University of Virginia Library


Page 97


The horses entered were but four in number. These
were, our Mississippian, “Graystreak,” “Crazy Kate,”
the “Fair Geraldine,” and “Sorella.” The former was
now decidedly the favorite of the field, and odds were
given in her behalf. Numerous bets were offered and
taken, and the excitement on the turf was great, and
momently increasing. The “Fair Geraldine” had her
backers, and so had “Crazy Kate” and “Sorella.” But
the latter was little known among the regular jockeys,
and, though a symmetrical and well-shaped animal, there
were none of those salient characteristics in her appearance
which are apt to take the spectator. It was seen
that she was fleet; and that she was rather bony, seemed
to promise something for her hardihood. Ned Ramsey
noticed her with some anxiety; and the watchful Lazy
Jake Owens observed that he had a whisper en passant
for the gentlemanly stranger who had so freely taken the
offers of Jones Barry. But neither Ramsey nor the
stranger declined any banters against “Graystreak;”
their confidence in that favorite creature being in no
respect impaired by the presence of the new competitor.
Of course, we do not pretend to follow and describe the
varieties of feeling and interest shown by the spectators.
How they perilled their money, in what amount, and
upon what horses, noways concerns our narrative. We
may mention, however, that Miles Henderson had a
couple of hundred and a few odd fives invested in the
credit of his mare; while our friend Tom Nettles was
pretty safe in taking the field against the “Fair Geraldine”


Page 98
and “Crazy Kate,” to the tune of two or three
hundred more.

The examination of the horses showed them off to
great advantage. “Graystreak” looked sleek, quiet,
and confident, as before. “Sorella” was a meek animal
also, with just such a twinkle of the eye as shows that
there is no lack of spirit, with all the meekness. But
the “Fair Geraldine” stripped to the survey with all the
consciousness of a proud and petted beauty. She was
restive and bright; a little too anxious and impatient,
and carried her head with a toss which was not unworthy
of her lovelier namesake. Her appearance compelled
the admiration of all; and many were tempted to bet
upon her beauty, who did not consider her heels. Her
rider now was Jones Barry himself. He was really
not satisfied that Sam Perkins had not done justice to
“Glaucus;” but, whether satisfied or not, nothing could
possibly have prevented him from doing as the Earl of
Toteham had been said to do at Doncaster.

“Your favorite is ready for the race, Miss Foster!
you see Mr. Barry takes the field in person;” and Hammond
pointed to the gaudy figure of that worthy, as the
impatient “Geraldine” wheeled and capered beneath

“The white is `Graystreak,' and the blue—”

“Crazy Kate!”

“But where is Mr. Henderson's rider?”

“He mounts now—that strange-looking urchin with
a yellow-spotted bandanna, wound, gypsy fashion, around
his head, without a jacket, with his shirt-sleeves bared
to the elbow, and his suspenders wrapped around his

“What a strange-looking creature! Who is he?”

“One Logan Whitesides; a knowing lad among
horses, who is particularly well acquainted with `Sorella.'
He was her only rider when she was under training,
and his whisper will do more with her than any
other person's whip.”

“Was it that he might get this boy that you counselled


Page 99
Mr. Henderson not to ride himself?” asked
Geraldine, with some interest.

“Yes! I knew that `Sorella' would need every advantage
in a contest with the Mississippi filly, and that Miles
was quite too heavy to run her successfully himself.”

Unconsciously, the girl looked pleased. Hammond
saw the expression, and mused upon it; particularly as
a querulous exclamation, at that moment, dropped from
the hostile step-mother. But the proceedings of the
course drew all eyes thither. All were saddled, the word
was given, and away they went, like so many ambitious
heroes, into battle.

The start was a successful one. The four horses
seemed to jump off together, running side by side for
a while, as if delighting in the line and order of a platoon
charge. But soon the “Fair Geraldine” led off, taking
the track for a quarter of a mile; “Crazy Kate” laying
herself close behind, and “Graystreak” and “Sorella”
seeming to find their amusement in driving the two before
them. Before the mile was two-thirds traversed, however,
“Crazy Kate” showed symptoms of lagging, and
“Sorella” dropped her with a bound, making even play
between the “Mississippian” and the “Fair Geraldine.”
The latter continued well on, not needing any urgency
of her rider, until the clattering heels of “Sorella”
and “Graystreak,” just at her haunches, impelled her
to an effort. She bridled up at this forwardness, and a
slight smack of the whip shocked her into a still more
indignant determination to leave all vulgar companionship
behind. She went off with a rocket-like impulse,
but without obtaining her object. It was now evident
that the “Mississippian” was resolved to cut
her off from her triumph, and her rider was seen to
apply the thong smartly to her sides. She passed, accordingly,
between “Sorella” and the object of her ambition,
and the next moment found her, lock and lock, in
affectionate embrace with the high-spirited and aristocratic
beauty. Vainly did the latter try to shake her off.
All her efforts only served to keep the two in this position,


Page 100
when, to the surprise of both, a shrill whistle from the
rider of “Sorella” brought that mysterious creature with
a rush between them, and flinging the dust in both their
faces, she passed under the string, leaving her tail hidden
between the lifted heads of the two emulous competitors.
“Crazy Kate” darted into the allotted limits quite in
season to save her distance, having reserved her powers
for another brush.

