Page images

through the mountains that for the fraction of a moment, were once the heritage of his showed the despair of her race, the thoughts, the romance heart, and then she was serene of the past, blended with the again. beauty of the present in that “Yes, Jimmy,” she said, “I golden summer evening, and was a coward and ran away, the struggles, the meanesses but now I shall say good-bye of life, the soone that he had to you as I ought to.” just left, seemed for the mo- “You are not going to say mont as of another world. He good-bye to me now," he said, drank in the romance, the and he felt her hand tremble parity and strength, which are on his arm, but she answered the gifts of Nature to those in the deep riob tones which who have the understanding are the beautiful heritage of to seek them from her. James a few women, thought of the past, of his “No, Jimmy, you are not to short life and how it was a allow yourself to be influenoed happy one, and went in the by an old woman. You have way that he wished it to; how your place to take in the he had entered the army, hop. world, and you must go out ing for active servioe, which and take it.” somehow seemed to evade him, But James had much to say and how as he tired of barrack on this point; through that squares and garrison life his long day they threshed out the thoughts turned more and question, and in the evening more to the home he loved. the old lady gat trembling Then came his father's death; with happiness, wondering fearbe returned to settle things, fully if what was done was but still determined, if it were right. James sent in his right, to resume the life he papers, reserving himself, howhad found distasteful. But ever, as ready for his country's what he really loved and under- call, bade adieu to his friends, stood were horses. He thought and taking in hand the life he saw in the expert breed- he loved, never from that day ing of blood-stook that there looked baok. was a future, so whilst he spent Now as he neared his home his leave, shot, and fished, he his mother awaited him in the mused on this and worked out old grey house, full of the problems on it in figures. memories of his ancestors,

But the days went by and which was kept so carefully ho was still musing. The day and well. She had, when old arrived when he came down Thomas the butler had gone the steps to get into his car out for his evening gossip in to go, but he missed his mother, the stables, flitted unobtruand knew at once that she had gively into James's room to see not dared to face the parting. if the things, the exact things He found her in the garden he liked, had been made ready with her head in her hands. for him. She had dressed herAs she lifted her head, her face, self carefully, almost handsomely, and the seleotion of very well, and I told Andy the jewels to go with her dress the groom to take her in and had given her some moments watoh her.” Here old Thomas of thought; now as she sat in joined in the conversation, and the deep drawing-room window said that Andy thought there looking out on the summer was nothing to signify the evening, and by the woods to matter with her, and Thomas where they opened on the lake gave his own opinion, for, like beyond, it is doubtful if this all butlers of his olass, he old lady, who had the ex. fancied himself in the matter periences of a beautiful and of horseflesh. well-loved girl behind her, had Jimmy told of his day, how ever really been much happier. Willie Fitzwilliam stood them She rose as her son en- all & champagne lunch, and tered with the grace which finally, with a good deal of she was born to, and which humour, of Johnny Deery's is not to be soquired, and as misfortunes ; whereat old she passed through the ball on Thomas had to retire behind his arm, old Thomas, who the screen to master his feel. when James was a little boy ings, and Mrs de Laoy, who had many times oarried him oame of racing stock and unin his arms, throw out his derstood, laughed so lightly, chest and looked straight to 80 youthfully, that the red the front, the pioture of an setter dog who lay on the old family servitor.

hearthrug raised his handsome Mrs de Laoy, the daughter old head with the light glintof an Irish peer, was proud of ing in his brown eyes, and her dinners, which were of the beat his tail on the ground in studied and artistio nature sympathetio approval. dear to the hearts of those of “But poor Johnny," she Latin or Norman blood. They said, “how would he know dined at a small round table, better? You will do somethe simple appointments of thing for him, Jimmy?”. which were perfect, placed by “He will be here to-morrow," the deep window, where they James answered, “and I hope to oould look out on the golden put him on his legs somehow." sunget and the refleotion of the And next day as these two trees in the still lake. She told eat at breakfast Johnny rode him of her garden which she “Climbing Boy” into the yard, loved, and how she had gone leading the young horse, beround the young horses in the stowed them in the stables afternoon, and how the three. that were ready for them, months-old foal, by “Nebat," attended to their wants, and out of the Connemara mare, before the day was out had had galloped to her and taken his place in the house jumped & wall, tuoking his hold as if he had never left it. legs under him like an old The rage and indignation of hunter. But she said, “I am Johnny's confederates when afraid the Edgar filly is not they realised that he had given

them the slip and got away he was to have been given his with both his horses may be first chance of showing the imagined, but oannot be ade- stuff that was in him, to be quately described in these followed up by other trials of pages. They called down & like nature, until at last, ourses upon him, they spoke having been beaten in many of him as an abandoned little country £25 plates, he would profligate, an unscrupulous stand up to win the Galway and heartless little sharper, Plate of 500 sovereigns. who had betrayed his best This was to have been the friends and deprived honest climax of their expedition, and men like themselves of their they had spoken in awed whishard and soanty earnings; they pers when they tried to calcu. vowed vengeance upon him, late the possibilities of such a and this took them to the worst ooup. They determined that, point of the indiotment—that whatever happened, however he had taken advantage of it was done, “Lomax" at the absolute absorption of the least must fall into their hands population of Ballymaoshane again, or, if this were quite in the races to slip away quite impossible, that they must unnoticed, without leaving the somehow control his place in slightest olue as to what part the betting. of the province of Connaught, The loss of “Climbing Boy" let alone the Kingdom of Ire- was taken more philosophioland, he had headed for. None ally. He was a good horse, but of their friends could throw 80 most people knew, and difany light on this point, and it ficulties had begun to be many was then that they really be- in making the proper "ar. wailed their fate one to another, rangements” concerning bim. and pointed out, in dolorous The oonfederates, indeed, had ohorus, how their racing cam. began to think that it was paign, which was only just time Johony sold him “to a begun, was almost ruined-how gentleman who would want to their plans, 80 carefully laid, win the Prince of Wales' Plate and the subjeot of so much or the Conyngham Cup at thought and discussion for Punchestown," or would take months past, almost since him to England to run for Christmas, were brought to stakes worth winning, and nought by the defection of where it is worth while for Johnny and the loss of his the best horse to win. They horses; and, most of all, they knew that even the most inbewailed the loss of Johnny's dulgent Stewards at the most young horse, the beautiful, the insignificant country meetings perfectly - bred, the untried may occasionally be goaded “Lomax," whose form they into action by the attitude of were to have placed the very & orowd that has lost its money next week at the little country by backing the best horse, and meet of Corofin. Not, of oourse, that the action of the I.N.H.S. that he was to win, but where would speedily follow; that their

