Chapter 33160675

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33160675
Full Date1898-08-05
Page Number62
Corrections6
Word Count2716
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Last Corrected2020-01-31
Newspaper TitleWestern Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954)
Trove TitleWon by Jockeyship: A Sporting Sketch
article text

WON BY JOCKEYSHIP.

A SPORTING SKETCH.

By FRANK H. HART.

CHAPTER III.

A minute later the horses gathered at

the starting-post, at the entrance to the straight. What a pretty sight they formed, with the glossy coats of the restive animals and the rich silks of their riders shimmering in the light of a summer sun. They curvetted about, broke away once or twice, were brought

back, and finally from the throats of the eager spectators arose the cry, " They're off !" as the flag was lowered to a perfect start.

For a few lengths the line was not broken, and then, as Hudson had predicted, a couple of weeds, whose chance

of being " in it " at the finish was represented by a cipher, began to make the

running at a meny pace..

At galloping speed the leaders cleared the first hurdle. Some rapped it, and

the wonder was, that none came down.

Marquis and Haywood's mount lay in the rear, with Benzon only slightly in advance. The pilots of these candidates

were too far-seeing to risk disaster at

the outset of the race.

Approaching the hurdle opposite the stand Marquis settled down into a

beautiful swinging stride. Hudson gathered him together as he took off, but to the horror of the spectators, when he was in the air a horse named Blonde

collided with him.

Arthur was thrown out of the saddle, and when Marquis landed he was right out on and partly under the animal's

neck.

In the grandstand a woman, who had watched the incident thus far with a madly beating heart, put her hands to

her face and cried broken-heartedly, " Oh God !" he is killed.

A sister's arm was put lovingly and protectingly around her waist, but

before any consolation could be offered, a hoarse shout was heard from the united throats of the onlookers : " He

is not off ! He is back again !" Then arose a wild burst of applause.

Hudson had brilliantly recovered his seat in the saddle, and without impeding

the speed of the horse in scarcely the slightest degree. It was a clever feat

-indeed, and the hearty applause was well deserved.

" Nellie, having the courage to raise her eyes again, saw the field making for the

next hurdle, with Marquis up amongst them, and her lover safe in the saddle,

" Jove ! That was a beautiful piece of

work," remarked her father, who was standing near.

" 'Beautiful piece of work," slowly repeated Nellie, and turned on Mr. Vernon such a look of amazement and remonstrance hat the latter wondered " what the deuce

has come over the girl."

He was too much interested in the race, however, to give any lengthy attention to "woman's vagaries," and once more got his glasses to work.

Hudson risked no further accident, but before they got to the back of the the course the leading division was reduced to six, of which Marquis, going as strong as a lion, brought up the rear.

Clarke now began to make the pace,

and Haywood, on Demon, joined issue.

" They are commencing to early," muttered Arthur. " No horse could

sustain a run from that point. I wonder what they mean ?"

It was an error of judgment undoubtedly,

but neither Clarke nor Haywood imagined that Marquis was still in the

race, and they knew they had the balance of the field at their mercy.

While Benzon and Demon were cutting

each other's throats for the leadership, believing that this sprint would decide the issue, Hudson was keeping his charge going, losing as little ground as he could without " bursting " him.

The now tiring leaders negotiated the last hurdle four lengths in advance of Marquis, but when Arthur once drew

the whip out the son of Glorious came with a determined and splendidly sustained

run.

Interest in the race, which had hitherto been confined to two horses, now received

fresh life. At the distance two lengths only separated Mr. Vernon's candidate from his opponents, and as Marquis steadily overhauled them, cheer after cheer went up, in which a pretty

couple in a corner of the stand joined.

Nellie had lost all her fear, and became earnestly, almost feverishly, engrossed in the finish.

" He will win, Jess," she cried. "Oh hurry, Marquis, hurry."

Marquis was doing his part in the race for a wife welL Twenty yards from the winning post he got on terms with

Benzon and Demon, whose riders wondered where on earth he sprang

from, and then with one mighty and gallant effort he cut them both down and won by a good half length.

intense enthusiasm had been manifested as Hudson executed his masterly finish, and when he returned to the scale

he received quite an ovation.

