At about five o’clock on the evening of the day of Sheil’s speech, Lord Ballindine and his friend, Walter Blake, were lounging on different sofas in a room at Morrison’s Hotel, before they went up to dress for dinner. Walter Blake was an effeminate-looking, slight-made man, about thirty or thirty-three years of age; good looking, and gentlemanlike, but presenting quite a contrast in his appearance to his friend Lord Ballindine. He had a cold quiet grey eye, and a thin lip; and, though he was in reality a much cleverer, he was a much less engaging man. Yet Blake could be very amusing; but he rather laughed at people than with them, and when there were more than two in company, he would usually be found making a butt of one. Nevertheless, his society was greatly sought after. On matters connected with racing, his word was infallible. He rode boldly, and always rode good horses; and, though he was anything but rich, he managed to keep up a comfortable snuggery at the Curragh, and to drink the very best claret that Dublin could procure.
Walter Blake was a finished gambler, and thus it was, that with about six hundred a year, he managed to live on equal terms with the richest around him. His father, Laurence Blake of Castleblakeney, in County Galway, was a very embarrassed man, of good property, strictly entailed, and, when Walter came of age, he and his father, who could never be happy in the same house, though possessing in most things similar tastes, had made such a disposition of the estate, as gave the father a clear though narrowed income, and enabled the son at once to start into the world, without waiting for his father’s death; though, by so doing, he greatly lessened the property which he must otherwise have inherited.
Blake was a thorough gambler, and knew well how to make the most of the numerous chances which the turf afforded him. He had a large stud of horses, to the training and working of which he attended almost as closely as the person whom he paid for doing so. But it was in the betting-ring that he was most formidable. It was said, in Kildare Street, that no one at Tattersall’s could beat him at a book. He had latterly been trying a wider field than the Curragh supplied him~ and had, on one or two occasions, run a horse in England with such success, as had placed him, at any rate, quite at the top of the Irish sporting tree.
He was commonly called ‘Dot Blake’, in consequence of his having told one of his friends that the cause of his, the friend’s, losing so much money on the turf, was, that he did not mind ‘the dot and carry on’ part of the business; meaning thereby, that he did not attend to the necessary calculations. For a short time after giving this piece of friendly caution, he had been nick-named, ‘Dot and carry on’; but that was too long to last, and he had now for some years been known to every sporting man in Ireland as ‘Dot’ Blake.
This man was at present Lord Ballindine’s most intimate friend, and he could hardly have selected a more dangerous one. They were now going down together to Handicap Lodge, though there was nothing to be done in the way of racing for months to come. Yet Blake knew his business too well to suppose that his presence was necessary only when the horses were running; and he easily persuaded his friend that it was equally important that he should go and see that it was all right with the Derby colt.
They were talking almost in the dark, on these all-absorbing topics, when the waiter knocked at the door and informed them that a young man named Kelly wished to see Lord Ballindine.
‘Show him up,’ said Frank. ‘A tenant of mine, Dot; one of the respectable few of that cattle, indeed, almost the only one that I’ve got; a sort of subagent, and a fifteenth cousin, to boot, I believe. I am going to put him to the best use I know for such respectable fellows, and that is, to get him to borrow money for me.’
‘And he’ll charge you twice as much for it, and make three times as much bother about it, as the fellows in the next street who have your title-deeds. When I want lawyer’s business done, I go to a lawyer; and when I want to borrow money, I go to my own man of business; he makes it his business to find money, and he daren’t rob me more than is decent, fitting, and customary, because he has a character to lose.’
‘Those fellows at Guinness’s make such a fuss about everything; and I don’t put my nose into that little back room, but what every word I say, by some means or other, finds its way down to Grey Abbey.’
‘Well, Frank, you know your own affairs best; but I don’t think you’ll make money by being afraid of your agent; or your wife’s guardian, if she is to be your wife.’
‘Afraid, man? I’m as much afraid of Lord Cashel as you are. I don’t think I’ve shown myself much afraid; but I don’t choose to make him my guardian, just when he’s ceasing to be hers; nor do I wish, just now, to break with Grey Abbey altogether.’
‘Do you mean to go over there from the Curragh next week?’
‘I don’t think I shall. They don’t like me a bit too well, when I’ve the smell of the stables on me.’
