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- The American Senator - 14/115 -
it all to the very bottom, in reference to certain lectures which he intended to give on his return to the States,--and perhaps also in the old country before he left it.
"They suspect him."
"That man with the gun! One man against two hundred! Now I respect that man;--I do with all my heart."
"You'd better not say so here, Mr. Gotobed."
"I know how full of prejudice you all air',--but I do respect him. If I comprehend the matter rightly, he was on his own land when we saw him."
"Yes;--that was his own field."
"And they meant to ride across it whether he liked it or no?"
"Everybody rides across everybody's land out hunting."
"Would they ride across your park, Mr. Morton, if you didn't let them?"
"Certainly they would,--and break down all my gates if I had them locked, and pull down my park palings to let the hounds through."
"And you could get no compensation?"
"Practically I could get none. And certainly I should not try. The greatest enemy to hunting in the whole county would not be foolish enough to make the attempt"
"He would get no satisfaction, and everybody would hate him."
"Then I respect that man the more. What is that man's name?" Morton hadn't heard the name, or had forgotten it. "I shall find that man out, and have some conversation with him, Mr. Morton. I respect that man, Mr. Morton. He's one against two hundred, and he insists upon his rights. Those men standing round and wiping their eyes, and stifled with grief because a fox had been poisoned, as though some great patriot had died among them in the service of his country, formed one of the most remarkable phenomena, Sir, that ever I beheld in any country. When I get among my own people in Mickewa and tell them that, they won't believe me, sir."
In the meantime the cavalcade was hurrying away to Impington Gorse, and John Morton, feeling that he had not had an opportunity as yet of showing his American friend the best side of hunting, went with them. The five miles were five long miles, and as the pace was not above seven miles an hour, nearly an hour was occupied. There was therefore plenty of opportunity for the Senator to inquire whether the gentlemen around him were as yet enjoying their sport. There was an air of triumph about him as to the misfortunes of the day, joined to a battery of continued raillery, which made it almost impossible for Morton to keep his temper. He asked whether it was not at any rate better than trotting a pair of horses backwards and forwards over the same mile of road for half the day, as is the custom in the States. But the Senator, though he did not quite approve of trotting matches, argued that there was infinitely more of skill and ingenuity in the American pastime. "Everybody is so gloomy," said the Senator, lighting his third cigar. "I've been watching that young man in pink boots for the last half hour, and he hasn't spoken a word to any one."
"Perhaps he's a stranger," said Morton.
"And that's the way you treat him!"
It was past two when the hounds were put into the gorse, and certainly no one was in a very good humour. A trot of five miles is disagreeable, and two o'clock in November is late for finding a first fox; and then poisoning is a vice that may grow into a habit! There was a general feeling that Goarly ought to be extinguished, but an idea that it might be difficult to extinguish him. The whips, nevertheless, cantered on to the corner of the covert, and Tony put in his hounds with a cheery voice. The Senator remarked that the gorse was a very little place,--for as they were on the side of an opposite hill they could see it all. Lord Rufford, who was standing by the carriage, explained to him that it was a favourite resort of foxes, and difficult to draw as being very close. "Perhaps they've poisoned him too," said the Senator. It was evident from his voice that had such been the case, he would not have been among the mourners. "The blackguards are not yet thick enough in our country for that," said Lord Rufford, meaning to be sarcastic.
Then a whimper was heard from a hound,--at first very low, and then growing into a fuller sound. "There he is," said young Hampton. "For heaven's sake get those fellows away from that side, Glomax." This was uttered with so much vehemence that the Senator looked up in surprise. Then the Captain galloped round the side of the covert, and, making use of some strong language, stopped the ardour of certain gentlemen who were in a hurry to get away on what they considered good terms. Lord Rufford, Hampton, Larry Twentyman and others sat stock-still on their horses, watching the gorse. Ned Botsey urged himself a little forward down the hill, and was creeping on when Captain Glomax asked him whether he would be so-- --obliging kind as to remain where he was for half a minute. Fred took the observations in good part and stopped his horse. "Does he do all that cursing and swearing for the 2,000 pounds?" asked the Senator.
The fox traversed the gorse back from side to side and from corner to corner again and again. There were two sides certainly at which he might break, but though he came out more than once he could not be got to go away.
"They'll kill him now before he breaks," said the elder Botsey.
"Brute!" exclaimed his brother.
"They're hot on him now," said Hampton. At this time the whole side of the hill was ringing with the music of the hounds.
"He was out then, but Dick turned him," said Larry. Dick was one of the whips.
"Will you be so kind, Mr. Morton," asked the Senator, "as to tell me whether they're hunting yet? They've been at it for three hours and a half, and I should like to know when they begin to amuse themselves."
Just as he had spoken there came from Dick a cry that he was away. Tony, who had been down at the side of the gorse, at once jumped into it, knowing the passage through. Lord Rufford, who for the last five or six minutes had sat perfectly still on his horse, started down the hill as though he had been thrown from a catapult. There was a little hand-gate through which it was expedient to pass, and in a minute a score of men were jostling for the way, among whom were the two Botseys, our friend Runciman, and Larry Twentyman, with Kate Masters on the pony close behind him. Young Hampton jumped a very nasty fence by the side of the wicket, and Lord Rufford followed him. A score of elderly men, with some young men among them too, turned back into a lane behind them, having watched long enough to see that they were to take the lane to the left, and not the lane to the right. After all there was time enough, for when the men had got through the hand-gate the hounds were hardly free of the covert, and Tony, riding up the side of the hill opposite, was still blowing his horn. But they were off at last, and the bulk of the field got away on good terms with the hounds. "Now they are hunting," said Mr. Morton to the Senator.
"They all seemed to be very angry with each other at that narrow gate"
"They were in a hurry, I suppose."
"Two of them jumped over the hedge. Why didn't they all jump? How long will it be now before they catch him?"
"Very probably they may not catch him at all."
"Not catch him after all that! Then the man was certainly right to poison that other fox in the wood. How long will they go on?"
"Half an hour perhaps."
"And you call that hunting! Is it worth the while of all those men to expend all that energy for such a result? Upon the whole, Mr. Morton, I should say that it is one of the most incomprehensible things that I have ever seen in the course of a rather long and varied life. Shooting I can understand, for you have your birds. Fishing I can understand, as you have your fish. Here you get a fox to begin with, and are all broken-hearted. Then you come across another, after riding about all day, and the chances are you can't catch him!"
"I suppose," said Mr. Morton angrily, "the habits of one country are incomprehensible to the people of another. When I see Americans loafing about in the bar-room of an hotel, I am lost in amazement."
"There is not a man you see who couldn't give a reason for his being there. He has an object in view, though perhaps it may be no better than to rob his neighbour. But here there seems to be no possible motive."
From Impington Gorse
The fox ran straight from the covert through his well-known haunts to Impington Park, and as the hounds were astray there for two or three minutes there was a general idea that he too had got up into a tree,--which would have amused the Senator very much had the Senator been there. But neither had the country nor the pace been adapted to wheels, and the Senator and the Paragon were now returning along the road towards Bragton. The fox had tried his old earths at Impington High wood, and had then skulked back along the outside of the covert. Had not one of the whips seen him he would have been troubled no further on that day, a fact, which if it could have been explained to the Senator in all its bearings, would greatly have added to his delight. But Dick viewed him; and with many holloas and much blowing of horns, and prayers from Captain Glomax that gentlemen would only be so good as to hold their
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