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Full text of "Our friends in the hunting field"

Our, FI\IE^fDS 

IN Th|E 

Hui^TiNQ Field 




Wr?€clw^^T|r\ar 




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f T if ' h 







GIFT OF FAIRIVIAN ROGERS. 



University of Pennsylvania 
Libraries 




Annenberg Rare Book 

and Manuscript 

Library 



OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 



OUR FRIENDS 



IN 



THE HUN TliNG FIELD. 



MRS. EDWARD KEN^NARD, 



"THE GIRL IN THE BROWN HABIT," "KILLED I\ 

THE OPEN," "A CRACK COUNTY," 

" LANDING A PRIZE," etc., etc. 



Ijv one volume. 



London : 

F. V. WHITE & CO., 

81, SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND. 

1889. 



PRINTED BY 

KELLY AND CO., GATK STBEET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDF, TV.C. 

AND KINGSTON-ON-THAMES, 



CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

I. — The Melancholy Man ... 1 

II. — The Poptjlak Woman .... 15 

III. — The Man "Who Blows his own Trumpet 31 

IV. — The Dangerous Woman ... 48 

V. — The Sporting Horse Dealer . . 62 

VI. — The Man who goes First ... 84 

VII. — The Venerable Dandy ... 98 

VIII.— The Farmer 115 

IX.— The "Funk-Stick" . . . . 128 

X. — The Good Samaritan .... 144 

XL — The Hospitable Man .... 158 

XII. — The Jealous Woman . . . .175 

XIII.— The Bore 188 

XIV. — The Man who has Lost his Nerve . 202 



A_ /, -^ ^ 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2009 witii funding from 

Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 



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OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD 



fOPULAR pjEW JVJOVELS 



Now Ready, in One Vol., the Seventh Edition of 

ARMY SOCIETY ; or. Life in a Garrison Town. By JOHN Strange 
Winter. Author of "Booties' Baby." Cloth gilt, 6«. ; also 
picture boards, 2«. 



Also, now Ready, in Cloth G-ilt, Is. Gd. each. 

GARRISON GOSSIP, Gathered in Blankhampton. By John 

Strange Winter. Also picture boards, '2s. 
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BEAUTIFUL JIM. By the same Author. 

THE DUCHESS OF ROSEMARY LANE. By B. L. Farjeon. 
THE GIRL IN THE BROWN HABIT. A Sporting Novel. By 

Mrs. Edward Kennard, Also picture boards, 2s. 
KILLED IN THE OPEN. By the same AUTHOR. Also picture 

boards, 2s. 
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boards, 2s. 
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A REAL GOOD THING. By the same AUTHOR. Also picture 

boards, 2s. 
A CRACK COUNTY. By the same AUTHOR. 
BY WOMAN'S WIT. By Mrs. ALEXANDER, Author of "The 

Wooing O't," Also picture boards, 2s. 
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THE HONBLE. MRS. VEREKER. By the Author of "Molly 

Bawn," &c. 

F. V. WHITE & CO., 
31, Southampton Street, Strand, London, W.C. 



OUR FRIENDS 

IN 

THE HUNTING FIELD 



I.— THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 

We all know the melancholy man of our 
hunt. Where is the hunt who has not one at 
least ? Nine times out of ten he belongs to 
the wizened aristocratic type, and is unmis- 
takably a gentleman, in spite of his pinched 
and woe-begone appearance, which, save for 
nice clothes, is worthy of a tramp on the 
road. 

His features are good, but lean and flesli- 
less ; the nose well-shaped and inclined to be 



2 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

aquiline ; but the complexion is of that dull, 
lustreless, purple hue which at first sight 
raises a suspicion of an unhealthy partiality 
for spirituous liquor, but which in reality 
comes from a torpid liver, a bad digestion 
and a defective circulation. 

Is it necessary to state that he is a con- 
firmed pessimist, who looks at everything 
with jaundiced eyes and from the darkest 
point of view ? He cannot be cheerful if 
he would. Bilious headaches, chills and 
stomachic derangements render him a con- 
stant martyr. The unfortunate man can 
never forget that he has a body, and he is 
unable to rise superior to its depressing in- 
fluences. His physical vitality is low and 
communicates dolefully with the brain. 

You seldom meet him without his declaring 
in solemn, lugubrious tones, that England is 
croing downhill as fast as she can, that her 
trade is a thing of the past, that she is rotten 
to the core, that the aristocracy are on their 



Tim MELANCHOLY MAN. 3 

last legs, and that when the Queen dies we 
shall have a revolution and become a prey to 
anarchy, socialism and dynamitards. In his 
opinion, the army and navy are laughing- 
stocks for the rest of the world, as inefficient 
as they are grossly mismanaged, and if we 
had a big European war we should probably 
knuckle under without striking a blow. He 
refers with malicious glee to our reverses in 
South Africa, and looks upon the Irish ques- 
tion as a striking instance of England's 
eflfeteness. 

As for fox-hunting, he loses no opportunity 
of stating that it has gone to the dogs alto- 
gether. Hounds, men, foxes, scent, have all 
deteriorated, and the good old days — if they 
really were good — have departed for ever. 
We no longer possess any horses worthy the 
name of hunter — they are either thorough- 
bred screws or the progeny of cart horses. 
We have allowed the foreigner to buy up our 

most valuable stock ; and then, in our short 

1* 



4 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

siglitedness and crass stupidity, prided our- 
selves on the achievement. The love of sport 
is dying out. A spirit of disaffection is spring- 
ing up. By the time our sons and daughters 
attain their majority, hunting will only be a 
memory of the past, and foxes will have dis- 
appeared from the face of the earth. After 
that, the deluge. 

These are a few of the melancholy man's 
favourite topics of conversation, and he be- 
comes gloomily eloquent when expatiating on 
them. 

The weather is a continual source of an- 
noyance and irritation to him. Needless to 
say, it is never just right, and he abuses the 
Englishman's proverbial privilege of grum- 
bling at it. 

If it rains, he is very miserable. It is a 
sight to inspire compassion in the heart of 
one possessing a robuster organization, to 
witness the touching resignation with which 
he bends his lean body forwards and meekly 



THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 5 

bows his well-hatted head to the gale. Smiling 
faintly at his nearest neighbour, he says with 
unutterable woe : 

" This is what we call pleasure ! " 
When the icy winds sweep over the broad 
Midland pastures, chilling horse and man 
alike, he shivers and shudders, growls like a 
bear with a sore head, and tries to restore 
warmth to his perished frame by beating it 
violently with his frozen hand, the fingers of 
which are dead, the nails a bluey white. 
Every tooth chatters, and he can scarcely 
articulate. 

Poor man! with his sluggish blood and 
bad circulation, he feels the cold acutely. 
It seems to shrivel him up and drives 
him down to depths of wretchedness even 
blacker than those in which his spirit 
habitually resides. On such days he greets 
his familiars, as one by one they appear 
at the meet, with a dejected nod of the 
head and a " What fools we are to hunt ! 



6 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING HELD. 

Just think that every time we go out on a 
morning like this and try to imagine we 
are enjoying ourselves, it costs us precisely 
a ten pound note." 

" Oh ! come, come, my dear fellow, it don't 
do to look at tilings in that way," says some 
strong, stalwart young man in reply, eager for 
a flourish over the fences. " We shouldn't 
care for any ot our sports if we began to 
reckon up the costs." 

"I can't help it," groans back the melan- 
choly man, as a blast of cold air comes 
whistling over the uplands and cuts through 
him like a knife. " I'd give a fiver this 
minute to be at home." 

" Lord bless us ! " responds the other 
cheerily. " Don't talk like that. Why, what 
on earth would you do with 3^ourself if you 
didn't hunt ? You'd die of ennui.'' 

" Ah ! that's where it is. You've hit the 
right nail on the head. After I've read my 
newspaper of a morning, I don't know how 



THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 7 

the dickens to kill time. I think I'll go 
abroad." 

"Not you. You'd be bored to death. 
Depend upon it, there's nothing like fox- 
hunting." 

" One gets into a groove and can't get out 
of it," sighs the melancholy man ; " but it's no 
use trying to persuade me that there is any 
enjoyment in this sort of thing. Phew!" as 
the wind catches his hat and it is only saved 
from rolling to the ground by the guard- 
string. 

As our friend is so keenly sensitive to the 
inclemency of the elements, it might naturally 
be supposed that on a fine day, when the sun 
is shining overhead in a blue, clear sky, his 
mental condition would rise like a barometer. 
But such is by no means the case. The 
melancholy man is melancholy always. It is 
only a question of degree w^itli him. 

Imagine a bright frosty morning that acts 
on most people as a tonic. He starts from 



8 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

home, vowing that there cannot by any 
chance be a scent, which opinion he freely 
communicates to his friends with funereal 
solemnity. Should his predictions turn out in- 
correct, as is sometimes the case, he shifts his 
ground with considerable ability and in his 
low, sepulchral voice inquires if you have 
ever noticed how remarkably badly horses 
fence, and how sharp and black the shadows 
appear when the sun shines brif^htly. 

"Take my advice, my dear fellow," he 
urges, " don't jump more than you can 
possibly help. The best of hunters can't see 
the size or depth of a ditch on such a day as 
this. Do you remember poor Tom Buckley ? 
No? Well, three years ago Tom Buckley 
broke his leg through his horse blundering at 
a bottom and rolling head over heels. It was 
not the animal's fault. The sun was shining, 
just as it is shining now, and he could not see 
one bit what he was going at. Tom Buckley 
never was the same maix after that fall. It 



THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 9 

played the bear with him. He got rheuma- 
tism and sciatica, and it ended by his having 
to give up hunting altogether. Poor devil ! 
He does nothing now but dangle about the 
clubs, run after old ladies who go in for 
parties, and play whist." 

At this juncture his listener executes a 
hasty retreat. He feels that if he hears many 
more of the melancholy man's tales he shall 
not have an atom of nerve left. As it is, 
what between the frost, and Tom Buckley's 
miserable fate, a cold shiver begins to creep 
up his spine. At last hounds are moving on 
and he gladly rides after them. He cannot 
exactly define the reason, but his friend's con- 
versation nearly always produces a depressing 
effect — a sort of the-world-has-come-to-an-end 
kind of feeling. 

Meantime, the real business of the day 
commences, and the despondency of the 
melancholy man increases. If hounds find 
and run well, his spirits grow lower and 



10 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

lower. He experiences none of that exhilara- 
tion which the chase is supposed to produce. 
On the contrary, he sees nothing but disasters 
and difficulties ahead. Every fence appears a 
man-trap, at which he confidently expects to 
meet with his death. For, needless to say, he 
does not ride hard, or love jumping for 
jumping's sake. His nerves and health are 
both too shattered to enable him to derive 
any real satisfaction from risking his neck 
over a country. He does not care for life. 
Not a day passes that he does not inveigh 
against it, yet, strangely enough, he is singu- 
larly loath to leave it. 

Combined with certain unconquerable 
fears, he possesses a mad desire to be with 
the hounds. His great ambition is to be 
thought a forward man. He heartily disdains 
the roadsters, and takes every opportunity of 
abusing them. But in spite of his gallantry 
— which deserves all the more credit from 
being forced, and not natural — a line of gaps 



THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 11 

and gates does not always succeed in bring- 
ing him to the desired goal. Every now and 
again a stiff, unbreakable piece of timber, or 
a cold, glancing brook bars the way. Then 
come indecision, mental conflict, defeat. That 
stout ash rail is sure to break his bones, the 
water will give him his death of cold. No, 
he dare not take the risk. He tells himself 
that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak ; 
and so the chase sweeps on. Some get over, 
filling him with envy and a species of grudg- 
ing admiration ; others retrace their foot- 
steps. Not infrequently he is left alone ; 
alone, with no companion save black thought 
and dark, dark despair. He looks again at 
the obstacles, but alas ! they do not diminish 
in size. Finally he turns tail and seeks a road, 
despising himself as he mingles with the 
mighty throng swarming on the macadam. 

" What a garden ass I am to hunt," he 
mutters disconsolatel}^, for the run has been 
productive of nothing but mortification to 



12 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

liim. Yet straightway arises the embarras- 
sing question : 

" What the deuce should I do if I didn't ? " 
There lies the root of the whole difficulty, 
and a very serious one it is. The fact is that, 
apart from his liver, his digestion and his 
bodily ailments, the melancholy man has little 
to occupy his mind. He is not intellectual or 
self-contained, and his resources are nil. He 
has no work, no profession, nothing to fill up his 
time. His only aim in life is to try and amuse 
himself, and in that he signally fails. The 
commonest navvy, labouring by the roadside 
at breaking stones, is better off than he. At 
least, the hours do not hang heavy on his 
hands, and he can eat and drink without fear 
of the consequences, or speculating as to what 
patent medicine he shall invest in next. Our 
friend the melancholy man hunts, shoots, 
races, fishes and swears, but from none of 
these things — not even the latter — does he 
derive more than very temporary satisfaction. 



THE MELANCHOLY MAN. 13 

When bantered by his acquaintance as to his 
habitual state of despondency, he asserts that 
it is constitutional ; but would it be so if he 
were obliged to work for his living, if too 
much ease and comfort had not spoilt him in 
early life, and taught him to spend his entire 
existence wondering how he can kill time ? 
As if Old Time would not rise up and defy so 
puny an opponent. No doubt his bodily in- 
firmities are a sore trouble, and we sympathize 
heartily with him on this account, but has he 
not yielded too much to them and to the curse 
of idleness ? Is he not just a little hypochon- 
driacal ? 

He does nobody any harm. He is his own 
worst enemy, and more to be pitied than 
either laughed at or censured. But it would 
prove a good thing for the melancholy man if 
his house were to be burnt over his head, if 
he lost all his money, and found himself 
forced to gain a living by the sweat of his 
brow, instead of going hunting six days a 



14 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

week and grumbling the seventh. He would 
find his zest for pleasure increase if he no 
longer possessed the means of gratifying it, 
and time hang less heavy on his hands when 
he had some occupation. Too much ease, too 
much luxury, too much self indulgence, these 
things produce melanchol}^ and are respon- 
sible for half the bad livers and the bad 
digestions in the kingdom. 



IL— THE POPULAR WOMAN". 

The popular woman is generally a fortunate 
one. In fact, slie owes her popularity in 
great measure to her good fortune, for she 
has certain conditions in her favour, without 
which she might vainly have aspired to the 
title that distinguishes her. 

Looks by themselves are not sufficient to 
insure a solid social success. To begin with, 
they do not stand the test of time, and 
opinions are apt to vary so much on the 
subject. In proof of this statement, are there 
not numbers of young and pretty married 
women in the hunting field who ride obedi- 
ently behind their husbands, stuck to them as 
if by glue, and who almost entirely escape 
observation? They never by any chance 



16 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

have a masculine friend, and their discretion 
is quite remarkable. Even that sour-tongued 
Mrs. Grundy fails to detect a flaw in their 
conduct. They are beautiful but dull, highly 
estimable but unresponsive to a degree, in 
short just what good nice women should be. 
Nobody talks much either to or about them. 
And the reason ? Oh ! the reason is simple 
enough, and the dear creatures are not, 
perhaps, quite so good as they seem. 

Their husbands are nearty always either 
too loving and attentive or too severe and 
jealous. Their ideas of marital duty are 
horribly strict — at least on the female 
side : they have a separate set for their 
own guidance — and so the poor wives, 
who doubtless all possess an embryo germ of 
popularity, have no chance of developing it. 
They are meek dummies, wdio accept their lot 
and who allow their individuality to be 
merged in that of the lordly personage they 
have chosen to espouse. Some of them are 



THE POPULAR W0:MAN. 17 

willing slaves, others grumble, but dare not 
rebel. Now the popular woman is not ham- 
pered in any way. She enjoys liberty of 
speech, liberty of action, liberty even of 
conduct. She can do and say pretty much 
what she likes without being called to ac- 
count. Is she single ? you ask. No, certainly 
not. 

She has a husband, but he is an amiable 
nonentity, or if not wholly a nonentit}^ she 
knows so well how to manaijfe him that he 
seldom interferes. He yields to superior 
merit, and plays quite a secondary and sub- 
ordinate part in the establishment. He 
hardly ever knows who's coming to dinner, 
or the names and number of his guests. His 
wife grasps the reins of power in a firm gri}), 
and does not relax her hold for a minute : 
she is a sharp woman, and knows that if she 
loosed the matrimonial cords, ever so slightly, 
her popularity would soon become im- 
perilled. 



IS OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

Her husband is a very rich man, and owns 
one of the most beautiful places in the 
county. He is generously constituted, and 
allows her to spend what she likes. His own 
tastes are extremely simple and child-like, 
and very little contents him. 

Both he and his better-half are excessively 
hospitable, and keep regular open house. 
He is the last person in the world to find 
fault, yet sometimes he cannot help wishing 
for a quiet hour to himself. The neighbouring 
town is furnished with a cavalry barracks, 
and the officers are always dropping in to 
every species of meal. Sometimes they spend 
a long and happy day, beginning at about 
eleven in the morning, and lasting until 
twelve at ni^ht. But Monsieur is much too 
wise to make any objection. It is Madame's 
affair. H it pleases her to have a lot of 
young fellows perpetually hanging about the 
place, well and good. 

In truth she lavishes her invitations broad- 



THE POPULAR WOMAX. 10 

cast, and especially amongst the engaging 
males of her acquaintance. She feeds them 
with game, venison, truffles, foie-gras, cream 
ice, hot-house fruit, and all the delicacies of 
the season, and the}'' go away highly satisfied, 
declaring in their own expressive language 
that they have been awfulty "well done." 
And to be " well-done " is the first secret of 
gaining that refined, delicate, fine-fibred 
thing, a man's heart. 

" Poor old Charlie's " (as they call their 
host) wine also meets with unqualified ap- 
proval. His sherr}^ is " ripping." His tawny 
port "A 1." They testify their appreciation 
by the number of bottles which they cause 
to disappear at every visit, and by the fre- 
quent recurrence of those visits. Master 
Charlie's best Cuban cigars, a box of which 
is always open, also meet with commenda- 
tion. His guests help themselves freely and 
puff away with great enjoyment at the 

fragrant weed, sitting meanwhile in careless 

2* 



20 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

attitudes on the sofa by Mrs. Charlie's side. 
These gallant soldiers treat their hostess with 
tender familiarity, and they play like children 
with her gloves, her fan, or her lace pocket- 
handkerchief, every now and then, quite by 
accident, letting their great clumsy fingers 
come in contact with her pretty jewelled ones. 
On such occasions she takes no notice, for 
Mrs. Charlie is not strict, neither is she a 
prude. The nineteenth century has set its 
face against prudes, and she goes with the 
times. As for tobacco, she vows she has not 
the faintest objection to it (though she never 
allows her husband to smoke in her presence 
when they are alone), and declares that no- 
thing pleases her more than to see her guests 
making themselves at home. They take her 
at her word. Who could doubt the veracity 
of so charming and sensible a person ? She 
delights in a good story, and is not irremedi- 
ably shocked by a naughty one. She re- 
proves^ but forgives the teller in a way which 



THE POPULAR WOMAN. 21 

makes the naughtiness appear almost virtuous, 
and restores the self-confidence of the nar- 
rator. 

In return for the many substantial benefits 
received and the material advantages gained, 
the artless j^ouths who are entertained so 
sumptuously by the popular woman, are dis- 
interested enough to dangle about her saddle 
out hunting, to pay her compliments, varying 
in sincerity, and to indulge Avhenever they 
meet, in that light meaningless banter which 
is known in the English language by the name 
of " chafT." They carry their devotion to 
such an extent that young and pretty girls, 
quite ten or fifteen "years junior to Mrs. 
Charles are left almost entirely neglected. 
But then they have no good dinners to give, 
no comfortable house to offer as a club, and 
are not the possessors of a large income. 
Masculine admiration is composed of a good 
many mixed ingredients. It is not all "I 
love and adore nothing but your own sweet 



22 OUR FPvIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

self." To do the popular woman justice how- 
ever, in spite of a tolerably pronounced 
partiality for young men, she knows how to 
render herself extremely pleasant and agree- 
able to all classes. She makes it a rule never 
to turn up her nose at anybody, and when in 
the hunting field goes out of her way to say 
a few cheery words to each of the numerous 
ladies of her acquaintance. She knows that 
they aU possess tongues, and considers it 
better policy to conciliate them than offend, 
for she is quite aware that these dear female 
friends of hers tell little spiteful stories 
against her behind her back, although to her 
face they are all civility and amiability. 

Mrs. Charlie is not a person to quarrel with 
lightly, for every winter she gives a ball, and 
besides that, is constantly getting up theatri- 
cals, concerts, bazaars, &c. Every one likes 
to be asked to her parties. They give the 
young ladies a chance of meeting young 
men, and the dowagers an opportunity of 



THE POPULAR WOMAN. . 23 

taUliiig and gossiping. True, when the festi- 
vities care over there are some ungrateful 
enough to call them oinnliini gatherunis, but 
what does that matter ? It does not prevent 
the very same people from seeking invitations 
on the following year. 

Mrs. Charlie knows all that goes on in the 
county. One or two of her greatest friends 
and staunchest adherents are always ready 
to repeat every ill-natured remark, but she 
has the good sense to take little heed, and 
when she meets the ofiender makes no altera- 
tion whatever in her conduct. For the 
popular woman is very good-natured, even 
although it be with that light, superficial 
good-nature which proceeds mainl}^ from a 
cold temperament, a robust constitution, and 
a profound content with self. 

►She is proud of her popularit}', and would 
make a good many sacrifices to retain it, and 
her husband is proud of it also, perhaps 
even more so than she. It never enters his 



24 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

honest head to imagine that the swarms of 
friends who invade their household resemble 
flies buzzing round a treacle-pot. When the 
treacle is all gone, very few of [them will 
remain. 

The worthy fellow entertains a profound 
admiration for his successful wife. lie be- 
lieves in her, and trusts her implicitly, and 
nothing pleases him more than to see what a 
universal favourite she is. 

The farmers to one man adore Mrs. Charlie. 
She talks to them in her fluted, silvery tones, 
— those tones which have just a touch of 
patronage and exaggerated sweetness about 
them, and inquires with well-simulated in- 
terest after their affairs, the prospects of 
agriculture, the price of grazing-stock, and 
the birth and parentage of the young 'un 
they bestride. Their good-humoured bluff- 
ness and unconcealed admiration please her. 
It makes her sigh now and again over the 
little vein of insincerity that runs through 



THE POPULAR WOMAN. 25 

her own character, but she likes the honest 
fellows none the less on that account, and at 
every race-meeting plies them with cham- 
pagne and pigeon-pie, until they drink her 
health in a salvo of applause. 

