The sun was still shining when I got to the course;
but it was now less easy to believe that I had engaged
myself to contribute to the entertainment which was
attracting such a crowd of cheerful country folk,
I felt extraneous and forlorn. Everyone else seemed
intent on having as good a time as possible on such a
lovely afternoon. I had come briskly out from
Downfield on a two-horse char-a-banc which was
waiting outside the station. The journey cost half a
crown. Several of my fellow-passengers were "bookies"
and their clerks, with their name-boards and giant
umbrellas; their jocosities accentuated the crudity
of the impact on my mind made by the realistic
atmosphere of racing. I did my best to feel as much
like a * 'gentleman-rider" as I could, and to forget
that I was making my first appearance in a race.
The air smelt of trodden turf as I lugged my bag
(loaded with fourteen one-pound lead weights) into
the dressing-room, which was in a farm building under
some elms on the crest of the rising ground which
overlooked the sparsely flagged course. After dump-
ing the bag in a corner of the dry-mud floored barn,
I went out to look for Cockbird and Dixon. They
were nowhere to be seen, so I returned to the dressing-
room, reminding myself that Dixon had said he
wouldn't bring "our horse" out there any earlier
than he was obliged to, since it would only excite
him; I also realized that I should get "rattled"
myself unless I kept quiet and reserved my energies
for three o'clock.
The first race was run at two, and mine was the
third event on the card, so I bought that absorbing
document and perched myself on an old corn-bin to
peruse it. "Riders are requested to return their number-
cloths to the Clerk of the Scales immediately after each race."