The Meet of the Beagles by H. de Vere Stacpoole
Directly Patsy had left the news that the “quality”
were coming to the meet and returned to the house the
crowd in front of the Castle Knock Inn thickened.
Word of the impending event went from cabin to
cabin, and Mr. Mahony, the chimney sweep, put his
head out of his door.
“What’s the news, Rafferty?” cried Mr. Mahony.
“Mimber of Parlymint and all the quality comin’
to the meet!” cried a ragged-looking ruffian who was
“Sure, it’ll be a big day for Shan Finucane,” said
Mrs. Mahony, who was standing behind her husband
in the doorway with a baby in her arms.
Mr. Mahony said nothing for a while, but watched
the crowd in front of the inn.
“Look at him,” said Mr. Mahony, breaking out at
last—“look at him in his ould green coat! Look at
him with the ould whip undher his arm, and the boots
on his feet not paid for, and him struttin’ about as if
he was the Marqus of Waterford! Holy Mary! did yiz
ever see such an objick! Mr. Mullins!”
“Halloo!” replied Mr. Mullins, the cobbler across
the way, who, with his window open owing to the
mildness of the weather, was whaling away at a shoe-sole,
the only busy man in the village.
“Did y’ hear the news?”
“Shan’s going to get a new coat.”
“Faith, thin, I hope he’ll pay first for his ould shoes.”
“How much does he owe you?”
“Siven and six—bad cess to him!”
“He’ll pay you to-night, if he doesn’t drink the money
first, for there’s a Mimber of Parlymint goin’ to the
meet, and he’ll most like put a suverin in the poor box.”
Mr. Mullins made no reply, but went on whaling
away at his shoe, and Bob Mahony, having stepped
into his cottage for a light for his pipe, came back and
took up his post again at the door.
The crowd round the inn was growing bigger and
bigger. Sneer as he might, Mr. Mahony could not
but perceive that Shan was having the centre of the stage,
a worshipping audience, and free drinks.
Suddenly he turned to his offspring, who were
crowding behind him, and singling out Billy, the eldest:
“Put the dunkey to,” said Mr. Mahony.
“Sure, daddy,” cried the boy in astonishment, “it’s
only the tarriers.”
“Put the dunkey to!” thundered his father, “or
it’s the end of me belt I’ll be brightenin’ your intellects
“There’s two big bags of sut in the cart and the
brushes,” said Billy, as he made off to do as he was
“Lave them in,” said Mr. Mahony; “it’s only the
In a few minutes the donkey, whose harness was
primitive and composed mainly of rope, was put to,
and the vehicle was at the door.
“Bob!” cried his wife as he took his seat.
“What is it?” asked Mr Mahony, taking the reins.
“Won’t you be afther givin’ your face the lick of a
“It’s only the tarriers,” replied Mr. Mahony; “sure,
I’m clane enough for them. Come up wid you, Norah.”
Norah, the small donkey, whose ears had been cocking
this way and that, picked up her feet, and the vehicle,
which was not much bigger than a costermonger’s
At this moment, also, Shan and the dogs and the crowd
were getting into motion, making down the road for Glen
“Hulloo! hulloo! hulloo!” cried Mr. Mahony,
as he rattled up behind in the cart, “where are yiz off
“The meet of the baygles,” replied twenty voices;
whilst Shan, who had heard his enemy’s voice, stalked
on, surrounded by his dogs, his old, battered hunting
horn in one hand, and his whip under his arm.
“And where are they going to meet?” asked Mr.
“Glen Druid gate,” replied the camp followers.
“There’s a Mimber of Parlymint comin’, and all the
quality from the Big House.”
“Faith,” said Mr. Mahony, “I thought there was
somethin’ up, for, by the look of Shan, as he passed me
house this mornin’, I thought he’d swallowed the Lord
Liftinant, Crown jew’ls and all. Hulloo! hulloo!
hulloo! make way for me carridge! Who are you
crowdin’? Don’t you know the Earl of Leinsther
when y’ see him? Out of the way, or I’ll call me
futman to disparse yiz.”
