William Blair Morton Ferguson.

Garrison's finish : a romance of the race course online

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one the dark, clinging girl and let me free? You
want me to suffer, not yourself. Just like you Yan-
kees cold-blooded icicles !"

Garrison considered. "I never thought of that,
honestly!" he said, with a laugh. "I would elope
quick enough, if I had only myself to consider."

"Then your dark, clinging girl is lacking in the
very virtues you find so wofully missing in me. She
won't take a risk. I cannot say I blame her," she
added, scanning the brooding Garrison.

He laughed good-hmoredly. "How you must de-
test me! But cheer up, my sister in misery! You
will marry the man you love, all right. Never

"Will I?" she asked enigmatically. Her eyes


Garrison s Finish

were half-shut, watching Garrison's profile. "Will
I, soothsayer?"

He nodded comprehensively, bitterly.

"You will. One of the equations of the problem
will be eliminated, and thus will be found the an-

"Which?" she asked softly, heel tapping gravel.

"The unnecessary one, of course. Isn't it always
the unnecessary one?"

"You mean," she said slowly, "that you will go

Garrison nodded.

"Of course," she added, after a pause, "the dark,
clinging girl is waiting?"

"Of course," he bantered.

"It must be nice to be loved like that." Her
eyes were wide and far away. "To have one re-
nounce relatives, position, wealth all, for love.
It must be very nice, indeed."

Still, Garrison was silent. He had cause to be.

"Do you think it is right, fair," continued the girl
slowly, her brow wrinkled speculatively, "to break

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Garrison s Finish

your uncle's and aunt's hearts for the sake of a
girl? You know how they have longed for your
home-coming. How much you mean to them ! You
are all they have. Don't you think you are selfish
very selfish?"

"I believe the Bible says to leave all and cleave
unto your wife," returned Garrison.

"Yes. But not your intended wife."

"But, you see, she is of the cleaving type."

"And why this hurry? Aren't you depriving
your uncle and aunt unnecessarily early?"

"But it is the only answer, as you pointed out.
You then would be free."

He did not know why he was indulging in this
repartee. Perhaps because the situation was so
novel, so untenable. But a strange, new force was
working in him that day, imparting a peculiar twist
to his humor. He was hating himself. He was
hopeless, cynical, bitter.

If he could have laid hands upon that eminent
lawyer, Mr. Snark, he would have wrung his accom-
plished neck to the best of his ability. He, Snark,


Garrison s Finish

must have known about this prenatal engagement.
And his bitterness, his hopelessness, were all the
more real, for already he knew that he cared, and
cared a great deal, for this curious girl with the
steady gray eyes and wealth of indefinite hair; cared
more than he would confess even to himself. It
seemed as if he always had cared; as if he had al-
ways been looking into the depths of those great
gray eyes. . They were part of a dream, the focus-
ing-point of the misty past forever out of focus.

The girl had been considering his answer, and
now she spoke.

"Of course," she said gravely, "you are not sin-
cere when you say your primal reason for leaving
would be in order to set me free. Of course you
are not sincere."

"Is insincerity necessarily added to my numerous
physical infirmities?" he bantered.

"Not necessarily. But there is always the love
to make a virtue of necessity especially when
there's some one waiting on necessity."

"But did I say that would be my primal reason

Garrison s Finish

for leaving setting you free? I thought I merely
stated it as one of the following blessings attendant
on virtue."

"Equivocation means that you were not sincere.
Why don't you go, then?"

"Eh?" Garrison looked up sharply at the tone
of her voice.

"Why don't you go? Hurry up! Reward the
clinging girl and set me free."

"Is there such a hurry ? Won't you let me ferret
out a pair of pajamas, to say nothing of good-bys?"

"How silly you are!" she said coldly, rising.
"The question, then, rests entirely with you. When-
ever you make up your mind to go "

"Couldn't we let it hang fire indefinitely? Per-
haps you could learn to love me. Then there would
be no need to go." Garrison smiled deliberately up
into her eyes, the devil working in him.

Miss Desha returned his look steadily. "And the
other girl the clinging one?" she asked calmly.

"Oh, she could wait. If we didn't hit it off, I

Garrison s Finish

could fall back on her. I would hate to be an old

"No; I don't think it would be quite a success,"
said the girl critically. "You see, I think you are
the most detestable person I ever met. I really pity
the other girl. It's better to be an old bachelor than
to be a young cad."

Garrison rose slowly.



"You're Billy Garrison."

"And what is a cad?" he asked abstractedly.