The popular woman rides well to hounds, 
and looks remarkably neat on horseback. 
Her hunters render it difficult to keep the 
tenth commandment, so perfect in make and 
shape are they ; and the rider does them 
justice. She has the best fitting habit in the 
whole hunt, and the number and elegant 
patterns of her waistcoats drive other sports- 
women to despair. Such spots, such stripes, 
such delightful checks and combinations, 
where on earth do they come from ? Mrs. 
Charlie has no concealments on the subject. 
She is open and kind to a degree. She tells 
everybody who her tailor is, where lie lives, 
how much he chari^es, and invariablv wiu.ls 
up by declaring that as regards her own 
personal expenditure, no one could be more 



20 OUIl FKIENUS IN TIIK IIuNilXa FIELD. 

economical than herself. " My dear, I never 
spend more than twenty pounds a year on 
my hunting clothes." But lo and behold ! on 
application to tlie tailor, he respectfully in- 
forms his customers that Mrs. Charlie has a 
bad memor}', and labours under some strange 
mistake as regards price, whilst the piece of 
horse-cloth from which her last waistcoat 
was made, was specially woven, and cannot 
be procured for love or money, since the 
loom has accidentally been destroyed. So 
the would-be imitators retire discomfited, 
only to gaze with renewed envy at Mrs. 
Charlie's hunting-attire, which even her 
greatest detractor cannot help admitting is 
perfect. She seems to possess some secret 
unattainable by others of her sex. Their hair 
comes down ; hers never does. Their elastics 
break ; her skirt always keeps in its place. 
Their faces get Hushed and red ; she in- 
variably retains the same cool pink and 
white complexion, with which she sallies 



THE POPULAR WOMAN. 27 

fortli of a morning. A.nd then what a waist 
she has for a woman of her age. Straight 
and well as the popular woman rides, she 
misses many a good run through her in- 
veterate love of " coflee-housing." When 
ion-crino- from covert to covert, instead of 
keeping up with hounds, she generally sniks 
back to the very tail of the procession, ac- 
companied by one or two chosen individuals. 
Here she becomes so interested in lively badi- 
nan-e of a flirtatious nature, or else in listen- 
ing to the latest gossip of the hunting-field, 
that she frequently misses her start, and pre- 
fers riding about the roads with the reigning 
favourite rather than going in for a stern 
chase. She seldom experiences much difficulty 
in finding a companion, for she is a lively 
and entertaining personage, with manners 
highly agreeable, if a trifle artificial, and the 
light tone of her conversation is finely suited to 
the majority of idle young fellows who like 
to be amused, and who neither care for nor 



28 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

appreciate high intellectual attainments in a 
woman. Mrs. Charlie prefers the anecdotical- 
biographical style, and her smart remarks in 
this particular branch generally call forth 
great applause, and are greeted by bursts of 
laughter. 

Her male friends talk of her familiarly as 
*' an awfully good sort." Few of them can 
conceive of higher praise than contained in 
these words. 

So the popular woman proceeds on her 
triumphant way, starting fresh admirers, 
and making new acquaintances every season, 
yet having the social tact to keep up with 
her old ones whenever it is possible. Her 
life is a light, easy, happy one, surrounded 
by every comfort and all that money can 
give. 

But if we look closely into the cause of her 
popularity does it not appear that great part 
of it is due to no less a person than poor old 
Charlie — that pleasant, easy-going individual 



THE POPULAR WOMAN. 29 

who adores liis wife, who lets her do exactly 
as she likes, and who furnishes the sinews of 
war without a murmur? 

Would or could Mrs. Charlie have attained 
to the position she occupies of " popular 
woman of the hunt " had she been mated to a 
surly individual, mean and close-fisted, who 
refused to let her ask a soul to the house 
without his express permission, and who threw 
every conceivable obstacle in the way of her 
social advancement ? Popularity cannot be 
achieved without a certain amount of liberty. 
Women know this, and men know it too, 
though they won't admit it, and profess to 
despise the Charlies of this world. Wives 
are so much better, crushed and kept in 
good order. At any rate, without her hus- 
band's passive support Mrs. Charlie would 
have encountered many difficulties. He gave 
her house, money, position, and all the con- 
ditions necessary to insure success, and 
whilst she climbed the ladder, he remained 



30 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

content to play second fiddle to " the popular 
woman." 

There are men, and men. Let us give him 
his due. 






III.— THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN 
TEUMPET. 

Most of us are acquainted with the man 
who blows his own trumpet. Taking a com- 
prehensive glance round the hunting fiehl, 
there is generally no difficulty wdiatever in 
selecting one or two fairly representative 
specimens, who thoroughly understand the 
somewhat egotistical art of glorifying them- 
selves at the expense of Iheir neighbours. 
As a matter of fact they are not scarce, and 
exist in considerable numbers. 

Their music, however, varies. Some men 
blow their own particular trumpet in such a 
subtle, refined and artistic manner that it 
scarcely offends the ear, whilst others play 
the favourite instrument so loudly and 



32 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

clumsily that the distracted listener flies, 
overcome with disgust. 

Taken as a rule, the great bulk of musi- 
cians are not much liked by their comrades. 
Nine times out of ten the deeds of valour 
which they proclaim so stentoriously, are 
chiefly imaginary, and are known by the field 
to possess a fabulous origin. 

If hounds have had an extra good run, it 
is a foregone conclusion that, according to 
the man who blows his own trumpet, nobody 
has seen anything of it except himself and, 
perhaps, the huntsman. In his bumptious, 
loud-voiced wa}^ he narrates how he jumped 
some place, hitherto considered as unjump- 
able, and so secured a start whilst all the 
hard riders of the hunt were coasting up and 
down. Beings never caugjht as^ain he led 

o Do 

every yard of the way. By Jove ; j^es, every 
yard ! 

And in that week's Field and sporting 
papers there will probably appear a highly- 



THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TRUMPET. 33 

coloured account of Mr. X.'s exploits. 
Nobody knows how they became chronicled, 
or why he alone, out of all the field, should 
have his doings published and lauded up to 
the skies. Mr. X. himself, when bantered on 
the subject, professes entire ignorance, but is 
willinnf to discuss it with s^reat ":ood humour. 
He has an amiable weakness for seeing his 
name in print, but vows that the writer of 
the account in question is a perfect stranger 
to him. 

Nevertheless the observant, and possibly 
the envious, remark that whenever a repre- 
sentative of the Press puts in an appearance at 
covert side, the man who blows his own 
trumpet treats him with great civility and 
distinction, brings forth his instrument and 
plays some out-of-the-way fine flourishes upon 
it. A stranger is naturally impressed, and, 
not knowing the gentleman's idiosyncracies, 
accepts his statements in good faith. Several 
of Mr. X.'s personal experiences are so 



34 our. FKIENDS IX THE HUNTIXG FIELD. 

remarkable — at least, when told by himself — 
that if he did not repeatedly vouch for their 
truth, you would have considerable difficulty 
in believiuf? them to be veracious. For 
instance, there is the stor)^ of how Mr. X. 
swam a river a quarter of a mile broad, and 
reached the opposite side, firmly seated on 
his saddle, just in time to dismember the fox 
in the absence of the huntsman and the 
entire field. Also the tale of how he cleared 
a canal, tow-path and all, vvhicli lurked 
unsuspected on the far side of a hedge, and 
which jump, when measured very carefully 
next day, proved to be no less than thirty-six 
feet and a half. And then there is the 
gallant incident of his jumping two railway 
gates in succession on his M'^ay to covert, 
rather than wait for the train to pass, and so 
arrive late at the meet. 

Unfortunately for Mr. X., he is unable to 
produce any eye-witnesses in support of his 
assertions. They have all either died, gone 



THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TliUMPET. 35 

abroad, or disappeared. As a rule, they die. 
But there is no fear of the ^^ounger genera- 
tion forofettinf]f our friend's feats of valour. 
They hear about them much too often. If 
only the man who blows his own trumpet 
could be persuaded not to talk so incessantly 
and exclusively about himself, people would 
be much more ready to give him credit for 
his performances, which if not brilliant, are 
fair. As a rule, he is too greatly taken up 
with his own doings to have a good eye for a 
country, and therefore is quite incapable of 
cutting out the work over a stiff line of 
fences. But he will jump where other people 
jump, and is generally there, or thereabouts. 
The pity is that by some strange hallucina- 
tion of the brain, pleasing to himself, but not 
to others, he invariably imagines in every 
run that he has had the best of it, and fre- 
quently irritates his friends by exclaiming in 
a patronizing tone : 

" IluUoa ! my dear fellow, where were you 

3* 



36 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD, 

in that gallop? I missed you altogether. 
Never saw you once." 

Not unfrequently he meets with a richly- 
deserved rejoinder, but the trumpet blower has 
no sense of shame, and reproof rolls off him 
like water from a duck's back. His self- 
complacency wraps him round in an impene- 
trable garment, and there is something 
almost sublime in his unassailable serenity. 
Laugh at him as you please, he is a most 
happily constituted individual, and always 
on good terms with " number one." 

Mr. X. rarely jumps the smallest fence 
without cantering up to some of his acquaint- 
ance, and saying : 

" God bless my soul, sir ! did you see what 
an extraordinary bound my horse made over 
that place ? Gad ! but he must have cleared 
close upon thirty feet." 

'' I am ver}^ sorry," comes the contemp- 
tuous, sneering, or indifferent rejoinder, 
according to the mood of the speaker; "but 



THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TEUMPET. 37 

really I have not a pair of eyes at the back 
of my head, and even if I were so fortunately 
constituted, I doubt whether I could succeed 
in kee^^ing them perpetually fixed upon 
you." 

" Ah ! " returns our friend X. with com- 
passionate good humour, for, to give him his 
due, it takes a great deal to put him out of 
temper, and thanks to his peculiar organiza- 
tion, sarcasm is nearly always lost upon him. 
" Poor chap ; I forgot how short-sighted you 
are. What a misfortune it must be, to be 
sure. You miss so much." 

" One's deuced glad to miss some things." 

" Ha, ha ; just so, just so. But about my 
new horse, I tell you he's a ripper." 

" Very likely. I never knew you possess 
one that 3'ou did not say the same of." 

" Ah ! but this animal is something quite 
out of the way. lie is such an astonishingly 
big jumper." 

His comrade casts a critical glance at the 



38 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING PIELD. 

gallant creature, who is said to have cleared 
nearly thirty feet, when certainly six would 
have sufficed. Such lion-hearted hunters are 
not to be met with every day, as he very 
well knows, and they inspire respect. 

" Where did you pick him up, X. ? " he 
inquires with some show of interest, for rare 
is the sportsman not willing to plunge into a 
discussion about a horse, even on slight 
provocation. 

" I bought him from Northbridge. You 
know Northbridge, don't you? A little 
fellow with a yellow face and black mous- 
tache." 

'• Yes ; a deuced hard man to hounds." 

" Do you really think so ? He has shock- 
iuiz bad hands, and could no more ride this 
horse than a child. He was always in 
difficulties, so one day, when I saw that he 
was particularly unhappy and ill at ease, I 
went up to him and made him a very hand- 
some offer for his mount, which he accepted 



THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TIIUMPET. 39 

on tlie spot. That's the way to do business. 

The horse was quite thrown away upon 

Northbridge, but he's worth his weight in gold 

to a man with o-ood hands." 

" Meaning yourself, I suppose, eh ? " 
"AYell, the proof of the pudding is in 

the eating. See how quietl}' he goes with 

me. I can do exactly what I like with 

him." 

" Ah ! " says his companion ironically. 

" But then we're not all such accomplished 

horsemen." 

But if our worthy friend draws the long- 
bow out hunting, when actually surrounded 
by all the dangers of oxers, bullfinches and 
stake-bound fences, he waxes a thousand 
times more eloquent when the excitements 
of the day are safely over and he reclines in 
a comfortable armchair by his own fireside. 
His imagination then leaps over every 
obstacle, and scoffs at the narrow boun- 
daries imposed by truth. There is no need 



40 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

now to bridle either his tongue or his fancy, 
and when let loose one flows on as vivaciously 
as the other. 

He makes his poor young wife's flesh 
positively creep with the stirring recital of 
the heroic deeds he has performed, and the 
extraordinarily narrow escapes he has had 
from breaking his neck or his back, maiming 
himself permanently, or disfiguring his good 
looks, which he esteems very highly, whilst 
pretending a superb and manly indiflerence 
for them. 

They have not been married very long, and 
the foolish creature believes in him still 
as next door to a Deity. Every morning as 
he goes forth to the chase, in all the brave 
array of scarlet coat and snowy breeches, her 
timid heart beats fast with pangs of horrible 
apprehension, as she looks tearfully up into 
his great, healthy, rosy face. 

" Oh, Tommy, darling," she exclaims im- 
ploringly, " do be careful, if not for your 



THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OAVN TRUMPET. 41 

own sake for mine. Eemember that you are 
a married man now." 

" You little goose ! Am I likely to forget 
it?" 

" Perhaps not. I hope not ; but really, 
Tommy, dear, it always seems to me that you 
are so ver}', very rash. Surely it cannot be 
necessary for you to go out of your way to 
jump these tremendously big places, especially 
when nobody else, from your account, dreams 
of running the same risk." 

He laughs in a lordly, patronizing manner 
— for her upbraidings are sweet incense to 
his vanity — kisses her fair cheek, and says 
reproachfully : 

" Dearest, you are too fond — too anxious. 
You would not have your Tommy a coward, 
would you, or show the white feather when 
hounds run? No, no, that is not his nature.' 

She casts an admiring glance up at him 
through her tears. 

" My own," she says in a voice choked with 



42 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

emotion, " all I ask is, that you should not be 
quite — quite so horribly brave. Every time 
you go out hunting I am miserable until I 
get you safety back again." 

He gives her another hug — this style of 
conversation, especially when carried on 
before the butler and footman is extremely 
agreeable — then rides gallantly awa}^ and 
returns at evening primed with a series of 
adventures even more astounding than those 
he has hitherto recounted. 

The hounds found. There was a ghastly 
piece of timber,at least six feet high. Certain 
death stared you in the face if your horse 
failed to clear it. Death ! Aha ! what was 
that to him — to any brave and resolute man ? 
Others might shirk it if they liked, but he 
would sooner meet with his end than despise 
himself as a " funk-stick." No, never should 
it be said of Idin that he had turned away 
from any mortal thing. The fellows were all 
hano'inoj round and hesitatincr. Gad ! the 

DO O 



THE MAX AVHO BLOWS HIS OWX TIIUMPET. -13 

sight made his blood boil. It was more than 
he could stand. He crammed his hat down 
on his head, took his feet out of the stirrups, 
and 

" And — oh ! M'hat, Tomm}^ ? You do 
frighten me so," gasps the poor little woman. 

" And by an extraordinary miracle got 
over. Only man who did. Not another one 
would follow." 

" I should think not, indeed," says his wife 
with a sob of relief and terror. 

*' The young fellows now - a - days are 
a poor lot," he continues disparagingly. 
" They haven't half the spirit of we married 
men." 

" Perhaps that's because your wives render 
you desperate." And with these words she 
falls upon his neck and kisses him, and vows 
that never, never was there such a daring, 
foolhardy, but altogether delightful personage 
as her Tommy. Only it will not do for him 
to go on in this reckless and quixotic fashion. 



44 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD, 

His life is far too precious, ever so mucli too 
precious. 

If he has no regard for it himself, and risks 
it needlessly every day, at least he might 
remember how dear it is to other people — 
that they would be simply miserable if any- 
thing were to happen to him, &c., &c. As 
for courage, it is downright wicked to carry 
personal bravery to such an extent. Why ! 
A Gordon is a joke to him, and so on, 
and on. 

Tommy sits in his armchair, stretches out 
the long manly limbs that he so wilfully 
endangers, and listens with the utmost com- 
placence to all this innocent tirade. It is an 
hour of unmitigated enjoyment to him, and 
he cannot refrain from throwing in a few 
picturesque additions every now and then, 
which still further increase Mrs. Tommy's 
fears for his safety, and exalt him almost to 
a demi-god in her estimation. 

In his wife's presence he has no hesitation 



THE MAN WHO BLOWS HIS OWN TRUMPET. 15 

ill blowing the trumpet with loud clarion 
notes, to which every fibre of her sensitive 
being responds. 

And uncommonly pleasant he finds the 
process, with a pretty, adoring little woman 
as listener, who never detects a false chord 
and goes into raptures over even his most 
fantastic flourishes. It is a great temptation 
to perform loudly and frequently, and he 
makes no effort to resist the insidious 
pleasure. 

She is his ; why should he not impose upon 
her love and her credulity ? The one is as 
sweet to him as the other, for they flatter his 
self-esteem in about equal degrees. 

But take care. Tommy. You are playing 
with edged tools. The time may come when 
this trusting and simple creature will no 
longer believe so implicitly in your gallant 
deeds, when suspicions may begin to arise in 
her mind, until at last you stand revealed as 
a braggart and a boaster. 



40 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUXTIXG FIP:LD. 

Then, instead of the soft caresses and 
tender solicitude to which you have been 
accustomed, you may be met with nothing 
but scornful indifference and passive con- 
tempt. 

For the misfortune of all those who indulge 
the dangerous practice of blowing their own 
trumpet too offensivel}^ is, that after a very 
short time they are sure to be found out, and 
by none sooner than those who are nearest 
and dearest. 

Women who have been once deceived in 
the object of their adoration are pitiless 
judges. Men are much more lenient, and 
often will derive amusement from the idiosyn- 
cracies of a friend. 

But a wife never forgives her lord and 
master for bragging and boasting, once she 
discovers that he is an adept at these accom- 
plishments. She rushes from one extreme to 
another, and instead of regarding the unfortu- 
nate trumpeter as a prodigy of valour, very 



THE MAN WHO JILOWS HIS OWN TRUMPET. 47 

quickly gets to looks upon liim as a hypocrite, 
a humbug and an impostor. 

Woe be to that man if hereafter he attempt 
to play the very feeblest and most mournful 
notes upon his cherished instrument. As 
the years pass, it runs a terrible chance of 
getting rusty from disuse, and even when he 
does snatch some rare opportunity of practis- 
ing upon it, his tunes no longer sound as they 
did. The chirpiness has gone from them never 
to return. 






is eJ 



IV.— THE DANGEEOUS WOMAN. 

Somp: ten or fifteen years ago, the dangerous 
woman was not nearly so frequently met with 
in the hunting field as she is at present. She 
has multiplied in an alarming degree. 
Formerly, ladies who rode to hounds and 
who went as hard as men were the excep- 
tion rather than the rule, and their staid 
lemale relations of a past generation looked 
upon them as utterly unsexed and wholly 
condemnable. 

Now all this is changed. A great revolu- 
tion has taken place in public opinion, and 
the growing popularity of the chase is 
rendered conspicuous by nothing so much 
as by the increased number of fair Dianas 
who join in our world-famed national amuse- 



THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 49 

ment. Prejudice apart, there is no real reason 
•why they shouldn't. The exercise is a healthy 
and a pleasant one. Nice, quiet women, 
country born and bred, possessing a natural 
love of sport, and a fair knowledge of it in 
all its various branches, are a distinct orna- 
ment and addition to the hunting field. They 
resemble flowers on a dinner-table, adding to, 
rather than detracting from the solid delights 
of the dinner itself. 

Most of them have ridden since they were 
children, and know how to put a horse at a 
fence, quite as well, if not better than their 
husbands and brothers. Their hands are 
lighter, their sympathy more subtle, and 
unless they have the bad luck to " get 
down " — a misfortune which must happen to 
every one at times — they are never in any- 
body's way, and can thoroughly hold their 
own, even when hounds run hard over a 
stifily inclosed country. 

But the ladies of whom we are now speak- 



50 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

ing are the practised equestriennes, who, alas, 
to this day, form but a small contingent, and 
we are forced to admit that by far the greater 
portion of Amazons who grace the hunting 
field with their fair presence, can only be 
characterized as dangerous, both to themselves 
and their neighbours. They are the best- 
natured creatures in the world, brimming over 
with fun, good-humour and vitality. They 
mean no harm, not they ; but for all that they 
are to be shunned and avoided. 

Their courage and their ignorance is some- 
thing surprising. 

It is impossible to help giving a grudging 
admiration to the one, whilst loudly deploring 
the other. Without exaggeration they seem 
to know no fear, and to possess no nerves 
whatever. With loose seat, dangling reins 
and up -raised hand they will drive their horse 
in any fashion, either trotting or galloping, 
sideways or standing (it makes no difference 
to them) at the most formidable obstacle. 



THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 51 

And, wonderful to relate, nine times out of 
ten they bundle over somehow ; not grace- 
fully or prettily, but still they get to the other 
side. 

It really seems as if women, in spite of their 
physical inferiority and fragile exteriors, often 
possess more of that quality called " pluck " 
than the lords of creation. This may give 
rise to contrary opinions, but the conclusion 
has been arrived at in the following manner. 
Take a field, say, of some three or four 
hundred members. Perhaps three hundred 
and seventy of these may be men, the remain- 
ing thirty, ladies. 

You will probably be able to count the 
real hard riders among the former on the 
fingers of your two hands, whilst out of the 
thirty ladies, certainly half-a-dozen, if not 
more, will do their very best to keep with 
hounds, and this, too, in spite of the inferior 
animals they are often mounted upon. What 
becomes of the couraoe of three hundred and 



52 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

sixty odd gentlemen who constitute the 
remainder of the field ? Taking their lesser 
numbers into consideration, the fair sex 
certainly show a more gallant front than the 
men. True, in most instances, the man, from 
his superior strength and physique, will cer- 
tainly outdo the woman, but from a more 
comprehensive view, the ladies appear to 
possess a greater share of nerve. 

In what other way is it possible to account 
for the presence out hunting of so many dan- 
gerous females ? Their inexperience, their 
utter want of knowledge, their truly execrable 
horsemanship, have not the slightest deterring 
influence. Valour soars above such humbh^ 
considerations, and scoffs at minor diffi- 
culties. Oh ! for a little discretion, but that 
quality is conspicuous only by its absence. 

A popular actress runs down from town for 
the day, accompanied by some enamoured 
and wealthy youth, who mounts her on his 
most perfect performer. 



THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 53 

" Can she hunt ? " " Oh ! dear, yes. Why 
not ? " " Has she ever been out before ? " 
No, but she has ridden up and down the Eow 
scores of times, is not a bit afraid, and sees 
no reason why she should not jump fences 
just as well as her neighbours. 

Her youthful adorer tells her to fear 
nothing, to give her horse his head and 
follow him. She nods back in reply, clenches 
her white teeth, and obeys literally. At the 
lirst fence, though it is but a gap, she flies 
clean out of the saddle, and is only re-seated, 
after a few agonizing seconds, by the shock 
occasioned from landing right on the quarters 
of her gallant leader. 

Does she mind ? Is she intimidated ? Not 
she. 

On the contrary, she gives a little tri- 
umphant laugh at finding she has not tumbled 
off altogether, as she certainly was very, very 
nearly doing, and bumps and rolls away over 
the trying ridge and furrow, forcibly remind' 



.'".4 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

ing one of an ornamental jelly, that quivers 
and shakes preparatory to a most tremendous 
downfall. Her blood is aglow, and she is 
getting warmed to the saddle, so that at 
the next fence she does better, and is only 
pitched on to the horse's neck. By seizing 
hold of his mane, liowever, just in the nick 
of time, she manages to scramble back 
before any very serious mischief is done. 
Just think what courage it requires to jump, 
when eYery moment you fully expect to be 
jumped off. Why, it amounts to positive 
heroism. 

For place or people our dangerous woman 
has no respect, and has not the faintest 
notion of waiting for her turn. She is much 
too ignorant of the etiquette of the hunting 
field. 

Seeing a small cluster of horsemen gather- 
ing round a fence, she at once imagines they 
are shirking, and with a loud " Look out, I'm 
coming ! " charges right into their midst, 



THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 65 

mayhap knocking one or two down, but that 
is a matter of no consequence. 

Then she flounders wildly over the obstacle, 
cannons against the unfortunate gentleman in 
front, and all but capsizes him and herself 

too. 