Shan heard it all, but marched on. He could have
killed Bob Mahony, who was turning his triumph
into a farce, out he contented himself with letting fly
with his whip amongst the dogs, and blowing a note on
“What’s that nize?” enquired Mr. Mahony, with a
wink at the delighted crowd tramping beside the donkey
“Shan’s blowin’ his harn,” yelled the rabble.
“Faith, I thought it was Widdy Finnegan’s rooster
he was carryin in the tail pockit of his coat,” said the
The crowd roared at this conceit, which was much
more pungent and pointed as delivered in words by Mr.
Mahony; but Shan, to all appearances, was deaf.
The road opposite the park gates was broad and
shadowed by huge elm trees, which gave the spot in
summer the darkness and coolness of a cave. Here
Shan halted, the crowd halted, and the donkey-cart
Mr. Mahony tapped the dottle out of his pipe carefully
on the rail of his cart, filled the pipe, replaced
the dottle on the top of the tobacco, and drew a whiff.
The clock of Glen Druid House struck ten, and the
notes came floating over park and trees; not that anyone
heard them, for the yelping of the dogs and the noise
of the crowd filled the quiet country road with the
hubbub of a fair.
“What’s that you were axing me?” cried Mr.
Mahony to a supposed interrogator in the crowd. “Is
the Prince o’ Wales comin’? No, he ain’t. I had a
tellygrum from him this mornin’ sendin’ his excuzes.
Will some gintleman poke that rat-terrier out that’s
got under the wheels of me carridge—out, you baste!”
He leaned over and hit a rabbit-beagle that had strayed
under the donkey-cart a tip with his stick. The dog,
though not hurt, for Bob Mahony was much too good
a sportsman to hurt an animal, gave a yelp.
Shan turned at the sound, and his rage exploded.
“Who are yiz hittin’? cried Shan.
“I’m larnin’ your dogs manners,” replied Bob.
The huntsman surveyed the sweep, the cart, the soot
bags, and the donkey.
“I beg your pardin’,” said he, touchin his hat, “I
didn’t see you at first for the sut.”
Mr. Mahony took his short pipe from his mouth,
put it back upside down, shoved his old hat further
back on his head, rested his elbows on his knees, and
“But it’s glad I am,” went on Shan, “you’ve come to
the meet and brought a mimber of the family with
Fate was against Bob Mahony, for at that moment
Norah, scenting another of her species in a field near by,
curled her lip, stiffened her legs, projected her head,
rolled her eyes, and “let a bray out of her” that almost
drowned the howls of laughter from the exulting mob.
But Shan Finucane did not stir a muscle of his face,
and Bob Mahony’s fixed sneer did not flicker or waver.
“Don’t mention it, mum,” said Shan, taking off his
old cap when the last awful, rasping, despairing note
of the bray had died down into silence.
Another howl from the onlookers, which left Mr.
“They get on well together,” said he, addressing
an imaginary acquaintance in the crowd.
“Whist and hould your nize, and let’s hear what else
they have to say to wan another.”
Suddenly, and before Shan Finucane could open his
lips, a boy who had been looking over the rails into
the park, yelled:
“Here’s the Mimber of Parlyment—here they come—Hurroo!”
“Now, then,” said the huntsman, dropping repartee
and seizing the sweep’s donkey by the bridle, “sweep
yourselves off, and don’t be disgracin’ the hunt wid your
sut bags and your dirty faces—away wid yiz!”
“The hunt!” yelled Mahony, with a burst of terrible
laughter. “Listen to him and his ould rat-tarriers
callin’ thim a hunt! Lave go of the dunkey!”
“Away wid yiz!”
“Lave go of the dunkey, or I’ll batter the head of
you in wid me stick! Lave go of the dunkey!”
Suddenly seizing the long flue brush beside him, and
disengaging it from the bundle of sticks with which it
was bound, he let fly with the bristle end of it at Shan,
and Shan, catching his heel on a stone, went over flat
on his back in the road.
In a second he was up, whip in hand; in a second Mr.
Mahony was down, a bag half-filled with soot—a terrible
weapon of assault—in his fist.
