xt7dfn10ph4v https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7dfn10ph4v/data/mets.xml Clay, John M., Mrs. 1912  books b92-147-29450002 English Broadway Publishing Co., : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Horse racing Fiction. Sport of kings  : racing stories / by Mrs. John M. Clay. text Sport of kings  : racing stories / by Mrs. John M. Clay. 1912 2002 true xt7dfn10ph4v section xt7dfn10ph4v 









THE SPORT OF KINGS



Racing



Stories



                   BY
      MRS. JOHN M. CLAY
Author of "What Will the World Say" "Only a Woman,"
  "Some Little of the Angel Still Left, " " Uncle Phil,''
             and "Frank Logan. "



" The happiness of any life is the proper perfection of
that being; and hence, as the perfection of beings differ,
so do their felicities."-PLATO.



BROADWAY PUBLISHING CO.
       835 Broadway, New York
BRANCH OFFICES:WASHINGTON,     BALTIMORE
         INDIANAPOLIS.  NORFOLK.
 
























COPYRIGHT, 1912,
       BY
MRS. JOHN M. CLAY
 




















              THIS LITTLE VOLUME
           Is respectfully inscribed to

     LOVERS OF THE THOROUGHBRED HORSE,
             'rhe only true aristocrat.

"His oyal blood flowing ;i1 his veins with pristine
     purzau, after the passing of centuries,
 He mocketh at fear, and is not afrighted:
     neither turneth he back from the sword."
 This page in the original text is blank.

 


















                CONTENTS

 I. Who Rode La Sylphide ............... 7
 II. Why There Was No Sermon at Mount
     Gilead ...........    ................. 23
III. The Bishop's Daughter ......   .......... As
IV. Honors Are Easy ..................... 46
V. The Mexican Empire Steeplechase ........ 61
VI. My Kingdom Is Not Of This World ...... 70
 This page in the original text is blank.

 













WHO RODE LA SYLPHIDE



                        I.

    A STORY OF THE LEXINGTON RACE COURSE.

  Near the Phoenix Hotel, more than twenty- years
ago, two men chanced to meet. They were- "014
Sports," so designated; for while disconnected with
the respectable, legitimate turf, they earned a pre-
carious livelihood by doing business on lines-not al-
ways commendable-incidental to turf matters: and
perhaps no other calling fixes its impress with such
unerring certainty.
  It is not the gorgeous waistcoat and flashy neck-
tie emblazoned with a golden horse shoe. Nor yet the
gleaming diamond on the left-hand fourth finger so
much as the facial expression engendered by con-
stantly recurring alternations of intensified hopes and
fears-the elation with winning, and the dejection of
losing.
  They shook hands, and reciprocally asked: "How
is times" Fortune had been kind to both, and they
said so; but the inmost soul of each man was bur-
dened with a tormenting mystery. With a single ex-
ception there had been no turf secret that they had
not been able to probe to the very bottom. This ex-
                         7
 







           THE SPORT OF KINGS

ception was the occasion of humiliating sorrow, and
indicated, as they feared, failing powers-hence, the
anxious enquiry: "Has it been found out yit who rid
La Sylphide"
  The answer was delivered slowly, reluctantly:
  "Not as I have heard on for dead certain; but
there is some that lets on that they suspicion it
mought have been a woman."
  "'Twarn't no woman. I seed him tolerable clost
when old Mat fetched him outen the weighin' room.
He was eenmost as black as a nigger, and he was a
puny chap, and looked half-dead with the breast com-
plaint, chokin', coughin' and sneezin' alarmin.' I
had right smart money on the mare, and she bein', as
every body knows, a difficult mount, I was tore up in
my mind considerable about her jock. So me and
some other fellows tried to crowd in to git near
enough to size him up, but old Mat let fly at us the
worsts' language I ever hearn-he's got a moughty
rough aige to his tongue; and what surprised me was
the sugerry way he spoke to that thar boy-so
onerary lookin' too-and lifted him up to the saddle
jest as keerful."