He looks round wrathfully, with ugly mas- 
culine oaths springing to his lips, and sees a 
pretty, saucy, flushed face smiUng benign- 
antly at him from under a battered pot hat 
and a halo of fuzzy flaxen hair considerably 
disordered. He recognizes Miss Tottie 
Tootlekin of the "Gaiety," famed for the 
symmetry of her legs, and the elegance of 
her dancing, and stifles his displeasure. Who 
can feel angry with so adorable a creature, 
even although she does not appear to greatest 
advantage when bundling over a fence ? No ! 
The dear thing has given him too much 
pleasure many a time ere now. Her divine 
breakdowns still linger in his memory. So 
after ascertaining that his horse has not been 



56 OUK FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

injured, lie reserves the ugly words for 
another occasion — one is sure to arise before 
long — and smiles back at Miss Tottie in 
return. Now, if the dangerous woman were 
dangerous only at her fences, it might be pos- 
sible by a little diplomacy to avoid her, but 
alas ! such is not the case. As long as she is 
within twenty yards of you, you are never 
safe, and cannot foresee the vagaries which 
she may perform. 

You very soon learn that it is wiser to yield 
her precedence at every obstacle, rather than 
expose yourself to the almost absolute cer- 
tainty of being jumped upon. But it is 
horribly annoying, when you are galloping 
after the hounds to secure a start, to find 
your horse crossed and recrossed at almost 
every stride, until at last you hardly know 
how to get out of your tormentor's way. 

Neither is it pleasant to be jostled against 
a gateway, and have your leg squeezed till 
you could scream with tlie pain, anl you do 



THE DANGEEOUS WOMAN. 57 

not like having the gate itself slammed in 
your face, whilst Madame or Mademoiselle 
hustles through, regardless of everything and 
everybody, and makes not the smallest effort 
to keep it open. 

Apparently it is beyond your power to 
escape altogether from the dangerous woman, 
for even whilst trotting quietly along the 
sides of the roads, she comes cantering up 
from behind and careless of the fact that you 
are altogether within your rights, and that 
there is no room for her to pass, she will 
remorselessly drive your most cherished 
hunter on to the various stone heaps, or else 
right into the ditch. As for an apology, she 
rarely condescends to make one, although she 
may have been the means of bringing you 
into direst trouble. 

Another of the dangerous woman's little 
idiosyncracies is, that she possesses as supreme 
a disregard for canine as for human life. She 
jumps quite as readily upon a hound as upon 



58 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTINQ FIELD. 

a man, and thinks nothing at all of breaking 
the ribs of the best animal in the pack by 
riding over him. That is a very minor 
catastrophe. 

" Hurt, is he ? Oh ! I'm awfully sorry, 
but it can't signify very much. There are 
plenty besides him, and he should not have 
got in my way." 

Hounds are simply so many speckled dogs 
to her, that have no particular value, and 
one appears exactly like the other. The 
proprietor's legitimate anger, something of 
which reaches her ears, seems utterly absurd 
and unreasonable. With a contemptuous 
shrug of the shoulders, she exclaims : 

" Dear me ! What a fuss, to be sure, and 
all about nothing. Just as if it mattered ! " 

When the huntsman is making a cast, and 
requires elbow room, she dashes ruthlessly in 
amongst the pack, and scatters them like a 
hail-storm. 

Fortunately, there are a few external signs by 



THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 59 

which the dangerous woman may generally 
be distinguished. To begin wdtli, her attire is 
nearly always wanting in that quiet, unostenta- 
tious neatness which characterizes the thorough 
sportswoman. She usually wears a blue, 
green, or peculiar coloured habit wdiich does 
not fit, and is evidently made by a second or 
third rate tailor. The skirt ba2:3 round the 
waist, and the body is adorned with showy 
brass buttons. Not infrequently she appears 
in earrings or brooch, and makes liberal 
display of a gold watch chain and a bunch of 
charms. Her tie is either a dummy, or else 
so execrably tied that it works round under 
her ear. It is almost a certainty that her hair 
will come down during some period of the 
day, and her hat is always crooked, or else 
battered in. If hounds run well, her face 
grows very red. She is flushed and excited 
by the unwonted exercise. Iler reins are 
loose, her seat unsteady, and her hunting crop 
affords much inconvenience, especially the 



60 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

lash, which is perpetually getting entangled 
in something or other. The dangerous woman 
rarely, if ever, sits square on her horse, with 
the left shoulder brought well forward, and 
elbows into her side. She goes flopping, 
and jogging, and jolting along, in a manner 
which, though painful to the beholder, must 
be infinitely more so to the unfortunate steed 
who is doomed to carry her. 

Men as a body regard her with detestation, 
and never lose an opportunity of expressing 
their aversion. 

Every defect is sneered at and magnified. 
Not one but has some story to tell against 
her, or who owes the dangerous woman a 
grudge. 

They resent her presence in the hunting 
field, and not without cause. Her ignorance 
incenses, and her rashness irritates, until she 
cheats herself out of the admiration ever due 
to courage. 

The fact is, if the men must be knocked 



THE DANGEROUS WOMAN. 61 

down like ninepins, they would much prefer 
the process being performed by one of their 
own sex. At least they could then have the 
gratification of expressing their sentiments in 
forcible language, and allow wounded feeling 
to find a natural outlet. 

It is a hard case to be forced to bottle it 
up, because a wild and dangerous female 
chooses to bowl you over and to treat you 
without any ceremony whatever. 



r.i?^^^^ 



v.— THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 

The sporting horse dealer constitutes a feature 
of almost every hunting field. He comes out 
with the intention of selling his horses, and 
keeping that end steadily in view, manages 
very successfully to combine business with 
pleasure. When pursuing the fox, he honestly 
feels that he is enjoying himself, and yet not 
neglecting his profession. 

Not infrequently he is a gentleman by 
birth, specious and plausible, whose apparent 
candour puts you off your guard and over- 
comes your better judgment. It is as well to 
fight shy of him. Your dealings with him 
are seldom, if ever, quite satisfactor}^ and you 
have no redress. He holds you hard and 



THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 63 

fast to your bargain, and refuses to take back 
an unsuitable animal, except at a ruinous 
price. In short, the gentleman dealer will 
nearly always contrive to get the better of 
you in some way or other, whilst, if a quarrel 
arises, he invariably manages to have the law 
on his side. We dismiss him, since it is not 
of him we would speak, but of the regular, 
old-fashioned sporting dealer, who gains a 
more or less precarious livelihood from his 
profession, and who, five times out of six, is a 
real good fellow. 

If he recommends you an animal which he 
has ridden to hounds himself, his recommen- 
dation can generally be depended upon. He 
knows exactly what a hunter ought to ])e, 
and in what requirements he fails. He has a 
decided advantage there, for he judges from 
personal experience, whereas non-sporting 
dealers are either forced to buy from looks 
alone or else from hearsay; never a very 
reliable method. You need not blame them 



61 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

for deceiving you, for are not they themselves 
continually being deceived ? 

There is no greater mistake than for people 
to imagine, as they so constantly do, that 
their pet dealer is infallible. Alas ! poor man, 
he is frequently taken in, and moreover, per- 
petually subjected to very severe losses and 
disappointments. Folk in a hunting county 
will not buy without a trial with hounds. 
They send back the horses lame, coughing, or 
so seriously injured as to greatly detract from 
their value. The dealer has to bear the risk 
of seeing his property depreciated for the sake 
of the chance of getting rid of it altogether. 
Then, again, he sells what he believes to be a 
sound, honest animal at a good profit. The 
nag drops down dead, whilst being conveyed 
in the train to his future destination, and a 
post-mortem examination reveals that he has 
been suffering from abscess on the brain, a clot 
of blood, aneurism, or a hundred other unsus- 
pected causes. Here, again, the dealer has to 



THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. C5 

put up v/itli the loss. Frost too has to be 
taken into calculation. If the earth is ice- 
bound no one will buy, and there is very 
little money to be made when some twenty or 
thirty horses are standing week after week in 
the stable, eating their heads off. As a rule, 
dealers are not nearly so black as they are 
painted. There may be a certain proportion 
of rogues amongst their ranks, just as there 
are in every other walk of life, but at the same 
time, honest, respectable ones exist, whose 
chief anxiety is to suit their customers and 
study their interests. Buyers are often un- 
reasonable and almost impossible to please. 

If they buy a horse, and he does not happen 
to turn out well, they at once abuse the 
dealer, and declare they have been done. 
Temper, want of condition, sprains, splints 
that develop themselves subsequent to the 
day of purchase, in fact, every ailment — and 
they are many — to which the noble animal is 

heir are all laid at the same door ; and liow- 

5 



66 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

ever straigiitforward a dealer may be, he 
seldom gets the credit of being so. People 
are so horribly and ridiculously suspicious, 
that they prefer to believe the worst, rather 
than the best of one another, and the}^ fail to 
see how often they defeat their own ends by 
jumping without sufficient grounds at the 
conclusion that their neighbour is deliberately 
trying to cheat them. Why ! in nine cases 
out of ten it is to their neighbour's interest to 
treat them well, rather than badly, and self- 
interest, as we all know, is the great motive 
power which rules the world. 

We maintain that, whatever the sporting 
horse dealer's faults may be— and as, like the 
rest of us, he is only mortal, the presumption 
is he has some — he is a truly gallant fellow, 
and the harder he rides the more you may 
trust him. 

He lives quietly, eats and drinks sparingly, 
retires to rest at ten o'clock every night of 
his life, rises with the lark, writes all his 



THE SPOUTING HOUSE DEALER. G7 

business letters, attends to his accounts, and 
superintends Lis stable arrangements before 
he iroes a-huntin":, and has nerves of iron, 
wrists of steel. lie sallies forth on some 
gay four or five-year-old. The animal has 
probably only been in his stables a couple 
of days, and he knows absolutely nothing 
about it. He is a tall, muscular young 
fellow, with a keen, hawk-like eye, and 
long legs that curl themselves well round a 
horse and make him yield to their compelling 
pressure. It takes a great deal to unseat 
him, as the young ones soon find out. Our 
friend trots out to covert at a steady pace, 
eschewing company. He feels his animal's 
mouth and otherwise makes acquaintance 
with him. If he is a brute, it does not 
take him long to discover the fact, and 
he calculates the highest price obtainable, 
and where to place him. To keep a bad 
horse never pays, yet on the other hand the 
cood ones sell themselves. No subtle per- 



r * 



€8 OUE IEIENU8 IN THE HUNTING PIELH. 

suasion or half truths are required in their 
case. 

Once arrived at the meet the manners of 
the young one are quickly ascertained. If 
they are nice our sporting dealer allows him 
to mix freely with the crowd, riding him with 
long reins, and making him bend well to the 
bridle hand. His friends and customers 
exchange salutations. 

" Ilulloa, H. ! " they exclaim. " AVhat sort 
of a horse is that you're on ? Is he a 
clipper ? " 

II. smiles gently — there is something 
singularly childlike about his expression 
when he smiles — and says : 

" Don't know yet, sir ; but I'll be able to 
give you a more satisfactory answer after to- 
day. At least," he adds solto voce, " I hope 
so." 

After a while the hounds find, and 11., who 
is averse from revealing his stable secrets to 
the whole field before he knows them him- 



THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 6<) 

self, starts olT, taking care to ride a little 
wide of the pack, but nevertheless keeping 
them well within view. Before long, a fence 
comes across his path, and fortunately it is 
just such a one as he would wish to meet 
with, being a thin buUfmch, with a shallow 
ditch on the take-off side, over which a good 
horse can jump, and a bad one scramble 
without much risk of a fall. 

lie gives the " young 'un " a touch of the 
spur, and the willing animal cocks his small 
spirited ears, and bounds over like an india- 
rubber ball. That will do. H. has already 
confidence in his steed, and sends him striding 
along the green pastures with a vengeance ; 
for hounds b}^ this time have settled to the 
line, and are running at racing pace over the 
sound old turf. 

A couple more fences, cleared lightl}^ and 
well, prove that his mount knows his business, 
and is worth at least a hundred and fifty if 
not two hundred guineas. H. now has no 



70 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

hesitation in joining the bulk of the liehl. 
He is prepared to show them how the 
" young 'un " can perform, and not hide his 
light under a bushel by riding a solitary line. 

At the first check he casts a rapid glance 
around and takes in all the bearings of 
the t>it nation. A stiff piece of timber, over 
four feet in height, divides him from the 
calmly expectant crowd, who being on the 
right side, and in the same field with the 
hounds, look with pleasurable curiosity al 
the rash horseman on the wron"". 

This, however, is our friend H 's oppor- 
tunity ; one which he contrives to make most 
days when he has the satisfaction of finding 
himself on a decentl}?- good hunter. Per- 
sonally he knows no fear, being a man of 
dauntless courage, so he sets the young horse 
at the stout ash rails, with the determination 
of one who will not be denied, and who, by 
hook or by crook, intends to get to the other 
side. The good beast, feeling this, clears 



THE SPOETING HORSE DEALER. 71 

them brilliant!}^, and with a foot to spare. 
A murmur of approval runs through the 
crowd as PL quietly pulls him back into a 
walk, and looks to the right and to the left, 
with a bland air which seems to say, " Gentle- 
men, that's nothing, nothing at all. Wait 
until you see us take something really worth 
calling a jump." 

This little episode is not without result. 
Presently, as hounds are still feathering un- 
certainly about the ridges and furrows, one 
of H."s oldest customers approaches, and 
takes a prolonged survey of his animal. 

" Niceish horse that you're on to-day," he 
says laconically. 

" Yes, sir, very," II. replies. " Sort of 
horse would carry 3'ou like a bird. See 
what loins he has, and what a back. That's 
the stamp gentlemen want to get over a 
country with, and be carried in safety." 

" Very likely, but I'm not requiring a 
hunter just now. I'm full." 



72 OUR FEIENrS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

" Indeed sir ! More's the pity ; for this is 
the nicest youn^ horse I've been on for a loner 
time. They are not to be bought every 
day. Perhaps you would oblige me by 
throwing 3'oiir leg over him, not with a 
view to purchasing, but merely to see if 
your opinion is the same as mine. lie 
gives you a wonderful feel over his fences, 
and is as quiet and temperate as a seasoned 
hunter." 

After some little further persuasion, the 
customer does as desired, and descending from 
liis own horse, mounts the young one, whose 
attention being concentrated on the hounds, 
stands quite submissively during the opera- 
tion. His present rider merely intends to 
canter him round the field, feeling that 
against his better judgment he has weakl}'- 
yielded to H.'s solicitations, but hounds sud- 
denly take up the scent and fling forward at 
a great rate. Before he can change back 
they are stealing ahead, and he is bound to 



THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 73 

Stick to his mount, unless he would lose sight 
of them altogether. 

A brilliant twenty minutes follow over the 
very cream of the country. Fences are big, 
and towards the end of it men begin to 
tumble about like ninepins. A wide bottom 
is productive of much " grief," but the 
" young 'un " faces it like a lion, and carries 
him in grand style. 

After all, what does it matter if his stables 
are full ? He begins making a variety of 
plans as to how he can turn old Eattletrap 
into the cow-shed, and run him up a tem- 
porary box until the spring, when he will be 
turned out to grass ; how he will find a good 
home for Glorvina, whose fore legs are daily 
getting more and more shaky ; and how if 
the worst comes to the worst, he might part 
with Slinker, who can never quite be de- 
pended upon at either water or timber. In 
short, those twenty minutes produce a most 
curious revolution in his state of mind, for 



74 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTIKG FIELD. 

whereas he began by being certain that he 
didn't want another horse, he ends by feeling 
convinced that he cannot possibly do without 
one, and shouki be absolutely culpable if he 
did not avail himself of the present oppor- 
tunity. " Buy when you can, not when you 
must,'' his inward monitor advises. 

Meanwhile 11. has had an unusually 
pleasant and comfortable ride on his custo- 
mer's confidential hunter, and has kept close 
behind that Gfentleman all the wav, so as to 
pick him up in case of accidents. None 
occur, fortunately, and each fence well cleared 
adds an extra five-pound note to his property 
When at length hounds run into their fox, 
and he is asked to put a price upon the 
young horse, he looks shrewdly at his cus- 
tomer's flushed and beaming face, and replies 
without any symptoms of hesitation : 

" I can't take a penny less than two 
hundred and twenty guineas for him, sir, 
even from yo\x. I should ask most people 



THE SrOETlNG IIOItSE DEALER. 75 

two fifty, but I should like to suit you if I 
can." 

The customer has been too much delighted 
by the horse's performances to make any 
demur or haggle over the sum demanded, 
and before II. leaves the hunting field, the 
good young animal on whom he sallied forth 
in the morning has passed out of his pos- 
session. Sometimes he wishes he could keep 
them a little long^er, but he has no cause to 
regret the transaction, having cleared over a 
hundred net profit. 

This, however, is one of his lucky da3\s, 
and it is quite on the cards that a great por- 
tion of this hundred will dwindle away in pay- 
ing for the unlucky ones, on which occasions 
he derives neither pleasure nor remuneration. 
But that's the way of the profession. If good 
horses did not pay for the bad, trade would 
come to a standstill altogether, and leave a 
very sorry balance at the banker's at the end 
of the year. It makes a thorough hunter 



76 OUR I'EIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

come dear, l)ut what's to be clone ? Dealers 
must live. 

Apart from this, our friend H. is entitled 
to the very highest praise for the truly 
gallant fashion in which he risks his neck on 
behalf of his customers. It is he who ascer- 
tains for them what an animal is worth, and 
many and many a nasty, unpleasant ride 
must he have during the process. He has to 
put up with kickers, rearers, rank refusers, 
curs, brutes of all kinds, to accommodate 
himself to hard mouths and light mouths, 
rough paces and smooth, fast and slow, 
rogues and roarers, in short every species of 
animal, good, bad and indifferent. 

The great majorit}^ of men who go out 
hunting are tilled with self-pride, and think 
an immense deal of themselves if they cross 
a country successfully on tried performers 
wdiom lliey know intimatel}'. Ii. manages 
to keep with hounds on the very worst of 
nags, and by his patience, courage and line 



THE SL'OiaiNG- ILOESE DEALEK. 77 

lioriiemansliip frequently succeeds iii con- 
vertiiiL!" them into hunters. 

Do not let us, then, grudge him his profits 
— they are not as large as they seem — and if 
any man deserves them, he does. He has to 
subsist like the rest of us, but he will not 
" do " you intentionally, and if the sporting 
horse dealer were to disappear from our 
hunting fields he would leave a decided gap, 
and prove a very serious loss to most people 
who follow hounds. We want him, and 
cannot get on without him, whilst his gal- 
lantry and courage call forth our highest 
admiration. Long may he continue to hunt 
and give us the pleasure of witne.sshig his 
gallery jumps. 

The humorous dealer is another type fre- 
quently met with. 

He is an older and a heavier man, who 
rides great, fme weight-can iers, and generally 
occupies a forward place when hounds run. 
By the bright, sparkling and persuasive wit 



78 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

of his tongue lie secures many a customerj 
who begins by laughing at his jokes, and ends 
by buying his horses. He is full of anecdote, 
gossip and story, and has the ready tact and 
happy knack of suiting his conversation to 
his listener. To the elderly gentleman he 
talks politics, and reveals any deficiency in 
the animal he desires to sell with a peculiarly 
magnanimous frankness that produces an 
excellent effect. For the youni^er o'eneration 
he has always some hun mot read}", or some 
choice, very choice tale adapted to their 
intellects and taste. With ladies he is simple, 
sentimental, cordial, poetical and loftily 
philosophical by turns. He is a clever 
fellow, who makes a profound study of human 
nature, and knows the foibles both of men 
and women by heart. His powers of obser- 
vation stand him in good stead, and teach 
the wisdom and necessity of humouring cus- 
tomers. Perhaps he laughs at them behind 
their back, but he manages to dissemble his real 



THE SPOETING ]10RSE DEALER. 79 

opinions on most ordinary occasions. Never- 
tlieless, he lias strong instinctive likes and dis- 
likes, which could not be otherwise with his 
quick brains and ready tongue. He hates a 
dullard or a fool, and holds him in supreme 
contempt. lie cannot always succeed in con- 
cealing his feelings, though he flatters himself 
that he does. 

Provided a man treats him well, he will 
treat him well in return, but if he attempt to 
display any reprehensible " cuteness," or be- 
haves in an ungentlemanly fashion, then he 
feels no compunction in paying him back in 
his own coin. If for interest's sake he does 
not sell him a downright bad horse, he will 
mercilessly castigate him with his tongue, 
and humble him to the very dust by a storm 
of shrewd, unanswerable remarks full of 
worldly wisdom and native wit. Few men 
can beat him in argument or repartee. lie 
wields those formidable weapons with a 
dexterity conferred by long practice and 



80 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

much natural ability, and moreover de- 
lights in the effect they produce. Nothing 
pleases him more than to squash an enemy 
who has incurred his righteous wrath, but 
it requires a good deal of provocation to 
draw him into one of these contests, and it is 
only when his probity is doubted, his word 
disbelieved, or his feelings wounded that he 
shows his claws. What would the British 
lion be worth if he were always chained up 
in an iron cage, and could not fight on 
occasion ? Is a man to be insulted with 
impunity, simply because he is a horse 
dealer? No, certainly not. He is made of 
flesh and blood, that quivers and throbs 
under a smarting word, just like everyone 
else. 

Our humorous friend is a man of consider- 
able culture, who takes an interest in all the 
leading topics of the day. Moreover, he has 
a taste for reading, and gets through a good 
many works of miscellaneous fiction. A sen- 



THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 81 

timental novel, ending up with love nnd 
matrimony, pleases him immensely, for be- 
neath his somewhat rough exterior beats ^ 
warm and kindly heart, easil}^ touched by 
romance. Altoo-ether he is oricfinal and a 
character ; differing from ordinary, common- 
place humanity, who sometimes fail to under- 
stand him. In consequence, he now and 
then makes enemies, who dub him forward, 
vulgar, pert ; but his friends far outnumber 
his foes, and they laud " Old G." up to the 
skies, and talk of him as a first-rate " chap." 
They laugh immoderately at his witticisms 
and caustic observations, and wherever he 
happens to be, a little circle of admirers in- 
variably surround him, eager to hear the 
last good story, and to repeat it to their 
comrades. " Old CI." is one of the best- 
known men in the hunting field, and on a 
dull day when scent is poor and things slack 
all round, he seldom fails to enliven the pro- 
ceedings. All the same he never loses siMit 

6 



83 OUR fEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

of the main chance, and whilst laughing, 
jesting and talking, effects many a " deal." 
He keeps a good class of horse, and as a rule 
treats his customers liberally and well. Eub 
him the right side instead of the wrong, and 
there is no better fellow in the world than 
" Old G." His tongue will only amuse, and 
neither offend nor insult, if you possess 
sufficient insight to discern that he is not one 
of the baker's dozen, turned out so freely by 
Nature's mould, but possesses a distinct in- 
dividuality of his own. 

Then we have the stout and affable dealer, 
of the rosy cheeks, blue eyes and benignant 
smile, who looks rippling over with the milk 
of human kindness. His manners are quite 
charming ; so soft, suave and persuasive, 
and there is a sort of innocent frankness 
about him, which it needs the utmost 
moral courage to resist. He carries you 
away insensibly. Those unctuous utterances 
of his possess an irresistible fascination, 



THE SPORTING HORSE DEALER. 83 

and cast a glamour over your clearer judg- 
ment. 

He comes out hunting on a compact 
jumping cob, as sensible as a man, and in a 
sober way thoroughly enjoys the chase, 
though he does not profess to ride hard. He 
has a quick eye for a horse, and always has 
a useful lot in his stables, and is so courteous 
and fair spoken that he can persuade a cus- 
tomer into buying almost anything he 
chooses. Not until the customer is re- 
moved from the magic of his presence 
does he remember that he really has 
not had much of a trial, and that the 
fences jumped were absurdly small. 

