The next morning, at breakfast, when Frank was alone with Blake, he explained to him how matters really stood at Grey Abbey. He told him how impossible he had found it to insist, on seeing Miss Wyndham so soon after her brother’s death, and how disgustingly disagreeable, stiff and repulsive the earl had been; and, by degrees, they got to talk of other things, and among them, Frank’s present pecuniary miseries.
‘There can be no doubt, I suppose,’ said Dot, when Frank had consoled himself by anathematising the earl for ten minutes, ‘as to the fact of Miss Wyndham’s inheriting her brother’s fortune?’
‘Faith, I don’t know; I never thought about her fortune if you’ll believe me. I never even remembered that her brother’s death would in any way affect her in the way of money, until after I left Grey Abbey.’
‘Oh, I can believe you capable of anything in the way of imprudence.’
‘Ah, but, Dot, to think of that pompous fool who sits and caws in that dingy book-room of his, with as much wise self-confidence as an antiquated raven to think of him insinuating that I had come there looking for Harry Wyndham’s money; when, as you know, I was as ignorant of the poor fellow’s death as Lord Cashel was himself a week ago. Insolent blackguard! I would never, willingly, speak another word to him, or put my foot inside that infernal door of his, if it were to get ten times all Harry Wyndham’s fortune.’
‘Then, if I understand you, you now mean to relinquish your claims to Miss Wyndham’s hand.’
‘No; I don’t believe she ever sent the message her uncle gave me. I don’t see why I’m to give her up, just because she’s got this money.’
‘Nor I, Frank, to tell the truth; especially considering how badly you want it yourself. But I don’t think quarrelling with the uncle is the surest way to get the niece.’
‘But, man, he quarrelled with me.’
‘It takes two people to quarrel. If he quarrelled with you, do you be the less willing to come to loggerheads with him.’
‘Wouldn’t it be the best plan, Dot, to carry her off?’
‘She wouldn’t go, my boy: rope ladders and post-chaises are out of fashion.’
‘But if she’s really fond of me and, upon my honour, I don’t believe I’m flattering myself in thinking that she is why the deuce shouldn’t she marry me, malgr‚ Lord Cashel? She must be her own mistress in a week or two. By heavens, I cannot stomach that fellow’s arrogant assumption of superiority.’
‘It will be much more convenient for her to marry you bon gr‚ Lord Cashel, whom you may pitch to the devil, in any way you like best, as soon as you have Fanny Wyndham at Kelly’s Court. But, till that happy time, take my advice, and submit to the cawing. Rooks and ravens are respectable birds, just because they do look so wise. It’s a great thing to look wise; the doing so does an acknowledged fool, like Lord Cashel, very great credit.’
‘But what ought I to do? I can’t go to the man’s house when he told me expressly not to do so.’
‘Oh, yes, you can: not immediately, but by and by in a month or six weeks. I’ll tell you what I should do, in your place; and remember, Frank, I’m quite in earnest now, for it’s a very different thing playing a game for twenty thousand pounds, which, to you, joined to a wife, would have been a positive irreparable loss, and starting for five or six times that sum, which would give you an income on which you might manage to live.’
‘Well, thou sapient counsellor but, I tell you beforehand, the chances are ten to one I shan’t follow your plan.’
‘Do as you like about that: you shan’t, at any rate, have me to blame. I would in the first place, assure myself that Fanny inherited her brother’s money.’
‘There’s no doubt about that. Lord Cashel said as much.’
‘Make sure of it however. A lawyer’ll do that for you, with very little trouble. Then, take your name off the turf at once; it’s worth your while to do it now. You may either do it by a bona fide sale of the horses, or by running them in some other person’s name. Then, watch your opportunity, call at Grey Abbey, when the earl is not at home, and manage to see some of the ladies. If you can’t do that, if you can’t effect an entr‚e, write to Miss Wyndham; don’t be too lachrymose, or supplicatory, in your style, but ask her to give you a plain answer personally, or in her own handwriting.’
‘And if she declines the honour?’
