in-chief of stables to His Highness. He also made a
discovery; the Raja would never have found it out for himself.
"Look here, Your Highness," he said, "the Mess have got
hold of a good thing at last. I don't know where they puckerowed that
white-faced Arab, but he's a rare good one. He'll beat Shahbaz for the
"And ----?" said the Raja, with oriental control.
"We must play the game too, Your Highness."
"You know best, O'Neill Sahib. It's in your
department." The Raja liked to play at officialdom.
"Shall I get a horse to beat them, Your Highness?"
"What appropriation do you require?" asked Burrapara.
"Perhaps three or four thousand, Your Highness."
"I will command the treasurer," replied the Raja,
Now as it happened, O'Neill, before he left the
service, had swung along in the racing game beside Captain Frank.
"Frank knows every horse in India," he mused, "and if the rupees are
forthcoming, he'll get just what I want." Though he had not the
faintest idea that the Mess had got one from Frank.
So he wrote by the first mail steamer to Jocelyn:
"The fellows down here have picked up a horse
somewhere, called Saladin. Do you know anything about him? I saw them
try him out, and he galloped like a wild boar. If you've got something
in your stable to beat him I'll buy it, or lease it. It's all about
the Raja's Cup, three miles over timber, for Arabs and Countrybreds.
Captain Woolson is at the bottom of it -- I think you'll remember
Jocelyn puckered his thin rips and whistled long and
softly to himself when he read the letter. "My aunt!" he ejaculated,
"they played softly. Who the thunder told Woolson about Saladin?"
He shoved the letter into his pocket, lighted a
cheroot, and played chess with this new thing for three days. Then he
wrote to O'Neill:
"Woolson was born of commercial parents -- he gets this
thing from his father, who was a successful soap merchant. They bought
Saladin from me to go up country. The Raja has my sympathy if he hopes
to beat the chestnut with anything he's got there. I have nothing in
my stable could look at him over three miles of country.
"But all the same, I think we can beat out this joint
stock company. I've got May Queen, and Saladin has always been worked
with her. He's a sluggish devil, and has notions. He won't try a yard
so long as the mare is galloping beside him; that's because they've
worked together so much. He'll just plug along about a neck in front
of her, and the more you hammer him the sulkier he gets.
"If you've got something fairish good in your stable,
and the Raja will pay well for the expedition, I'll send the Queen
down, and go myself later on to ride her, for the edification of our
friend, the soap merchant's offspring. I'll guarantee you'll beat
Saladin, only you must have something good enough to do up the others.
Don't let them know where you've got the mare."
These affairs of state were duly laid before the Raja
by O'Neill in a general way without too much attention to detail.
Kings as a rule don't care for detail, they like to win, that's all.
Burrapara simply gleaned that by the aid of a mare, a certain
Captain Frank, and his own Shahbaz, he was to win once more his
favorite toy; also triumph over the united ingenuity of the Double X
Mess. The executive duties he left to O'Neill; also spoke the
necessary word to the treasurer.
In two weeks May Queen was in the Raja's stables, and
the wise men who had gone out of the West knew not of this back-wash
in the tide of their affairs.
Two weeks later Frank Jocelyn sauntered into the Mess
of the Double X with his débonnaire military swing, as
though he had just returned from a week's shikarri, and lived there
"Great gattlings!" exclaimed Luytens; "where in the
name of all the Brahmins did you come from? Jocelyn, by all that's
"Where's the balloon?" asked Devlin.
"Nobody ever come here any more?" asked Captain Frank,
pitching into a big chair after solemnly grabbing each paw that was
extended to him.
"Heaps of ordinary chaps," answered Lutyens.
"But visits like mine are like the cherubs', eh?"
"He's tons like a cherub," muttered Devlin; then aloud,
"Here, boy, bring a peg, Captain Sahib's dry."
"Came down to the fair to pick up some smart polo
ponies," Jocelyn volunteered. "Any racing at the fair?"
"Heaps," said Lutyens; thinking dismally of the
accursed fate that had steered Captain Frank their way when they had
got it all cut and dried for Saladin. "Make yourself at home,
Jocelyn," he said, "I've got to make a call."
