The mornings I remember most zestfully were those
which took us up on to the chalk downs. To watch
the day breaking from purple to dazzling gold while
we trotted up a deep-rutted lane; to inhale the early
freshness when we were on the sheep-cropped up-
lands; to stare back at the low country with its
cock-crowing farms and mist-coiled waterways; thus
to be riding out with a sense of spacious discovery—
was it not something stolen from the lie-a-bed world
and the luckless city workers—even though it ended
in nothing more than the killing of a leash of fox-
cubs (for whom, to tell the truth, I felt an uncon-
fessed sympathy)? Up on the downs in fine September
weather sixteen years ago.. ..
It is possible that even then, if I was on a well-
behaved horse, I could half forget why we were there,
so pleasant was it to be alive and gazing around me.
But I would be dragged out of my day dream by
Denis when he shouted to me to wake up and get
round to the far side of the covert; for on such hill
days we often went straight to one of the big gorses
without any formality of a meet. There were beech
woods, too, in the folds of the downs, and lovely they
looked in the mellow sunshine, with summer's foliage
falling in ever-deepening drifts among their gnarled
and mossy roots.
"What you want is a good, hard, short-legged horse
well up to your weight and able to get through the
mud and do a long day," remarked Denis one after-
noon in October.
We had been out from seven till four, with a good
long spell of digging to finish up with. Having said