‘If, as you say and as I believe, she loves, or has loved you, I don’t think she’ll do so. She’ll submit to a little parleying, and then she’ll capitulate. But it will be much better that you should see her, if possible, without writing at all.’
‘I don’t like the idea of calling at Grey Abbey. I wonder whether they’ll go to London this season?’
‘If they do, you can go after them. The truth is simply this, Ballindine; Miss Wyndham will follow her own fancy in the matter, in spite of her guardian; but, if you make no further advances to her, of course she can make none to you. But I think the game is in your own hand. You haven’t the head to play it, or I should consider the stakes as good as won.’
‘But then, about these horses, Dot. I wish I could sell them, out and out, at once.’
‘You’ll find it very difficult to get anything like the value for a horse that’s well up for the Derby. You see, a purchaser must make up his mind to so much outlay: there’s the purchase-money, and expense of English training, with so remote a chance of any speedy return.’
‘But you said you’d advise me to sell them.’
‘That’s if you can get a purchaser or else run them in another name. You may run them in my name, if you like it; but Scott must understand that I’ve nothing whatever to do with the expense.’
‘Would you not buy them yourself, Blake?’
‘No. I would not.’
‘If I gave you anything like the value for them, the bargain would not suit me; and if I got them for what they’d be worth to me, you’d think, and other people would say, that I’d robbed you.’
Then followed a lengthened and most intricate discourse on the affairs of the stable. Frank much wanted his friend to take his stud entirely off his hands, but this Dot resolutely refused to do. In the course of conversation, Frank owned that the present state of his funds rendered it almost impracticable for him to incur the expense of sending his favourite, Brien Boru, to win laurels in England. He had lost nearly three hundred pounds the previous evening which his account at his banker’s did not enable him to pay; his Dublin agent had declined advancing him more money at present, and his tradesmen were very importunate. In fact, he was in a scrape, and Dot must advise him how to extricate himself from it.
‘I’ll tell you the truth, Ballindine,’ said he; ‘as far as I’m concerned myself, I never will lend money, except where I see, as a matter of business, that it is a good speculation to do so. I wouldn’t do it for my father.’
‘Who asked you?’ said Frank, turning very red, and looking very angry.
‘You did not, certainly; but I thought you might, and you would have been annoyed when I refused you; now, you have the power of being indignant, instead. However, having said so much, I’ll tell you what I think you should do, and what I will do to relieve you, as far as the horses are concerned. Do you go down to Kelly’s Court, and remain there quiet for a time. You’ll be able to borrow what money you absolutely want down there, if the Dublin fellows actually refuse; but do with as little as you can. The horses shall run in my name for twelve months. If they win, I will divide with you at the end of the year the amount won, after deducting their expenses. If they lose, I will charge you with half the amount lost, including the expenses. Should you not feel inclined, at the end of the year, to repay me this sum, I will then keep the horses, instead, or sell them at Dycer’s, if you like it better, and hand you the balance if there be any. What do you say to this? You will be released from all trouble, annoyance, and expense, and the cattle will, I trust, be in good hands.’
‘That is to say, that, for one year, you are to possess one half of whatever value the horses may be?’
‘Exactly: we shall be partners for one year.’
‘To make that fair,’ said Frank, ‘you ought to put into the concern three horses, as good and as valuable as my three.’
‘Yes; and you ought to bring into the concern half the capital to be expended in their training; and knowledge, experience, and skill in making use of them, equal to mine. No, Frank; you’re mistaken if you think that I can afford to give up my time, merely for the purpose of making an arrangement to save you from trouble.’
‘Upon my word, Dot,’ answered the other, ‘you’re about the coolest hand I ever met! Did I ask you for your precious time, or anything else? You’re always afraid that you’re going to be done. Now, you might make a distinction between me and some of your other friends, and remember that I am not in the habit of doing anybody.’
‘Why, I own I don’t think it very likely that I, or indeed anyone else, should suffer much from you in that way, for your sin is not too much sharpness.’
‘Then why do you talk about what you can afford to do?’