Then he posted down to Woolson's bungalow. "Guess who's
here?" he said.
"Size of an elephant."
"No -- Jocelyn."
"Good God! Not Captain Frank?"
Lutyens nodded; Woolson turned pale. "Does he know!" he
"Don't think it. It's a pure fluke, his coming; he's
down after some polo tats."
Woolson's face showed that he was still mistrustful.
"He'll stay for the races, sure."
"Uh-hu!" grunted Lutyens.
"And he'll spot Saladin; he's got devil-eyes, that
"Uh-hu!" again assented Lutyens.
"We'll have to tell him, and beg him to keep quiet."
"I think so."
"You'll have to put him up, Lutyens, to keep him out of
So that night Captain Frank learned to his great
surprise that Saladin was in Burrapara. Gracious! but he was
surprised. How had it happened -- he had understood Doyne was sending
him up country?
Woolson told the Captain a fairy tale about that part
of it; but he had to be made free of the secret that they hoped to win
the Cup with Saladin.
"Don't tell the Raja nor O'Neill," begged Lutyens. "The
honor of the Double X demands that we win that Cup."
"I'll tell nobody," said Captain Frank. "Let everybody
find out things for themselves -- that's my way of working."
They cracked a bottle of champagne to this noble
sentiment, and all that belonged to the Double X was placed at the
disposal of Captain Frank during his sojourn amongst them. The Raja
had a dozen bungalows splendidly furnished, always at the command of
visitors; and Captain Frank assured Lutyens that one of these had
already been placed at his disposal, so he declined the Double X
Captain's hospitality. "Hang it!" he said to himself, "I can't eat his
rations, and sleep in his bed, and play against him; that's too stiff
As race day approached, events outlined themselves more
clearly. The Raja had three horses entered for the Cup; Shahbaz, May
Queen and Ishmael. Woolson had Saladin, and there were six other
entries, not calculated to have much bearing on the history of the
"What's this May Queen thing?" asked Lutyens.
Nobody knew; not even where she had come from. She was
a country-bred without a record, that's all that anybody could say. It
didn't matter anyway, Shahbaz was what they had to beat, that was
certain. O'Neill was riding this pick of the stable himself.
Two evenings before the race O'Neill came over to the
Mess. He wanted somebody to take the mount on May Queen; the boy who
was to have ridden her was ill, he explained.
"Jocelyn will ride for you," exclaimed Lutyens. "He'd
get paralysis if he hadn't a mount at a meeting."
"Is she any good?" asked Captain Frank.
"We don't know much about her," answered O'Neill.
"We'll declare to win with Shahbaz, but the mare may run well. The
Raja'll be delighted if you'll pilot her."
"It'll be better," said Lutyens, "for an outsider to
ride than one of our fellows."
"All right, I'll take the mount," exclaimed Captain
Frank, "only I'd like to school her a bit to-morrow."
You will see that the tea set had been almost
completed; because when Fate undertakes to arrange matters, there is
seldom a hitch. Everybody works for Fate -- everybody.
Of course there was a big lottery held at the officers'
mess the night before the race; and the Burrapara Cup was the main
medium for a plunge.
Woolson was suspicious. "I don't like it," he said to
Lutyens. "Frank Jocelyn isn't down here for the benefit of his health;
and I'll swear he hasn't bought a single gee-gee. We don't know
anything about that mare; I've tried to find out where she comes from,
but nobody knows."
"Do you suppose she's good enough to beat Saladin?"
asked Lutyens, doubtingly.
"Well, Jocelyn rides her."
"I'm the cause of that," answered Lutyens.
"You may think so, but to me it looks like a job.
O'Neill and Captain Frank knew each other in the old days. If they
back the mare in the lotteries, I'm going to have a bit of it,"
This little cloud of suspicion broadened out, until by
the time the lotteries were on, there was a strong tip out that May
Queen was a good thing for the Cup. The Mess ran Saladin up to a steep
figure when his chances were sold in the lotteries.