‘There it is, again, Frank! What is it to you what Lord Cashel likes? If you wish to see Miss Wyndham, and if the heavy-pated old Don doesn’t mean to close his doors against you, what business has he to inquire where you came from? I suppose he doesn’t like me a bit too well; but you’re not weak enough to be afraid to say that you’ve been at Handicap Lodge?’
‘The truth is, Dot, I don’t think I’ll go to Grey Abbey at all, till Fanny’s of age. She only wants a month of it now; and then I can meet Lord Cashel in a business way, as one man should meet another.’
‘I can’t for the life of me,’ said Blake, ‘make out what it is that has set that old fellow so strong against horses. He won the Oaks twice himself, and that not so very long ago; and his own son, Kilcullen, is deeper a good deal on the turf than I am, and, by a long chalk less likely to pull through, as I take it. But here’s the Connaught man on the stairs I could swear to Galway by the tread of his foot!’ and Martin knocked at the door, and walked in.
‘Well, Kelly,’ said Lord Ballindine, ‘how does Dublin agree with you?’ And, ‘I hope I see your lordship well, my lord?’ said Martin.
‘How are they all at Dunmore and Kelly’s Court?’
‘Why thin, they’re all well, my lord, except Sim Lynch and he’s dead. But your lordship’ll have heard that.’
‘What, old Simeon Lynch dead!’ said Blake, ‘well then, there’s promotion. Peter Mahon, that was the agent at Castleblakeney, is now the biggest rogue alive in Connaught.’
‘Don’t swear to that,’ said Lord Ballindine. ‘There’s some of Sim’s breed still left at Dunmore. It wouldn’t be easy to beat Barry, would it, Kelly?’
‘Why then, I don’t know; I wouldn’t like to be saying against the gentleman’s friend that he spoke of; and doubtless his honour knows him well, or he wouldn’t say so much of him.’
‘Indeed I do,’ said Blake. ‘I never give a man a good character till I know he deserves it. Well, Frank, I’ll go and dress, and leave you and Mr. Kelly to your business,’ and he left the room.
‘I’m sorry to hear you speak so hard agin Mr. Barry, my lord,’ began Martin. ‘May-be he mayn’t be so bad. Not but that he’s a cross-grained piece of timber to dale with.’
‘And why should you be sorry I’d speak against him? There’s not more friendship, I suppose, between you and Barry Lynch now, than there used to be?’
‘Why, not exactly frindship, my lord; but I’ve my rasons why I’d wish you not to belittle the Lynches. Your lordship might forgive them all, now the old man’s dead.’
‘Forgive them! indeed I can, and easily. I don’t know I ever did any of them an injury, except when I thrashed Barry at Eton, for calling himself the son of a gentleman. But what makes you stick up for them? You’re not going to marry the daughter, are you?’
Martin blushed up to his forehead as his landlord thus hit the nail on the head; but, as it was dark, his blushes couldn’t be seen. So, after dangling his hat about for a minute, and standing first on one foot, and then on the other, he took courage, and answered.
‘Well, Mr. Frank, that is, your lordship, I mane — I b’lieve I might do worse.’
‘Body and soul, man!’ exclaimed the other, jumping from his recumbent position on the sofa, ‘You don’t mean to tell me you’re going to marry Anty Lynch?’
‘In course not,’ answered Martin; ‘av’ your lordship objects.’
‘Object, man! How the devil can I object? Why, she’s six hundred a year, hasn’t she?’
‘About four, my lord, I think’s nearest the mark.’
‘Four hundred a year! And I don’t suppose you owe a penny in the world!’
‘Not much unless the last gale to your lordship and we never pay that till next May.’
‘And so you’re going to marry Anty Lynch!’ again repeated Frank, as though he couldn’t bring himself to realise the idea; ‘and now, Martin, tell me all about it how the devil you managed it when it’s to come off and how you and Barry mean to hit it off together when you’re brothers. I suppose I’ll lose a good tenant any way?’
‘Not av’ I’m a good one, you won’t, with my consent, my lord.’
‘Ah! but it’ll be Anty’s consent, now, you know. She mayn’t like Toneroe. But tell me all about it. What put it into your head?’
