The Remittance Man, A Tale of a Prodigal
by W.A. Fraser
DEAN RUTHVEN, living in England, had a son,
George. This would have been a very ordinary state
of affairs in the ordinary course of events; but
that George Ruthven was the son of a dean, or of
any other great church dignitary, was most
certainly a rather unbelievable fact. His life was
about as uncanonized an affair as one of the way of
Piccadilly civilization, and maintained by parental
Of course, George was consigned to
some one--he and his ten thousand pounds that was
to start him in cattle ranching; but that didn't
matter--nothing matters in the West, for things
must work out their own salvation there. Besides,
what mattered it how the money was spent? It would
go anyway: remittance men weren't expected to make
money--they were there to spend it; sent by a
Providence which answered the prayers of the men in
waiting, the Old-timers.
So when the son of the Dean landed
in Cargelly he was welcomed as a part of the manna
shower, made free of the club, and colloquially
branded the "Padre."
There was no Board of Trade in
Cargelly--just a billiard table at the club. And
the Padre's affairs were arranged as the affairs of
the other remittance men had been, by the chiefs,
sitting in solemn conclave about this substitute
for a council board.
"A shoemaker should stick to his
last," was a patent philosophy; the Padre herding
cattle was a grotesque conception. What good would
it do--the cattle would die of anthrax, or some
other infernal thing that was always bothering, and
the golden sovereigns he had brought would somehow
be lost out on the dismal plain. It was the stupid
calculation of a man sitting in London, this idea
of Padre's proper sphere. What he knew all about
was horses and racing--there was no doubt about
that; he was jolly well full of the thing.
Of course, he would have to have a
ranch and a shack; but that was easy: so many
square miles of air, bottomed by a short-grassed
plain. It didn't even have to be surveyed; it ran
from Smythe's Ranch to Dick's Coulee--ambiguous,
but wholly satisfactory for all requirements.
Then a shack was thrown together;
the ark, battering-rammed into a square building,
would have been an artistic villa by comparison.
The selection of the race-horses
required more care. Several of the chaps had
horses to sell; incidentally every racing man has a
horse or two waiting for a buyer more eager than
wise. However, in the end the Padre was fairly
well stocked with horses.
Sport of Kings! but the gods had
been kind to the dwellers in the wilderness when
Dean Ruthven had been hypnotized into sending
George the Wayward to the tents of Shem.
And while the direct offerings
contributed in London went to the heathen in Africa
and divers other places, the indirect, that was the
Dean's by right of arrangement, helped clothe the
heathen in Cargelly and educate his tenderfoot son
in a knowledge of men's ways.
Of course, ten thousand pounds
requires some accounting for if it be expended, and
the Padre sent home a fairy tale that would have
gained him a prize in any literary competition.
The rolling prairie was handled with conventional
skill; the invigorating atmosphere was treated
artistically; the future of the cattle trade was
culled from government blue books. His own ranch,
"The Deanery," was touched upon with diplomatic
modesty; it would not do for him to boast of his
success at this early stage, he stated, but he had
most assuredly stumbled upon a real good thing. He
wrote this last statement quite inadvertently, for
the good thing so prominent in his mind was
Whirlwind, a Montana-bred four-year-old mare; but
he allowed the statement to stand.
The Dean was delighted when he
received this epistle; the Padre had stated at the
club that his father would be.
The career of a racing man is always
checkered, and the Padre had his ups and downs--a
whole raft of downs.
But there was no doubt about his
popularity, for he had just the sunniest nature
that a man could possibly have. His friends did
not despoil him through any sense of meanness; they
simply felt that remittance money had been
predestined for the good of the greatest number.
Socialistic faith condoned all their acts of
Encouraged by his first literary
effort, George drew such Utopian pen-pictures of
his ranch life that the Dean began to long for a
sight of the paradise which contained his son.
As the ten thousand pounds dwindled
into as many pence the Padre waxed more eloquent;
and in the end something akin to a falling of the
That night the Padre strode into the
"Ranchers' Club" with the hoarfrost of an
approaching domestic storm thick upon him.
"What do you suppose is up, you
fellows?" he gasped.
"Not Whirlwind! Not gone wrong, has
she?" queried one excitedly.
"Bah!" ejaculated the Padre; "do you
think I'd make a fuss about that?"
"Let a man guess," commanded Major
Lance. "Sunflower has gone back on the Padre."
Sunflower was a girl--also in the story.
"Don't chaff," pleaded the Padre,
petulantly. "This is serious business. The
Guv'nor is coming out--by Jove!"
A silence, an unhealthy quiet,
settled over the Council.
"He'll be here on the twenty-first,"
continued George, despondently.
"Thunder! the race meet is on the
"That's just it," lamented the
Whirlwind must start; if she didn't,
the Winnipeg horse would clean them out.
The Padre thought ruefully of his
glamourous account of the cattle ranch and the
large herd of many cattle. Besides, the Dean was
deuced inquisitive; that was his business, to
investigate and lay bare the truth.
"I say, you fellows," cried the
Padre, "I haven't got a hoof--not a split hoof, out
at 'The Deanery.' What am I to do?"
The others had been thinking only of
Whirlwind; this was a new problem.
"You surprise me," said the Major.
"Will the Dean expect to see cattle on your ranch?"
he queried, with solicitous sarcasm.
"Don't be inquisitive!" interrupted
one. "Of course he will. What do you suppose he
is coming here for--to play whist?"
The Padre stroked his mustache and
"Who's got any cattle?" queried the
Major. "Here, Lancaster, you have."
"Oh, they're all mixed up with
everybody else's on the range."
"All the better," retorted the
Major. "Some of you fellows must round up a tidy
bunch of a couple of hundred, and run them out to
'The Deanery' for Ruthven. His Guv'nor is coming
out here to see something, and we can't give the
country a black eye."
"Gad! I should say not," chipped in
the owner of Pot Luck Ranch. "He'd go back and
stop all emigration; then what would become of you
chaps with no remittance Johnnies to batten off?"
"By Jove! You fellows are a good
lot," declared the Padre; "that's a weight off my
mind. I've been in no end of a blue funk ever
since I got the pater's letter. About
"Yes, what about the mare?" they all
cried in simultaneous anxiety.
"Well, the Guv'nor's death on
"Strange," muttered the Major,
"Don't be a flippant goat," snapped
Ruthven. "He hates race-horses worse
"Than the man in opposition,"
volunteered Pot Luck.
"Exactly--if possible," concurred
"Cable him you're dead, Padre,"
suggested a big giant from whose broad shoulders
hung a silk-worked buckskin coat.
