The Black Stallion

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

Book: The Black Stallion by Walter Farley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Walter Farley
turned toward the stables, where he'd find Jimmy Creech. But he stopped suddenly, looking back once more at his uncle and then at the man standing next to him. That bald head, unprotected against the sun, and the blue coveralls could belong only to George Snedecker! And if it was George, Jimmy Creech was out on the track working Symbol!
    Carefully, Tom made his way around the horses, loving their nearness, and wanting so much to be one of these hardened men who sat so casually and expertly close behind powerful hindquarters. Such men and horses were as much a part of a fair as the cows and steers and chickens—and Aunt Emma's mincemeat pie! It was a life Tom wanted very much to live.
    Nearing the rail, he stopped a few feet behind the man he thought to be George Snedecker. Uncle Wilmer had turned to the man and Tom heard him say, "I got a good colt back at my farm, a darn good one. From the looks of him he'll go all right."
    The man turned toward Uncle Wilmer, and Tom saw his face, tanned heavily by the sun. One stride of Tom's long legs took him to the man's shoulder. "And don't you think he's kidding, George!" he said.
    George Snedecker threw an arm around Tom, while Uncle Wilmer stood watching them sheepishly. Now George pushed Tom an arm's length away. Shifting his chaw of tobacco, he said, "You put on weight, Tom. You're not such a tall bag of bones any more."
    "My aunt's cooking did it," Tom said, turning to Uncle Wilmer. "And this is my uncle. He was telling you about
    "Heh?" Uncle Wilmer asked, while George Snedecker clasped his hand.
    "Looks like a good many people got an interest in that colt." George smiled. "He really looks good to you, Tom?"
    "He does to me," Tom replied. "Wait'll you see him."
    "We're lookin' forward to it," George said; then he added, "Here's Jimmy comin' around now off the backstretch."
    Uncle Wilmer heard George, for he too turned to look at the track.
    Jimmy Creech brought Symbol around the turn at a fast rate of speed.
    "He's brushin' him this last quarter," George said. "Got the watch on him."
    Off the turn came Symbol, his head stretched out, his legs working hard. Jimmy Creech held the reins high, urging Symbol to greater speed. They swept past the paddock rail, past the bleachers, and it wasn't until Symbol had gone by the judges' booth opposite the center of the grandstand that Jimmy moved back in his sulky seat. Tom's eyes had never left them.
    "What do you think of Symbol?" George asked.
    "Jimmy has done a lot with him, but he's too rough gaited. He works hard but doesn't stretch out. And he'll break when the going gets tough. It's a wonder Jimmy has done as well as he has with him."
    "You sure don't generalize, Tom," George said. "You never did." Pausing, he spat his tobacco juice on the ground. "All you say is true about Symbol."
    "Does Jimmy know it?"
    "Sure. He knew that the first time he worked him last year. But Symbol takes him to the races and he's certain of place money here and there. Call it old-age security, if you like." George smiled.
    "But now he has the colt," Tom said.
    "Yep," George agreed, "and I'm hoping the colt will help Jimmy more than the medicine he's been taking."
    "I thought he was feeling better."
    "He was," George returned, "up until a few weeks ago, then his stomach started acting up again. Maybe you could call it 'end-of-the-season jitters.' I don't know. Jimmy calls it indigestion. I don't wonder he's got stomach trouble. Never eats a decent meal during the day; it's always a quick hamburger, hot dog and a bottle of soda pop at a stand. Good hot meals are what he needs as much as anything, I think."
    "I was hoping he'd be feeling well," Tom said quietly. "Maybe seeing the colt will change things," he added hopefully.
    "Maybe so, Tom. But don't expect too much from him. It takes a long time to understand Jimmy Creech. Took me the fifty years I've known him." George spat on the ground again. "Looks like it was a mistake comin' to this fair,

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