Other dealers there are many. It would 
take us too long to describe the different 
types, but taken as a body, all hunting 
people owe them a debt of thanks, and 
should hold out the hand of friendship 
to the men who find them good horses 
with which to enjoy their favourite pursuit. 



VI.— THE MAN WHO GOES EIRST. 

The hunting field is a mimic world, on whose 
stage an immense number of different passions 
are represented. Pleasure, pain, envy, fear, 
malice, mortification, excitement and en- 
thusiasm all play their part ; sometimes one, 
sometimes the other preponderating, accord- 
ing to the nature and temperament of the 
individual. No deception is possible. 

Every man, whatever his pretensions may 
be, soon finds his proper level, and is esti- 
mated strictly according to his merits. The 
coward is known as a coward, the impostor 
as an impostor. They cannot take in their 
friends and neighbours by any semblance of 
courage, or by any amount of bragging. 
Their foibles are pitilessly clear to the sharp 



THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 85 

eyes by which they are surrounded, and he 
who fancies himself a hero in the field is 
often spoken of with contumely and con- 
tempt. One thing is certain — folk are always 
more ready to pick holes than to praise. 
Human nature finds it much easier to censure 
than to laud. 

But fond as people undoubtedly are of 
placing each other's weaknesses under a 
strong magnifying glass, and mercilessly dis- 
secting them, there is one man who escapes 
the process, and for whose gallantry and 
manly courage they have nothing but un- 
qualified admiration. 

I speak of the man who goes first. The 
man who, whenever hounds run for ten 
minutes at a time, is sure to be seen close at 
their sterns, performing prodigies of valour 
and charging fences, oxers and bullfinches 
with a brave indifierence that makes us feel 
he is somehow fashioned of stouter stufl' 
than ourselves. 



86 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

His comrades entertain a profound venera- 
tion for him. Some few of the younger 
generation try vainly to emulate his deeds. 
What quality do these youngsters lack, that 
so small a proportion can compete with him ? 
Do they lose their heads ? Do they want his 
experience, his coolness and nerve? Who 
knows? Anyhow, no one who sees him in 
the hunting field can refrain from acknow- 
ledging that he is a dauntless and lion-hearted 
fellow, who, unlike the majority of the human 
race, does not appear to know the common 
sensation of physical fear. Do youth and 
a sound constitution confer this advantage ? 
Not always ; for sometimes he has left his 
best years behind him, and is the father of a 
large and annually increasing family. 

When hounds run hard, nothing can stop 
him. With them he must and will be. 

He has an eye like a hawk — bright, quick, 
keen, and no sooner does he land into a field 
than he immediately determines upon his 



THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 87 

point of exit, and rides straight for it, not 
deviating a liair's breadth to the right or to 
the left. This power of promptly making up 
his mind is invaluable, and makes slow horses 
appear fast, bad gallopers good. If he fails 
to perceive a gap, or weak place in the fence 
ahead, he goes the shortest way, and simply 
chances it, taking his risk of what may be on 
the other side. Crash ! fly the timbers from a 
rotten oxer. Splash! rise the green waters 
of an unsuspected pond, into which his horse 
has jumped. What cares he ? 

With a flounder, a scramble, and a " Come, 
get up," he is once more careering over the 
springy pastures, urging his good steed to 
his speed, in order to make up for lost 
ground. 

Fence after fence he throws behind him, 
reckless of consequences, never looking back 
unless it be when he has succeeded in clear- 
ing an extra wide ditch, to call out some 
warning word to his followers, bidding them 



88 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD 

put on the pace. Many of them are good 
men and hard, but they cannot touch their 
leader, who in every instance points out the 
way and is not to be headed. 

It is a brave eight, when they reach some 
almost unjumpable place, to see the man who 
goes first, whilst others are hesitating and 
drawing rein, crash right into the very midst 
of it, regardless of danger, and a sorry one 
when, as is frequently the case, he and his 
horse roll head over heels in horrible con- 
fusion of arms, heels and legs. But even then 
he is undefeated. He rises from mother earth 
with a pale, smiling countenance and a 
muddy coat, and is up and away before any- 
one has had the heart to follow his example. 

" Not hurt, old fellow ? " shout out the 
little band after his receding form, as they 
proceed to take advantage of the handy gap 
made. 

His head is swimming, his eyes blinded by 
black specks, his neck so stiff he cannot turn 



THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 89 

it, but he calls back, " No ; not a bit. Only 
a trifle shaken," So saying he crushes his 
battered hat well down over his mud-stained 
brow, and without more ado proceeds to 
charge some equally formidable obstacle. 

The wonder is that he has a single whole 
bone left in his body, and yet strange to say, 
although he gets a very fair proportion of 
falls, he seldom meets with a bad one. The 
timorous old roadster crawling along the 
roads breaks his leg owing to his horse 
putting his foot into a drain. The habitual 
shirker smashes three ribs at a gap, where all 
he asks of his steed is to walk quietly through 
it. The man who goes first has escaped these 
and similar disasters. His courage protects 
him, and it really seems as if he possessed the 
power of communicating his own gallant 
spirit to the animals he bestrides. Anyhow, 
the dash and determination of the rider 
appear shared b}' his hunters. It is the 
rarest thin<z in the world to see one of them 



90 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

refuse with liim. They probably know that 
they must go whether they like it or not, and 
so wisely make up their equine minds to the 
inevitable. 

Our friend sells annually, and therefore 
commences the season with an entirely new 
lot. But that fact makes not the slightest 
difference to him. He very quickly ascertains 
what his summer purchases are worth, drafts 
those that are bad, and proceeds to put heart 
and "jumping powder" into the good. Early 
in May he sends his whole stud to the 
hammer, asserting that he is not rich enough 
to retain favourites. As a rule his horses are 
nothing particular to look at. They are 
mostly well bred, but lean as greyhounds, 
and bear sundry marks and blemishes. 
Nevertheless they fetch fabulous prices, and 
his sale is always one of the great events of 
the London season. People have seen his 
hunters going in the field, and are willing to 
open their purse-strings wider than their 



THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 91 

wont, in order to secure such extraordinary 
performers. 

Need we say that they are frequently dis- 
appointed in the purchases made, and dis- 
cover, when too late, that it is the man, and 
not the horse, who is extraordinary? They 
cannot buy his iron nerve, or his uncon- 
querable spirit. If they could, no price would 
be too great to pay for them. They are 
divine gifts conferred but rarely, and often 
thrown away upon the possessor who has it 
in his power to be a leader of men, not merely 
of the hunting field. 

A large proportion of the gentlemen and 
ladies who pursue the fox are very much 
given to drawing the long bow, and to en- 
larging on their own performances directly 
the dangers of the day are well over. Seated 
before a blazing fire, or with their legs com- 
fortably stowed away under the mahogany, it 
is an exceedingly gratifying thing to say, " I 
did this and that. Did you see me ? " 



92 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

But the man who goes first is as remark- 
able for his modesty as for his courage. He 
never talks of what he has done, perhaps 
because he knows that there is no occasion 
for him to glorify his deeds by self-encomium. 
They are patent to all the world, and require 
not the laudation of Number One. To listen 
to him, you would think that every soul out 
hunting had seen the run better than himself. 
He never enters into a discussion as to where 
so-and-so was at a given period of the day's 
amusement, and if asked who broke down the 
big bit of timber which let in all the field, or 
who showed the way first, over that awkward, 
treacherous-banked brook, invariably says he 
can't remember, though he knows quite well 
it was himself. 

No one is so keen a sportsman, nor so 
good a fellow as the man who goes first. 
Although no doubt he is not exempt from 
those emulative feelings shared by most hard- 
riding men, he will always stop to pick up a 



THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 93 

fallen friend, and even lose his place of honour 
in order to catch and bring back that friend's 
riderless horse. 

He does not speak much out hunting, being 
too intent on the proceedings of the hounds 
to indulge freely in the pastime, known as 
" coffee-housing." Nevertheless the ladies all 
unite in worshipping him, and are his most 
devoted admirers. They think more of a 
word from him than of an hour's conversation 
with an ordinary individual. For where is 
the woman, young or old, who does not 
prostrate herself before the shrine of courage 
and who does not entertain a profound 
reverence for its possessor ? So great is the 
enthusiasm excited by our friend in the 
female breast, that every now and again, 
some rash and infatuated young person will 
take it into her head to constitute him pilot. 
Woe be to that young person. Half a dozen 
fences soon prove the temerity of her resolu- 
tion. In hunting parlance she is quickly 



94 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTINO FIELD, 

*' choked off," and gives up the attempt to 
follow so desperate a leader with a sigh, 
realizing the danger to which she exposes 
herself in endeavouring to do as he does. 
But he heeds not the fair sex. Sport is his 
bride and his passion. Next to hunting he 
places salmon-fishing, and after salmon fishing- 
shooting. The chase of the " thief of the 
world " comes, however, a long way first in 
his estimation. 

He is the Master's right-hand man, being 
indefatigable in getting up poultry, wire 
funds, &c. The huntsman treats him with 
peculiar respect, and nearh^ always accepts 
his opinion as to which way the hunted fox 
has gone. Indeed, few people get so near a 
view of Master Eeynard. 

A large number of the field repose such 
unlimited confidence in the man who goes 
first that they cannot even conceive of his 
being thrown out or taking a wrong turn. 
They follow his movements with sheepish 



THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 95 

obsequiousness, and are perfectl}^ content to 
hunt liim, without either hounds, fox, or 
huntsman. He has been known to lead a 
numerous continn;ent for three or four miles 
over a stiff line of country, just for the joke 
of the thing, knowing all the time that the 
pack had run to ground in an entirely oppo- 
site direction. When he pulled up and his 
astonished followers suddenly exclaimed, 
" Where are the hounds ? " with a quiet smile 
of appreciation for their sportsman-like pro- 
pensities he answered demurely : 

" The hounds ! Oh ! they're at Grange- 
cross, trying to bolt their fox from a drain. 
I thought you knew." 

" Then, what the dickens did you mean by 
leading us this dance ? " 

" Dance, gentlemen ! May I not be per- 
mitted to qualify my young horse for our 
county steeplechases ? " 

But even such a manoeuvre as this cannot 
succeed in freeing him altogether from his 



96 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

train of blind admirers. They consider it 
more honour and glory to be in the same 
field with him than with the hounds. He is 
their fox, their sport, their everything. Such 
adulation is flattering, but it has its draw- 
backs. The truth is, the man who goes fir.st 
is regarded as the hero of his particular 
Hunt, whether he like it or not. He cannot 
escape from the celebrity earned by his 
gallant and fearless conduct. Are we foolish 
to hold him in such esteem ? to look up to a 
person because he jumps more and bigger 
fences than we do ourselves ? The answer is, 
No. 

Our friend may not be intellectual, he may 
be slow of wit, dull of conversation, feeble at 
repartee, but for all that he is fashioned of 
the stuff of which heroes are made. He 
would lead his men on some desperate charge 
were he a soldier, just as coolly as he rides 
at a double oxer ; or if a sailor, die fighting 
at his ^uns as calmly and bravely as he bores 



THE MAN WHO GOES FIRST. 97 

the way through some apparently impene- 
trable bullfinch. 

So lon<T as our huntinc^ fields continue to 
produce such men as these, no one can say 
that the sons of England have become effete. 
The gallant spirit is still there which has 
enabled them to win so much fame in the 
past, and will yet win them fame in the 
future. 

For the man who goes first out hunting is 
no mere weakling, but a fine, determined 
fellow, full of manly qualities and vigorous 
vitality which any national emergency would 
call into life. One thing is certain. Where- 
ever he may be, he will always gain the 
applause of his fellow men and exercise a 
powerful influence over them. 



YII.— THE YENEEABLE DANDY. 

Dear old fellow ! How often have we not 
smiled at, and laughed over his little foibles 
and vanities, and loved him at heart, much 
in the same w^ay as we love Thackeray's 
immortal Major Pendennis. His artifices 
are so innocent, the small deceptions that he 
practises so thoroughly guileless and trans- 
parent that they fail to irritate as artifice and 
deceit generally do. 

Seen from an appropriate distance, he may 
indeed recall Keats' celebrated line — " A thing 
of beauty is a joy for ever," but on nearer 
inspection, his exquisitely glossy, black wig, 
worn low on each side of the ears, proclaims 
itself unmistakably to be an artificial cover- 
irg ; whilst the carefully curled whiskers and 



THE VENERABLE DANDY. 99 

moustache of which he is so proud, recall to 
our minds sundry advertisements that daily 
greet our eyes in the newspapers anent 
*' Nuda Veritas," " Mexican Eenewer," and so 
forth. 

Granted that art and not Nature has pro- 
duced the captivating results centred in the 
person of our venerable Dandy, shall we 
admire him au}^ the less on that account? 
No, certainly not. 

Few people can deny that his jetty wig is 
a beautiful thing in its way, fashioned most 
cunningly and artistically. Those two little 
touches of roun-e on either cheek-bone have a 

O 

pleasing effect, although they are perfectly 
patent to the beholder. Black and red go 
well together, and the contrast between our 
old buck's complexion and his hair reminds us 
of some pretty, fresh country lass. 

Nor can it be gainsaid that the two 
dazzling rows of false teeth which gleam so 
brilliantly from beneath his stiff, military 

7* 



100 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

moustache, are decidedly pleasanter to look at 
than one or two irregular yellow stumps, 
taking precarious hold, like mouldy tomb- 
stones in a deserted churcli3"ard. Yes, when 
we look at our venerable friend, we can for- 
give all his little simple contrivances to ap- 
pear young and boyish ; for, at least they im- 
pose upon nobody but himself, and if they 
render his child-like spirit happy, so much 
the better. The weaknesses in which he 
indulges are mostly harmless. They neither 
hurt nor offend his neighbours, and the pre- 
sumption is that they arise from an inordi- 
nate desire to please and to secure golden 
opinions. 

Poor old Dandy ! By all means keep up 
thy illusions, so long as they afford thee any 
satisfaction. Many of us in our hearts can 
even feel a certain sympathy for them, since 
the process of getting bald, and wrinkled, 
and aged, and seeing others pass us in life's 
race, is not agreeable to the majority. Few 



THE VENERABLE DANDY. 101 

people like leaving tlieir youth and good 
looks behind them, or seeing the pitiless 
years stamping themselves upon brow, and 
face, and form. 

All women hate it, and most men, and so 
they try to remain juvenile as long as they 
can, and take first to one cosmetic, then to 
another, in the vam hope of putting off the 
evil day, or at least preventing their friends 
and neighbours from guessing that it has al- 
ready arrived. And they Hatter themselves 
they succeed, only they don't. Human 
beings are seldom lenient to each other's age, 
and have a pitilessly correct way of scoring 
up dates. Births, deaths and marriages serve 
as excellent pegs for the memory. 

When the venerable Dandy first rises of a 
morning, he has a bad quarter of an hour. 
What horrible tales does not the glass tell ; 
what ghastly seams and furrows it reveals ! 
From brow to chin he sees nothing but a 
mass of wrinkles that deepen day by day. 



102 OUK FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

But the mysteries of the toilet once gone 
through, and no man — not even the old 
gentleman's valet — is acquainted with their 
subtle entirety, he descends upon the world 
at large, a different creature, and airs him- 
self in the sunshine like a bird of gay, if 
borrowed, plumage. 

How erect he sits in his saddle, after the 
difficulty of getting there is once overcome, 
and he rides happily off to the meet, 
conscious that he is well-dressed and looking 
his best. He struggles gallantly with his 
seventy summers, and fights Old Age inch by 
inch, retiring with a brave front, although 
worsted periodically in the combat. He 
draws in the small of his back, and inflates 
his padded chest as he passes a couple of 
pretty young ladies, seated in a sniart pony- 
trap, drawn by a quick-stepping, hogmaned 
pony. The}^ obtain a fine view of his lovely 
teeth, accompanied by an irresistible smile, 
as, bowing at the shrine of youth and beauty, 



THE VENERABLE DANDY. 103 

he takes off his hat with an elaborate flourish. 
What a sheen there is on that same hat ! 
All the " Mashers " of the hunt are dying to 
find out who his hatter is, and where he 
dwells. Such secrets as these, however, our 
venerable friend never reveals. Time after 
time have they invited him to dinner and 
primed him with old port — his favourite 
beverage — but althougli he grows very cha.tty 
under its influence, he continually diverts the 
conversation wlien it reaches too personal or 
inquisitive a point. He keeps his own 
counsel and makes no confidences on such 
important matters. 

The whole county covet his receipt for boot 
varnish. It is both their envy and their ad- 
miration. But although numerous attempts 
have been made to induce him to part with 
the information, not a single endeavour has 
ever succeeded. Eumour says that he himself 
concocts the precious fluid and will not even 
allow his valet to witness the operation, for 



104 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

fear of being betraj^ed. However that may 
be, no one else's boots are so well turned out 
as his, or possess so smooth a polish or such 
delicately rose-tinted tops. Added to this, 
the flexibility, softness and spotless purity of 
his leathers drive all the gentlemen's t^entle- 
men to despair. Labour as they will, they 
cannot produce the same results. Their lemon 
juice, their various acids, their pipeclay and 
breeches powder are just so much waste of 
money. 

Whether they like it or not, the younger 
generation are forced to admit that the 
venerable Dandy is the best-dressed man in 
the whole hunting-field. His ties are irre- 
proachable, his pins miracles of neatness and 
sporting art, his coats fit without a crease, 
his waistcoats are quite unique, and as for his 
buttonholes they are simply perfection. But 
as he is beautiful, so he is prudent. Our 
dear and respected friend never sallies forth 
to the chase without a large white mackin- 



THE VENERABLE DANDY. 105 

tosh carefully rolled up and strapped to his 
saddle. 

There are some things about him which 
fairly pass the comprehension of his fellow 
sportsmen. For instance, not a soul out 
hunting can conceive how, when every one 
else is splashed with mud from top to toe, he 
manages to appear at the very end of the day 
with scarcely a stain ! If they have occasion 
to gallop down a road at full speed, receiv- 
ing many a shower-bath in the process, there 
he is cool, neat and smiling. 

Other people's horses bespatter them with 
dirt, he never seems to receive a clod. 
Their eyes get bunged up with the gritty 
compound thrown from the heels of the 
animal in front, his apparently never do. In 
fine weather his appearance completely defies 
change. Hat, gloves, breeches, boots, wig, 
whiskers and complexion are all as carefully 
preserved when hounds go home to their 
kennels as when they met. How he manages 



106 OUR EEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

it is a problem •which has puzzled even the 
very wisest heads of the Hunt, and one 
which they are totally unable to solve. 

Needless to say, the venerable Dandy never 
jumps. A fence might interfere sadly with 
his " make up," and the risk of discovery is 
too great. Fancy his feelings, if his lovely 
wig were to be caught in the thorny embrace 
of some ugly bullfinch, and left behind. Ugh ! 
the very thought sends a cold shudder down 
his spine. If such a thing as that were to 
happen really, then the sooner death came the 
better. He could never survive his shame. 
But our friend wisely avoids the chance of 
this or any similar catastrophe. He puts dis- 
cretion before valour, and contents himself 
with a line of gates, or if they happen to fail, 
he sticks perseveringly to the roads. 

Here he finds plenty of compan}^ people, in 
fact, of excellent pretensions, booted and 
spurred, and clad in pink. But sometimes 
these gentlemen are in too much of a hurry 



THE VENERABLE DANDY. 107 

for liim. They have no objection to tearing 
along the hard macadam, being valiant enough 
when those horrid dansjerous fences are re- 
moved from vision. Dandy, however, has 
long ago discovered that a quiet and sedate 
trot suits his stays and his teeth better than a 
more violent pace. Galloping shakes him 
and disarrays his person. Consequently, he 
not unfrequently finds himself in the society 
of the second horsemen, who pilot him cun- 
ningly about. His manners are very con- 
descendingf and affable. He knows how to 
converse with those occupying a lower grade, 
at the same time maintaining his dignity. No 
one ever takes liberties with him, for what- 
ever his faults may be, he is a thorough 
gentleman. Even his foibles are those of his 
class. 

His great delight is to get hold of some 
nervous young lady — especially if she is nice 
looking — who protests she hates the very 
sight of a fence. How prettily and tenderly 



lOS OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

lie soothes her fears, with what a manly 
courage tries to point out that they are un- 
founded, and how kindly he insists on her 
taking a sip from his flask, amorously ap- 
plying his own lips after those of the fair. 
The dear old fellow is never so happy as 
when buzzing about the ladies and over- 
whelming them with delicate attentions. He 
has a courtly grace, an old-fashioned, 
chivalrous manner towards the sex, which 
the}'' appreciate, and which they deplore as 
being out of date now-a-days. He hovers 
round a pretty woman, much as a blue-bottle 
hovers round a jam pot, and gets on quite 
confidential terms before some envious but 
rough-mannered youth has even received a nod. 
The young fellows affect to despise him and 
some of them treat him with scant courtesy, 
but nevertheless they are a little bit jealous 
of his social successes, and wonder " How the 
devil the women can put up with that old 
fool." Perhaps, after all, the latter are the 



THE VENERABLE DANDY, 10!) 

best judges of those subtle qualities that go to 
make up a gentleman, and the majority 
show a decided partiality for the venerable 
Dand3^ 

If he only says " a fine morning," or " a 
cold one," they will always smile back at him 
in return, and make some playful remark 
agreeable to the old fellow's vanity. 

Thoroughly happy is he on a bright, sun- 
shiny day. Then, like a butterfly, he spreads 
his wings, and the spirit within him soars on 
high. Fine overhead, dry underfoot, he asks 
for nothing more, and flits about, showering 
his little polite speeches on all those with 
whom he comes in contact. It does not take 
much to content him. He is an easily satisfied, 
guileless creature, who still retains a large 
capacity of enjoyment, which advancing years 
cannot suppress altogether. 

The spiteful say of him that he never by 
any chance has an original idea. Well ! how 
many people are there who have, except in 



110 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

the deceptive recesses of their own imagina- 
tion ? What they mistake for originality is 
generally only repetition. An idea is almost 
as scarce as a nugget of gold, but luckily 
most people get on fairly well without 
possessing any very large stock on which to 
draw. 

Dandy passes muster with the crowd, and 
is a pleasant-spoken, harmless, good-natured 
old beau, who desires nothing better in this 
world than to live and let live. His philo- 
sophy may not be profound, but it is of a very 
useful, work-a-day description. 

What if the men do laugh at him now and 
again, and he is unpleasantly conscious of the 
fact. He has the consolation of knowiii"? 
that their wives and sisters always take his 
part, and stick up for him in his absence. 
They realize that in spite of sundry little 
conceits and affectations, he possesses a 
simple, kindly nature, whose very craving 
for admiration is childlike and innocent. 



THE VENEKAELE DANDY. Ill 

They may see, but forgive his faults, and 
even ^vhile they smile at, love the venerable 
Dandy, who is so ready to pay them compli- 
ments, and as far as lies in his power to 
render himself asrreeable. 

Such is the brilliant side of the picture. 
Alas ! that there should be another. 

Why will the winds blow, and the rain 
descend to stamp as fraudulent an amiable 
old gentleman's harmless attempts to improve 
upon Nature ? Nature is not always kind, 
and often requires assistance, which, however, 
she not unfrequently resists. 

If the morning be very wet, Dandy consults 
his barometer, and does not attempt to face 
the elements. He cannot enjoy fox huntino- 
in bad weather, and therefore wisely makes 
up his mind to stop at home. But our 
cUmate is variable, and there are many days 
in winter when it is impossible to tell whether 
it will rain or not, and when even the 
meteorological report in the newspaper is 



112 OUE FEIEXDS IX THE HUNTING FIELD. 

thoroughly misguiding, and calculated to 
convey a wrong impression. 

