Once there was a feverish Sure-Thinger who started for the Track with a Roll about the size of a Lady’s Pencil. He wanted to parlee a $2 Silver Certificate and bring home enough to pay the National Debt. When he stayed at home and marked the Card and made Mind Bets he could beat five out of six. He estimated that he was losing a Thousand a Month by fooling around the Store when he might be out at the Merry-Go-Round showing the Ikeys how to take a Joke.
And now Saturday Afternoon had come and Percy M. Piker was hanging on the rear end of the Choo-Choo with $7 sewed up in the inside Pocket of his Vest, while in his Hand there fluttered a batch of Clippings, written by the Smoke Brothers, showing which ones were sure to win unless something happened.
Mr. Piker, the amateur Gam, closed his Eyes and saw himself buying a real Panama and a dozen or so George H. Primrose Shirts. He had a Vision of riding in a Machine called the Pink Demon, with Claire at his side and an imported Chiffonier working the Jigger and mowing down the Common People.
Percy had two or three Good Things that were guaranteed to go through. They had been slipped to him by a Cigar Salesman who knew an Owner. They looked to be the real Candy.
When he arrived at the Track he gave up for a Badge and a Dope-Sheet and a couple of Perfectos, and this left him with 5 and a little something on the side for Red Hots. He fought his way to the Black-Board and demanded $2 worth of Bright Eyes at 9 to 1. While he was struggling to get to the Fence he heard some one say that Appendicitis was right and would win by a City Block. A Low Moan escaped him. He climbed over a large mass of Colored People so as to get $3 down on Appendicitis. The Odds were 7 to 5. He got balled up in his Arithmetic, and while he was waiting for the Figures to shift so that he could butt in with his 3, a Bell rang and the Mob tore for the Fresh Air. He climbed a Pole and saw Bright Eyes doing a Solo. He let go and fell in a Faint. Bright Eyes had beaten the Gate and spread-eagled his Field. It was a Case of winning on the Chin Strap. Mr. Piker was first in the Line, shaking like a Corn-Starch Pudding. He wanted to cash before the Book failed.
A few Moments later he went out behind the Grand Stand and counted up and found that he had $23. He had the Panama and one Shirt. The still, small Voice said, “Duck!” but he thought of Claire and his coming Vacation. There grew within him a high resolve to clean up the Betting Ring and quit the Mercantile Life.
In the Second Race there was a Brown Mare by High-Low-Dreamy Eyes at 97 with Fogarty up, whatever that meant. He heard a Hickey in a Striped Sweater tell a red-headed Man that Josie Jinks would roll in. Accordingly he gnawed his way up to the Workman with the Pencil and laid Twenty at 31/2 to 1. Then he wished that he hadn’t, for he met a Friend who whispered “Sassafras” to him. Also he heard some one say that Josie Jinks was three-legged and a bad Actress. After which he went and put Cold Water on his Head and died several Deaths.
Josie Jinks carried on her Back something just out of the Cradle that had number 3 marked on it. Mr. Piker had his Chin over the Fence and was wondering if any one would gather up his Body and put it on the Train. His Pulse was up to 180 and he couldn’t hear the Band play.