‘Why, my lord, you run away so fast; one can’t tell you anything. I didn’t say I was going to marry her at laist, not for certain I only said I might do worse.’
‘Well then;. are you going to marry her, or rather, is she going to marry you, or is she not?’
‘Why, I don’t know. I’ll tell your lordship just how it is. You know when old Sim died, my lord? ’
‘Of course I do. Why, I was at Kelly’s Court at the time.’
‘So you were, my lord; I was forgetting. But you went away again immediately, and didn’t hear how Barry tried to come round his sisther, when he heard how the will went; and how he tried to break the will and to chouse her out of the money.’
‘Why, this is the very man you wouldn’t let me call a rogue, a minute or two ago!’
‘Ah, my lord! that was just before sthrangers; besides, it’s no use calling one’s own people bad names. Not that he belongs to me yet, and maybe never will. But, between you and I, he is a rogue, and his father’s son every inch of him.’
‘Well, Martin, I’ll remember. I’ll not abuse him when he’s your brother-inlaw. But how did you get round the sister? That’s the question.’
‘Well, my lord, I’ll tell you. You know there was always a kind of frindship between Anty and the girls at home, and they set her up to going to old Moylan he that receives the rents on young Barron’s property, away at Strype. Moylan’s uncle to Flaherty, that married mother’s sister. Well, she went to him he’s a kind of office at Dunmore, my lord.’
‘Oh, I know him and his office! He knows the value of a name at the back of a bit of paper, as well as any one.’
‘Maybe he does, my lord; but he’s an honest old fellow, is Moylan, and manages a little for mother.’
‘Oh, of course he’s honest, Martin, because he belongs to you. You know Barry’s to be an honest chap, then.’
‘And that’s what he niver will be the longest day he lives! But, however, Moylan got her to sign all the papers; and, when Barry was out, he went and took an inventhory to the house, and made out everything square and right, and you may be sure Barry’d have to get up very ‘arly before he’d come round him. Well, after a little, the ould chap came to me one morning, and asked me all manner of questions whether I knew Anty Lynch? whether we didn’t used to be great friends? and a lot more. I never minded him much; for though I and Anty used to speak, and she’d dhrank tay on the sly with us two or three times before her father’s death, I’d never thought much about her.’
‘Nor wouldn’t now, Martin, eh? if it wasn’t for the old man’s will.’
‘In course I wouldn’t, my lord. I won’t be denying it. But, on the other hand, I wouldn’t marry her now for all her money, av’ I didn’t mane to trate her well. Well, my lord, after beating about the bush for a long time, the ould thief popped it out, and told me that he thought Anty’d be all the betther for a husband; and that, av’ I was wanting a wife, he b’lieved I might suit myself now. Well, I thought of it a little, and tould him I’d take the hint. The next day he comes to me again, all the way down to Toneroe, where I was walking the big grass-field by myself, and began saying that, as he was Anty’s agent, of course he wouldn’t see her wronged. “Quite right, Mr. Moylan,” says I; “and, as I maneto be her husband, I won’t see her wronged neither.” “Ah! but,” says he, “I mane that I must see her property properly settled.” “Why not?” says I, “and isn’t the best way for her to marry? and then, you know, no one can schame her out of it. There’s lots of them schamers about now,” says I. “That’s thrue for you,” says he, “and they’re not far to look for,” and that was thrue, too, my lord, for he and I were both schaming about poor Anty’s money at that moment. “Well,” says he, afther walking on a little, quite quiet, “av’ you war to marry her.”-” Oh, I’ve made up my mind about that, Mr. Moylan,” says I. “Well, av’ it should come to pass that you do marry her-of course you’d expect to have the money settled on herself?” “In course I would, when I die,” says I. “No, but,” says he, “at once: wouldn’t it be enough for you to have a warm roof over your head, and a leg of mutton on the table every day, and no work to do for it?” and so, my lord, it came out that the money was to be settled on herself, and that he was to be her agent.’
‘Well, Martin, after that, I think you needn’t go to Sim Lynch, or Barry, for the biggest rogues in Connaught to be settling the poor girl’s money between you that way!’
