The Great Run

OUR HERO having inveigled the brown under lee of an outhouse as the field moved along, was fortunate enough to achieve the saddle without disclosing the secrets of the stable; and as he rejoined the throng in all the pride of shape, action, and condition, even the top-sawyers, Fossick, Fyle, Bliss, and others, admitted that Hercules was not a bad-like horse; while the humbler-minded ones eyed Sponge with a mixture of awe and envy, thinking what a fine trade literature must be to stand such a horse.

‘Is your friend What’s-his-name, a workman?’ asked Lord Scamperdale, nodding towards Sponge as he trotted Hercules gently past on the turf by the side of the road along which they were riding.

‘Oh, no,’ replied Jawleyford, tartly. ‘Oh, no -- gentleman; man of property --’

‘I did not mean was he a mechanic,’ explained his lordship drily, ‘but a workman; a good ’un across country, in fact.’ His lordship working his arms as if he was going to set-to himself.

‘Oh, a first-rate man! -- first rate man!’ replied Jawleyford; ‘beat them all at Laverick Wells.’

‘I thought so,’ observed his lordship; adding to himself, ‘then Jack shall take the conceit out of him.’

‘Jack!’ holloaed he over his shoulder to his friend, who was jogging a little behind; ‘Jack!, repeated he, ‘that Mr Something --’

Sponge!’ observed Jawleyford, with an emphasis.

‘That Mr Sponge,’ continued his lordship, ‘is a stranger in the country: have the kindness to take care of him. You know what I mean?’

‘Just so,’ replied Jack; ‘I’ll take care of him.’

‘Most polite of your lordship, I’m sure,’ said Jawleyford, with a low bow, and laying his hand on his breast. ‘I can assure you I shall never forget the marked attention I have received from your lordship this day.’

‘Thank you for nothing,’ grunted his lordship to himself.

Bump, bump; trot, trot; jabber, jabber, on they went as before.

They had now got to the cover, Tickler Gorse, and ere the last horsemen had reached the last angle of the long hill, Frostyface was rolling about on foot in the luxuriant evergreen; now wholly visible, now all but overhead, like a man buffeting among the waves of the sea. Save Frosty’s cheery voice encouraging the invisible pack to ‘wind him!’ and ‘rout him out!’ an injunction that the shaking of the gorse showed they willingly obeyed, and an occasional exclamation from Jawleyford, of ‘Beautiful! beautiful! -- never saw better hounds! -- can’t be a finer pack!’ not a sound disturbed the stillness of the scene. The waggoners on the road stopped their wains, the late noisy ploughmen leaned vacantly on their stilts, the turnip- pullers stood erect in air, and the shepherds’ boys deserted the bleating flocks; all was life and joy and liberty -- ‘Liberty, equality, and foxhunt-ity!’

Yo--i--cks, wind him! Y--o--o--icks! rout him out!’ went Frosty; occasionally varying the entertainment with a loud crack of his heavy whip, when he could get upon a piece of rising ground to clear the thong.

Tally--ho!’ screamed Jawleyford, hoisting the Bumperkin Yeomanry cap in the air. ‘Tally-ho!’ repeated he, looking triumphantly round, as much as to say, ‘What a clever boy am I!

Hold your noise!’ roared Jack, who was posted a little below. ‘Don’t you see it’s a hare?’ added he, amidst the uproarious mirth of the company.

‘I haven’t your great staring specs on, or I should have seen he hadn’t a tail,’ retorted Jawleyford, nettled at the tone in which Jack had addressed him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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