"That wouldn't stop him," said the
Padre; "nothing will stop him--you don't know the
Guv'nor, you fellows. When he gets an idea in his
head you've simply got to sit tight and dodge the
idea--that's all; I know him."
"Coming on the twenty-first," mused
the Major; "and the races are on the
twenty-ninth--a whole week; doubt if he'll stay
"Hope not," ejaculated the son. "It
wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to ride the
measly beast myself; she doesn't gallop well for
anyone else. How the deuce am I to work her, with
the Guv'nor about?"
"By George!" exclaimed Pot Luck; "if
the Dean stays we must get Sunflower to help us
out; she's clever--there's no doubt about
that--just confide the whole business to her, and
she'll keep him out of the way."
Then for days the Council in their
spare moments prepared for the advent of Dean
Ruthven. The Padre's ranch was stocked with
cattle; the shack knocked into some sort of shape;
empty bottles thrown into a little coulee; a
permanent staff of two servants put on; three or
four cow-punchers hired to patrol the range; and an
evanescent air of prosperity sprayed over the
All these details were arranged by
the Council; the Padre was told off to the training
of Whirlwind and the other equine marvels in his
The Sunflower, so named because she
was just like one of the slender, bright, happy,
delicate-leaved sunflowers of the prairie, would
most certainly have done a great deal more than
this for the Padre, because--because--well, never
mind. Love is a compelling master. She was of
good family, and lived with her brother, Colonel
Sloan, who was Indian Agent on the Blood Reserve.
The Colonel was not of the Council, and had an idea
that his sister might do much better than marry
As arranged in the calendar, the
twenty-first came around in its proper place, and,
according to a telegram received, the Dean would
arrive by train that night, or, really, next
morning, at two o'clock.
The Council passed a resolution,
unanimously, that they would act as a bodyguard to
the Padre upon the arrival of his father. The late
hour was no bar to this, for, as a rule, Cargelly
went to bed very early--in the morning.
Divers games of more or less
scientific interest helped while away the time, and
the Club steward had received orders to pass the
word in time for them to reach the station before
the arrival of Dean Ruthven's train.
George was arrayed in orthodox, more
than orthodox, ranch costume. Beginning at the
bottom, his feet were tight cramped in narrow,
high-heeled, Mexican-spurred riding boots; brown
leather chapps, long-fringed up the sides, spread
their wide expanse from boot to hip; a belt, wide
as a surcingle, acted as a conjunction between
these and a flannel shirt, wide open on his
sun-browned throat; buckskin coat, wide-brimmed
cowboy hat, and a general air of serious business
completed the disguise.
All the fellows approved of the
get-up. It was the usual antithesis to Regent
Street regalia; all the remittance men went in for
it when they were young in their Western novitiate.
"It will be worth a thousand pounds
to you, at least," the Major said.
"It will gladden your parent's
heart," declared Pot Luck; "damned if you don't
look as funny as Buffalo Bill."
Ruthven stalked across the hardwood
floor of the billiard room proudly; his
narrow-heeled boots jingled their old spurs until
they clanked a victorious pæan. Everybody
"Touch him for two thousand
guineas," hazarded Drake, who was in from his ranch
at Stand Off; "hanged if I ever saw a better set-up
cowpuncher than you are, Padre."
"Wish the Sunflower could see him
now," muttered Pot Luck; "she'd giv him his
"Train's on time, gentlemen," said
the steward, at the billiard-room door; "she'll be
here in five minutes."
As the Council trooped out the
steward told the second steward that he "reckoned
as 'ow the Goov'nor of the Territories was coming
up from Regina. There'll be Gimmy-'ell to pay,
too, if it's 'im, for 'e's a corker--an all-night
bird." He didn't know it was a dean coming all the
way from London to see his reformed son.
Ruthven walked up and down the
station platform with less assurance than he had in
the club billiard room. "I'll be in a bally hat,"
he confided to the Major, "if the Guv'nor finds out
anything; and he's got eyes like a fluorescent
lamp. At home he spoiled one of the best
coups any man ever had, and said he was
glad of it, too, though it broke me."
The blare eye of the express swayed
drunkenly around a curve; giant wheels crunched
from steel rails an unofficial announcement of Dean
Ruthven's arrival. It startled the Padre--it was
like a premonition of evil. A heavy-eyed porter
struggled from the sleeper, dark, bulging objects
clinging to him at every angle; behind came a slim,
stoop-shouldered man in a heavy ulster.
"That's the Guv'nor," murmured
Ruthven and, striding forward, took cheery
possession of the Dean. It was an eye-opener to
the ecclesiastical traveller, this reception of
much multitude: also what a whole-souled grip these
Westerners of stalwart frame were so prodigal of.
They were introduced en masse--for the
Western night wind was bleak--as George's
Of course most of them really were
ranchers of sorts; and almost every one had a
brand--also of sorts. However, Dean Ruthven and
his son marched at the head of a goodly company to
the hotel. There, in the warm light, the Council
were introduced individually, and pressed upon the
pleased Dean a whole-souled invitation to spend a
week or more at every ranch.
My! but the Dean was proud of his
son. He attributed the inspiration that had
induced him to send George to Cargelly to the very
highest authority. He told the Padre this in a
moist voice he was so sure of it that Ruthven said
not a word about Whirlwind or any other
dispensation of his own arranging.
After his father had retired Ruthven
joined the Council at their club, and the plan of
campaign was more definitely traced on the map.
"We've omitted something," said the
Major. "You've got three cow-punchers, Padre, but
you'll need an overseer; it quite slipped my
memory. They're great on the overseer business in
the old land; I know them. One of you fellows will
have to volunteer--it adds dignity to the
Drake said he'd go, for he wasn't
returning to Stand Off till after the Meet, anyway.
Next day the Dean, young Ruthven,
and the newly evolved overseer drove out to "The
Deanery," ten miles south. The Western air, made
tonic by ozone which it had picked up in the
Rockies, plain to view not fifty miles away,
tingled the nerves of the London churchman and
sweet-breathed his heart until the short-grassed
prairie, flower-studded and bright sky-topped, full
of its great measure of boundless rest and
untortured calm, almost blotted out all other
desirable places from the face of the earth. No
wonder his son had reformed; in such surroundings a
man must become a child of Nature, a simple doer of
good deeds--become filled with a desire to benefit
his fellow-men. He would take care that friends of
his at home, two friends in particular, who also
had sons of unblest restlessness, should know of
this safe haven for the wayward craft.