  The exceeding beauty of a Kentucky stock farm
cannot be adequately described when the trees are in
the graceful foliage of early summer, the glowing
sun, in generous profusion, pouring down the warmth
of his golden light all over the living sheen of the
luxuriant blue-grass.  And beneath the azure sky
fresh and fragrant are the breezes wafted over sweet-
est flowers. The butterflies dance and glance, mak-
                        8
 







            THE    SPORT    OF KINGS

ing a gleam of tangled colors as they come and go,
flashing hither and thither, or settling to feed on the
rich hearts of blooming plants.
   Within the ten counties distinctively the "Blue
Grass Region," there was no lovelier estate than the
one over which Jack Chetwyn is conducting his blue-
eyed, new-made wife toward the training stable to
exhibit to her, as he proudly said: "The most beau-
tiful creature on earth-save only you ma mie."
Assured of the sympathy from the new partner in
the firm, he continued: "With the paternal acres I in-
herited the race stock, and have always had my fair
share of fliers, and I have one now that leads them
all. But she has the drawback of an uncontrollable
temper, and she is full of such freaks as are past
finding out. And she has in her time caused bitter
sorrow to many a gallant plunger; though all the
while when we were in New York, so gaily fluttering
away our honeymoon, I had repeated letters from
my trainer saying that she had turned over a new
leaf, and doing as well as heart could wish. So well
that he had entered her in a mile-and-quarter handi-
cap, and had backed her for every cent he could
raise. As a rule, I do not bet on my horses, but
catching the infection from Davis, who is rarely
over-sanguine, I sent on a large commission, and,
dear"-he continued rather sheepishly-"that's not
all-I did so want to buy for you that lot of dia-
monds you admired at Tiffany's-but the price was
too steep for my means. However, the great news
about the mare so exhilarated me that I gave my
I. 0. U. for them."
                         9
 







            THE SPORT OF KINGS

   "Oh, Jack," she said reproachfully, and almost in
tears, "I really did not care for the diamonds so very
much, and if I did, it was only a passing fancy. Now
should the mare not win I shall feel like a horrid
wretch."
   "Don't worry, dear; La Sylphide-is not that a
pretty name-will certainly win." His tone car-
ried conviction, she felt reassured, she believed in her
Jack. And it seemed to her that his admission about
the diamonds was very magnanimous, and then and
there she resolved to be on even terms with him in
open-heartedness. She, too, would make a confes-
sion:
  "Jackey," she said deprecatingly, "don't be
shocked, but once upon a time I was a terrible tom-
boy. When I left school I was delicate, had a cough,
and papa sent me down to Uncle Ben's cattle ranch
in Texas, where I stayed a whole year and learned
to ride. I took to horses, and horses took to me-
I have broken many a colt no one else could do any-
thing with. And many a race I have won over the
prairies with my cousins-and beat them-the horses
wculd run freer for me. Uncle Ben often said of
me and my mount that we did not seem a pair, only
just one embodiment. There was such unity and
friendship. You do not understand."
  "I do understand," he answered; "there never was
a time when I was not fond of a good horse. A good
horse I regard with profound admiration. Many of
his traits tally closely with the best traits of the
noblest human; faithful, loving, courageous-even
when writhing under an injury so ready to forgive.
                       10
 








           THE SPORT OF KINGS

For a kind word he will put forth his best efforts.
And forsaking his kind he will give all, willing to
labor, to suffer, to die."  Suddenly the panegyric
ecased a panoramic view of the stable environments
presented.  "Hi! yi! What's going on     There
seems to be a shindy."
  Jack Chetwyn's blood almost froze in his veins
seeing what he saw. A beautiful bay mare, held with
difficulty by two stout stablemen, was prancing,
kicking, wheeling, jumping, backing, in short per-
forming, apparently simultaneously, every action
within the compass of violently energized and tre-
mendous muscularity. Mr. Mat Davis, the trainer,
who was standing near, his countenance faithfully
portraying combined anger, horror and despair.
These emotions were quickly communicated to the
face of Mr. Chetwyn as he rapidly arrived at the
scene.
  "What's the matter, Davis" he asked. "What
ails the mare"
  Old Mat, with great presence of mind-he had
pride in his manners-bowed to the lady, whose fleet-
ness of foot rivalled her husband's, before answering
gloomily: "In my opinion, it's a case of all-possessed,
gone luny all of a sudden. She has been goin' kind
as a suckin' dove the littles' boy i.n the stable could
exercise her. But jest now she comes out of her stall
in sech a fury as never was, and she throwed boy
arter boy as fast as we could fling them into the
saddle. This stable is turned into a hospital. There
ain't a sound rider left." This melancholy statement
receives confirmation: groans and lamentations com-
                        11
 








