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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

tion. Many of Denis's letters were complaints from
poultry keepers or from small farmers whose seeds
or sown ground had been ridden over when the land
was wet. I asked what he did with these, and he
replied that he sent them on to old Me Cosh, the
Hunt secretary. "But when they look like being
troublesome I go over and talk to them myself."

I found afterwards that he had a great gift for
pacifying such people, to whom the Hunt might have
been an unmitigated nuisance if it hadn't been an
accepted institution. The non-hunting farmers liked
to see the Hunt, but they disliked the marks it left
on their land. The whole concern depended on the
popularity and efficiency of the Master, and the
behaviour of the people who hunted. Denis Milden's
predecessor in the Mastership had been too lavish
with indiscriminate five-pound notes; consequently
the petitioners for compensation had begun to regard
the Poultry and Damage Fund as a regular friend in
need, and complaints from poultry farmers were far
too frequent. To hear Denis talk about them one
might have thought that hens were the enemies of
society instead of being the providers of that uni-
versally respected object, the egg.

Watching him open those letters was an important
step in my sporting education. Until then I had not
begun to realize how much there was to be done
apart from the actual chivvying of the foxes. Thence-
forward I became increasingly aware that a successful
day's hunting was the result of elaborate and tactful
preparations, and I ceased to look upon an angry
farmer with a pitchfork as something to be laughed at.
In the meantime I wished he would go upstairs and
change his wet clothes. But he sat there in his muddy
boots for almost an hour, writing letters in his careful