Those are miserable and unfortunate days 
for our Dandy. 

He is thoroughly wretched once the deluge 
commences. True, his big white mackintosh 
almost entirely protects his frame, but as the 
wet raindrops chase each other down his cold 
face, he has a horrible conviction that his 
finely pencilled eyebrows, his carefully rouged 
cheeks, his cleverly dyed whiskers are fading 
away, washed into parti-coloured smudges, 
and leaving exposed to vision grey hairs, 
yellow crow's-feet and unsightly wrinkles. 
His first act on reaching home is to look in 
the looking-glass, and there he sees his worst 
fears confirmed. Twenty years are added to 
his age since he started at morn. His cheeks 
are grimed with black, owing to the inky 
rivulets that have trickled from eyebrows and 
whiskers, his collar is stained the same sable 
hue, and the hair of his wig hangs down 



THE VENERABLE DANDY. 113 

in lanky wisps, through which any one can 
detect the silvery foundation on which it 
reposes. 

Alack ! alack ! these are cruel and dis- 
astrous days, which make him vow he will 
give up hunting altogether, and endeavour to 
resign himself to growing old with a good 
grace. 

But he will never grow old really. He is a 
boy at heart, and always will remain so, 
whilst the instinct which makes him seek to 
conceal the ravages of Time is too strong to 
be conquered. 

He fights a desperate battle with advancing 
years, and when at length he feels his days 
are numbered, remains true to the character- 
istics which have distinguished him through 
life. He calls the wife of his bosom to his 
side, and with feeble voice and flickering 
smile says— "Wife, put it in all the news- 
papers, and — and — be tender as to my age." 

Poor old Dandy ! 

8 



114 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

Why should not we be tender to him also, 
and dwell rather on his simplicity, his inofien- 
siveness and unvarying good nature, than on 
his little vanities and conceits ? 

If it pleased him to fancy that, because he 
padded his coats, swelled out his chest, dyed 
his whiskers, wore a wig, and rouged his 
yellow cheeks, it made him appear gay and 
juvenile, why should not we fall in with 
his mood and favour the delusion? 

Alone, in the sanctity of his own chamber, 
depend upon it he has had many a bad 
moment, when the words of the Preacher 
were sufficient chastisement for any eccentri- 
cities in which he chose to indulge. 

If we had not a little folly amongst us, 
something to laugh at, and something to cry 
at, what an insufferable world this would be 
— a world of Pharisees and Prigs. 



VIIL— THE FARMER. 

Not one in twenty of those who follow the 
fox take into sufficient consideration the 
enormous debt of gratitude which they owe 
to the farmer. The majority of people seem 
to think that when they ride over his wheat, 
force open his gates and break down his 
fences, they have a perfect right to do so, 
and the proprietor has no business whatever 
to complain. 

Now, this is not only a very unsportsman- 
like, but also a very erroneous view of the 
case. 

It cannot be too emphatically stated that 

without the consent and co-operation of the 

farmers, hunting could not exist for even a 

single day. They have the power to strike 

8* 



116 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

its death-knell at any moment, and it is solely 
owing to their goodwill and courtesy that the 
Chase continues to flourish. Folks should 
bear this fact in mind, and abstain as much 
as possible from inflicting unnecessary 
damage. 

If all were to combine, a great deal might 
be done, especially as heedlessness is generally 
at the bottom of the mischief. In the ardour 
of a good run the hard-riding gentry, and 
even those who are not particularly keen 
about being with the hounds, will continually 
let young stock escape from their field, little 
thinking how much time and trouble it takes 
to drive them back again ; and few sportsmen 
hesitate to gallop over growing crops, in spite 
of the master's remonstrances. 

These things should not be. They are 
opposed to fair play, common sense, and 
above all, to self-interest. In return for 
what the farmer has to put up with, every 
one should studv his wishes, even at the 



THE FARMER. 117 

expense of losing his or her place, which, 
after all, is not a very serious misfortune. 

A certain proportion of farmers, luckily for 
them, possess independent means, and in spite 
of bad times and the prevailing agricultural 
depression, are able to keep a horse or two 
and hunt pretty regularly. They enjoy the 
sport as much, if not more than most people, 
and when hounds travel over their land are 
always the first to show the way across it, or 
to Uft gates from hinges with a magnanimous 
disregard for consequences. No better fellow 
lives, and he is the life and soul of fox-hunting. 

Even if every fence on his property were 
broken down, he would scorn to utter a com- 
plaint to the authorities. He is a thorough 
sportsman, keen as mustard. Although his 
poultry dwindle, his lambs disappear, and he 
suffers in a variety of different ways, he never 
says a word ; and in the covert close by his 
house there is always a litter of foxes to be 
found. 



118 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

He, and others like liim are a pillar of 
strength to the Hunt. All through the 
summer he walks a goodly number of 
puppies, and keeps them entirely at his 
own expense. The cups which from time to 
time he has won with them are treasured 
as family heirlooms, and shine on the oak 
mantelpiece of his best parlour. In the 
field no one is more popular or more 
respected. It is a pleasure to see his bright 
rosy countenance, on which health and good 
humour are legibly written. The fair sex find 
in him a staunch champion ; for he possesses 
a spirit of chivalry fast dying out among the 
gentlemen of the nineteenth century. It is 
his honest voice that invariably shouts, " Make 
wa}^ for the lady," and if by any chance he sees 
her unfairly deprived of her turn at the fence 
his anger breaks loose immediately and vents 
itself in an indignant " Shame ! " which earns 
him many a smile of gratitude. 

In short, he is the pink of courtesy, and 



THE FAEMER. 119 

there are noble lords whose manners are not 
equal to his. And when hounds run, how 
well he goes, how straight he rides, even al- 
thousfh his horses are often a trifle under-bred 
and over-paced. But he makes up for these 
deficiencies by a thorough knowledge of the 
country, and by never being afraid to go the 
shortest way. 

Every fence within a radius of several 
miles is familiar to him, and he can lead you 
in a bee line down to the only place where 
the brook is fordable, or the unjumpable 
bottom practicable. 

Now and again he picks up a young horse 
cheap, and makes him ; riding him in daunt- 
less fashion, regardless of tumbles, till he 
knows his business thoroughly. He is a 
capital man to buy from, as his animals have 
been well ridden, and he is content to take a 
smaller profit than a dealer. But as a rule the 
dealer knows every farmer in the county who 
purchases or breeds young horses, and the 



120 OUIl FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

opportunities of acquiring a decent hunter 
without the intervention of a third party are 
daily becoming scarcer as the demand in- 
creases. 

The hard-riding farmer is so familiar to us 
all that to dwell further on his merits ap- 
pears superfluous. Every time we go out 
hunting we can witness them and admire 
them. 

But there is another class of farmer who 
also contributes greatly to the sport and 
whose virtues are liable to be overlooked, 
from the mere fact of their belonmnof to a 
passive rather than to an active order. We 
allude to those who don't hunt, and who care 
nothin2^ for the chase. These men are some- 
times abused, and in nearly every instance 
most undeservedly. We are as much indebted 
to them as to their fox-loving-brethren, indeed 
rather more so ; for the latter get consider- 
able compensation for the depreciation of 
their propertv, in the shape of amusement, 



THE FARMER. 121 

whilst the former derive no satisfaction what- 
ever from allowing their fields to be scampered 
over by two or three hundred thoughtless and 
careless people, who do not take even ordi- 
nary precautions to avoid inflicting damage 
on the owner. 

Is it any wonder if they grumble a little at 
times ? If we were in their place should not 
we grumble also, and resent the oft-recurring 
intrusion as a nuisance and a personal in- 
sult? 

They have no sporting tastes, and only ask 
to be left alone — to live and let live ; and in 
their hearts would rejoice if hunting were 
done away with altogether. They look upon 
it as an oppression of the poor by the rich, 
an ostentatious display of wealth, unwise and 
unseemly in the depressed condition of the 
country. They are all for liberty and equality, 
and think every man should be king of his 
own domain. Some years ago, when times 
were good, they neither liked nor disliked 



122 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING PIELD. 

hunting. Their feehngs were neutral and 
their pockets were not perceptibly affected 
one way or the other. At least, they bore 
the strain better. But in these days, ideas 
have undergone a revolution. The prospects 
of farming are so bad that every sixpence 
has become of consequence, and that lean 
fleshless maiden. Economy, turns much other- 
wise healthy blood to gall. It is easy enough 
to be good-natured as long as you have plenty 
of money. Nothing renders a man so surly 
as the lack of it. Landlords complain of the 
quantity of wire now used by tenants on 
their farms. They forget that wire is about 
the cheapest form of fencing procurable. If 
they don't like it, why don't they furnish 
timber to put up rails in its place ? Strange 
that the idea does not seem to strike them ! It 
is unreasonable to expect a man who does not 
hunt himself, and whose proclivities are dis- 
inclined to the Chase, not to consult his 
own interest in the important matter of 



THE FARMER. 123 

pounds, shillings and pence. Why should 
the farmer who never gets on to a horse from 
one year to another, pay for people to come 
galloping over his land ? If they needs must 
gallop over it let them make good any 
damage inflicted. Nothing can be simpler. 

This is fair enough, and yet how seldom do 
we hear the non-sporting farmer's side of the 
question discussed in an open, equitable 
manner. If he makes the smallest remon- 
strance, he is generally dubbed " a cross- 
grained old brute." As often as not he is a 
very hardly-used individual, naturally some- 
what aggrieved at finding his property little 
respected, and himself treated as a perfect 
nonentity. A few considerate words, a 
judicious payment now and again, when the 
Hunt is manifestly in the wrong, and above 
all, some acknowledgment from its more in- 
fluential members, would go far to allay the 
feeling of soreness often engendered. Gentle- 
men are very foolish who fail to conciliate 



124 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTINQ FIELD. 

the farmers, for they are their best friends, 
and to convert them into enemies is a terrible 
mistake. The wonder is, not that an occa- 
sional farmer now and again should warn 
people off his land, but that the whole body 
do not join in a hue and cry against hunting. 

They are a long-suffering race, and in these 
days have many difficulties to contend with. 
Therefore those who follow the fox should 
never lose an opportunity of proving their 
gratitude for the generosity which alone 
permits them to pursue their favourite 
pastime. 

When a gate has been shivered to pieces, 
a fence badly broken down, they should not 
wait for a formal complaint to be lodged, but 
should club together among themselves to 
repair the loss as speedily as possible. Such 
actions, if done spontaneously, would go a 
long way towards maintaining amicable re- 
lations. The meanness of the rich is answer- 
able for a good deal of the existing discon- 



THE FARMER. 125 

tent. The British farmer is a splendid fellow, 
taking him all round, and his growl is fre- 
quently worse than his bite. Let courtesy be 
met with courtesy, instead of, as it often is, by 
rudeness and indifference. Let generosity on 
the one side call forth generosity on the 
other, and above all let the policy of field and 
master be one of conciliation towards the 
class of men who thoroughly deserve to be 
treated with kindness and consideration in 
return for their sacrifices made on behalf of 
fox-hunting. A soft answer turneth away 
wrath, and an angry man armed with a pitch- 
fork is more easily disarmed by pleasant 
speech and a disposition to listen to his griev- 
ances, than by a volley of indignant oaths, 
whose only result is that both parties lose 
their temper and come to an open breach, 
certainly to the disadvantage of Nimrod. 

We should remember that the land is not 
ours to do what we like with, and that a 
stout, elderly farmer having a dozen young 



126 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING PIELD. 

children all tearing at his purse-strings, 
cannot be expected to look upon fox-hunting 
with the same enthusiasm as a rich young 
man who has plenty of money to spend, and 
nobody to spend it on but himself. 

Different circumstances give rise to very 
different notions, and poverty quickly 
slackens zeal. When you begin to say to 
yourself, " It will cost me half-a-crown to 
have that gap made up," and the same half- 
crown is wanted to pa}^ for a dozen various 
things, the question comes quite naturally, 
" Why should I allow that gap to be made ? 
Nobody even says. Thank you, for the pains I 
am put to." Farmers, as a bod}^ will not 
stop fox-hunting so long as they can afford 
to support it, and matters are conducted in a 
fair and gentlemanly way. And if times 
change, the people assuming the upper hand 
claim the land as their own, and pooh 
pooh a sport in which they do not join, it 
will be unfair to lav the blame at the farmer's 



THE FARMER. 127 

door. Only when that day comes, England 
may take a back seat among the nations. 

Her children will miss the nursery ground 
in which their finest qualities, " pluck," dash, 
and gallantry have been fostered, and sink to 
the level of the soft, effeminate foreigner, who 
regards le sport as a species of madness. 

Meanwhile, let us thank the farmers for the 
good times they have given us in the past, and 
still hope that the friendliness and concilia- 
tion on either side, those good times may 
continue in the future. What a terrible 
revolution would be worked in English 
country life if each county could not produce 
its pack of hounds. Think of the boredom of 
the men, the regrets of the women. Acci- 
dents there must always be, but fox-hunting 
compensates for them all by the health, the 
exhilaration, and cordial good-fellowship that 
it brings. So, three cheers for our best friend, 
the farmer. 



IX.— THE "FUNK-STICK." 

Of all the people who come out hunting, no 
one is so sincerely to be pitied as the " Funk- 
stick." In every respect he is a most miser- 
able man, full of abject fears of which he is 
horribly ashamed, yet which he cannot 
conquer or conceal by any effort. Constitu- 
tional timidity renders him a perfect martyr. 
Only the unfortunate wretch himself knows 
the agonies of mind which he endures — the 
doubts, the terrors, the dismal forebodings of 
imaginary danger, worse even than actual 
disaster. Why he hunts is a mystery ; since, 
far from giving pleasure,the chase affords him 
nothing but pain. The only solution of the 
problem seems to be that years and custom 
have made him a complete slave to habit, and 



THE "PUNK-STICK." 129 

he has not sufficient moral courage to break 
away from the chains by which he is bound. 
Besides, he has no other resources, and hunt- 
iniT is a means of killing^ time. Yet what 
tortures tlie poor man undergoes. He wakes 
early in the morning with an oppressive 
feeling that something very unpleasant is 
going to happen during the day, and before 
his eyes are thoroughly open he remembers 
with a sinking spirit what that something is. 

Hounds meet at the kennels, after not 
having been able to hunt for over a week 
on account of severe frost, which has now 
disappeared. He feels like a man who, having 
obtained a short reprieve, is suddenly in- 
formed that his last hour is come. 

Good heavens ! how abominably fresh the 
horses will be, after standing idle in their 
stable for so long. No amount of talking 
ever can persuade the factotum who presides 
over his equine department to give them 
enough work. It is useless trying to impress 



130 OUK FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

upon him that four hour's daily exercise is 
but just sufficient to keep an animal in good 
health. And now he will have to suffer from 
the vacraries of his steeds. The mere thouirht 
is terrifying. 

He had decided over night to ride a recent 
purchase, a beautiful blood mare, but that 
was after dinner. In the morning he repents 
this determination, and feels that nothing 
shall induce him to get on her back until he 
knows a great deal more about her. She is 
certain to kick him off, or buck, or shy, or 
indulge in some equally alarming antic. He 
knows beforehand that his groom will receive 
the message contemptuously, but he cannot 
help it. For a time he struggles against his 
fears, but in the end he has to succumb to 
them, and sends out word to say that he has 
changed his mind, and will hunt Eochester, a 
confidential animal approaching his twentieth 
year, instead of Queen Bess. 

The reply is that Eochester has been out 



THE "FUNK-STICK." 131 

exercising, and owing to the slipperly state of 
the ground it would be unadvisable to hunt a 
horse whose forelegs are shaky and liable at 
any moment to give way altogether. The 
"Funk-stick" is quite aware of this fact 
without hearing it repeated ; but what is he 
to do ? It is easier for him to buy a new hunter 
than to summon up courage to ride a fresh 
one, and of all his stud, Eochester is the 
animal he feels least afraid of. So Eochester, 
in spite of having been fed and watered, is 
saddled and our hero starts in fear and 
trembling. It is a gusty morning, and a cold 
north-east wind comes sweeping over the 
uplands. The old horse, not liking the 
sharp air, after his warm stable, rounds his 
back a bit, going down the first hill from 
home. 

Oh ! what an agonizing pang shoots knife- 
like through the heart of his rider ! That 
gentleman feels positively ill with apprehen- 
sion, and from moment to moment anticipates 

9=^ 



132 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

some frightful calamity. He is far too 
uneasy to enter into conversation with any 
of the numerous acquaintances who overtake 
him. If the truth were known he is down- 
right afraid to let his animal break into a 
canter. The awful shadow of " what might 
happen " weighs upon his spirit like a ton of 
lead. He cannot shake off its depressing 
influence. His nerves quiver, his teeth 
chatter, but not from the cold alone. Other 
causes tend to produce this result, though his 
pallid cheek flushes red with shame as he puts 
a name to them. He is too anxious to be 
able to talk, and the only remark he can 
jerk out to his friends as they pass by is : 

" Awfully bad going to-day. The ground 
is in a most dangerous condition." 

" Nonsense, my good fellow ! " they laugh 
back in reply ; " you'll soon forget all about 
it when hounds run. It's more slippery on 
the roads than anywhere else. Come, hurry 
up or you'll be late." 



THE "FUNK-STICK." 133 

He shakes his head and gives a melancholy 
smile. If anything were to prevent his 
hunting that day he knows he should not be 
sorry. It's all very well for other people to 
" hurry up," but how can he ? Were he to do 
so, Eochester might whisk his tail, cock his 
ears, or misdemean himself generally. Such 
danger is too great to be lightly incurred. 
By immense caution he hopes to be able to 
avert it. 

His troublesome heart goes thump, thump 
against his ribs, when at length he is forced 
to quit the safe and friendly road and strike 
across a line of bridle-gates and fields. The 
latter are dotted with horsemen and women 
on their way out to covert, and at sight of 
them and of the fresh green pastures, 
Eochester distends his nostrils, snorts, and 
oh, dear ! oh, dear ! proceeds to give a little 
playful bound into the air. Our hero im- 
mediately commences hauling frantically at his 
head, and in an agonized voice cries out with 



134 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

stentorian lungs : " Quiet, horse ! oli, do, do 
be quiet ! " 

Every one explodes with laughter, and 
even Eochester seems to feel a contempt for 
his rider, for unheeding this beseeching 
appeal, he snatches at the bit, breaks into 
a canter, and out of pure light-heartedness, 
gives another flourish of his heels. 

Tears start to the wretched " Funk- 
stick's " eyes ; he is so desperately frightened. 
His first instinct is to dismount and walk 
home, but people surround him on all sides. 
Surreptitiously he manages to wipe away 
the signs of his weakness and blows his 
nose with great energy and determination. 
Arrived at the meet, things do not im- 
prove. Neither does his courage, which 
by this time has reached a very low ebb. 
That old brute Eochester refuses to stand 
still for a second. He sidles about, paws the 
ground and edges up to the hounds in a 
most alarming and disagreeable fashion. In 



THE "FUNK-STICK." ]35 

fact, he keeps his unhappy rider in a con- 
stant state of trepidation. The "What 
might happen," is rapidly being magnified 
into the " What will and must happen." 

By this time the poor " Funk-stick " is so 
nervous that he is reduced to a state of al- 
most absolute silence. He has no longer any 
spirit or inclination to converse, and is not a 
good enough actor to dissemble how much he 
suffers. His craven fear renders him more 
or less callous of appearances. It dominates 
his whole nature and crushes every other 
emotion by its overwhelming strength. 

He cruelly disappoints those ladies of his 
acquaintance who do not know him inti- 
mately. Meeting him^in a country house or 
at a dinner party, they may have voted him 
a cheery, pleasant fellow ; for off a horse he 
is a completely different man. Out hunting, 
they ask themselves what on earth has come 
to him ? He seems to avoid their society, has 
not a word to say for himself and only just 



136 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD, 

escapes being downright rude. How could 
they ever have fancied he was nice, and 
capable of being converted into a husband ? 

Poor " Funk stick ! " If only they could 
look down into the depths of his shifting 
quicksand of a heart — a thing as lightly 
ruffled as a blade of grass by every passing 
wind — and were aware of the torturing fears 
disturbing it, no doubt their compassion 
would be aroused and they would pity rather 
than blame its unhappy owner. 

Unhappy truly, for he is the possessor of 
a peculiarly sensitive nature and despises his 
own cowardice, even whilst he succumbs to 
it. The efforts he makes to conceal this 
terrible infirmity are as pathetic as they are 
futile. He will talk ever so bravely when an 
absolutely unjumpable country lies before 
him, and he knows that the whole Field will 
be forced to fall back on a line of gates. He 
rides up then in a tremendous hurry and 
pushes through with the first half-dozen, 



THE "FUNK-STICK." 137 

looking complacently round when a check 
occurs, as much as to say, " Ha, ha ! who is 
up ? " He does his very best to make a show 
of gallantry when he is perfectly certain that 
no calls will be made upon his courage. 

If he gets hold of a sympathetic listener, he 
will tell him quite gravely that he is only 
prevented from jumping owing to having 
sprained a muscle in his thigh, which causes 
exquisite agony ; or that he has knocked his 
knee very badly against a gate-post and in- 
jured the cartilage ; or run a thorn into his 
great toe, or a variety of different excuses. 
He is seldom at a loss to explain how he 
would if he could, but doesn't because he 
mayn't. He tries hard to keep up a sem- 
blance of valour, but only complete strangers 
are deceived by his statements. 

His form is known to a nicety, and if the 
truth must be told, many of his comrades in 
the hunting field look upon him with pro- 
found contempt. To see him turn away 



138 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING HELD. 

from a fence when half-a-dozen women and 
children have been over it, is certainly not 
calculated to inspire much respect for his 
manliness or courage. He is, indeed, a real 
object of pity. 

Unluckily the " Funk-stick " possesses a 
considerable influence. 

There are always a large number of people 
who fluctuate between the borderland of 
bravery and cow^ardice, and to whom ex- 
ample is extremely contagious. Their at- 
titude is determined by their' environments, 
and, like sheep, they follow the leader. 

Now, when our friend " Funk-stick " enters 
a field, and not seeing an easy egress, at once 
begins calling out, " Don't go there ; don't 
go there. I know that place of old, and 
it's a most horrible one to jump," a very 
numerous contingent scuttle off in his foot- 
steps, not even waiting to see if he speaks 
the truth. Their anxiety has been aroused, 
and they prefer to avoid the danger rather 



THE "FUNK-STICK." 139 

than face it. In truth, it is a comical sight to 
see the whole of the " Funk-stick " division 
stopped by some little, insignificant gap, and 
to witness the cautious way in which, after 
many peeps and much hesitation, the bravest 
member will proceed to dismount, clear all 
the thorns away, then walk over on foot, 
dragging his horse behind him, to an accom- 
panying chorus of " Bravas ! Bravas ! " He 
has shown them the thino- can be done, and 
some even pluck up sufficient spirit to 
follow his example on horseback. Time 
seems of no importance to this gallant 
brigade when they come to a fence. They 
plant themselves before it with a species of 
dogged patience, and would wait all day 
rather than have to jump it. They bore, 
and creep, and crawl and scramble, but 
they have a rooted objection to a bond 
fide leap. Very few venture on so desperate 
a deed. 

But if they lose precious moments at their 



140 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

fences, the rush they make for a road is some- 
thing truly magnificent. An avalanche let 
loose is a joke to them, and our " Funk- 
stick," suddenly turned brave, heads the 
cavalcade. Nevertheless, he derives little 
enjoyment from these wild gallops over the 
macadam. His conscience accuses him all 
the while, and scoffs at his timidity. It leaves 
him no peace, for craven fear, such as his, 
brings its own punishment. 

