|Newspaper Title||The Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918)|
|Trove Title||The Devil's Own. An Australian Story|
“And perhaps the green jacket, at odds tho’ they back it, May fall—for there’s no knowing what may turn up.
The mare is quite ready ; sit still and ride steady— Keep cool, and I think you may just win the Cup." “I say Nosey give us the tip old fellow,” said a yawney looking young man attired in the orthodox racing dress slung field glass included, to Jim Renton a thick-set,red-faced, bloated looking individual, nicknamed “Nosey” from the extraordinary gigantic dimensions of his very rubicund nasal pro- montory, “Damn the thing; don’t ask me, Colton,” he said, angrily, and would have used stronger language, but had been pulled up so often of late, even by his friends, for using too strong vernacular, that he reined in his tongue for the nonce, instead of letting fly the jargon of his stable acquaintances and boon companions. Nosey was not a very canny member of society, nor popular, his social character not bearing investigation; but he was fortunate in being the appendage of a very respectable and Christian family, of whom he fancied he could hang on in his exit to another world, though in this sphere of action he, I cannot say, might break all the commandments, or they having been given in simple and primitive days, did not include betting, gambling, swearing, drinking, wife- beating, and other accomplishments of the present march of civilisation or progress of vice. But Renton was fortunate in being able to indulge in many of those objectionables, and escape scot free in society, having, as I sad, happy mediators in his worthy relatives. “Curse it,” he added savagely, “the devil is in the brute if he don’t win. I stand to lose heavily. Baron’s the horse; I’ll stick to him, but don't take my advice, Colton, my luck is out. If Duchess has gone up in the betting, as you say. I’m off to the stables to see fair play ; honor among thieves, eh?” and with a few more muttered oaths, he swag- gered off, swishing his cane right and left in rage, as an angry lion swishes his tail; and his friend hurries away to his hotel, where a group of men are arguing excitedly about the great event of the season, for the Goldsborough races are on, and everything to make them a success, gloriuos sunshine of an early summer. In the last fortnight crowds have collected to look at the exhibithion of dainty race costumes which temptingly brighten the plate glass window of the different em- poriums, in and out of which pretty women and ugly women swarm like bees about a hive, intent upon business. Carriages and cabs get almost into a London block in the narrower streets where the traffic has doubled. Ships of many kinds have anchored in the harbor, and naval unifoms flit here and there in the busy crowd, adding to the brightness of the lively scene. All the world and his wife are entertaining or being entrtained, from Governors downwards, for many miles round this flourishing city. Mrs. Anneylaye, like many others, is doing justice to the occasion by filling her house. The Fortescues, with their boys and girl, are down for a month after great persuasion. Norman Is looking ill and very down in the mouth, for cattle prices have dropped to shil- lings almost, and have alarmed many station- holders—Norman amongst others—though he tries to forget his anxieties in the bright society of Goldsborough, where, as an old club man, he Is heartily welcomed. Mrs. Anneylaye, with an immense amount of coaxing, has reluctantly consented to go to the races with Mrs. Fortescue in the Jones's drag. The widow objects to races on prin- ciple ; nevertheless, she intends to enjoy her- self thoroughy. She would have preferred going with Mr. Fortescue, who is to drive his own buggy and team, but she does not like to desert her cousin; so Fortescue drives Sir Hubert Armytage, who has given up the idea of driving himself. " What an exquisite dress! Who is she? Look at the flowers; I fancy I could pick them, they are so natural,” said Mrs. Anney- laye in raptures, as a woman with a rich train of pale pink satin embroidery, with bouquets of roses, parasol, bonnet, shoes, and gloves en suite, sweeps down the lawn past the carriages. “She’s nobody—only Johnson, the book- maker’s wife,” said Hugh Ferrers. “ I did hear what the dress cost—something fabu- lous ; but she’s in a tantrum to-day, champ- ing the lips with rage because she is cut out. Drewt, the publican's wife having come out in a more expensive costume." Vera was silent. She had fancied it must at least have been some titled aristocrat or a Governor’s wife from a neighboring colony. Her world had been so small both before and since her marriage, that she had been in happy ignorance of the world’s ways. “ I thought at least she was a marchioness, said Mrs. Anneylaye, comically. “No; only the likes of she would dress in such bad form,” said Ferrcrs, very much amused. “Come up here, Mrs. Cholmondley, said a pleasant looking man whose face was beaming with fun and good nature, the Honorable Jimmy Gordon, pet of the Upper House, and the most popular man in