Sitting beside his stalwart boy, he
of the divers race-horses, the Dean thought these
beautiful thoughts, and made a mental calculation
that, speaking of sordid things, he would spare
another five thousand pounds if his son's ranching
business seemed to require it. By a remarkable
telepathic coincidence, George the Padre was at
that very moment wondering how much he might induce
his father to advance. He was actually in somewhat
of a financial hole; unless he managed to win the
Ranchers' Cup at the forthcoming Meet, the hole
would grow so deep that he would probably come out
in China or some other place.
The prairie road, builded by nothing
but the wheels that had fashioned its course, was
as smooth as a boulevard, so they were at the ranch
in less than two hours. The shack was not like
anything the Dean had ever seen in England. Once
he had seen a couple of goods carriages that had
suffered in a run-off, and, somehow or other, this
memory came back to him at sight of his son's
residence. He had brought a bag of clothes,
meaning to stay several days--but he didn't.
Ruthven and the overseer would ride
their horses to where the herd was out on the
range, and the Dean would drive the buckboard in
which they had come. And there were cattle right
enough--cattle all over the range, for the Council
had done its work with great executive ability and
indiscriminate selection. Probably no rancher had
ever owned such a variety of brands; if the cattle
could have been stood on end, one on top of the
other, they would have constituted a fair obelisk,
with a charming diversity of hieroglyphics. The
Council had either forgotten all about this matter
of brands, or trusted to the churchman's ignorance
of mundane affairs.
The Dean was delighted; it was like
handling the gold from a mine in which he had
George and the overseer rode out to
drive up the steers so that the Dean might sit in
his buckboard and review them, much as a general
has soldiers file past.
"There goes the Toreador's Delight,"
cried the man from Stand Off to George, as they
galloped, pointing to a big short-horn bull.
"Where in the name of the Chinook did he come
"He belongs to the Gridiron Ranch,"
answered the Padre; "though personally he thinks he
owns the whole prairie himself, for he's got a
beastly temper. I hope he doesn't take umbrage at
the Guv'nor's presence, and raid the buckboard."
"He won't bother him so long as he's
in the buckboard; I shouldn't like to meet him
afoot though. Any of them are bad enough when a
man's set afoot; but this brute is worse than a
"Gad!" laughed George; "the fellows
have rounded up every hoof within a hundred miles,
I believe. I'm afraid they've overdone it.
Instead of parting, the Guv'nor will want a
As George and his cowboys hustled up
the laggard animals, Toreador's Delight sauntered
nonchalantly up to where the Dean sat in his trap.
As Drake had said, if Dean Ruthven had stuck to his
ship the al fresco bull fight that
presently matured would not have materialized; but
the Dean was as inquisitive as an old hen, and,
like the bait of an evil fate, on the bull's side
was a diabolical-looking brand. It was the huge
Gridiron of the Gridiron Ranch. More than that it
was semi-raw, for they had lately acquired Toreador
and thrown their brand on him. "A frightfully
cruel thing," mused the Dean; "poor brute!"
Through his humane mind, also
meddlesome, flashed divers schemes for marking
cattle, quite superior to this barbarous method.
"Poor old chap!" he murmured. The bull was eying
him with a plaintive, hurt expression, that fairly
went to the old man's heart. Swarms of fiendish
flies, tormenting the cattle in a general way,
assailed this tender brand-mark on the bull with
"It's a shame--poor old chap!"
ejaculated the Dean, putting the reins down,
picking up his umbrella, and descending from his
chariot. Toreador's Delight eyed this departure
with eager wistfulness; at least the old man
"Soh, bossy," called the Dean, in a
soothing voice, as he walked over to old Toreador.
The bull backed up a little; a man on foot was
something new to him--a man on foot in a long,
black coat and a high white collar was something
utterly new. A horseman was part of the range--he
could understand that; but this new something
coming straight for him brought a light in his eye
that Dean Ruthven should have been more familiar
with than he was.
"Soh, bossy! don't be frightened--I
won't hurt you," he assured the bull, edging around
to drive the flies from his tender side.
Toreador answered nothing; he was
simply waiting for the attack to begin--he was
There! with a deft side-step and a
brush of the umbrella the Dean had put the wicked
torturing flies to flight.
As the brass-ringed end of the
umbrella touched the seared bars on Toreador's side
he gave a bellow of outraged surprise. That was
where the attack was to be made, eh? With lowered
head, in which fairly blazed two lurid,
red-streaked eyes, he whisked about, and steadied
himself for a charge.
Even as the flies had fled, so fled
the Dean; he departed with extreme velocity. Light
of frame and nimble of foot, he saved himself from
the first rush, and made for the buckboard. Also
did Toreador. It seemed something substantial to
get at, this part of the thing that had stung him
in the side.
As Dean Ruthven skipped behind the
wheels the bull crashed into it; the horse,
surmising that there was trouble in the air,
diligently pattered over the plain, leaving one of
the hind wheels strung on Toreador's horns. The
Dean had thrown all his ecclesiastical dignity to
the winds--even his coat, and was busily heading
for the much-despised shack.
Toreador gathered up the coat with a
frantic jab, and it nestled down over the spokes of
the wheel he was carrying.
Fortunately for the humane parson
his son had seen from a distance his attempt on the
friendship of the bull. "My God--Drake!" he
exclaimed, "the Guv'nor's afoot! Old Toreador will
pin him sure as a gun!"
"Of all the stupid tricks--gallop,
With quirt and spur the two lashed
their broncos into a frenzy of speed. The prairie
swirled dizzily under the reaching hoofs of their
straining steeds. Would they be in time? The
crash of the buckboard startled a muffled cry from
George as he drove cruel, cutting rowels up his
bronco's flank. Would he be in time?
On they galloped, neck and neck,
throwing loose their lariats as they leaned far
forward and coaxed their broncos to give the last
ounce of speed that was in their strong limbs.
Even the horses knew! How they galloped! The
racing seat of young Ruthven helped his mount, and
he drew away from the man from Stand Off.
When Toreador checked for an instant
at the black coat, the horsemen were not a hundred
yards away. The Dean was fleeing for his life.
Now behind him thundered the maddened bull; fifty
yards! thirty! twenty! What an interminable age it
took to cut down the brute's lead.
Now Ruthven's bronco had his nose on
Toreador's quarter, galloping as though he knew a
life was at stake. His rider raised his right arm
and swung the lasso. Would it go true? Would it
hold? The bull's horns were low as he
galloped--would the rope miss? If it did, by a
hair's breadth, the Dean, who was almost under the
huge nose, would surely be killed.