‘Because it’s necessary. I made a proposal which you thought an unfair one. You mayn’t believe me, but it is a most positive fact, that my only object in making that proposal was, to benefit you. You will find it difficult to get rid of your horses on any terms; and yet, with the very great stake before you in Miss Wyndham’s fortune, it would be foolish in you to think of keeping them; and, on this account, I thought in what manner. I could take them from you. If they belong to my stables I shall consider myself bound to run them to the best advantage, and ’
‘Well, well for heaven’s sake don’t speechify about it.’
‘Stop a moment, Frank, and listen, for I must make you understand. I must make you see that I am not taking advantage of your position, and trying to rob my own friend in my own house. I don’t care what most people say of me, for in my career I must expect people to lie of me. I must, also, take care of myself. But I do wish you to know, that though I could not disarrange my schemes for you, I would not take you in.’
‘Why, Dot how can you go on so? I only thought I was taking a leaf out of your book, by being careful to make the best bargain I could.’
‘Well, as I was saying I would run the horses to the best advantage especially Brien, for the Derby: by doing so, my whole book would be upset: I should have to bet all round again and, very likely, not be able to get the bets I want. I could not do this without a very strong interest in the horse. Besides, you remember that I should have to go over with him to England myself, and that I should be obliged to be in England a great deal at a time when my own business would require me here.’
‘My dear fellow,’ said Frank, ‘you’re going on as though it were necessary to defend yourself. I never accused you of anything.’
‘Never mind whether you did or no. You understand me now: if it will suit you, you can take my offer, but I should be glad to know at once.’
While this conversation was going on, the two young men had left the house, and sauntered out into Blake’s stud-yard. Here were his stables, where he kept such horses as were not actually in the trainer’s hands and a large assortment of aged hunters, celebrated timber-jumpers, brood mares, thoroughbred fillies, cock-tailed colts, and promising foals. They were immediately joined by Blake’s stud groom, who came on business intent, to request a few words with his master; which meant that Lord Ballindine was to retreat, as it was full time for his friend to proceed to his regular day’s work. Blake’s groom was a very different person in appearance, from the sort of servant in the possession of which the fashionable owner of two or three horses usually rejoices. He had no diminutive top boots; no loose brown breeches, buttoned low beneath the knee; no elongated waistcoat with capacious pockets; no dandy coat with remarkably short tail. He was a very ugly man of about fifty, named John Bottom, dressed somewhat like a seedy gentleman; but he understood his business well, and did it; and was sufficiently wise to know that he served his own pocket best, in the long run, by being true to his master, and by resisting the numerous tempting offers which were made to him by denizens of the turf to play foul with his master’s horses. He was, therefore, a treasure to Blake; and he knew it, and valued himself accordingly.
‘Well, John,’ said his master, ‘I suppose I must desert Lord Ballindine again, and obey your summons. Your few words will last nearly till dinner, I suppose?’
‘Why, there is a few things, to be sure, ‘ll be the better for being talked over a bit, as his lordship knows well enough. I wish we’d as crack a nag in our stables, as his lordship.’
‘Maybe we may, some day; one down and another come on, you know; as the butcher-boy said.’
‘At any rate, your horses don’t want bottom’ said Frank.
He he he! laughed John, or rather tried to do so. He had laughed at that joke a thousand times; and, in the best of humours, he wasn’t a merry man.
‘Well, Frank,’ said Blake, ‘the cock has crowed; I must away. I suppose you’ll ride down to Igoe’s, and see Brien: but think of what I’ve said, and,’ he added, whispering ‘remember that I will do the best I can for the animals, if you put them into my stables. They shall be made second to nothing, and shall only and always run to win.’
So, Blake and John Bottom walked off to the box tables and home paddocks.
