Whilst this was going on, our friend Martin Kelly had set his eye upon the prize, and, by means of his sister’s intimacy with Anty, and his own good looks, had succeeded in obtaining from her half a promise to become his wife. Anty had but little innate respect for gentry; and, though she feared her brother’s displeasure, she felt no degradation at the idea of uniting herself to a man in Martin Kelly’s rank. She could not, however, be brought to tell her brother openly, and declare her determination; and Martin had, at length, come to the conclusion that he must carry her off, before delay and unforeseen changes might either alter her mind, or enable her brother to entice her out of the country.
Thus matters stood at Dunmore when Martin Kelly started for Dublin, and at the time when he was about to wait on his patron at Morrison’s hotel.
Both Martin and Lord Ballindine (and they were related in some distant degree, at least so always said the Kellys, and I never knew that the O’Kellys denied it)—both the young men were, at the time, anxious to get married, and both with the same somewhat mercenary views; and I have fatigued the reader with the long history of past affairs, in order to imbue him, if possible, with some interest in the ways and means which they both adopted to accomplish their objects.
At about five o’clock on the evening of the day of Sheil’s speech, Lord Ballindine and his friend, Walter Blake, were lounging on different sofas in a room at Morrison’s Hotel, before they went up to dress for dinner. Walter Blake was an effeminate-looking, slight-made man, about thirty or thirty-three years of age; good looking, and gentlemanlike, but presenting quite a contrast in his appearance to his friend Lord Ballindine. He had a cold quiet grey eye, and a thin lip; and, though he was in reality a much cleverer, he was a much less engaging man. Yet Blake could be very amusing; but he rather laughed at people than with them, and when there were more than two in company, he would usually be found making a butt of one. Nevertheless, his society was greatly sought after. On matters connected with racing, his word was infallible. He rode boldly, and always rode good horses; and, though he was anything but rich, he managed to keep up a comfortable snuggery at the Curragh, and to drink the very best claret that Dublin could procure.
Walter Blake was a finished gambler, and thus it was, that with about six hundred a year, he managed to live on equal terms with the richest around him. His father, Laurence Blake of Castleblakeney, in County Galway, was a very embarrassed man, of good property, strictly entailed, and, when Walter came of age, he and his father, who could never be happy in the same house, though possessing in most things similar tastes, had made such a disposition of the estate, as gave the father a clear though narrowed income, and enabled the son at once to start into the world, without waiting for his father’s death; though, by so doing, he greatly lessened the property which he must otherwise have inherited.