University of Virginia Library


Page 67


We left our two sworn friends on the road, rushing
forward, at a pleasant canter, for the race-course. They
were within a mile of it, when they were joined by one
who came forth suddenly from a private avenue through
the woods, which conducted to his homestead. The
parties at once recognized each other as old acquaintances.
The stranger was a good-looking person of thirty;
not exactly one whom we should call a gentleman,
but a frank, hearty, dashing, good companion, such as
one likes to encounter at muster-ground or hunting-club.
He was simply dressed in the habits of the country;
not those of the plain farmer, nor those of the professional
man. A loose, open hunting-shirt of blue homespun,
with a white fringe, was not considered a habit too
picturesque for the region, and it sat becomingly upon
the large frame, and corresponded with the easy and
not ungraceful carriage of the wearer. Tom Nettles
was a character, but not an obtrusive one; a man, and
not a caricature. He loved fun, but it came to him
naturally; was something of a practical joker, but his
merriment seldom left a wound behind it; his eyes were
always brightening, as if anticipating a good thing, and
they did not lose this expression even on serious occasions.
Tom Nettles was much more likely to go into a
fight with a grin on his visage than with any more appropriate
countenance. But let him speak for himself.

“Good morning, Miles; good morning, Hammond;
you're on the road something late, are you not?”

His salutation was answered in similar manner, and
Hammond replied to his inquiry:


Page 68

“Something late? No! We are soon enough, I

“Quite soon enough for the race,” said the other;
“but Jones Barry rode by my house two hours ago, and
stopped long enough to tell me that he was to be on the
ground early to see Miss Geraldine Foster. He said
you had both made the same promise, and he was bent to
have the start of you. He seems to think it a rule in
love matters, as in a barber-shop, first come first served,
and the first comer always the best customer.” Randall
Hammond smiled, but said nothing; while Miles Henderson,
taking out his watch, looked a little anxious as
he remarked:

“We are later than I thought for.”

“Soon enough, Miles,” said Hammond, assuringly.
Nettles continued:—

“But you should see the figure Barry has made of
himself. He's dressed, from head to foot, in scarlet, and
pretends that it's the right dress for a man that means
to run his own horse. He says it's the dress of one of
the English noblemen—I forget his name—who has
grown famous on the turf. He owns, you know, that
clever little filly of `Betsey Wheeler,' that belonged to
Burg Fisher. The dam was a good thing, and the filly
promises to be something more, if Barry don't spoil her
with his notions; and he's full of them. He means to
run the filly to-day, and has christened her the `Fair
Geraldine,' after a young lady you know, both of you,
I reckon. But, though he may get the lady, if he's not
wide awake he'll be chiselled in the race; for Ned Ramsey
is out, with his eye set for game, and he's too old a
hand at the game not to do a young, foolish fellow like
Jones Barry, with mighty little trouble.”

The friends allowed their companion to talk. He was
a person to use the privilege. They interposed a “no”
or “yes,” at intervals, and this perfectly satisfied him.
Hammond, meanwhile, was good-humored in his replies,
and quite at his ease. It was not so with Henderson.
He referred to his watch repeatedly, and more than


Page 69
once made a movement for going forwards at a pace
more rapid than that into which they had fallen after
Nettles had joined them. But his companions, on the
contrary, seemed both equally determined not to second
the movement. They hung back, and Hammond pointedly

“Don't hurry, Miles. This good little fellow, Barry,
attaches so much importance to his being first in the
field, that it would be cruel to disturb his prospects.”

Nettles smiled. He understood the speaker, and knew
equally well his character and that of his companion.

“If being in a hurry,” said he, “would win a lady,
then Barry's the boy for conquest. But there's the
mistake. It's my notion that it's the last comer that's
most likely to do the safe business, and not the first. A
young girl likes to look about her. She soon gets used
to one face and the talk of one man, and likes a change
that's something new. I wouldn't be too late; I wouldn't
stay off till the very last hour; and I'd always be near
enough to be seen and heard of now and then; nay, I'd
like to be caught sometimes looking in the direction of
the lady; but then I'd make it a rule never to be too
soon or too frequent. It's most important of all things
that a man shouldn't be too cheap. Better the girl
should say, `I wonder why he don't come,' than `I wonder
why he does.'”