As a matter of fact, the pains he endures 
are something inconceivable, whilst the efforts 
he makes, the resolutions he forms to master 
his nervousness are quite pitiable ; for they 
never lead to any improvement. The truth 
is, he can't help himself : it all comes to 
that. 

He has been born with a shrinking, easily 
frightened nature, and it cleaves to him even 
in manhood. How gladly would he change 
it if he could ; but he can't. The mysterious 
laws which govern the universe are too 



THE "FUNK-STICK." 141 

strong for him. His mother may have 
received a shock before his birth, his 
nurse may have frightened him in early 
childhood by stories of ghosts and super- 
natural beings. There are always a hundred 
outside causes to account for the result. 
Timorous the " Funk-stick " was brought 
into the world, and timorous he will go out 
of it, dreading death even more than he 
dreads a big fence, and yielding up his 
feeble life in an agony of apprehension. 
Poor man ! poor " Funk-stick ! " 
Is it generous, or even fair, to despise him 
as much as we only too often do ? 

He, like the rest of us, is but a creature of 
chance, of circumstance, and above all of 
evolution. How can it affect his stronger- 
nerved brethren if he prefers gates to hedges, 
roads to fields ? Surely every one may hunt 
in the manner that pleases him or her best, 
without being abused and turned into thinly- 
disguised ridicule. 



142 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

No doubt, a man worthy of tlie name 
should possess his fair share of c?ourage ; but 
if he hasn't got it — and man^^ haven't — is it 
his fault ? 

No, certainly not. He did not elect to be 
born a coward of his own free-will, but had 
no choice in the matter. As a rule, the 
" Funk-stick " will escape unkind criticism 
if he has but the good sense to hold his 
tongue and makes no attempt to magnif}^ his 
own indifferent performances. If he is 
humble, and does not pretend to any mock 
heroism, then the majority of his fellow- 
sportsmen will let him off easily enough. 
They are seldom venomous unless roused by 
petty trickery and imposture. 

" But if he is not only a " Funk-stick," but 
an impudent braggart into the bargain, then 
woe be to him. He will meet with merciless 
scorn, scathing ridicule, and infinite contempt. 
Even the fair sex will turn against him, for if 
there is one thin"f that British men and 



THE "FUNK-STICK." 143 

women hate more than another, that thing 
is humbug. 

It is fatal to make out you ride well when 
you don't, to boast when you have absolutely 
nothing to boast about, and to glorify your- 
self into a lion when you are only a very, 
very weakly little mouse. 



'^^'^PS^I^^'' 



X.— THE GOOD SAMARITAN. 

We cannot help admiring the man who goes 
first, in spite of his courage being sometimes 
dashed with a touch of brutahty ; but the 
Good Samaritan commands a still higher 
regard. Our hearts swell with love and 
gratitude whenever we think of him, and of 
his numerous acts of self-sacrifice. How often 
has he not helped us out of an emergency, or 
come to the rescue when we are in serious 
difficulties? He is literally brimming over 
with the milk of human kindness, and there 
is nothing on earth that he will not do to 
assist a fellow-creature. 

Other men go wild about sport, and when 
hounds are running hard become so infected 
by the enthusiasm of the passing hour as to 



THE GOOD SAMARITAN. 145 

appear dead to all external sentiments ; but 
he would let hounds, fox, huntsman go to the 
dogs rather than lose an opportunity of help- 
ing suffering humanity. If we fall at a fence, 
it is invariably the Good Samaritan who picks 
us up. If our horse gallops wildly off, he 
pursues him for miles, and never rests until 
he brings him back to his owner ; and if the 
unlucky steed tumbles into a deep ditch, and 
cannot be extricated except by rope and 
spade, he cheerfully gives up his day's 
pleasuring and sticks to you like a man and 
a Briton. He trots off to find labourers, sets 
everybody to work, gives the right instruc- 
tions in the midst of a Babel of tongues, and 
of contrary opinions, and will not hear of 
leaving you until everything is well, and the 
animal saved from his perilous position. If 
he fancies you are hurt, he will ride all the 
way home with, and take almost as much 
care of you as a mother does of a child. In 

more serious cases, he gallops on ahead to 

10 



146 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

fetch the doctor, and has everything prepared 
before your arrivah He is the kindest, the 
best, and most unselfish fellow in the world, 
and never seems to think of himself ; all his 
thoughts and energies are concentrated on 
aiding other people. 

• Does he meet with gratitude ? Alas ! not 
much. Who does in this world ? He 
deserves immense credit, and, comparatively 
speaking, gets very little. 

The fact is his many good actions are per- . 
formed so quietly and unostentatiously, he 
regards them so entirely as a matter of course, 
that after a while folks adopt the same 
opinion. They see no reason whatever why 
he should not be allowed to open gates for 
the whole field, and let everybody pass 
through, if it pleases him. Of course, he 
wouldn't do so if he didn't like it ; they 
would not, and they judge him by them- 
selves — a very common way of jumping at 
conclusions. On the same principle, if he 



THE GOOD SAMAEITAN, 147 

cliooses to dismount at every awkward fence 
that proves a " stopper " and tear away tlie 
binders until an easy passage is made, there 
can be no possible reason why they should 
not take advantage of his good-nature with- 
out necessarily being obliged to wait and 
help him to re-mount. Tlicy did not ask 
him to get down ; he did it of his own 
accord. 

All the same very few people go out 
hunting who, either directly or indirectly, do 
not profit by the presence of the Good 
Samaritan. He is the least aggressive or in- 
trusive of men, yet whenever a little timely 
assistance is required be seems, as it were, to 
drop from the clouds. 

The ladies regard him with peculiar ten- 
derness, and he inspires quite a fraternal 
sentiment amongst their ranks. He is not a 
person to flirt with, but he is a person always 
to apply to in case of need. His staidness 

and solidity give a wonderful sense of pro- 

10* 



148 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

tection. They feel safe and well cared for 
when riding about with him. 

They know that if their girths want tighten- 
ing, or their stirrup shortening, and they 
appeal to their husbands and brothers, grumpy 
words are likely to be the result. It is no 
light matter to ask most men to help a female 
in distress. She feels the aid is given grudg- 
ingly, and a black mark, so to speak, is scored 
up against her in the future, as a bother and 
a nuisance. 

But the Good Samaritan has no black 
marks. He never thinks that he is wasting 
his time, losing his place or falling to the 
rear, when it is within his power to adminis- 
ter to the wants of others. Such reflections 
do not cross his mind. He is only too happy 
to be of use, and gives his services in a 
generous, ungrudging and uncalculating 
spirit. 

With the farmers he is most popular, and 
justly so, for they have a rare friend in him. 



THE GOOD SAMARITAN. 149 

He is always the first to cry out " 'Ware 
wheat," and to check the too impetuous 
ardour of the iield, when galloping helter- 
skelter over some poor man's growing crops. 
He shows his forethought and consideration 
in a hundred different ways, and always 
has the acrriculturist's interest at heart. 

o 

Would that his example were more fre- 
quently followed by those who profess to 
be good sportsmen, but who think of 
nothing save their own personal amusement, 
and whose sole idea is to out-do their com- 
panions. 

If some rough young colt escapes from the 
hovel in which it has taken shelter, our Good 
Samaritan, heedless that the chase is sweep- 
ing on, will at once ride after it, and drive it 
back again ; or he will stand, cracking his 
whip, in order to prevent a flock of sheep 
from getting through a gateway, quite un- 
moved by the sight of all his comrades, ahs- 
tening ahead with feverish speed. 



150 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

When the lambing season comes round, it 
is no uncommon thing for him to dismount 
from his horse, pick up some poor, frightened 
little wanderer in his arms, and restore it to 
the bleating and anxious mother, who dares 
not approach within a certain distance of 
those terrifying hounds. 

If any stranger comes out hunting, having 
forgotten his sandwich case and flask, our 
friend immediately offers him the contents of 
his own, and insists on his going shares, even 
if he does not empty them entirely. 

" But, my dear sir, I am depriving you," 
remonstrates the stranger feebly. 

" Pooh, pooh, what does that matter ? " 
comes the generous answer. " Never mind 
about me." 

The virtues of the Good Samaritan are 
more than ever conspicuous at a fence. It 
is impossible to abstain from recognizing 
them. When others are bustling, shoving, 
swearing, he remains perfectly calm, is never 



THE GOOD SAMAEITAN. 151 

in a hurry, consequently never jealous nor 
unfair like a large proportion of hunting 
people. If he sees anyone battling with a 
fractious steed, even although he be but a 
rough rider in everybody's way, he will 
always yield his place with a benevolent 
courtes}^, admirable in its total self-abnega- 
tion. And even when folks who have not 
the excuse of an unmanacfeable horse take 
mean advantage of his good nature, as they 
frequently do, the only reproof they elicit is 
a " Go on, go on, I can wait, and apparently 
you can't." 

He rides his animals with care, and as one 
who loves them. He could no more bully 
and abuse them, as some men do, than 11}'. 
Indeed, few thinors excite his anoer more than 
to see a poor brute hit fiercely over the head, 
or jobbed viciously in the mouth, simply 
because, with the best will in the world, it 
may happen to have made some slight mistake 
over a fence. His honest face grows red 



152 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

with indignation at the sight, and although 
not given to judging his neighbours severely, 
he turns away, feeling an instinctive dis- 
like for the rider, in whom his swift per- 
ceptions tell him some manl}^ element is 
wanting. 

When any casualty occurs the Good 
Samaritan is always to the fore, irrespective 
of class or persons. A groom, riding a wild 
young horse, tears through a blind ditch, and 
rolls head-over-heels, breaking three ribs in 
his fall. The man lies motionless on the 
ground, his limbs doubled up in a horrible 
tortuous manner, and looks like one from 
whom the life has departed. The foremost 
horsemen draw rein, glance at him com- 
miseratingly, and exclaim, " Ah, poor fel- 
low ! He's Mr. So-and-so's groom," then 
ride off, as if fearful of being detained. 
Of course if they were wanted they would 
stop ; but no doubt there are plenty of 
people to look after him, and, moreover, 



THE GOOD SAMARITAN. 153 

hounds have just picked up the line, and 
appear as if they were settling to their work 
in earnest. 

Such reasoning as this does not hold jjood 
with our kind hearted Samaritan. To him a 
man with three broken ribs is a man, whether 
he be a poor groom or a rich duke. In truth, 
he would rather help the former, for if his 
grace were to fall only too many friends 
would immediately rush to his assistance, 
whereas plain John Smith is passed by a 
score of cavaliers who all leave it to some one 
else to pick him up. 

So our friend dismounts from his horse, 
raises the fallen man's shoulders, rests them 
against his knee, gives the sulferer a drop of 
brandy out of his flask, and, aided by three 
stout kindly farmers, proceeds to carry him 
on a hurdle to the nearest cottage, where 
they tenderly deposit their semi-conscious 
burden on an old horse-hair couch. This 
done, he rides off in search of a medical man, 



154 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

and makes arrangements about procuring a 
trap. He thinks nothing whatever of giving 
up his day's sport, and all his energies are 
absorbed in trying to ease the wounded man, 
and, if possible, to save him pain. And 
though John Smith is only a groom occupy- 
ing a humble sphere in life, he has a heart, 
and is much more touched b}^ and grateful 
for kindness than man}^ a fine gentleman, who 
looks upon it as his right and his due, and 
forgets the services rendered directly he 
regains his health. 

But the Good Samaritan never expects 
thanks. They make him feel shy and un- 
comfortable, for to do good comes naturally 
to him. It is a heaven-born instinct, and in 
gratifying it he only follows the promptings 
of his nature. He possesses a fine-fibred and 
chivalrous disposition, which renders him a 
veritable King Arthur of the hunting field. 
He has not a mean or ignoble thought. His 
great tender heart is easily moved to pity, 



THE GOOD SAMAKITAN. 155 

and suffering in any form never fails to 
appeal to it All his strength he places at 
the service of the weak, deeming it a strong 
man's part to protect women and children, 
youths and dumb animals, instead of profit- 
ing by their feebleness to display his superior 
might. 

What matters it if the kindliness of his 
spirit prevents him from riding very hard, or 
if he is giving up places when he ought to be 
stealing them, making way instead of pushing 
forward, quietly effacing himself in lieu of 
struggling with his neighbours at a gate- 
way ? 

Others may jump fences that he has not 
even seen. They may have been with hounds, 
occupying a glorious position in the van, 
whilst he was plodding away in the rear 
picking up cripples. They have the honour 
of seeing the fox dismembered, and he is trot- 
ting about, shutting farmers' gates and other- 
wise attending to their property. 



156 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

What of that ? 

Whether he be first or last, he is the finest 
gentleman in the whole of the hunting field, 
and those who laugh at him are not worthy 
to tie his shoe-strings. 

He is better than ourselves, less selfish, 
more charitable and gracious, so naturally we 
find it a little hard to praise his superior 
qualities. 

Nevertheless, after our own unworthy 
fashion, we are grateful for the kindnesses 
received at his hands. In times of misfor- 
tune, such as overtake us all, the hunting field 
would seem but a very sorry place without 
the Good Samaritan. 

When the hard riders pass us by with a 
careless " Not hurt, are you ? " he files to the 
rescue. When our boon companions look 
another way, for fear we may expect them to 
stop, he comes galloping up, his kind face 
working with solicitude. 

Oh, Good Samaritan ! Oh, dear, biir- 



THE GOOD SAMA.RITAN. 157 

hearted fellow, let us give 3'ou your due, and 
reverence you as a being made of infinitely 
finer materials than the great commonplace 
majority of the human race. 



XI.— THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 

The hospitable man is alwaj^s a popular one, 
since nothing appeals so surely to people's 
favour as plying them with plenty to eat and 
to drink. This he understands thoroughly, 
and is profuse in his invitations, showering 
them with great impartiality on the numerous 
acquaintances, masculine and feminine, he 
makes in the hunting field. 

He himself is a regular hon viveur, with a 
keen appreciation of all good things apper- 
taining to the culinary art. True, the in- 
creasing rotundity of his waistcoat, whose 
line of beauty grows yearly more and more 
curved, now and again affords subject for 
serious reflection ; but he has a happy knack 
of evading disagreeable thought, and putting 



THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 159 

it off to another day. He thoroughly enjoys 
the various deUcacies which he forces upon 
his guests, and sets a highly contagious ex- 
ample by the hearty manner in which he 
attacks the dishes, as much as to say, " These 
things are not meant to look at, but to eat. 
Therefore, fire away, and don't stand on 
ceremony." 

His great delight is when the hounds meet 
at his house. This is always the signal for a 
feast ; and directly the fixture is publicly an- 
nounced, he goes among his friends, as happy 
as an old hen cackling over her eggs, and 
says to each one in a mysterious and con- 
fidential whisper, full of pride and self-impor- 
tance, " Look here, my dear fellow, what do 
you think ? The hounds are at my place 
next Saturday. Now mind and come early. 
You will see how much respected I am by the 
aristocracy. Get up half-an-hour sooner than 
usual ; you won't regret it. Do you know 
what I am going to do now the thing is 



160 OUH FRIENDS IN THE HQNriXa FIELD. 

settled ? I am going to run up to town on 
Thursday ; yes, actually give up a day's 
hunting, on purpose to buy a piece of good 
Scotch beef at my friend Mr. Cocks', in 
Jermyn Street. The meat you get here is not 
eatable. It's so infernally tough." 

" But what a lot of trouble," suggests his 
companion, who would not forego a day's 
hunting for all the beef in the world. " It 
hardly seems worth it.' 

" Ah ! don't speak to me of the trouble, as 
long as the things are good. Do you think 
I would ask my friends inside my house and 
give them bad meat ? No, certainly not. I 
should be ashamed of myself. I pay a shil- 
ling a pound to Mr. Cocks for my beef. A 
shilling a pound is a great deal, but then it's 
of very different quality from what you can 
buy here ; it positively melts in your mouth." 
And the old fellow smacks his lips in antici- 
pation. Then he sidles up to his listener, 
gives him a friendly nudge, and, with a 



THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 161 

knowing wink, adds, •' Now mind you come 
early, for tliere'll be a bottle or two of my 
famous port out on Saturday. That's the 
sort of jumping-powder to put heart into a 
man. After half-a-dozen glasses, I'd ride at the 
biggest fence ever planted in this country." 

Thus the kind, garrulous fellow runs on, 
and will take no denial. His feelings are 
terribly hurt if any one attempts to make an 
excuse, and nearly all his acquaintances are 
entrapped beforehand into promising that 
they will enter his hospitable doors on the 
morning of the meet. 

When the important -day arrives — for he 
looks upon hounds meeting at his house as 
one of the greatest events of the year — from 
an early hour he is in a state of fuss and 
bustle, going down into the cellar with his 
butler, and reverently bringing up one dirt- 
encrusted bottle after another, paying re- 
peated visits to the kitchen, and personally 
superintending every arrangement for the 

11 



162 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

forthcoming festivity. By half-past ten o'clock 
all is ready, and with a species of proud rap- 
ture he looks at the long dining-table, en- 
larged to its full size, and literally laden with 
delicacies. 

At one end a hu2:e round of the celebrated 
Scotch beef, so familiar by repute to the 
whole Hunt, occupies a prominent position, 
and looks sufficient to feed a regiment of 
hungry soldiers. At the other, an enormous 
cold roast turkey, bursting with stuffing and 
garnished with sausages, ornaments the board. 
The side dishes consist of chicken, ham, 
tongue, sandwiches, mutton pies, biscuits, 
plum cake, ginger-bread nuts, &c., &c. 
Bottles of wine, soda and seltzer water are 
freely dotted about in between. The only 
pity is that people have come to hunt and not 
to eat. This thought flashes regretfully across 
the provider's brain. 

Meantime folks begin to arrive, and the 
master of the house, his jolly, rubicund face 



THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 163 

beaming with hospitality, stands at the front 
door, and invites, entreats and implores every 
fresh-comer to enter and partake of the good 
cheer within, Nothin"' vexes him more than 
if they refuse, asserting that they are not 
hungry. 

" God bless my soul ! " he bursts forth. 
" If you can't eat, you can drink, surely. 
Take my word for it, I'll not poison you. 
Everybody in the county can tell you what 
sort of stuff my old port is." 

•'Thank you, thank you, my good friend, 
but I never indulge at this hour of the 
morning." 

The hospitable man looks after the ab- 
stainer in disgust as he rides away, and 
behind his grizzled moustache murmurs in- 
dignantly, " D d fool ! " 

He meets with several vexations. Amongst 

others, it grieves him deeply to see how little 

the Scotch beef and similar substantial 

dainties are appreciated. 

11* 



164 OUK FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

" Dear me ! dear me ! " he exclaims in tones 
of real concern. "What's the matter with 
you fellows ? There the things are, and 
why the devil can't you eat them ? Do you 
suppose they are only to be looked at ? " 

It is useless for the guests to try and ex- 
plain that they have but very recently 
swallowed an excellent breakfast, and are 
totally unable to get up another appetite so 
soon. The old fellow presses, urges and in- 
sists, and all with such genuine kindliness, 
that finally they yield to the force of cir- 
cumstances, and allow an enormous helping 
of underdone meat to be heaped upon their 
plate. To please their host they take a 
mouthful or two, are informed that they are 
eating Mr. Cocks' prime Scotch beef at a 
shilling a pound, and with a sigh of resigna- 
tion gulp it down by the aid of a glass of 
sherry or cherry brandy, then beat a hasty 
retreat into the open air. 

The entertainer, thanks to the excellence of 



THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 165 

his own port, has by this time become ex- 
ceedingly cheery and loquacious. With in- 
finite reluctance, he allows one relay of 
friends to depart, then goes out into the 
garden in search of another batch, who, 
whether they like it or not, are stuffed with 
eatables and drinkables, similarly to their 
predecessors. The gentlemen don't come very 
much to the front on these occasions. The 
hospitable man pityingly sums them up as 
" poor feeders ; " but amongst the farmers he 
finds many a kindred spirit. Fresh from a 
long jog to covert, and maybe an early ride 
round their farm in addition, several of them 
play an excellent knife and fork, and attack 
the Scotch beef with a will. This cheers the 
cockles of their host's expansive heart, and 
he watches them eat with unfeigned pleasure. 
He feels at last that he is not throwing his 
pearls before swine, but offering them to 
people capable of appreciating their good 
points. 



166 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

" Capital piece of beef that, eli, Brown ? " 
he says, smiling benignly. 

" Furst rate, sir," is the reply. " I never 
tasted a better. It's a pleasure to put a tooth 
into it." 

'' Aha ! Brown, you're a man who knows 
what's what, and can do justice to a good bit 
of meat when it's set before him." 

" I hope so, sir. I should be very un- 
grateful if I couldn't. But this is regular 
prime ; tender, juicy, and fine -fibred. We 
don't get meat like that in these parts." 

" You're right there. I bought it in 
London, of my friend Mr. Cocks in Jermyn 
Street." 

Whereupon, for about the twentieth time, 
he repeats the story of how, whenever hounds 
meet at his house, he makes a point of 
running up to town and paying Mr. Cocks' 
establishment a visit. 

" I never mind the expense," he concludes, 
with honest pride. " I never let that stand 



THE HOSPiTAiiLE MAN. 167 

in the way on occasions like tlie present. I 
like to give my friends the best of everything, 
and then if they aren't satisfied, why it ain't 
my fault, eh ? " 

Messrs. Brown and Co. make a hearty 
meal, not forgetting to do full justice to the 
liquor. They linger round the well- spread 
board until hounds are on the point of 
throwing off, when at length they reluctantly 
tear themselves away. The hospitable man 
then proceeds to mount, though he experi- 
ences some little difficulty in introducing the 
point of his toe into the stirrup. It is by no 
means easy to stand still on one leg, and a 
curious haze, no doubt owing to the transition 
from a warm room to the cold atmosphere, 
obscures his eyesight. But these are only 
trifles, scarce worth mentioning, except very 
incidentally. lie is in excellent spirits, and 
feels full of valour. He moves among the 
crowd with a sense of richly-deserved self- 
satisfaction, conscious that they have been 



168 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

royall}^ entertained, and can find nothing to 
complain of. His reputation for hospitality, 
for Scotch beef and old wine has been fully 
sustained. Strangers have seen how richly it 
is deserved, and witnessed the generous prin- 
ciples on which his establishment is conducted. 
His worst enemy could not accuse him of 
being niggardly or mean. This knowledge 
makes his heart swell with triumph. 

The very foot people have been treated to 
bread, cheese and beer ad libitum. When 
they touch their hats respectfully, he cannot 
help feeling that the compliment is merited. 
How is it possible to prevent a man from 
being aware of his own amiable qualities, 
and considerino^ them entitled to recoefnition ? 

Every now and again the good old fellow 
asks his friends to dinner. On these gala 
nights it behoves them to be very careful, 
for he plies them with so much vintage wine, 
such marvellous selections of brown sherry, 
delicate claret and enticing port, that they 



THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 169 

are only too apt to sufTer from the effects next 
morning, and rise from tlieir couch with a 
splitting headache. As for their host, he is 
seemingly inured, for he eats, drinks, and 
mixes his liquors in a fashion which puts the 
younger generation to shame. They can't 
compete with him. At such times he grows 
very jovial and racy in his conversation. 
Peals of laughter issue from the dining-room. 
His after-dinner stories have the reputation 
of being surprisingly witty and excessively 
naughty, and are greeted with salvos of 
applause. All the young fellows eagerly 
accept an invitation from him to dine and 
sleep the night. They are sure of an 
amusing evening, free from all stiffness and 
ceremony, and the hospitable man has a 
peculiarly gracious manner, which makes 
everybody feel at home in his presence. He 
prefers to entertain, rather than be enter- 
tained, disliking long cold drives of many 
miles along country roads, and not caring 



170 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

to quit his own snug rooms and warm fire- 
side. 