"Good boy!" shrieked Drake, as the
lariat sang in its tense strength and the noose
slipped tight and strong over Toreador's horns.
"Swish!" went the other rope; and the two
broncos, thrown on their haunches, fairly skidded
over the smooth grass plain, carried by the
impetuous rush of the huge bull.
But Toreador was stopped; and the
Dean, with blanched face, tumbled in a heap, twenty
"You're not hurt, Guv'nor?" called
the son, as he and Drake, sitting well back in
their saddles, held the snorting Toreador
tight-lashed in subjection.
"No, thank Providence!--and you
also, boy; just shaken up a bit--that's all."
"Well, you'd better walk on to the
shack, if you can manage it, and we'll give this
brute a run that'll cure him for a day or two."
It was most decidedly a close shave;
it also most effectually cured the Dean of any
lurking desire to spend a few days in the seclusion
of a quiet ranch.
"Your father will want to leave
soon, sure, after this," confided Drake.
"By Jove! we were just in time,"
muttered the Padre.
After the Toreador had been
galloped, quirt-lashed and bronco-hustled until his
tongue lolled like a wet rag, the two horsemen
cantered to the shack. The Dean had had enough
inspection for one day; also he was too much
battered about to sit a saddle to Cargelly; and, as
has been said, Toreador had thrown the buckboard
slightly out of gear.
If the churchman had been proud of
his son before over the huge herd of borrowed
cattle, he now fairly worshipped him because of his
manly rescue. He dwelt at great length upon the
hard life his dear boy must be leading--of course
this was quite true, literally, but the Dean meant
a totally different hard life--a hard life of
exposure, riding the ranges, roping cattle, and all
the rest of it.
But the Padre had not picked up the
roping business as a working exercise; he had taken
to it as part of the racing game, so that he might
compete in the annual sport.
Next morning they jogged back to
Cargelly. The Padre was wondering whether his
father would decide to leave that night or next
day. The Dean set his mind at rest on this point
by observing: "George, at first I meant to spend
but a couple of days with you, but--but--well,
never mind--you'll be pleased to know that I have
changed my mind----"
"He's going to-night,"
thought the Padre.
"I shall stop at least a week--I can
manage it," and the Dean laid a hand tenderly on
his son's arm.
The Padre groaned inwardly.
That night, after the Dean had gone
to bed, the Council took up all these many matters,
and discussed them diplomatically. The saving of
the old gentleman's life would, of course, bring
funds to the Padre; also the stocking of the ranch
had been most successfully managed. If it weren't
for the race meeting there could be no harm in the
Dean's staying with them; but how in the world were
they to keep him out of the way long enough to try
Whirlwind with the new horse, Gray Bird, that
Ruthven had just got up from Montana? In fact,
what were they to do with him on race day itself?
"We could manage the trial," said
"But I've got to be there myself,"
pleaded the Padre, "and I can't leave the Guv'nor."
"Do any of you fellows know a
church--say ten or twenty miles out?" queried the
"There's one at Bow River Crossing,"
"That'll do," declared the officer;
"you can work it. Get the clergyman there to
invite the Dean to some sort of a tea-fight--read a
lecture to young men on the evils of amateur sport,
or something of that sort."
"What about me?" broke in the Padre.
"You won't have to go," retorted
Lance; "one of the fellows will slip out in the
morning and start a fire in the grass on your ranch
and gallop back in time to nail you for that
"And have the trial that day?"
queried Pot Luck.
"Jupiter! but who'll attend the
lecture?" asked Drake of Stand Off. "I want to see
"So you may, Dick," assured the
Major; "but the other fellows from the Crossing
It was a brilliant idea, worthy of
the Council. It was arranged Thursday night.
Friday and also Saturday the Dean clung to his son
with appalling persistence; where the Padre went
his father went; to the club--everywhere.
A gloom settled down over the
Council; billiards, even, were a thing of the past.
The cry "Here they come!" rang through the
ranchers' retreat at least a dozen times a day.
Magazines, and papers, and books, that heretofore
had only served as ornament, were constantly lying
at everybody's elbow. The Dean thought them the
most studious lot of men he had ever met; they were
Friday afternoon the Dean said he
would have a nap at the hotel. George hurried down
to the club, and the Council were soon deep in an
intricate puzzle over some red, white, and blue
ivory chips. In the middle of it a steward opened
the door and announced: "A reverend gentleman
a-lookin' for Mr. Ruthven!" At his shoulder was
George sprang to his feet. Luckily
the Major was playing. "I assure you, Mr.
Ruthven," he said, addressing the Padre, and
seemingly quite oblivious of the Deans entrance; "I
assure you that you need not grab up the cards in
that way, and try to stop the gentlemen from
playing, for we are not breaking the rules of the
club at all; this is not gambling--it's a new game
called 'Stock the Ranch.' It's purely scientific,
similar to the German military game. These
counters represent steers, and its study is a great
help to young ranchers."
"I'm glad to hear that," gasped
young Ruthven, with a sigh of relief,
"because--because--as butler--I mean, as a director
of this club----"
Just then he caught sight of his
father, and welcomed him with eager effusion--so
glad he had come down, and all the rest of it!
Major Lance had saved the day.
That night the Dean gave his son a
check for two thousand pounds. He had
diplomatically drawn from the young hopeful the
information that such a sum would be most
acceptable; in fact, that it was sorely needed.
All the previous money had gone in ranch and stock.
Of course, in reality a certain amount of it had
gone in stock--racing stock. The Dean could see
himself that a more commodious shack was desirable;
also fencing; in fact, the utter absence of fences
had rather mystified the churchman.
Saturday the Padre had a queer
jumble of remarks for the Major.
"Look here, old man," he said, "the
Guv'nor's too good a sort to humbug--I'm going to
chuck it after the Meet."
"If it goes how?" queried Major
"Whichever way it goes. The
Guv'nor's given me two thousand sov's to buy wire
fences and things----"
"And you're going to put it on
Whirlwind," interrupted the Major; "I know."
"No, I'm not, nor on Gray Bird."
"Why not?" queried the Major; "it's
yours. Put it all on and make a killing."
"It isn't mine to bet with. What I
have up already I must race for, but I'm not going
to humbug the Guv'nor any more. If things go wrong
over this race I'm going to slip away--chuck the
whole business after the Guv'nor's gone."
"And if things go right?"