Our philosopher of the piny woods might have gone
on for a much longer stretch, had he not been interrupted
by an event that gave a new direction to the
party. They had reached a bend in the road which
gave them glimpses of another which made a junction
with it, and not fifty yards off they discovered the carriage
of Mrs. Foster coming directly towards them.
They at once joined it and made their respects, Miles
Henderson taking the lead, and Hammond and Nettles
more slowly following at his heels.

The party of Mrs. Foster consisted of that lady herself,
her step-daughter, Miss Geraldine Foster, and her
niece, Sophia Blane, a girl of twelve. Mrs. Foster was


Page 70
an ill-bred, pretentious woman, who had succeeded the
mother of Geraldine in the affections of her father, at a
time when his feeble health and the impaired condition
of his intellect rendered him too anxious for a nurse to
be too scrupulous about a companion. He had raised
her from an humble condition to one which she was ill
calculated to fill; and, with the ambition to be somebody,
she determined to carry her point by audacity
rather than by art. She was a bold, forward beauty in
her youth; was a bolder woman now, still pleasing in
her face, but no longer a beauty; a woman given to
petty scandals, and satisfied with petty triumphs; envious
of the superior, malicious where opposed, and insolent
when submitted to. What was defective or censurable
in the manners of her step-daughter was clearly
referable to the evil influence of this woman, and the
doubtful training of the distant boarding-school to which
she had been confided at a very early period of her life.
That she was not wholly spoiled by these unfavorable
influences, was due wholly to the native excellence of
her mind and heart. She was a passionate, self-willed
damsel; not easily rendered submissive in conflict; capricious
in her tastes, yet tenacious of her objects;
delighting in the exercise of power, without any definite
idea of its uses or value; and by no means insensible to
those personal charms which, indeed, were beyond all
question, even of the hostile and the jealous. But, in
opposition to these evil characteristics, she was magnanimous
and generous; her heart was peculiarly susceptible
to treatment and impressions of kindness. If her tastes
were capricious, they at least were always directed to
objects which were delicate and noble; if she was passionate,
it was when roused by sense of wrong or supposed
injustice; if she was slow to submit in conflict, she
was never long satisfied with a victory, which a calmer
judgment taught her was undeservedly won, and she
knew how to restore the laurels which she had usurped,
with a grace and a sweetness that amply compensated
the injustice. Her mind was vigorous and active, and


Page 71
this led to her frequent errors; for it was a mind untrained,
and steadfast and tenacious of a cause which, it
was yet to discover, was not that of truth and justice.
She was a creature, indeed, of many contradictions; a
wild, high-souled, spiritual, but capricious creature; the
very ardor of whose temperament led her into tumultuous
sports of fancy, such as only shock beyond forgiveness
the staid and formal being to whom there is but one
God, whose name is Fashion; but one law, the record of
which is found only in what my neighbor thinks.

Randall Hammond was by no means insensible to her
faults; but he ascribed them to the proper cause. He
felt that she was a character; but a character which
could be shaped, by able hands, into that of a noble
woman and a faithful wife. He looked upon her with
eyes of such admiration as the Arabian casts upon the
splendid colt of the desert, whom he knows, once subdued
by his art, he can manage with a whisper or a
silken cord. But he strove—as earnestly as the Arab
who conceals his purposes, and scarcely suffers the animal
whom he would fetter to see the direct purpose in
his eye—to keep his secret soul-hidden from the object
of his admiration. He was not unwilling that she should
see that she had awakened in his bosom an interest, a
curiosity, at least, which brought him not unfrequently
to her presence, but he strove, with all the success of a
man who has a will sufficiently strong to subdue and
restrain his passions, to guard his eyes and his tongue
so that the depth of his emotions could not easily, or
at all, be fathomed. It is sufficient here to say that
Geraldine Foster was not insensible to his superiority.
She had very soon learned to distinguish and to discriminate
between her several suitors; but the bearing
of Hammond, though studiously respectful, in some degree
piqued her pride. If a suitor, he was not a servant.
If he spoke to her earnestly, it was the woman,
and not the angel he addressed. This reserve seemed
to betray a caution which no maiden likes to detect in
the approaches of her lover, and seemed to imply a deficiency


