I dedicate this, my first book, with awe andthe deepest affection, to Mulvaney—Mowgil—Kim,and all the wonderful rest of them.J. T. F.
A certain magazine, that shall be nameless, I read every month. Not because its pale contents, largely furnished by worthy ladies, contain many red corpuscles, but because as a child I saw its numbers lying upon the table in the "library," as much a part of that table as the big vase lamp that glowed above it.
My father and mother read the magazine with much enjoyment, for, doubtless, when its editor was young, the precious prose and poetry of Araminta Perkins and her ilk satisfied him not at all.
Therefore, in memory of days that will never come again, I read this old favorite; sometimes—I must confess it—with pain.
It chanced that a story about horses—aye, race horses—was approved and sanctified by the august editor.
This story, when I found it sandwiched between Jane Somebody's Impressions Upon Seeing an Italian Hedge, and three verses entitled Resurgam, or something like that, I straightway bore to "Blister" Jones, horse-trainer by profession and gentleman by instinct.
"What that guy don't know about a hoss would fill a book," was his comment after I had read him the story.
I rather agreed with this opinion and so—here is the book.
Lead him away!--his day is done, His satin coat and velvet eyeAre dimmed as moonlight in the sun Is lost upon the sky.
Lead him away!--his rival stands A calf of shiny gold;His masters kneel with lifted hands To this base thing and bold.
Lead him away!--far down the past, Where sentiment has fled;But, gentlemen, just at the last, Drink deep!--_the thoroughbred_!CONTENTS I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X ILLUSTRATIONS BLISTER JONES BLISTER
How my old-young friend "Blister" Jones acquired his remarkable nickname, I learned one cloudless morning late in June.
Our chairs were tipped against number 84 in the curving line of box-stalls at Latonia. Down the sweep of whitewashed stalls the upper doors were yawning wide, and from many of these openings, velvet black in the sunlight, sleek snaky heads protruded.
My head rested in the center of the lower door of 84. From time to time a warm moist breath, accompanied by a gigantic sigh, would play against the back of my neck; or my hat would be pushed a bit farther over my eyes by a wrinkling muzzle—for Tambourine, gazing out into the green of the center-field, felt a vague longing and wished to tell me about it.
The track, a broad tawny ribbon with a lace-work edging of white fence, was before us; the "upper-turn" with its striped five-eighths pole, not fifty feet away. Some men came and set up the starting device at this red and white pole, and I asked Blister to explain to me just what it meant....