           THE SPORT OF KINGS

ing from some half-dozen small-sized humans scat-
tered around in various stages of ruin. "And what
we are going to do-the races not three weeks off-I
don't know. But it all could be rectified ef that
blasted mare-I beg your pardon, mum-hadn't
throwed us over. We that had sech awful good
prospects! We stood to win a fearful pile of money.
Now, every thing has gone to blue smash. Ef steam-
boats was sellin' for ten cents apiece we couldn't, col-
lectively, buy a yawl. And worse yit. Oh, Daniel
the Prophet! there's my sister that I persuaded, I
felt so sure of that infernal mare-I beg your par-
don, mum-to take the long odds with that hard
cash she had saved up to pay off that mortgage
that's h'isted on the house over her head."  Com-
pletely overcome, he turned away to hide the moisture
gathering in his eyes.
  It was not merely the contemplation of the pe-
cuniary loss, great as it was, that so moved him, but
the sudden demolition of hopes, the dearest and
sweetest, which he had allowed to curl, twine, and to
take root in a heart that had few affections, and
fewer weaknesses. How many times had his gaze
wandered over the beautiful mare with rigid scrutiny
after she had been "called on" in her work. Not a
muscle from stifle to fetlock escaped his hand, light
and sensitive, to detect puff or strain, and unblem-
ished, she remained sound as a dollar, with appetite
unimpaired. It was human-nature to shut his eyes,
and in fancy hear the roar of the ring rampant in
victory. And to hear the multitudinous congratula-
tions that would be showered upon him. Ah! how
                       12
 








           THE SPORT OF KINGS

bitter was the awakening.  How hard the sober
reality, now to face. There seemed nothing before
him but the misery of defeat.
  "Don't fret, 'Mr. Davis," said Mrs. Chetwyn
kindly; "the darkest hour is before day."
  The trainer shook his head, refusing comfort, but
he watched the lady with some interest as she fear-
lessly approached the fractious steed after a con-
centrated gaze lasting not over thirty second, un-
heeding the warnings of the two men who were being
dragged about like children, that she would have
"her brains kicked out." Without hesitation she
placed her pretty hand on the mare's arching frothy
neck, gently cooing in her soft voice. "Soi, soi, you
beauty." An instantaneous impression was made on
the heart and mind of La Sylphide, and she lowered
her head to be stroked, testifying unbounded ap-
proval of the newcomer, who, taking the reins in her
own hand, commanded the attendants to let her go.
And pulling the off stirrup over, bounded into the
saddle, and galloped away through the open gate,
and out upon the track.
  Helpless, Mr. Chetwyn looked after her, his heart
in his mouth.
  Once, twice, thrice the frolicsome pair careened
around the mile course.  The lady then cantered
back, and gleefully springing to the ground, ex-
claimed: "What a glorious creature she is! She
moves like a bird! I am in love with her." Her af-
fections were fully returned; La Sylphide had never
been so happy in her life, and seemed ready to jump
out of her skin with delight as she gambolled and
                        13
 








           THE SPORT OF KINGS

frisked around, and fawned upon Mrs. Chetwyn,
who laughingly said: "Behave yourself, you dear
foolish creature; I am going to put you right back
into your stall. The mare submitted with admirable
docility.
  The lady then returned to her husband, whose ap-
pearance did not indicate approbation, and she
promptly began: "Now, don't scold, Jack. It was
such a pleasure."
  "A pleasure," he replied with asperity, "that I
shall take especial care you will not enjoy agaiif. I
never was so terribly frightened in my life."
  "Well, don't beat me," she said, with a merry
laugh. Her gaiety was so infectious that his brow
cleared. "Now, Jackey," she continued in a melli-
fluent tone, "don't make an old woman of yourself,
but go and have an all-round look at the horses, while
I attempt to comfort poor Mr. Davis. I believe he is
weeping."
  She carried the trainer off with her for a little dis-
tance. What she said to him nobody heard, but she
talked long and earnestly. When she turned to come
away no one could have said that Mr. Davis was
weeping. But he looked like a man sentenced to
death. M1rs. Chetwyn, on the contrary, seemed in the
highest spirits, her face wearing a commingled look
of exultation and resolve-such as probably glori-
fied the face of Deceus when he made his heroic
plunge, sacrificing life for his country; or as looked
a noble martyr sublimely marching to the stake to
meet a fiery death for the hope that gilds the world.
  As Jack Chetwyn's wife came smilingly to meet
                        14
 








