Though the majority of those who were in the habit of hunting with the Kelly’s Court hounds had been at the breakfast, here were still a considerable number of horsemen waiting on the lawn in front of the house, when Frank and his friends sallied forth. The dogs were collected round the huntsman, behaving themselves, for the most part, with admirable propriety; an occasional yelp from a young hound would now and then prove that the whipper had his eye on them, and would not allow rambling; but the old dogs sat demurely on their haunches, waiting the well-known signal for action. There they sat, as grave as so many senators, with their large heads raised, their heavy lips hanging from each side of their jaws, and their deep, strong chests expanded so as to show fully their bone, muscle, and breeding.
Among the men who had arrived on the lawn during, breakfast were two who certainly had not come together, and who had not spoken since they had been there. They were Martin Kelly and Barry Lynch. Martin was dressed just as usual, except that he had on a pair of spurs, but Barry was armed cap-a-pie. Some time before his father’s death he had supplied himself with all the fashionable requisites for the field not because he was fond of hunting, for he was not but in order to prove himself as much a gentleman as other people. He had been out twice this year, but had felt very miserable, for no one spoke to him, and he had gone home, on both occasions, early in the day; but he had now made up his mind that he would show himself to his old schoolfellow in his new character as an independent country gentleman; and what was more, he was determined that Lord Ballindine should not cut him.
He very soon had an opportunity for effecting his purpose, for the moment that Frank got on his horse, he unintentionally rode close up to him.
‘How d’ye do, my lord? I hope I see your lordship well?’ said Barry, with a clumsy attempt at ease and familiarity. ‘I’m glad to find your lordship in the field before the season’s over.’
‘Good morning, Mr Lynch,’ said Frank, and was turning away from him, when, remembering that he must have come from Dunmore, he asked, ‘did you see Martin Kelly anywhere?’
‘Can’t say I did, my lord,’ said Barry, and he turned away completely silenced, and out of countenance.
Martin had been talking to the huntsman, and criticizing the hounds. He knew every dog’s name, character, and capabilities, and also every horse in Lord Ballindine’s stable, and was consequently held in great respect by Mick Keogh and his crew.
And now the business began. ‘Mick,’ said the lord, ‘we’ll take them down to the young plantation, and bring them back through the firs and so into the gorse. If the lad’s lying there, we must hit him that way.’
‘That’s thrue for yer honer, my lord;’ and he started off with his obedient family.
‘You’re wrong, Ballindine,’ said the Parson; ‘for you’ll drive him up into the big plantation, and you’ll be all day before you make him break; and ten to one they’ll chop him in the cover.’
‘Would you put them into the gorse at once then?’
‘Take ’em gently through the firs; maybe he’s lying out and down into the gorse, and then, if he’s there, he must go away, and into a tip-top country too miles upon miles of pasture right away to Ballintubber,’
‘That’s thrue, too, my lord: let his Rivirence alone for understandhing a fox,’ said Mick, with a wink.
The Parson’s behests were obeyed. The hounds followed Mick into the plantation, and were followed by two or three of the more eager of the party, who did not object to receiving wet boughs in their laces, or who delighted in riding for half an hour with their heads bowed close down over their saddle-bows. The rest remained with the whipper, outside.
‘Stay a moment here, Martin,’ said Lord Ballindine. They can’t get away without our seeing them, and I want to speak a few words to you.’
‘And I want particularly to spake to your lordship,’ said Martin; ‘and there’s no fear of the fox! I never knew a fox lie in those firs yet.’
‘Nor I either, but you see the Parson would have his way. I suppose, if the priest were out, and he told you to run the dogs through the gooseberry-bushes, you’d do it?’
‘I’m blessed if I would, my lord! Every man to his trade. Not but what Mr Armstrong knows pretty well what he’s about.’
‘Well but, Martin, I’ll tell you what I want of you. I want a little money, without bothering those fellows up in Dublin; and I believe you could let me have it; at any rate, you and your mother together. Those fellows at Guinness’s are stiff about it, and I want three hundred pounds, without absolutely telling them that they must give it me I’d give you my bill for the amount at twelve months, and, allow you six per cent.; but then I want it immediately. Can you let me have it?’
‘Why, my lord,’ said Martin, after pausing awhile and looking very contemplative during the time, ‘I certainly have the money; that is, I and mother together; but ’
‘Oh, if you’ve any doubt about it or if it puts you out, don’t do it.’
‘Divil a doubt on ‘arth, my lord; but I’ll tell you I was just going to ask your lordship’s advice about laying out the same sum in another way, and I don’t think I could raise twice that much.’
‘Very well, Martin; if you’ve anything better to do with your money, I’m sure I’d be sorry to take it from you.’
‘That’s jist it, my lord. I don’t think I can do betther but I want your advice about it.’