Frank ordered his horse, and complied with his friend’s suggestion, by riding down to Igoe’s. He was not in happy spirits as he went; he felt afraid that his hopes, with regard to Fanny, would be blighted; and that, if he persevered in his suit, he would only be harassed, annoyed, and disappointed. He did not see what steps he could take, or how he could manage to see her. It would be impossible for him to go to Grey Abbey, after having been, as he felt, turned out by Lord Cashel. Other things troubled him also. What:should he now do with himself? It was true that he could go down to his own house; but everyone at Kelly’s Court expected him to bring with him a bride and a fortune; and, instead of that, he would have to own that he had been jilted, and would be reduced to the disagreeable necessity of borrowing money from his own tenants. And then, that awful subject, money took possession of him. What the deuce was he to do? What a fool he had been, to be seduced on to the turf by such a man as Blake! And then, he expressed a wish to himself that Blake had been a long way off before he ever saw him. There he was, steward of the Curragh, the owner of the best horse in Ireland, and absolutely without money to enable him to carry on the game till he could properly retreat from it!
Then he was a little unfair upon his friend: he accused him of knowing his position, and wishing to take advantage of it; and, by the time he had got to Igoe’s, his mind was certainly not in a very charitable mood towards poor Dot. He had, nevertheless, determined to accept his offer, and to take a last look at the three Milesians.
The people about the stables always made a great fuss with Lord Ballindine, partly because he was one of the stewards, and partly because he was going to run a crack horse for the Derby in England; and though, generally speaking, he did not care much for personal complimentary respect, he usually got chattered and flattered into good humour at Igoe’s.
‘Well, my lord,’ said a sort of foreman, or partner, or managing man, who usually presided over the yard, ‘I think we’ll be apt to get justice to Ireland on the downs this year. That is, they’ll give us nothing but what we takes from ’em by hard fighting, or running, as the case may be.’
‘How’s Brien looking this morning, Grady?’
‘As fresh as a primrose, my lord, and as clear as crystal: he’s ready, this moment, to run through any set of three years old as could be put on the Curragh, anyway.’
‘I’m afraid you’re putting him on too forward.’
‘Too forrard, is it, my lord? not a bit. He’s a hoss as naturally don’t pick up flesh; though he feeds free, too. He’s this moment all wind and bottom, though, as one may say, he’s got no training. He’s niver been sthretched yet. Faith it’s thrue I’m telling you, my lord.’
‘I know Scott doesn’t like getting horses, early in the season, that are too fine too much drawn up; he thinks they lose power by it, and so they do; it’s the distance that kills them, at the Derby. It’s so hard to get a young horse to stay the distance.’
‘That’s thrue, shure enough, my lord; and there isn’t a gentleman this side the wather, anyway, undherstands thim things betther than your lordship.’
‘Well, Grady, let’s have a look at the young chieftain: he’s all right about the lungs, anyway.’
‘And feet too, my lord; niver saw a set of claner feet with plates on: and legs too! If you were to canter him down the road, I don’t think he’d feel it; not that I’d like to thry, though.’
‘Why, he’s not yet had much to try them.’
‘Faix, he has, my lord: didn’t he win the Autumn Produce Stakes?’
‘The only thing he ever ran for.’
‘Ah, but I tell you, as your lordship knows very well no one betther that it’s a ticklish thing to bring a two year old to the post, in anything like condition with any running in him at all, and not hurt his legs.’
‘But I think he’s all right eh, Grady?’
‘Right? your lordship knows he’s right. I wish he may be made righter at John Scott’s, that’s all. But that’s unpossible.’
‘Of course, Grady, you think he might be trained here, as well as at the other side of the water?’
‘No, I don’t, my lord: quite different. I’ve none of thim ideas at all, and never had, thank God. I knows what we can do, and I knows what they can do breed a hoss in Ireland, train him in the North of England, and run him in the South; and he’ll do your work for you, and win your money, steady and shure.’
‘And why not run in the North, too?’
‘They’re too ‘cute, my lord: they like to pick up the crumbs themselves small blame to thim in that matther. No; a bright Irish nag, with lots of heart, like Brien Boru, is the hoss to stand on for the Derby; where all run fair and fair alike, the best wins; but I won’t say but he’ll be the betther for a little polishing at Johnny Scott’s.’
