Charles James Lever.

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do a little thing at a short date just now ? '

" If it wasn't too heavy,' said my grandfather, with a
faint sigh.

" ' Only a hundred.'

" ' Well,', said he, ' you may send it down to the office
Good-bye.' And with that he turned back towards town,
again ; not to go home, however, for he knew well there
was no time to lose, but straight he goes to Dycer's it
was old Tom was alive in those days, and a shrewder

D 2


man than Tom Dycer there never lived. They tell you,
ma'am, there's chaps in London, that if you send them
your height, and your width, and your girth round the
waist, they'll make you a suit of clothes that will fit you
like your own skin, but, 'pon my conscience, I believe
if you'd give your age and the colour of your hair to
old Tom Dycer, he could provide you a horse the very
thing to carry you. Whenever a stranger used to come
into the yard, Tom would throw a look at him, out of the
corner of his eye for he had only one, there was a feather
on the other Tom would throw a look at him and he'd
shout out, ' Bring out 42 : take out that brown mare
with the white fetlocks.' That's the way he had of
doing business, and the odds were five to one but the
gentleman rode out half an hour after on the beast Tom
intended for him. This suited my grandfather's knuckle
well, for when he told him that it was a horse to ride
before the Lord-Lieutenant he wanted, ' Bedad,' says
Tom, ' I'll give you one you might ride before the
Emperor of Chaney here, Dennis, trot out 176.' To
all appearance, ma'am, 176 was no common beast, for
every man in the yard, big and little, set off, when they
heard the order, down to the stall where he stood, and at
last two doors were flung wide open, and out he came
A\ith a man leading him. He was seventeen hands two
if he was an inch, bright grey, with flea-bitten marks all
over him ; he held his head up so high at one end, and
his tail at the other, that my grandfather said he'd have
frightened the stoutest fox-hunter to look at him ; besides,
my dear, he went with his knees in his mouth when he
trotted, and gave a skelp of his hind legs at every stride,
that it wasn't safe to be within four yards of him.

" ' There's action ! ' says Tom ' there's bone and figure !
Quiet as a lamb, without stain or blemish, warranted in
every harness, and to carry a lady.'

" ' I wish he'd carry a wine-merchant safe for about
one hour and a half,' said my grandfather to himself.
' What's his price ? '

" But Tom wouldn't mind him, for he was going on
reciting the animal's perfections, and telling him how he
was bred out of Kick the Moon, by Moll Flanders, and


that Lord Duuraile himself only parted with him because
he didn't think him showy enough for a charger. ' Though,
to be sure,' said Tom, ' he's greatly improved since that.
Will you try him in the school, Mr. Dempsey ? ' said he ;
* not but I tell you that you'll find him a little mettlesome
or so there ; take him on the grass, and he's gentleness
itself he's a kid, that's what he is.'

" ' And his price ? ' said my grandfather.

" Dycer whispered something in his ear.

" ' Blood alive ! ' said my grandfather.

" ' Devil a farthing less. Do you think you're to get
beauty and action, ay, and gentle temper, for nothing ? '

" My dear, the last words, ' gentle temper,' wasn't well
out of his mouth when ' the kid ' put his two hind-legs
into the little pulpit where the auctioneer was sitting,
and sent him flying through the window behind him into
the stall.

"' That comes of tickling him,' said Tom ; ' them, black-
guards never will let a horse alone.'

" 'I hope you don't let any of them go out to the re-
views in the Park, for I declare to Heaven, if I was on his
back then, Dodd and Dempsey would be D. D. sure enough.'

" 'With a large snaffle, and the saddle well back,' says
Tom, 'he's a lamb.'

" ' God grant it,' says my grandfather ; ' send him over to
me to-morrow, about eleven.' He gaveacheque forthemoney
we never heard how much it was and away he went.

" That must have been a melancholy evening for him,
for he sent for old Rogers, the attorney, and after he was
measured for breeches and boots, he made his will and
disposed of his effects, ' For there's no knowing,' said he,
' what 176 may do for me.' Rogers did his best to per-
suade him off" the excursion :

" ' Dress up one of Dycer's fellows like you ; let him go
by the Lord- Lieutenant prancing and rearing, and then
you yourself can appear on the ground, all splashed and
spurred, half an hour after.'

" ' No,' says my grandfather, ' I'll go myself.'

" For so it is, there's no denying, when a man has got
ambition in his heart it puts pluck there. Well, eleven
o'clock came, and the whole of Abbey Street was on foot


to see my grandfather ; there wasn't a window hadn't
five or six faces in it, and every blackguard in the town
was there to see him go off, just as if it was a show.

