Blake was a thorough gambler, and knew well how to make the most of the numerous chances which the turf afforded him. He had a large stud of horses, to the training and working of which he attended almost as closely as the person whom he paid for doing so. But it was in the betting-ring that he was most formidable. It was said, in Kildare Street, that no one at Tattersall’s could beat him at a book. He had latterly been trying a wider field than the Curragh supplied him and had, on one or two occasions, run a horse in England with such success, as had placed him, at any rate, quite at the top of the Irish sporting tree.
He was commonly called “Dot Blake”, in consequence of his having told one of his friends that the cause of his, the friend’s, losing so much money on the turf, was, that he did not mind “the dot and carry on” part of the business; meaning thereby, that he did not attend to the necessary calculations. For a short time after giving this piece of friendly caution, he had been nick-named, “Dot and carry on”; but that was too long to last, and he had now for some years been known to every sporting man in Ireland as “Dot” Blake.
This man was at present Lord Ballindine’s most intimate friend, and he could hardly have selected a more dangerous one. They were now going down together to Handicap Lodge, though there was nothing to be done in the way of racing for months to come. Yet Blake knew his business too well to suppose that his presence was necessary only when the horses were running; and he easily persuaded his friend that it was equally important that he should go and see that it was all right with the Derby colt.
They were talking almost in the dark, on these all-absorbing topics, when the waiter knocked at the door and informed them that a young man named Kelly wished to see Lord Ballindine.
“Show him up,” said Frank. “A tenant of mine, Dot; one of the respectable few of that cattle, indeed, almost the only one that I’ve got; a sort of subagent, and a fifteenth cousin, to boot, I believe. I am going to put him to the best use I know for such respectable fellows, and that is, to get him to borrow money for me.”
“And he’ll charge you twice as much for it, and make three times as much bother about it, as the fellows in the next street who have your title-deeds. When I want lawyer’s business done, I go to a lawyer; and when I want to borrow money, I go to my own man of business; he makes it his business to find money, and he daren’t rob me more than is decent, fitting, and customary, because he has a character to lose.”
“Those fellows at Guinness’s make such a fuss about everything; and I don’t put my nose into that little back room, but what every word I say, by some means or other, finds its way down to Grey Abbey.”
“Well, Frank, you know your own affairs best; but I don’t think you’ll make money by being afraid of your agent; or your wife’s guardian, if she is to be your wife.”