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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

coachman who disliked riding. One of my earliest
recollections is the advent of Dixon, who lost no time
in persuading my aunt to pension off her pair of
worn-out carriage horses, which he replaced by two
comparatively juvenile animals "warranted quiet to
ride or drive". Dixon dearly loved to do a deal, and
my aunt was amenable to his influence. She even
went so far as to sanction the purchase of a side-
saddle, and although a timid and incompetent horse-
woman, she came to the conclusion that riding was
good for her health.

Two or three times a week, then, on fine days,
shepherded by the dignified and respectful groom,
she was to be seen ambling along the lanes in a badly
cut brown habit. She never attended a meet of the
hounds however, for we lived in an unhunted part of
the country, and the nearest meet was more than
eight miles away.

So far as I was concerned, for several years "the
hounds" remained a remote and mysteriously im-
portant rumour, continually talked about by Dixon,
who never ceased to regret the remoteness of their
activities. Foxes were few in our part of the country,
and the farmers made no secret of shooting them. In
fact ours was a thoroughly unsporting neighbourhood.
There wasn't so much as a pack of beagles in the
district. But Dixon was deeply imbued with sporting
instincts. From the age of fourteen he had worked in
stables, and had even shared, for a few months, the
early rising rigours of a racing stable. He had been
"odd man" to a sporting farmer in the Vale of Ayles-
bury, and had spent three years as under-groom to a
hard-riding squire who subscribed handsomely to
Lord Dumborough's Hounds. Dumborough Park
was twelve miles from where my aunt lived, and in

IX