The drumming of the hoofs echoed along the track after the trees hid them.
They came back in a few moments, Hugh's face glowing and Tinker eager for more. Nita clamored for a ride.
"Let me try him!"
Hugh slipped to the ground, some of the joy dying out of his face. Just for a moment he had forgotten that Tinker was not his: could never be his any more. But he knew he could bear it better now. At least Nita was not Joe Clarke. There would be no sore backs for him to think about in bed at night, when the loneliness was worst.
He saw him taken to the horse-lines and was allowed to feed him; and that helped. Then came a joyful time of catching all the free horses in the orchard and taking them back to the field. Most of them did not want to be caught: it was tremendous fun. Hugh was very hot and happy when it was all over. Big Dan informed him that he was a white man, and let him ride Merrylegs round the field. Hugh thought him very inferior to Tinker: but it was something to think that he had ridden a Circus pony.
He had supper in the blue caravan, making the most of his last meal in that place of splendor. Mrs. Dan was motherly and kind: she patted his head as she got up from the table to get the kettle. It was a very tousled head by now, but in this glorious day no one had seemed to notice so small a thing.
"Good night, Hugh. See you in the morning."