" ' Bad luck to them,' says my grandfather ; ' I wish
they had brought the horse round to the stable-yard, and
let me get up in peace.'

"And he was right there; for the stirrup, when my
grandfather stood beside the horse, was exactly even with
his chin ; but somehow, with the help of the two clerks
and the book-keeper, and the office stool, he got up on his
back with as merry a cheer as ever rung out to welcome
him, while a dirty blackguard, with two old pocket-hand-
kerchiefs for a pair of breeches, shouted out, ' Old Demp-
sey's going to get an appetite for the oysters ! '

" Considering everything, 176 behaved very well ; he
didn't plunge, and he didn't kick, and my grandfather
said, ' Providence was kind enough not to let him rear ! '
but somehow, he wouldn't go straight, but sideways, and
kept lashing his long tail on my grandfather's legs, and
sometimes round his body, in a way that terrified him
greatly, till he became used to it.

" ' "Well, if riding be a pleasure,' says my grandfather,
' people must be made different from me.'

"For, saving your favour, ma'am, he was as raw as a
griskin, and there wasn't a bit of him the size of a half-
crown he could sit on without a cry out ; and no other
pace would the beast go but this little jig jig, from side to
side, while he was tossing his head and flinging hie mane
about, just as if to say, ' Couldn't I pitch you sky-high
if I liked ? Couldn't I make a Congreve-rocket of you,
Dodd and Dempsey ? '

" When he got on the ' Fifteen Acres/ it was only the
position he found himself in that destroyed the gran-
deur of the scene ; for there were fifty thousand people
assembled at least, and there was a line of infantry of
two miles long, and the artillery was drawn up at one
end, and the cavalry stood beyond them, stretching away
towards Knockmaroon.

" My grandfather was now getting accustomed to his
sufferings, and he felt that, if 176 did no more, with
God's help he could bear it for one day, and so he rode


on quietly outside the crowd, attracting, of course, a fair
share of observation, for he wasn't always in the saddle,
but sometimes a little behind or before it. Well, at last
there came a cloud of dust, rising at the far end of the
field, and it got thicker and thicker, and then it broke,
and there were white plumes dancing, and gold glittering,
and horses all shaking their gorgeous trappings, for it
was the Staff was galloping up, and then there burst out
a great cheer, so loud that nothing seemed possible to bo
louder, until bang bang bang, eighteen large guns
went thundering together, and the whole line of infantry
let off a clattering volley, till you'd think the earth was
crashing open.

" ' Devil's luck to ye all couldn't you be quiet a little
longer?' says D. and D., for he was trying to get an
easy posture to sit in, but just at this moment 176
pricked up his ears, made three bounds in the air, as if
something lifted him up, shook his head like a fish, and
away he went : wasn't it wonderful that my grandfather
kept his seat? He remembers, he says, that at each
bound he was a yard over his back, but as he was a heavy
man, and kept his legs open, he had the luck to come
down in the same place, and a sore place it must have
been! for he let a screech out of him each time that
would have pierced the heart of a stone. He knew very
little more what happened, except that he was galloping
away somewhere, until at last he found himself in a
crowd of people, half dead with fatigue and fright, and
the horse thick with foam.

' Where am I ? ' says my grandfather.

' You're in Lucan, sir,' says a man.

' And where's the review ? ' says my grandfather.

' Five miles behind you, sir.'

' Blessed Heaven ! ' says he; ' and where's the Duke ? '

' God knows,' said the man, giving a wink to the
crowd, for they thought he was mad.

"'Won't you get off and take some refreshment?'
says the man, for he was the owner of a little public.

"'Get off!' says my grandfather; 'it's easy talking!
I found it hard enough to get on. Bring me a pint of
porter where I am.' And so he drained off the liquor,


and he wiped his face, and he turned the beast's head
once more towards town.