Page 72
of that necessary ardency and warmth which
was, in truth, the very last want which could be charged
upon this gentleman. Mrs. Foster first insinuated this
doubt into the bosom of her step-daughter, and the feeling
of the consciously underbred woman made her studious
in keeping up the suspicion. She was not satisfied
with the superior rank of Hammond's family; was
mortified at the coldness and distance of his mother,
whom she well knew to have been intimate with the first
wife of Mr. Foster; and, though the peculiarly respectful
deportment of Hammond himself left her entirely
without occasion for complaint, the very rigor of his
carriage, the studious civility of his deportment, by restraining
her freedom with his own, was a check upon
that vulgar nature which is never satisfied till it can
subdue the superior nature to its own standards. Mrs.
Foster could say nothing against Randall Hammond;
but she could not conceal her preference for all other
suitors. Miles Henderson was decidedly a favorite; but
there was a charm in the idea that Barry's fortune could
positively “buy the Hammonds out and out,” that inclined
the scale of her judgment greatly in behalf of the
latter. But we are at the course, the horses are taken
from the carriage, the three young men are in attendance,
and Barry is approaching.

“Dear me, Captain Barry,” exclaimed Mrs. Foster,
“how splendidly you are dressed!”

“Is that your uniform in the militia, Captain Barry?”
was the demand of Geraldine.

“They'd set him up for a scarecrow, if it was,” said
Nettles; “and he'd have to treat as long as the liquor
lasted, before they'd let him down.”

“O hush, Nettles; you're always with your joke at
everything and everybody. I wonder what there is in
my clothes for you to laugh at?”

“Not much, I grant you, while you're in 'em,” was
the reply. “But answer Miss Foster. She wants to
know what uniform it is you've got on.”

“Oh! it's no uniform, Miss Geraldine. This is the


Page 73
exact suit worn by the Earl of Totham, at the last Doncaster

“You don't say that the Earl of Totham sent you
his old clothes?” responded Nettles.

“No! no!” said Mrs. Foster. “I understand. Captain
Barry has adopted a dress like that which the Earl
of Totham wore at the Doncaster races. Well! I don't
see what there is to laugh at in a costume borrowed from
the best nobility of Europe.”

“But who is the Earl of Totham?” demanded Hammond.
“I know of no such title in the English peerage.”

“No? But it may be in the Scotch, or Irish,” said
Mrs. Foster, anxiously.

“No. It belongs to neither. But it makes no great
matter. We are in a free country, Captain Barry, and
can wear what garments we please, in spite of the English

“Ay, and in spite of our neighbors, too, Captain
Barry,” said Geraldine.

“Yes, indeed!” exclaimed Mrs. Foster, exultingly.
“There's many of those who decry the fine equipments
of superior fortune, who would give half their lives to
enjoy them. Now I think, however strange it appears
to our eyes, that this costume of the Earl of—what's his

Tote-Ham! I think,” said Nettles, with a smirk;
punning, with a vulgar accent, upon the first syllable.
Tote, among the uneducated classes of the South, means
“to carry.”

Toteham!” continued Mrs. Foster, innocently.
“Well, I repeat, this beautiful costume of the Earl of
Toteham appears particularly adapted to the use of gentlemen
who are fond of field sports.”

The eye of Barry brightened. He looked his gratitude.

“I agree with you, Mrs. Foster,” answered Nettles;
“the red would not suffer from an occasional roll among
the soft crimson mire of our own clay hills; and as our


Page 74
sporting gentlemen drink deep usually before they leave
the turf, the prospect is that they become deeply acquainted
with the color of the hills before they reach

“O, Mr. Nettles!” exclaimed the maternal lady.

“Nor is the advantage wholly in the color,” continued
Nettles, with great gravity. “The cut of the
coat is particularly calculated to show off the fine person
of the wearer. The absence of all skirt is favorable to
the horseman; though I confess myself at a loss to guess
what use to make of that little pigeon-tail dependence
in the rear. I can scarcely suppose it meant to be ornamental.”