The race was a beautiful one. The several merits of
the first three horses were now fully displayed, though
the extent of their powers of endurance could only be
conjectured. They had evidently been ridden with a
due regard to their qualities; and the competition was
such as to maintain the excitement of the multitude, and
to keep them in suspense till the very last moment. A
shawl might have lapped them at several points in the
race; and an ell of ribbon might have circled them as
they darted beneath the string. It was clear that judgments
were to be revised. “Sorella” had been undervalued.
“Crazy Kate” looked better than ever, and
her rider was known to be a first-rate jockey; and “Graystreak”
was under the teaching of the very Machiavel of
the Georgia turf. The “Fair Geraldine” had behaved too
handsomely to have lost any of her supporters; and,
whether “Graystreak” had yielded the heat through
policy, or actually lost it in spite of all his efforts, was a
very doubtful question, even among the knowing ones.
There was a whisper that she seemed to complain in one
of her pins; but Tom Nettles, who examined her closely,
made no such discovery. Ned Ramsey showed anxiety,
however, and this was seen by “Lazy Jake Owens,” as
well as Nettles. His personal care of his horse was exemplary,
and his efforts to enable her to recover and cool
off, without effort, were so many studies for the youthful
jockeys who were crowding about and emulous of his renown.
Jones Barry was by no means dissatisfied with
the doings of his mare. She did not seem uneasy or
distressed; cooled off naturally and soon, and was ready
for the second trial in the shortest possible space. But,


Page 101
to have seen the affectionate care of “Sorella,” which
was taken by her gypsy rider—how, in addition to the
usual strippings and rubbings, he wound his arms about
her neck, kissed her as if she had been a sweetheart, and
whispered all sorts of pleasant nonsense in her ears; and
how the filly turned to him with a knowing gesture; and
how, when he stooped to rub her legs, her nose rested upon
his shoulders with a sort of human interest, which drew
crowds about the two in unaffected admiration! It realized,
in some degree, the stories that we hear of the
Arabian and his favorite steed. Logan Whitesides had
first had his ambition lifted by his employment in the
training of “Sorella.” She was a first-love to him, and
it would have come nigh to break his heart had he not
achieved the victory.

“And so `Sorella' has really won the victory?” said
Geraldine to Hammond, as he returned to the carriage
after a brief interview with Miles Henderson.

“The heat only—a third of the victory, Miss Foster.
They are now preparing for the second trial.”

“You are a witch in horses, Mr. Hammond. But
pray what did you say in that short whisper which I saw
you give to Mr. Henderson and his gypsy boy?”

Hammond laughed as he replied:—

“I simply instructed him that his policy was to lose
the next heat.”

“I don't understand you—lose!”

“That is, not attempt to win, but suffer it to be taken
by the `Mississippian.'”

“And why, pray?”

“That her strength in the third heat should not be
perilled by an undue effort in the second; when, as most
of the other horses will put forth their best ability, she
might probably peril herself for nothing.”

“I see, I see! But why lose to the `Mississippian?'
You say nothing of my namesake!”

“Your namesake has done her best already.”

“You don't flatter, Mr. Hammond,” said the step-mother;


Page 102
“I do believe you have a spite against that animal.”

“O no, Mrs. Foster! I'm sure you believe no such
thing. She is a sweet and beautiful creature, who will
do all that is in her power. It is her misfortune that
her powers are overtasked. Mr. Barry expects too much
from her. He does not overrate her fleetness, but he
overrates her endurance; and he will distress, and probably
injure her, before the race is over. So far from a
spite against her, I sympathize with her, and if I could,
would gladly save her from the hard work which is before

“Well, I'll never believe but you have a spite against
her. You believe in any horse on the ground but her.
I'd like to see you run your own; but I suppose it would
require something more than a woman's entreaties to
persuade you to that.”