Goldsborough. “Come up here; there’s lots of room, he added, with a merry twinkle in his blue eyes, as he squashed himself into the farthest corner of the box seat as if in fear of an- nihilaion. “ Oh; I couldn’t manage it—I really could’t. I should smash your dandy ladder to begin with, and then great would be my fall therefrom. I will get inside,” said the lady. " You cannot, it is full of cases. You would see nothing of the next race, which we sit out here generally ; allow me." Joining in the laughter against herself Mrs. Cholmondeley made the terrific ascent, as she termed it, and was soon seated next to Jimmy Gordon, the most charming companion she could have chosen. “This is delicious,” she said. “What a view! and such fresh pure air. But how shall I get down again? Pray don't crush yourself into nothing, Mr. Gordon; please don’t. I’ll promise not to sit upon you—I won't really. Thank you,” as he offers his field-glass. What a splendid glass! — I can see with it for miles. What a crowd ! I see some acrobats, poor things. How they can turn themselves inside out in the way they do I cannot imagine. I see two policemen tak- ing away some poor, fellow.—How dreadful I Ah, there you are, dear. Is it not charming up here? I have not been on a drag for an age. Thought I was too old and past the age of open-air enjoyments.’’ “ No one gets old here, Mrs. Cholmonde- ley,” says Fritz Pearson. “Look at Gordon there, he fifty if-he’s a day, though he persists in passing himself off for sweet thirty-five; you should see him dance the Highland fling." “ Don’t be rude, sir,” said Gordon, laugh- ing; “it is lamentable, Mrs. Cholmondeley to think of the degeneration of the rising gene- ration. The young fellows of the present
day have no respect for their superiors; there’s such a want of veneration, a want of —of ——” “Here, Jimmy, we’ll adjourn the debate. This is for Mrs. Cholmondeley," said some one, handing up a plate of mayonnaise; “here's a cushion for a table, Jimmy—more comfortable. I have to get up a sweepstake —not much time—tear out the names, that’s a good fellow," to some one near, “thirteen in all —now then—half a sovereign from you, Jones to begin with—it’s for this race." “Here you are, I’ll take two chances,” said Mr. Jones, handing up a sovereign. "Would you like a horse Mrs. Brooke, half a sov., only—by-the-bye. I see Baron and Madcap are scratched—eleven only now." “Half a sovereign! why my dear fellow, I haven’t seen the sight of gold for many a long day. Don’t you know I am one of the broken-down squatter's wives?" said good natured Mrs. Brookes. “Here you are, Dick," said Mr. Brookes, “in for a penny in for a pound; that’s for both of us, eight half-crowns—gold as my wife says is much too luxurious for the likes of me, with cattle at shillings a head instead of pounds.” “I’ll put in,” says Mrs. Turner ? “though I never won a sweepstake in my life. It is only very rich people that win them. Now, I wouldn’t mind betting a pair of gloves—only one pair mind, for I always pay my bets, and men’s gloves are so expensive—that Mrs. Ebenezer Jones wins this sweep—just be- cause she doesn’t want it.” “Done,” said Gordon, “I'll make a note of it, like Captain Cuttle." “Who is going to win the Cup, Barton? Is it true that Marathon is scratched and Lola is dead lame?" “Yes, and I have laid heavily on Lola,” said Morgan, “Is she? Worse luck for me.” “ I advise you to hedge at once, old fellow; for the brute has barely three legs to stand upon, much less to run. Thank goodness, I got off—no easy matter —all the betting is on Duchess.” “I am in for it, too,’’ says Norman Fortes- cue, as he hurries off to the ring, but finds it impossible to do anything; there is such a clamor of voices and buzz about the next race just coming off. He finds it no use to try to get anything, so he returns to his party very crestfallen, and sits down by the drag on a wine case to think or repent his foolishness. “ I ought to have taken Connie’s advice and not betted. I ought to have known I couldn’t afford to risk money. However, it is no use to cry over spilt milk, though I might do something to save myself yet—yes—I’ll try.” “Fortescue, old fellow, what’s up—down on your luck, eh? Have some champagne—never say die,” said Mr. Jones, ordering one of his grooms to bring the champagne. “Thank you, Jones, I’m off to try and re- trieve lost fortunes," said Norman, “luck is against me to-day." “Sit still where you are, sir,” mumbled a gloomy looking individual, passing behind and touching his hat cautiously to Norman, as if ashamed of intruding himself. “Sit still where you are sir, I aint so very sure about the mare not winning—one thing is certain. Duchess won’t win—she is a bad tempered brute—a vixen at starting,” and before Nor- man Fortescue could speak the man was away out of sight, amongst the crowd of coachmen, grooms and helpers that crowded the carriage paddock. “Where have I seen that man? I know his face. I think it must have been at Seringa— no, I don’t remember him there,” said Mr. Fortescue, following the sturdy looking figure until it was lost to view. “ I’ll take his advice. ” “ Where's our baronet ?” said