" When my grandfather reached the Park again, he
was, as you may well believe, a tired and a weary man ;
and, indeed, for that matter, the beast didn't seem much
fresher than himself, for he lashed his sides more rarely,
and he condescended to go straight, and he didn't carry
his head higher than his rider's. At last they wound
their way up through the fir copse at the end of the
field, and caught sight of the review, and, to be sure, if
poor D. and D. left the ground before under a grand
salute of artillery and small arms, another of the same
kind welcomed him back again. It was an honour he'd
have been right glad to have dispensed with, for when
176 heard it, he looked about him to see which way he'd
take, gave a loud neigh, and, with a shake that my
grandfather said he'd never forget, he plunged forward,
and went straight at the thick of the crowd ; it must
have been a cruel sight to have seen the people running
for their lives. The soldiers that kept the line laughed
heartily at the mob, but they hadn't the joke long to
themselves, for my grandfather went slap at them into
the middle of the field ; and he did that day what I hear
has been very seldom done by cavalry, he broke a square
of the 79th Highlanders, and scattered them over the
field. In truth, the beast must have been the devil him-
self, for wherever he saw most people, it was there he
always went. There were, at this time, three heavy dra-
goons and four of the horse-police, with drawn swords,
in pursuit of my grandfather ; and, if he were the enemy
of the human race, the cries of the multitude could not
have been louder, as one universal shout arose of ' Cut
him down ! Cleave him in two ! ' And do you know, he
said, afterwards, he'd have taken it as a mercy of Pro-
vidence if they had. Well, my dear, when he had broke
through the Highlanders, scattered the mob, dispersed the
band, and left a hole in the big drum you could have put
your head through, 176 made for the Staff, who, I may re-
mark, were all this time enjoying the confusion immensely.
When, however, they saw my grandfather heading to-
wards them, there was a general cry of ' Here he comes !


here he comes ! Take care, your Grace ! ' And there arose
among the group around the Duke a scene of plunging,
kicking, and rearing, in the midst of which in dashed my
grandfather. Down went an aide-de-camp on one side ;
176 plunged, and off went the town-major at the other, while
a stroke of a sabre, kindly intended for my grandfather's
skull, came down on the horse's back and made him give
plunge the third, which shot his rider out of the saddle,
and sent him flying through the air like a shell, till he
alighted under the leaders of a carriage, where the Duchess
and the Ladies of Honour were seated.

"Twenty people jumped from their horses now to finish
him ; if they were hunting a rat, they could not have
been more venomous.

" ' Stop ! stop ! ' said the Duke ; ' he's a capital fellow,
don't hurt him. Who are you, my brave little man ? You
ride like Chifney for the Derby.'

" 'God knows who I am !' says my grandfather, creep-
ing out, and wiping his face. ' I was Dodd and Dempsey
when I left home this morning ; but I'm bewitched, devil
a lie in it.'

" ' Dempsey, my Lord Duke,' said M'Claverty, coming
up at the moment. ' Don't you know him ? ' and he
whispered a few words in his Grace's ear.

" ' Oh, yes, to be sure,' said the Viceroy. ' They tell
me you have a capital pack of hounds, Dempsey. What
do you hunt?'

" ' Horse, foot, and dragoons, my lord,' said my
grandfather ; and, to be sure, there was a jolly roar of
laughter after the words, for poor D. and D. was just
telling his mind, without meaning anything more.

"'Well, then,' said the Duke, 'if you've always as
good sport as to-day, you've capital fun of it.'

"'Oh! delightful, indeed!' said my grandfather;
' never enjoyed myself more in my life.'

" ' Where's his horse ? ' said his Grace.

" ' He jumped down into the sand quarry and broke his
neck, my Lord Duke.'

" ' The Heavens be praised ! ' said my grandfather ; ' if
it's true, I am as glad as if I got fifty pounds.

" The trumpets now sounded for the cavalry to march


past, and the Duke was about to move away, when
M'Claverty again whispered something in his ear.

"'Very true,' said he; 'well thought of. I say,
Dempsey, I'll go over some of these mornings and have a
run with your hounds.'

" My grandfather rubbed his eyes and looked up, but
all he saw was about twenty Staff-officers with- their hats
off, for every man of them saluted my father as they
passed, and the crowd made way for him with as much
respect as if it was the Duke himself. He soon got a
car to bring him home, and notwithstanding all his suf-
ferings that day, and the great escape he had of his life,
there wasn't as proud a man in Dublin as himself.

" 'He's coming to hunt with my hounds!' said he;
"tisn't to take an oyster and a glass of wine, and be on
again! no, he's coming down to spend the whole day
with me.'