"One who shames his birth and position by his

"And no question of dishonesty enters into it?"
He could not say why he asked. "It is not, then, a
matter of moral ethics, but of mere well "

"Sensitiveness," she finished dryly. "I really
think I prefer rank dishonesty, if it is offset by
courtesy and good breeding. You see, I am not at
all moral."

Here Mrs. Calvert made her appearance, with a
book and sunshade. She was a woman whom a
sunshade completed.

"I hope you two have not been quarreling," she
observed. "It is too nice a day for that. I ,was
watching the slaughter of the innocents on the ten-


Garrison s Finish

nis-court. Really, you play a wretched game, Will-

"So I have been informed," replied Garrison. "It
is quite a relief to have so many people agree with
me for once."

"In this instance you can believe them," com-
mented the girl. She turned to Mrs. Calvert.
"Whose ravings are you going to listen to now?"
she asked, taking the book Mrs. Calvert carried.

"A matter of duty," laughed the elder woman.
"No; it's not a novel. It came this morning. The
major wishes me to assimilate it and impart to him
its nutritive elements if it contains any. He is so
miserably busy doing nothing, as usual. But it is
a labor of love. If we women are denied children,
we must interest ourselves in other things."

"Oh!" exclaimed the girl, with interest; "it's the
years record of the track !" She was thumbing over
the leaves. "I'd love to read it! May I when
you've done? Thank you. Why, here's Sysonby,
Gold Heels, The Picket dear old Picket! Ken-


Garrison s Finish

tucky's pride! And here's Sis. Remember Sis?
The Carter Handicap "

She broke off suddenly and turned to the silent
Garrison. "Did you go much to the track up
North?" She was looking straight at him.

"I I that is why, yes, of course," he mur-
mured vaguely. "May I see it?"

He took the book from her unwilling hand. A
full-page photograph of Sis was confronting him.
He studied it long and carefully, passing a troubled
hand nervously over his forehead.

"I I think I've seen her," he said, at length,
looking up vacantly. "Somehow, she seems fa-

Again he fell to studying the graceful lines of
the thoroughbred, oblivious of his audience.

"She is a Southern horse," commented Mrs. Cal-
vert. "Rather, she was. Of course you-all heard
of her poisoning? It never said whether she re-
covered. Do you know ?"

Garrison glanced up quickly, and met Sue Desha's
unwavering stare.

Garrison s Finish

"Why, I believe I did hear that she was poisoned,
or something to that effect, now that you mention
it." His eyes were still vacant.

"You look as if you had seen a ghost," laughed
Sue, her eyes on the magnolia-tree.

He laughed somewhat nervously. "I I've been

"Is the major going in for the Carter this year?"
asked the girl, turning to Mrs. Calvert. "Who will
he run Dixie?"

"I think so. She is the logical choice." Mrs. Cal-
vert was nervously prodding the gravel with her
sunshade. "Sometimes I wish he would give up
all ideas of it."

"I think father is responsible for that. Since
Rogue won the last Carter, father is horse-mad,
and has infected all his neighbors."

"Then it will be friend against friend," laughed
Mrs. Calvert. "For, of course, the colonel will run
Rogue again this year "

"I I don't think so." The girl's face was sober.
"That is," she added hastily, "I don't know. Father

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Garrison s Finish

is still in New York. I think his initial success has
spoiled him. Really, he is nothing more than a big
child." She laughed affectedly. Mrs. Calvert's
quiet, keen eyes were on her.

"Racing can be carried to excess, like everything,"
said the older woman, at length. "I suppose the
colonel will bring home with him this Mr. Water-
bury you were speaking of?"

The girl nodded. There was silence, each mem-
ber of the trio evidently engrossed with thoughts
that were of moment.

Mrs. Calvert was idly thumbing over the race-
track annual. "Here is a page torn out," she ob-
served absently. "I wonder what it was? A thing
like that always piques my curiosity. I suppose the
major wanted it for reference. But then he hasn't
seen the book yet. I wonder who wanted it? Let
me yes, it's ended here. Oh, it must have been
the photograph and record of that jockey, Billy Gar-
rison! Remember him? What a brilliant career
he had ! One never hears of him nowadays. I won-
der what became of him?"


Garrison s Finish

"Billy Garrison?" echoed Garrison slowly. "Why
I I think I've heard of him "

He was cut short by a laugh from the girl. "Oh,
you're good! Why, his name used to be a house-
hold word. You should have heard it. But, then,
I don't suppose you ever went to the track. Those
who do don't forget."

Mrs. Calvert walked slowly away. "Of course
you'll stay for lunch, Sue," she called back. "And
a canter might get up an appetite. William, I
meant to tell you before this that the major has
reserved a horse for your use. He is mild and
thoroughly broken. Crimmins will show him to
you in the stable. You must learn to ride. You'll
find riding-clothes in your room, I think. I recom-
mend an excellent teacher in Sue. Good-by, and
don't get thrown."

