Page images
PDF
EPUB

at all on the farm to be found Johnny darkly, evidently rein the province of Connaught," ferring to some back number

-& statement that he often of blaokguardism with which made when the fair or market this story is not conneoted. was over and nothing re- The girl continued to talk, mainod but gossip and drink and Johnny listened with an ing. And the boys on their ever-clearing brow; the sense way home would often cay of defeat and loneliness dropped that it was the “divil's own in a measure from him, and pity that the likes of a girl he began to think that somelike Mary Burke would be ever how, he did not quite see how and always following after a at the moment, he might lad like that Johnny Deery." get on his legs again and

She now approached him, face his enemies as & man well knowing the diffioulty ought to. and danger of her task, and A great Irishman once said: her endeavour was at first “I would not give a pin for a doubtful.

friend who will stand by you "Ah, Johnny," she said, when you are in the right; “don't mind whatever they what I want is a friend who said to you.”

will stand by me when I Mr O'Deara's brow clouded. am in the wrong." It can

“Never mind them, Loosias," hardly have escaped that she added quickly. The cloud very astute observer that this lifted. “Sure, if you did win is woman's normal attitude. the race itself, what oall had A man sins against the laws they speak to you the way of his class, and, if there is they did ? Hasn't every one a no woman at hand to reright to win if he oan? And store his self-respeot, he sinks you rode well," added the girl from that olass and bis ruin

Johnny's eye turned on her has begun. Men turn their with favour.

baoks on him with contempt “Sure," she went on, or contemptuous pity, and he “wouldn't it be better for becomes a "wrong 'un.” It you to win whenever you is given to woman to see oan, and not be mixing at what is lost to the other all with them lads ?

sex, the possibility of good Johnny looked at her mus- that exists, or perhaps to ing, as a veteran general who recognise that the evil is finds himself suddenly opposed but an injurious growth that to a force for which he is no oan be excised by self - rematch might consider the spect. She often holds out bold proposals of an inex. her hand to one who would perienced junior—there might otherwise have sunk; he gets be something in it.

his foot on dry land again, “They are a paok of dirty and has another and a better thieves," the girl added at try. the end of her discourse. Johnny began to feel re

“They are that,” said stored by the conversation

with fare,"

she be better yout

of his friend, and her quiet vooation for a moment, and assumption that as a matter “booed” him at the top of of oourse he must be in the their brazen lungs as he rode right, and to cast about for a down. This demonstration way out of his difficulty, which hurt Johnny deeply, as, like was not so easy to find, as in many Irishmen, he loved popdeed his fault was a foolish ularity. The climax was and unforgivable one.

reached when one bookie, as he He had acquired in some passed, chanted derisively – way ownership of quite a 14 to 1Climbing Boy."" Then good horse, “ Climbing Boy,” Johnny lost his head, and seeby “Chimney Sweep.” Very ing a friend in the crowd he good in his olass, almost good bookoned him, and whispering in any class, quite the best "I am going to win this," horse that day at Ballymac. commissioned him to take 4 shane Meeting, but he was not ponies “Climbing Boy," and there to win; for Johnny had rode to the post feeling that also aoquired membership of a anyhow he had £100 as good gang whose principal means as in his pooket. But Jobpny's of subsistence was the mani- action had been noted. When pulation of races at small his friend approached the bookie meetings, with the result that and demanded the 4 ponies to generally the best horse did one, he received the answer not win. These speculators “to you 2 to 1 on!and had some time before decided, this was passed round the ring for sufficient reasons, that & with shouts of laughter. So the horse called “Norman Park," unconscious Jobopy started belonging to a confederate, out to win his race little knowwas to win the Town Plate of ing that his friend had not 25 sovs. They had baoked been able to back his mount him for quite an unusual for a shilling. amount-50 at threes. “Nor- The story of that race should man Park” was a good honest. be written in blue. When horse and a sound jumper, but there was still a mile to go, not so good at the weights, the rider of “Norman Park" or almost at any weights, as was asking Johnny "What the “Climbing Boy." Therefore blazes he was in such a Johnny was allowed an un- hurry about? Did he think usually large percentage of that he was going to win the the prospeotive profits. The -- race?” And finding a little bookies tumbled to the posi- later that this was precisely tion before the race started what Johnny intended to do, and did their best to get he, after an unsuccessful atround, but without much suo- tempt to ride him down, purCess. So when Johnny oame sued him with exhortations out for the race, which he did and oursings, in which the rather early, his reception was entire field joined as they saw the reverse of enthusiastio. him ooming into the straight The ring, in faot, forsook its & winner,

But this was nothing to the face the paddock again, he as reception he received as he yet saw no way at all out of rode in, for the tip as to his diffioulties. “Norman Park” had leaked They were saddling for anout, the horse had started odds other race, so Johnny received on, and when it beoame known no partioular attention as he that he had tried to baok him- strolled amongst the crowd, self and failed, a shout of de- with his under-lip well thrust risive laughter had gone ap out and a simulated look of that made Johnny feel that indifference. really the whole world had He did not see & rather deserted him.

