a lick an' a promise an' you'11 see him go sick!" said a groom: which was threat enough for Hugh.
He watched the grooms at the liberty horses, and practiced what he saw—not only to the last hair on Tinker's tail, but to the last hairs above his little round hoofs. He had his reward one day when Big Dan, in the ring, with an apparently careless movement put back the pony's mane across his neck and inspected the part that it hid.
It shone as brightly as any other inch of Tinker. Big Dan grinned.
Not that Hugh rode Tinker in the practice-ring. Tinker was himself going to school, with Big Dan as his tutor: learning the slow regular canter to music, the obedience to every signal, that were his ABC. Hugh, when he was able to watch, acquired a new viewpoint of the Owner. With an animal he was no longer the grim Boss of the Circus. Boss he certainly was, but his patience and gentleness were an amazement to the boy. Never was his voice raised: never did he appear more than mildly bored, even when Tinker was as stupid as the veriest dunce that ever sat at the bottom of a form. When the anxious Hugh could have wept for the dullness of his pony, Big Dan stood unmoved, talking in his deep, quiet voice until the puzzled pupil ceased to fret at the lunging-rein and began to understand what was required of him. When Tinker was the scholar Hugh feit that he almost loved Big Dan.
Not so when he himself was under the Owner's eye. Over physical training he was indifferent: there he knew