There was something in the tone with which these
words were spoken, not less than the words themselves,
which grated offensively on the ears of the person addressed;
but he remained silent, and in a few moments
the preparations for the second heat enabled him to
divert the conversation to another channel. At the signal
given by the drum, Geraldine again stood upon the
seat of the carriage, an eager spectator of the issue. The
word was given, and the start was again beautiful; the
four steeds seeming to lap each other, whirling away for
a while, in a sort of linked movement, which showed
them all as if locked together in mutual relationship.
“Crazy Kate” and “Geraldine” were soon again in the
lead, as if by mutual consent between “Sorella” and
“Graystreak;” swinging forward by the groups of spectators,
the wagons and the tables, east and west, as if
waltzing with wings at both feet and shoulders. Merrily
did they glide away, leaving a space of thirty feet or
more between their competitors, who appeared perfectly
content to jog on together at a pace which inconvenienced
neither, yet enabled them to keep always within speaking
distance of the lively things in front. Thus trailing for


Page 103
the first mile and better, they suffered the game to be
played by other bands, only piping moderately to the music.
But soon the “Mississippian” began to grow restive
under restraint, and to put forth a much more ambitious
leg than he had hitherto shown. He lifted away from
“Sorella,” and was soon upon the heels of the two ahead.
A few bounds enabled him to separate the links between
them, and to throw himself towards the back stretch of
the second mile, between “Crazy Kate” and her fair
competitor. “Sorella” made a similar push forward,
and soon overcame the space which kept her from the
embrace of “Crazy Kate;” but whether it was that the
latter was less tempting than the beauty with the beautiful
name, she did not prolong the tête-a-tête with her,
but hurried forward to a more select meeting with the
“Fair Geraldine;” perhaps it was a feeling of sympathy,
which, at this moment, prompted the latter to forego her
exertions, and loiter for the coming up of one who sought
her so closely. Meanwhile, the ambitious maid of Mississippi
darted ahead of all opponents, and, with so few
tokens of civility, as to provoke the emulous efforts of
the two nearest riders. Jones Barry was seen to apply
the whip with unkind severity of hand, to the tender
flanks of his favorite; while the gypsy boy who rode
“Sorella” appeared to urge her forward with the utmost
seeming anxiety, but without the use of any weapon. It
was now perceived that the “Fair Geraldine,” as if under
a feeling of degradation, no longer lifted a hopeful and
exulting head, nor tossed pridefully her luxuriant mane.
That she began to droop was evident to the spectators,
while the repeated strokes of the lash, from her rider,
betrayed his own consciousness of a fact which he was
quite unwilling to believe. These exertions still gave
her headway for awhile, but it was at the expense of her
heels. She gradually relaxed after these efforts, and
soon had the mortification to find “Sorella” quietly working
ahead, as they both stretched through the first quarter
of the third mile. Hammond saw with satisfaction,
that, while the boy who rode “Sorella” appeared to


Page 104
labor anxiously, he used no whip, or only appeared to do
so, while the beast lifted her legs freely, and set them
down as if on velvet. The crowd, who knew nothing of
his game, now looked upon it that she shared the exhaustion
of “Geraldine,” and were quite deceived by the
arts of her rider. Even Ramsey himself counted upon
him as a horse “done brown;” and whispered to Lazy
Jake Owens that the race was won. But Lazy Jake was
no slouch at an opinion either, in the matter of horseflesh;
and he answered, in the common proverb of warring
in the South: “Don't whoop before you're out of
the wood.” But this heat was decided. The “Mississippian”
had shown the cleanest heels, taking the track from
all. It was observed that “Sorella,” after once or twice
yielding the lead to the “Fair Geraldine,” now changed
the figure entirely, and hastened forward so as to throw
herself within a few decent bounds of “Graystreak,” as
the latter passed in under the string, the final victor of
the heat. The native spirit of “Geraldine” did not suffer
her to fall behind very far, though it was evident to all
good judges that the game with her was up for the day;
while “Crazy Kate” enjoyed to herself the Irishman's
fun of driving all the rogues before her. Of the three
winning horses, “Sorella” was the only one who had been
economized, and the excellence of her jockey enabled
her to keep this important fact a secret. A couple of
lengths between her and “Graystreak, and twice the
number between her and “Geraldine,” left the minds of
the multitude still in that condition of doubt in regard
to the future which makes equally the interest of race
and story. The betting parties were still hopeful; for,
even where their favorites had not won, they came so
near it, with the exception of “Crazy Kate,” as to leave
nothing certain in the chapter of coming events.