"Are you willing?" asked the girl curiously.

Garrison's heart was pounding strangely. His
mouth was dry. "Yes, yes," he said eagerly.

The tight- faced cockney, Crimmins, was in the
stable when Garrison, in riding-breeches, puttee leg-


Garrison s Finish

gings, etc., entered. Four names were whirling
over and over in his brain ever since they had been
first mentioned. Four names Sis, Waterbury,
Garrison, and Crimmins. He did not know why
they should keep recurring with such maddening
persistency. And yet how familiar they all seemed !

Crimmins eyed him askance as he entered.

"Coin' for a canter, sir? Ho, yuss; this 'ere is
the 'orse the marster said as 'ow you were to ride,
sir. It don't matter which side yeh get on. 'E's as
stiddy-goin' as a alarum clock. Ho, yuss. I calls
'im Waterbury Watch partly because I 'appen to
'ave a brother wot's trainer for Mr. Waterbury, the
turfman, sir."

Crimmins shifted his cud with great satisfaction
at this uninterrupted flow of loquacity and biilliant
humor. Garrison was looking the animal over in-
stinctively, his hands running from hock to withers
and back again.

"How old is he?" he asked absently.

"Three years, sir. Ho, yuss. Thoroughbred.
Cast-off from the Duryea stable. By Sysonby out


Garrison s Finish

of Hamburg Belle. Won the Brighton Beach over-
night sweepstakes in nineteen an' four. Ho, yuss.
Just a little off his oats, but a bloomin' good 'orse."

Garrison turned, speaking mechanically. "I won-
der do you think I'm a fool ! Sysonby himself won
the Brighton sweepstakes in nineteen-four. It was
the beginning of his racing career, and an easy win.
This animal here is a plug; an out-and-out plug of
the first water. He never saw Hamburg Belle or
Sysonby they never mated. This plug's a seven-
year-old, and he couldn't do seven furlongs in seven
weeks. He never was class, and never could be. I
don't want to ride a cow, I want a horse. Give me
that two-year-old black filly with the big shoulders.
Whose is she?"

Crimmins shifted the cud again to hide his as-
tonishment at Garrison's sudden savoir-faire.

"She's wicked, sir. Bought for the missus, but
she ain't broken yet."

"She hasn't been handled right. Her mouth's
hard, but her temper's even. I'll ride her," said
Garrison shortly.

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Garrison s Finish

"Have to wear blinkers, sir."

"No, I wont. Saddle her. Hurry up. Shorten
the stirrup. There, that's right. Stand clear."

Crimmins eyed Garrison narrowly as he mounted.
He was quite prepared to run with a clothes-basket
to pick up the remains. But Garrison was up like
a feather, high on the filly's neck, his shoulders
hunched. The minute he felt the saddle between
his knees he was at home again after a long, long
absence. He had come into his birthright.

The filly quivered for a moment, laid back her
ears, and then was off.

"Gripes!" ejaculated the veracious Crimmins, as
wide-eyed he watched the filly fling gravel down the
drive, " 'e's got a seat like. Billy Garrison himself.
'E can ride, that kid. An' 'e knows 'orse-flesh.
Blimy if 'e don't ! If Garrison weren't down an' out
I'd be ready to tyke my Alfred David it were 'is
bloomin' self. An' I thought 'e was a dub! Ho,
yuss me !"

Moralizing on the deceptiveness of appearances,

Garrison s Finish

Crimmins fortified himself with another slab of cut-

Miss Desha, up on a big bay gelding with white
stockings, was waiting on the Logan Pike, where
the driveway of Calvert House swept into it.

"Do you know that you're riding Midge, and that
she's a hard case?" she said ironically, as they can-
tered off together. "I'll bet you're thrown. Is she
the horse the major reserved for you? Surely

"No," said Garrison plaintively, "they picked
me out a cow a nice, amiable cow; speedy as a
traction-engine, and with as much action. This is a
little better."

The girl was silent, eying him steadily through
narrowed lids.

"You've never ridden before?"

"Um-m-m," said Garrison; "why, yes, I suppose
so." He laughed in sudden joy. "It feels so good,"
he confided.

"You remind me of a person in a dream," she
said, after a little, still watching him closely.


The girl's laugh floated tantalizingly over his shoulder.


Garrison s Finish

"Nothing seems real to you your past, I mean.
You only think you have done this and that."

He was silent, biting his lip.

"Come on, I'll race you," she cried suddenly. "To
that big poplar down there. See it? About two
furlongs. I'll give yod twenty yards' start. Don't
fall off."