When the clerk of the scales cried "weight" and Arthur had got out of the chair, Mr. Vernon grasped his hand

and said " Fix your own price for your riding, Hudson. Come to my office tomorrow and you will be paid."

Hudson, alter thanking his employer,

walked off with a joyous smile on his face.

His riding had created such a favourable impression that several offers of mounts in other races were made to him, but they were courteously declined. Arthur waited until he saw Glenloth win

the big event and then he rugged-up his charge and made off home. His brain was filled with thoughts of the morrow and what it might have in store for him.

During an interval between the races, Ernest Clarke summoned up courage to mention to Mr Vernon a matter which was near his heart.

" I think you must have noticed, sir," he said, the great affection which has sprung up between your daughter and myself."

" I am pleased indeed to hear it, Clarke," the elder man rejoined. "It has, I may confess to you, long been the desire of my old friend, your father, and myself that our families should be connected by marriage ; " but do you say that my daughter returns your affection ? I shall not force her into marriage."

" Yes, Mr. Vernon, our love is mutuai." " Sly minx," chuckled the other. " I thought the other affair, would soon blow over."

Other affair ?" exclaimed Ernest in a

tone of consternation, " what other affair

can there have been ?"

" Never mind about that now," said Mr. Vernon. " Come and see me in the

morning and we will discuss the matter. I must go and see this race."

Ernest never doubted Jessie's love for

him, but he puzzled his brain to discover what the "other affair " could be.

CHAPTER IV.

Next morning found Mr. Vernon seated in his cosy office at Fassifern, dictating to his eldest daughter replies to letters which he had received that day. While thus engaged a knock at the door was heard.

Nellie looked up with eyes full of suppressed excitement, but turned her

attention once more to her work as Mr Vernon called out " Come in." .

" Oh, it is you, Hudson," he exclaimed, as Arthur entered dressed, not as a jockey, but in the irreproachable garments turned out by his Collins-street tailor. " I suppose you have come for a settlement."

" You have divined my mission, sir," replied Hudson, bowing with an elegance which struck the owner of Marquis, as being unusual in a jockey. Mr. Vernon, however, ascribed the phenomena to ike good teaching of the Infallible Scobie.

Nellie felt constrained to leave the room while the business was being transacted, but her father remarked ; " You need not leave, Nellie. It will not take us long to settle up." He was not averse to his daughter witnessing the liberal manner in which he rewarded good work.

" Now, Hudson," he resumed, " I told you to name your own price. What is it to be ?" he said, taking bis cheque book from the desk.

" l am afraid you will consider me presumptuous."

" Not at all, man. Don't be bashful. When Charles Vernon says a thing he always sticks to it."

" Well sir," said Arthur, "Since you recommend me not to be bashful, the reward I ask for my services yesterday is the hand of your daughter. Saying this he took the taper fingers of Nellie in his own and drew her to his side, bowing meanwhile to the astonished parent with all the grace of an operatic

star.

" What the devil do you mean, sir ? Let go that man's hand, girl," Mr. Vernon irately commanded.

" No, dad, I shall not," valiantly replied Nellie. " This is the man of my choice. I do not like to disobey you, but I stand between love and duty, and in this instance the love must prevail."

It was very sincere and pretty, and Arthur rewarded the sweet girl who uttered it with a warm pressure of the

hand.

" Perhaps you will condescend to explain these various loves of yours," said

Mr. Vernon in a tone of bitter sarcasm.

" Various loves, dad ? What can you

mean ?"

" Yes, various loves, I repeat. On my conscience matters are coming to a pretty pass. What about this city lover of yours, eh ? I thought you could never care for any man but him."

" Oh, that," rejoined Nellie in a relieved tone, and smiled blushingly as she dropped her head.

" I can explain," chimed in Hudson. " You see, sir, I recognised the great dislike which you entertained for city fops, of whom I was supposed to be one, and for that reason I adopted the character of a jockey in order to demonstrate to you that, though reared in Melbourne, I might be 'a man for all that.' Let me introduce myself : Arthur Hudson, barrister, of Collins-st., City, and ( if I may say so without being considered vain ) the best rider in the Melbourne Hunt Club."

" A very pretty romance, indeed ; but do you imagine that it is an "honourable

thing to enter a man's house under false pretences? Perhaps," he added for

Nellie's benefit, " if you have done toying with that young scapegrace's gers you might release them now."