           THE SPORT OF KINGS

him, he thought that she had never looked so bewilder-
ingly lovely. Pardon him, reader, he is yet in the
idiotic state incidental to initial matrimony, and he
hoped that she was not going to ask to be allowed to
ride La Sylphide again. He feared that it would
not be possible to deny any request that she would
make. She did not ask to ride La Sylphide, but she
said, and her voice was low and sweet: "Jackey, my
darlint, Aunt Rebecca is a good deal complaining,
and she wants me to pass a week or two with her.
I do not like to refuse her, she was so kind to papa
when he was all broken up after the war. It was her
money that started him in business. But you will
be busy with the horses and won't miss me."
  "I will though, but I suppose Aunt Rebecca must
have her way for this once."
  "Of course she must. Now don't be a goose, Jack.
You can expect me to go with you to see La Sylphide
win her race."
  As they walked homeward, promenade a deux, her
beguiling tongue brought him to a very hopeful view
about the prospect of his horses: "They were all
sound, and some hints had been given Mr. Davis,
without wounding his feelings, about the management
of La Sylphide."
  Truth is mighty and will prevail, and it is useless
to deny that Jack Chetwyn, left alone without the
bright, buoyant presence which had so soon become
to him what sunshine is to the flower, that his spirits
sank rapidly. There is a popular superstition among
horsemen to the effect that when racers by extraord-
inary good luck, which, in plain English, means good
                        15
 







           THE SPORT OF KINGS

management, are brought up sound, and in blooming
condition till the time is near at band for them to
face the starter, then, should one go amiss, a baneful
epidemic is communicated, which will go through the
stable. Also, that unfortunate I. 0. U. forged to
the front insistantly. "I don't know," he communed
within himself, with commendable veracity, "what
made me such a simpleton. I knew the dear little
soul wasn't hungry for diamonds, but I had a yearn-
ing to give them to her. Well! well! if the worst
come, I will sell the horses, and maybe some of the
acres. Meanwhile I'll look sharp after the horses.
And wouldn't it be a joy if La Sylphide should win."
  Going to the stable he found old Mat in a horrible
humor, apparently without cause, for the racers were
taking their work well-only the mare was not visible.
  "Why is not La Sylphide out" asked Mr. Chet-
wyn.
  Had old Mat been struck between the eyes, he
could hardly have shown greater exasperation, but
he answered: "I got her worked, somehow, yearly this
mornin', by herself, to keep her quiet."  Scowling
fiercely at the owner, he continued, "See here, Mr.
Jack, I've got on my bands the biggest contract
about that cussed mare that ever a man had; and if
her race was well over, I'd eenmost be willin' to work
for you the rest of my nateral life free, gratis, and
for nothin'," he sighed deeply.  "I've got to, no
backin' out, to keep on with her. And I am goin' to
do it my own way, and don't you interfere. I'm doin'
all a man kin do, and we've got a chance to win-ef
Providence don't split on us."
                       16
 








           THE SPORT OF KINGS

  Mr. Chetwyn had got "his office."  To oppose a
trainer is against all traditions, and the days passed
bringing unmitigated discomfort to him, principally
owing to the sustained ferocity of Mr. Davis's tem-
per. What was being done with La Sylphide he did
not dare to ask. For whole days be would sit on the
topmost rail of the enclosure around the stable-build-
ings, gazing dumbly at the mare's closely locked door.
He missed his wife. He pined for the comfort she
would be sure to give him. And how happy he felt
on the day of her expected return-the eventful day
of the mare's race. But in place of Mrs. Chetwyn,
came a note, expressing regret, but saying it would
not be possible for her to return home till late after-
noon, and without her he must go to see La Sylphide
win her race. Jack Chetwyn crushed the note in his
hand, lost heart, and almost decided not to go to the
races at all. A frightful picture rose before his eyes
-La Sylpbide brought on the track and acting like
mad. In a despairing mood he walked to his stables,
where there was a silence of death. He was briefly
informed by Mr. Davis, who seemed the incarnation
of rage, that only the mare would start to-day, and
that she had been sent to the Association's track.
"And now, Mr. Jack," snarled the trainer, "I've got
before me the hardest day's work mortal man ever
had, and I won't be pestered with you. Jest you
take your place in the grand stand, and stay there,
no matter what happens, till our race is over. What's
goin' to happen the Lord in Heaven only knows.
But I wish I was dead!"
  The Kentucky Association is the oldest living rae-
                       17
 