“Harns! harns!” yelled Mahony, mad with the
spirit of battle, and unconsciously chanting the fighting
cry of long-forgotten ancestors. “Who says cruckeder
than a ram’s harn!”
“Go it, Shan!” yelled the onlookers. “Give it
him, Bob—sut him in the face—Butt-end the whip,
y’idgit—Hurroo! Hurroo! Holy Mary! he nearly
landed him then—Mind the dogs—”
Armed with the soot-bag swung like a club, and the
old hunting-whip butt-ended, the two combatants
formed the centre of a circle of yelling admirers.
“Look!” said Miss Lestrange, as the party from the
house came in view of the road. “Look at the crowd
and the two men!”
“They’re fighting!” cried the general. “I believe
the ruffians dared to have the impudence to start
At this moment came the noise of wheels from behind,
and the “tub,” which had obtained permission to go
to the meet, drew up, with Patsy driving the children.
“Let the children remain here,” said the General.
“You stay with them, Violet. Come along, Boxall,
till we see what these ruffians mean.”
So filled was his mind with the objects in view that
he quite forgot Dicky Fanshawe.
“You have put on the short skirt,” said Dicky, who
at that moment would scarcely have turned his head
twice or given a second thought had the battle of
Austerlitz been in full blast beyond the park palings.
“And my thick boots,” said Violet, pushing forward
a delightful little boot to speak for itself.
The children were so engaged watching the proceedings
on the road that they had no eyes or ears for their elders.
“Have you ever been beagling before?” asked Dicky.
“Never; but I’ve been paper-chasing.”
“You can get through a hedge?”
“That’ll do,” said Dicky.
“Mr. Fanshawe,” cried Lord Gawdor from the
“tub,” “look at the chaps in the road—aren’t they going
for each other!”
“I see,” said Mr. Fanshawe, whose back was to the
“No one’s looking—”
“That doesn’t matter—No—not here—Dicky, if you
don’t behave, I’ll get into the tub—Gracious! what’s
“He’s down!” cried Patsy, who had been standing
up to see better.
“Who?” asked Mr. Fanshawe.
“The Mimber of Parlyment—Misther Boxall—Bob
Mahony’s grassed him—”
“They’re all fighting!” cried Violet. “Come,
Mr. Fanshawe—Patsy—” She started for the gates
at a run.
When the General had arrived on the scene, Shan
had just got in and landed his antagonist a drum-sounding
blow on the ribs with the butt of his whip.
“Seize the other chap, Boxall!” cried General
Grampound, making for Mahony.
He was just half a second too late; the soot bag,
swung like a club, missed Shan, and, catching Mr.
Boxall fair and square on the side of the face, sent
him spinning like a tee-totum across the road, and
head over heels into the ditch.
That was all.
A dead silence took the yelling crowd.
“He’s kilt!” came a voice.
“He isn’t; sure, his legs is wavin’.”
“Who is he?”
“He’s the Mimber of Parlyment! Run for your
life, and don’t lave off runnin’ till you’re out of the
“Hold your tongue!” cried General Grampound.
“Boxall—hullo! Boxall! are you hurt?”
“I’m all right,” replied Mr. Boxall, who, from being
legs upwards, was now on hands and knees in the ditch.
“I’ve lost something—dash it!”
“What have you lost?”
“Come out and I’ll get some of these chaps to look.”
Mr. Boxall came out of the ditch with his handkerchief
held to the left side of his forehead.
“Why, your watch and chain are on you!” cried
“So they are,” said Mr. Boxall, pulling the watch
out with his left hand, and putting it back. “I’m off
to the house—I want to wash.”
“Sure, you’re not hurt?”
“Not in the least, only my forehead scratched.”
“What’s up?” cried Dicky Fanshawe, who had
“Nothing,” replied his uncle. “Fellow hit him
by mistake—no bones broken. Will you take the
governess cart back to the house, Boxall?”
“No, thanks—I’ll walk.”
“His legs is all right,” murmured the sympathetic
crowd, as the injured one departed still with his handkerchief
to his face, “and his arums. Sure, it’s the
mercy and all his neck wasn’t bruck.”
