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covert, at least half a mile off, and the Squire's horn is left undisturbed in its case.
The hounds have every advantage, for the field are close packed in the lane, like so many herrings in a barrel, and the fastest horse out would scarce get round the wood in time to head the fox. Now they are running gloriously, throwing a chorus around them that beats the keys of a piano-forte for variety, and what musicians call “expression." We gallop up the lane, parallel with the line, squelching through the puddles, and Ainging the dirt in one another's faces, like so many maniacs. See, “ Ike” is in view, with his cap in the air; but the welltrained scout is as mute as a mouse.
It is evident our fox is away! and the lessening chorus of the deepmouthed pack announces that they too must have reached the open. The squires wax frantic : standing in their stirrups and grinning with excitement, they make superhuman efforts to “get forward," and the “ breadth of beam" cased in its drab-cord covering, and revealed by many a pair of fluttering crimson tails, shows how right are these ponderous equestrians in holding their nags hard by the head. Mr. Rockly and the chesnut turn short out of the “ruck," and disappear over an awkward stile to the left; but although this is undoubtedly the most direct way to hounds, I can neither pull up in time to follow him, nor have I sufficient confidence in the grey to charge such an ugly impediment. I gallop on accordingly with the tide. We turn the corner of the wood, dash over a solitary cottage-garden, skirt an orchard, squeeze through a gap in a high bank of hazels beyond, and emerge upon the open moor. What a line! what a country! not a fence in the whole of it! and such galloping ground a soft elastic sward of tufted grass and heather, that carries a scent totally unknown to less favoured localities, and with room enough to “ blow" an Eclipse at the rate we are going. Far ahead of us, rising the opposite hill, stream the lengthening pack, actually tailing from pace, but one and all owning the scent. “ Ike" is shaking his reins alongside of them, and Parson Rockly, leaning well forward over the wiry chesnut's shoulders, is creeping gradually up to his place. We shall never catch them like this, in fact they are perceptibly gaining upon us even now, but in hunting every day proves the converse of the old coaching aphorism “what the big ’uns do by strength, the little 'uns do by cunning”-in the field, where the light weights get by speed the heavy weights get by sagacityand just as the hounds disappear over the crest of the hill, the heaviest and rosiest of my companions shoots off at a tangent down a halfobliterated cart-track to the right. Like sheep after the bell-wether, we follow his hoof-marks, and for a considerable period, during which we never slacken our speed, we might, as far as hunting goes, as well be galloping up Rotten Row for all we see of the chase. Once our pilot pulls up short, takes off his hat, wipes his beaded brow, and listens for an instant. I catch the distant melody on the breeze-down goes the hat with a cram, up he gets in his stirrups, and away again faster than before. We round the shoulder of a hill, and come upon a picturesque and copse-clothed dingle, where we find the hounds at fault, and strenuously endeavouring to recover the scent. “Ike” is sitting quietly on the five-year-old (who looks a good deal blown), waiting with praiseworthy patience till they shall have made their own cast. Parson Rockly has leaped off the chesnut, and is turning his horse's head towards the breeze with an expression of intense enjoyment on his countenance, and the hounds spreading like a fan, are feathering and snuffling for the scent, conscious that they will be undisturbed till they have quite done with it. I look round for the Squire, and behold him nearly a mile farther down the dell, ready to come to his hounds should they require his assistance. How he got there no one can tell, but with a sort of instinctive knowledge of the line of a fox, he had arrived at the very spot where his hounds on recovering the scent, afterwards crossed the brawling streamlet that divided the ravine. “Ike” was preparing to lift them, when “ Rantipole” proclaimed that they required no such assistance, and stooping together to their work they hunted merrily on, down the banks of the stream into a more inclosed and habitable-looking country.