           THE SPORT OF KINGS

ing club in America. Organized 1826 by about fifty
of the prominent turfmen of central Kentucky. These
gentlemen, passing away, were succeeded by others,
who, in turn, made way for their successors. For
long years here was the best racing in America, and
characterized by decorum and fairness. Bar acci-
dents, the best horse would win. Each jockey knew
that he must ride fair, and win if he could.
  The world's best fighters had their moments of
fear, and Jack Chetwyn had a strong inclination to
"flicker"-to keep out of it, but with an effort he
nerved himself to face consequences. But he could
not remember of ever previously feeling so utterly
miserable as when he passed through the entrance
gate and made his way to the grand stand. Un-
sociable, he did not respond with cordiality to the
many efforts made to engage him in conversation.
"Excuse me," he said, hurrying on. "Well, stay,"
was persisted, "long enough to tell us who it is with
the outlandish name that is going to ride your mare."
  "I really don't know. Somebody that Davis has
picked up," answered Chetwyn, hurrying away.
Looking after him a puzzled turfite said discon-
tentedly: "I wonder what is the matter with Jack
Chetwyn. He ought not to have got married if he's
going to turn rusty on his old pals." A grave voice
responded: "I have heard that his mare has been play-
ing the dickens. That is a dispensation few can bear
up under jovially-I have been there myself."
  It was some minutes after, Mr. Chetwyn finding a
seat, looked at the program held loosely in his hand.
Thoughts of La Sylphide filling his brain he began
                       18
 







           THE SPORT OF KINGS

to hate the mare and to wish that she had died in in-
fancy. Then he was conscious of a feeling of com-
passion for the unlucky chap going to ride her, and
mechanically he sought out the name; and it was
plain to read: "John Chetwyn's bay mare, La Syl-
phide, by Felloweraft-dam Sylph by Imp. Gleneig;
jockey Pheohki."
   Jack Chetwyn was a high-minded, high-bred
American, and if he did not aspire to be dashingly
courageous, he could always be decently collected,
but he felt strangely unnerved at the sight of that
name; it seemed instinct with sinister warning-it
affected him in a harassing way, as if some one he
dearly loved were in peril. But the thought that his
wife was safe with Aunt Rebecca, and that he would
soon have her to himself again, enabled him to shake
off the depressing influence-measurably.
  Second only to the inviolability of the Masonic
secrets, supposed to be, were the affairs of a training
stable. But let a horse go wrong, the birds of the
air-the breezes of heaven seem to divulge it, and
La Sylphide's misconduct had leaked out, and deeply
anxious were those who had made investments about
her. But of late the earth might as well have opened
and swallowed her up, so little enlightenment had
been obtained. It was now known, however, that in
the early morning she had been brought to her quar-
ters on the racing grounds. But no one had seen
her. Not even for the preliminary gallop had she
been brought out. And, unambitious of a broken
head, no one had asked questions from Mr. Davis
who, looking like vengeance, sat in a splint-bottomed
                        19
 







           THE SPORT OF KINGS

chair, tilted against the mare's door, and when the
order came to bring the mare on the track, his only
reply was a brief mention of the place of torment.
But when his own split-second timer informed him
categorically that he had not an instant to lose, with
a deep groan he arose, unlocked the door, and brought
out the mare, giving her in charge of one of the men.
Then he brought out a lad completely wrapped in a
large coarse cloak. Little of him could be seen. From
his blue cap his black hair descends in whisks, almost
concealing his face. At the scales the cloak was re-
moved, but a blue scarf swaddles neck and face, the
boy coughing and choking as if he would burst a
blood-vessel.
  "He's got a cold," explained Mr. Davis gruffly,
"and there wasn't no time left to change riders ;"
adding sardonically, "these jocks 'round here ain't
none of them too keen to pilot this mare."
  When lifted to the saddle the boy dropped into an
ungainly lump. While the racers were lining up for
the start, old Mat, with firm hold of the bridle, said:
"This mare is vicious. I wish I may die if she did
not eenmost clean out that Favordale colt at Ford-
ham. I'll take her back'ards, and let her loose when
the field is off-to prevent accidents."
  When the start is made, the horses off, the jockey
on La Sylphide, still in a lump, made no effort to de-
crease the wide gap opened. The mare's backers were
excited and wrathful, and a perfect storm bursts
from a frantic mob.
  "Go along, boy! What are you hanging back for
Are you going to sleep" Some of the desperate
                        20
 