Mr. Jones. “ Have you spirited him away, Mrs. Anney- laye? He was here just now and promised to lunch. Ah, there’s Forth . . . . . Coo-ee. . . Here you are, Forth, here’s a seat—Sir Hubert has quite deserted us." “He is with the Vernons,” and up to his eyes in pretty girls and pigeon pie,” said Sholto Forth, wiping his brow as if he had had a hard day’s work—perhaps he had. “Who is going to win this race, Mr. Forth? I’ve drawn Scarecrow, and he is sure to come in last,—the very name ought to frighten away all good luck,” said Mrs. Chol- mondley. “Yes, I'm afraid Mrs. Cholmondley, Scare- crow is out of it, I am not sure whether he is not scratched. It is unfortuate, and the Dingo won’t run—favorites, as a rule, don’t —it wouldn't pay the bookmakers—see the horses are out." “ Underhand work about the Cup winner, Forth,” says Norman Fortescuoe in a low voice, “and I’m too late to hedge.” “Don’t hedge, don't hedge, though Lola has not a leg to stand upon I wish I had a few thousands to put on her." “Really,” said Fortescue, with a glad look. “Some man passed just now and said the same. I hope it is true.” The next race came off and was over. Charlie Merton handing up five pounds ten shillings, the sweepstake money, to Connie Fortescue, the lucky drawer of Bunyip, a rank outsider, to every one's surprise on and off the drag, except the bookmakers. Mr. Fortescue looked up with a glad smile of mischief at his wife, for he knew how she had handed up the little half-sovereign grudgingly, and rather under protest, blam- ing herself, he knew, for her want of courage to refuse risking a few shillings, though she was one of the few women that had won a sweepstake without any envy or jealousy from her friends near. “I don't believe I shall ever get down,” said Mrs. Cholmondeley, despairingly, look- ing down at Mr. Fortescue. “It seems worse than the ladder of a man-of-war, it is so small.” “ We’ll got some ropes and hoist you down," said Mr. Jones, “if you prefer it, though, the ladder is perfectly safe. Put your foot on the first rung, and then you are all right— so;” and the “fat, fair and forty," as Mr. Jones called her, was on the ground without any difficulty, much to her own relief. A sweepstake was made up for the Cup, Mrs. Anneylaye drawing Lola, the much abused “do and go one, warranted to come in last,” said young Barton. Connie, too, had put in. “In fact, how could I refuse,” she said, as if by way of apology to her husband, “after winning all their money?" and then they all walked back to the stand to secure places for the event of the day—the Cup race— good places to see which are at a premium. Race cups are universal institutions, whether they be for the racing feat of a thoroughbred, high mottled racer, or for Farmer Giles’s wonderfully fat pig; and Cup races, as a rule, in all parts of the world, are generally looked upon as the race of the day, and in them is almost always centred the interest of the gathered multitude for it ap- peals in its interest to the sympathy of all classes; high and low, rich and poor. Goldsborough was not behind in this re- spect and the Goldsborough Annual Race Cup was “a thing of beauty and a joy for ever," as far as the substance of its value, and the credit and honor of its winner was concerned. The course was alive in anticipation of this great event of the Goldsborough year— the Cup race. There is a buzz amongst the fair sex on the lawn and in the stand; there is a din and yabber amongst the outside crowd ; there is a flood of excitement, a roar and a shout and stampede amongst the bookmakers and others —for the horses are out, and all eyes are fixed upon them, noting their points, good, bad, or indifferent. Duchess, a pretty little bay mare, first and foremost. “A perfect beauty,” say the ladies in a breath, as Duchess, in her airy fashion, frisks and ambles along gracefully in a pre- liminary canter, like a pretty coquettish girl at her first ball, or a mischievous kitten out for a spree. After the Duchess, as if in strong contrast, follows Baron, a large powerful black horse, with splendid breadth of chest, as he strides grandly, with head erect, as if like a war- horse scenting a battle. Then a whole crowd of mixed pacers, and last of all appears Lola, a small, fiery black mare, limping along painfully as it seems, thereby causing a groan from the crowd, who show their feeling of anger and disappointment openly. “She’s dead lame, and no mistake,” says a country looking man, staring hard. “ Perhaps she’s only stiff. She may run it off when she warms up a bit,” says another, a man in stable toggery. “Not she,” says a third,"she’s clean gone in the off fetlock, and I’m darned if she weren’t as right as a trivet yester morn. Duchess for me though she’s a vixen.” "There is much discussion on all sides only stopped by the exciting cry: “ They're off!’’ Then a moment’s silence. “ It’s a false start,” say many. “It’s the Duchess. She’ll lead them a dance in starting, my word for it; she always does,” says a sporting looking man, clenching his heavy riding whip as if he would like to lay it freely over the shoulders of the offend- ing Duchess. (TO BE CONTINUED.)