‘Besides, Grady, no horse could run immediately after a sea voyage. Do you remember what a show we made of Peter Simple at Kilrue?’
‘To be shure I does, my lord: besides, they’ve proper gallops there, which we haven’t and they’ve betther manes of measuring horses: why, they can measure a horse to half a pound, and tell his rale pace on a two-mile course, to a couple of seconds. Take the sheets off, Larry, and let his lordship run his hand over him. He’s as bright as a star, isn’t he?’
‘I think you’re getting him too fine. I’m sure Scott’ll say so.’
‘Don’t mind him, my lord. He’s not like one of those English cats, with jist a dash of speed about ’em, and nothing more brutes that they put in training half a dozen times in as many months. Thim animals pick up a lot of loose, flabby flesh in no time, and loses it in less; and, in course, av’ they gets a sweat too much, there’s nothin left in ’em; not a hapoth. Brien’s a different guess sort of animal from that.’
‘Were you going to have him out, Grady?’
‘Why, we was not that is, only just for walking exercise, with his sheets on: but a canter down the half mile slope, and up again by the bushes won’t go agin him.’
‘Well, saddle him then, and let Pat get up.’
‘Yes, my lord’; and Brien was saddled by the two men together, with much care and ceremony; and Pat was put up ‘and now, Pat,’ continued Grady, ‘keep him well in hand down the slope don’t let him out at all at all, till you come to the turn: when you’re fairly round the corner, just shake your reins the laste in life, and when you’re halfway up the rise, when the lad begins to snort a bit, let him just see the end of the switch just raise it till it catches his eye; and av’ he don’t show that he’s disposed for running, I’m mistaken. We’ll step across to the bushes, my lord, and see him come round.’
Lord Ballindine and the managing man walked across to the bushes accordingly, and Pat did exactly as he was desired. It was a pretty thing to see the beautiful young animal, with his sleek brown coat shining like a lady’s curls, arching his neck, and throwing down his head, in his impatience to start. He was the very picture of health and symmetry; when he flung up his head you’d think the blood was running from his nose, his nostrils were so ruddy bright. He cantered off in great impatience, and fretted and fumed because the little fellow on his back would be the master, and not let him have his play down the slope, and round the corner by the trees. It was beautiful to watch him, his motions were so easy, so graceful. At the turn he answered to the boy’s encouragement, and mended his pace, till again he felt the bridle, and then, as the jock barely moved his right arm, he bounded up the rising ground, past the spot where Lord Ballindine and the trainer were standing, and shot away till he was beyond the place where he knew his gallop ordinarily ended. As Grady said, he hadn’t yet been stretched; he had never yet tried his own pace, and he had that look so beautiful in a horse when running, of working at his ease, and much within his power.
‘He’s a beautiful creature,’ said Lord Ballindine, as he mournfully reflected that he was about to give up to Dot Blake half the possession of his favourite, and the whole of the nominal title. It was such a pity he should be so hampered; the mere ‚clat of possessing such a horse was so great a pleasure; ‘He is a fine creature,’ said he, ‘and, I am sure, will do well.’
‘Your lordship may say that: he’ll go precious nigh to astonish the Saxons, I think. I suppose the pick-up at the Derby’ll be nigh four thousand this year.’
‘I suppose it will something like that.’
‘Well; I would like a nag out of our stables to do the trick on the downs, and av’ we does it iver, it’ll be now. Mr Igoe’s standing a deal of cash on him. I wonder is Mr Blake standing much on him, my lord?’
‘You’d be precious deep, Grady, if you could find what he’s doing in that way.’
‘That’s thrue for you, my lord; but av’ he, or your lordship, wants to get more on, now’s the time. I’ll lay twenty thousand pounds this moment, that afther he’s been a fortnight at Johnny Scott’s the odds agin him won’t be more than ten to one, from that day till the morning he comes out on the downs.’
‘I dare say not.’
‘I wondher who your lordship’ll put up?’
‘That must depend on Scott, and what sort of a string he has running. He’s nothing, as yet, high in the betting, except Hardicanute.’