All eyes followed the direction thus given them, and
one of Barry's own hands involuntarily clutched the
little puckered peak which stuck out in the most comical
fashion above his hips. Barry began to suspect that he
was laughed at, and Mrs. Foster interposed, to change
the subject.

“You mean to run your horse and ride him yourself,
Captain Barry?”

“That I do, Mrs. Foster; I have pretty nigh five
hundred on his heels, and I'll trust to no rider but myself.”

“Well, that's right; that's what I call manly,”
said Mrs. Foster.

“You have certainly a very beautiful creature, Captain
Barry,” was the remark of Geraldine, turning from
a somewhat subdued conversation with Henderson, to
which Hammond was an almost silent partner. “You
gentlemen,” continued the fair girl, “are to teach me
how I am to bet. That is, you are to give me your
opinions, which I shall follow as I choose. See, I have
a world of ribbons here, and am prepared to wear all
colors. Who has the best horses, and how many are
there to run?”

“You hear of one, certainly, Miss Foster,” said Nettles.


Page 75

“Yes! and certainly Captain Barry rides a very
beautiful creature.”

“She has the legs of an angel,” said Barry.

“Better if she had its wings, I should think,” was the
immediate remark of Geraldine.

“Very good, very excellent, Miss Geraldine; certainly,
for a race, the wings of an angel might be of
more service than its legs. But she will scarcely need
them. Her legs will answer.”

“Should she lose, Barry, you'll have to change her
name. Do you know the name of this beautiful creature?”—To
Miss Foster. She answered quietly—

“O, yes! I have heard how greatly I am honored;
and, in truth, I shall feel quite unhappy if she does not
win. I must certainly, at all hazards, bet upon my

“You may do it boldly!” said Barry, with confidence;
“I'll insure your losses.”

“Who'll insure you, Barry? Your chances will depend
upon what takes the field!” quoth Nettles.

“Do you know the mare of Lazy Jake Owens, that
they call `Crazy Kate?'”

“I do! your filly can trip her heels.”

“I know that! my `Glaucus' shall do that. He's
here, and will be ridden by little Sam Perkins. Well!
here's, besides, Vose's `Grayshaft.'”

“Pretty good at a quarter, but—”

“And Biggar's filly, `Estella.'”

“Her dam, `May Queen;' sire, `Barcombe;' a good
thing, but wanting bottom.”

“Joe Balch's `Nabob,' Zeph. Stokes's `Keener,' and
`Flourish,' a gambol-looking nag from Augusta, or there-abouts.”

“I know them all except the last. The `Fair Geraldine'
ought to give them all the wind.”

“She'll do it!”

“But these are not all the horses out, surely?”

“No! there's another animal, that Ned Ramsey
claims. I never saw her before, and don't think a great


Page 76
deal of her now; they call her `Graystreak;' she comes
from Mississippi. I bluffed Ramsey so tightly that I
almost scared him off the hill; but I brought him to the
scratch, and I have covered for him to the tune of a hundred
and more on the match between `Graystreak' and
`Geraldine;' besides something like half the amount on
Lazy Jake's mare against `Graystreak.'”

“And where's this `Graystreak?'”

The animal was only at a little distance. The proprietor,
the renowned Ned Ramsey, was busy, at the
moment, in preparing her for the course. The eyes of
the party were directed to the beautiful creature in admiration.
She shipped to the sun finely, as if clad in
velvet. Her clean limbs, wiry and slender; the spirit in
her eye, and the airy life in all her action, at once fixed
the regards of so good a judge as Nettles. Nor was
Randall Hammond indifferent to the beauty of her form,
and the promise in her limbs.

“This fool and his money have parted!” said Nettles,
in a whisper to Hammond. “Your horse is the only one
that can take the legs from this filly, and it would give
him trouble!”

The answer of Hammond was unheard, as they reapproached
the carriage where the ladies sat.

“Well, gentlemen!” said Geraldine, impatiently; “I
am eager to be busy. Come, let me have your judgment.
What horse shall I adopt as my favorite?”

