Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Captain Ralph Waters leaves the ladies with a gallant bow, and pushes his way through the swaying and excited crowd, toward the spot where the animals are being saddled.

A tremendous hurly-burly reigns there ; men of all classes, boys, negroes, gentlemen, indented servants,-all are betting with intense interest. The dignified grooms endeavor to keep back the crowd :-the owners of the horses give their orders to the microscopic monkeys who are to ride.

The riders are raised by one leg into the saddles; they gather up the reins; the drum taps; they are off like lightning.

The course is a mile in circumference, and they go round it before the excited crowd can look at them a dozen times. They whirl past the stand, and push on again

Sir Archy leads; Fair Anna trails on a hard rein; the Arabian is two lengths behind; but he is not running.

They thunder up the quarter stretch : Sir Archy is bounding, like some diabolical monster, far before his companions, spite of his owner's cries; the Arabian has come up and locks the mare; they run neck and neck.

Sir Archy whirls past the stand, and wins by a hundred yards. The immense crowd utters a shout that shakes the surrounding forest.

The horses are again enveloped in their hoods and blankets. Captain Ralph returns to the Riverhead carriage, [that of the Lees, in which were Miss Henrietta Lee and her sister Clare.]

Any more betting, sir?” says Miss Henrietta, satirically.

Who, I?“ Yes, sir.”

Assuredly!” says the Captain; “do not think, chere ma'm'selle, that I am very much cast down. I am so far

6. Yes,

from that, I assure you, that I am ready to take the field again."

“ Well, sir.”
“Then you will bet again, madam?"
“ Yes, indeed.”

Bien! I now stake all that is left me in the worldthough not quite. I stake my horse, Selim, against the curl and the pair of gloves you wear, with the knot of ribbons at your girdle thrown in-all upon the final issue.”

Henrietta blushes; for, however common such gallant proposals were at that day, she cannot misunderstand the meaning of the soldier's glance, and reddens beneath it.

“That would be unfair, sir." “Not so, my dear madam, for are you not sure to lose?” " To lose?”

indeed.” “No, sir; I am sure to win.”

“Bah! you ladies have such a delicious little confidence in the things you patronize, that it is really astonishing. You think Sir Archy will beat Selim? Pshaw ! you know nothing about it.

This piques madam Henrietta, and she smiles satirically again as she says:

Well, sir, I do not want your pretty horse—but if you insist, why, I cannot retreat. I shall, at least, have the pleasure of returning him to his master.”

The Captain shakes his head.

“A bet upon such terms is no bet at all, my dearest madam,” he says, “ for, I assure you, if I win, you will return home curl-less, glove-less, and ribbon-less. All is fair in war—and love."

With which words, Captain Ralph darts a martial ogle at his companion. This piques her more than ever.

[ocr errors]

“Well, sir," she replies, “if you are determined, have

your desire."

.

“Good !” cries the Captain, we are just in time. There is the horse.And, with another gallant bow, the Captain rides away towards the horses.

The boys are again instructed much after the same fashion : the signal is given in the midst of breathless suspense, and the horses dart from their places.

They dart around, Sir Archy again leading but this position he does not hold throughout the first mile: he gradually falls behind, and when they pass the winningpost he is fifty yards in the rear. His owner tears his hair, but the crowd do not see him—they flush and shout.

The second mile is between Fair Anna and the Arabian, and they lock in the middle of it; but the Arabian gradu. ally takes the lead, and when they flash up to the stand he is ten yards ahead. Sir Archy is distanced and withdrawn.

It would be impossible to describe the excitement of the crowd :—the tremendous effect produced upon them by this reversal of all their hopes and expectations. They roll about like waves, they shout, they curse, they rumble and groan like a stormy sea.

The horses are the objects of every one's attention. Their condition will go far to indicate the final result-and Sir Archy being led away and withdrawn, the race now will be between Fair Anna and the Arabian.

Mr. James looks more solemn than ever, and all eyes are turned upon him. Captain Waters is not visible-he is yonder, conversing with the ladies.

But the horses ! Fair Anna pants and breathes heavily : her coat is drenched more completely than before with per

spiration; her mouth foams; she tosses her head; when the rake is applied to her back a shower falls.

The Arabian is wet all over too; but he breathes regularly; his eye is bright and his head calm. He has commenced running. The first intention of Mr. James is to give up the race, but his pride will not let him. He utters an oath, and gives renewed instructions to his rider. These instructions are to whip and spur—to take the lead and keep it, from the start.

The moment for the final struggle arrives, and Captain Ralph merely says, “Rein free!”

The boys mount—the crowd opens; the drum taps and the animals are off like lightning.

Fair Anna feels that all her previous reputation is at stake, and Alies like a deer. She passes around the first mile like a flash of white light; but the Arabian is beside her. For a quarter of a mile thereafter they run neck and neck—the rider of fair Anna lashes and spurs desperately.

They come up to the quarter-stretch in the last mile at supernatural speed :--the spectators rise on their toes and shout :-two shadows pass them like the shadows of darting hawks :—the mare barely saves her distance and the Arabian has triumphed.

If we could not describe the excitement after the second heat, what possibility is there that we could convey an idea of the raging and surging pandemonium which the crowd now came to resemble? Furious cries-shouts-cursesapplause—laughter-and the rattle of coin leaving unwilling hands are some of the sounds. But here we must give up :-as no mere pen can describe the raging of a great mass of water lashed by an angry wind into foam and whistling spray and muttering waves, which rise and fall and crash incessantly, so we cannot trace the outline of the wildly excited crowd.

[Afterwards come contests with the quarter-staff, a wrestling match, running matches, a contest of singing among " a dozen blushing maidens,” and of fiddling among twenty bold musicians : and the day is wound up with a great banquet.]

ZEBULON BAIRD VANCE.

1830- 1894.

He was

He was

ZEBULON BAIRD VANCE was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina, and was educated at Washington College, Tennessee, and at the University of North Carolina. studied law and began its practice in Asheville. soon elected to the State Legislature and to Congress; and from 1854 to his death was continuously in public life except just after the war. His wit and eloquence made him a great favorite both on the stump and in Congress, and the influence he wielded in his state was unbounded. opposed to secession, but joined his state in her decision and became colonel of the 26th North Carolina Regiment, one of the best of the army.

In 1862 he was elected governor of the State and was so active and enterprising in getting aid by sea for the cause that he was called the “ War Governor of the South.” He was in favor of considering the negotiations for peace in 1863, but he neglected no measures to insure the success of the Confederacy. In 1865 he was held a prisoner of war for a few weeks in Washington.

His political disabilities were not removed till 1872; in 1876 he was elected governor of North Carolina, and in 1879,

« PreviousContinue »