William Blair Morton Ferguson.

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W-B-M- FERGUSON



97C



\.




/



OF CALIF. LIBRARY, LOS ANGELA




"You'll ride her ride her as no one else can."

Frontispiece. Po



Garrison's Finish

A Romance of the Race-course



BY

W. B. M. FERGUSON

AUTHOR OF

"Strange Cases of a Medical Free Lance,*'
"Zollenstein."




ILLUSTRATIONS BY

CHARLES GRUNWALD



G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK






Copyright, 1907
By G. W. DILLINGHAM CO.

Garrison's Finish kued July, 1907



CONTENTS



CHAPTER
I.


A Shattered Idol


FAGH
II


II.


The Heavy Hand of Fate . . .


34


III.


Beginning a New Life


50


IV.


A Ready-made Heir ....


70


V.


Also a Ready-made Husband


92


VI.


"You're Billy Garrison"


"3


VII.


Snark Shows His Fangs


133


VIII.


The Colonel's Confession .


146


IX.


A Breath of the Old Life . . . .


160


X.


"Then I Was Not Honest"


177


XI.


Sue Declares Her Love ....


190


XII.


Garrison Himself Again


206


XIII.


Proven Clean


218


XIV.


Garrison Finds Himself


234


XV.


Garrison's Finish


257


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ILLUSTRATIONS

PACK

"You'll ride her ride her as no one else can" . . Frontispiece 165
"You're queered for good. You couldn't get a mount anywhere" 27

"How dare you insult my daughter, suh?" 47

The girl's laugh floated tantalizin jiy over his shoulder . . 123

"I can't give you up, I won't '." 203

A frenzied howl went up. "Garrison ! Garrison ! Garrison !" 278



GARRISON'S

FINISH.

CHAPTER I.

A Shattered Idol.

As he made his way out of the paddock Gar-
rison carefully tilted his bag of Durham into the
curved rice-paper held between nicotin-stained fin-
ger and thumb, then deftly rolled his "smoke"
with the thumb and forefinger, while tying the
bag with practised right hand and even white
teeth. Once his reputation had been as spotless as
those teeth.

He smiled cynically as he shouldered his way
through the slowly moving crowd that kaleido-
scope of the humanities which congregate but do
not blend; which coagulate wherever the trial of
science, speed, and stamina serves as an excuse
for putting fortune to the test.

II



Garrison s Finish

It was a cynical crowd, a quiet crowd, a sullen
crowd. Those who had won, through sheer luck,
bottled their joy until they could give it vent in
a safer atmosphere one not so resentful. For it
had been a hard day for the field. The favorite
beaten in the stretch, choked off, outside the
money

Garrison gasped as the rushing simulacra of the
Carter Handicap surged to his beating brain; that
brain at bursting pressure. It had recorded so
many things recorded faithfully so many, many
things he would give anything to forget.

He was choking, smothering smothering with
shame, hopelessness, despair. He must get away;
get away to breathe, to think; get away out of it
all; get away anywhere oblivion.

To the jibes, the sneers flung at him, the in-
nuendos, the open insults, and, worst of all, the
sad looks of those few friends who gave their
friendship without conditions, he was not indif-
ferent, though he seemed so. God knows how
he felt it all. And all the more so because he

12



Garrison s Finish

had once been so high. Now his fall was so
low, so pitifully low; so contemptible, so complete.

He knew what the action of the Jockey Club
would be. The stewards would do only one thing.
His license would be revoked. To-day had seen
his finish. This, the ten-thousand-dollar Carter
Handicap, had seen his final slump to the bottom
of the scale. Worse. It had seen him a pauper,
ostracized ; an unclean thing in the mouth of friend
and foe alike. The sporting world was through
with him at last. And when the sporting world
is through

Again Garrison laughed harshly, puffing at his
cigarette, dragging its fumes into his lungs in a
fierce desire to finish his physical cataclysm with
his moral. Yes, it had been his last chance. He,
the popular idol, had been going lower and lower
in the scale, but the sporting world had been loyal,
as it always is to "class." He had been "class,"
and they had stuck to him.