tlgorge, ther of John they

horses, if not themselves, might back his horse without further be warned off, and their activity comment. anyhow ourbed for a time.

It may be understood, thereSometimes the gang, whose fore, that “ Climbing Boy," by methods I have striven to his honest and consistent elucidate, would combine with running, had almost run himanother to corner most of the self out of use to these conraces at some little-known federates, but that “Lomax," meeting, and when it was the untried, the beautiful, arranged between them what might serve them by a coup favourites were to lose, a com- which would pay for all, and paratively easy business, they keep them warm and well fed were then faced with the real during the slaok time of the diffioulty of what horses were winter. Still, "Climbing Boy” to win. If they had to look was an incomparable trial only to themselves this might horse, so really good, so sound, have landed them in serious 80 generous and ready to do trouble. But, fortunately for his best. No amount of racing them, there are generally a few seemed to sour him. He ran looal gentlemen who race & to his form all the time; as little in the summer, and who suoh his loss was a heavy one, are out to win. So it would and the gang felt that without be when the decision was par- him they might sometimes be tioularly diffioult—“Ah, then running blind; besides, he was

traigh mould astonista a aplint is true

omewhat adte glad. Long that it

win had had bring


Nanay last

win? sure every one knows he when dealing with another runs straight !” And Willie gang, that if their terms were Fitzwilliam would be glad- not acceded to they would send dened and somewhat astonished him out to win and upset the to see his horse gallop home & apple-oart. winner in front of a field that It is true that they had in he had had but the faintest their string a mare, “Sweet hopes of beating. Nay, he Annie," whose form almost would sometimes at the last equalled that of the horse; but moment be given the tip to mares are unreliable, and albaok his own horse, as it does though a careful study of their not look well for a horse to failings may prove serviceable win anbacked by his owner, when they are owned by others, and might lead to inquiry. So they are liable to be unfit perhaps it would be his jookey, when really wanted, and canas he rode out, who would ask not therefore be depended on. him to put a bit on for him, or It was therefore a matter of the broken-down old sportsman life and death to them to who sold oards and pencils find Johnny again if he were would stumble up to him and above ground, or anyhow in a husky whisper say, “I am secure his horses wherever he told, sir, your horse will win was. But although they left to-day"; and Willie, being a no stone that they knew of knowledgeable man, would unturned, he had vanished from

in a huir, your Willie, bo

their haunts as completely as if pulled out the next day to race, the earth had olosed over him. with perhaps a similar experiHe had not been seen at any enge to follow; and sometimes race-course at all. They sought after a hard race being handed him as with a fine comb over over to a lad who, if he all the Ireland they know and thought that his masters were found him not, for the racing too oooupied with business or man of their olags turns back pleasure to go round the stables from the mountains 88 com- that night, would perhaps pletely as the devil turns from chuok him his food and be off holy water.

to his own amusements, with. It was not for several weeks out even brushing the dirt out that they at last heard of him, of his legs. A less generous when a member of their fra- horse would have been soured, ternity, but not of their par- but he came through his hard tioular lot, who had the unusual experiences still honest and trait for one of them of an true; and now that he found unoontrollable love of fishing, himself in a gentleman's staand would steal a day or two ble, warm and well fed, well for it when he could, returned groomed and comfortable, his from one of his expeditions noble heart expanded with with the news that he had gratitude, and he rubbed his had a distant view of Johnny, nose on Johnny's waistcoat and heard he was living in full of contentment and friend. Mr de Lacy's house at Doon; ship. He was rested and but that he “had not time to happy, and his coat soon shone find out what he was doing with the bloom of perfeot in it."

health. Indeed, Johnny himThis interval of grace had self had undergone a somewhat been taken full advantage of similar metamorphosis. Reat Doon. “Climbing Boy" moved from the atmosphere of was carefully gone over, and blaokguardism, what might the knooks and blows that he perhaps by a stretch of fancy had received in raoing and in be oalled his better nature had battering about the country in a chance. Having no more to the rough times that he had live at pubs and tenth-rate experienood, in being hurried hotels, to trust to get his meals from ons meet to another, were when he could, and to keep attended to. The horse was himself going between times by made to feel he was amongst something and & drink, he refriends, that his stable was his sponded at once to the regular home and not a mere tempo- hours and regular meals, and rary resting-place, that those his drinking habits fell from he came in contact with were him like a garment, for he was his friends, who were intent naturally no toper, and he had apon his welfare. He, in- been taken at the right time. deed, was a bit stale, the When silver-haired Mrs de result of long days, sometimes Lacy spoke to him kindly he nights, in a train, and being felt that the place where he

« PreviousContinue »