           THE SPORT OF KINGS

ones would willingly revive the obsolete argumenturn
ad lapides.
  "Bump on a log!    He's going to milk !" roared a
jubilant plunger whose money was not on La Syl-
phide.
  The mare and jockey, seemingly of one mind about
the pace a "bad last" having no terror-take the
"heart-breaking hill," where so many good horses
have given up the ghost, so to speak, inexhaustively.
But the hill surmounted then comes a surprise the
vast multitude almost ceased to breathe. The boy on
La Sylphide uplifts himself, and sat down to ride.
The willing mare, given her head, and rapidly pass-
ing her tiring field, shoots to the front, and comes
flying down the stretch at a flight of speed never
witnessed before by the oldest race-goers, and reaches
the winning post an easy winner.
  People look at one another in amazement when the
time for the mile and quarter is hung out: 2 :71-
the fastest time ever made on the Lexington track-
and not since equaled.
  After the weighing in, old Mat, like a whirlwind,
pounced upon the boy, and throwing the cloak around
him and carrying him in his arms, thrusting him
into a waiting carriage, shouts to the coachman:
"Drive like lightning."
  A wondrous joy lights up his homely face as he
receives into his own hands the bridle-reins of the
gallant mare.
  Winning a race in marvelous time does not consti-
tute the best and purest joy, but it is very dazzling
and seductive.
                       21
 






          THE SPORT OF KINGS

  Old Mat's dream of victory is realized with its
corollary of felicities. His name is shouted, and
congratulations galore. Many rush eagerly to touch
his hand. Others, that cannot get near enough, reach
over and touch him with their walking sticks.
  Catching sight of Mr. Chetwyn, he shouted: "We
win, Mr. Jack-"

 













II.



  WHY THERE WAS NO SERMON AT MOUNT GILEAD.

     "When God erects a house of prayer,
        The Devil always builds a chapel there,
      And t'will be found on examination,
        The latter has the largest congregation."

  In bygone days, owing to the high estate of its
principal patrons, Old Hickory at the head, racing
was very fashionable in Tennessee; and the love of
the thoroughbred horse pervaded all classes, masses,
and ranks. Even the clergy did not escape the con-
tagion-perhaps it had got into the constitution, and
had to run its course in a modified form.
  The Rev. Hubbard Saunders owned the brood-
mare, Rosy Clack, and bred, among other distin-
guished performers on the turf, Tennessee Oscar
who, like the English Highflyer, and Major Ball's
Florizel, never paid forfeit, nor suffered defeat, or
felt the touch of whip or spur.
  The dam of the noted quartet-the "Four Tennes-
see Brothers"-Madam Tonson, was the property of
the Rev. H. H. Cryer. When she died he had her
respectably buried, and that she should not be for-
gotten, published an obituary notice. Small wonder
then that some of the honest sons of toil-the back-
                       23
 







            THE SPORT OF KINGS

bone of a country-should follow the lead of their
betters. Notably, were two small farmers and neigh-
bors, namely, Hiram Jones and Jason Smith. Each,
owning a few thoroughbred broodmares, trained and
raced the produce.
  As their hearts were in the business, nothing calcu-
lated to ensure success was omitted, and they pros-
pered accordingly. But the strange thing happened
to both, that while in Nashville, attending a race-
meeting, and attracted by motives of curiosity, went
together to hear the preaching of that extraordinarily
eloquent Methodist divine, Maffit. It was as good
seed sown on rankly good ground. In brief, they
were converted, became members of the church; and
in the glow of a newly awakened and fervid faith,
horse-racing which had been to them the ultima thule
of terrestrial joys, now appeared as one of the most
powerful allurements of the Evil One to win over
souls to everlasting perdition; and on returning to
their homes, sold the thoroughbreds, and energetic-
ally began to walk, trot, nay, gallop in the new life
inculcated by a radical change of heart.  Nor was
it enough to feel that they were making their own
calling and election sure; there were other souls to
be saved, and they went about pleading, praying,
exhorting, until the entire neighborhood was meta-
morphized into a religious community. Logs were
cut, a church erected, and application made to the
General Conference for a preacher. To them was
sent Brother Amos Peacemaker, and never did clerical
garb sit on worthier shoulders. To his sincere piety
was added a herculean frame and a courageous spirit,
                        24
 







