The O'Conors of Castle Conor
moon into a hunt, it is impossible that men should not stare at him and ask who he is.
And it is so disagreeable to be stared at, and to have such questions asked! This feeling
does not come upon a man in Leicestershire or Gloucestershire where the numbers are
large, and a stranger or two will always be overlooked, but in small hunting fields it is so
painful that a man has to pluck up much courage before he encounters it.
We met on the morning in question at Bingham's Grove. There were not above twelve or
fifteen men out, all of whom, or nearly all were cousins to each other. They seemed to be
all Toms, and Pats, and Larrys, and Micks. I was done up very knowingly in pink, and
thought that I looked quite the thing, but for two or three hours nobody noticed me.
I had my eyes about me, however, and soon found out which of them was Tom O'Conor.
He was a fine-looking fellow, thin and tall, but not largely made, with a piercing gray
eye, and a beautiful voice for speaking to a hound. He had two sons there also, short,
slight fellows, but exquisite horsemen. I already felt that I had a kind of acquaintance
with the father, but I hardly knew on what ground to put in my claim.
We had no sport early in the morning. It was a cold bleak February day, with occasional
storms of sleet. We rode from cover to cover, but all in vain. "I am sorry, sir, that we are
to have such a bad day, as you are a stranger here," said one gentleman to me. This was
Jack O'Conor, Tom's eldest son, my bosom friend for many a year after. Poor Jack! I fear
that the Encumbered Estates Court sent him altogether adrift upon the world.
"We may still have a run from Poulnaroe, if the gentleman chooses to come on," said a
voice coming from behind with a sharp trot. It was Tom O'Conor.
"Wherever the hounds go, I'll follow," said I.
"Then come on to Poulnaroe," said Mr. O'Conor. I trotted on quickly by his side, and
before we reached the cover had managed to slip in something about Sir P. C.
"What the deuce!" said he. "What! a friend of Sir P-'s? Why the deuce didn't you tell me
so? What are you doing down here? Where are you staying?" &c. &c. &c.
At Poulnaroe we found a fox, but before we did so Mr. O' Conor had asked me over to
Castle Conor. And this he did in such a way that there was no possibility of refusing him-
-or, I should rather say, of disobeying him. For his invitation came quite in the tone of a
"You'll come to us of course when the day is over--and let me see; we're near Ballyglass
now, but the run will be right away in our direction. Just send word for them to send your
things to Castle Conor."
"But they're all about, and unpacked," said I.