"I gave, never took, handicaps." The words
came involuntarily to (Garrison's surprise. "Come
on; even up," he added hurriedly. "Ready?"

"Yes. Let her out."

The big bay gelding was off first, with the lohg,
heart-breaking stride that eats up the ground. The
girl's laugh floated back tantalizingly over her shoul-
der. Garrison hunched in the saddle, a smile on his
lips. He knew the quality of the flesh under him,
and that it would not be absent at the call.

"Tote in behind, girlie. He got the jump on
you. That's it. Nip his heels." The seconds flew
by like the trees ; the big poplar rushed Up. "Now,
now. Make a breeze, make a breeze," sang out Gar-
rison at the quarter minute; atld like a. lohg, black

Garrison s Finish

streak of smoke the filly hunched past the gelding,
leaving it as if anchored. It was the old Garrison
finish which had been track-famous once upon a
time, and as Garrison eased up his hard-driven
mount a queer feeling of exultation swelled his
heart; a feeling which he could not quite under-

"Could I have been a jockey once?" he kept ask-
ing himself over and over. "I wonder could I have
been! I wonder!"

The next moment the gelding had ranged up

"I'll bet that was close to twenty-four, the track
record," said Garrison unconsciously. "Pretty fair
for dead and lumpy going, eh ? Midge is a comer,
all right. Good weight-carrying sprinter. I fancy
that gelding. Properly ridden he would have given
me a hard drive. We were even up on weight."

"And so you think I cannot ride properly!" said
the girl quietly, arranging her wind-blown hair.

"Oh, yes. But women can't really ride class, you
know. It isn't in them."


Garrison s Finish

She laughed a little. "I'm satisfied now. You
know I was at the Carter Handicap last year."

"Yes?" said Garrison, unmoved. He met her
eyes fairly.

"Yes, you know Rogue, father's horse, won.
They say Sis, the favorite, had the race, but was
pulled in the stretch." She was smiling a little.

"Indeed ?" murmured Garrison, with but indiffer-
ent interest.

She glanced at him sharply, then fell to pleating
the gelding's mane. "Um-m-m," she added softly.
"Billy Garrison, you know, rode Sis."

"Oh, did he?"

"Yes. And, do you know, his seat was identical
.with yours?" She turned and eyed him steadily.

"I'm flattered."

"Yes," she continued dreamily, the smile at her
lips; "it's funny, of course, but Billy Garrison used
to be my hero. We silly girls all have one."

"Oh, well," observed Garrison, "I dare say any
number of girls loved Billy Garrison. Popular idol,
you know "

Garrison s Finish

"I dare say," she echoed dryly. "Possibly the
dark, clinging kind."

He eyed her wonderingly, but she was looking
very innocently at a peregrinating chipmunk.

"And it was so funny," she ran on, as if she had
not heard his observation nor made one herself.
"Coming home in the train from the Aqueduct the
evening of the handicap, father left me for a mo-
ment to go into the smoking-car. And who do you
think should be sitting opposite me, two seats ahead,

but Who do you think?" Again she turned

and held his eyes.

"Why some long-lost girl-chum, I suppose,"
said Garrison candidly.

She laughed; a laugh that died and was reborn
and died again in a throaty gurgle. "Why, no, it
was Billy Garrison himself. And I was being an-
noyed by a beast of a man, when Mr. Garrison got
up, ordered the beast out of the seat beside me, and
occupied it himself, saying it was his. It was done
so beautifully. And he did not try to take ad-


Garrisons Finish

vantage of his courtesy in the least, And then
guess what happened." Still her eyes held his.

"Why," answered Garrison vaguely, "er let me
see. It seems as if I had heard of that before
somewhere. Let me see. Probably it got into the

papers No, I cannot remember. It has gone.

I have forgotten. And what did happen next ?"

"Why, father returned, saw Mr. Garrison raise
his hat in answer to my thanks, and, thinking he
had tried to scrape an acquaintance with me, threw
him out of the seat. He did not recognize him."

"That must have been a little bit tough on Garri-
son, eh?" laughed Garrison idly. "Now that you
mention it, it seems as if I had heard it."

"I've always wanted to apologize to Mr. Garrison,
though I do not know him he does not know me,"
said the girl softly, pleating the gelding's name at a
great rate. "It was all a mistake, of course. I
wonder I wonder if if he held it against me I"

"Oh, very likely he's forgotten all about it long
ago," said Garrison cheerfully.

She bit her lip and was silent. "I wonder," she

Garrison s Finish

resumed, at length, "if he would like me to apolo-
gize and thank him " She broke off, glancing

at him shyly.