"I'm also going to chuck something
then--the racing game; but I stay--sabe? Stay and
buy steers. And I'm going to cut you fellows. I
don't mind playing up with the boys--I've done a
lot of it--but when a fellow's got to lie out of
everything it isn't good enough. When I saw the
Guv'nor down in front of that locoed bull, and all
my fault, too, having that mixed lot on the range,
it set me thinking, and I'm just getting some clear
light in on that operation."
"Well, well," exclaimed the Major,
impatiently; "perhaps you're right. But you're not
going to bungle the race for the Ranch Plate, are
"No, I've got to win that; and we've
got to have the trial, too. But I'll tell you what
it is, the Dean will have a mighty slim gang at his
"Well," queried the Major, "what are
you going to do about it?"
"Stock the meeting for him; hire
some cowboys and fellows to go, just as you chaps
ran cattle in on the range."
Major Lance whistled. "By Jove!
Padre, you're turning out quite a diplomat."
This was a good idea; and the two
men of resource went out into the highways and
byways and gathered about as unstudious a lot of
attendants for the meeting as had ever entered the
portals of any place of worship. They were paid to
attend, also were given cayuses to ride out.
Monday was a day of many things; a
day of divers interests. The prairie fire that had
been planned for the Padre's ranch conflagrated
duly on time, and the Dean had to sacrifice the
pleasure of his son's attendance at the lecture.
As Ruthven had feared, the regular
ranchers from the Crossing District, members of the
Council, and otherwise, shirked the talk, and
headed for the race course, leaving their seats to
the motley gang of paid hirelings.
Seven people cannot be said to
constitute a very large audience, but there sat
just that number facing Dean Ruthven in the little
church at Bow River Crossing.
The Dean was a man of acute sense,
in religious matters at any rate, and he tempered
the wind to the short lamb--that is, having a short
audience, he gave them a short sermon; and, somehow
feeling by intuition their moderate attainments,
gave them what was really a straight talk.
Red Mike--one of the hirelings--had
gone to the church in considerable trepidation, for
he had heard much of the solemnity of such
functions. The Dean's sensible talk pleased him so
much that, when the clergyman was leaving, Mike
felt it necessary to say a few words of thankful
congratulation. Holding out a big paw, handy in
the arts of bronco-busting and liquor-handling, he
said to him "Hanged if I don't like you, Parson."
Dean Ruthven was flattered,
naturally; this homage of the uncouth cowboy was
gratifying. He stammered a deprecating
remonstrance, claiming that he had done so little
to merit the other's good opinion.
"Yes, you have, Parson," Mike
assured him. "You're all right; you've asked me
straight why I like you so much, an' I'll give it
to you straight back. I was a bit shifty of
ministers, havin' heard as how they pumped it into
a fellow to beat the band, but to-day you've
monkeyed less with religion than anybody I mos'
ever heard speak on the subject--that's what!"
While all this was going on the men
who were supposed to be fighting fire were busy
over on Cargelly race course trying Whirlwind and
the new Montana horse, Gray Bird.
EVEN as the advent of Red Mike had
come as a slight surprise to the Parson, so also
the laborers on the race course received a shock,
for Gray Bird beat Whirlwind most decisively.
He must be a wonder, they all knew.
Now, most assuredly, they would beat the horse from
Regina, and the mare from Edmonton, and the two
cracks that were coming up from Winnipeg. Even
Whirlwind could do it, they thought, but here was a
much greater. What in the world would the Council
do with all the money they would loot from the
foreign Philistines?--that is, if a Damoclesian
sword which hung over their necks did not fall.
The sword was Dean Ruthven, and the falling of the
sword would be his discovery of his son's racing
game and the stopping of it.
"He'd stop everything!" declared the
Padre. "Didn't I tell you that he forced me in
England to give up one of the greatest certainties
any man ever had, when I could have won twenty
thousand quid over it?"
George was much dissatisfied with
the trial, in a way; but he had ridden the mare
himself, and she seemed trying all right enough.
But the fact of the matter was that, owing to his
father's presence, Whirlwind had been thrown out of
work considerably; George hadn't been able to ride
her regularly. Also his father's mishap, and the
many other things, had slightly unstrung his usual
good nerve, so he had ridden the mare with an
impatient eagerness born of the last few days of
At any rate he determined to ride
Gray Bird in the race, and trust Whirlwind to
So far as the money was concerned it
would not matter which won, for they would both
start as his entry.
But he would give the mare every
chance. She was a nervous, high-strung beast, as
sensitive as an antelope, and the Padre devised a
clever scheme. He would send her out to his ranch
and keep her there until race day; then she might
be led in quietly, and start in a sweet temper. In
his town stables, near the course, surrounded by
other horses, and tortured by the bustle of a race
preparation, Whirlwind would fret, and go to the
post in an erratic humor. She could have her
working gallops out at the ranch in the meantime.
Later this idea worked itself out
Upon Dean Ruthven's return to the
Cargelly Hotel, and as he was passing through the
office, a young clerk, of an intellect such as fate
always seizes upon when she wishes to curdle the
milk, called the reverend gentleman's attention and
handed him two missives. One was a letter, the
other a carelessly folded note decorated with the
terse superscription: "Padre Ruthven."
The Dean carried them to his room.
The letter was of no moment--an invitation from a
brother ecclesiast; the note was of a more complex
nature, involving much deliberation and three
distinct perusals. This is what it contained:
Dear Old Padre: Have just come back from
the Blood Reserve. If you can slip away from the
Guv'nor you'd better go out; Sunflower wants her
Hiawatha. Go out to buy hay for all those cattle
on your ranch.
As Dean Ruthven thought it over
carefully it appeared quite as bad an affair as the
rush of old Toreador. He was clever enough to see
through it at once. Sunflower was an Indian girl,
evidently of the Blood tribe, and she wanted to see
her Hiawatha, his son George. Also George was to
slip away on a clumsy excuse of buying hay. Dick
was a man of fruitful resource, without doubt, but
his grim joke of addressing the note "Padre"
Ruthven had been a most providential piece of
humor, for it had discovered to the father this
most terrible state of affairs.
His son, the pride of his heart, and
just when he was doing so well, too, to take up
with a squaw! This was one of the very things he
had feared slightly; he had read much of squaw
men--men who had married Indian women; it meant
their utter ruin.
He folded up the note slowly,
deliberately, and threw it on the table with a
sigh. For an hour he sat with his head on his arm,
crouched in a broken heap, trying to shut out this
terrible vision of a squaw siren. He was roused by
the energetic tramp of his son's footstep at the
"Good-evening, sir," cried George,
cheerfully, as he entered; "you got back safely?"
