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Three Elephant Power and Other Stories

The Oracle
No tram ever goes to Randwick races without him; he is always fat, hairy, and assertive;
he is generally one of a party, and takes the centre of the stage all the time -- collects and
hands over the fares, adjusts the change, chaffs the conductor, crushes the thin, apologetic
stranger next him into a pulp, and talks to the whole compartment as if they had asked for
his opinion.
He knows all the trainers and owners, or takes care to give the impression that he does.
He slowly and pompously hauls out his race book, and one of his satellites opens the ball
by saying, in a deferential way:
"What do you like for the 'urdles, Charley?"
The Oracle looks at the book and breathes heavily; no one else ventures to speak.
"Well," he says, at last, "of course there's only one in it -- if he's wanted. But that's it --
will they spin him? I don't think they will. They's only a lot o' cuddies, any'ow."
No one likes to expose his own ignorance by asking which horse he refers to as the "only
one in it"; and the Oracle goes on to deal out some more wisdom in a loud voice.
"Billy K---- told me" (he probably hardly knows Billy K---- by sight) "Billy K---- told me
that that bay 'orse ran the best mile-an'-a-half ever done on Randwick yesterday; but I
don't give him a chance, for all that; that's the worst of these trainers. They don't know
when their horses are well -- half of 'em."
Then a voice comes from behind him. It is that of the thin man, who is crushed out of
sight by the bulk of the Oracle.
"I think," says the thin man, "that that horse of Flannery's ought to run well in the
Handicap."
The Oracle can't stand this sort of thing at all. He gives a snort, wheels half-round and
looks at the speaker. Then he turns back to the compartment full of people, and says: "No
'ope."
The thin man makes a last effort. "Well, they backed him last night, anyhow."
"Who backed 'im?" says the Oracle.
"In Tattersall's," says the thin man.
"I'm sure," says the Oracle; and the thin man collapses.
 
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