"Oh, well, you never met him again, did you?"
asked Garrison. "So what does it matter? Merely
an incident."

They rode a furlong in absolute silence. Again
the girl was the first to speak. "It is queer," she
moralized, "how fate weaves our lives. They run
along in threads, are interwoven for a time with
others, dropped, and then interwoven again. And
what a pattern they make !"

"Meaning?" he asked absently.

She tapped her lips with the palm of her little

"That I think you are absurd."

"I?" He started. "How? Why? I don't un-
derstand. What have I done now?"

"Nothing.. That's just it."

"I don't understand."

"No? Um-m-m, of course it is your secret. I
am not trying to force a confidence. You have your


Garrison s Finish

own reasons for not wishing your uncle and aunt
to know. But I never believed that Garrison threw
the Carter Handicap. Never, never, never. I I
thought you could trust me. That is all."

"I don't understand a word not a syllable," said
Garrison restlessly. "What is it all about?"

The girl laughed, shrugging her shoulders. "Oh,
nothing at all. The return of a prodigal. Only I
have a good memory for faces. You have changed,
but not very much. I only had to see you ride to be
certain. But I suspected from the start. You see,
I admit frankly that you once were my hero. There
is only one Billy Garrison."

"I don't see the moral to the parable." He shook
his head hopelessly.

"No?" She flushed and bit her lip. "William
C. Dagget, you're Billy Garrison, and you know
it!" she said sharply, turning and facing him.
"Don't try to deny it. You are, are, are! I know
it. You took that name because you didn't wish
your relatives to know who you were. Why don't
you 'fess up? What is the use of concealing it?


Garrison s Finish

You've nothing to be ashamed of. You should be
proud of your record. I'm proud of it. Proud
that that well, that I rode a race with you to-
day. You're hiding your identity; afraid of what
your uncle and aunt might say afraid of that Car-
ter Handicap affair. As if we didn't know you
always rode as straight as a string." Her cheeks
were flushed, her eyes flashing.

Garrison eyed her steadily. His face was white,
his breath coming hot and hard. Something was
beating beating in his brain as if striving to jam
through. Finally he shook his head.

"No, you're wrong. It's a case of mistaken iden-
tity. I am not Garrison."

Her gray eyes bored into his. "You really mean
that Eilly:?"

"I do."

"On your word of honor? By everything
you hold most sacred? Take your time in an-

"It wouldn't matter if I waited till the resurrec-
tion. I can't change myself. I'm not Garrison.


Garrison s Finish

Faith of a gentleman, I'm not. Honestly, Sue/'
He laughed a little nervously.

Again her gray eyes searched his. She sighed.
"Of course I take your word."

She fumbled in her bosom and brought forth a
piece of paper, carefully smoothing out its crumpled
surface. Without a word she handed it to Garrison,
and he spread it out on his filly's mane. It was a
photograph of a jockey Billy G-.rrison. The face
was more youthful, care- free. Otherwise it was a
fair likeness.

"You'll admit it looks somewhat like you," said
Sue, with great dryness.

Garrison studied it long and carefully. "Yes
I do," he murmured, in a perplexed tone. "A dou-
ble. Funny, isn't it ? Where did you get it ?" She
laughed a little, flushing.

"I was silly enough to think you were one and
the same, and that you wished to conceal your iden-
tity from your relatives. So I made occasion to
steal it from the book your aunt was about to read.


Garrison s Finish

Remember? It was the leaf she thought the major
had abstracted."

"I must thank you for your kindness, even though
it went astray. May I have it?"

"Ye-es. And you are sure you are not the
original ?"

"I haven't the slightest recollection of being Billy
Garrison," reiterated Billy Garrison, wearily and

The ride home was mostly one of silence. Both
were thinking. As they came within sight of Cal-
vert House the girl turned to him:

"There is one thing you can do ride. Like
glory. Where did you more than learn?"

"Must have been born with me."

"What's bred in the bone will come out in the
blood," she quoted enigmatically. She was smi-
ling in a way that made Garrison vaguely uncom-



Snark Shows His Fangs.

Alone in his room that night Garrison endeavored
to focus the stray thoughts, suspicions that the day's
events had set running through his brain. All Sue
Desha had said, and had meant without saying, had
been photographed on the sensitized plate of his
memory that plate on which the negatives of the
past were but filmy shadows. Now, of them all,
the same Garrison was on the sky-line of his im-

Could it be possible that Billy Garrison and he
were one and the same? And then that incident
of the train. Surely he had heard it before, some-
where in the misty long ago. It seemed, too, as if
it had occurred coincidently with the moment he

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