THE SPORT OF KINGS



and to begin as he meant to hold out, on the first
occasion of his ministration he announced, that no
backsliding, no slothful, no lukewarm Christianity
would be tolerated, that he would have none other
than a sober, decent, God-fearing congregation.
   Brothers Smith and Jones, in their capacity of
presiding elders, were very zealous, inspired by the
feeling that as especial brands they had been plucked
from the burning and were chosen vessels, appointed,
and divinely commissioned to aid in the glorious
work of saving souls, and they were ready to repeat
what that great Apostle said almost two thousand
years ago: "Though I should die with Thee, I
will not denv Thee"-yet we all know what hap-
pened to him before the crowing of the cock.
Human nature at its best can rarely stand the trial,
as it were, by fire, and "let not him that girdeth on
his armor boast himself as he that putteth it
off." All too soon the Tempter cunningly pre-
pared a snare, by means of which, to enter into
the habitations so newly swept and garnished, and
to battle with, and to drive out the angel.
  The Sabbath day was rarely beautiful. The
branches of the trees were outlined clear and distinct
against the pale, pure blue of the morning sky ten-
derly flushed with the faintest rose-pink. There was
no sound far or near save the rythmic whisperings of
the gentle breeze, and the sweet wild-birds caroling
their tunes of praise to Him who hath said: "Let
everything that hath breath praise the Lord." The
little church, Mount Gilead, was filled to overflowing
with worshipers awaiting in decorous silence the com-
                        25
 







            THE SPORT OF KINGS

ing of Brother Peacemaker to open the services.
'Twas then that Brother Jones, seeing the oppor-
tunity, invited Brother Smith to withdraw from the
church when they could, out in the open air, have a
full, free, private, and prayerful interchange of
views upon a certain church matter left to their de-
cision. Both desirous of the best means for the
greater good, an agreement was soon reached, leav-
ing some time on their hands-Brother Peacemaker
unaccountably delayed.
   Ah, the pity of it, but not till the millennium shall
have come, and the lamb can lie down with the wolf,
and the child may place its hand on the cockatrice's
den; and the malignant Spirit of Evil chained for a
thousand years, will he lose his power for the tempt-
ing of the saints.
  Oh, Brother Jones, oh, Brother Smith, take heed
to your selves. You have not overturned the salt,
nor sat at table with thirteen, nor seen the new moon
through foliage of trees, yet, even now, you are over-
shadowed by an evil influence, and the Arch Enemy is
near. Gird on your armor to resist valiently-you
are in a danger unseen, unsuspected.
  "Brother Smith," said Brother Jones in a pained,
faltering voice, "I want your prayers.  I need 'em,
fer latterly, at times I am troubled in my mind.
Doubts and fears and misgivings comes a-creepin'
and a-crawlin' over me, leastways, arter being so run
mad 'bout the savin' of other people's souls, I mought
myself become a cast-a-way."
  "Brother Jones," replied Brother Smith, feelingly,
and in deep contrition, "I will confess to you that 1,
                       26
 







THE SPORT OF KINGS



too, have been afflicted with jest some of them same
sort of sentiments. In groanings of sperit I have
wrastled agin it, but now and then I look longingly
back arter the flesh-pots of Egypt."
  A compassionate and friendly hand was laid on
Brother Smith's shoulder, as Brother Jones replied,
his voice quivering with earnestness: "That old sar-
pint, Sattin, has been a chunking of me too, and it
mought be bekase of a consentin' ter sin-when I
sold my race stock, I kept back Patty Puffs' yearlin'
filly, which I hadn't orter done. But she was a rale
beauty and I couldn't make up my mind ter part with
her, which I had oughter done. In course, I didn't
'low ter train her; but I thought she'd make a