‘Well, but listen, my lord. I gave in to the ould man; that is, I made no objection to his schame. But I was determined, av’ I ever did marry Anty Lynch, that I would be agent and owner too, myself, as long as I lived; though in course it was but right that they should settle it so that av’ I died first, the poor crature shouldn’t be out of her money. But I didn’t let on to him about all that; for, av’ he was angered, the ould fool might perhaps spoil the game; and I knew av’ Anty married me at all, it’d be for liking; and av’ iver I got on the soft side of her, I’d soon be able to manage matthers as I plazed, and ould Moylan’d soon find his best game’d be to go asy.’
‘Upon my soul, Martin, I think you seem to have been the sharpest rogue of the two! Is there an honest man in Connaught at all, I wonder?’
‘I can’t say rightly, just at present, my lord; but there’ll be two, plaze God, when I and your lordship are there.’
‘Thank ye, Kelly, for the compliment, and especially for the good company. But let me hear how on earth you ever got face enough to go up and ask Anty Lynch to marry you.’
‘Oh! a little soft sawther did it! I wasn’t long in putting my com’ether on her when I once began. Well, my lord, from that day out from afther Moylan’s visit, you know I began really to think of it. I’m sure the ould robber meant to have asked for a wapping sum of money down, for his good will in the bargain; but when he saw me he got afeard.’
‘He was another honest man, just now!’
‘Only among sthrangers, my lord. I b’lieve he’s a far-off cousin of your own, and I wouldn’t like to spake ill of the blood.’
‘God forbid! But go on, Kelly.’
‘Well, so, from that out, I began to think of it in arnest the Lord forgive me! but my first thoughts was how I’d like to pull down Barry Lynch; and my second that I’d not demane myself by marrying the sisther of such an out-and-out ruffian, and that it wouldn’t become me to live on the money that’d been got by chating your lordship’s grandfather.’
‘My lordship’s grandfather ought to have looked after that himself. If those are all your scruples they needn’t stick in your throat much.’
‘I said as much as that to myself, too. So I soon went to work. I was rather shy about it at first; but the girls helped me. They put it into her head, I think, before I mentioned it at all. However, by degrees, I asked her plump, whether she’d any mind to be Mrs. Kelly? and, though she didn’t say “yes,” she didn’t say “no.”’
‘But how the devil, man, did you manage to get at her? I’m told Barry watches her like a dragon, ever since he read his father’s will.’
‘He couldn’t watch her so close, but what she could make her way down to mother’s shop now and again. Or, for the matter of that, but what I could make my way up to the house.’
‘That’s true, for what need she mind Barry, now? She may marry whom she pleases, and needn’t tell him, unless she likes, until the priest has his book ready.’
‘Ah, my lord! but there’s the rub. She is afraid of Barry; and though she didn’t say so, she won’t agree to tell him, or to let me tell him, or just to let the priest walk into the house without telling him. She’s fond of Barry, though, for the life of me, I can’t see what there is in him for anybody to be fond of. He and his father led her the divil’s own life mewed up there, because she wouldn’t be a nun. But still is both fond and afraid of him; and, though I don’t think she’ll marry anybody else at laist not yet awhile, I don’t think she’ll ever get courage to marry me at any rate, not in the ordinary way.’
‘Why then, Martin, you must do something extraordinary, I suppose.’
‘That’s just it, my lord; and what I wanted was, to ask your lordship’s advice and sanction, like.’
‘Sanction! Why I shouldn’t think you’d want anybody’s sanction for marrying a wife with four hundred a-year. But, if that’s anything to you, I can assure you I approve of it.’
‘Thank you, my lord. That’s kind.’
‘To tell the truth,’ continued Lord Ballindine, ‘I’ve a little of your own first feeling. I’d be glad of it, if it were only for the rise it would take out of my schoolfellow, Barry. Not but that I think you’re a deal too good to be his brother-inlaw. And you know, Kelly, or ought to know, that I’d be heartily glad of anything for your own welfare. So, I’d advise you to hammer away while the iron’s hot, as the saying is.’
‘That’s just what I’m coming to. What’d your lordship advise me to do?’
‘Advise you? Why, you must know best yourself how the matter stands. Talk her over, and make her tell Barry.’
‘Divil a tell, my lord, in her. She wouldn’t do it in a month of Sundays.’
‘Then do you tell him, at once. I suppose you’re not afraid of him?’