" The thought was ecstasy ; it only had one drawback.
Dodd and Dempsey's house had never kept hounds. Well,
ma'am, I needn't detain you long about what happened ;
it's enough if I say that in less than six weeks my grand-
father had bought up Lord Tyrawley's pack, and his hunt-
ing-box, and horses, and I believe his grooms; and though
he never ventured on the back of a beast himself, he did
nothing from morning to night but listen and talk about
hunting, and try to get the names of the dogs by heart,
and practise to cry 'Tally-ho!' and ' Stole away!' and
' Ho-ith ! ho-ith ! ' with which, indeed, he used to start
out of his sleep at night, so full he was of the sport.
From the 1st of September he never had a red coat off his
back. 'Pon my conscience, I believe he went to bed in
his spurs, for he didn't know what moment the Duke
might be on him, and that's the way the time went on till
spring ; but not a sign of his Grace, not a word, not a
hint that he ever thought more of his promise ! Well,
one morning my grandfather was walking very sorrow-
fully down near the Curragh, where his hunting-lodge
was, when he saw them roping-in the course for the races,
and he heard the men talking of the magnificent cup the
Duke was to give for the winner of the three-year old
Btakes, and the thought flashed on him, ' I'll bring myself


to his memory that way.' And what does he do, but he
goes back to the house and tells his trainer to go over to
the racing stables, and buy, not one, nor two, but the
three best horses that were entered for the race. Well,
ma'am, their engagements were very heavy, and he had
to take them all on himself, and it cost him a sight of
money. It happened that this time he was on the right
scent, for down comes M'Claverty the same day with
orders from the Duke to take the odds, right and left, on
one of the three, a little mare called Let-Me- Alone- Before
the- People ; she was one of his own breeding, and he had
a conceit out of her. "Well, M'Claverty laid on the money
here and there, till he stood what between the Duke's bets
and all the officers of the staff and his own the heaviest,
winner or loser on that race.

" ' She's Martin's mare, isn't she ? ' said M'Claverty.

" 'No, sir, she was bought this morning by Mr.
Dempsey, of Tear Fox Lodge.'

" ' The devil she is,' said M'Claverty ; and he jumped
on his horse, and he cantered over to the Lodge.

" 'Mr. Dempsey at home?' says he.

" ' Yes, sir.'

" ' Give him this card, and say, I beg the favour of
seeing him for a few moments.'

" The man went off, and came back in a few minutes,
with the answer, ' Mr. Dempsey is very sorry, but he's

" ' Oh, oh ! that's it ! ' says M'Claverty to himself; ' I
see how the wind blows. I say, my man, tell him I've a
messnge from his Grace the Lord-Lieutenant.'

" Well, the answer came for the captain to send the
message in, for my grandfather couldn't come out.

'"Say, it's impossible,' said M'Claverty; 'it's for his
own private ear.'

" Dodd and Dempsey was strong in my grandfather
that day ! he would listen to no terms.

" ' No,' says he, ' if the goods are worth anything, they
never come without an invoice. I'll have nothing to say
to him.'

" But the captain wasn't to be baulked ; for, in spite of
everything, he passed the servant, and came at once into


the room where my grandfather was sitting ay, and
beftn-e he could help it, was shaking him by both hands as
if he was his brother.

" ' Why the devil didn't you let me in ? ' said he ; ' I
came from the Duke with a message for you.'

" ' Bother ! ' says my grandfather.

" I did though,' says he ; ' he's got a heavy book on
your little mare, and he wants you to make your boy vide
a waiting race, and not win the first heat you under-
stand ? '

" ' I do,' says my grandfather, perfectly ; ' and he's got
a deal of money on her, has he ? '

" ' He has,' said the captain ; ' and every one at the
Castle, too, high and low, from the chief secretary down
to the seconr 1 coachman we are all backing her.'

" ' 1 am glad of it ! I am sincerely glad of it,' said my
grandfather, rubbing his hands.

" ' I knew you would be, old boy,' cried the captain,

" ' Ah, but you don't know why ; you'd never guess.'

"M'Claverty stared at him, but said nothing.

" ' Well, I'll tell you,' resumed my grandfather ; ' the
reason is this : I'll not let her run no, divil a step !
I'll bring her up to the ground, and you may look at her,
and see that she's all sound and safe, in top condition, and
with a skin like a looking-glass, and then I'll walk her
back again! And do you know why I'll do this?' said
he, while his eyes flashed fire, and his lip trembled ; 'just
because I won't suffer the house of Dodd and Dempsey
to be humbugged as if we were greengrocers ! Two years
ago, it was to " eat an oyster with me ; " last year, it was
a *' day with my hounds;" maybe now his Grace would
join the race dinner ; but that's all past and gone I'll
stand it no longer.'

" ' Confound it, man,' said the captain, 'the Duke must
have forgotten it. You never reminded him of his engage-
ment. He'd have been delighted to have come to you if
he only recollected.'

