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"We both had the time of our lives with it!" said Carter stoutly. "And that's all there is to that. Post-mortems," he pointed out, "are useful only as guides to the future, and as our future will never hold a second three thousand dollars, we needn't worry about how we spent the first one. No! What we must consider now is how we can grow rich quick, and the quicker and richer, the better. Pawning our clothes, or what's left of them, is bad economics. There's no use considering how to live from meal to meal. We must evolve something big, picturesque, that will bring a fortune. You have imagination; I'm supposed to have imagination, we must think of a plan to get money, much money. I do not insist on our plan being dignified, or even outwardly respectable; so long as it keeps you alive, it may be as desperate as--"
"I see!" cried Dolly; "like sending mother Black Hand letters!"
"Blackmail----" began that lady's son-in-law doubtfully.
"Or!" cried Dolly, "we might kidnap Mr. Carnegie when he's walking in the park alone, and hold him for ransom. Or"--she rushed on-- "we might forge a codicil to father's will, and make it say if mother shouldn't like the man I want to marry, all of father's fortune must go to my husband!"
"Forgery," exclaimed Champneys, "is going further than I----"
"And another plan," interrupted Dolly," that I have always had in mind, is to issue a cheaper edition of your book, 'The Dead Heat.' The reason the first edition of 'The Dead Heat' didn't sell----"
"Don't tell ME why it didn't sell," said Champneys. "I wrote it!"
"That book," declared Dolly loyally, "was never properly advertised. No one knew about it, so no one bought it!"
"Eleven people bought it!" corrected the author.
"We will put it in a paper cover and sell it for fifty cents," cried Dolly. " It's the best detective story I ever read, and people have got to know it is the best. So we'll advertise it like a breakfast food."
"The idea," interrupted Champneys, "is to make money, not throw it away. Besides, we haven't any to throw away. Dolly sighed bitterly.
"If only," she exclaimed, "we had that three thousand dollars back again! I'd save SO carefully. It was all my fault. The races took it, but it was I took you to the races."
"No one ever had to drag ME to the races," said Carter. " It was the way we went that was extravagant. Automobiles by the hour standing idle, and a box each day, and----"
"And always backing Dromedary," suggested Dolly. Carter was touched on a sensitive spot. "That horse," he protested loudly, "is a mighty good horse. Some day----"
"That's what you always said," remarked Dolly, "but he never seems to have his day."
"It's strange," said Champneys consciously. "I dreamed of Dromedary only last night. Same dream over and over again." Hastily he changed the subject.
"For some reason I don't sleep well. I don't know why."
Dolly looked at him with all the love in her eyes of a mother over her ailing infant.
"It's worrying over me, and the heat,"' she said. "And the garage next door, and the skyscraper going up across the street, might have something to do with it. And YOU," she mocked tenderly, "wanted to send me to the sea-shore."
Carter was frowning. As though about to speak, he opened his lips, and then laughed embarrassedly.
"Out with it," said Dolly, with an encouraging smile. "Did he win?"
Seeing she had read what was in his mind, Carter leaned forward eagerly. The ruling passion and a touch of superstition held him in their grip.
"He 'win' each time," he whispered. "I saw it as plain as I see you. Each time he came up with a rush just at the same place, just as they entered the stretch, and each time he won!" He slapped his hand disdainfully upon the dirty bills before him. "If I had a hundred dollars!"
There was a knock at the door, and Carter opened it to the elevator boy with the morning mail. The letters, save one, Carter dropped upon the table. That one, with clumsy fingers, he tore open. He exclaimed breathlessly: "It's from PLYMPTON'S MAGAZINE! Maybe--I've sold a story!" He gave a cry almost of alarm. His voice was as solemn as though the letter had announced a death.
"Dolly," he whispered, "it's a check--a check for a HUNDRED DOLLARS!"
Guiltily, the two young people looked at each other.
"We've GOT to!" breathed Dolly. "GOT to! If we let TWO signs like that pass, we'd be flying in the face of Providence."
With her hands gripping the arms of her chair, she leaned forward, her eyes staring into space, her lips moving.
"COME ON, you Dromedary!" she whispered.
They changed the check into five and ten dollar bills, and, as Carter was far too excited to work, made an absurdly early start for the race-track.
"We might as well get all the fresh air we can," said Dolly. "That's all we will get!"
From their reserve fund of twenty-seven dollars which each had solemnly agreed with the other would not be risked on race-horses, Dolly subtracted a two-dollar bill. This she stuck conspicuously across the face of the clock on the mantel.
"Why?" asked Carter.
"When we get back this evening," Dolly explained, "that will be the first thing we'll see. It's going to look awfully good!"
This day there was no scarlet car to rush them with refreshing swiftness through Brooklyn's parkways and along the Ocean Avenue. Instead, they hung to a strap in a cross- town car, changed to the ferry, and again to the Long Island Railroad. When Carter halted at the special car of the Turf Club, Dolly took his arm and led him forward to the day coach.
"But," protested Carter, "when you're spending a hundred dollars with one hand, why grudge fifty cents for a parlor- car seat? If you're going to be a sport, be a sport." "And if you've got to be a piker," said Dolly, don't be ashamed to be a piker. We're not spending a hundred dollars because we can afford it, but because you dreamt a dream. You didn't dream you were riding in parlor-cars! If you did, it's time I woke you."
This day there was for them no box overlooking the finish, no club-house luncheon. With the other pikers, they sat in the free seats, with those who sat coatless and tucked their handkerchiefs inside their collars, and with those who mopped their perspiring countenances with rice-paper and marked their cards with a hat-pin. Their lunch consisted of a massive ham sandwich with a top dressing of mustard.
Dromedary did not run until the fifth race, and the long wait, before they could learn their fate, was intolerable. They knew most of the horses, and, to pass the time, on each of the first races Dolly made imaginary bets. Of these mental wagers, she lost every one.
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Davis' Short Stories Vol. 2 -by- Richard Harding Davis