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road ahead of us. It grew momently larger; it came towards us apace. Flurry, on the car behind me, shouted suddenly
“That's the mail car, with one of the lamps out! Tell those fellows ahead to look out!”
But the warning fell on deaf ears. " When law can stop the blades of grass from growing as they
grow howled five discordant voices, oblivious of the towering proximity of the star.
A Bianconi mail car is nearly three times the size of an ordinary outside car, and when on a dark night it advances, Cyclops-like, with but one eye, it is difficult for even a sober driver to calculate its bulk. Above the sounds of melody there arose the thunder of heavy wheels, the splashing trample of three big horses, then a crash and a turmoil of shouts. Our cars pulled up just in time, and I tore myself from the embrace of my publican to go to Leigh Kelway's assistance.
The wing of the Bianconi had caught the wing of the smaller car, flinging Owld Bocock's mare on her side and throwing her freight headlong on top of her, the heap being surmounted by the roulette table. The driver of the mail car unshipped his solitary lamp and turned it on the disaster. I saw that Flurry had already got hold of Leigh Kelway by the heels, and was dragging him from under the others. He struggled up hatless, muddy, and gasping, with Driscoll hanging on by his neck, still singing the “ Wearing of the Green."
A voice from the mail car said incredulously, “ Leigh Kelway!” A spectacled face glared down upon him from under the dripping spikes of an umbrella.
It was the Right Honorable the Earl of Waterbury, Leigh Kelway's chief, returning from his fishing excursion.
Meanwhile Slipper, in the ditch, did not cease to announce that “ Divil so pleasant an afthernoon ever ye seen as what was in it!'
From 'Some Experiences of an Irish Resident Magistrate.'
It was petty sessions day in Skebawn, a cold gray day of February. A case of trespass had dragged its burden of cross summonses and cross swearing far into the afternoon, and when I left the bench my head was singing from the bellowings of the attorneys, and the smell of their clients was heavy upon my palate.
The streets still testified to the fact that it was market day, and I evaded with difficulty the sinuous course of carts full of soddenly drunken people, and steered an equally devious one for myself among the groups anchored round the doors of the public-houses. Skebawn possesses, among its legion of public-houses, one establishment which timorously, and almost imperceptibly, proffers tea to the thirsty. I turned in there, as was my custom on court days, and found the little dingy den, known as the Ladies' Coffee-Room, in the occupancy of my friend Mr. Florence McCarthy Knox, who was drinking strong tea and eating buns with serious simplicity. It was a first and quite unexpected glimpse of that domesticity that has now become a marked feature in his character.
“ You 're the very man I wanted to see,” I said as I sat down beside him at the oilcloth-covered table; "a man I know in England who is not much of a judge of character has asked me to buy him a four-year-old down here, and as I should rather be stuck by a friend than a dealer, I wish you 'd take over the job."
Flurry poured himself out another cup of tea, and dropped three lumps of sugar into it in silence.
Finally he said, “ There isn't a four-year-old in this country that I'd be seen dead with at a pig fair.”
This was discouraging, from the premier authority on horse-flesh in the district.
“ But it isn't six weeks since you told me you had the finest filly in your stables that was ever foaled in the County Cork,” I protested; “ what's wrong with her?”
“Oh, is it that filly?” said Mr. Knox with a lenient smile; “ she's gone these three weeks from me. I swapped her and £6 for a three-year-old Ironmonger colt, and after that I swapped the colt and £19 for that Brandon horse I rode last week at your place, and after that again I sold the Brandon horse for £75 to old Welply, and I had to give him back a couple of sovereigns luck-money. You see I did pretty well with the filly after all.”
Yes, yes—oh rather," I assented, as one dizzily accepts the propositions of a bimetallist; " and you don't know of anything else?”
The room in which we were seated was closely screened from the shop by a door with a muslin-curtained window in it; several of the panes were broken, and at this juncture two voices that had for some time carried on a discussion forced themselves upon our attention.
“Begging your pardon for contradicting you, ma'am," said the voice of Mrs. McDonald, proprietress of the teashop, and a leading light in Skebawn Dissenting circles, shrilly tremulous with indignation, “if the servants I recommend you won't stop with you, it's no fault of mine. If respectable young girls are set picking grass out of your gravel, in place of their proper work, certainly they will give warning!"
The voice that replied struck me as being a notable one, well-bred and imperious.
“ When I take a barefooted slut out of a cabin, I don't expect her to dictate to me what her duties are!"