‘Nothing, my lord; and, take my word for it, that horse is ownly jist run up for the sake of the betting; that’s not his nathural position. Well, Pat, you may take the saddle off. Will your lordship see the mare out today?’
‘Not today, Grady. Let’s see, what’s the day she runs?’
‘The fifteenth of May, my lord. I’m afraid Mr Watts’ Patriot’ll be too much for her; that’s av’ he’ll run kind; but he don’t do that always. Well, good morning to your lordship.’
‘Good morning, Grady;’ and Frank rode back towards Handicap Lodge.
He had a great contest with himself on his road home. He had hated the horses two days since, when he was at Grey Abbey, and had hated himself, for having become their possessor; and now he couldn’t bear the thought of parting with them. To be steward of the Curragh to own the best horse of the year and to win the Derby, were very pleasant things in themselves; and for what was he going to give over all this glory, pleasure and profit, to another? To please a girl who had rejected him, even jilted him, and to appease an old earl who had already turned him out of his house! No, he wouldn’t do it. By the time that he was half a mile from Igoe’s stables he had determined that, as the girl was gone it would be a pity to throw the horses after her; he would finish this year on the turf; and then, if Fanny Wyndham was still her own mistress after Christmas, he would again ask her her mind. ‘If she’s a girl of spirit,’ he said to himself ‘and nobody knows better than I do that she is, she won’t like me the worse for having shown that I’m not to be led by the nose by a pompous old fool like Lord Cashel,’ and he rode on, fortifying himself in this resolution, for the second half mile. ‘But what the deuce should he do about money?’ There was only one more half mile before he was again at Handicap Lodge. Guinness’s people had his title-deeds, and he knew he had twelve hundred a year after paying the interest of the old incumbrances. They hadn’t advanced him much since he came of age; certainly not above five thousand pounds; and it surely was very hard he could not get five or six hundred pounds when he wanted it so much; it was very hard that he shouldn’t be able to do what he liked with his own, like the Duke of Newcastle. However, the money must be had: he must pay Blake and Tierney the balance of what they had won at whist, and the horse couldn’t go over the water till the wind was raised. If he was driven very hard he might get something from Martin Kelly. These unpleasant cogitations brought him over the third half mile, and he rode through the gate of Handicap Lodge in a desperate state of indecision.
‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Dot,’ he said, when he met his friend coming in from his morning’s work; ‘and I’m deuced sorry to do it, for I shall be giving you the best horse of his year, and something tells me he’ll win the Derby.’
‘I suppose “something” means old Jack Igoe, or that blackguard Grady,’ said Dot. ‘But as to his winning, that’s as it may be. You know the chances are sixteen to one he won’t.’
‘Upon my honour I don’t think they are.’
‘Will you take twelve to one?’
‘Ah! youk now, Dot, I’m not now wanting to bet on the horse with you. I was only saying that I’ve a kind of inward conviction that he will win.’
‘My dear Frank,’ said the other, ‘if men selling horses could also sell their inward convictions with them, what a lot of articles of that description there would be in the market! But what were you going to say you’d do?’
‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do: I’ll agree to your terms providing you’ll pay half the expenses of the horses since the last race each of them ran. You must see that would be only fair, supposing the horses belonged to you, equally with me, ever since that time.’
‘It would be quite fair, no doubt, if I agreed to it: it would be quite fair also if I agreed to give you five hundred pounds; but I will do neither one nor the other.’
‘But look here, Dot Brien ran for the Autumn Produce Stakes last October, and won them: since then he has done nothing to reimburse me for his expense, nor yet has anything been taken out of him by running. Surely, if you are to have half the profits, you should at any rate pay half the expenses?’
‘That’s very well put, Frank; and if you and I stood upon equal ground, with an arbiter between us by whose decision we were bound to abide, and to whom the settlement of the question was entrusted, your arguments would, no doubt, be successful, but ’
‘Well that’s the fair way of looking at it.’
