Adrien Leroy (Chapter 10, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 10

The morning of the race dawned clear and bright, and the Leroy course
shone like a strip of emerald velvet in the crisp, sparkling air.

Since sunrise, throngs of people, men, women, and children, had been
streaming in from the outlying districts, some many miles away; while at
the side of the course stretched a long line of vehicles of all kinds,
which had already disbursed their load.

In twos and threes the late horses arrived swaddled in cloths, and
surrounded by the usual crowd of bow-legged grooms and diminutive
jockeys; while the air reeked with the smell of the stable and the oaths
and slang of the men.

Later still came the bookmakers with their brisk, business-like method
of entering the bets, big or small; the "swell's" thousand or the
countryman's shilling were all one to them. And lastly, amid all the din
and turmoil of the most crowded meeting Barminster had ever witnessed,
came the army of the Castle servants to put the finishing touches to the
boxes in the grand stand, over which floated the Leroy colours.

Towards noon, the hour at which the first race was to be run, the crowd
grew denser, the excitement keener.

"Two to one on 'King Cole'--three to one 'Miracour'--and five to one
'Bay Star'--six to one, bar three"--all these cries rose in a loud,
turbulent roar. It was known to all that the "swells"--as they termed
the Castle people--had backed their champion "King Cole" for sums which,
as Jasper Vermont had rightly said the preceding night, would almost
equal his weight in gold; and such was their faith in him that no other
horse had been entered from that same county.

Twelve o'clock struck, and no signs as yet of the Leroy party; that is
to say, with the exception of one man, namely, Mr. Jasper Vermont.

"Your swells are always late," said a thick-lipped turfite, biting his
stubby pencil prior to booking a favourable bet. "They gives any money
for style, an' plays it high on us. It ain't their way to be to time for
anything, not they--only us poor chaps."

The surrounding crowd echoed his shout of "two to one on 'King Cole,'"
despite his diatribes against the swells; when suddenly attention was
caught by a dark chestnut, thin in the flank, and badly groomed, which
was led into the paddock by a dirty, close-shaven countryman, who looked
as nonchalant and self-satisfied as if he held the bridle of "King Cole"

Presently, while the crowd pushed around the sacred enclosure, Jasper
Vermont walked swiftly up to the Yorkshireman, and whispered behind a
sheltering cough: "That will do. Take him off. The plant's safe without him."

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