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the sunlight ; then she turns and
hunches in again, but a minute later
the Master's cheering voice again
sends her palpitating on to the open ;
a moment's pause, and then away
she lits adown the slope and scampers
off to other hiding-places. Now
creeping up towards me, close along
the heather's edge, there comes a
string of brown-grey partridges all
scuttling fast in frightened hurry. I
wonder who gives them their orders ?

They act upon them instantaneously.
"Halt!" they all crouch. "Heads
up ! " " Fly ! " Whirr ! and the whole
brown covey are off together down
across the ravine ; then, with stiffened
wings, they rise the other slope : a
sudden wheel, then slide up and up
the grassy shoulder without a single
flutter till they overtop

Hark — a whimper! No — yes —
another ! Followed by the anxious
cry of others owning to it.

"Tally-ho! Gone away!"
screeches George at the bottom

With a horse like my old "Toulon,"
who knows his business, my shortest
way is smack through the cover. So
into it we go ; plunging here, jump-
ing there, through the heavy heath



and scrub. As we come over the
hill-top the fun is spread before us.
Just in time we are to view him cross
the ridge in front — a fine old fox,
looking somewhat like the little rover
of Old England, but, being longer in
the leg, he does not stretch himself
so close along the ground.

Hounds in cheery chorus are
stretching after him, gleaming white
and mottled on the green grass slope.
And George, not far behind them, in
his pink and leathers, riding a bright
bay gelding, completes a hunting
picture of the brightest colouring,
that in the instant photographs itself
upon the mind.

And now the Master is through the
brook-bog in the bottom, and in our
turn we scramble through, bringing



on the last tail hounds from out the
cover. Then, while we breast the
slope, a backward glance shows all
our motley field are tearing down to
follow us. Now we top the rise and
find an open stretch before us ; scent
is good, and hounds are racing well
together. 'Tis grand to gallop thus
over such good ground, with hounds
lying well away before us, and the
field coming equally well behind ;
while the keen morning air, lighten-
ing up the lungs to the extremity of
buoyancy, gives one a taste of life
that is divine.

The going is chiefly rough, long
grass, whose only fault is treachery,
in the shape of "ant-bear holes."
These are the burrows of the ant-
eater, more commonly known as the



ant-bear or ardvark (^^ earth-hog").
Luckily, they are not in this district
so plentiful as in Natal and Zululand ;
and yet one hole is quite enough to
spoil your hunting for the day, if not
for ever. The ant-heaps, too, are
obstacles, but honest ones, because
they are not invisible. But on we
fly, as though such things existed
not, and the pace is good enough to
take us clean away from all our
following ; but, luckily for them,
before we've had two miles of this
most glorious burst, a cowboy heads
the fox. He turns his line and takes
adown a valley to our left, and here
he finds a thick and scrubby cover
from which lead many blind ravines.
A check, while hounds endeavour
to worry out the line, gives pause for

the field to come bustling up. Then
some dismount to ease their blowing
nags, while others ride around to

help, as they suppose, the non-
plussed hounds. Their noisy babel,
as they talk about the run and chaff
late-comers, would annoy one were
it not so ludicrous to see how much
a gallop moves these Dutchmen from
their cold stolidity.

Now one young hand, supposing
all is over, off-saddles, as his custom
is, and leaves his horse to roll ; but
at that moment hounds once more
hit off the line, and helter-skelter, off
we pelt, leaving this young man to
gain experience. Onward down the
long hillside we press, now bending
right, now swinging left, but ever
edging on towards the " Flats." A


ditch and boundary bank next cause
some grief, and farther on an ugly
dry ravine brings down the Master
and turns a large proportion of the
field to seek another way.

Hounds now are tailing off a bit.
Young Ranger leads the rest, as is his
wont, by quite a hundred yards :
he's far too fast, but we cannot well
afford to trim our pack, else might
we well dispense with Colleen, too —
a small dark bitch, whose only place
is at the Master's heels ; and even
when he's down, she waits to see him
safely up again.

Our fox now runs us through a
farmstead, where, among the cattle-
kraals, we get some stone-wall lep-
ping. At length we reach the tract
of heath and dunes that forms the


" Flats/' and scent falls light and
catchy. Slow hunting here becomes
the order of the day, with now and
then a sudden burst along some
grassy bottom. The field, though
much reduced in numbers, is more
than ever keen, and follows close —
too close — upon the hounds.

" Now, Wanderer, my lad, what is
it ? Lame ? " No, worse 1 Ay,
poor old hound, he leaves the line,
with drooping head and stern, and
walks aside, just glancing up, as if to
say, " Don't mind me, old friend, go
on and see it out " ; and he flings
himself, quite helpless, down behind
a bush. A little Kaffir tending cows
close by agrees to nurse him, and, if
he lives, to bring him home ; but
the hunt will never see old Wanderei

again. Dog-sickness always for its
victims seems to take the best.