‘But, as I was going to say, that’s not the case. We are neither of us bound to take any one’s decision; and, therefore, any terms which either of us chooses to accept must be fair. Now I have told you my terms the lowest price, if you like to call it so at which I will give your horses the benefit of my experience, and save you from their immediate pecuniary pressure; and I will neither take any other terms, nor will I press these on you.’
‘Why, Blake, I’d sooner deal with all the Jews of Israel —’
‘Stop, Frank: one word of abuse, and I’ll wash my hands of the matter altogether.’
‘Wash away then, I’ll keep the horses, though I have to sell my hunters and the plate at Kelly’s Court into the bargain.’
‘I was going to add only your energy’s far too great to allow of a slow steady man like me finishing his sentence I was going to say that, if you’re pressed for money as you say, and if it will be any accommodation, I will let you have two hundred and fifty pounds at five per cent. on the security of the horses; that is, that you will be charged with that amount, and the interest, in the final closing of the account at the end of the year, before the horses are restored to you.’
Had an uninterested observer been standing by he might have seen with half an eye that Blake’s coolness was put on, and that his indifference to the bargain was assumed. This offer of the loan was a second bid, when he found the first was likely to be rejected: it was made, too, at the time that he was positively declaring that he would make none but the first offer. Poor Frank! he was utterly unable to cope with his friend at the weapons with which they were playing, and he was consequently most egregiously plundered. But it was in an affair of horse-flesh, and the sporting world, when it learned the terms on which the horses were transferred from Lord Ballindine’s name to that of Mr Blake, had not a word of censure to utter against the latter. He was pronounced to be very wide awake, and decidedly at the top of his profession; and Lord Ballindine was spoken of, for a week, with considerable pity and contempt.
When Blake mentioned the loan Frank got up, and stood with his back to the fire; then bit his lips, and walked twice up and down the room, with his hands in his pockets, and then he paused, looked out of the window, and attempted to whistle: then he threw himself into an armchair, poked out both his legs as far as he could, ran his fingers through his hair, and set to work hard to make up his mind. But it was no good; in about five minutes he found he could not do it; so he took out his purse, and, extracting half-a-crown, threw it up to the ceiling, saying,
‘Well, Dot head or harp? If you’re right, you have them.’
‘Harp,’ cried Dot.
They both examined the coin. ‘They’re yours,’ said Frank, with much solemnity; ‘and now you’ve got the best horse yes, I believe the very best horse alive, for nothing.’
‘Only half of him, Frank.’
‘Well,’ said Frank; ‘it’s done now, I suppose.’
‘Oh, of course it is,’ said Dot: ‘I’ll draw out the agreement, and give you a cheque for the money to-night.’
And so he did; and Frank wrote a letter to Igoe, authorizing him to hand over the horses to Mr Blake’s groom, stating that he had sold them for so ran his agreement with Dot and desiring that his bill for training, &c., might be forthwith forwarded to Kelly’s Court. Poor Frank! he was ashamed to go to take a last look at his dear favourites, and tell his own trainer that he had sold his own horses.
The next morning saw him, with his servant, on the Ballinasloe coach, travelling towards Kelly’s Court; and, also, saw Brien Boru, Granuell, and Finn M’Goul led across the downs, from Igoe’s stables to Handicap Lodge.
The handsome sheets, hoods, and rollers, in which they had hitherto appeared, and on which the initial B was alone conspicuous, were carefully folded up, and they were henceforth seen in plainer, but as serviceable apparel, labelled W. B.
‘Will you give fourteen to one against Brien Boru?’ said Viscount Avoca to Lord Tathenham Corner, about ten days after this, at Tattersall’s.
‘I will,’ said Lord Tathenham.
‘In hundreds?’ said the sharp Irishman.
‘Very well,’ said Lord Tathenham; and the bet was booked.
‘You didn’t know, I suppose,’ said the successful viscount, ‘that Dot Blake has bought Brien Boru?
‘And who the devil’s Dot Blake?’ said Lord Tathenham.
‘Oh! you’ll know before May’s over,’ said the viscount.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:14