been thrown. He remembered that there was a
through train at ten-fifteen. He would have time if he rode hard. With
head bowed, shoulders hunched, he bent over the gelding. He had no
recollection of that ride.
But the long, weary journey North was one he had full recollection of.
He was forced to remain partially inactive, though he paced from
smoking to observation-car time and time again. He could not remain
still. The first great fury of the storm had passed. It had swept him
up, weak and nerveless, on the beach of retrospect; among the wreck of
past hopes; the flotsam and jetsam of what might have been.
He had time for self-analysis, for remorse, for the fierce probings of
conscience. One minute he regretted that he had run away without
confessing to the major; the next, remembering Sue's advice, he was
glad. He tried to shut out the girl's picture from his heart.
Impossible. She was the picture; all else was but frame. He knew that
he had lost her irrevocably. What must she think of him? How she must
utterly despise him!
On the second day doubt came to Garrison, and with it a ray of hope.
For the first time the possibility suggested itself that Dan Crimmins,
from the deep well of his lively imagination, might have concocted
Mrs. Garrison and offspring. Crimmins had said he had always hated
him. And he had acted like a villain. He looked like one; like a
felon, but newly jail-freed. Might he not have invented the statement
through sheer ill will? Realizing that Garrison's memory was a blank,
might he not have sought to rivet the blackmailing fetters upon him by
this new bolt?
Thus Garrison reasoned, and outlined two schemes. First, he would find
his wife if wife there were. He could not love her, for love must have
a beginning, and it feeds on the past. He had neither. But he would be
loyal to her; loyal as Crimmins said she had been loyal to him. Then
he would face whatever charges were against him, and seek restoration
from the jockey club, though it took his lifetime. And he would seek
some way of wiping out, or at least diminishing, the stain he had left
behind him in Virginia.
On the other hand, if Crimmins had lied--Garrison's jaw came out and
his eyes snapped. Then he would scrape himself morally clean, and
fight and fight for honorable recognition from the world. He would
prove that a "has-been" can come back. He would brand the negative as
a lie. And then--Sue. Perhaps--perhaps.
Those were the two roads. Which would he traverse? Whichever it was,
though his heart, his entire being, lay with the latter, he would
follow the pointing finger of honor; follow it to the end, no matter
what it might cost, or where it might lead. Love had restored to him
the appreciation of man's birthright; the birthright without which
nothing is won in this world or the next. He had gained self-respect.
At present it was but the thought. He would fight to make it reality;
fight to keep it.
And that night as the train was leaping out of the darkness toward the
lights of the great city, racing toward its haven, rushing like a
falling comet, some one blundered. The world called it a disaster; the
official statement, an accident, an open switch; the press called it
an outrage. Pessimism called it fate--stern mother of the unsavory.
Optimism called it Providence. At all events, the train jammed shut
like a closing telescope. Undiluted Hades was very prevalent for over
an hour. There were groans, screams, prayers--all the jargon of those
about to precipitately return from whence they came. It was not a
pleasant scene. Ghouls were there. But mercy, charity, and great
courage were also there. And Garrison was there.
Fate, the unsavory, had been with him. He had been thrown clear at the
first crash; thrown through his sleeping-berth window. Physically he
was not very presentable. But he fought a good fight against the
flames and the general chaos.
One of the forward cars was a caldron of flame. A baby's cry swung out
from among the roar and smart of the living hell. There was a frantic
father and a demented mother. Both had to be thrown and pounded into
submission; held by sheer weight and muscle.
There were brave men there that night, but there was no sense in