The Hunt

While the foregoing arrangements were in progress, Mr Watchorn had desired Slarkey the knife-boy, to go into the old hayloft and take the three-legged fox he would find, and put him down among the laurels by the summer-house, where he would draw up to him all ‘reg’lar’ like. Accordingly, Slarkey went, but the old cripple having mounted the rafters, Slarkey didn’t see him, or rather seeing but one fox, he clutched him, with a greater regard to his not biting him than to seeing how many legs he had; consequently he bagged an uncommonly fine old dog fox, that Wiley Tom had just stolen from Lord Scamperdale’s new cover at Faggotfurze; and it was not until Slarkey put him down among the bushes, and saw how lively he went, that he found his mistake. However, there was no help for it, and he had just time to pocket the bag when Watchorn’s half-drunken cheer, and the reverberating cracks of ponderous whips on either side of the Dean, announced the approach of the pack.

He--leu in there!’ cried Watchorn to the hounds. ‘’Ord, dommee, but it’s slippy,’ said he to himself. ‘Have at him, Plunderer, good dog! I wish I may be Cardinal Wiseman for comin’,’ added he, seeing how his breath showed on the air. ‘Ho--o--i--cks! pash ’im hup! I’ll be dashed if I shan’t be down!’ exclaimed he, as his horse slid a long slide. ‘He--leu, in! Conqueror, old boy!’ continued he, exclaiming loud enough for Mr Sponge who was drawing near to hear, ‘find us a fox that’ll give us five and forty minnits!’ the speaker inwardly hoping they might chop their bagman in cover. ‘Y--o--o--icks! rout him out!’ continued he, getting more energetic. ‘Y--o--o--icks! wind him! Y--o--o--icks! stir us hup a teaser!’

‘No go, I think,’ observed George Cheek, ambling up on his leggy weed.

‘No go, ye young infidel,’ growled Watchorn, ‘who taught you to talk about go’s, I wonder; ought to be at school larnin’ to cipher, or ridin’ the globes,’ Mr Watchorn not exactly knowing what the term ‘use of the globes,’ meant. ‘D’ye call that nothin’!’ exclaimed he, taking off his cap as he viewed the fox stealing along the gravel walk; adding to himself, as he saw his even action, and full, well-tagged brush, ‘’Ord rot him, he’s got hold of the wrong ’un!’

It was, however, no time for thought. In an instant the welkin rang with the outburst of the pack and the clamour of the field. ‘Talli ho!’ ‘Talli ho!’ ‘Talli ho!’ ‘Hoop!’ ‘Hoop!’ ‘Hoop!’ cried a score of voices, and ‘Twang! twang! twang!’ went the shrill horn of the huntsman. The whips, too, stood in their stirrups, cracking their ponderous thongs, which sounded like guns upon the frosty air, and contributed their ‘Get together! get together, hounds!’ ‘Hark away!’ ‘Hark away!’ ‘Hark away!’ ‘Hark!’ to the general uproar. Oh, what a row, what a riot, what a racket!

Watchorn being ‘in’ for it, and recollecting how many saw a start who never thought of seeing a finish, immediately got his horse by the head, and singled himself out from the crowd now pressing at his horse’s heels, determining, if the hounds didn’t run into their fox in the park, to ride them off the scent at the very first opportunity. The ‘chumpine’ being still alive within him, in the excitement of the moment he leaped the hand-gate leading out of the shrubberies into the park; the noise the horse made in taking off resembling the trampling on wood-pavement.

‘Cuss it, but it’s ’ard!’ exclaimed he, as the horse slid two or three yards as he alighted on the frozen field.

George Cheek followed him; and Multum in Parvo, taking the bit deliberately between his teeth, just walked through the gate, as if it had been made of paper.

‘Ah, ye brute!’ groaned Mr Sponge, in disgust, digging the Latchfords into his sides, as if he intended to make them meet in the middle. ‘Ah, ye brute!’ repeated he, giving him a hearty cropper as he put up his head after trying to kick him off.

‘Thank you!’ exclaimed Miss Glitters, cantering up; adding, ‘you cleared the way nicely for me.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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