Recalling this act of imbecility on my part, I cursed Tobias as a faithless friend. Then there appeared before me the face of my vanished partner in all the pathos of his melancholy. I saw again the drooping corners of his youthful mouth, and his old man's eyes, tired and lustreless, and I knew I wronged him. I thought of him as bowed with grief, hiding from the world, and waiting for the first poignancy of his sorrow to pass that he might seek me out.
I found no allusion in the press to the passing of the winner of the Bedford. I made no more inquiries, with a hideous suspicion gnawing my heart, I felt that all my relations to this unfortunate horse had best be buried in a grave as unmarked and unknown as his own.
I solved now the mystery of Alcantra's eyes. He had seen from the first the futility of the whole enterprise. He had known, come what might, victory or defeat, triumph or humiliation, we should be parted. If not an untimely end, then the duplicity of man would sever us forever. For one crowded hour he had determined to live, or some strange alchemy was wrought by the whispering lips of the little man bestride him. For a few glorious moments he would be king, and king he was.
The following days brought painful reminders of the past. Bills of all sorts came in, among them one for a floral horseshoe that cost a prince's ransom. These I paid without comment.
One evening, being in reminiscent mood, I picked up a copy of a sporting sheet which I had affected during my brief period of ownership. The first item which attracted my attention was the announcement of the sale of Alcantara, the recent winner of the Bedford, by his 'owner and trainer,' T. Starkweather. The price was staggering.
I read it carefully, folded the paper with precision, and laid it beneath a horseshoe on my desk.
I returned to the routine of my former life, and after many months restored my associates' shaken confidence. I could have taken stern measures to find Tobias and wrest from him my share of his ill-gotten gains. But to what purpose? It was vastly better that the glamour of my brief career on the turf should fade gradually and not be extinguished with a sordid quarrel.
The lavender and white no more flash beneath autumnal suns over grassy meads. As an owner I no longer participate in the pleasures of the race. But sometimes, when in pensive mood, I wonder. Where is Tobias? Through what devious paths is that little, silent, joyless man threading his way? Has he a partner in horses now, and who is he? Will Alcantara start, and if he does will he continue in the desired direction? Is he still living his perplexed and questioning life over brush and rails on natural country? If so, where? I do not know. I do not care.
I had my hour.