‘My advice whether you ought to lend me three hundred pounds or not! Why, Martin, you’re a fool. I wouldn’t ask you to lend it me, if I thought you oughtn’t to lend it.’
‘Oh I’m certain sure of that, my lord; but there’s an offer made me, that I’d like to have your lordship’s mind about. It’s not much to my liking, though; and I think it’ll be betther for me to be giving you the money,’ and then Martin told his landlord the offer which had been made to him by Daly, on the part of Barry Lynch. ‘You see, my lord,’ he concluded by saying, ‘it’d be a great thing to be shut of Barry entirely out of the counthry, and to have poor Anty’s mind at ase about it, should she iver live to get betther; but thin, I don’t like to have dailings with the divil, or any one so much of his colour as Barry Lynch.’
‘This is a very grave matter, Martin, and takes some little time to think about. To tell the truth, I forgot your matrimonial speculation when I asked for the money. Though I want the cash, I think you should keep it in your power to close with Barry: no, you’d better keep the money by you.’
‘After all, the ould woman could let me have it on the security of the house, you know, av’ I did take up with the offer. So, any way, your lordship needn’t be balked about the cash.’
‘But is Miss Lynch so very ill, Martin?’
‘‘Deed, and she is, Mr Frank; very bad intirely. Doctor Colligan was with her three times yestherday.’
‘And does Barry take any notice of her now she’s ill?’
‘Why, not yet he didn’t; but then, we kept it from him as much as we could, till it got dangerous like. Mother manes to send Colligan to him today, av’ he thinks she’s not betther.’
‘If she were to die, Martin, there’d be an end of it all, wouldn’t there?’
‘Oh, in course there would, my lord’ and then he added, with a sigh, ‘I’d be sorry she’d die, for, somehow, I’m very fond of her, quare as it’ll seem to you. I’d be very sorry she should die.’
‘Of course you would, Martin; and it doesn’t seem queer at all.’
‘Oh, I wasn’t thinking about the money, then, my lord; I was only thinking of Anty herself: you don’t know what a good young woman she is it’s anything but herself she’s thinking of always.’
‘Did she make any will?’
“Deed she didn’t, my lord: nor won’t, it’s my mind.’
‘Ah! but she should, after all that you and your mother’ve gone through. It’d be a thousand pities that wretch Barry got all the property again.’
‘He’s wilcome to it for the Kellys, av’ Anty dies. But av’ she lives he shall niver rob a penny from her. Oh, my lord! we wouldn’t put sich a thing as a will into her head, and she so bad, for all the money the ould man their father iver had. But, hark! my lord that’s Gaylass, I know the note well, and she’s as true as gould: there’s the fox there, just inside the gorse, as the Parson said’ and away they both trotted, to the bottom of the plantation, from whence the cheering sound of the dog’s voices came, sharp, sweet, and mellow.
Yes; the Parson was as right as if he had been let into the fox’s confidence overnight, and had betrayed it in the morning. Gaylass was hardly in the gorse before she discovered the doomed brute’s vicinity, and told of it to the whole canine confraternity. Away from his hiding-place he went, towards the open country, but immediately returned into the covert, for he saw a lot of boys before him, who had assembled with the object of looking at the hunt, but with the very probable effect of spoiling it; for, as much as a fox hates a dog, he fears the human race more, and will run from an urchin with a stick into the jaws of his much more fatal enemy.
‘As long as them blackguards is there, a hollowing, and a screeching, divil a fox in all Ireland’d go out of this,’ said Mick to his master.
‘Ah, boys,’ said Frank, riding up, ‘if you want to see a hunt, will you keep back!’
‘Begorra we will, yer honer,’ said one.
‘Faix we wouldn’t be afther spiling your honer’s divarsion, my lord, on no account,’ said another.
‘We’ll be out o’ this althogether, now this blessed minute,’ said a third, but still there they remained, each loudly endeavouring to banish the others.
At last, however, the fox saw a fair course before him, and away he went; and with very little start, for the dogs followed him out of the covert almost with a view.
And now the men settled themselves to the work, and began to strive for the pride of place, at least the younger portion of them: for in every field there are two classes of men. Those, who go out to get the greatest possible quantity of riding, and those whose object is to get the least. Those who go to work their nags, and those who go to spare them. The former think that the excellence of the hunt depends on the horses; the latter, on the dogs. The former go to act, and the latter to see. And it is very generally the case that the least active part of the community know the most about the sport.