Flurry jerked up his chin in a noiseless laugh. “It's my grandmother!” he whispered. “I bet you Mrs. McDonald don't get much change out of her!”
“If I set her to clean the pig-sty I expect her to obey me," continued the voice in accents that would have made me clean forty pig-stys had she desired me to do so.
“Very well, ma'am," retorted Mrs. McDonald, “if that's the way you treat your servants, you needn't come here again looking for them. I consider your conduct is neither that of a lady nor a Christian!”
“Don't you, indeed?” replied Flurry's grandmother. “Well, your opinion doesn't greatly distress me, for, to tell you the truth, I don't think you 're much of a judge."
“ Didn't I tell you she'd score?” murmured Flurry, who was by this time applying his eye to a hole in the muslin curtain. “ She's off," he went on, returning to his tea. “She's a great character! She's eighty-three if she's a day, and she's as sound on her legs as a threeyear-old! Did you see that old shandrydan of hers in the street a while ago, and a fellow on the box with a red beard on him like Robinson Crusoe? That old mare that was on the near side-Trinket her name is—is mighty near clean bred. I can tell you her foals are worth a bit of
I had heard of old Mrs. Knox of Aussolas; indeed, I had seldom dined out in the neighborhood without hearing some new story of her and her remarkable ménage, but it had not yet been my privilege to meet her.
“Well, now,” went on Flurry in his slow voice, “I'll tell you a thing that's just come into my head. My grandmother promised me a foal of Trinket's the day I was oneand-twenty, and that's five years ago, and deuce a one I've got from her yet. You never were at Aussolas? No, you were not. Well, I tell you the place there is like a circus with horses. She has a couple of score of them running wild in the woods, like deer.”
“Oh, come,” I said, “I'm a bit of a liar myself—"
“Well, she has a dozen of them anyhow, rattling good colts too, some of them, but they might as well be donkeys for all the good they are to me or any one.
It's not once in three years she sells one, and there she has them walk. ing after her for bits of sugar, like a lot of dirty lapdogs," ended Flurry with disgust.
Well, what's your plan? Do you want me to make her a bid for one of the lapdogs?”
“I was thinking,” replied Flurry, with great deliberation, “ that my birthday's this week, and maybe I could work a four-year-old colt of Trinket's she has out of her in honor of the occasion."
“And sell your grandmother's birthday present to me?"
“Just that, I suppose," answered Flurry with a slow wink.
A few days afterwards a letter from Mr. Knox informed me that he had “squared the old lady, and it would be all right about the colt.” He further told me that Mrs. Knox had been good enough to offer me, with him, a day's snipe shooting on the celebrated Aussolas bogs, and he proposed to drive me there the following Monday, if convenient. Most people found it convenient to shoot the Aussolas snipe bog when they got a chance. Eight o'clock on the following Monday morning saw Flurry, myself, and a groom packed into a dogcart, with portmanteaus, gun-cases, and two rampant red setters.
It was a long drive, twelve miles at least, and a very cold one.
We passed through long tracts of pasture country, fraught, for Flurry, with memories of runs, which were recorded for me, fence by fence, in every one of which the biggest dog-fox in the country had gone to ground, with not two feet—measured accurately on the handle of the whip-between him and the leading hound; through bogs that imperceptibly melted into lakes, and finally down and down into a valley, where the fir-trees of Aussolas clustered darkly round a glittering lake, and all but hid the gray roofs and pointed gables of Aussolas Castle.
“ There's a nice stretch of a demesne for you,” remarked Flurry, pointing downwards with the whip, “and one little old woman holding it all in the heel of her fist. Well able to hold it she is, too, and always was, and she 'll live twenty years yet, if it's only to spite the whole lot of us, and when all's said and done goodness knows how she'll leave it!”
“ It strikes me you were lucky to keep her up to her promise about the colt," I said.
Flurry administered a composing kick to the ceaseless strivings of the red setters under the seat.
“I used to be rather a pet with her," he said, after a pause; but mind you, I haven't got him yet, and if she gets any notion I want to sell him I'll never get him, so say nothing about the business to her.”
The tall gates of Aussolas shrieked on their hinges as they admitted us, and shut with a clang behind us, in the faces of an old mare and a couple of young horses, who, foiled in their break for the excitements of the outer world, turned and galloped defiantly on either side of us. Flurry's admirable cob hammered on, regardless of all things save his duty.
“ He's the only one I have that I'd trust myself here with,” said his master, flicking him approvingly with the whip; " there are plenty of people afraid to come here at all, and when my grandmother goes out driving she has a