"Did you get on all right?" asked
the father, schooling his voice with an effort.
"Oh, yes; it was a great trial--I
mean," said George, checking himself suddenly as he
remembered that his mission that day was supposed
to be one of fire-fighting; "I mean, the fire
nearly beat us; it was a great trial to all the
fellows--there was a high wind."
"There's a note on the table,
evidently for you," said the father, indicating
with his hand the terrible missive. "The clerk
gave it to me, and I brought it up."
"Excuse me, sir," and the Padre read
Dick's brilliant literary effort. He read it
twice, watching the Dean furtively from the corner
of his eye. He was wondering if his father had
read the note. Why, in the name of fate, had his
bronco-headed friend, Dick, addressed it "Padre"
Ruthven? The Dean gave no sign; perhaps he hadn't
read it; but George felt that he must prepare for
that eventuality, so he said: "It's about some hay
out on the Blood Reserve that I can buy for my
cattle. The Indians put up hay, you know, for all
the ranchers. My friend mentions a girl's name,
and I fancy her brother's got the hay to sell. She
interprets, you know--especially if her brother's
It was a floundering sort of
diplomacy, this jumble of the Padre's; but when a
man is suddenly thrown into deep water he doesn't
always swim his very best; besides, there was a
great chance that his father had not read the note.
The clergyman gave no sign--he
preserved a silence as undemonstrative as the famed
reticence of Dean Maitland; but next morning, when
his son galloped off to purchase the apocryphal
hay, he thought out a line of action which he
conceived would straighten this tangle without
He rather startled the son on his
return by declaring that he meant to spend two or
three days out at his ranch. The news was almost
too good for belief. Now the Race Meet could go
on; surely the gods had clasped the Padre to their
"I wish to look more closely into
this ranch life," declared the Dean.
"The cattle will be scattered now,
I'm afraid," said the Padre; "the fire has driven
them out on to other ranges."
"All the better," answered his
father, "for I shall be in no danger from
short-tempered bulls; I really want a quiet rest."
Before George and his father started
for the ranch the Council learned of this happy
turn of affairs. The Padre did not have to make
any excuses to get back to the important business
on hand, for the Dean was equally anxious to get
rid of him--he had some business of his own to look
into. So the Padre, after seeing that his father
was particularly comfortable, and leaving
instructions that the whole business of the
temporary ranch staff was to be the making of the
reverend gentleman's stay pleasant, so that he
might abide contentedly with them, returned to
town, and prepared for his big coup with
Gray Bird on the morrow, Wednesday.
Dean Ruthven was full of the great
undertaking he had in hand. He had determined to
go quietly to the Blood Reserve, find this Indian
girl, Sunflower, and use his moral influence to
have her break off the unhappy alliance with his
son. He would even pay her a large sum of money.
What he would do with the son
afterward he could not determine; first, the cruel
infatuation must be disrupted.
The Padre had said in leaving that
he would gallop out in the morning to see his sire.
That night the Council were as men
who had escaped an avalanche. Diligently they
prepared for the financial collapse of all who
believed not in young Ruthven's ability to win the
The Council knew that Gray Bird
would surely win; even Whirlwind might win in spite
of her poor showing in the trial; at any rate the
Padre had them both entered--they would both start,
and the money that would come to their coffers
would be like a great remittance from the old land.
Now Wednesday morning, which was
race day, the Dean, full of his project, casually
learned from one of the ranchmen that the Blood
Reserve was close by--a matter of four miles, with
a good trail.
The son came out early; solicitously
took extra precautions for the comfort of his
respected parent; spent a little time in the
stable, and went back to town with the cheerful
information that his father had no intention of
visiting Cargelly that day.
When the cowboys rode out on to the
range, the Dean, in lieu of his own clerical frock,
slipped on a corduroy coat belonging to his son,
went quietly to the stable, and saddled a
dark-brown mare he discovered there; it was
Whirlwind, but Dean Ruthven knew nothing of her
He had some difficulty over saddles,
rejecting a heavy, Mexican, bronco-busting affair
with disdain--it was like putting an easy-chair on
a horse--as cumbersome. There was nothing else but
an English-made saddle, looking suspiciously light;
but it would do for an easy canter of four miles
The Dean had ridden much in his young days, and his
gentle seat and light hands pleased the nervous
Whirlwind; she was like a lamb with him. "What a
lovely beast!" he muttered.
At the Blood Reserve he found a
group of red-painted buildings; he had expected
only Indian lodges, not knowing anything of an
Agency. It was a distinct relief. If they
contained white people, by diplomacy he could
possibly gain much help.
Whirlwind had been there before, so
she took her rider to Colonel Sloan's door as
straight as fate might have desired.
Hospitality made everything easy;
besides, the Dean first of all was evidently a
gentleman. "Just a little call," the reverend
Whirlwind was stabled, and in the
evolution of events many things came to light. The
visitor was Dean Ruthven; Colonel Sloan was the
intimate friend of the Dean's most intimate friend
in London; ten minutes' conversation developed
that; also the invitation to luncheon which
followed was eagerly accepted.
The Colonel's sister, Marion, who
was the Sunflower--only, of course, the Dean knew
it not-- charmed him as she did all others; he
almost forgot his mission in the pleasant
He and Colonel Sloan pulled together
as though they had been friends all their lives.
Into the clergyman's mind came the light of a
cheerful prospect. Providence had surely sent him
straight to the Agent; this firm-mannered gentleman
would help him, he knew. If the Indian maid,
Sunflower, were obdurate and refused to listen to
reason, no doubt the Colonel with his authority
could send her to some other reserve--Kamchatka, or
any far-distant place.
So, as soon as the pleasant-voiced
Marion had withdrawn from the room, Dean Ruthven in
hesitating policy broached the subject.
"My dear Colonel Sloan," he
commenced; "may I--may I--ask you to help me in a
matter which is giving me great uneasiness--a most
delicate subject, I assure you?"
"With all my heart, my dear sir,"
answered the gallant Colonel; "I am at your
service--you may command me."
"Well--to tell you the truth--my
son, George, has, I fear, contracted an unfortunate
alliance. No doubt it's one of those reckless
infatuations which young men are prone to, and
probably he hasn't any serious intentions; but in
that case it is, if possible, even worse--quite
dishonorable; I assure you, my dear Colonel, I
consider it dishonorable on his part."
Colonel Sloan was listening with
well-bred interest, passing his hand leisurely down
the back of a fox terrier that had jumped on his
knee. He felt flattered by the confidence of this
church dignitary; also he knew young Ruthven fairly
well by reputation.