They, the less active part above alluded to, know every high-road and bye-road; they consult the wind, and calculate that a fox won’t run with his nose against it; they remember this stream and this bog, and avoid them; they are often at the top of eminences, and only descend when they see which way the dogs are going; they take short cuts, and lay themselves out for narrow lanes; they dislike galloping, and eschew leaping; and yet, when a hard-riding man is bringing up his two hundred guinea hunter, a minute or two late for the finish, covered with foam, trembling with his exertion, not a breath left in him he’ll probably find one of these steady fellows there before him, mounted on a broken-down screw, but as cool and as fresh as when he was brought out of the stable; and what is, perhaps, still more amazing, at the end of the day, when the hunt is canvassed after dinner, our dashing friend, who is in great doubt whether his thoroughbred steeplechaser will ever recover his day’s work, and who has been personally administering warm mashes and bandages before he would venture to take his own boots off, finds he does not know half as much about the hunt, or can tell half as correctly where the game went, as our, quiet-going friend, whose hack will probably go out on the following morning under the car, with the mistress and children. Such a one was Parson Armstrong; and when Lord Ballindine and most of the others went away after the hounds, he coolly turned round in a different direction, crept through a broken wall into a peasant’s garden, and over a dunghill, by the cabin door into a road, and then trotted along as demurely and leisurely as though he were going to bury an old woman in the next parish.
Frank was, generally speaking, as good-natured a man as is often met, but even he got excited and irritable when hunting his own pack. All masters of hounds do. Some one was always too forward, another too near the dogs, a third interfering with the servants, and a fourth making too much noise.
‘Confound it, Peter,’ he said, when they had gone over a field or two, and the dogs missed the scent for a moment, ‘I thought at any rate you knew better than to cross the dogs that way.’
‘Who crossed the dogs?’ said the other ‘what nonsense you’re talking: why I wasn’t out of the potato-field till they were nearly all at the next wall.’
‘Well, it may be nonsense,’ continued Frank; ‘but when I see a man riding right through the hounds, and they hunting, I call that crossing them.’
‘Hoicks! Tally’ hollowed some one ‘there’s Graceful has it again well done, Granger! Faith, Frank, that’s a good dog! if he’s not first, he’s always second.’
‘Now, gentlemen, steady, for heaven’s sake. Do let the dogs settle to their work before you’re a-top of them. Upon my soul, Nicholas Brown, it’s ridiculous to see you!’
‘It’d be a good thing if he were half as much in a hurry to get to heaven,’ said Bingham Blake.
‘Thank’ee,’ said Nicholas; ‘go to heaven yourself. I’m well enough where I am.’
And now they were off again. In the next field the whole pack caught a view of the fox just as he was stealing out; and after him they went, with their noses well above the ground, their voices loud and clear, and in one bevy.
Away they went: the game was strong; the scent was good; the ground was soft, but not too soft; and a magnificent hunt they had; but there were some misfortunes shortly after getting away. Barry Lynch, wishing, in his ignorance, to lead and show himself off, and not knowing how scurrying along among the dogs, and bothered at every leap, had given great offence to Lord Ballindine. But, not wishing to speak severely to a man whom he would not under any circumstances address in a friendly way, he talked at him, and endeavoured to bring him to order by blowing up others in his hearing. But this was thrown away on Barry, and he continued his career in a most disgusting manner; scrambling through gaps together with the dogs, crossing other men without the slightest reserve, annoying every one, and evidently pluming himself on his performance. Frank’s brow was getting blacker and blacker. Jerry Blake and young Brown were greatly amusing themselves at the exhibition, and every now and then gave him a word or two of encouragement, praising his mare, telling how well he got over that last fence, and bidding him mind and keep well forward. This was all new to Barry, and he really began to feel himself in his element if it hadn’t been for those abominable walls, he would have enjoyed himself. But this was too good to last, and before very long he made a faux pas, which brought down on him in a torrent the bottled-up wrath of the viscount.
They had been galloping across a large, unbroken sheep-walk, which exactly suited Barry’s taste, and he had got well forward towards the hounds. Frank was behind, expostulating with Jerry Blake and the others for encouraging him, when the dogs came to a small stone wall about two feet and a half high. In this there was a broken gap, through which many of them crept. Barry also saw this happy escape from the grand difficulty of jumping, and, ignorant that if he rode the gap at all, he should let the hounds go first, made for it right among them, in spite of Frank’s voice, now raised loudly to caution him. The horse the man rode knew his business better than himself, and tried to spare the dogs which were under his feet; but, in getting out, he made a slight spring, and came down on the haunches of a favourite young hound called ‘Goneaway’; he broke the leg close to the socket, and the poor beast most loudly told his complaint.
This was too much to be borne, and Frank rode up red with passion; and a lot of others, including the whipper, soon followed.
‘He has killed the dog!’ said he. ‘Did you ever see such a clumsy, ignorant fool? Mr Lynch, if you’d do me the honour to stay away another day, and amuse yourself in any other way, I should be much obliged.’
much obliged.’ ’
‘It wasn’t my fault then,’ said Barry.