" ' I am sorry my memory was better than his,' said my
grandfather, ' and I wish you a very good morning.'

" ' Oh, don't go ; wait a moment ; let us see if we can't


put this matter straight. You want the Duke to dine
with you ? '

" ' No, I don't ; I tell you I've given it up.'

" ' Well, well, perhaps so ; will it do if you dine with

" My grandfather had his hand on the lock he was
just going he turned round, and fixed his eyes on the

" ' Are you in earnest ? or is this only more of the
same game ? ' said he, sternly.

" ' I'll make that very easy to you,' said the captain ;
' I'll bring the invitation to you this night ; the mare
doesn't run till to-morrow ; if you don't receive the card,
the rest is in your own power.'

" Well, ma'am, my story is now soon told ; that night,
about nine o'clock, there comes a footman all splashed
and muddy, in a Castle livery, up to the door of the
Lodge, and he gave a violent pull at the bell, and when
the servant opened the door, he called out in a loud voice,
' From his Excellency the Lord-Lieutenant,' and into the
saddle he jumped, and away he was like lightning; and,
sure enough, it was a large card, all printed, except a
word here and there, and it went something this way :

" ' I am commanded by his Excellency the Lord-
Lieutenant to request the pleasure of Mr. Dempsey's
company at dinner on Friday, the 23rd instant, at the
Lodge, Phoenix Park, at seven o'clock.

" ' GRANVILLE YEREKER, Chamberlain.
" 'Swords and Bags.'

" ' At last ! ' said my grandfather, and he wiped the
tears from his eyes ; for to say the truth, ma'am, it was a
long chase without ever getting once a ' good view.' I
must hurry on ; the remainder is easy told. Let-Me-
Alone-Before-the-People won the cup, my grandfather
was chaired home from the course in the evening, and
kept open house at the Lodge for all comers while the
races lasted ; and at length the eventful day drew near on
which he was to realize all his long-coveted ambition. It
was on the very morning before, however, that he put on


his Court suit for about the twentieth time, and the tailor
was standing trembling before him while my grandfather
complained of a wrinkle here, or a pucker there.

" ' You see,' said he, ' you've run yourself so close that
you've no time now to alter these things before the

" ' I'll have time enough, sir," says the man, ' if the news
is true.'

" ' What news ? ' says my grandfather, with a choking
in his throat, for a sudden fear came over him.

" ' The news they have in town this morning.'

" ' What is it ? speak it out, man ! '

" ' They say But sure you've heard it, sir ?'

"'Go on!' says my grandfather; and he got him by
the shoulders and shook him. ' Go on, or I'll strangle
you ! '

" ' They say, sir, that the Ministry is out, and '

" ' And, well '

" ' And that the Lord- Lieutenant has resigned, and the
yacht is coming round to Dunleary to take him away this
evening, for he won't stay longer than the time to swear
in the Lords Justices he's so glad to be out of Ireland.'

" My grandfather sat down on the chair, and began to
cry, and well he might, for not only was the news true,
but he was ruined besides. Every farthing of the great
fortune that Dodd and Dempsey made was lost and gone
scattered to the winds ; and when his affairs were wound
up, he, that was thought one of the richest men in Dublin,
was found to be something like nine thousand pounds
worse than nothing. Happily for him, his mind was gone
too, and though he lived a few years after, near Finglass,
he was always an innocent, didn't remember anybody, nor
who he was, but used to go about asking the people if they
knew whether his Grace the Lord-Lieutenant had put off
his dinner-party for the 23rd ; and then he'd pull out the
old card to show them, for he kept it in a little case, and
put it under his pillow every night till he died."

While Mr. Dempsey's narrative continued, Tom Leonard
indulged freely and without restraint in the delights of the
Knight's sherry, forgetting not only all his griefs, but the
very circumstances and people around him. Had the


party maintained a conversational tone, it is probable that
lie would have been able to adhere to the wise resolutions
he had planned for his guidance on leaving home ; un-
happily, the length of the tale, the prosy monotony of the
speaker's voice, the deepening twilight which stole on ere
the story drew to a close, were influences too strong for
prudence so frail ; an instinct told him that the decanter
was close by, and every glass he drained either drowned a
care or stifled a compunction.

The pleasant buzz of voices which succeeded to the
anecdote of Dodd and Dempsey aroused Leonard from his
dreary stupor. Wine, and laughter, and merry voices,
were adjuncts he had not met for many a day before, and,

Online LibraryCharles James Lever[Charles Lever's novels (Volume 13) → online text (page 4 of 35)