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chace. Eight-and-forty minutes by my watch from the find, and see, the hounds are doubling down yon old hedge-row, two fields from the forest.
He is running short for his life; he must be dead beat. I shall see them kill him!' I stood on the fatal bank with straining eyes, and viewed the hazy forms of the hounds fleeting down one hedge-row and up another; whilst Joy, here urging his unwilling steed at a style, there blundering him through a gap, strove in vain to reach his darlings, and share with them their well-earned triumph. See! he is off his horse and amongst them; Rasperdale and Cartouch have sprung from their saddles, and the sighing November breeze wafts a faint who-whoop to my expectant ear. At the same instant, Sir Benjamin,' awaking from
his stupor, extricates himself from his awkward position by a tremendous effort, and a series of those laughable gymnastics with which a horse usually emerges from a scrape, and gives himself a hearty shake, as if to ascertain his own identity, a fact of which, judging by his scared eye and distended nostril, he seems by no means sure. Mounting him and jogging quietly on, three or four friendly hand-gates bring me up in time to be one of the triumphant six who see the gallant fox broken up after a run of fifty-five minutes, unprecedented for pace and straightness, nearly eleven miles from point to point, over the finest country in England, and with but one trifling check, if check it might be called, from find to finish!
HOME SWEET HOME-EQUESTRIAN CRITICS-THE LUCKLESS FRENCHMAN-A CHAPTER OF WAYS AND MEANS A SPLIT IN THE CABINET.
To an unprejudiced observer, few performances would probably appear so thoroughly uncomfortable as that of a long and weary ride, through lanes and bye-ways, knee-deep in mud, upon a tired horse, with the small rain that so often accompanies the close of a short November day, drizzling in one's face, and the prospect of the already dubious twilight becoming pitch dark hours before it can be possible to reach one's home. The hunter, conscious of having done his duty, and knowing by experience how often the length of his homeward journey is most unfairly proportioned to the severity of his previous exertions, jogs on in a deliberate sort of compromise between trotting and walking, relapsing completely into the latter pace whenever a slight ascent or inequality of ground affords an excuse for the delay, and varying the monotony of such a method of travelling by an occasional alarming demonstration of throwing himself into the middle of the road upon his head, a threat that, for the honour of the noble animal, I am bound to confess, I have never yet known fulfilled. After such a day as that which witnessed our run from Haverley Gorse, ever afterwards known as the Great Haverley Run,' it may be supposed that Tom Spencer and I enjoyed to perfection all the com
forts I have mentioned in our homeward ride, but far were we from being discontented with our lot; I question if, in the whole habitable globe there existed, on that eventful afternoon, any two individuals so thoroughly satisfied with themselves as myself and my companion. After exchanging congratulations with Cartouch, Lord Rasperdale, and Joy, after a brief and glowing account of the run, intermixed with much personal anecdote, to the first detachment of unfortunates that came up when we had killed our fox, and who were commanded by Will Partridge, that worthy having held himself ready at any time to struggle to the front and render his professional assistance, if required; after a cordial farewell to our companions in glory, whose road lay differently from our own, Tom and I wended our way homewards in a frame of mind amiable and enviable
beyond measure. How we praised
each other's horses and each other's riding, a somewhat reflective flattery, as we had been together most of the day, and the compliments paid by the one to the prowess of the other were but an additional tribute of admiration to his own success. Nor were our absent friends forgotten. Rasperdale and Cartouch were voted the two finest riders and best fellows in England; Joy the most
