CHAPTER I. JOHN HENRY'S LUCKY DAYS.
Seven, come eleven!
After promising Clara J. that I would never again light a pipe at the race track, there I stood, one of the busiest puff-puff laddies on the circuit.
Well, the truth of the matter is just this: I fell asleep at the switch and somebody put the white lights all over me.
Just how I happened to join the Dream Builders' Association I don't know, but for several weeks I was Willie the Wild Boy at the race track and I kept all the Bookmakers busy trying not to laugh when they took my money.
Every day when I showed up at the gate the Pipers played "Darling, Dream of Me!" and every time I picked a skate the Smokers' Society went into executive session and elected me a life member.
Every horse that finished last gave me the trembling lip as he crawled home, well aware of the fact that I had caught him with the goods.
I blame Bunch Jefferson for putting the bug in my Central.
Bunch went down to the skating pond one day with $18 and picked four live wires at an average of 8 to 1. Then he began to talk about himself.
After that event whenever I happened to meet Bunch he would raise his megaphone and fill the neighborhood with hot ozone, fresh from the oven.
It was pitiful to see that boy swell.
Just to cure Bunch and drive him out of the balloon business I made up my mind one day I'd run down to the Flatfish Factory and drag a few honest dollars away from the Bookmakers.
That's where I fell overboard.
One bright Saturday P. M. found me clinging to a wad the size of a fountain pen and trying to decide whether I'd better play Dinkalorum at 40 to 1 or Hysterics at 9 to 5.
I finally decided that a ten-spot on Dinkalorum would net me enough to give Bunch a line of sad talk, so I stepped up to the poor-box and contributed.
Dinkalorum started off in the lead like a pale streak and I immediately bought an entirely new set of furniture for the flat.
About half way around a locomotive whistle happened to blow near by. Dinkalorum, being a Union horse, thought it was six o'clock and refused absolutely to work a minute overtime.
I had to put the furniture back in the store.
In the next race I decided to play a system of my own invention so I took my program, counted seven up, four down and two up, all of which resulted in Pink Slob at 60 to 1.
It looked good and I handed Isadore Longfinger $10 for the purpose of tearing $600 away from him a little later on.
Pink Slob got away in the lead but he made the mistake of walking fast instead of running, with the result that when the other horses were back in the stable Pinkie was still giving a heel and toe exhibition around near third base.
It wasn't my day, so I squeezed into the thirst parlor and bathed my injured feelings with sarsaparilla.
Just before the last race I ran across Bunch. He was over $300 to the good and he wanted to treat me to a lot of kind words he felt like saying about himself.
Oh! but maybe he wasn't the City Boy with the Head in the Suburbs!
When I reached home that night I felt like a sock that needs darning....