‘She’d niver come to the scratch, av’ I did. He’d bully the life out of her, or get her out of the counthry some way.’
‘Then wait till his back’s turned for a month or so. When he’s out, let the priest walk in, and do the matter quietly that way.’
‘Well, I thought of that myself, my lord; but he’s as wary as a weazel, and I’m afeard he smells something in the wind. There’s that blackguard Moylan, too, he’d be telling Barry and would, when he came to find things weren’t to be settled as he intended.’
‘Then you must carry her off, and marry her up here, or in Galway or down in Connemara, or over at Liverpool, or any where you please.’
‘Now you’ve hit it, my lord. That’s just what I’m thinking myself. Unless I take her off Gretna Green fashion, I’ll never get her.’
‘Then why do you want my advice, if you’ve made up your mind to that? I think you’re quite right; and what’s more, I think you ought to lose no time in doing it. Will she go, do you think?’
‘Why, with a little talking, I think she will.’
‘Then what are you losing your time for, man? Hurry down, and off with her! I think Dublin’s probably your best ground.’
‘Then you think, my lord, I’d betther do it at once?’
‘Of course, I do! What is there to delay you?’
‘Why, you see, my lord, the poor girl’s as good as got no friends, and I wouldn’t like it to be thought in the counthry, I’d taken her at a disadvantage. It’s thrue enough in one way, I’m marrying her for the money; that is, in course, I wouldn’t marry her without it. And I tould her, out open, before her face, and before the girls, that, av’ she’d ten times as much, I wouldn’t marry her unless I was to be masther, as long as I lived, of everything in my own house, like another man; and I think she liked me the betther for it. But, for all that, I wouldn’t like to catch her up without having something fair done by the property.’
‘The lawyers, Martin, can manage that, afterwards. When she’s once Mrs Kelly, you can do what you like about the fortune.’
‘That’s thrue, my lord. But I wouldn’t like the bad name I’d get through the counthry av’ I whisked her off without letting her settle anything. They’d he saying I robbed her, whether I did or no: and when a thing’s once said, it’s difficult to unsay it. The like of me, my lord, can’t do things like you noblemen and gentry. Besides, mother’d never forgive me. They think, down there, that poor Anty’s simple like; tho’ she’s cute enough, av’ they knew her. I wouldn’t, for all the money, wish it should be said that Martin Kelly ran off with a fool, and robbed her. Barry’d be making her out a dale more simple than she is; and, altogether, my lord, I wouldn’t like it.’
‘Well, Martin, perhaps you’re right. At any rate you’re on the right side. What is it then you think of doing?’
‘Why, I was thinking, my lord, av’ I could get some lawyer here to draw up a deed, just settling all Anty’s property on herself when I die, and on her children, av’ she has any so that I couldn’t spend it you know; she could sign it, and so could I, before we started; and then I’d feel she’d been traited as well as tho’ she’d all the friends in Connaught to her back.’
‘And a great deal better, probably. Well, Martin, I’m no lawyer, but I should think there’d not be much difficulty about that. Any attorney could do it.’
‘But I’d look so quare, my lord, walking into a sthranger’s room and explaining what I wanted all about the running away and everything. To be sure there’s my brother John’s people; they’re attorneys; but it’s about robberies, and hanging, and such things they’re most engaged; and I was thinking, av’ your lordship wouldn’t think it too much throuble to give me a line to your own people; or, maybe, you’d say a word to them explaining what I want. It’d be the greatest favour in life.’
‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Kelly. I’ll go with you, tomorrow, to Mr Blake’s lawyers that’s my friend that was sitting here and I’ve no doubt we’ll get the matter settled. The Guinnesses, you know, do all my business, and they’re not lawyers.’
‘Long life to your lordship, and that’s just like yourself! I knew you’d stick by me. And shall I call on you tomorrow, my lord? and at what time?’
‘Wait! here’s Mr Blake. I’ll ask him, and you might as well meet me there. Grey and Forrest is the name; it’s in Clare Street, I think.’ Here Mr Blake again entered the room.
‘What!’ said he; ‘isn’t your business over yet, Ballindine? I suppose I’m de trop then. Only mind, dinner’s ordered for half past six, and it’s that now, and you’re not dressed yet!’
