" One to be ready—two to be steady," shouted William, " and three-----"
He blew another blast on his whistle.
He released his clockwork mouse.
Henry unleashed the greyhounds.
The clockwork mouse went forward two inches, then came to a slight irregularity in the ground and stopped. The greyhounds danced off playfully into the wood in the opposite direction, ignoring track and patrons and mechanical hare alike. The patrons began to grumble. This wasn't what they'd come to see.
" We'll have another try," said William in his most official manner.
They had another try.
The two greyhounds were recalled to the starting tree, were shown the clockwork mouse and told once more what was demanded of them. Both of them wagged their tails in cheerful understanding and compliance.
Again Henry cleared the track. Again William wound up his clockwork mouse and blew his whistle.
But something had gone wrong with the clockwork mouse and it now refused to function at all. The fox-terrier leapt upon it, seized it by its tail, flung it into the air, fell upon it again, chewed it up and then scampered off in the opposite direction after his new friend.
" What do they do at the real races when they carry on like this ? " demanded Ginger in a frenzied aside to William.
" I don't know," said William irritably. " They don't carry on like this. It's these dogs' fault. They don't seem to know what racin' means."
" It was your idea," said Ginger bitterly.
The patrons were crowding round Douglas, insisting that Jumble had lost whatever race there was, and