‘And you’d better tell Mr Leather to have a horse for his master,’ observed Watchorn to Snaffle, ‘unless as how you wish to put him on one of yours.’

‘Not I,’ exclaimed Snaffle; ‘have enough to mount without him. D’ye know how many’ll be goin’?’ asked he.

‘No,’ replied Watchorn, hurrying off; adding, as he went, ‘oh, hang ’em, just saddle ’em all, and let ’em scramble for ’em.’

The scene then changed. Instead of hissing helpers pursuing their vocations in stable or saddle-room, they began bustling about with saddles on their heads and bridles in their hands, the day of expected ease being changed into one of unusual trouble. Mr Leather declared, as he swept the clothes over Multum in Parvo’s tail, that it was the most unconscionable proceeding he had ever witnessed; and muttered something about the quiet comforts he had left at Mr Jogglebury Crowdey’s, hinting his regret at having come to Sir Harry’s, in a sort of dialogue with himself as he saddled the horse. The beauties of the last place always come out strong when a servant gets, to another. But we must accompany Mr Watchorn.

Though his early career with the Camberwell and Balhum Hill Union harriers had not initiated him much into the delicacies of the chase, yet, recollecting the presence of Mr Sponge, he felt suddenly seized with a desire of ‘doing things as they should be;’ and he went muttering to the kennel, thinking how he would leave Dinnerbell and Prosperous at home, and how the pack would look quite as well without Frantic running half a field ahead, or old Stormer and Stunner bringing up the rear with long protracted howls. He doubted, indeed, whether he would take Desperate, who was an incorrigible skirter; but as she was not much worse in this respect than Chatterer or Harmony, who was also an inveterate babbler, and the pack would look rather short without them, he reserved the point for further consideration, as the judges say.

His speculations were interrupted by arriving at the kennel; and, finding the door fast, he looked under the slate, and above the frame, and inside the window, and on the wall, for the key; and his shake, and kick, and clatter, were only answered by a full chorus from the excited company within.

‘Hang the feller! what’s got ’im!’ exclaimed he, meaning Joe Haggish, the feeder, whom he expected to find there.

Joe, however, was absent; not holiday-making, but on a diplomatic visit to Mr Greystones, the miller, at Splashford, who had positively refused to supply any more meal, until his ‘little bill’ (£430) for the three previous years was settled; and flesh being very scarce in the country, the hounds were quite light and fit to go. Joe had gone to try and coax Greystones out of a ton or two of meal, on the strength of its being New Year’s Day.

‘Dash the feller! wot’s got ’im?’ exclaimed Watchorn, seizing the latch, and rattling it furiously. The melody of the hungry pack increased. ‘ ’Ord rot the door!’ exclaimed the infuriated huntsman, setting his back against it, when, at the first push, open it flew. Watchorn fell back, and the astonished pack poured over his prostrate body, regardless alike of his holiday coat, his tidy tie, and toilenette vest. What a scrimmage! what a kick-up was there! Away the hounds scampered, towling and howling, some up to the flesh- wheel, to see if there was any meat; some to the bone heap, to see if there was any there; others down to the dairy, to try and affect an entrance in it; while Launcher, and Lightsome, and Burster, rushed to the back-yard of Nonsuch House, and were presently over ears in the pig-pail.

‘Get me my horn! -- get me my whop! -- get me my cap! -- get me my bouts!’ exclaimed Watchorn, as he recovered his legs, and saw his wife eyeing the scene from the door. ‘Get me my bouts! -- get me my cap! -- get me my whop! -- get me my horn, woman!’ continued he, reversing the order of things, and rubbing the hounds’ feetmarks off his clothes as he spoke.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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