tall, slight young man, oleanSeriously his position was shaven, clean-looking, clean. bad enough - he had earned bred, who looked on with an the undying enmity of the air of detachment and get of gang with which he had got knowledge, who had a quiet entangled, to some of whom nod and a word for many of he owed money that he could the racing people, who seemed not pay, and they had him in to be an interested and hightheir power in other ways. ly intelligent spootator, whose To do him justice, he hated quiet observant eye had already them and their crooked noted Johnny, and dwelling on methods, which had done him him saw that all was not well, 80 little good in reputation or and followed him with interest pooket; but how to live with and a little amusement. Then out them was a problem ho at last Johnny saw him, and his had not solved, and the demeanour changed. Coming thought half formed at the forward he raised his hand to back of his head when he his hat, and said in a voice won was, that if he landed that many of his friends would the £100 he would perhaps have had difficulty in recog. be able to start again clear. nising as his at allNow he had failed, and he “Master Jimmy !” knew that few of the race. For Johnny had been born courses he patronised would and bred within a mile of this be safe for him in future; also young man's home. As & he knew that if he tried to child he had firmly believed stand out on his own, there that the old house—“the Big would be a great difficulty in House "-was the finest buildgetting the horses he owned ing in the world. He had been away from Ballymaoshane in taken into it, when a boy, in safety.

some capacity which had deTherefore, even with the veloped into under-gardener, oomforting words of the young and finally into stable lad, and lady with the blue flowers in the two lads had formed one of her hat, Johnny found it hard those ourious friendships beto put a bold face on things; tween rioh and poor which had and although he smiled kindly survived an inoreased knowon her as he took courage to ledge of the world, its sins, its

wiokednesses. As years and whispered conversation with experienoe inoreased each saw her, and was back in the the other for more exactly paddook as the winner of the what he was worth; but the race came in. The crowd feeling of friendship lasted on, followed the horse to the scales. 80 that these two young men, Johnny took “Climbing Boy's" though widely separated, were rein from the lad, and led him prepared to stand by each other out of the paddook unnoticed. when oooasion required.

He crossed the field to the Johnny hurriedly recounted entrance gate, mounted and the story of his misfortunes. rode for the stable where the It may be inferred how strong horses stood. The man in his belief was in his friend, oharge knew him, accepted the James de Laoy, when I say story that Johnny thought fit that he actually told the to tell, which wound up by absolute truth; and James saying that he was going to listened and nodded with a take the horses on then to complete understanding. The their next meet at Corofin, horses were now going out for which was due in a couple of & race and the two were un- days, and handed him over his noticed. Johnny wound up- second horse without question. “I don't know what to do at At the same time Mary Burke, all, sir, or how to get my his friend with the blue flowers horses away from that lot any- in her hat, strolled down the way!”

course, dipped under the fence, “What have you?” said and made her way into the James.

town. Here she borrowed a “ There is Climbing Boy' bike, dexterously manipulated hore now," was the reply, “and her best skirt, and stood out I have another young one be- boldly for her father's house, low in the stable with some ten Irish miles away. of Ned Lalor's and the other She arrived there about an ohaps'. If I got them away hour before Mr Deery was seen itself, I have nowhere I could riding in leading his second take them.”

horse. He was bestowed in a James thought, and at last stable which seemed to have said—“Bring them along to been hurriedly got ready. The me the mountain way, and horses were made oomfortable. don't let any one know where Jobany's bodily wants were you have gone."

attended to, then he stretched “Bedad, I think I oan do himself in the straw and was it,” said Johnny, “and thank soon asleep. you, sir. I knew you would not With the first dawn of the forget me."

summer morning the stable He darted amongst the door was stealthily opened, crowd, found the young lady and man and horse being rewith blue flowers in her hat, freshed, Johnny mounted and -indeed his eye had been on rode down the road, whilst his her all the time,-had a short staunch friend Mary waved

him adieu. She was absolutely and this was one of many the only one who know of his castles. visit, for her father, who had The country changed, the won money at the races, re. low distriot was left behind, turned in a glorious and ex- and the road entered the hills pansive mood, in whioh his which from the race - course only ambition was to explain had been blue on the horizon. to all and sundry his intimate Every mile the country became knowledge of racing, and her wilder, and the few peasants mother was too much taken up who were travelling stopped in shepherding him and getting on the roadside as the car him to bed to ask many ques- approached, unused to the tions ; besides, she well under- sight of one; but when they stood the value of the saying, recognised James they doffed “Ask me no questions and I their hats and shouted a wel. will tell you no lies.”

oome, seeming to think them. James de Laoy stayed for selves rewarded on receiving the last race. He did not bet, a smile in return; for this was but seemed to follow the form his land, not only of the presolosely. He had many friends ont but of the past. As far who were glad to greet this as his keen vision could reach, grave young man and pass a the mountains, the brown word with him, and some of moors, the lakes, the wooded these watched him as he busied islands on the lakes, all had himself with his motor - oar been the possession of men of before he started for his long his race, his name, his manner and solitary drive. Then as he of form and feature, who for looked around to bid adieu, a some centuries had ruled this smile of singularly attractive outpost of the Western World, sweetness for a moment lighted and ruled it well, That was up his face. His friends drew the past, and what their debaok apparently satisfied. Per- soendant had inherited from haps they had waited for that them was an old house in the smile, certainly each appro- most beautiful corner of this priated it as for himself most beautiful country, halfalone.

hidden in woods, and surHe turned left-handed with- rounded by some hundreds of out entering the little town, acres of excellent land—that and, leaving the stone - wall and a few things that were country, followed the line round his alone, whioh haply he the head of Lough Corrib, oalm might pass on. The look of and beautiful that evening, gentle blood, the smile, the studded with islands, on one word, the way, born with him, of whioh stood the remains of which had been perfeoted by ohurohos reaching almost back centuries of taotful rule, which to the time of St Patriok; on assisted him to an extent that another the rains of a Norman he hardly suspeoted in his oastle, for here Norman and journey through the world. Celt had fought it out bitterly, As James steered his car

« PreviousContinue »