Then when he began to go back No ; worse.

Not that. They said he had gone crooked. That



Garrison^ s Finish

was it. Crooked as Doyers Street, they said;
throwing every race; standing in with his owner
to trim the bookies, and they couldn't stand for
that. Sport was sport. But they had been loyal.
They had warned, implored, begged. What was
the use soaking a pile by dirty work? Why not
ride straight ride as he could, as he did, as it had
been bred in him to? Any money, any honor was
his. Instead

Garrison, stung to madness by retrospect,
humped his way through the crowd at the gates
to the Aqueduct. There was not a friendly eye
in that crowd. He stuffed his ears with indiffer-
ence. He would not hear their remarks as they
recognized him. He summoned all his nerve to
look them in the face unflinchingly that nerve
that had been frayed to ribbons.

And then he heard quick footsteps behind him;
a hand was laid heavily on his shoulder, and he
was twisted about like a chip. It was his stable
owner, his face flushed with passion and drink.
Waterbury was stingy of cash, but not of words.



Garrison s Finish

"I've looked for you," he whipped out veno-
mously, his large hands ravenous for something
to rend. "Now I've caught you. Who was in with
you on that dirty deal? Answer, you cur! Spit
it out before the crowd. Was it me? Was it
me?" he reiterated in a frenzy, taking a step for-
ward for each word, his bad grammar coming
equally to the fore.

The crowd surged back. Owner and jockey were
face to face. "When thieves fall out!" they
thought; and they waited for the fun. Something
was due them. It came in a flash. Waterbury
shot out his big fist, and little Garrison thumped
on the turf with a bang, a thin streamer of blood
threading its way down his gray-white face.

"You miserable little whelp!" howled his owner.
"You've dishonored me. You threw that race,
damn you! That's what I get for giving you a
chance when you couldn't get a mount anywhere."
His long pent-up venom was unleashed. "You
threw it. You've tried to make me party to your
dirty work me, me, me!" he thumped his heav-

15



Garrison s Finish

ing chest. "But you can't heap your filth on me,
I'm done with you. You're a thief, a cur "

"Hold on," cut in Garrison. He had risen slowly,
and was dabbing furtively at his nose with a silk
red-and-blue handkerchief the Waterbury colors.

"Just a minute," he added, striving to keep his
yoice from sliding the scale. He was horribly calm,
but his gray eyes were quivering as was his lip. "I
didn't throw it. I I didn't throw it. I was sick.

I I've been sick. I I " Then, for he was

only a boy with a man's burdens, his lip began
to quiver pitifully; his voice shrilled out and his
words came tumbling forth like lava; striving to
make up by passion and reiteration what they
lacked in logic and coherency. "I'm not a thief.
I'm not. I'm honest. I don't know how it hap-
pened. Everything "became a blur in the stretch.
You you've called me a liar, Mr. Waterbury.
You've called me a thief. You struck me. I know,
you can lick me," he shrilled. "I'm dishonored-
down and out. I know you can lick me, but, by
the Lord, you'll do it here and now! You'll fight

16



Garrison s Fi rfi s h

me. I don't like you. I never liked you. I don't
like your face. I don't like your hat, and here's
your damn colors in your face." He fiercely crum-
pled the silk handkerchief and pushed it swiftly
into Waterbury's glowering eye.

Instantly there was a mix-up. The crowd was
blood-hungry. They had paid for sport of some
kind. There would be no crooked work in this
deal. Lustfully they watched. Then the inequality
of the boy and the man was at length borne in on
them, and it roused their stagnant sense of fail?
play.

Garrison, a small hell let loose, had risen from
the turf for the third time! his face a smear of
blood, venom, and all the bandit passions. Water-
bury, the gentleman in him soaked by the taint
of a foisted dishonor and his fighting blood roused,
waited with clenched fists. As Garrison hopped in
for the fourth time, the older man feinted quickly,
and then swung right and left savagely.