Nellie, ashamed to think that she was too demonstrative in the display of her love, dropped Arthur's hand, and he proceeded to reply, " There has been no actual false pretence, I have not changed my name, and have never claimed to be a professional jockey. When there was such a prize to win,

he concluded appealingly, " can you blame me for allowing you tofall into

an error ? It was a means to an end, and all is fair in love and war."

" No," replied Mr. Vernon, whose sense of justice was touched, " on the whole you are not to he blamed much. But look here," turning once more to his daughter, "what about Ernest

Clarke ?"

" Ernest Clarke, dad ?" ( in astonishment.)

" Yes, Ernest Clarke. You need not turn up your eyes in surprise. He has told me that you have confessed your love for him. Do you mean to end your life as a bigamist, girl, or have you been adopting 'means to an end' like this impudent young scamp here ? I will not stand the affections of the son of my old friend being trifled with. Understand

me there."

" There is some mistake. I never - Here is Ernest, who will speak for himself. Come in Clarke. We must have this matter settled. Did you not tell me yesterday that my daughter loved you, and did you not formally ask for my consent to your marriage ? "

" I did, Mr. Vernon, but it was not

Nellie I asked for. I felt then that there was some misapprehension. This is the girl I love, and there is none so precious. Come in, Jess" he said, drawing the rather reluctant and timid form of his sweetheart into the office.

" Well, I never !" ejaculated the father. " It is coming to something when babies

want husbands."

" I am not a baby, dad," protested the little fairy, who was almost reduced to tears, " I am 19, and Ernest and I have been in love with each other, for two years."

Mr. Vernon sat down at his table and put his bewildered head between his

hands. Events had come upon him too rapidly and were too startling to be grasped in a moment

Nellie, with womanly tact, went over and clasped her pretty arms around his neck, saying softly, " You would not break my heart, you dear old dad, would you now ? Remember, too, that you wanted me to have a manly fellow like your jockey." This, it must be confessed, was a remarkably clever point.

" Yes, I remember," was Mr. Vernon's rejoinder. " I remember also that when I made the statement, a sly deceiver was horrified and exclaimed, " Oh, dad, you would not marry me to a jockey, surely. Eh ?" he queried, pinchlng an

ear which was now the colour of vermilion.

" Don't, you hurt." Then, " But I must many someone, you know, and

Ernest will not have me."

" No, indeed," murmured Jessie, as she quietly sought the near presence of

her lover.

" I confess you all have me on the hip," said Mr. Vernon resignedly, " and I must say, Hudson, that when I think it over there is no one I would sooner give my daughter to than you. I admire you as I admired your splendid riding yesterday ; and as I cannot pay you for the latter in coin I must in kind. Take her, boy. I wish that all your class won their brides as you have done, by deeds rather than the power of high connections and aristocratic appearance. As for this child," laying a firm but noi unkind hand on little Jessie's shoulder, " I suppose you must have her, Clarke but my advice is, give her another year in the nursery before you marry her."

Jessie "pulled a face" and, curtseying said, " Thank you, sir ; but the child is ' not so young as she used to be.' And if you could have seen the sagacious

look on her face, you would have been inclined to say the same.

" Well, well," remarked Mr. Vernon in terms of dismissal, " You have upset

all my plans and disturbed me for the rest of the morning. Get out of my sight, all of you." Then, as they were preparing to follow his injunctions with alacrity, his mind flew from the world of romance to the, to him, more congenial region of sport, and he called out to Arthur, "I say Hudson, would you care to ride Marquis in the Farewell Handicap tomorrow ? "

" I will be only too pl -,* Arthur was commencing to reply, when Nellie closed his mouth with a lovely hand, and intervened. " No, you will not, sir. You risked your life once for me, but you are not going to endanger it any more." " Away with you, away," commanded the father. " You are not a bad fellow now, Hudson, but when you get under the domination of a woman I fear you will soon degenerate."

Nellie did not leave without a parting shot : " You did not degenerate under a woman's rule, at any rate, dad."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Several years have passed, but when Mr. Vernon reflects on the unalloyed happiness which Nellie still enjoys, he see no cause to regret that her husband won his bride by jockeyship.