‘Do you mean to give me the lie, sir?’ replied Frank.
‘The dog got under the horse’s feet. How was I to help it?’
There was a universal titter at this, which made Barry wish himself at home again, with his brandy-bottle.
‘Ah! sir,’ said Frank; ‘you’re as fit to ride a hunt as you are to do anything else which gentlemen usually do. May I trouble you to make yourself scarce? Your horse, I see, can’t carry you much farther, and if you’ll take my advice, you’ll go home, before you’re ridden over yourself. Well, Martin, is the bone broken?’
Martin had got off his horse, and was kneeling down beside the poor hurt brute. ‘Indeed it is, my lord, in two places. You’d better let Tony kill him; he has an awful sprain in the back, as well; he’ll niver put a foot to the ground again.’
‘By heavens, that’s too bad! isn’t it Bingham? He was, out and out, the finest puppy we entered last year.’
‘What can you expect,’ said Bingham, ‘when such fellows as that come into a field? He’s as much business here as a cow in a drawing-room.’
‘But what can we do? one can’t turn him off the land; if he chooses to come, he must.’
‘Why, yes,’ said Bingham, ‘if he will come he must. But then, if he insists on doing so, he may be horsewhipped; he may be ridden over; he may be kicked; and he may be told that he’s a low, vulgar, paltry scoundrel; and, if he repeats his visits, that’s the treatment he’ll probably receive.’
Barry was close to both the speakers, and of course heard, and was intended to hear, every word that was said. He contented himself, however, with muttering certain inaudible defiances, and was seen and heard of no more that day.
The hunt was continued, and the fox was killed; but Frank and those with him saw but little more of it. However, as soon as directions were given for the death of poor Goneaway, they went on, and received a very satisfactory account of the proceedings from those who had seen the finish. As usual, the Parson was among the number, and he gave them a most detailed history, not only of the fox’s proceedings during the day, but also of all the reasons which actuated the animal, in every different turn he took.
‘I declare, Armstrong,’ said Peter Dillon, ‘I think you were a fox yourself, once! Do you remember anything about it?’
‘What a run he would give!’ said Jerry; ‘the best pack that was ever kennelled wouldn’t have a chance with him.’
‘Who was that old chap,’ said Nicholas Dillon, showing off his classical learning, ‘who said that dead animals always became something else? maybe it’s only in the course of nature for a dead fox to become a live parson.’
‘Exactly: you’ve hit it,’ said Armstrong; ‘and, in the same way, the moment the breath is out of a goose it becomes an idle squireen, and, generally speaking, a younger brother.’
‘Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Nick,’ said Jerry; ‘and take care how you meddle with the Church again.’
‘Who saw anything of Lambert Brown?’ said another; ‘I left him bogged below there at Gurtnascreenagh, and all he could do, the old grey horse wouldn’t move a leg to get out for him.’
‘Oh, he’s there still,’ said Nicholas. ‘He was trying to follow me, and I took him there on purpose. It’s not deep, and he’ll do no hurt: he’ll keep as well there, as anywhere else.’
‘Nonsense, Dillon!’ said the General ‘you’ll make his brother really angry, if you go on that way. If the man’s a fool, leave him in his folly, but don’t be playing tricks on him. You’ll only get yourself into a quarrel with the family.’
‘And how shall we manage about the money, my lord?’ said Martin, as he drew near the point at which he would separate from the rest, to ride towards Dunmore. ‘I’ve been thinking about it, and there’s no doubt about having it for you on Friday, av that’ll suit.’
‘That brother-inlaw of yours is a most unmitigated blackguard, isn’t he, Martin?’ said Frank, who was thinking more about poor Goneaway than the money.
‘He isn’t no brother-inlaw of mine yet, and probably niver will be, for I’m afeard poor Anty’ll go. But av he iver is, he’ll soon take himself out of the counthry, and be no more throuble to your lordship or any of us.’
‘But to think of his riding right a-top of the poor brute, and then saying that the dog got under his horse’s feet! Why, he’s a fool as well as a knave. Was he ever out before?’
‘Well, then, I believe he was, twice this year; though I didn’t see him myself.’
‘Then I hope this’ll be the last time: three times is quite enough for such a fellow as that.’
‘I don’t think he’ll be apt to show again afther what you and Mr Bingham said to him. Well, shure, Mr Bingham was very hard on him!’
‘Serve him right; nothing’s too bad for him.’
‘Oh, that’s thrue for you, my lord: I don’t pity him one bit. But about the money, and this job of my own. Av it wasn’t asking too much, it’d be a great thing av your lordship’d see Daly.’
It was then settled that Lord Ballindine should ride over to Dunmore on the following Friday, and if circumstances seemed to render it advisable, that he and Martin should go on together to the attorney at Tuam.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01