is a terrible tax, sir, on the constitution, sir; and though, sir, I’m thankful to say, sir, I’ve pretty good ’ealth, sir, yet, sir, you know, sir, it don’t do, sir, to take too great liberties with oneself, sir;’ Mr Bragg sawing away at his hat as he spoke, measuring off a touch, as it were, to each ‘sir,’ the action becoming quick towards the end.

‘Why, to tell you the truth,’ said Puff, looking rather sheepish -- ‘to tell you the truth -- I intended -- I thought at least of -- of -- of -- hunting them myself.’

‘Ah! that’s another pair of shoes altogether, as we say in France,’ replied Bragg, with a low bow and a copious round of the hand to the hat. ‘That’s another pair of shoes altogether,’ repeated he, tapping his boot with his whip.

‘Why I thought of it,’ rejoined Puff, not feeling quite sure whether he could or not.

‘Well,’ said Mr Bragg, drawing on his dog-skin glove as if to be off.

‘My friend Swellcove does it,’ observed Puff.

‘True,’ replied Bragg, ‘true; but my Lord Swellcove is one of a thousand. See how many have failed for one that has succeeded. Why even my Lord Scamperdale was ’bliged to give it up, and no man rides harder than my Lord Scamperdale -- always goes as if he had a spare neck in his pocket. But he couldn’t ’unt a pack of ’ounds. Your gen’l’men ’untsmen are all very well on fine scentin’ days when everything goes smoothly and well, and the ’ounds are tied to their fox as it were; but see them in difficulties -- a failing scent, ’ounds pressed upon by the field, fox chased by a dog, storm in the air, big brook to get over to make a cast. Oh, sir, sir, it makes even me, with all my acknowledged science and experience, shudder to think of the ordeal one undergoes!’

‘Indeed,’ exclaimed Mr Puffington, staring, and beginning to think it mightn’t be quite so easy as it looked.

‘I don’t wish, sir, to dissuade you, sir, from the attempt, sir,’ continued Mr Bragg; ‘far from it, sir -- for he, sir, who never makes an effort, sir, never risks a failure, sir, and in great attempts, sir, ’tis glorious to fail, sir;’ Mr Bragg sawing away at his hat as he spoke, and then sticking the fox-head handle of his whip under his chin.

Puff stood mute for some seconds.

‘My Lord Scamperdale,’ continued Mr Bragg, scrutinising our friend attentively, ‘was as likely a man, sir, as ever I see’d, sir, to make an ’untsman, for he had a deal of ret [rat] ketchin’ cunnin’ about him, and, as I said before, didn’t care one dim for his neck, but a more signal disastrous failure was never recognised. It was quite lamentable to witness his proceedins.’

‘How?’ asked Mr Puffington.

‘How, sir?’ repeated Mr Bragg; ‘why, sir, in all wayses. He had no dog language, to begin with -- he had little idea of makin’ a cast -- no science, no judgement, no manner -- no nothin’ -- I’m dim’d if ever I see’d sich a mess as he made.’

Puff looked unutterable things.

‘He never did no good, in fact, till I fit him with Frostyface. I taught Frosty,’ continued Mr Bragg. ‘He whipped in to me when I ’unted the Duke of Downeybird’s ’ounds -- nice, ’cute, civil chap he was -- of all my pupils -- and I’ve made some first-rate ’untsmen, I’m dim’d if I don’t think Frostyface does me about as much credit as any on ’em. Ah, sir,’ continued Mr Bragg, with a shake of his head; ‘take my word for it, sir, there’s nothin’ like a professional. S-c-e-u-s-e me, sir,’ added he, with a low bow and a sort of military salute of his hat; ‘but dim all gen’l’men ’untsmen, say I.’

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