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An Eye for a Tooth

Stephen Allen Reynolds

THE bidding was over; the sale at an end. Carnation Queen, stake-horse and winner of the last race of the day, impatient to be off to her stall, tossed her dainty head and pawed the scanty turf with first one white-stockinged forefoot and then the other. Meanwhile, Ready Money Kendrick, her new owner, gave his check for a cool three thousand, then turned with a satisfied smile to run his eyes over the heaving flanks and glistening, brown back of his purchase.

The stand was emptying of its sea of straw hats as Kendrick bit deep into a thin plug of tobacco and nodded at the grinning Negro standing just behind him. The black stable- hand stepped forward, fingering a new halter, and presently Carnation Queen danced away to join her new stable-mates.

His object accomplished, the grizzled racing veteran headed for the veranda of the clubhouse, intent on a cool drink and a long smoke. But a pompous individual immaculate in Palm Beach linen and costly Panama soon blocked his way. "What are you going to do with the Queen, Mr. Kendrick?" he asked.

"Dunno. Maybe I'll race her here; maybe I'll ship her to Juarez." Kendrick's tone was gruff, his bearing far from gracious, for of all the tribe of touts and bookmakers that littered the metropolitan tracks, fat Sol Cramp appealed the least to him.

"You'll probably be able to pick up a good horse or two to-morrow. Tom Chatfield has to sell something, else be closed out. We cleaned him to-day." Cramp chuckled boastfully.

"So?" Kendrick's tone was even, though his fist tingled.

"Yep," the bookmaker nodded. "He had a nice bet down on his entry in the steeplechase, and the best horse, too. Too bad about the busted saddle-girth." Cramp's thin lips showed what might have been intended for a sympathetic smile.

"Dry-rot, or acid?" snapped the Kentuckian.

He waited for no reply, but pressed on to the clubhouse and joined a seated group of lingering members and owners.

The minutes fled. Wine flowed and good tobacco was burned as winners and losers discussed the events of the day, but Kendrick sat unmoved, his mind dwelling on days long past.

Again he saw in fancy two adjoining farms in the Blue Grass region, two boys with patched trousers and sunburnt feet and legs. Again he played truant with his chum, plunged into the brown waters of the old swimming hole, and rode bareback to fetch the cows.

"Damme for a stupid old fool!" he growled abruptly as his thoughts came back to the living pres...

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