Persse rode into the yard, that Mr. Persse who, when the hounds met at Ballytowngal, had so strongly dissuaded Daly from using his pistol. He was a man who was reputed to have a good income, or at any rate a large estate, though the two things at the present moment were likely to have a very various meaning.
He liked to get his rents paid, and as long as his tenants would pay them, he was at one with them. They had begun now to have opinions of their own upon the subject, and he was at one with them no longer. Frank Jones had heard in Galway, that there was to be a difficulty about drawing the Ballytowngal coverts.
On this occasion he said not a word to any earth-warner, though two were in attendance; but he sat silent and more gloomy than ever on his big black horse, waiting for the minutes to pass by till he should be able to run his hounds through the Ballytowngal coverts, and then hurry on to Moytubber. Mr. Daly's mind was, in truth, fixed upon Moytubber, and what would there be done this morning.
Sir Nicholas is now sixty years old, and when he came to the title at thirty, he was regarded certainly as a poor man's friend. He always lived on the estate. He rarely went up to Dublin, except for a fortnight, when the hunting was over, and when he paid his respects to the Lord Lieutenant. The house at Ballytowngal was said, in those days, to be as well kept up as any mansion in County Galway.
Frank Jones received his letter just as he was about to leave Castle Morony for the meet at Ballytowngal, the seat, as everybody knows, of Sir Nicholas Bodkin. Ballytowngal is about two miles from Claregalway, on the road to Oranmore. Sir Nicholas is known all through the West of Ireland, as a sporting man, and is held in high esteem.
The hounds were to be allowed to draw the demesne coverts, but beyond that they were to be interrupted. Foxes seldom broke from Ballytowngal, or if they did they ran to Moytubber. At Moytubber the hounds would probably change, or would do so if allowed to continue their sport in peace. But at Moytubber the row would begin.
The hounds were drawing the woods of Ballytowngal, but had not found, and were prepared to go on to Moytubber. But, according to the Galway custom, Barney Smith was waiting for orders from his master. Daly now sat stock still upon his horse for awhile, looking at the dark fringe of trees by which the park was surrounded.
It was whispered in County Galway that the people were about to rise and interfere with fox-hunting! It may be imagined that on this special day Mr. Daly's heart was low beneath his black-striped waistcoat, as he rode on his way to draw the coverts at Ballytowngal. At the cross-roads of Monivea he met Peter Bodkin, the eldest son of Sir Nicholas.
He was particular also about his snipe, and would boast that in a little spinney at Ballytowngal were to be met the earliest woodcock found in the West of Ireland. He was a thorough sportsman; but a Roman Catholic and as a Roman Catholic he was hardly equal in standing to some of his Protestant neighbours.
Now Peter Bodkin had quarrelled long and very bitterly with his father. Every acre of the property at Ballytowngal was entailed upon him, and Peter had thought that under such circumstances his father was not doing enough for him.