The blows were caught on the thick arm of a
tan box-coat. A big hand was placed over Water-



Garrison s Finish

foury's face and he was given a shove backward.
He staggered for a ridiculously long time, and
then, after an unnecessary waste of minutes, sat
down. The tan overcoat stood over him. It was
Jimmy Drake, and the chameleonlike crowd ap-
plauded.

Jimmy was a popular boot-maker with educated
fists. The crowd surged closer. It looked as if
the fight might change from bantam-heavy to
heavy-heavy. And the odds were on Drake.

"If yeh want to fight kids," said the book-maker,
in his slow, drawling voice, "wait till they're grown
up. Mebbe then yeh'll change your mind."

Waterbury was on his feet now. He let loose
some vitriolic verbiage, using Drake as the objec-
tive-point. He told him to mind his own business,
or that he would make it hot for him. He told
him that Garrison was a thief and cur; and that
he would have no book-maker and tout

"Hold on," said Drake. "You're gettin' too
flossy right there. When you call me a tout you're
exceedin' the speed limit." He had an uncom-

18



Garrison s Finish

fortable steady blue eye and a face like a snow-
shovel. "I stepped in here not to argue morals,
but to see fair play. If Billy Garrison's done dirt
and I admit it looks close like it I'll bet that
your stable, either trainer or owner, shared the
mud-pie, all right "

"I've stood enough of those slurs," cried Water-
bury, in a frenzy. "You lie."

Instantly Drake's large face stiffened like ce-
ment, and his overcoat was on the ground.

"That's a fighting word where I come from," he
said grimly.

But before Drake could square the insult a crowd
of Waterbury's friends swirled up in an auto, and
half a dozen peacemakers, mutual acquaintances,
together with two somnambulistic policemen, man-
aged to preserve the remains of the badly shat-
tered peace. Drake sullenly resumed his coat, and
Waterbury was driven off, leaving a back draft of
impolite adjectives and vague threats against every-
body. The crowd drifted away. It was a fitting
finish for the scotched Carter Handicap.



Garrison s Finish

Meanwhile, Garrison, taking advantage of the
switching of the lime-light from himself to Drake,
had dodged to oblivion in the crowd.

"I guess I don't forget Jimmy Drake," he mused
grimly to himself. "He's straight cotton. The
only one who didn't give me the double-cross out
and out Bud, Bud !" he declared to himself, "this
is sure the wind-up. You've struck bed-rock and
the tide's coming in hard. You're all to the weeds.
Buck up, buck up," he growled savagely, in fierce
contempt. "What're you dripping about?" He
had caught a tear burning its way to his eyes
eyes that had never blinked under Waterbury's sav-
age blows. "What if you are ruled off! What if
you are called a liar and crook; thrown the game
to soak a pile? What if you couldn't get a clothes-
horse to run in a potato-race? Buck up, buck up,
and plug your croton pipe. They say you're a
crook. Well, be one. Show 'em you don't care a
damn. You're down and out, anyway. What's
honesty, anyway, but whether you got the goods or
ain't? Shake the bunch. Get out before you're

.20



Garrison s Finish

kicked out. Open a pool-room like all the has-
beens and trim the suckers right, left, and down the
middle. Money's the whole thing. Get it. Don't
mind how you do, but just get it. You'll be hon-
est enough for ten men then. Anyway, there's no
one cares a curse how you pan out "

He stopped, and his face slowly relaxed. The
hard, vindictive look slowly faded from his nar-
rowed eyes.

"Sis," he said softly. "Sis I was going with-
out saying good-by. Forgive me."

He swung on his heel, and with hunched shoul-
ders made his way back to the Aqueduct. Water-
bury's training-quarters were adjacent, and, after
lurking furtively about like some hunted animal,
Garrison summoned all his nerve and walked
boldly in.