The speaker continued: "Yesterday,
quite by accident, or, perhaps it was the finger of
Providence, I discovered the existence of this
Maid Marion came into the room at
this juncture, and the Colonel, skilled in
resourceful diplomacy, gave her a commission that
required her considerable absence. When she had
gone the Dean proceeded:
"This is a matter that possibly
concerns someone in your charge, Colonel--the girl,
The Colonel started visibly, but
tipped the fox terrier from his knee to conceal his
"You, no doubt, will have an
influence over her," said the Dean, with futile
imbecility, "so I shall confide in you to the
The Colonel coughed and lighted a
cigar. What in the world was coming!
"Now, I think it must be broken off
at all costs," declared his tormentor; "at all
costs; in fact, I am prepared to pay a large sum of
money, if necessary, to prevent this misalliance."
"Quite so!" interjected Colonel
Sloan, in a dry voice.
"For, you see, it would never do;
would it, Colonel?"
"I think not," answered the Agent.
"No, it would break his mother's
heart. Fancy taking a girl of that sort home to
England--if his intentions were really honorable,
which I fear they are not. I know I should feel
the disgrace very keenly."
"Everybody would!" declared the
"Quite true. I have no doubt you
know the girl I refer to, for, as I have said, she
is in your charge.
"Possibly," commented the Colonel,
dryly; "you haven't mentioned the young lady's
"She's not exactly a lady,"
corrected the Dean; "I refer to a girl known as
The Colonel sprang to his feet with
an exclamation horrible in the ears of a
"What do you mean, you hound? Have
you come here to insult my sister through me--and
over your profligate son?"
The Dean was also on his feet, the
light of a dreadful fright in his watery gray eyes.
"Insult you, my dear sir--your
sister--what is all this--what are you talking
"Yes, my sister, Sunflower--Marion."
The stricken Dean moaned. "I
understood that Sunflower was an Indian girl--a
squaw; at least, I thought she was. This puts an
entirely different face on the matter--please
forgive me--I--I--oh, what shall I say? Forgive
me--I will explain."
The explanation was tortuous,
broken, full of deep humiliation, contrite
repentance, and in all the misery of it a glorious
sense of relief that his son had not taken up with
a squaw, but was evidently in love with this
beautiful girl of good family. Peace finally
reigned, for the Colonel was a man of much sense,
and felt not like humiliating this churchman who
was so thoroughly in earnest over his son's
"I am so glad I came, in spite of
the terrible blunder I made," wept the Dean. "I do
hope that--that--we shall understand each
other better--I may say, be closer united. Your
sister has quite won my heart, and I hope
she has George's also."
At that moment a stranger knocked at
the door. When admitted he explained that he had
come for the brown mare the Dean had ridden. She
was wanted in Cargelly.
"Impossible!" declared Dean Ruthven.
"How am I to get back to the ranch? In fact, I
think I shall go into Cargelly now"--and he turned
and smiled on Colonel Sloan. Yes, that was his
best plan--he would ride the mare into Cargelly.
But the messenger was obdurate.
"All right," declared the Dean,
blithely; "I'll ride into Cargelly on her--I'm most
anxious to get in at once;" he nodded pleasantly at
the Agent, as an indication that he meant to do
something of interest to him.
"She's got to be led in, sir,"
objected the man; "Padre Ruthven had her entered in
a race to start at----"
"Heavens! a race!" gasped the Dean;
"my son racing!"
Also the stranger got a shock; he
didn't know that the clerical purloiner of
Whirlwind was Padre Ruthven's father. He should
have been better schooled when he was sent for the
"Excuse me, my dear sir," the Dean
said to his host; "I must stop this race. I'll
take the mare there myself," he added fiercely to
Into the saddle clambered the Dean;
eagerly he galloped for Cargelly; at his side loped
the messenger. From time to time he consulted his
watch; would he be in time to stop it? For, as
they sped, the man explained, idiotically enough,
that the son was riding Gray Bird in the race, and
that he was to have ridden Whirlwind himself.
With easy swing the thoroughbred
mare loped over the smooth prairie trail. If it
had not been for the cayuse galloping laboriously
beside her she would have gone faster.
"There's plenty of time, Guv'nor,"
cried his companion; "don't knock the mare about."
He had an idea that, perhaps, he would yet outwit
the Dean and secure Whirlwind for the race. He
even thought of throwing his lariat over the
churchman and pulling him out of the saddle. But
he gave up this idea; many things might happen; the
mare might get away; even the Dean might break his
Four miles off the square, unadorned
houses of Cargelly rose on the level prairie like
huge packing-boxes. A motley multitude of twisting
figures could be seen to the right; that was the
race-course--even the Dean surmised that.
Would he be in time? His watch told
him that it was twenty minutes to four.
As they drew nearer the brown mare
pricked her ears wistfully; the scent of a speed
battle came to her nostrils, and she rattled the
snaffle-bit restlessly against her white teeth.
Straight for the race mob galloped the Dean; close
at his heels loped the cayuse. Swifter glided the
prairie under the two horsemen, for Whirlwind was
warming to the race taint that was in the air.
"What time--is it--Guv'nor?" panted
the man at Dean Ruthven's elbow.
"Two--minutes to four," he gasped in
"They're at--the--post," pumped the
other as the wind drove into his set teeth. He
could see a dozen horsemen grouped near a man with
a red flag, straight in front of them.
Now it happened that the
starting-post for this race, which was one and a
quarter miles, was at the point where their trail
cut through the course.
Young Ruthven was one of the
horsemen. He was in a rage. What had become of
Whirlwind? He had sent his man, Ned Haslam, a good
rider, too, out for her--Ned was to have ridden
Whirlwind; next to the Padre himself, she would
gallop better for Haslam than anyone else.
He thought that, perhaps, Ned might
have her at the post waiting, for there was no
weighing out to be done--the race terms being for
gentlemen riders, catchweights over one hundred and
forty pounds. He had not declared her a
non-starter, and his two horses were coupled in the
betting. But neither Haslam nor Whirlwind was at
As Gray Bird swerved away from the
starter's flag, and swung around on his hind feet,
young Ruthven caught sight of the two horsemen.
"Hold on for a minute," he cried
eagerly to the starter; "here comes Whirlwind at
last; I think Ned is on her back, too. She'll be
under your orders in another minute and can start."
One of the Winnipeg riders uttered
"She'll have all the worse of it,"
retorted the Padre, "for her idiotic rider has got
tangled up in some delay, and has had to gallop the
"I'll wait," said the starter; "line
up, and get ready."
