“We will, if we’re let, tell Nora,” said Sophy; “but now Frank’s at home, we must mind him, you know.”
“Make him bring you over: there’ll be a bed for him; the old house is big enough, heaven knows.”
“Indeed it is. Well, I’ll do my best; but tell Nora to be sure and get the fiddler from Hollymount. It’s so stupid for her to be sitting there at the piano while we’re dancing.”
“I’ll manage that; only do you bring Frank to dance with her,” and another tender squeeze was given—and Peter hurried out to the horses.
And now they were all gone but the Parson. “Mrs O’Kelly,” said he, “Mrs Armstrong wants a favour from you. Poor Minny’s very bad with her throat; she didn’t get a wink of sleep last night.”
“Dear me—poor thing; Can I send her anything?”
“If you could let them have a little black currant jelly, Mrs Armstrong would be so thankful. She has so much to think of, and is so weak herself, poor thing, she hasn’t time to make those things.”
“Indeed I will, Mr Armstrong. I’ll send it down this morning; and a little calf’s foot jelly won’t hurt her. It is in the house, and Mrs Armstrong mightn’t be able to get the feet, you know. Give them my love, and if I can get out at all to-morrow, I’ll go and see them.”
And so the Parson, having completed his domestic embassy for the benefit of his sick little girl, followed the others, keen for the hunt; and the three ladies were left alone, to see the plate and china put away.
XXII. THE HUNT
Though the majority of those who were in the habit of hunting with the Kelly’s Court hounds had been at the breakfast, there were still a considerable number of horsemen waiting on the lawn in front of the house, when Frank and his friends sallied forth. The dogs were collected round the huntsman, behaving themselves, for the most part, with admirable propriety; an occasional yelp from a young hound would now and then prove that the whipper  had his eye on them, and would not allow rambling; but the old dogs sat demurely on their haunches, waiting the well-known signal for action. There they sat, as grave as so many senators, with their large heads raised, their heavy lips hanging from each side of their jaws, and their deep, strong chests expanded so as to show fully their bone, muscle, and breeding.
[FOOTNOTE 36: whipper—an
officer of the hunt whose duty was to
help the hunstman control the hounds]
Among the men who had arrived on the lawn during breakfast were two who certainly had not come together, and who had not spoken since they had been there. They were Martin Kelly and Barry Lynch. Martin was dressed just as usual, except that he had on a pair of spurs, but Barry was armed cap-a-pie . Some time before his father’s death he had supplied himself with all the fashionable requisites for the field,—not because he was fond of hunting,