The only stable-boy about was one with a twisted
mouth and flaming red hair, which he was always
curling; a remarkably thin youth he was, addicted
to green sweaters and sentimental songs. He was
singing one now in a key entirely original with

21



Garrison s Finish

himself. "Red's" characteristic was that when
happy he wore a face like a tomb-stone. When sad,
the sentimental songs were always in evidence.

"Hello, Red!" said Garrison gruffly. He had
been Red's idol once. He was quite prepared now,
however, to see the other side of the curtain. He
was no longer an idol to any one.

"Hello!" returned Red non-committally.

"Where's Crimmins?"

"In there." Red nodded to the left where were
situated the stalls. "Gettin' Sis ready for the Bel-
mont opening."

"Riding for him now?"

"Yeh. Promised a mount in th' next run-off.
'Bout time, I guess."

There was silence. Garrison pictured to himself
the time when he had won his first mount. How
long ago that was ! Time is reckoned by events, not
years. How glorious the future had seemed! He
slowly seated himself on a box by the side of Red
and laid a hand on the other's thin leg.

"Kid," he said, and his voice quivered, "you

22



Garrison s Finish

know I wish you luck. It's a great game the
greatest game in the world, if you play it right."
He blundered to silence as his own condition
surged over him.

Red was knocking out his shabby heels against
the box in an agony of confusion. Then he grew
emboldened by the other's dejected mien. "No, I'd
never throw no race," he said judicially. "It don't
pay "

"Red," broke in Garrison harshly, "you don't
believe I threw that race? Honest, I'm square.
Why, I was up on Sis Sis whom I love, Red
honest, I was sure of the race. Dead sure. I
hadn't much money, but I played every cent I had
on her. I lost more than any one. I lost every-
thing. See," he ran on feverishly, glad of the op-
portunity to vindicate himself, if only to a stable-
boy. "I guess the stewards will let the race stand,
even if Waterbury does kick. Rogue won square
enough."

"Yeh, because yeh choked Sis off in th' stretch.



Garrison s Finish

She could ha' slept home a winner, an' yeh know
it, Billy," said Red, with sullen regret.

There was a time when he never would have
dared to call Garrison by his Christian name. Dis-
grace is a great leveler. Red grew more conscious
of his own rectitude.

"I ain't knockin' yeh, Billy," he continued, speak-
ing slowly, to lengthen the pleasure of thus mono-
polizing the pulpit. "What have I to say? Yeh
can ride rings round any jockey in the States at
least, yeh could." And then, like his kind, Red
having nothing to say, proceeded to say it.

"But it weren't your first thrown race, Billy.
Yeh know that. I know how yeh doped it out. I
know we ain't got much time to make a pile if
we keep at th' game. Makin' weight makes yeh a
lunger. We all die of th' hurry-up stunt. An'
yeh're all right to your owner so long's yeh make
good. After that it's twenty-three, forty-six,
double time for yours. I know what th' game is
when you've hit th' top of th' pile. It's a fast
mob, an' yeh got to keep up with th' band-wagon.

24



Garrison s Finish

You're makin' money fast and spendin' it faster.
Yeh think it'll never stop comin' your way. Yeh
dip into everythin'. Then yeh wake up some day
without your pants, and yeh breeze about to make
th' coin again. There's a lot of wise eggs handin'
out crooked advice they take the coin and you th'
big stick. Yeh know, neither Crimmins or the Old
Man was in on your deals, but yeh had it all framed
up with outside guys. Yeh bled the field to soak
a pile. See, Bill," he finished eloquently, "it
weren't your first race."