And now began the humours of the chase. Hitherto it had been all plain sailing, the fastest galloper and the best-winded horse had the advantage ; but the ground upon which we now entered was a deep holding plough, with only an occasional grass field, enclosed by high rotten banks and “pleached ” fences, while the lanes were few and far between, and the gates occasionally locked. Of all breaches of confidence, that of locking a gate is the most unpardonable ; and, if anything can add to the heinousness of such duplicity, it is the further outrage of tarning downwards the upper staple on which it revolves, thereby rendering it impossible to obtain a commodious egress by lifting the gate off its hinges. Alas! that such “ a dodge” should have reached the unsophisticated West. Under these circumstances, ride we must ; but it takes a considerable time for a string of cautious gentlemen to follow each other, in due and well-timed rotation, over a series of double fences ; and, although the hounds are only hunting, not running, I soon find that my view of the sport becomes again limited to the cords and coat-tails aforesaid. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of the parson “ doubling ” a high, awkward fence, in masterly style, two or three fields a-head of me; whilst, occasionally, I can see “ Ike,” shaking his elbows and running in his spurs, as he hustles the young one at soine large and uncertain impediment ; but there is plenty of occupation nearer home. Our corpulent pilot, warmed by the work and excited by his hitherto unparalleled success, rides boldly at the weakest place in a straggling treacherous sort of hedge, and comes upon his head in an artfully-concealed ditch. After this he discreetly abandons the post of honour, and at each succeeding obstacle there is a ludicrous politeness displayed by the field in their unwillingness to go first. Then what “come ups" are heard, as a stout gentleman, perched on the summit of a bank, to which he has arrived by a series of cautious advances, is startled by the unwelcome discovery of a second yawning ditch as a trap for the unwary, into the abyss of which he is convinced nothing saves him from being precipitated but the fast hold he has of his horse's head and the unmerciful “ job” he inflicts on the docile animal. At last it gets to “ leading over," when luckily, just as the chance of again seeing hounds is becoming more hopeless than ever, a level green lane, running straight as a line for miles, greets our delighted eyes. It is a continuation of Watling-street, or Leeming-lane, or Amencorner, for aught I know ; but never before did I feel so thoroughly grateful to the conquerors of the world as when that old Roman road hove in sight. There is an ugly fence between us and the wished for highway, which, as “a gent from Leicestershire," I find I am generally expected to negotiate first ; and, with a vivid idea of a fall, I harden my heart and go straight at the obstacle. The grey does it so well, and lands so cleverly in the lane, that I feel quite ashamed of not having ridden him more forward ; but am consoled by the consciousness of having been surrounded throughout by the élite of the Pippingdon men. I see a red coat clattering along on the same friendly road a few hundred yards in front of me, and, as I gradually overhaul the owner, I discover it is the Squire, whose hounds are running through a farnyard a couple of fields to the right. As I near him he pulls out his watch, and giving old Blunderbuss a “ refresher" with both spurs, he exclaims, “ An hour and ten minutes, Nogo ! he is running for his life.” Sure enough the conclusion seems near at hand: the hounds are dashing up one hedge-row and down another, with bristles up and sterns down, as though they were maddening for his blood. All at once up go their heads, and, after a vain effort to recover the line, they stand looking about them in helpless bewilderment. There is a woodland, a field to our right, and the earths are open at Mellerton, two miles further on. The Squire's mind is made up in an instant; thrusting his tired horse through a gap in the fence, which I should never have perceived, with one blast of his horn he gets his hounds round him, and casts them back. Probably he thinks his fox much too hot to seek the woodland, and that had he persevered in making his point for Mellerton we should not have checked. The event proves the Squire was right. He had lain down in the ditch behind us, and the hounds had overrun the scent for a field and a-half. How they take it up in that orchard; ha! yonder he steals, below the fence, towards the gate ; they view him as he crawls under its bars, and, tumbling over one-another with the rush of a cataract, they precipitate their two-and-twenty couple of bodies on that gallant little morsel of draggled fur. Who-whoop! who-whoop ! resounds in every key-Ike tumbles from his horse amongst his darlings; Topthorne's face beams with delight ; Parson Rockly wishes the Master joy of “so gallant a fox and fine a run ;" and the rest of the field who, thanks to the Roman road, are mostly forthcoming, burst out into a Babel-like chorus of congratulation and applause. The pilot, heated up to boiling pitch, makes it an hour and twenty-five minutes by his watch ; but as he did not come up till some little time after the conclusion, it is probable that althongh his run may have been of that duration, ours was not quite so long : the Squire's description of it in the following words is most likely to be correct—"Not a bad run for the provinces I think you must allow, Mr. Nogo; eleven miles from point to point, over a fine wild country, with but two trilling checks, and done in an hour and seventeen minutes."
SPORTING ADVENTURES AND SCENES IN INDIA. (From the M. S. of a Highlander and Officer lately serving with his
Regiment in that Country.)
EDITED BY MOUNTAINEER.
