'We, that is to say, the other two Stewards of the National Hunt Committee, and myself, have once or twice discussed trying to find out about the doping from the inside, so to speak…'

'By getting a stable lad to spy for you?' I said.

He winced slightly.

'You Australians are so direct,' he murmured.

'But that was the general idea, yes. We didn't do anything more than talk about it, though, because there are many difficulties to such a plan and frankly we didn't see how we could positively guarantee that any lad we approached was not already working for… er… the other side.'

I grinned.

'And Arthur Simmons has that guarantee?'

'Yes. And as he's English, he would fade indis- tinguishably into the racing scene. It occurred to me as I was paying my bill after lunch.

So I asked the way here and drove straight up, to see what he was like. '

'You can talk to him, certainly,' I said, standing up.

'But I don't think it will be any good.'

'He would be paid far in excess of the normal rate,' he said, misunderstanding me.

'I didn't mean that he couldn't be tempted to go,' I said, 'but he just hasn't the brain for anything like that. '

He followed me back out into the spring sunshine. The air at that altitude was still chilly and I saw him shiver as he left the warmth of the house. He glanced appraisingly at my still bare chest.

'If you'll wait a moment, I'll fetch him,' I said, and walking round the corner of the house, whistled shrilly with my fingers in my teeth towards the small bunkhouse across the yard. A head poked inquiringly out of a window, and I shouted, 'I want Arthur.'

The head nodded, withdrew, and presently Arthur Simmons, elderly, small, bow-legged, and of an endearing simplicity of mind, made his crab-like way towards me. I left him and Lord October together, and went over to see if the new filly had taken a firm hold on life. She had, though her efforts to stand on her poor misshapen foreleg were pathetic to see.

I left her with her mother, and went back towards Lord October, watching him from a distance taking a note from his wallet and offering it to Arthur. Arthur wouldn't accept it, even though he was English. He's been here so long, I thought, that he's as Australian as anyone. He'd hate to go back to Britain, whatever he says when he's drunk.

'You were right,' October said.

'He's a splendid chap, but no good for what I want. I didn't even suggest it.'

'Isn't it expecting a great deal of any stable lad, however bright, to uncover something which has got men like you up a gum-tree?'

He grimaced.

'Yes. That is one of the difficulties I mentioned. We're scraping the bottom of the barrel, though. Any idea is worth trying.

Any. You can't realize how serious the situation is. '

We walked over to his car, and he opened the door.

'Well, thank you for your patience, Mr. Roke. As I said, it was an impulse, coming here. I hope I haven't wasted too much of your afternoon?' He smiled, still looking slightly hesitant and disconcerted.

I shook my head and smiled back and he started the car, turned it, and drove off down the road. He was out of my thoughts before he was through the gate posts.

Out of my thoughts; but not by a long way out of my life.

He came back again the next afternoon at sundown. I found him sitting patiently smoking in the small blue car, having no doubt discovered that there was no one in the house. I walked back towards him from the stable block where I had been doing my share of the evening's chores, and reflected idly that he had again caught me at my dirtiest.

He got out of the car when he saw me coming, and stamped on his cigarette.

'Mr. Roke.' He held out his hand, and I shook it.

This time he made no attempt to rush into speech. This time he had not come on impulse. There was absolutely no hesitation in his manner:

instead, his natural air of authority was much more pronounced, and it struck me that it was with this power that he set out to persuade a boardroom full of hard directors to agree to an unpopular proposal.

I knew instantly, then, why he had come back.

I looked at him warily for a moment: then gestured towards the house and led him again into the livingroom.

'A drink?' I asked.


'Thank you.' He took the glass.

'If you don't mind,' I said, 'I will go and change.' And think, I added privately.

Alone in my room I showered and put on some decent trousers, socks, and house-shoes, and a white poplin shirt with a navy blue silk tie. I brushed back my damp hair carefully in front of the mirror, and made sure my nails were clean. There was no point in entering an argument at a social disadvantage. Particularly with an earl as determined as this.

He stood up when I went back, and took in my changed appearance with one smooth glance.

I smiled fleetingly, and poured myself a drink, and another for him.

'I think,' he said, 'that you may have guessed why I am here. '


'To persuade you to take a job I had in mind for Simmons,' he said without preamble, and without haste.

'Yes,' I said. I sipped my drink.

'And I can't do it.'

We stood there eyeing each other. I knew that what he was seeing was a good deal different from the Daniel Roke he had met before. More substantial. More the sort of person he would have expected to find, perhaps. Clothes make the man, I thought wryly.

The day was fading, and I switched on the lights. The mountains outside the window retreated into darkness;

just as well, as I judged I would need all my resolution, and they were both literally and figuratively ranged behind October. The trouble was, of course, that with more than half my mind I wanted to take a crack at his fantastic job. And I knew it was madness. I couldn't afford it, for one thing.

'I've learned a good deal about you now,' he said slowly.

'On my way from here yesterday it crossed my mind that it was a pity you were not Arthur Simmons;

you would have been perfect. You did, if you will forgive me saying so, look the part. ' He sounded apologetic.

'But not now?'

'You know you don't. You changed so that you wouldn't, I imagine. But you could again. Oh, I've no doubt that if I'd met you yesterday inside this house looking as civilized as you do at this moment, the thought would never have occurred to me. But when I saw you first, walking across the paddock very tattered and half bare and looking like a gipsy, I did in fact take you for the hired help… I'm sorry.'

I grinned faintly.

'It happens often, and I don't mind.'

'And there's your voice,' he said.

'That Australian accent of yours… I know it's not as strong as many I've heard, but it's as near to cockney as dammit, and I expect you could broaden it a bit. You see,' he went on firmly, as he saw I was about to interrupt, 'if you put an educated Englishman into a stable as a lad, the chances are the others would know at once by his voice that he wasn't genuine. But they couldn't tell, with you. You look right, and you sound right. You seem to me the perfect answer to all our problems. A better answer than I could have dreamt of finding. '

'Physically,' I commented dryly. He drank, and looked at me thoughtfully.

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