of the Scales forgot to ask me for it. When I was
making sure that it was still in my pocket I was still
under the misapprehension that unless I could
produce it in the weighing tent I should be dis-
qualified from riding in my race.
In the middle of the village I met John Homeward
and his van. He was setting out on his monotonous
expedition to the country town, and I stopped for a
few words with him. His benevolent bearded face
made me feel more confident, and so did his gruff
voice when he took a stumpy clay pipe out of his
mouth to wish me luck.
"I've asked Tom to put half a crown on for me,"
he said; "it'll be a great day for Butley if you win!"
His blunt nod, as I left him sitting under the shadow
of his hooded van, was a send-off which stiffened my
faltering ambition to prove myself worthy of being
the owner of Gockbird.
Remembering how I'd bicycled off to the Ringwell
Meeting twelve months before, I thought how flabber-
gasted I should have been if I'd been told that I
should be riding in a race there next year. And in
spite of that persistent sinking sensation, I was thank-
ful that, at any rate, I had got as far as "having a
bump round". For whatever might happen, I was
much superior to any of the spectators. Taking my
cap off to two elderly ladies, the Miss Pattons, who
passed me on their tricycles with bobs and smiles, I
wondered whether it was going to rain. Perhaps the
sun came out to show that it was going to be a fine
afternoon. When I was on the main road I passed
Joey, the lizard-faced stone-breaker, who looked up
from his flint-hammering to salute me with a grin.