‘You’re not de trop, and I was just wanting you. We’re all friends here, Kelly, you know; and you needn’t mind my telling Mr Blake. Here’s this fellow going to elope with an heiress from Connaught, and he wants a decently honest lawyer first.’
‘I should have thought,’ said Blake, ‘that an indecently dishonest clergyman would have suited him better under those circumstances.’
‘Maybe he’ll want that, too, and I’ve no doubt you can recommend one. But at present he wants a lawyer; and, as I have none of my own, I think Forrest would serve his turn.’
‘I’ve always found Mr Forrest ready to do anything in the way of his profession for money.’
‘No, but he’d draw up a deed, wouldn’t he, Blake? It’s a sort of a marriage settlement.’
‘Oh, he’s quite at home at that work! He drew up five, for my five sisters, and thereby ruined my father’s property, and my prospects.’
‘Well, he’d see me tomorrow, wouldn’t he?’ said Lord Ballindine.
‘Of course he would. But mind, we’re to be off early. We ought to be at the Curragh, by three.’
‘I suppose I could see him at ten?’ said his lordship. It was then settled that Blake should write a line to the lawyer, informing him that Lord Ballindine wished to see him, at his office, at ten o’clock the next morning; it was also agreed that Martin should meet him there at that hour; and Kelly took his leave, much relieved on the subject nearest his heart.
‘Well, Frank,’ said Blake, as soon as the door was closed, ‘and have you got the money you wanted?’
‘Indeed I’ve not, then.’
‘And why not? If your prot‚g‚ is going to elope with an heiress, he ought to have money at command.’
‘And so he will, and it’ll be a great temptation to me to know where I can get it so easily. But he was telling me all about this woman before I thought of my own concerns and I didn’t like to be talking to him of what I wanted myself, when he’d been asking a favour of me. It would be too much like looking for payment.’
‘There, you’re wrong; fair barter is the truest and honestest system, all the world over. Ca me, ca thee,’ as the Scotch call it, is the best system to go by. I never do, or ask, a favour; that is, for whatever I do, I expect a return; and for whatever I get, I intend to make one.’
‘I’ll get the money from Guinness. After all, that’ll be the best, and as you say, the cheapest.’
‘There you’re right. His business is to lend money, and he’ll lend it you as long as you’ve means to repay it; and I’m sure no Connaught man will do more that is, if I know them.’
‘I suppose he will, but heaven only knows how long that’ll be!’ and the young lord threw himself back on the sofa, as if he thought a little meditation would do him good. However, very little seemed to do for him, for he soon roused himself, and said, ‘I wonder how the devil, Dot, you do without borrowing? My income’s larger than yours, bad as it is; I’ve only three horses in training, and you’ve, I suppose, above a dozen; and, take the year through, I don’t entertain half the fellows at Kelly’s Court that you do at Handicap Lodge; and yet, I never hear of your borrowing money.’
‘There’s many reasons for that. In the first place, I haven’t an estate; in the second, I haven’t a mother; in the third, I haven’t a pack of hounds; in the fourth, I haven’t a title; and, in the fifth, no one would lend me money, if I asked it.’
‘As for the estate, it’s devilish little I spend on it; as for my mother, she has her own jointure; as for the hounds, they eat my own potatoes; and as for the title, I don’t support it. But I haven’t your luck, Dot. You’d never want for money, though the mint broke.’
‘Very likely I mayn’t when it does; but I’m likely to be poor enough till that happy accident occurs. But, as far as luck goes, you’ve had more than me; you won nearly as much, in stakes, as I did, last autumn, and your stable expenses weren’t much above a quarter what mine were. But, the truth is, I manage better; I know where my money goes to, and you don’t; I work hard, and you don’t; I spend my money on what’s necessary to my style of living, you spend yours on what’s not necessary. What the deuce have the fellows in Mayo and Roscommon done for you, that you should mount two or three rascals, twice a-week, to show them sport, when you’re not there yourself two months in the season? I suppose you don’t keep the horses and men for nothing, if you do the dogs; and I much doubt whether they’re not the dearest part of the bargain.’
‘Of course they cost something; but it’s the only thing I can do for the country; and there were always hounds at Kelly’s Court till my grandfather got the property, and they looked upon him as no better than an old woman, because he gave them up. Besides, I suppose I shall be living at Kelly’s Court soon, altogether, and I could never get on then without hounds. It’s bad enough, as it is.’