There could be no technical
The Padre beckoned with his whip for
Whirlwind's rider to come to the post; the Dean
answered with a shout when he recognized his son.
"Back there--line up!" called the
starter. "Whirlwind must start as soon as she gets
in the bunch--I can't wait."
Nobody recognized the Dean in his
tight-buttoned corduroy coat--not even his son; for
they were busy trying for the best of the start.
"Hold on!" called the Dean, as he
swung on to the course from the trail.
"Go to the devil!" yelled the
starter; "I've no time to let you breathe your
Even if the starter had wished to
delay matters the Dean would not have been of the
party, for Whirlwind, trained to the quick start,
keen for the strife that had been of all her life,
rushed through the eager straining horses, carrying
them with her.
"Go!" yelled the starter, dropping
his flag as they flashed by him all in a bunch.
Down went the second flag! It was a
start--a beautiful start!
As the Dean flashed by his son the
Padre recognized him. Great Cæsar! Had the
Guv'nor gone mad! It was like a nightmare; he rode
as one in a dream. But in front of him was the
terrible tangibility of his clerical father riding
in a wicked horse-race. Of course the Guv'nor was
crazy, but--and he took a pull at Gray Bird's
head--he couldn't afford to throw away the race on
At his flank raced the mare from
Edmonton; behind, half a length, thundered the two
from Winnipeg. Past the crude grand-stand on the
first round they swung in this order. Whirlwind
had the lead and she meant to keep it; that had
always been her idea of a race. Speed she had in
plenty; but when horses were in front they threw
fierce-cutting sand in her face, and the snapping
of the rider's shirts in the wind and the cracking
of their whips bothered her.
How she liked the jockey on her
back! His strong pull on the bit steadied her
around the curves; firm-braced in the saddle he sat
quiet--just as a jockey should, she reasoned.
In the Dean's face was the horror of
a lifetime compressed into a tiny tablet. With set
teeth and braced knees he pulled strong at the mad
brute's head. "She's running away with me," he
muttered; "I shall be disgraced for life!"
Hard on the right rein he tugged as
Whirlwind hugged the circling rail on the left. If
he could only pull her off the course!
"That's right," whispered the mare;
"steady me a bit wide." Out of her large, wise eye
she watched the horses behind. Ha, ha! such sport!
They would never catch her.
"Good old girl!" muttered the Padre,
as the strong, brown quarters in front of him
gathered and straightened with the easy motion of a
steam piston. Now the broad hoofs scattered the
gravel back in their faces; truly she was a
He eased Gray Bird back after they
passed the stand on the first round. The Regina
horse slipped into his place at the mare's heels.
On his right pounded a big bay from Winnipeg; half
a length back was the gray mare from Edmonton
running under a strong wrap.
Madly the grand-stand cheered as
Whirlwind, still in the lead, swung into the
straight. "Who is the jockey?" someone asked.
"Thought Ned Haslam was to ride for the
Padre--that's not Ned."
"He's a mighty good jockey,
though--whoever he is," another answered.
A quarter of a mile from the finish
the Winnipeg horse, Cyclone, far-reaching in his
big stride, was lapped on Whirlwind's quarter. The
Padre saw this; that was what he was lying back
for--to see things, and put them right. Into the
flank of Gray Bird he drove a spur, and the Montana
horse, quivering with the strain of his giant
muscles, pushed past the white-faced chestnut that
was running him neck and neck, and crept up until
his long, sloping shoulder touched the huge thigh
of the Winnipeg Cyclone.
Never had such a race been seen in
Cargelly. The stand watchers rose to their
feet--stood on their very toes in excitement.
Would the mare last out--the gallant little
Whirlwind? Surely she would, for her jockey,
sitting with set face, riding with superb judgment,
had not moved on her; not once had he raised his
whip. Surely he knew that his mount had plenty in
hand, or he would have urged her with whip and
"Cyclone will win!" said a Winnipeg
man, his voice tense with excitement.
"I'll lay you a thousand the mare
beats him!" said Major Lance huskily.
"Done!" cried Winnipeg.
Cyclone's big nose was at
Whirlwind's shoulder now, and they were a furlong
from the finish.
"If my rider sits tight," murmured
the mare, "that brute will never catch me."
The Dean sat tight--there was
nothing else in it for him; a false move on the
tiring mare, well he knew, might throw her under
the feet of the galloping horses. All the evil
that could come to him, all the disgrace, had
materialized at the start; therefore he sat tight
The Padre pushed Gray Bird still
farther up, fairly lifting him at every jump. He
could not win, he felt convinced, but a little
bustle at the side of Cyclone might juggle his
stride a bit.
Ah! what a race it was home to the
finish post! The big horse, strong galloping,
lashed and cut with whip and spur, strained and
far-stretched his strong muscles to overtake the
smooth-gliding little brown mare but a neck in
front. Even the neck lead shortened, and still the
grim figure on her back swerved her not a hair's
breadth from her stride. Now it was a head, just a
small brown head in front. There was only silence
in the grandstand; no noise in the air at
all--nothing but the muffled roar of hoofs pounding
the turf, and the sharp crack of a quirt on
Only the Judge, sighting straight
across the two finish posts, knew whether a bay or
brown nose had caught his eye first. In the stand
a babel of voices was yelling: "Cyclone wins!
Whirlwind's got it!"
Then, after a little waiting hush,
number five went up. That was Whirlwind's number.
The Padre galloped on and overtook
He threw himself from Gray Bird's
back. Back he led Whirlwind. "Sit here for a
minute, father, and rest," he said, lifting the old
man down; and in a trice he had the saddle on the
back of the seat. It was the weighing scales. And
the weight was sufficient--two pounds over the
hundred and forty.
Eagerly the men who had amassed
sudden wealth gathered about this new rider the
Padre had unearthed from somewhere. What a clever
trick of the Padre's it had been, to be sure.
Nobody but Major Lance recognized the man in the
corduroy coat. The Padre fought them off, and
carried his father from the course, leaving the
care of the horses and all the rest of it to the
Major and others of the Council.
There was an aftermath of reproach
and exhortation and remorse on the part of the
Dean, and contrition on the part of the Padre, and
the assurance of an undoubted reformation.
Willingly he promised to race no more, and where
are there fathers without forgiveness in their
hearts? There was not one in Cargelly anyway,
because, at the end of all things the Dean knew,
because he performed the ceremony himself, that
Marion, the Sunflower, would guard his son's moral
interests as only a good wife can.