The long and unprofitable hunting season last past had just come to a close, when I hurried to that grand emporium of sale, the City of Oxford, to dispose of a horse less qualified to carry my twelve stone carcass across country than the sons of Alma Mater over the flat surface of Port Meadow or Bullingdon Common. I also wished to purchase in his stead something young and promising, which by due care and attention I might convert into a future hunter. In days of yore, when the famous old Duke of Beaufort hunted the Heythrop country, there were at least six stables of equal calibre in the University, Quatermaine perhaps being the King Pippin of the company. But at the present time, on inquiring for an animal such as I required, the invariable counter-inquiry seemed to be, “Have you been to Charles Symonds'?” or, “ Have you looked over Charles Symonds' six-stall stable ; if he can't suit you you will probably not be suited in the university." Accordingly, to Charles Symonds' I wended my way, and confess I was not a little astonished at the superior establishment and high class of hunter which was offered to my notice on reaching the Holywell Stables. Like Buridan's ass between two equal bundles of hay, my attentions were divided between a long, low, bony chesnut, and a black Belzoni coltboth of which seemed to possess every requisite material for future work. The attractions of both being equally great, their paces most promising, and the price the same, I could not make up my mind which to choose. At length a judge of no ordinary character, an officer in her Majesty's service, who had lately returned from India, and son-inlaw to a friend of my own, most opportunely came to my assistance, and said, I know something of that Belzoni colt; if you are in doubt, take him.” I did take him, paid the money, and, although it was rather a round sum for a raw, uneducated animal, as yet I have every reason to be perfectly satisfied with my bargain. Subsequently, that officer very kindly presented me with numerous anecdotes of sporting scenes in which he enacted a prominent part, in India and elsewhere; and as they are replete with adventure and novelty, I feel quite sure the following portion of them will contribute largely to the amusement of the general reader.
Mount Aboo, to the north of Guzerat, is one of the most interesting spots in the world, and also one of the pleasantest in the great eastern peninsula. It rears its giant form amongst a group of mountains which are surrounded on nearly all sides by the sultry plains peculiar to that part of India. These latter are so perfectly hot, that it has become a proverbial expression that there is only a sheet of brown paper between Deesa and Hell; and really the gently undulating sandy expanse, des
titute during the dry season of everything like vegetation, save a stunted milk or thorn bush here and there, presents no bad resemblance to an uneven sheet of brown paper. Strange is the alteration about the beginning of June ; the rains set in, and after the second day a tinge of green may be observed mingling with the dusky brown; a week elapses, and all is a smiling meadow. Not less extraordinary is the change in the rivers : at one time they are dry sandy channels ; at another, torrents from a hundred yards to half a mile broad, full to the brim, and sweeping buffaloes, deer, sheep, cattle, trees, fragments of houses, and sometimes even human bodies, hurry headlong in their course towards the rhun of Cutch (at that time a gulf), where they and their victims are alike swallowed up in the ocean. A ride of fifty miles through a country principally jungle takes one from Deesa to the foot of Mount Aboo; but a traveller's bungalow is built at Goondree, as a kind of half-way house for those who do not relish the idea of a fifty mile morning gallop. At Anadra, a mile from the foot of the mountain, is another traveller's bungalow, and a village wherein reside the people whose business it is to transport baggage, and even individuals, to the top; for the path is such that a horse has quite enough to do to scramble up the rugged ascent, while to a wheel carriage of any description it is perfectly impossible. All burdens are therefore carried up by Coolies ; when not too heavy they are borne upon the head, while the more weighty are slung upon poles by two or more men, as the case may be. Individuals, whom laziness or illness debar from using, or rather abusing, the muscles of their legs and backs to a degree necessary to place them on the summit, are carried by four men, on a rude seat swung by ropes between two poles which rest on the bearers' shoulders ; and, as the path leads along the very edge of frightful precipices, it is certainly a position well calculated to test a man's nerves, though I never heard of any accident occurring. The usual complement of bearers to each chair is eight, four being at work and four at rest. But one fat friend of mine they refused to have anything to do with, unless he employed twelve, and after the first trial, unless he took sixteen ; which to his intense disgust he was compelled to do, for he was not fond of parting with his money. Various and very interesting are the views obtained as the traveller is borne along in his ascent. Often after passing through some dense jungle (the whole hill-side being wooded, and infested with tigers and other ferve naturæ ), he finds himself on the verge of some precipitous and dark ravine, or catches a glimpse of the almost boundless jungle and plain which stretches away beyond his ken, far far below him. An active and hardy race are the men that convey one up to the mountain brow; yet their forms, thin and meagre, give no promise to the eye, of their immense indurance. Patiently they toil on, the sweat oozing from every pore, and mingling in streams with cocoa-nut oil adown their dark half-naked bodies, as with an occasional “Hough! hough ! !" when the ascent is steeper than usual, they hump their shoulders and steadily continue their painful task. The flavour of the creatures is nothing sweet; and as I was blessed with a pair of sturdy legs, after the first visit I always made use of them to attain the summit. When once past the gate, as two projecting rocks which narrow the path near the top are termed, a glorious sight, or rather succession of sights, meets the eye. At about five thousand feet above the