Our Lightning Serial.
AUTHOR OF “THE BLOOD THAT DRIPPED ON THE DOORMAT,”
“THE SCREAM IN
BELGRAVE SQUARE,” “THE VAMPIRE OF BODGER’S ALLEY.”
Synopsis of Previous Chapters.—The Hon.
Lord Baldwin Berkeley, a clerk in the office of a
Mincing LaneLondon street stretching from Fenchurch Street south to
Great Tower Street. It was for some years the world’s leading
center for tea and spice trading.
tea-dealer, has lost an enormous fortune in sixpences for Limerick competitions. Crossing Waterloo Bridge Waterloo Bridge: road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames named in memory of the British victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
one night, he hears his name whispered, and at the same time a package is slipped into his hand. Going to South Africa as a washer of diamonds in a mine, he meets her Grace the Lady Marjorie Stagg-Mantle, who, to recover possession of a lost will, is serving in the compounds as a Chinese coolie.manual labourers from Asia, particularly China and India, in the 19th and early 20th century
Near Clapham Common the same evening Baldwin is arrested on a charge of card-sharping at the instigation of his mortal enemy, Marquis the Senior Subaltern Luke Lockhart. He escapes, and reaches Epsom Downs, Epsom Downs: racecourse near Epsom, Surrey, England; best known for hosting the Epsom Derby, the United Kingdom’s premier thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old colts and fillies. PGW was mocking here—The Derby is a flat race, not a steeple-chase.
where he is to ride his horse, Woolgatherer,to woolgather is to engage in fanciful dreaming.
in the Derby.
The Blue Ribbon of the Turf. Derby Day!
The Downs were congested with
fashionable spectators. Everywhere the eye caught bright dresses and brighter
faces, save where the swiftness of the
thimble-and-pea merchantsthe early version of the shell game con, in which a
dexterous manipulator of three half-walnut shells places a small object under
one of the shells, rearranges them, and challenges a bettor to select the shell
with the object.
deceived the eye. It was a scene to stir the blood, to thrill the heart, to make one feel that this was Life. As Baldwin gazed around him, his blood stirred, and his heart thrilled. He vowed to himself that, unless another horse came in first, or he did not start, he would win this race.
Full of this resolve he repaired to the weighing-in room. The weighing-in room at Epsom on a Derby Day is the gayest of gay sights. Perfectly dressed exquisites and radiantly beautiful ladies stand in scores round the scales, discussing among themselves the merits of each jockey as he is weighed. The buzz of conversation ceased as Baldwin took his seat.
“What an interesting face!” murmured a Countess in her own right, to a young Viscount.
“Dear lady,” replied the gay aristocrat, “it’s not the fellah’s face, it’s his legs I’m lookin’ at. Too thick in the fetlock for me. Can he stay the course?”
And, indeed, that was the question many were asking. Baldwin was gallant, but could he stand the wear and tear of a gruelling steeplechase? He alone had no doubt.
And now the great race was to begin, and all round the field could be heard the raucous voices of the bookmakers shouting the odds. “Eight to four against the field.” “I stake twopence on Little Willie!” “Any gent care to bet on Snorting Sammy?” “An even shilling on Woolgatherer.” Baldwin clenched his teeth as he listened. Great issues were at stake. . . . Faintly he heard the starter’s voice, “Are you ready? Are you steady? OFF ! ! !” And at the last word Woolgatherer leaped forward. . . . The first fence. Over! . . . Ha! a tough one, this. Over, again, but scraped the top bar. . . . A ding-dong race to Tattenham Corner. Once past there, and he would feel safe. It was the water-jump he feared. Snorting Sammy’s fate was jumping water. But would Woolgatherer face it? He would see! . . . Neck and neck they raced. Up! Up! ! Up! ! ! A cry! A splash! Snorting Sammy had failed, but Woolgatherer, landing a clear foot to the good, was cantering down the straight towards the spot where two stewards, their official calm forgotten, held the tape and shouted to him to hurry. . . . As Baldwin sprang from his horse, amidst a frenzy of cheering, the sinister figure of JasperOne of Wodehouse’s favorite names for a villain; this might be an editing error left in from an earlier draft, but is more likely a deliberate absurdity given that the other characters’ names, titles, and occupations change without warning through the course of this spoof. [NM] Lockhart separated itself from the crowd, and moved towards him, accompanied by two officers of the Law.*
(To be continued.)
*Editor to Author: Please explain. Do you mean the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice?
Author to Editor: No; it is merely a graceful paraphrase for the ordinary policeman.