Nobody but O'Neill wanted to back Shahbaz, and he went
cheap. When May Queen was put up, Jocelyn laughingly made a bid,
saying, "I'd back a mule if I rode him in a race."
"You're pretty slick, Mr. Frank," Woolson muttered; and
he bid on the mare. This started it, and in the end May Queen fetched
nearly as good a price as Saladin. It went that way all the evening;
the Mess flattered themselves that they had stood by Saladin pretty
well -- and they had. Of course Captain Frank couldn't well bid on
Saladin, he explained; it was their preserve.
When they were finished at last, Captain Frank said to
Woolson: "I've got that brute Shahbaz in two lotteries. You'd better
take half to hedge your money; you're loaded up with Saladin."
"No, thanks," the other man said, with a clever glint
in the corner of his eye, "I've also got May Queen, your mount; I've
"Do you want to part with a bit of May Queen?" the
Captain asked carelessly.
"Not an anna of it. I'll stick to the lot. The
Saladin money belongs to the Mess; we bought him together, but the May
Queen business is nearly all my own."
He looked sideways at Jocelyn while he said this,
watching the blond-mustached face narrowly; then he spoke up with
abrupt impetuousness, "Jocelyn, look here, you know all about that
mare. Tell me whether it's all right or not."
"I think," answered Jocelyn, leisurely, pouring with
judicious exactness half a bottle of soda into his peg glass, "that
you fellows here are a bally lot of sharks. You've bought all of
Saladin in the lotteries; the most of May Queen, and then want to know
what's going to win. You'd better have half of Shahbaz now, and make a
"No thanks, I'm filled up."
"Do you want to part with a bit of Saladin?"
"Can't do it. All the fellows are in it -- all the
"I think you're missing it over Shahbaz. O'Neill thinks
he'll win," drawled the Captain, appearing terribly solicitous for his
A little later Captain Frank rehearsed this scene to
O'Neill. "I pretended to want a bit of Saladin, or May Queen, but
Woolson wouldn't part with any. Lord! but the father is big in the
son. Stuck to his pound of flesh like a proper Ishmaelite. Then I
offered him some of Shahbaz in the lottery, but he shut up like a
knife; he was afraid I'd force it on him. To-morrow after Shahbaz
wins, I'll say to him: 'I wanted you to take a bit of the good thing;'
and he'll scowl, because he'll be sick at his stomach. I'll teach them
to get a good horse out of me to do up a fine chap like the Raja, and
then pay for him out of stakes that are not to be had."
Woolson's version of the same thing to Lutyens was
slightly different, which only goes to show that human nature is a
"Jocelyn's got stuck with Shahbaz in the lottery, and
he's been trying to unload on me. He wanted a piece of Saladin. That's
Captain Frank all over; pokes his nose in here on our good thing,
roots around until he finds out something, then wants a share."
"I wish he hadn't come," said Lutyens, abstractedly.
"Heaven knows what he'll do; he's like a Hindoo juggler."
"He can only win out on May Queen," retorted Woolson,
crabbedly; "and I've got the biggest part of her in the lotteries
"Yes, but the other fellows are all down on Saladin,
and it's the Cup we're really after, not the rupees."
Woolson said nothing to this. The Cup was all right as
a Cup, but it would suit him to land his big coup over May
The next day at the race-course Lieutenant Devlin
sauntered up to Captain Frank, and said: "Little Erskine, who is in
the Seventh, over in Collombo, is in a bit of a hole; and I'd like to
help him out. What I've got's no good to him -- 'tisn't enough."
"Say, youngster," drawled Jocelyn, "are you one of the
forty thieves that got Saladin down here to do up O'Neill and the
"Oh, I think the fellows played fair enough," answered
Devlin, "but whatever it was they didn't ask my advice; in fact they
drummed me out."
"What are the bookies laying against Shahbaz?" queried
"Five to one," answered Devlin.
"What does Erskine need?"
"Couple of thou., I fancy."
"Have you got four hundred?"
"Yes; but can Shahbaz ----"
"Don't be a damn fool," interrupted Captain Frank, with
It was time to mount for the Burrapara Cup. As they
jogged down to the post, Frank ranged alongside of Woolson, who was
riding Saladin, and said, "You'd better take half of Shahbaz still";
but Woolson tickled Saladin with the spur, and swerved to one side,
pretending not to have heard.
