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Now don't let this description frighten you: you'd have been in the crowd, and society is a great blessing. Nothing is so horrid as jumping into a field quite alone, and seeing no earthly way to get out again. I'd rather be in a pond with a dozen people. When you come down here you'll probably see a tall, good-looking man, with a seat rather far back for my taste. If you want to make his acquaintance (and you will lose a very great pleasure if you do not do so), ask him to be so good as to show you the way home. His friendship will not be obtained quite unconditionally ; but I think it well worth the money. You know I like a good jumper : I thought I had one; and after a moderate day's sport, I turned to go home. I applied to the gentleman whose good-tempered expression of face had beguiled me into a belief in his "singleness of purpose and extreme honesty of heart." “Certainly, with pleasure; I go your way, and shall be happy to
At the next village we found his hack-a useful-looking, half-bred mare, no beauty, but with length and strength. We went a short distance along the road, amusing each other dulcibus alloquiis, and amongst other things I was a little diffuse on the merits of my horse. “Oh! I'm on a hack,” said my conductor—"a fair beast, and good jumper enough; but, of course, not like your hunter. Í know a short road through these gates, at least I may make a mistake as to a field; but of course we can manage to get along over a fence or two."
Could the most unreasonable man object? We turned through the gate to the right, another gate and another. Distrust, if it ever existed, was lulled to sleep. “This little fence, a mere gap.” “Certainly, shall I go first ?” As you please.". Very good : two more little gaps, but much increasing in size: in fact, the increase in size was so rapid that I should have smelt a rat, only my companion was so agreeable, and laughed and talked and praised Highflyer so much, I couldn't get away from him. The fourth gap was outrageous, and I nearly got a cropper-a wide ditch, with earth scraped out, and festooning the taking-off side, with a tightly laid hedge on the top of a bank. Gap, indeed! it would have been out of the kitchen-garden of the giant Blunderbore, of nursemaid recollections. We were now going at a moderate gallop, which here my friend increased to a very respectable hunting pace. He scarcely deigned to look round at me, though I've since heard him say he was positively afraid. The field we were in was a large one, half a mile long, with a most auspicious-looking white gate at the top. My joy knew no bounds, for it was now anything but light enough for a steeple-chase. Straight on went my leader. I was just able to see his mare make what appeared in the distance a jump, when I observed, for the first time, a row of willows lower down in the field. A row of willows means a brook: there was no time for waiting; my companion surveyed me from the opposite rising, though still going on. to be done ?- a stranger in a strange land. Stand still ?-Impossible ! Go back ?-Worse and worse! Now I mentally shook my fist at him, and corporeally ground my teeth, as I stuck my hat on firmly. It might be a mere grip! the thought was balm to my wounded spirit. Just then we neared it, and -oh! horror of horrors ! fifteen feet of water, if an inch. It was too late to stop; and we went comfortably into the middle. I was soon out, and away I went after my friend. He waited for me at the gate, and positively pretended not
to know that I'd been in the water! “There is but one more fence, and I really am so sorry.” “Oh! come;" said I, “ that's really" and I deliberately pulled up. The absurdity of our situation seemed to strike him much more forcibly than it did me.“ There's the gate, by Jove!” said he. “Well, I'll be hanged if it isn't locked!" o "I don't
care; it's pitch dark, and I shan't ride at the fence." we must ;” said he, grinning like an ogre: and we did, and got home safely; and I've forgiven him, which entitles me to rank as a Christian-on the score of charity, at all events. And when you come you may make a very agreeable acquaintance, but it must be at the expense of a little schooling.