“Are you not fairly committed to your namesake?”
asked Hammond, with a quiet manner; his eye, however,
looking deeply into hers. She answered the gaze
by dropping hers; replying quickly, as she did so:—

“No, indeed! the compliment to me must not be
made to lose my money or discredit my judgment. For
sure, Captain Barry himself has no such design to injure
me. But I do fancy the beauty of his horse, and if you
think her fleet, Mr. Hammond—”

She paused:—

“The `Fair Geraldine' is doubtless a very fleet, as she
is a very beautiful creature!”


Page 77

“But,” said Nettles, finding that Hammond hesitated,
“that strange mare you see yonder undressing,
is sure to beat her.”

“Sure to beat her!” exclaimed Barry, who drew nigh
in season to hear the last words. “What'll you go on
the word?”

“Horse, house, lands, ox, ass, and everything that is

“Nay, nay! to the point; look to your pocketbook!”

“Well, if you will have it, we'll say a hundred on
the match; `Graystreak' against any horse in the field,
unless Hammond runs his `Ferraunt,' and then `Ferraunt'
against the field!”

“`Ferraunt!'” said Barry; “what, the large iron
gray he rides. Why, he came on him!” looking to
Hammond inquiringly. The latter had yielded his horse
to his groom, and was now sitting on the box of the
carriage, the driver being withdrawn to look after his
horses. “Ferraunt” was already groomed, and resting
in the shade at a little distance under the charge of the
servant. The finger of Nettles pointed where he stood.
The eye of Geraldine at once followed the direction of
his finger, and while Barry and Nettles arranged their
stakes, and withdrew to look at “Ferraunt,” a short
dialogue, not without its interest, took place between
herself and Hammond.

“Is your horse so very fleet, Mr. Hammond, as Mr.
Nettles says he is?”

“He has the reputation of being a very fast horse,
Miss Foster; indeed, he is probably the fastest on the

“Well; you mean to run him, of course?”

“Why of course?”

“Oh, why not? To own a race-horse, indeed, seems
to imply racing. What is the use of him otherwise?”

“One may love to look at a beautiful animal without
seeking always to test his speed; at all events,
without seeking to game with it.”


Page 78

“To game! Is not that a harsh expression, Mr.

“Perhaps it is, since gentlemen have not often the
motive of gain when they engage in this amusement. It
is as a noble and beautiful exercise of a beautiful animal
that they practise this recreation, and not for its profits.”

“Well; and you could have no eye to the gains,
Mr. Hammond?”

“No. But how small is the proportion of gentlemen,
governed by such principles, to those who usually collect
at a scene and on an occasion like this! What a
greedy appetite for gain does it provoke among thousands
who have no other object, and find no pleasure in the
exquisite picture of the scene—in the glorious conflict
of rival blood and temperament—in the wild grace of
the motion of the steeds—in all that elevates it momentarily
into something of the dignity of a field of battle;
who think only of the wretched results which are to
fill or empty their pockets. And of these, very few
can afford to win or lose. If they win, they acquire
certain appetites from success, which usually end in
their ruin; and if they lose—though more fortunate in
doing so, as they are probably made disgusted with the
pursuit—they yet rob their families of absolute necessaries,
in this miserable search after a diseased luxury
for themselves.”

“I confess I am no philosopher, Mr. Hammond. I
don't see things in the same light with yourself, and
can scarcely believe in such dreadful consequences from
a spectacle that is really so fine and beautiful.”

“Oh,” said Mrs. Foster, interposing, sneeringly; “oh,
Mr. Hammond, you get all those queer notions from
your mother.”

“You will permit me to respect the woman of my
opinions, Mrs. Foster?” with a respectful but measured

“Oh, surely. She's an excellent woman, and I respect
her very much; but her notions on this subject


Page 79
are very peculiar, I think; though, in her case, natural

This was said with a degree of significance which did
not suffer Hammond to misunderstand the speaker. His
face was instantly and deeply suffused with crimson, as
he felt the allusion to the fate of his father. His head
was, for the moment, averted from the speaker. In
that moment, the malicious woman whispered to her step-daughter,
“At him again. I know where the shoe

A slight expression of scorn might have been seen to
curl the lips of Geraldine. A pause ensued, which was
at length broken by Hammond, who drew her attention
to a showy procession of the pied horses, the calico
steeds of the circus company. Some comment followed
on the performances of the troupe, when the young lady,
in the most insinuating manner, resumed, with Hammond,
the subject of his own horse.

