The Kiplings and India: A Collection of Writings from British India, 1870-1900

At the Distance (Rudyard Kipling)

"5TH RACE. Ladies' Nomination. For all bona-fide polo ponies, owners up. 13-2 to carry 10-7; 4lbs. allowed for every 1/4 inch under. Distance, 3/4 mile on the flat. Prize, a gold locket."—​Any Gymkhana Prospectus.

GREEN, on Jezebel, g.c.b.m., 13-2, to himself, excitedly: —Can she stay? Here's the chesnut behind us—he's trying to pass to the right; And I daren't pull her out from the railings! Daren't touch her! Can only sit tight, Hands low on the withers, head forward, and watch with the tail of my eye The chesnut's blue brow-band creep nearer. By Jove! How the beggar can fly! He's fit to the minute—I know it,—and Jezebel's not running steady. (And I want that gold locket for Kitty) I fancy she tires already! There's his fiddle-head up to our throat-latch. I can't suffer longer—Here goes! One welt for you, close to the girth, dear! You won't shut up now, I suppose? You will ! Swaine and Adeney, help me! Another—and over my boot The chesnut's red nostrils are snorting. I wish I could shake off the brute! If only old Brown wasn't on him—he gives me three good on the flat—But I'm racing for love and for Kitty and don't care two pice for my tat. If cat-gut and spurring can do it we're landed. Go on then you jade! Go on, if I cut you to ribbons! No good! Her bolt's shot I'm afraid. Where the deuce have we got to ?—I'm blinded and dusty and sweating and done, With a mouth like the roof of a lime-kiln—Who's shouting behind us? I've won! 'Queer—Green dying off at the finish—his chesnut's the best of the two—'Suppose 'twas my riding that did it — I squeezed the last ounce from my screw. She's strained a back-sinew, I'm certain! Poor beast, how I've cut her! — Who cares? I've won the gold locket for Kitty. Who-a up, there, you sweetest of mares! BROWN, confidentially to his mount, Robin, ch. c.b. p., 13-2:—I can romp in alone when I please. I can leave him behind when I will. I could give him a furlong with ease; and I'm three times his equal in skill! But I'm rolling about in my seat, (They'll think that I'm out o' my wits) And I'm working my hands and my feet like a Cabuli dealer in fits. No, Robin; you mustn't get nearer. This wasn't our form I admit, When we fluttered the dovecots at Dehra, and won by two lengths and a bit. I don't care a rap how it goes. His heart is one stake in the race, (Miss Black's in the Stand, I suppose) and he'd slaughter his mare for a place. I'll save the old screw all I can, though my arms are nigh wrenched from their socket — Was ever a race since Gymkhanas began yet ''pulled" for the sake of a locket? Well, I've got a wife of my own, and I rode for her once in our wooing With a man who could give me a stone, and who—did pretty much what I'm doing. Come back, Rob! You're pulling like sin! (Poor tat, how he's making her bleed!) Come back!—It's an eight-anna "spin," to be finished at twelve-anna speed. You leather-mouthed son of a caster! I daren't pull you more than I've done! My faith! but we'd very near passed her—All right! Go ahead then! He's won. You know your own business too well, Sir? Put it all down to wicked Miss Black! I ran you to lose. Don't you tell, Sir! He's ruined a second-rate hack.

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