"I know, I know," said Garrison grimly. "Cut
it out. You don't understand, and it's no good
talking. When you have reached the top of the
pile, Red, you'll travel with as fast a mob as I
did. But I never threw a race in my life. That's
on the level. Somehow I always got blind dizzy
in the stretch, and it passed when I crossed the post.
I never knew when it was coming on. I felt all
right other times. I had to make the coin, as you
say, for I lived up to every cent I made. No, I

never threw a race Yes, you can smile, Red,"

25



Garrison s Finish

he finished savagely. "Smile if your face wants
stretching. But that's straight. Maybe I've gone
back. Maybe I'm all in. Maybe I'm a crook. But
there'll come a time, it may be one year, it may be
a hundred, when I'll come back clean. I'll make
good, and if you're on the track, Red, I'll show you
that Garrison can ride a harder, straighter race
than you or any one. This isn't my finish. There's
a new deal coming to me, and I'm going to see that
I get it."

Without heeding Red's pessimistic reply, Gar-
rison turned on his heel and entered the stall where
Sis, the Carter Handicap favorite, was being boxed
for the coming Belmont opening.

Crimmins, the trainer, looked up sharply as Gar-
rison entered. He was a small, hard man, with a
face like an ice-pick and eyes devoid of pupils,
which fact gave him a stony, blank expression. In
fact, he had been likened once, by Jimmy Drake,
to a needle with two very sharp eyes, and the sim-
ile was merited. But he was an excellent flesh han-
dler; and Waterbury, an old ex-bookie, knew what




You're queered for good. You couldn't get a mount anywhere. 1

Page 27.



Garrisons Finish

he was about when he appointed him head of the
stable.

"Hello, Dan!" said Garrison, in the same tone he
had used to greet Red. He and the trainer had
been thick, but it was a question whether that thick-
ness would still be there. Garrison, alone in the
world since he had run away from his home years
ago, had no owner as most jockeys have, and Crim-
mins had filled the position of mentor. In fact, he
had trained him, though Garrison's ^riding ability
was not a foreign graft, but had been bred in the
bone.

"Hello !" echoed Crimmins, coming forward. His
manner was cordial, and Garrison's frozen heart
warmed. "Of course you'll quit the game," ran on
the trainer, after an exchange of commonalities.
"You're queered for good. You couldn't get a
mount anywhere. I ain't saying anything about
you're pulling Sis, 'cause there ain't no use now.
But you've got me and Mr. Waterbury in trouble.
It looked as if we were in on the deal. I should
be sore on you, Garrison, but I can't be. And



Garrison s Finish

Because Dan Crimmins has a heart, and when he
likes a man he likes him even if murder should
come 'atween. Dan Crimmins ain't a welcher.
You've done me as dirty a deal as one man could
hand another, but instead of getting hunk, what
does Dan Crimmins do? Why, he agitates his
brain thinking of a way for you to make a good
living, Bud. That's Dan Crimmins' way."

Garrison was silent. He did not try to vindi-
cate himself. He had given that up as hopeless. He
was thinking, oblivious to Crimmins' eulogy.

"Yeh," continued the upright trainer; "that's
Dan Crimmins' way. And after much agitating of
my brain I've hit on a good money-making scheme
for you, Bud."

"Eh?" asked Garrison.

"Yeh." And the trainer lowered his voice. "I
know a man that's goin' to buck the pool-rooms in
New York. He needs a chap who knows the ropes
one like you and I gave him your name. I
thought it would come in handy. I saw your finish
a long way off. This fellah's in the Western

28



Garrison s Finish

Union; an operator with the pool-room lines. You
can run the game. It's easy. See, he holds back
the returns, tipping you the winners, and you skin
round and lay the bets before he loosens up on the
returns. It's easy money; easy and sure."

Again Garrison was silent. But now a smile
was on his face. He had been asking himself what
was the use of honesty.

"What d'you say?" asked Crimmins, his head
on one side, his small eyes calculating.

The smile was still twisting Garrison's lip. "I
was going to light out, anyway," he answered
slowly. "I'll answer you when I say good-by to
Sis."

"All right. She's over there."