“But, Mr. Hammond, though you inveigh against
racing as a practice, you can have no objection to running
your horse, upon occasions, once in a way, as much
for the satisfaction of your friends as with any other
object. Now, I am quite pleased with your dark-looking
steed. What do you call him?”


“Ah! his name indicates his color. He seems to me
a military horse.”

“I got him chiefly as a charger.”

“Oh, yes; I forgot; you are a colonel of militia.
But, for a charger, you need an animal at once high-spirited
and gentle.”

“He is both. That, indeed, Miss Foster, is the character
of all high-blooded animals. The rule holds good
among men. The most gentle are generally the most
high-spirited—at once the most patient and the most
enthusiastic. The race-horse, next to the mule, makes
the best plough-horse.”

“But that is surely a contradiction; the mule being
the most dogged, stubborn, slow—”


Page 80

“He need not be slow. He is only slow when broken
and trained by a drowsy negro. But, though it seems
a contradiction, as you say, to employ animals so utterly
unlike for the same purposes, and to find them nearly
equally good, it is one that we may, and perhaps must
reconcile, on the principle that finds a sympathy in extremes.”

“Mr. Hammond, it seems to me that all this is perversely
intended to divert me from my object.” A
playful smile and arch manner accompanied this remark
of the young lady. “But I am as perversely resolved
that you shall not escape. Now, then, let me hear from
you. Do you not intend that `Ferraunt' shall run to-day?”

“I really do not, Miss Foster. I came out with no
such purpose.”

“I'm ready for you, colonel,” was the remark of
Jones Barry, who had just that moment reappeared
with Nettles. “I'm not afraid of your `Ferraunt,'
though Nettles tells me he's good against all this crowd.
I'm willing to try him. I don't believe in your foreign
horses, when they come to this country; the climate
don't seem to suit 'em. They're always sure to be beat
by the natives; and, after the first talk on their arrival,
you never hear anything said in their favor, and you
never see anything they do. Now, your `Ferraunt'
comes of good stock, but he's awkward—”

“Awkward!” said Nettles; “ah! Barry, if you could
only dance as well.”

“Well, I'm willing to see him dance; and, if Col.
Hammond chooses, I'll go a cool hundred on the `Fair
Geraldine' against him. There's a banter for you.”

“I won't run my horse, Mr. Barry.”

“What, bluffed off so soon?” said Barry, coarsely.

“Call it what you will, Mr. Barry; I don't run

“But, Mr. Hammond, if you are content to underlie
his challenge, you surely will not be so uncourteous
as to refuse mine. The `Fair Geraldine' against `Ferraunt,'


Page 81
for a pair of gloves. I must maintain the reputation
of my namesake.”

“The `Fair Geraldine' must excuse me, if my courtesy
will not suffer me to accept her challenge.”

“What! you pretend that your horse must beat?”

“I know it, Miss Foster.”

“And what if I say that I don't believe a word of
it? that I equally know that the `Fair Geraldine' is the
fastest horse? and I defy you to the trial? There, sir,
my glove against yours.”

This was all sweetly, if not saucily said. The eyes
of Hammond were fixed gratefully upon the speaker;
but he shook his head.

“You must forgive me, if I decline the trial in the
case of my horse. But, if you will permit me, I cheerfully
peril my glove against your favorite in behalf of
`Graystreak,' yonder.”

“No, no, sir; your horse, your `Ferraunt.'”

“You can't refuse, colonel,” said Barry.

“No, Randall!” said Henderson.

“Impossible!” cried Nettles; who was anxious to see
`Ferraunt' take the field.”

“A lady's challenge!” cried Mrs. Foster; “chivalry
forbids that you refuse.”

“I am compelled to do so, Miss Foster. It would
give me pleasure to comply with your wishes, but I never
run my horse, or any horse; I never engage as a principal
in racing of any kind.”

Nettles and Henderson both drew Hammond aside to
argue the matter with him. They were followed by
Barry, who was in turn followed by the jockey, Ramsey.
Nettles had his arguments, which were urged in vain;
and, when Henderson dwelt on the claims of the lady,
Hammond replied, somewhat reproachfully:

You know, Miles, that I shouldn't run a horse, were
all the fair women in the world to plead.”