talented huntsman in the world; the Hark-Holloa hounds unequalled by any earthly establishment, and their country a perfect paradise to live in and ride over. Tom Spencer began to have great doubts about going into the church, as it was rapidly dawning upon him that he could not exist without hunting at least five days in the week; whilst I completely made up my own mind to give up soldiering altogether, sell out, marry, and devote myself entirely to the worship of Diana. Alas! that the tripartite goddess should combine in two of her characters such antagonistic attributes, and that the exigencies of the fertile Lucina should be so inimical to the pursuits of the vigorous virgin of the woods. But such calculations enter not the teeming brain of twenty-one; and we plodded home in perfect contentment with ourselves, our horses, and our day's amusement. Every turn in the road brought us in contact with some less successful horseman, for whom the oft-told tale, though planting thorns of discontent and disgust in the breast of the auditor, thrilled with untarnished freshness from the lips of the historian. Here we were overtaken by one gentleman who had seen everything we did-was never more than a field behind us; and if hounds had only run straight could have been with us at any time.' And a little farther on we met an honester and more disconsolate sportsman, who confessed to having lost us altogether, and added, with desponding energy, that it was 'just
Various and amusing were the excuses for their non-appearance, and far-fetched and ingenious the reasons insisted upon, to prove that there was no lack of courage or determination to be laid to the charge of the unwilling absentees. If Major Slasher had not been riding a young one (now in his third season) he could have had a capital start (the Major argued ab initio); and when that is the case, no man alive, so he thinks, can beat that gallant officer. Varnish, the dealer, had been going in front for the first half hour,' and appealed to 'Squire Softly, who had unfortunately gone home, to corroborate the fact.
'Just as I came to the bruk,
Captain, with little Golightly pulling oudacious,' for, as you know() he's a devil at water, my old snafflebridle broke short off at the mouthpiece; and I went four times round that identical field before I could stop him. He's a rare little horse, Captain-how he'd fly with your weight! look at him now, how fresh he is.'
And on casting my eye over the exhausted steed alluded to, sure enough the bridle had come in two near the bit, and the broken pieces, looking very much as if they had been severed with a pen-knife, were fastened together with a bit of string. Mr. Crane had been deceived by a boy scaring crows, and rode to the urchin, under the impression it was a veritable holloa.' Whilst young Mylde, who was notorious for
pottering in the gaps,' had ridden his own line gallantly at starting through a hand-gate;' but being unsuccessful in his search for an easy exit from the field he had so incautiously entered, was forced, after makinga complete circuit, again to emerge through that inglorious portal. Lord Lately had been floored by a collision in mid-air with Farmer Bull-the peer getting considerably the worst of it. Sir Francis Fakeaway had stopped his horse (since dead) in the first twenty minutes; and young Fearless, after riding over two fallen sportsmen and three gates, had finally deposited his father's favourite hunter in the yielding mire of the bottomless Squelch. George Jealous, old Venom, and Captain Snarl, would not allow that the hounds ever went any pace at any time, but that when they did there was nobody with them!- and listened to our un welcome raptures with a sneer of incredulous disgust. Poor Carambole was the only one who had the manliness to confess his misfortunes, without any attempt at concealment or palliation, and him we overtook vainly endeavouring, by the light of his cigar, to decipher some mysterious hieroglyphics on a time-worn sign-post, not too distinct at any period, and perfectly illegible in the dusk of a November evening, The active Frenchman had raised himself by his arms to a level with the important inscription, and when we discovered him was perched in
mid-air, puffing forth volumes of smoke, and blowing up a tremendous light from a huge Havanna, wherewith to improve that topographical knowledge on which his dinner so entirely depended.
Holloa! Carambole, have you lost your way?' and 'What have you done with your horse?' were our simultaneous inquiries.
He' very good horse,' was the reply, but I shall nevare see him again. Il m'a joué un joli tour—I gallopp, I jomp. Nous arrivons ensemble à un-stake-him-bound'you call him 'ox-fence.' J'enfonce mon chapeau sur ma tête, je me suis mis la cravache à la main; je lui dis, montez, donc, maudite bête! il a grimpé là-dessus. C'a ne va pas mal. I lance his side, I come to thicker 'stake-him-bound.' I tomble in. He gallopp away, and shake his tail. Je dis, Bon jour, mon ami; je ne te reverrais jamais. Fortune de la gue-r-r-e; il faut marcher par exemple! mais on n'est pas défendu de fumer.'
