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Knott Gold (chapter5)

2006-08-28 21:30

    Chapter V. —— The Tricks of the Turf

    It was race day at Pulling'em Park, and the ponies were doing their usual performances.

    Among the throng the heaviest punter is a fat lady with diamond earrings. Does the reader recognize her? It is little Algy's mother. Her husband is dead, leaving her the whole of his colossal fortune, and, having developed a taste for gambling, she is now engaged in "doing it in on the ponies". She is one of the biggest bettors in the game.

    When women take to betting they are worse than men.

    But it is not for betting alone that she attends the meetings. She remembers the clairvoyant's "What went by the ponies will come by the ponies." And always she searches in the ranks of the talent for her lost Algy.

    Here enters another of our dramatis personae —— Blinky Bill, prosperous once more. He has got a string of ponies and punters together. The first are not much use to a man without the second; but, in spite of all temptations, Bill has always declined to number among his punters the mother of the child he stole. But the poor lady regularly punts on his ponies, and just as regularly is "sent up" ——in other words, loses her money.

    To-day she has backed Blinky's pair, Nostrils and Tin Can, for the double. Nostrils has won his race, and Tin Can, if on the job, can win the second half of the double. Is he on the job? The prices are lengthening against him, and the poor lady recognises that once more she is "in the cart".

    Just then she meets Tin Can's jockey, Dodger Smith, face to face. A piercing scream rends the atmosphere, as if a thousand school children drew a thousand slate pencils down a thousand slates simultaneously. "Me cheild! Me cheild! Me long-lost Algy!"

    It did not take long to convince Algy that he would be better off as a son to a wealthy lady than as a jockey, subject to the fiendish caprices of Blinky Bill.

    "All right, mother," he said. "Put all you can raise on Tin Can. I'm going to send Blinky up. It's time I had a cut on me own, anyway."

    The horses went to the post. Tons of money were at the last moment hurled on to Tin Can. The books, knowing he was "dead", responded gamely, and wrote his name till their wrists gave out. Blinky Bill had a half-share in all the bookies' winnings, so he chuckled grimly as he went to the rails to watch the race.

    They're off. And what is this that flashes to the front, while the howls of the bookies rise like the yelping of fiends in torment? It is Dodger Smith on Tin Can, and from the grandstand there is a shrill feminine yell of triumph as the gallant pony sails past the post.

    The bookies thought that Blinky Bill had sold them, and they discarded him for ever.

    Algy and his mother were united, and backed horses together happily ever after, and sometimes out in the back yard of their palatial mansion they hand the empty bottles, free of charge, to a poor old broken-down bottle-O, called Blinky Bill.

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