By the way, I've nearly filled the sheet of paper; and you see we've had very good sport altogether through November, from Sulby, Kelmarsh, Braybrooke, Misterton, Crick, and other places, and the county is flourishing. Lord Clifden is at Brixworth; Sir Thomas Hesketh has taken Misterton; Lord Henley has built some capital stabling at Watford for the accommodation of strangers : something is said about their being occupied shortly. Before I finish, however, I must tell you of a nice little thing we had from Crick; because it is rather a favourite meet, and we generally have sport there. The principal features of the village are a large old half-dismantled looking inn, and which must be so except on hunting mornings; a linendraper's shop at the corner, and the fine old church, one of the “ lions” of the county. The inn-yard is crowded with horses and grooms: before it are the hounds, with the servants awaiting their master, and giving an occasional flank to a quarrelsome hound, and a touch of their cap to some well-known habitué of the Pytchley, as he comes into the town. The old clock strikes quarter to eleven, and the clear distinct note still rings on the ear, when George Payne rounds the corner by the linendraper's shop, in company with Lord and Lady H-nl-y, his host and hostess of the previous evening. A minute later, and a pair of very neat ponies, ridden by a postilion, drive round the same corner, bringing guests from Watford Court in her ladyship’s pony carriage. The village fills from all sides, and there are four roads to it. The lower end is almost blocked up by a phaeton from Fawsley, with R—n—d K-1-y and his party, who, if he gets well away from the crowd at Crick gorse, will go as straight as it's possible for man to go. Under favourable circumstances there is no better man to hounds in the county. Who's this on a hot hack, just come from the station ? Lord S-th-e, after his victory at Worcester : and that's Lord Howth's horse he's on--only 710 guineas' worth, Mr. and Mrs. B—n, Captain H-b-t, of Bilton Grange, Lord B-m-n,T-d-n H-g-s, and W-It-r1-r—th from the Buckinghamshire country, crowds of officers from Birmingham and Northampton, Lord C-d-n, Sir Thomas H—th, and on the outskirts about seventy more in red, black, and brown, positively too modest to get into the middle of the village ; whilst in the centre of all the nobs sits “snob,” talking to nobody, caring for nothing; but you don't know what snob is. You've read of Nimrod's snob in that valuable production the “N. S. M.;" but then he was a totally different fellow. He went at all the big places, and was asked to all the big places. Our snob never rides at a big place, and is asked nowhere, except to get out of the way when he stands trying to look
through something he's afraid to jump over. He wears a cap and a dirty face under, as if he fell asleep in his chair last night, and forgot to wash when he got up in the morning. He has a detestably-stained pink, badly cleaned leathers, and highly wrinkled and lowly polished boots. He rides a seedy chesnut, with some good shape about him, but no flesh, no fore-legs, and ragged hips ; and no wonder, for he does five days a fortnight. This is our snob: surely he supplies the NHL with an account of our runs, for as he never takes part in them, perhaps he sees them the better-mind free from anxiety and his body from danger. They've found a fox in the gorse: a ring to the village again; and three gentlemen down out of the twelve who are with them in the three first fences: a slight check at the village, and a fine opportunity for the roadsters, for away we go at a rattling pace again, and run into the varmint on Lord Henley's lawn at Watford. Everybody was first some part of the way; but whether in the road, or over the grass, is so invidious a question that it is never put. The pony.carriage had the best of it along the road certainly; but it happened to be the shortest road, we having done the distance in about thirty-five minutes across the country. An excellent luncheon recompensed me for being nearly ridden over at the third fence: it must have been accidental, as I have not an enemy in the world. My kindest regards to your mother; and pray take care of yourself at this dangerous season of the year. Burn this for what would “snob” say if he saw it: and believe me,
Yours very faithfully,
“THE TIMES" CHANGE.
ENGRAVED BY E. HACKER, FROM A PAINTING BY J. F. HERRING, SEN.
“ No more is heard the mellow winding horn,
Waking the drowsy slumbers of the morn:
THE DESERTED VILLAGE (no. 2.)
We have had some wonderful changes, certainly, within the last few years, though we really believe we have concentrated the cream and point of most of them in this present A l, new-year number. In the first place, we have had some great changes in the constitution, consequent on some equally great changes in certain great men's minds, that, for thirdly, bring us on to some as striking alterations in other great men's ways. The point of all this everybody sees in a moment in the portrait of Lord George. Conservative principle turns to free-trade in full bloom; the chosen of the agriculturists, to