what he could do, and the Boss rarely interfered. But with a horse it was another matter. He had his first lessons on the oldest and staidest of the rosin-backs, a mighty mare with a back like a dining-room table and a canter of such steadiness that the Boss said scornfully that the Crowe baby couldn't tumble off her. Hugh could —and did. His first lessons seemed entirely taken up with learning how to fall, which, after all, is a very necessary part of any rider's knowledge. But Big Dan's comments were scorching.
However, the learning stages succeed one another quickly when one is young and eager, and it was not long before he could stand easily on old Maria as she cantered round the ring. After that his progress was rapid. He had fallen so often that he had no fear of a fall; it was no longer a thing to be dreaded, once he knew how to take it.
Being fearless, he became very sure. Maria's back suddenly appeared to him as an expanse whereon anything might be attempted. He danced on it that day—startling Jeff into a yell of joy.
Meanwhile, his part in the nightly performance went on with ever-increasing smoothness. It was always a surprise to the audience, and so popular that Joey grumbled that he and Jimmy had to work twice as hard in the first half. They had decorated it: it was a very trim little boy who now took his seat modestly in the front row of the "shillings," a little boy in a blue suit and a clean collar, with hair that was the envy of every fond mother who saw him. Carefully ordered were his curls nowadays;