‘Tail be damned!’ replied Jack, with a sneer; ‘who but a tailor would call it a tail?’

Just then a light low squeak of a whimper was heard in the thickest part of the gorse, and Frostyface cheered the hound to the echo. ‘Hoick to Pillager! H--o--o--ick!’ screamed he in a long-drawn note, that thrilled through every frame, and set the horses a-capering.

Ere Frosty’s prolonged screech was fairly finished, there was such an outburst of melody, and such a shaking of the gorse-bushes, as plainly showed there was no safety for Reynard in cover; and great was the bustle and commotion among the horsemen. Mr Fossick lowered his hat-string and ran the fox’s tooth through the button-hole; Fyle drew his girths; Washball took a long swig at his hunting horn-shaped monkey; Major Mark and Mr Archer threw away their cigar ends; Mr Bliss drew on his dogskin gloves; Mr Wake rolled the thong of his whip round the stick, to be better able to encounter his puller; Mr Sparks got a yokel to take up a link of his curb; George Smith and Joe Smith looked at their watches; Sandy McGregor, the factor, filled his great Scotch nose with Irish snuff, exclaiming, as he dismissed the balance from his fingers by a knock against his thigh, ‘Oh, my mon, aw think this tod will gie us a ran!’ while Blossomnose might be seen stealing gently forward, on the far side of a thick fence, for the double purpose of shirking Jawleyford, and getting a good start.

In the midst of these and similar preparations for the fray, up went a whip’s cap at the lower end of the cover; and a volley of ‘Tallyhos’ burst from our friends, as the fox, whisking his white-tipped brush in the air, was seen stealing away over the grassy hill beyond. What a commotion was there! How pale some looked! How happy others!

Sing out, Jack! for heaven’s sake, sing out!’ exclaimed Lord Scamperdale; an enthusiastic sportsman, always as eager for a run as if he had never seen one. ‘Sing out, Jack; or, by Jove, they’ll over-ride ’em at starting!’

‘HOLD HARD, gentlemen,’ roared Jack, clapping spurs into his grey, or rather into his lordship’s grey, dashing in front, and drawing the horse across the road to stop the progression of the field. ‘HOLD HARD, one minute!’ repeated Jack, standing erect in his stirrups, and menacing them with his whip (a most formidable one). ‘Whatever you do, pray let them get away! Pray don’t spoil your own sport! Pray remember they’re his lordship’s hounds! -- that they cost him five-and-twenty underd -- two thousand five underd a year! And where, let me ax, with wheat down to nothing, would you get another, if he was to throw up?’

As Jack made this enquiry, he took a hurried glance at the now pouring-out pack; and seeing they were safe away, he wiped the foam from his mouth on his sleeve, dropped into his saddle, and catching his horse short round by the head, clapped spurs into his sides, and galloped away, exclaiming,

Now, ye tinkers, we’ll all start fair!

Then there was such a scrimmage! such jostling and elbowing among the jealous ones; such ramming and cramming among the eager ones; such pardon-begging among the polite ones; such spurting of ponies, such clambering of cart-horses! All were bent on going as far as they could -- all except Jawleyford, who sat curvetting and prancing in the patronising sort of way gentlemen do who encourage hounds for the sake of the manly spirit the sport engenders, and the advantage hunting is of in promoting our unrivalled breed of horses.

His lordship having slipped away, horn in hand, under pretence of blowing the hounds out of cover, as soon as he set Jack at the field, had now got a good start, and, horse well in hand, was sailing away in their wake.

F--o--o--r--r--ard!’ screamed Frostyface, coming up alongside of him, holding his horse -- a magnificent thoroughbred bay -- well by the head, and settling himself into his saddle as he went.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.