‘I haven’t a doubt in the world it’s bad enough. I know what Castleblakeney is. But I doubt your living there. I’ve no doubt you’ll try; that is, if you do marry Miss Wyndham; but she’ll be sick of it. in three months, and you in six, and you’ll go and live at Paris, Florence, or Naples, and there’ll be another end of the O’Kellys, for thirty or forty years, as far as Ireland’s concerned. You’ll never do for a poor country lord; you’re not sufficiently proud, or stingy. You’d do very well as a country gentleman, and you’d make a decent nobleman with such a fortune as Lord Cashel’s. But your game, if you lived on your own property, would be a very difficult one, and one for which you’ve neither tact nor temper.’
‘Well, I hope I’ll never live out of Ireland. Though I mayn’t have tact to make one thousand go as far as five, I’ve sense enough to see that a poor absentee landlord is a great curse to his country; and that’s what I hope I never shall be.’
‘My dear Lord Ballindine; all poor men are curses, to themselves or some one else.’
‘A poor absentee’s the worst of all. He leaves nothing behind, and can leave nothing. He wants all he has for himself; and, if he doesn’t give his neighbours the profit which must arise somewhere, from his own consumption, he can give nothing. A rich man can afford to leave three or four thousand a year behind him; in the way of wages for labour.’
‘My gracious, Frank! You should put all that in a pamphlet, and not inflict it on a poor devil waiting for his dinner. At present, give your profit to Morrison, and come and consume some mock-turtle; and I’ll tell you what Sheil’s going to do for us all.’
Lord Ballindine did as he was bid, and left the room to prepare for dinner. By the time that he had eaten his soup, and drank a glass of wine, he had got rid of the fit of blue devils which the thoughts of his poverty had brought on, and he spent the rest of the evening comfortably enough, listening to his friend’s comical version of Shell’s speech; receiving instruction from that great master of the art as to the manner in which he should treat his Derby colt, and being flattered into the belief that he would be a prominent favourite for that great race.
When they had finished their wine, they sauntered into the Kildare Street Club.
Blake was soon busy with his little betting-book, and Lord Ballindine followed his example. Brien Boru was, before long, in great demand. Blake took fifty to one, and then talked the horse up till he ended by giving twenty-five. He was soon ranked the first of the Irish lot; and the success of the Hibernians had made them very sanguine of late. Lord Ballindine found himself the centre of a little sporting circle, as being the man with the crack nag of the day. He was talked of, courted, and appealed to; and, I regret to say, that before he left the club he was again nearly forgetting Kelly’s Court and Miss Wyndham, had altogether got rid of his patriotic notions as to the propriety of living on his own estate, had determined forthwith to send Brien Boru over to Scott’s English stables; and then, went to bed, and dreamed that he was a winner of the Derby, and was preparing for the glories of Newmarket with five or six thousand pounds in his pocket.
Martin Kelly dined with his brother at Jude’s, and spent his evening equally unreasonably; at least, it may be supposed so from the fact that at one o’clock in the morning he was to be seen standing on one of the tables at Burton Bindon’s oyster-house, with a pewter pot, full of porter, in his hand, and insisting that every one in the room should drink the health of Anty Lynch, whom, on that occasion, he swore to be the prettiest and the youngest girl in Connaught.
It was lucky he was so intoxicated, that no one could understand him; and that his hearers were so drunk that they could understand nothing; as, otherwise, the publicity of his admiration might have had the effect of preventing the accomplishment of his design.
He managed, however, to meet his patron the next morning at the lawyer’s, though his eyes were very red, and his cheeks pale; and, after being there for some half hour, left the office, with the assurance that, whenever he and the lady might please to call there, they should find a deed prepared for their signature, which would adjust the property in the manner required.
That afternoon Lord Ballindine left Dublin, with his friend, to make instant arrangements for the exportation of Brien Boru; and, at two o’clock the next day, Martin left, by the boat, for Ballinaslie, having evinced his patriotism by paying a year’s subscription in advance to the ‘Nation’ newspaper, and with his mind fully made up to bring Anty away to Dublin with as little delay as possible.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:55