The handlers fell back in silence as Garrison ap-
proached the filly. He was softly humming the mu-
sic-hall song, "Good-by, Sis." With all his faults,
the handlers to a man liked Garrison. They knew
how he had professed to love the filly, and now
they sensed that he would prefer to say his fare-
well without an audience. Sis whinnied as Gar-

29



Garrison s Finish

rison raised her small head and looked steadily into
her soft, dark eyes.

"Sis," he said slowly, "it's good-by. We've been
pals, you and I; pals since you were first foaled.
You're the only girl I have; the only sweetheart I
have; the only one to say good-by to me. Do you
care?"

The filly nuzzled at his shoulder. "I've done you
dirt to-day," continued the boy a little unsteadily.
"It was your race from the start. You know it; I
know it. I can't explain now, Sis, how it came
about. But I didn't go to do it. I didn't, girlie.
You understand j don't you? I'll square that deal
some day, Sis. I'll come back and square it. Don't
forget me. I won't forget you I can't. You
don't think me a crook, Sis? Say you don't. Say
it," he pleaded fiercely, raising her head.

The filly understood. She lipped his face, whin-
nying lovingly. In a moment Garrison's nerve had
been swept away, and, arms flung about the dark,
arched neck, he was sobbing his heart out on the
glossy coat; sobbing like a little child.

59



Garrison s Finish

How long he stayed there, the filly nuzzling him
like a mother, he did not know. It seemed as if he
had reached sanctuary after an aeon of chaos. He
had found love, understanding in a beast of the
field. Where his fellow man had withheld, the filly
had given her all and questioned not. For Sis, by
Rex out of Reine, two-year filly, blooded stock, was
a thoroughbred. And a thoroughbred, be he man,
beast, or bird, does not welch on his hand. A
stranger only in prosperity; a chum in adversity.
He does not question; he gives.

"Well," said Crimmins, as Garrison slowly
emerged from the stall, "you take the partin' pretty
next your skin. What's your answer to the game
I spoke of? Mulled it over? It don't take much
thinking, I guess." He was paring his mourning
fringed nails with great indifference.

"No, it doesn't take much thinking, Dan," agreed
Garrison slowly, his eyes narrowed. "I'll rot first
before I touch it"

"Yes?" The trainer raised his thick eyebrows
31



Garrison s Finish

and lowered his thin voice. "Kind of tony, ain't
yeh? Beggars can't be choosers."

"They needn't be crooks, Dan. I know you
meant it all right enough," said Garrison bitterly.
"You think I'm crooked, and that I'd take any-
thing anything; dirt of any kind, so long's there's
money under it."

"Aw, sneeze!" said Crimmins savagely. Then
he checked himself. "It ain't my game. I only
knew the man. There's nothing in it for me. Suit
yourself;" and he shrugged his shoulders. "It
ain't Crimmins' way to hump his services on any
man. Take it or leave it."

"You wanted me to go crooked, Dan," said Gar-
rison steadily. "Was it friendship "

"Huh! wanted you to go crooked?" flashed the
trainer with a sneer. "What are y' talking about?
Ain't yeh a welcher now ? Ain't yeh crooked hair,
teeth, an' skin?"

"You mean that, Dan?" Garrison's face was
white. "You've trained me, and yet you, too, be-



Garrison s Finish

lieve I was in on those lost races? You know I
lost every cent on Sis "

"It ain't one race, it's six," snorted Crimmins.
"It's Crimmins' way to agitate his brain for a
friend, but it ain't his way to be a plumb fool. You
can't shoot that bull con into me, Bud. I know
you. I give you an offer, friend and friend. You
turn it down and 'cuse me of making you play
crooked. I'm done with you. It ain't Crimmins''
.way."

Billy Garrison eyed his former trainer and men-
tor steadily for a long time. His lip was quivering.

"Damn your way!" he said hoarsely at length,
and turned on his heel. His hands were deep in
his pockets, his shoulders hunched as he swung out
of the stable. He was humming over and over
the old music-hall favorite, "Good-by, Sis" hum-
ming in a desperate effort to keep his nerve. Billy
Garrison had touched bottom in the depths.


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