Well rubbed and groomed, three horses showed themselves
for the third time upon the track. “Crazy Kate”
has withdrawn in dudgeon, in consequence of the manifest
neglect with which her companions have treated her
performances. Her backers have sullenly yielded up


Page 105
their tin to the numerous friends of the “Mississippian;”
while Ramsey, and the unknown gentleman, have been
reminding numerous persons of certain fives, tens, twenties,
and hundreds—including our friend Jones Barry—
which they unwisely perilled on the heels of a feminine
creature avowedly non compos. This pleasant little
episode greatly relieved the otherwise tedious interval
between the second and the last heat. The “Fair Geraldine”
seemed to have recovered her former spirits, as she
came once more upon the turf; and, with the word “Go,”
she led off, “solitary and alone,” as she had been
ambitious to do on all previous occasions. But, after
the first half mile, both the “Mississippian” and “Sorella”
seemed disposed to make play, and to show that both
had heels of wing and steam when the exigency was
at hand. It was clear, however, that the two latter
waited for each other. They knew the real adversary,
and knew exactly when to terminate that deference for
the beauty who now led them which, it was evident, they
had yielded rather through policy than admiration. As
the first mile was overcome, they gradually swallowed
space, taking the wind completely out of the sails of
“Geraldine,” passing on each side of her, and closing
up, as if anxious for the track. Barry at once put on
steam with a heavy hand, but no application to the
flanks, in the case of one so tender, could possibly furnish
the legs with the proper facility for flight. The
beauty wanted age for endurance. “Send me no more
boys,” said Napoleon to the government at home: “they
only fill the hospitals.” The tender years of “Geraldine,”
her delicate training, were adverse to her soldiership.
Famous at a charge, she could not stand the
campaign. The two veterans, better fortified by muscle
and training, of better bottom and not less speed, soon
forged ahead, and left her painfully to struggle up the
hill alone. “Graystreak” was evidently girdling up
her loins for the last great effort. She felt the necessity
of putting all her soul into her heels, as she felt that she
had a sterling customer beside her, one who took a deep


Page 106
shot, and loved long reckonings. There were bone, and
muscle, and speed, to be overcome, and she had a pride
and reputation at stake, to say nothing of the hundreds
which our friend Jones Barry no doubt found cool enough
by this time. There was evident mischief in the “Mississippian.”
Her rider glared round, in his white uniform,
at the queer little gypsy rogue who kept tenaciously
with him, neck and neck, as if measuring their mutual
strength for the last great struggle. It was neck or
nothing with them both. Both were resolute to do, or
die. The gypsy rogue seemed to crouch, at moments,
in his saddle, as if to take the leap of a cougar on the
fox, and his heels would sink slightly into the sides of
his creature, as if embracing her with a love which found
all its pleasures in hers. Side and side they rode, until,
in the eyes of the distant spectators, they seemed to
resolve themselves into a single man and horse. The
struggle was desperately close. It was your purse or
mine, as they darted eagerly towards the last quarter
stretch, leaving the wind behind them, and seeming to
whiz along through air, as a bullet from the cannon.
“The bravest held his breath for a time.” The multitude
pressed forward along the track. Mouths were
open wide with expectation; eyes dilating beyond their
orbs, with delight and anxiety.

“How beautiful!” exclaimed Geraldine Foster, as she
grasped the arm of Hammond.

“Beautiful!” said Hammond, naturally enough, as
he gazed into her eyes. We dare not look with him while
the struggle is thus at its height. The jockey on “Graystreak”
now made tremendous efforts; his eye fixed on
the stubborn little gypsy, as if to note the opening for
an advantage. Neck and neck they still clung together,
and but a few more bounds were necessary to the final
achievement. “Whitejacket” gathered himself up for the
last issue, and, rising in his stirrups, with the whip keenly
and rapidly administered, he raised the head of
“Graystreak” for the final bound beneath the line.
But “Nojacket,” our little gypsy, knew his moment also.


Page 107
He gave no whip; he rose not in the saddle; but crouching,
rather, and clinging upon her neck, he whispered a
word, a single word, in the ear of “Sorella,” and the
noble Arabian went out of the lock in a way to make
an arrow wonder. By a single head, she passed ahead
of her resolute competitor; and, as her triumph was beheld,
the big, swollen heart of the multitude relieved
itself by a shout that shook the field. Then our gypsy-jockey
dropped from his creature, and seized her about
the neck, kissing her once more as passionately as the
lover, for the first time successful. He felt the triumph
as much more precious than he did the “cool hundred,”
one of the several that had been transferred on this occasion
from the pockets of the wealthy Jones Barry to
those of other people, with which Miles Henderson
rewarded him for his riding. Then might the multitude
be seen following the horses—horse and rider—with exultation
and admiration. Our gypsy was, next to his
horse, the wonder of the field. The boys scampered
after him as their hero, while the negroes, everywhere
exclaiming as he came, pointed him out to their grinning
companions, as “Dat little Login Whitesides; da's a
debble hese'f, for ride!” Glory is a thing of various
complexions; and our little friend Logan was quite as
well satisfied, no doubt, with the negro form of compliment,
as with that which issued in rounded periods from
more polished lips. Let us now look to other parties.