“Well,” said Barry, “what a man won't do for
pleading, he may do for bantering. I'm here for that,


Page 82
colonel, and I'll double upon the hundred against your
foreign horse.”

“I must decline, Mr. Barry; I'm no racer, and will
not run my horse; but, let me assure you, sir, that your
mare, though a very clever thing, could not hold her
ground for a moment against him.”

“Easy bragging,” said Ramsey, with a chuckle,
“when there's no betting.”

“And as easy to lay a horsewhip over a ruffian's
shoulder, sir, when he presumes where he has no business.”

Ramsey disappeared in an instant; a roll of the drum
followed, giving notice of the approaching struggle;
and the desire to see “Ferraunt” on the ground, gave
place, among the few, to the more immediate interest
which belonged to the known competitors. Barry instantly
hurried off to his groom and stable; Nettles
sauntered away to the starting-post, while Henderson
and Hammond returned to the carriage. The latter
felt that the manner of Geraldine was changed. Her
eye met his, but there was a coldness in the glance,
which his instinct readily perceived; but, true to his
policy, he suffered it to pass unnoticed; was respectful
without being anxious, and attentive without showing
too much solicitude.

You,” said Geraldine to Henderson, “you, too, I
am told, ride a fine and fleet horse; do you not intend to
run him?”

“If Miss Foster desires it.”

“Of course I desire it! What do you call your


“Sorella! a pretty name. Well, how does she run?
Is she fleeter than my namesake?”

“What say you, Randall?”

“Oh, don't ask him! He will say nothing that'll please
anybody. What's your opinion?”

“That `Sorella' is too much for the `Fair Geraldine!'”

“I'll not believe it; and I transfer to you the challenge


Page 83
that your friend scorned, or feared to take up.
Which was it, Col. Hammond?”

“Let us suppose feared, Miss Foster!” replied Hammond,
gently, and with a pleasant smile.

“I don't know what to make of you, Col. Hammond.
I wish I could make something of you. But I despair;
I'll try no longer!”

“That you should have even tried, Miss Foster, is a
satisfaction to my vanity.”

“Oh, don't indulge it. It was not to give you any
pleasure, I assure you, that I thought to try at all; only
to please my fancy, and—”

“Still, I am gratified that I should, in any way, have
contributed to this object.”

“Nay! you are presuming; you torture everything I
say into a compliment to yourself. But, hear me! if you
won't run your horse yourself, let me run him. I'll
ride him. I'm not afraid. I'm ambitious now of taking
the purse from the whole field, and snapping my fingers
at their Crazy Kates and Graystreaks, and even their
Geraldines. Geraldine against Geraldine. How will
Mr. Barry like it, I wonder; and that, too, at the cost
of his hundreds. Cool hundreds, I think, he calls them;
cool, I suppose, from being separated from their companions.
Well! will you let me ride your `Ferraunt?'”

“If you will suffer me to place him at your service
when at home, Miss Foster!”

“No, no! I want a race-horse, not a saddle-horse; I
want him here, not at home. Don't suppose I'm afraid
to run him. I'm as good a rider, I know, as almost
any on the ground, and—But say! shall I have him?”

“I dare not, Miss Foster; for your own sake, I dare
not. But I feel that you are jesting only—”

“No, indeed! I'm as serious as I ever was. I don't
know what you mean when you say you dare not, unless,
indeed, you think—”

“Oh! don't ask Col. Hammond any favors, my child,
he's so full of notions!” the step-mother again interposed,
maliciously. Geraldine threw herself back in the carriage


Page 84
with an air of pique, and Henderson looked at
his friend commiseratingly, as if to say: “You've done
for yourself, forever!” The other seemed unmoved,
however, and preserved the utmost equanimity. There
was another roll of the drum; at this signal, Henderson
held up a blue ribbon to Miss Foster, who drew from her
reticule a crimson cockade with which the ingenious Mr.
Jones Barry had provided her. This she fastened to her
shoulder, acknowledging her sympathy with the colors
of her namesake. Henderson, in another moment, disappeared,
glad to have an excuse, in the commands of the
lady, for showing off to advantage his equally fine horse
and person.