Adrien Leroy (Chapter 9, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 9

Adrien's appearance in the stable-yard was the signal for much
excitement among the hands there; and presently the head groom made his
appearance, struggling into his coat, while coughing with embarrassed

"Good morning, Markham," said his master with a nod; "where's the

"In the south stable, sir," replied the man, as he fumbled in his pocket
for the keys. "You would like to see him, sir?"

Adrien nodded, and made his way to the stable, accompanied by the groom.

"No one else is allowed to enter the stable but yourself, Markham?" he
asked, as the man unlocked the door.

"No one, sir. I'm always here when he's being littered or fed. Not a
soul touches him without I'm at his side. He's in fine condition, sir; I
never saw him in better."

Adrien passed his hand over the satiny coat of the race-horse. The
dainty creature pricked up his finely-pointed ears, and turned to his
master with a whinny of delight.

"He looks well enough," he admitted. "Has he had his gallop this

"Yes, sir; but would you like to see him across the paddock?"

"Yes," said Adrien. "By the way, who rides him to-morrow?"

"Peacock, sir."

"Ah, the new jockey."

"Yes, sir; Mr. Vermont's lad," returned the groom.

"A good seat?" asked Adrien.

"Capital, never saw a better, sir, and weighs next to nothing. I'll send
for him." He whistled, and half a dozen stable helpers rushing forward,
he despatched them to find the jockey. While waiting, the groom had the
precious "King" brought into the yard and saddled; and in a few moments
the man arrived. Markham had called him a lad; but in reality he was
almost middle-aged, with the stunted stature of a child. Adrien looked
him over critically.

"So you ride the 'King' to-morrow?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," replied the dwarf humbly.

"Let me see you take him round the paddock," said Adrien. The man threw
off his coat, showing himself to be in shabby riding costume; then,
vaulting into the saddle, he took the racer to the meadow at the back of
the stable-yard. Adrien watched the bird-like flight of the superb
animal, and nodded approvingly when he presently returned to the

"You'll do," he said, as the jockey dismounted; "ride like that
to-morrow, and we shall win. There is something for you, but no
drinking, mind."

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