O'Neill was riding Shahbaz, and to him Jocelyn said:
"When we've gone half the journey, you slip out in front before
Saladin gets his dander up. I'll keep close beside him and he'll never
try a yard. But keep on in front, so as not to draw him out."
For a mile and a half, half-a-dozen of the nine
starters were pretty well up. As the pace increased, and Shahbaz drew
away in the lead, all of the others but Saladin and May Queen
commenced to drop out of it. At two miles Shahbaz was six lengths in
front; Saladin and May Queen were swinging along under a steady pull,
neck and neck.
"He means to stick to me, and beat me out," mused
"The blasted idiot is kidding himself," thought
Jocelyn. "He thinks he's got to hang to my coattails to win."
Saladin was keeping his eye on May Queen. He had been
separated from his stable chum for weeks, and now he was galloping
along beside her as in the old days. His soft Arab heart was glad.
What a pity she couldn't gallop a bit faster though. The thrill of
strength was in his muscles, and he would like to unstring his great
tendons that soft warm day, and spurn the red, yielding earth. His leg
wasn't a bit sore; ah, there was another horse on in front there. Why
couldn't May Queen hurry up?
Soon his rider's legs commenced to hitch at his ribs,
and Woolson was chirruping at him to move on. If they'd hurry his chum
Woolson was getting anxious. There was only half a mile
to go now, and Shahbaz was still well in the lead. He had ridden
Saladin under a pull all the time, and fancied that his horse had a
lot left in him; but now when he shook him up he didn't respond.
"Go on!" he shouted to Captain Frank. "We'll never
"Go on yourself," answered the Captain, in schoolboy
Woolson brought his whip down on Saladin's flank. Stung
by it the Arab sprang forward, and for a second Woolson's heart jumped
with joy. He felt the great muscles contract and spread under him, and
fancied that he would soon overtake the dark bay in front. The mare
struggled too; Saladin heard her laboring at his quarters, and waited
"Steady, you brute!" Captain Frank ejaculated to the
mare, but Saladin knew the voice, and after that the man on his back
amounted to very little in the forces governing the race.
With whip, and spur, and profane appeals Woolson
labored at of his stride a dozen times. The mare struggled and
strained every nerve to keep up with her stable companion. Saladin
rebelled against the fool who was riding him, and sulked with Arab
persistence; raced as he had always done at home with the mare, neck
Shahbaz was tiring badly. At the last fence he nearly
fell, striking the top rail with his toes out of sheer weariness.
There was only a short run in on the level now. Would he last out? If
Saladin ever ranged alongside of him it would be all over, Jocelyn
knew that. In the struggle he would forget about May Queen, and shoot
by Shahbaz as though he were dead.
Woolson was in an agony of suspense. Shahbaz would
certainly win, and he might have saved
his mount, throwing Wim out
his money by taking Frank's offer. A sudden resolve seized him.
Saladin was sulking and he was worse beaten than the horse; he could
not ride him out. He would take Frank's offer now.
Bending his face around toward Jocelyn he gasped "I'll
-- take -- half -- Shahbaz ----" then he disappeared. That final grab
had effectually settled the race. They were rising at the last jump,
and his movement caused Saladin to swerve. The horse struck the rail
heavily, and Woolson was shot out of the saddle, and planted inches
deep in the soft earth on the outside of the course.
It had looked a close thing from the stand. "Saladin'll
win in a walk," the Mess fellows said just before the fall: "Woolson's
been waiting on O'Neill, and now he'll come away and win as he likes."
When Woolson vacated the saddle so energetically, a
groan went up from them. When Shahbaz slipped by the judge's stand,
three lengths in front of May Queen, they groaned again; but with
official politeness cheered lustily for the Raja.
His Highness sat complacently eyeing the excited
people. It was a very small thing to get agitated about, for he had
won, you see.
Captain Frank bought Saladin back for a thousand
rupees; beaten horses go cheap.