And the voluble philosopher strode on by our side in perfect contentment and good humour, not diminished by the welcome information that three more miles would put a period to his labours, and that, in all probability, the missing hunter would be home before him. On crossexamination and inquiry, it appeared that Carambole, though perfectly unused to the sport, and, like most foreigners, more at home in the manège than the field, had gone in the front rank up to our first check, riding over timber, and charging his stake-him-bounds,' as he called them, with all the gallantry of his nation. The horse on which Sir Peregrine had mounted him-an old and excellent hunter-acquitted himself to admiration, although, doubtless, somewhat surprised at the inconsiderate recklessness with which he found himself ridden; and Carambole was in the height of his triumph when a double ditch, or some such unforeseen obstacle, caused the active and well-trained animal to make a second spring when in the air, totally unexpected by his rider, and which had the effect of precipitating him into the adjoining field upon his back, whilst the horse, released from his burden, galloped on for several miles with the hounds, till,
finding the pace more severe than was consistent with his ideas of amusement, he turned his head in the direction of Haverley, and trotted quietly home to his own stable, where, on our arrival at the Hall, we found him comfortably established-all anxiety on his account having been transferred to the fate of the Marquis. Unpromising as was Carambole's debut in the hunting-field, he took back with him to France a passion for the chase which all the difficulties he has to contend with, all the annoyances to which he must be subjected in that unsportsman-like country, seem unable to eradicate.
Ah well! hunting is good fun, and so is moistening the recapitulation of your morning's exploits with bumpers of Bourdeaux; nor did we spare the latter seductive fluid in the evening, after devoting the day so successfully to the former pursuit. But the realities of life entail sterner and more disagreeable duties than riding over a grass country and drinking claret in an arm-chair; and the more I reflected on my present position-the more I considered my existing relations with Flora Belmont, the more I felt that it was only due to her that I should, as speedily as possible, come to some understanding with Sir Peregrine previous to making my proposal in form to her father. I was well aware that there would be many difficulties in our way-that the old Colonel's bad opinion of my principles and conduct would prove a serious obstacle to our union; that 'money,' ever the first consideration in this business-like world, would be wanting on both sides, and I shuddered to think of my debts and liabilities, and the large sums that I had squandered upon trifles, and worse than trifles. Young as I was, the veil was gradually falling from my eyes; and the career that had once seemed so jovial, careless, and high-spirited, now that I fondly hoped I had some one to think of besides myself-some one to depend entirely upon me for guidance and support-appeared selfish and contemptible in the extreme. Bitterly did I deplore my past follies, and the unworthiness of such a character as mine to mate with my gentle Flora. In shame and sorrow I re
called my feigned adoration of Mrs. Man-trap, and my heart died within me to think that Fate might have in store for me-alas! but too just a reprisal!-such a disappointment as I had inflicted upon the highminded Zoë. But, above all, I chafed and fretted to reflect that the filthy lucre which I had heretofore despised-the dross that I had hitherto considered but as a necessary inconvenience attendant upon civilization-might now prove the one thing needful,' the only insuperable obstacle to the triumph of my better feelings-to my entrance upon a nobler and purer state of being.
Stung by such thoughts as these, I placed as high a value upon gold as I had previously depreciated that very necessary commodity; and ever in extremes, thought myself capable of any exertion to attain that which I had often squandered so profusely. There is less difference than the world is apt to imagine between the spendthrift and the miser; the same selfish temperament that makes the youth greedy of pleasure and ungrudging of aught save his own enjoyment, produces in after years an insatiable desire for the means by which such indulgences may be procured, and as the owner of the splendid shilling,' whilst the coin is his, possesses everything that a shilling can purchase, so the hoarding capitalist, though he may deny himself all the luxuries and most of the necessaries of life, has the satisfaction of feeling that he can at any time command all that his fellow-creatures are striving so unceasingly to obtain. Thus it is that the same individual who at twenty risks hundreds on the turn of a die and thousands on the speed of a horse, nor suffers such excitement to impair his appetite or disturb his repose, shall at forty, with ten times the knowledge and twenty times the means, grudge to spend a penny upon the most simple and economical of amusements; and whilst acres are fertilizing to increase his rents, and consols accumulating to swell his ever-growing capital, shall remain, in the midst of all his wealth, continually haunted by the ghost of a shilling.'