In tlie hunting field he is a cheery, 
gregarious old soul, ever ready for a laugh, 
though, if the truth must be told, he is 
fonder of one at somebody else's expense 
than at his own. He likes to hear the latest 
gossip, and takes an intense interest in the 
doings and sayings of his neighbours. His 
cook and his cellar are never-failing sources 
of conversation. They play an important 
part in his life, for as he shrewdly observes, 
"Horses disappoint, friends annoy, but a 
good meal and a good bottle of wine are 
things that a man can alwa^'s fall back upon 
with satisfaction." 

It is impossible to help liking him ; he is 
such a kindly, generous, sociable creature. 
He does not bother his head about politics 
or the Eastern Question, and cares nothing 
for the encroachments of science on religion, 
the evils of over-population, or any of the 



THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 171 

moving topics of the day. They occasion no 
disturbance in his equable and well-balanced 
mind, and he. studies the menu of a morning 
with far more interest than he does the 
newspaper. 

He haSj however, one wery pressing trouble. 
From time to time certain twinges of gout 
remind him that all flesh is mortal. His 
doctor recommends a simpler diet and total 
abstention from alcoholic drinks. The 
consequence is they have had a desperate 
quarrel. 

" Darned idiot ! " he growls to some bosom 
friend, of whose sympathy he feels certain 
beforehand. " Just as if life would be worth 
living without a good sound bottle of wine a 
day. That doctor of mine is of no use ; I 
shall leave him. He takes my guineas, does 
me no good, and talks nonsense into the 
bargain. What confidence can one place in 
a fellow like that? The man's a fool, and 
what's more, he don't understand my consti- 



172 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

tution a bit. When a person has got gout 
his system wants building up ; it's the 
greatest mistake in the world to lower it. 
Gout comes almost entirely from poverty of 
blood." 

Few things vex the hospitable man more 
than, after an absence from home, to hear on 
his return that the hounds have run near his 
place. 

" What ! " he exclaims, " you killed in my 
field — the field below my house — and nobody 
went in ! How's that ? I must make 
inquiries. Are people to be starved because 
I happen to be away ? It makes me mad 
to think of it. I feel positively ashamed. 
My servants — they have orders to ask every- 
body in. Why was it not done ? People 
will say I am stingy — that I only enter- 
tain when I am there myself," and so on, 
and on. 

It is real hard work to pacify him and to 
make him believe that no one for an instant 



THE HOSPITABLE MAN. 173 

doubted his hospitality, especially after the 
many conspicuous proofs which he has given 
of it. 

" Ah," he says with a sigh, " the thing is 
done, and it's no use talking, but I shall take 
good care it don't happen again. Those lazy 
fellows of mine ouofht to have brousfht out 
trays with the wine directly they heard the 
hounds. It did not matter how far they had 
to go." 

Our friend is exceedingly partial to the fair 
sex, and they look upon him with great 
favour in return. His hearty, kindly manner 
sets them at their ease, and many a sip out 
of his flask do they enjoy on a cold, frosty 
morning. It delights him to see them smack 
their rosy lips and cry with a pretty air of 
affectation, "Oh, how strong ! You bad, bad 
man ! How can you possibly drink such 
intoxicating stuff ? " 

He gives a knowing wink in return and 
says gravely, " My dear, you are quite right. 



174 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

I can't take much, any more than you can, 
but what little I have I like good." 

So he goes through life ; hunting, eating 
and drinking, without any enemies, and with 
a vast number of friends ; some like him for 
himself, others for what they can get out of 
him, for, alas, disinterested affection is rare 
here below. 

And when, one fine day, he succumbs to a 
fit of apoplexy, brought on by too full a habit 
of bod3% he is missed by the whole Hunt, who 
exclaim, " Ah, poor old chap, he wasn't half 
a bad sort in his way ! " 

Comrades of the hunting field, if you and I 
meet with any higher praise than this when 
our turn comes to jump our last fence, and 
feel the spring of a good horse under us for 
the last time, we may consider ourselves 
lucky. " Not a bad sort in his way " is high 
eulogy from the survivors, who are seldom 
given to enthusiasm. 



XII.— THE JEALOUS WOMAN". 

The jealous woman is not a nice person at 
any time, but she is rather less so in the 
hunting field than in any other place ; 
perhaps because her peculiar failing is there 
rendered patent- to the whole world. She 
cannot keep it sufficiently under control to 
prevent people who possess ordinary powers 
of observation from finding it out, or from 
noticing how unfairly she rides. Her spirit 
of emulation passes the customary bounds of 
politeness, and is too strong not to be resented 
and censured. 

As a rule she is perfectly unconscious of 
the ridicule which her jealousy evokes, and 
would be very much surprised and very much 
annoyed if the comments of her fellow-sports- 



176 OUR FRIENDS IX THE HUNTING FIELD. 

men came to her ears. She is under the 
impression that she is the " observed of all 
observers," and immensely admired. Her 
vanity even prevents her from seeing that the 
men are not as civil as they might be, and 
avoid her whenever they decently can. 

The truth is, she treats -them with such 
scant courtesy that they think there is no 
harm in paying her back in her own coin. 
They cease to regard her as a lady, and cannot 
associate her with anything either feminine or 
gentle. She is in their eyes that most odious 
of all creatures extant, an unsexed woman. 
So with all her pushing and shoving, bustling 
and cramming, she gains very little. 

The gentlemen view her with a dislike 
bordering on disgust, and are unsparing in 
their criticisms. Quite unaware of the senti- 
ments they entertain towards her, she endea- 
vours over and over again to beguile them 
into conversation, and when hounds are not 
running, tries her utmost to ingratiate herself 



THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 177 

in their favour, but her efforts in this direction 

are seldom crowned by success. The men 

hold obstinately aloof, refuse to smile at her 

witticisms or show any approval of her smart 

sayings. For she has a sharp tongue, and 

can demolish another women's reputation 

rather better than her neighbours. She is 

clever, caustic and amusing, has a nice figure, 

and is good-looking into the bargain ; and 

yet the male sex, with all these points in her 

favour, cannot forgive her for usurping their 

place at every fence they come to, and for 

seizing an unfair advantage over them on 

every possible occasion. Such conduct blots 

out all charm, and creates a feeling of anger 

and resentment in the masculine breast. 

Being a woman, they have not even the 

satisfaction of swearing at her, which adds 

insult to injury. 

Ladies may ride as hard as anybody else, and 

yet ride in a feminine fashion, and not get in the 

way. The dangerous woman is bad enough, 

12 



178 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNIING FIELD. 

but the jealous one is a thousand times worse. 
The former errs chiefly through ignorance 
and an exuberance of animal spirits that pro- 
duces an intoxicating effect ; but the latter 
can plead no such excuse. She knows quite 
well what she is about, and offends deliber- 
ately, altogether ignoring the precept of "Do 
as thou wouldst be done by." AVhen under 
the influence of the insane passion that 
masters her, she is no longer mistress of 
herself, and will commit every species of 
absurdity. She will ride a desperate finish in 
a ploughed fi.eld up to her horse's hocks, whilst 
hounds have actually never left the covert, 
and are still hunting busily inside, simply 
because she happens to catch sight of a 
female skirt fluttering ahead. With elbows 
squared, and arms, hands, legs at work, she 
imagines that she is doing great things, cal- 
culated to rouse the enthusiasm of the whole 
field. 

She never hears the laughter of the by- 



THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 179 

standers, or sees the contemptuous smiles that 
wreathe every face. A mad struggle for 
supremacy rages within her breast. It is 
as if a devil had taken possession of her 
and converted her into an irresponsible 
being. 

She gallops madly down a road, bespatter- 
ing her feminine rivals with mud, never 
dreams of apologizing, and does not draw 
rein until she has far outstripped them. 
Then she looks round triumphantly, her face 
all flushed and heated, and w^earing an 
expression of satisfaction, which seems to 
say, " There ! I am first. It's not a bit of 
use your trying to get before me, for I 
shan't put up wdth such an indignity for a 
minute. You must see how much better I 
can ride than you, so what is the good of 
your trying to compete ? " 

Most women conflne their jealousy exclu- 
sively to members of their own sex, but there 
are some, though happily they are in the 

12* 



180 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD, 

minority, who extend it even to the men, and 
who cannot endure to see more than one or 
two of the very hardest riders of the whole 
hunt in front of them. Their poor horses are 
dreadfully to be pitied, for they treat them 
with a harshness and a want of consideration 
that borders on downright cruelty. The 
animal is regarded as a mere machine, a 
galloping and jumping piece of mechanism, 
which must never get out of order, and 
must go as long as the rider chooses, with- 
out respect to health, humour, or fatigue. 
Such people are not fit to have horses. 
They hit them, they urge them, they let 
heavy gates slam on their sensitive quarters, 
in order to slink through, and they gallop 
them up hill and down, through bogs and 
over plough, and don't once pause to take 
a very necessary pull. To get on, on, on 
at all hazards is the only thing they care 
for, and this they call horsemanship and 
riding to hounds. Ugh ! 



THE JEALOUS AVOMAN. 181 

Poor, noble steed ! The more generous he 
is, the greater is the advantage taken of him. 
A jealous woman is not worthy of a good 
horse. She should always ride a sluggard, 
since pity, mercy, tenderness, every feminine 
attribute are mero*ed in the frantic desire to 

o 

occupy a prominent place, and let no other 
female get ahead. Ambition is turned to 
striving, courage to mean emulation ; good 
sense flies, and envy, hatred and malice reign 
in its place. 

If some similarly-constituted individual — 
for there are jealous men as well as jealous 
women — attempts to take her turn, she is the 
first to cry out in tones of severe indignation, 
" Don't cut in, sir. Now, sir, what are you 
doing ? " or words to that effect. But she 
thinks nothing of doing so herself. In truth, 
it is her usual practice. The fact is, she is 
not a true sportswoman. Her love of the 
chase is not a genuine, but a spurious passion. 
It is the competition of one person riding 



182 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

against another that rouses her to enthusiasm, 
and not the beautiful sight of a pack of well- 
bred fox-hounds flashing like a streak of 
silver over the green pastures in pursuit of 
their quarry. 

Little cares she for either fox or hounds. 
" Who was first, second and third ? Did you 
see where I was, and how well I rode ? " are 
the sole thoughts occupying her mind. 
Everything else is as nought in comparison. 
She has neither a kindly nor generous nature. 
When other women get falls and meet M'ith 
accidents, though she pretends to condole, in 
her heart she rejoices at their misfortunes. 
She seems to imagine that in avoiding similar 
disasters she is possessed of superior skill and 
knowledge. 

She can be pleasant enough to the ladies 
w^ho don't " go." They are not in her way, 
and don't offend her susceptibilities ; but 
those who ride hard inspire sentiment of 
such extreme hostility, that she has the 



THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 183 

greatest difllculty in concealing them. Her 
artificial politeness and vinagery - sweet 
speeches deceive no one. They are too 
laboured, and lack sincerity. Genuine kind- 
liness is felt to be wanting. Everybody 
laughs at the jealous woman behind her 
back, and she has hardly a single friend, 
male or female, in the whole hunt. Cold 
civility or disdainful tolerance greets her 
on all sides. 

If only she could divest herself of a certain 
uneasy consciousness, which makes her 
erroneously suppose that people take a vital 
interest in her performances, and never 
weary of discussing them, she would enjoy 
the chase a great deal more than she does at 
present. But she can't realize the very 
simple fact that nobody cares twopence 
whether she be first or last, jumps or doesn't 
jump, and that she is not the central point of 
attention, on which two or three hundred 
pairs of eyes are continually riveted. Folks 



184 OUR FRIENDS IX THE HUNTING FIELD. 

as a rule have enough to do looking after 
themselves, without looking after her, and in 
the majority of cases are taken up with their 
own doings, not those of their neighbours. 
Number One is of such paramount import- 
ance to the jealous woman, that s=he can't 
understand how it is the interesting numeral 
does not prove equally so to her companions. 
If anything goes wrong out hunting, her 
horse refuses, or she gets left behind, 
indignant at occupying a backward position, 
she prefers to come straight home, and is 
ready to cry with vexation and mortification. 
All her pleasure for the day is gone. She 
can't reconcile herself to the humiliation of 
riding about with the shirkers and roadsters. 
For these reasons she seldom derives any real 
enjoyment from a day's hunting. So many 
things have to go right, and even if they do, 
there is nearly always a drawback, in the 
shape of some other hard-riding woman, 
perhaps younger and with more nerve, who 



THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 185 

throws down the gauntlet. It is impossible 
to be happy under such conditions. Her 
philosophy is not sufficient to enable her to 
see how very immaterial it is whether Brown, 
Jones, or Robinson holds the proud position 
of heading the hard-riding division. The 
triumphs of the chase are very fleeting, and 
often depend quite as much upon the horse 
as upon the rider, and yet she hankers after 
them with an inordinate eagerness, amounting 
to positive folly. 

Out of the saddle, the jealous woman is not 
unfrequently a pleasant and lady -like person, 
both conversible and intelligent ; but in it 
she assumes a different character altogether, 
and appears completely to lose her head. Or 
does her real nature come to the surface, 
thanks to the savage excitement occasioned 
by fox-hunting? 

Anyhow, the desire for distinction, which in 
a moderate degree may be regarded as a 
virtue, becomes in her case a foolish and 



186 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

absorbing passion which makes her appear 
in the most unfavourable hght. 

It destroys her feminine quahties, and 
reduces her to the level of a very inferior 
man. 

Moreover, it renders her a target for jeers, 
jests and sneers of every description. 

If she only knew the truth, she might 
perhaps be brought to realize that in return 
for an indifferent, " Oh, ah ! yes, she goes 
very hard," this is all she gains. 

She alienates her friends, and as the years 
pass becomes more and more isolated, until 
at last, when her turn comes to meet with a 
bad accident, the voice of public opinion 
exclaims : " What ! nearly dead ! Concussion 
of the brain — picked up insensible ! Ah, 
well, serves her right. She always would 
ride so infernally jealous." 

What is the result ? Her craving for 
admiration and pre-eminence ends in " serves 
her right." 



THE JEALOUS WOMAN. 187 

Misguided woman ! Before this harsh 
verdict is passed upon you can't you amend 
your ways ? It is not difficult. It is only 
to get into your head that nobody cares 
two straws Mdiat you do and what 3'ou don't 
do in the hunting field, except yourself. You 
are just as much an insignificant atom there 
as in the great big world. And whether the 
atom jumps this bullfinch or that, shirks one 
place, avoids another, passes a fellow atom, 
or is passed by it in return, what matters it ? 
A month — a year hence, and will not all your 
keen "rivalry appear very petty and very 
ridiculous ? 



XIII.— THE BOEE. 

Of all the people we meet in the hunting 
field, if we were honestly to examine our 
feelings, the one we most dislike is probabty 
the bore — the fellow whose words go in at 
one ear and out at the other, and who never 
has the sense or tact to perceive that his 
long-winded and interminable stories are 
infinitely wearisome to the listener. 

And the worst of it is, there are so many 
bores about. The genus is so horribly 
common, and wherever men are gathered 
together, there they exist in numbers. 

You fly from one only to fall headlong into 
the arms of another, and get involved in a 
second tedious narrative before you have 
time to shake off the unpleasant impression 



THE BORE. 1S9 

produced by the first. On probing into the 
depths of human nature, many rare virtues 
and agreeable quaUties are often discoverable ; 
but the hardest thing of all to find is 
originality — that little fruitful germ of varia- 
tion, removed from the vulgar type, which is 
closely allied to genius. 

The bore has not a particle of originality 
in his whole composition. If he had he 
would be a character and not a bore. 
As it is, he is prosy and dull and common- 
place to a degree almost past conception. If 
he ivould only hold his tongue ; but, good 
Heavens ! how the man talks. His jaws are 
never at rest. The subject of conversation 
he chooses is nearly always himself, or his 
immediate belongings. Though interesting, 
no doubt, to him, these topics are not equally 
so to you. The difficulty is to concentrate 
one's attention sufficiently to appear decently 
civil. You are seized by an irresistible in- 
clination to listen to what the people all 



190 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

about you are saying, and you feel un- 
pleasantly conscious that your absent 
" exactly's, just so's and indeed's," lack ttie 
genuine ring of honest sympathy. The 
whole time that the unconscious bore is 
holding forth with great volubility and 
complacency, your entire energies are 
devoted to pondering over the best means 
of effecting an escape without doing violence 
to his susceptibilities. You wait breathlessly 
for a pause, which never seems to come. 
With the best will in the world, it is im- 
possible to derive any pleasure from a con- 
versation that is so entirely one-sided. No 
matter how it may have been started, the 
bore always works back to himself and his 
ideas, and utterly refuses to listen to yours. 
He is much too egotistical to allow of any 
reciprocity. If through some strange chance 
he asks a neighbour after his health, he does 
not wait to hear the reply, but immediately 
begins a long tirade about his own. 



THE BORE. 191 

" Ah, my good sir, that was precisely what 
happened in my case. You remember the 
day I got that bad fall over timber ? I have 
never recovered from the effects. I feel them 
constantly. The muscles of my back have 
been permanently injured. Eheumatism set 
in, and even now, every time there is a 
change in the weather, I can't tell you what 
agonies I suffer. I don't suppose anyone is 
such a martyr as I am. These east winds 
kill me. They pinch me up, take away my 
appetite, and upset my liver altogether. 
Cartwright ordered me to take podophyllin 
and taraxacum, but what's the good of that ? 
One can't go on taking those sort of messes 
all one's life. Eh, what ? you suffer too ? 
Oh, ah ! yes, very likely, very likely. By-the- 
by, did I tell you about my chestnut mare ? " 

So he runs on, and won't hearken to you 
when you try to put in a small word in 
return, and try to relate your experiences 
and your ailments. 



192 OUR FEIEXDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

The bore is a tremendous hand at dun- 
ning. He is always getting up penny- 
readings and entertainments for his par- 
ticular village, to which he expects all his ac- 
quaintances to subscribe. Now it is a church 
to be restored, anon a stained window to be 
set up, again, a testimonial to some parish 
authority whom you know nothing about. 
But rather than get inveigled into a conver- 
sation, you give him half-a-sovereign or a 
sovereign as the case may be, and fight shy 
of him for the rest of the season. 

But if there is one time more than any 
other when you pray heart and soul to avoid 
falling into the clutches of the bore, that 
time is when hounds are busy drawing a 
covert. At such seasons, he literally button- 
holes you, and rambling on in his usual 
prosy manner, marches you up and down, 
up and down, until you are reduced to a 
state of white heat, and mentally apostro 
phize your companion whenever a whimper 



THE BORE. 193 

proceeds from the pack. You find yourself 
compelled to listen to some long uninterest- 
ing narrative, instead of being able to dash 
off in pursuit the instant the fox breaks 
away. And so you probably lose your start 
and your temper both together, and use more 
forcible language than is desirable. 

The majority of bores are grumblers as 
well. Finding fault is an amusement which 
gives their tongues a fine opportunity of 
wagging at other people's expense. When- 
ever sport is poor, they are the first to cry 
out, though by no means the hardest to 
ride. Nothing is rightly managed in their 
estimation. They are persuaded that if 
they had the direction of affairs each day 
would be productive of a brilliant run ; 
but as they haven't, everything is in a 
state of muddle and confusion. To begin 
with, hounds are always too fat or too 
lean, too slack or too keen, too noisy or 

too mute. If they go fast,* they ought to go 

13 



19 i OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

slow ; if they go slow they ought to go 
fast. But the grumbler's peculiar scapegoat 
is the huntsman. That unfortunate indi- 
vidual, whether justly or unjustly, invari- 
ably comes in for condemnation. Epithet 
after epithet is heaped upon his devoted 
head. He is a blockhead, an idiot, a fool. 
Words fail to describe his shortcomings 
and crass stupidity. He can't hunt, he 
can't ride, he don't even know the run of 
a fox. He's as slow as an old woman, and 
as conceited as a young one. 

Neither does the master escape censure. 
Indeed, indirectly he bears the brunt of the 
blows. 

" He mounts the men badly. Their horses 
are a positive disgrace to the hunt. He has 
no notion of keeping the field in order, and 
always contrives to go to the wrong covert 
at the wrong time." 

In short, the grumbler is ne^er satisfied. 
To express approbation would detract from 



THE EOEE. 196 

his dignity, at all events in his own estima- 
tion. No matter how good the sport, he 
invariably considers that it ought and would 
have been batter had his precious advice 
only been adopted at the critical moment 
when hounds threw up their heads and came 
to the first check. He is ever ready to 
tender counsel ; and one of his peculiarities 
consists in the extreme indignation he dis- 
plays when he finds it ignored. For he is 
always convinced that he knows which way 
the hunted fox has gone, when the field and 
huntsman remain in iirnorance as to its 
whereabouts. The grumbling bore is for- 
tunate in one respect. He entertains a re- 
markably good opinion of himself, which 
nothing can shake. 

As to arguing with him — it is perfectly 
useless. Just so much waste of breath, for he 
is essentially an obstinate man, and a narrow- 
minded one to boot. What he thinks, others 

must think, therefore discussion is to be 

13* 



196 OUK FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

avoided, since he will talk his opponent's 
head off without giving him a chance to put 
in the most modest little word. 

This is what renders his society so weari- 
some and uninteresting. Most people very 
naturally like to have their say and when 
they have listened patiently to somebody 
else's, feel that they are more or less entitled 
to express an opinion. But our friend proses 
and grumbles on without intermission, steadily 
adhering to his own pet subjects of conversa- 
tion and entirely ignoring j^ours. Such 
egotism is disgusting and makes the heart 
contract with a sense of personal injury. 

After he has told you all the ins and outs 
of his constitution, his stable and domestic 
experiences, it would be a relief to mention 
your own, but when you enter into details he 
hardly listens. This conduct is both provo- 
king and irritating. The British sense of fair 
play is outraged. Whenever you meet him 
the same thing occurs. He is always full of 



THE BORE. 197 

himself, or else of some fresli grievance. A 
new one is a luxury and he does not forsake 
it until it is worn quite threadbare. His 
relations with the Hunt are somewhat 
strained, as can easily be imagined. He and 
the master are not exactly on the best of 
terms. The master is not to blame ; for to 
keep the grumbling bore in a good humour 
is a task beyond the powers of any ordinary 
mortal. The greatest diplomatist could not 
succeed in averting an occasional storm. 
Those who know our friend intimately, have 
long since given up the attempt of pleasing 
him in despair, and declare he is never so 
happy as when finding fault. Altogether, he 
is far from being a cheerful companion, and 
the major portion of his fellow-sportsmen act 
with considerable discretion in giving him a 
wide berth, and in confining themselves to 
meteorological platitudes when forced for 
civility's sake to converse. 

But the bore is an extremely dense indivi- 



IPS OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

dual, and being endowed by nature with a 
very thick skin, does not notice fine shades of 
manner, or perceive when his absence is more 
desirable than his company. His want of 
sensitiveness often stands him in good stead, 
for not unfrequently he meets with a rebuff, 
which, however, he disdains to accept as 
such. 