“Did yiz see the skelp Bob landed him?”
“Musha! Sure, I thought it would have sent his
head flying into Athy, like a gulf ball.”
Patsy, who had pulled the governess cart up, rose
to his feet; his sharp eye had caught sight of something
lying on the road.
“Hould the reins a moment, Mr. Robert,” said he,
putting them into Lord Gawdor’s hands. He hopped
out of the cart, picked up the object in the road, whatever
it was, put it in his trousers’ pocket, and then stood
holding the pony’s head; whilst the Meet, from which
Bob Mahony had departed as swiftly as his donkey
could trot, turned its attention to the business of the day,
and Shan, collecting his dogs, declared his intention
of drawing the Furzes.
“Was that a marble you picked up, Patsy?” asked
Lord Gawdor, as the red-headed one, hearing Shan’s
declaration, climbed into the “tub” again and took the
Meanwhile Mr. Fanshawe had been writing three
important letters in the library. When he had finished
and carefully sealed them, he placed them one on top
of the other, and looked at his watch.
The three letters he had just written would make
everything all right at the other end. This was the
hot end of the poker, and it had to be grasped.
Patsy was the person who would help him to grasp
it. Patsy he felt to be a tower of strength and ‘cuteness,
if such a simile is permissible. And, rising from the
writing-table and putting the letters in his pocket, he
went to find Patsy. He had not far to go, for as he came
into the big hall Patsy was crossing it with a tray in
“Patsy,” said Mr. Fanshawe, “when does the post
“If you stick your letters in the letter box by the hall
door, sir,” said Patsy, “it will be cleared in half-an-hour.
Jim Murphy takes the letter-bag to Castle Knock.”
“Right!” said Mr. Fanshawe. “And, see here,
“I’m in a bit of a fix, Patsy, and you may be able
“And what’s the fix, sir?” asked Patsy.
“You know the young lady you gave the note to
this morning—by the way, how did you give it?”
“I tried to shove it undher her door, sir.”
“It wouldn’t go, so I give a knock. ‘Who’s there?’
says she. ‘No one,’ says I; ‘it’s only hot wather
I’m bringin’ you,’ for, you see, sir, the ould missis,
her ladyship, was in the next room, and she’s not as
deaf as she looks, and it’s afraid I was, every minnit,
her door’d open, and she and her ear-trumpet come out
in the passidge. ‘I have hot wather,’ says she. ‘Niver
mind,’ says I, ‘this is betther. Open the door, for the
love of God, for I can’t get it under the door, unless
I rowl it up and shove it through the keyhole.’ Wid
that she opens the door a crack and shoves her head out.
‘Who’s it from?’ she says. ‘I don’t know,’ says I;
‘it’s just a letther I found on the stairs I thought might
belong to you.’ ‘Thanks,’ says she, ‘it does,’ and wid
that she shut the door, and I left her.”
“Well, see here, Patsy!”
“I’m going to marry Miss Lestrange.”
“Faith, and I guessed that,” said Patsy; “and it’s
I that’d be joyful to dance at your weddin’, sir.”
“There won’t be any dancing in the business,” said
Mr. Fanshawe, grimly. “You know Mr. Boxall,
“The Mimber of Parlymint?”
“Yes. Well, he wants to marry Miss Lestrange;
and the worst of it is, Patsy, that my uncle, General
Grampound, wants him to marry her, too.”
“Yes, sir,” said Patsy. “And, Mr. Fanshawe?”
“I forgot to tell you, sir, you needn’t be afear’d
of Mr. Boxall for the next few days.”
“When Bob Mahony hit him the skelp on the head
wid the sut bag, his eye popped out of his head on the
“His what?—Oh, I remember—”
“Finders is keepers, sir,” said Patsy, with a grin.
“Why, good heavens—you don’t mean to say—”
“I’ve got his eye in my pocket, sir,” said Patsy, in a
hoarse whisper. “He’s sint a telygram for another wan
but till it comes he’s tethered to his bed like a horse to
“That’s enough—that’s enough,” said Mr. Fanshawe.
“Here’s half a crown for you, Patsy, for—carrying my