The Chronicles of Clovis
First Collected, 1911
To the Lynx Kitten,
All hunting stories are the same, said Clovis; just as all Turf stories are the same, and all
My hunting story isnt a bit like any youve ever heard, said the Baroness. It happened quite a while ago, when I was about twenty-three. I wasnt living apart from my husband then; you see, neither of us could afford to make the other a separate allowance. In spite of everything that proverbs may say, poverty keeps together more homes than it breaks up. But we always hunted with different packs. All this has nothing to do with the story.
We havent arrived at the meet yet. I suppose there was a meet, said Clovis.
Of course there was a meet, said the Baroness; all the usual crowd were there, especially Constance Broddle. Constance is one of those strapping florid girls that go so well with autumn scenery or Christmas decorations in church. I feel a presentiment that something dreadful is going to happen, she said to me; am I looking pale?
She was looking about as pale as a beetroot that has suddenly heard bad news.
Youre looking nicer than usual, I said, but thats so easy for you. Before she had got the right bearings of this remark we had settled down to business; hounds had found a fox lying out in some gorse-bushes.
I knew it, said Clovis; in every fox-hunting story that Ive ever heard theres been a fox and some gorse- bushes.
Constance and I were well mounted, continued the Baroness serenely, and we had no difficulty in keeping ourselves in the first flight, though it was a fairly stiff run. Towards the finish, however we must have held rather too independent a line, for we lost the hounds, and found ourselves plodding aimlessly along miles away from anywhere. It was fairly exasperating, and my temper was beginning to let itself go by inches, when on pushing our way through an accommodating hedge we were gladdened by the sight of hounds in full cry in a hollow just beneath us.
There they go, cried Constance, and then added in a gasp, In Heavens name, what are they hunting?
It was certainly no mortal fox. It stood more than twice as high had a short, ugly head, and an enormous thick neck.
Its a hyæna, I cried; it must have escaped from Lord Pabhams Park.
At that moment the hunted beast turned and faced its pursuers and the hounds (there were only about six couple of them) stood round in a half-circle and looked foolish. Evidently they had broken away from the rest of the pack on the trail of this alien scent, and were not quite sure how to treat their quarry now they had got him.
The hyæna hailed our approach with unmistakable relief and demonstrations of friendliness. It had probably been accustomed to uniform kindness from humans, while its first experience of a pack of hounds had left a bad impression. The hounds looked more than ever embarrassed as their quarry paraded its sudden intimacy with us, and the faint toot of a horn in the distance was seized upon as a welcome signal for unobstrusive departure. Constance and I and the hyæna were left alone in the gathering twilight.
What are we to do? asked Constance.
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