Nevertheless an explanation must be come to, and an interview with Sir Peregrine, always rather a for
midable undertaking, must be arran ged for the purpose. Divers cere monies required to be gone through on these occasions. In the first place a footman was dispatched for Soames, who was charged with a vivá voce appeal to his master for the honour of an interview, which invariably called forth the same reply, delivered with becoming pomposity by the messenger. Sir Peregrine will see you, Sir, directly he is at leisure.' I was always at a loss to know the line which my father drew between his hours of what he called his leisure and his employment, for to business he had an unconquerable aversion, and he seldom or never looked into a book. An hour or so of waiting then produced Mr. Soames once more, who, throwing the door wide open as though to announce a duchess, would inform me, as if I was an utter stranger, that Sir Peregrine would see me if I would step this way,'-and this way I accordingly stepped, with a beating heart and much misgiving mind.
Soames has informed me you wish to speak with me, Digby,' was the unpromising commencement; 'may I ask the cause of your demanding such an interview? I have five minutes to spare, and must beg of you to come at once to the point.'
This was not a reassuring mode of entering upon what I felt would be a delicate business, but, determined not to be staggered, I at once laid the case in a very few words before my father, stating openly my own engagement to Miss Belmont, and concluding with the somewhat startling demand to know what he would make up his mind to do in a pecuniary point of view, to support the position' (this I thought a hit) of the heir to his name? Never shall I forget the pause of astonishment with which my father, pushing his spectacles up on his brow, gazed at me whilst I delivered my peroration; and willingly do I draw a veil over the scene that followed, in which retort and recrimination, ill-judged censure on the one side and unpar donable irreverence on the other, created a breach never afterwards to be repaired between those whose interests, even in a worldly point of view, should have been in common, whose reciprocal attachment nothing on earth should have been able to
undermine. Amidst the whirlwind of censure with which Sir Peregrine attacked my habits, my pursuits, and even my character, I discovered that the real offence was my having dared to cast my eyes upon a penniless young lady, and that in his sanguine and ambitious mind the old man had always looked to my future marriage with some wealthy heiress to re-establish the prosperity of our house, and was living on from year to year, sinking deeper into his difficulties and becoming more hopelessly involved in his affairs, cheered by this vague hope which I had now dashed to the ground. In my indignation and despair I lost all self-command; and to my shame be it said, forgot that reverence which under all circumstances is ever due from a son to his father. I vowed that I was utterly reckless of what should happen to me if this marriage was
not to come off; that I would return to my dissolute courses and extravagant career. I scouted our dignities, and scoffed at our position.' I blasphemed the memory of Sir Hugo, and swore that I cared not what became of Haverley; that the estates might go to the Jews and the family to the devil! and in short our interview concluded with so little prospect of reconciliation after all that had taken place, that the next morning saw me posting back to rejoin my regiment in London, having quarrelled irretrievably with my father, vowing vengeance against Haverley and all belonging to it, and utterly regardless as to where I should go or what should become of me-a dangerous state of mind for a young man just turned one-andtwenty hurrying back to the seductive arms of the modern Babylon.
How they glisten in the panoply, that gilds the sons of Cain!
Little reck they, still defiling, rank by rank and line by line,
Since the Eagle cowered, where Houguemont stood smouldering on the plain, How the heart of every warrior throbs to wipe away the stain!
They are coming! they are coming! columns panting to advance,
They are coming! hark the sabres ring-and lo! a gallant band,
VOL. XLV. NO. CCLXIX.