Other eyes were upon him. Unnoticed, his father and Big Dan Peterson had pulled up their horses twenty yards away, and sat looking at the children. Russell liked the picture they made in the spreading gum-tree: the vivid little girl in the scarlet jersey held his eye more than did his own boy. The Circus man's attention was entirely upon Hugh. Not a movement of the lithe body escaped his keen watchfulness.
"Handy kid," he commented briefly as Hugh reached the ground.
"Oh, Hugh's a monkey," Russell said. "He spends most of his time in the trees."
Hugh turned at his voice. He saw the two men—but he saw something else. Beside Peterson, led by a halter, was a small black pony: and a cry that was half a sob broke from the boy as he dashed forward.
"Oh, you've got him. Oh—Tinker!"
The pony pricked his ears and neighed sharply. Then Hugh's arms were round his neck, and he was rubbing his head against the yellow one he loved. Big Dan dropped the halter: Hugh caught it, and with a quick leap was on the pony's back, and Tinker was prancing with the joy of being home.
"Oh, can I take him down the road a bit?"
"Off you go!" grinned Big Dan.
It had never been necessary to explain to Tinker what Hugh wanted—he feit it. Three months' absence had not lessened their comradeship: the pony was off in a flash.