Skip to main content

Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

See other formats

The Coshford Vale Stag Hunt, which had been in
existence as a subscription pack for about half a
century, had been kept on its legs by the devoted
efforts of a group of prosperous hop-farmers and a
Jarnilv of brewers whose name was a household word
in the district. Gi/nling's Fine Ales were a passport to
popularity, and the genial activities of Mr. "Gus"
Gimling, who had been Master for more years than
he cared to count, had kept the Hunt flourishing and
assured it of a friendly reception almost everywhere
in the country over which it hunted (described in the
scarlet-covered Hunting Directory as "principally
pasture with very little plough"). This description
encouraged me to visualize an Elysium of green fields
and jumpable hedges; but the country, although it
failed to come up to my preconceived idea of its
charms, included a nice bit of vale; and in those
days there was very little wire in the fences.

I need hardly say that, since stags were no longer
indigenous to that part of England, the Coshford
stag-hunters kept theirs at home (in a deer paddock
a few miles from the kennels). The animal which
had been selected to provide the day's sport was
carried to the meet in a mysterious-looking van,
driven by the deerkeeper, a ruddy faced Irishman in
a brown velveteen jacket who had earned a reputa-
tion for humorous repartee, owing to the numerous
inquiries of inquisitive persons on the roads who
a-kecl him what he'd got in that old hearse of his.

Provincial stag-hunts are commonly reputed to be
comic and convivial gatherings which begin with an
uproarious hunt-breakfast for the local farmers.
Purple faced and bold with cherry brandy, they
heave themselves on to their horses and set off across
the country, frequently falling off in a ludicrous