New-comers are to be pitied ; for as a rule 
they fall a prey to him just like so many flies 
to a spider. It takes them some little time 
to find him out, and until that event occurs, 
they listen with a certain deference to his 
long tirades against the Hunt, the country, 
the master and the Hunt servants. They are 
even somewhat impressed at first by criticisms 
which seem to imply superior knowledge on 
the part of the critic and look up to him as 
an enlightened sportsman, whose oracular 
utterances command attention. 

But this stage of hero-worship soon passes 
and before long they see their quondam friend 



THE BORE. 1!)0 

revealed in liis true light. Stripped of all 
glamour, lie appears as an inveterate grumbler 
and an unmitigated bore. A person to be 
shunned and avoided, and strongly discour- 
aged whenever an outbreak of garrulity seems 
imminent. 

" By Jove ! here he comes," they exclaim. 
" For Heaven's sake, let's escape whilst there 
is still time." And so saying they stick spurs 
into their horses and gallop off as hard as 
they can lay legs to the ground, or else dodge 
round the nearest covert, or seek refuge in 
its muddy rides. Anywhere to avoid the 
inveterate grumbler, who ambles on ready to 
pounce upon the first victim who unwarily 
crosses his path. 

He does not care one jot about the indivi- 
dual. All he wants is some target against 
which to rattle the small shot of his tongue. 
For he dearly loves the sound of it. As for 
sense, humour, interest, they are utterly de- 
ficient. He strings a quantity of words 



200 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

together, which come dribbling out in an 
uninterrupted flow like water from a spout, 
but the stream is thin. He, however, is 
charmed with the result, and it never strikes 
him that his listener is not equally so. 

For the bore is as egotistical as he is tire- 
some, and although there are a few people 
kind enough to sacrifice themselves for his 
benefit and who pretend to listen to his re- 
marks, the majority of men and women are 
profoundly wearied by them. 

For to bore modern society is the one fault 
most difficult to forgive, in spite of its com- 
monness. Instinctively our spirits rise up in 
arms against the man whose long, prosy 
stories almost send us to sleep and are utterly 
destitute of point ; stories that go rambling 
on for ever and ever. Dulness is an unpar- 
donable sin, and even those who may not 
happen to be bright and witty themselves 
can appreciate these excellent qualities in 
others. 



THE BORE. 201 

For humour is the salt of life. Without it 
the world would be but a sorry place to dwell 
in. We like what is cheerful and pleasant, 
and whether in the hunting field or anywhere 
else our term on earth is too short to en- 
courage the bores and grumblers. We can- 
not beguile ourselves into the belief that they 
are good fellows, when halfan-hour's conver- 
sation with them gives us a regular fit of the 
blues and makes us look at everything 
through a pair of black spectacles. Even if 
our particular Hunt has faults, we do not 
always want to hear them dinned into our 
ears, and above all we object to being bored. 

The process is one against which human 
nature rises up in revolt. . 



XIV— THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS 
NEEVE. 

Nerve and scent are two things equally in- 
definable. They are here to-day and gone 
to-morrow. No one knows the exact condi- 
tions on which they depend ; though since the 
first institution of hunting, many have sought 
to ascertain what qualities of temperament 
and weather are essential to their existence. 
Up till now the mystery remains a mystery, 
and the problem seems as far off solution as 
ever. 

Sometimes on the most promising looking 
of mornings a fox won't run a yard, turning 
and twisting in every direction in covert, and 
completely baffling his pursuers. He may be 
a strong old patriarch, fit to show his white- 
tagged brush to the whole field. But no ! he 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 203 

declines to do anything of the sort and is 
viciously sworn at as an unenterprising brute. 
On other occasions, when, as far as it is 
possible to judge, the conditions do not appear 
nearly so favourable — when it blows a perfect 
hurricane, accompanied by furious storms of 
sleet and snow, the little red rover literally 
revels in a scamper, stoutly defies the elements 
and leads those who have been bold enough 
to face them a pretty dance. 

As for men, ihey are as deceptive as foxes 
every bit. A hue physique has nothing to 
do with nerve — at least it fails to ensure its 
presence. You see some great, big, healthy 
man wdth rosy cheeks, the limbs of a giant, 
and the digestion of an ostrich, and you say to 
yourself, " Fortunate mortal ! Surely he does 
not know the meaning of the word fear." 
But you are mistaken. He clings soberly to 
the roads and gates, and rarely jumps except 
under disagreeably high pressure. In short 
he objects to the process and considers it far 



204 OUR FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

too dangerous to be pleasant. He hunts to 
enjoy himself and not to commit suicide in a 
delicate fashion which shall afford his friends 
no apprehensions as to the state of his im- 
mortal soul. It is wiser policy to take care 
of that valuable orcran on earth. So reasons 
the giant. On the other hand some long, 
lank, frail-looking individual whose appear- 
ance certainly leads you to suppose that he 
has already one foot in the grave, goes like 
a demon, and repeatedly charges impossible 
fences which no living horse can clear. This 
fact creates but few misgivings. He is pre- 
pared every day he goes out to take innu- 
merable falls and regards anything under 
half-a-dozen as quite an insignificant number, 
not worth talking about. For a time he goes 
on gaily ; tumbhng and picking himself up, 
being reprimanded by the master for con- 
stantly over-riding and periodically killing 
his hounds, and eliciting divided abuse, con- 
demnation and praise from the field in 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE, 205 

general. One calls him a fool, another pro- 
nounces him a " d d young idiot,'' and a 

third has no words to express his admiration 
for such magnificent courage. The majority, 
however, are convinced he is a madman, and 
take a spiteful delight in prophesying that he 
will soon come to what they call his bearings. 
This generally means a desire to see him 
"funk" like themselves and no longer put 
them to shame by his gallant deeds. The 
truth is, jealousy and blame are curiously 
allied in the minds of most people. A jealous 
person will generally remark severely on the 
doings of those he professes to despise, but in 
reality envies ; whilst an indifferent one holds 
his tongue and is not put out because so-and- 
so has the audacity to jump right under his 
nose, when personally he may have the desire 
but not the courage to follow his example. 
Oddly enough, in most instances, the pre- 
dictions of the malicious prove correct. Our 
friend does come to his bearinsfs — that is to 



206 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

say, after riding for a time as if lie bore a 
charmed life, the day arrives when he gets 
a nasty fall and hurts himself badly. He has 
often hurt himself before, but always slightly. 
On the present occasion his horse rolls heavily 
over him, struggles, plunges, and leaves him 
lying on the ground with a broken leg and 
several severe contusions. He suffers agonies 
on the homeward drive. The fly is jolty, its 
springs deficient and every yard of the road 
seems patched with stones, which increase his 
pain a thousand-fold. He grows dizzy and 
once or twice is on the point of fainting. 

Three months elapse before lie is sufficiently 
recovered to take the saddle again. During 
the long weary weeks which he has been 
forced to spend in bed or lying full length on 
the sofa, his memory is haunted by the shock, 
the fall, and those brief but agonizing mo- 
ments, when the horse rolled backwards and 
forwards over him and he fully expected to 
be killed. Impossible to wipe out the recol- 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 207 

lection. It is pliotograplied on his brain in 
dark, unlovely colours, and althougli lie 
would give all the world to iret rid of the 
disagreeable impression, stamped so strongly 
on his mind, he can't. 

The season is drawino^ to a close when he 
reappears in the hunting field, looking fright- 
fully pale, fragile and emaciated. Every one 
pities him and he has a most legitimate 
excuse for merely hacking about and not 
riding as of yore. He comes out on a quiet 
cob expressly purchased for the purpose — a 
creature guaranteed not to cock its ears, 
whisk its tail or even blink its eye uncom- 
fortably. Jogging sedately along the roads, 
or — as he gets better — popping over an oc- 
casional gap, our invalid is much astonished 
to find what a relief it is to be on the sick list 
and not expected to perform feats of valour. 
He feels as if a load had been removed from 
his shoulders, leaving him a free man, who 
no longer, every time he goes out hunting, is 



208 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

weighted by a crushing sense of obligation. 
For be it known, reputation is not the glitter- 
ing jewel that it seems. It has its drawbacks 
in the hunting field as everywhere else, since 
fame is easier to acquire in the first instance, 
than to sustain. A single gallant action is 
frequently sufficient to bring renown, but it 
entails a long series of efforts to prevent that 
action from being forgotten. Therefore a 
hard-rider must continually be on his mettle. 
There is no greater mistake than thinking, 
"I can rest on my laurels." Other people 
win fresh ones and yours soon become old 
and faded if you do not exert yourself. 

Meanwhile our poor young friend is con- 
scious of a subtle alteration in his mental 
condition. He begins to find himself looking 
critically at the fences, examining their top- 
binders, and for the first time thinking how 
uncommonly wide and ugly the ditches 
appear. Luckily no one, not even his bosom 
friends, are aware of the daily increasing 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 209 

dread of danger gro\Ying up within his breast, 
like some foul and poisonous fungus. The 
season drags to an end, as far as he is con- 
cerned, and his fame remains untarnished. 
The bubble is expanding, but has not yet 
burst. His comrades expect nothing from 
him. They unite in saying, " Poor fellow ! 
how ill he looks. He really ought not to 
come out hunting. If he'd only give his leg 
a chance, it would be all right for next 
season." 

Alas ! throughout the summer that unfor- 
tunate downfall still lingers in his thoughts. 
The impression, though not so acute, refuses 
to fade. It rests in the background of his 
mind, rising to the surface whenever matters 
equine are discussed. Often at night he 
dreams of four brown heels flourishing before 
his eyes, and in fancy feels once more that sleek 
but heavy body pinning him to the ground, 
causing a strangely dead sensation to creep 

up his right leg. Nevertheless, when winter 

14 



210 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

approaches, the injured Hmb has grown per- 
fectly well, and he repairs as usual to his 
accustomed hunting quarters, trying to de- 
ceive himself into the belief that he is very 
keen. On the way down the country seems 
to him desperately blind — much more so than 
in ordinary seasons. The very look of it is 
enough to frighten one, but the strong will 
that in years past has carried him over so 
many formidable fences now resolves to keep 
his fears secret. Unhappy man ! In spite of 
good resolutions he cannot succeed altogether 
in acting up to them. 

Before long it begins to be whispered 
amongst his former companions of the chase 
—those gallant and select spirits who give 

prestige to every hunt — that Z is not 

going quite so hard as usual. The first man 
states the fact with considerable hesitation. 

He feels that it is equivalent to taking Z 's 

character away — a kind of public confession 
that he has dropped from grace and retreated 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 211 

into the despised ranks of " the moh I " But 
the answer comes decisive from half-a-dozen 
pairs of stern, masculine lips. " Oh ! yes, 
we've noticed it. We've noticed it for some 
time. Didn't you remark how he shirked 
that big bottom on the opening day, when we 
ran as fast as hounds could race from Cross- 
trees to Lockthorpe ? There was no excuse. 

Poor Z , I'm afraid he's settled." This 

half-mournfully, half-complacently. They 
exult in the thought that they themselves 
remain WTZsettled, yet inwardly wonder when 
their turn will come, and whether it will 
produce the same result. 

In process of time rumours of his failing 

nerve reach Z 's ears. He is frightfully 

annoyed by them, little guessing that they 
are already spread amongst all the field. 
Their effect is to make him feel under a 
cloud and to goad him to renewed exertion. 
For the next week or ten days he puts on a 

tremendous spurt, and almost rides up to 

14* 



212 OUE FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

his old form. But just when his nerve seems 
really about to improve, he gets another spill 
which, although unattended by any evil 
consequences, once more wakes the old fears 
into life. He cannot help it. He knows 
they are ridiculous, unworthy indeed of a 
man, but still they gain the ascendancy. 
Struggle as he may he fails to conquer them. 
They fasten on him like a tormenting 
creditor appearing at the most inconvenient 
moment. 

Meanwhile his stud-groom, from whom he 
is particularly anxious to conceal any 
symptoms of degeneracy, is perfectly aware 
of what is taking place. One after another 

Z brings the old favourite hunters home 

that he has ridden for years, with the same 
pitiful tale. They pull, they refuse ; they refuse, 
they pull. There is no longer any satisfac- 
tion to be derived from them. Past virtues 
are swallowed up by present shortcomings 
and all their good points have disappeared. 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 213 

The pride of Z 's stable is a thorough- 
bred chestnut mare, a beauty to look at, and 
perfect- in every respect, at least so her master 
has always declared until now. He has 
ridden her for four seasons and, marvellous 
to relate, she has never put him down through 
her own fault. She is an extraordinary fencer, 
big and bold, who does not know what it is 
to turn her head, and her only fault when 
hounds run hard is a ver}^ pardonable one. 
She must and will be with them. This year 

Z affirms that she pulls his arms off. 

The fact is, he is afraid to let her go. 

" It's very odd, Wilkinson," he says to his 
head man in tones of confidential injury, 
" but I can't hold Queen Bee. I don't know 
w^hat's come to her. She's a different animal 
altogether from what she was in the early 
part of last season." 

"Indeed, sir," responds Wilkinson diplo- 
matically. " I am sorry to hear that, for the 
mare is fit and well." 



214 OUE FEIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

He is a man of tact, and, making a pretty- 
shrewd guess at what is amiss, smothers a 

smile. Z is a kind master, and he has a 

comfortable berth. 

" I tell you, Wilkinson," continues Z 

unsuspiciously, " that it's an infernally un- 
pleasant thing going out hunting and feeling 
yourself being run away with at every fence." 

" No doubt it is, sir. The mare hasn't 
done much work as yet, and perhaps she's 
a bit above herself. We must send her out 
oftener, that's all. You can ride her second 
'oss on Thursday if you Uke. She'll have 
settled down by then." 

" Yes, I think I will," says Z . " After 

all, there's no pleasure in riding a pull- 
ing, tearing brute who never leaves you 
alone." 

" How would it be to put a stronger bit on 
her, sir ? " suggests Wilkinson in a most 
respectful and sympathetic manner. 

Z catches at the idea. 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 215 

"By all means," he replies. "I believe 
a stronger bit would just make all the 
difference." 

So the next time the mare goes out orders 
are issued to this effect. When the day 

arrives, after many inward struggles, Z 

decides to rides as first horse an animal lent 
him on trial by a neighbouring dealer ; his 
intention being to mount Queen Bee as soon 
as she has quieted down a bit. Owing 
to a mistake on the part of the mare's 
strapper, she is sent to the meet with her 
ordinary bridle, whilst about half a ton of 
steel is placed in the mouth of the stranger. 

Fortunately Z knows nothing of this, 

ind when he gets on the mare, being under 
the impression that she is restrained by a 
powerful lever against which she finds it im- 
possible to pull, allows her to stride along at 
her will, with the result of holding her per- 
fectly easily. 

" Well, sir ; how have you got on ? " iu- 



216 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

quires Wilkinson curiously, when his master 
comes riding into the stable yard. 

'' First rate. I never was carried better 
in my life. Queen Bee is quite in her old 
form." 

"Come, that's all right," answers the 
gratified Wilkinson, going to the mare's head 
while Z dismounts. 

In the twinkling of an eye he perceives 
that his orders have not been carried out 
regarding the bit. He deserves great credit, 
for, in this delicate situation, he has the ex- 
treme good sense to refrain from mentioning 
the circumstance. 

" Did she pull you at all, sir ? " he asks, 
looking as sober as a judge. 

" No, not an ounce. Eemember, Wilkin- 
son, always to put that bit on to Queen Bee 
in future. It suits her down to the ground." 

" Yes, sir," says Wilkinson ; but as his 
master walks away he shakes his head and 
looks after him with a regretful sigh. " Ah ! " 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 217 

he soliloquizes, " I've had my suspicions for 
a long time, but now the whole thing is as 
clear as the nose on one's face. The mare's 
no more in fault nor me. What we wants 
this season is what we had a little too much 
of afore the guvnor got that unlucky spill 
and broke his leg. He's a-losing of his nerve, 
more's the pity — more's the pity, for at one 
time a gallanter gentleman never went out 
hunting, though every now and again he was 
a little too rough on his 'osses," So saying 
Wilkinson delivers the beautiful Queen Bee 
to her particular strapper, whilst he hurries 
off to personally superintend the mixing of her 
gruel. 

Another person who quickly learns poor 

Z 's secret is the dealer with whom he is 

accustomed to deal. In olden days never was 
a customer so easy to satisfy. If only horses 

could gallop Z soon taught them to 

jump. It was as if he infused into their 
hearts something of his own gallant spirit. 



218 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

But now it is almost impossible to suit liim. 
He has grown fastidious to a degree. The 
truth is, he hardly knows what he wants, or 
rather he wants so much that no single 
animal can combine all the requisite qualities. 
It must gallop, it must jump, it must stay, be 
smooth in its paces, have perfect manners, 
neither kick, buck, nor do anything disagree- 
able, whilst its age shall not be less than five 

nor more than seven. Meanwhile poor Z 

has such a nervous horror of riding a new 
horse, that he will not try one sufficiently to 
discover its merits. On the other hand, he 
grows sharper and sharper at finding out its de- 
merits. If the animal goes boldly at his fences, 
he calls him a rushing, teaiing brute ; if after 

being pulled up, he declines to jump, Z 

declares he is a rank refuser, and if the steady- 
going beast is so docile as to take no notice of 
the electric current of fear, communicated from 
his rider's hands to the corners of his sensitive 
mouth, he is dubbed either a sluggard or a 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 219 

cur. In short, Z wants a wonder. A 

few exist, but they are very hard to find, and 
even money cannot purchase them the very 
moment they are wanted. 

Z requires his ideal hunter to be fleet 

as the wind, yet not to pull an ounce ; bold 
as a lion, yet to go lamb -like at his fences, 
and to possess a courageous and generous 
nature, which, however, indulges in no in- 
convenient light-heartedness. Where is such 

a horse to be found ? Z chops and 

changes, with the result that he outwears the 
dealer's patience, and at the end is decidedly 
worse off, both in money and horseflesh, than 
he was at the beginning. His friendly dealer 
does his best to please him. No efforts are 

wanting on his part, for Z has not only 

been a good customer for many years, but 
also a first-rate advertisement. Indirectly he 
has put many hundred pounds into his 
pocket. He begins by sending him sound 
fresh young horses of the class he has bought 



'220 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

up till now. They certainly require a little 

making, but hitherto Z has never failed 

to turn them into brilliant hunters. Next, he 
tries him with something older and steadier, 
without giving any greater satisfaction ; and 
at last, in despair, falls back upon a regular 
old gentleman's quadruped, strong, plain, 
underbred, but guaranteed absolutely sober 

of conduct. A year ago Z would not 

have had such a hippopotamus at a gift. He 
might have called him an ornament to an 
omnibus, but certainly not to the hunting- 
field. Now he declares him to be a really 
comfortable mount, and eventually purchases 
old Sobersides for a sum about three times 
his worth. 

So Z goes on from bad to worse. 

Every year his nerve becomes shakier, until 
at last he almost gives up jumping altogether. 
The process is subtle, but he traces its com- 
mencement to that disastrous fall, which to 
this day he has never forgotten. Ten years 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 221 

from the time he first enlered the county and 
took field, master, huntsman by storm, he is 
reduced to the necessity of being accom- 
panied by a groom, whose duty it is to 
precede his master over every gap, and prove 
to him by ocular demonstration that it 
contains no lurking danger. 

Shall we give a final view of poor Z ? 

One day, when hounds were running very 
hard, he came across a diminutive ditch. The 
fence had almost completely disappeared 
owing to the number of horses which had 

passed over it. Z happened to be at the 

very tail of an attenuated line of sportsmen, 
for the pace was great, and many steeds had 
succumbed to it. 

" Hey ! " he called out to his groom, who 
was a little behind, " you go first, and give 
me a lead." 

The man did as desired, and waited for his 

master to follow. Whereupon Z took a 

tremendous pull at the reins, leant timorously 



222 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD. 

forward in the saddle, hunched his shoulders, 
rounded his back, and in fear and trembling 
set his horse at the gap. That sagacious 
animal, however, probably possessing a 
delicate perception of his rider's frame of 

mind, refused. Z pretended to whack 

him — he was in much too great a fright to 
do so really — but Sobersides opposed the 
castigation, light as it was, with dogged 

obstinacy. The fact was, Z had got 

hold of him so tight by the head, that he 
could not see where he was going. Then 

Z vented his wrath upon the human 

animal. It was considerably safer, and did 
not expose him to the risk of being un- 
seated. 

" Here, you d d fool," he exclaimed 

irritably to his groom, "what's the good 
of standing there grinning, just as if there 
were anything to grin at. Come, jump back 
again, and get on this brute of mine, whilst I 
mount Patrician." 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 223 

The man immediately obeyed orders, and 

lo ! to Z 's surprise, Sobersides popped 

over the gap without demur. 

But now, what had come to Patrician? 
The horse seemed to have taken leave of his 
senses, for he proved even more refractory 
than Sobersides. He not only firmly declined 
to jump, but got on his hind legs and showed 
the most abominable temper. It was more 

than Z could stand. Every moment he 

thought he should be crushed to death. At 
the first lull, he slipped from the saddle in a 
desperate hurry. 

"What the devil is the matter with the 
brute ? " he asked indignantly of the groom, 
who promptly rejoined his master. 

" I think if you would give 'im 'is 'ead, sir," 
suggested the man. " 'Ee's a 'oss as likes to 
go very free at his fences." 

" Give him his head ! What do you mean ? 
He might have jumped over and over again 
had he liked. Do you suppose I don't know 



224 OUR FRIENDS IN THE HUNTING FIELD, 

when a horse shows temper ? To-morrow 
morning he shall be packed off to the place 
he came from." 

" It's a'most a pity, sir. 'Ee's a good 'oss, 
a very good 'oss. If you'd try 'im 
again " 

"Try him again. Not I. Not for ten 
thousand pounds. I've had enough of the 
beast. The fact is, he ain't my sort." 

Whether our friend Z ever succeeded 

in getting over that gap, history does not tell, 
but when his mortified companion reached 
home he lost no time in communicatins^ the 
humiliating tale to Wilkinson. 

That worthy pursed up his lips. 

" Look here, John," he said, " don't you 
put yourself about. It isn't your fault, or 
Patrician's either, we all know that. He's as 
good a hunter as ever looked through a 
bridle, but when a gentleman 'as lost his 
nerve as completely as our guvnor, why, then, 
in my hopinion, it's time for him to give up 



THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS NERVE. 225 

hunting. It's first this one wrong, then that, 
until I declare a man has no pride left in his 
'osses. I'm a plain, 'ard-working fellow, but 
if I could present my master with ten pound 
worth of nerve-powder, why, I'd do it to- 
morrow." 

And now the question comes, why does 
courage evaporate with some, whilst others 
may hunt and tumble to the end of a long- 
life, and never lose their nerve ? 

Z is not to be sneered at. He was not 

responsible for the change that took place 
within him, and for a long time valiantly 
battled with his fears. That eventually he 
succumbed to them was his misfortune 
rather than his fault. No " funk-stick " he, 
from birth, yet in some mysterious fashion a 
single nasty accident threw his whole ner- 
vous system out of gear. The inquiring 
mind cries out, " Why, why ? Oh ! give me 
the reason ? " 

But answer there is none. Only we agree 

15 



226 OUR FRIENDS IX THE HUNTING FIELD, 

with Wilkinson, that when a man has lost his 

nerve so completely as Z , it is wiser for 

him to retire from the chase. There is no 
Cfreater mistake than letting? what ought to 
be a pleasure degenerate into pain, and sub- 
mitting to the yoke, simply through force of 
habit. Say boldly, " My nerve is gone. I'm 
giving up hunting," and nobody will care in 
the least. There are always plenty to take 
your place. 



THE END. 



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