With sorrow at my heart, I push
along to overtake the bobbing crov;d
in front, and find them checked
beside a stretch of open sand. Here
all scent fails, and George, on foot,
is taking up the spoor, hounds
following in an interested group.
Upon the sand the tracks show
where the fox has stopped to listen
and then has doubled on his trail.
Into the bush once more, and —
Tally-ho ! — he jumps up right before
us. What a screech of men and
hounds ! Old Piet Nielmann rushes
past me, lambasting his fully-blown
horse with a heavy sjambok, till a
sturdy tussock stretches both the
rider and his horse upon the sand.

The crowd go racing on. Over
yonder rise our fox is viewed ; a
minute later we are there, and see
the fun below. He doubles in some
grass, and round the beauties come,
just like a flock of pigeons wheeling
— a crash, a snarl, and they roll him
over in the bottom. Whowhoop I

And while he is broken up in the
good old way, the knot of panting
men and horses is gradually added
to by stragglers coming up to join
the chatter and the talk about the

Then pipes are lit, and, in the best
of moods, we make our way once
more towards the upland, where the
farm of ^^ Filjee " stands out white
upon the hillside, bare except for
this one group of trees and build-





ings. On drawing near we find a
plain-faced single-storeyed house,
with windows blinded by a formal
row of pollard-trees set close in front.
Upon the stoep or terrace-step, De
Villiers and his frau receive us.
Within the steamy room (whose
windows never open) we find a
plentiful repast laid out, of beef,
black bread, and succotash, backed
by an imposing display of bottles
.. holding "square-face" gin, pontac,
. and van-der-Hum. But little time is
lost in reconnoitring this formidable
array, and our hungry sportsmen
spring to the attack as hounds from
leash. Once at it, they are fixed.
Still, we know the scent which has
favoured us so far may not last all ^^p
day, so, after a welcome snack and a

toast to our sporting entertainer, a
few of us move out to go afield
again. But not so the majority :
with them the lunch is half the
hunt : they feel they've had their
run, and now enjoy its complement.
So as we jog away to covers
higher in the hills, we find our field
reduced to three, and those three
not likely, with their overweighted
mounts, to carry on for long if the
run has any pace. At the cross a
spruit running out of a little bushy
glen, hounds suddenly break and
feather on a trail, and, bustling up
the ravine, they pick up a gradually
improving scent. Forrard ! Forrard !
On to a long swelling down we go,
over the level for a space, and then a
heavy breather up to the top ; those





whose mounts are well shouldered
have the best of it striding down the
further slope. Through a network
of dry watercourses, where the scent
falls light, they hit it off on a grand
level plateau beyond. Then we get
a real good ding-dong gallop that
soon polishes off our little field,
and leaves us three alone to follow
hounds, while praying that we too
may not get left. The line has led
us straight, without a swerve, towards
a conical hill, whose pointed heath-
clad top has often served us for a
landmark ; and hounds are tailing
out a bit on the lower slopes as the
line takes us round its base. Now
Ranger, who is far ahead, swerves
suddenly, then circles round, the
others cast about. A check at last !




the first in thirty minutes. Ranter
has it ! but for a moment only ; he
brings it up a watercourse, and
there's the earth before us in an
overhanging bank.

It should be an easy one to dig,
" had we but weapons handy." And
so they are. Over the next rise
there peeps some trees— the trees of
Swartzkop Farm. George canters
off, and soon is back with pick and
spade. We link our three horses all
together with their reins, and, while
George and I proceed to dig, the
Master holds the pack away.

Quick work we are making with
the bank when, without a moment's
warning, through a cloud of dust be-
tween us, there springs out the great
red " Jack," and flies away before

the very noses of the pack. For one
short instant they scarce reahse the
case, but then they swoop upon the
hne with a screaming chorus that
would wake the dead. Indeed, it
wakes something more important
than the dead : it causes our horses
to throw up their heads, and, with-
out a moment's hesitation, to start in
pursuit, in no Httle gaiety of heart at
finding themselves without the usual
burden of their riders. Helplessly
we, in our turn, start to follow ; but
they are streaming away over the
shoulder before us, while we, pound-
ing in our top-boots through heavy
grass and heather, find ourselves
well pumped within a hundred
yards. The hounds are gone, the
horses top the sky-line, still tied head
75 D


to head, but galloping with all their
might ; they disappear, and after
them, more faithful to the Master's
horse than Master, there goes Col-
leen. They're gone ! We pause, and,
blowing hard, we make a few appro-
priate remarks. And then we turn
to climb the peak in hopes, at least,
of seeing how the hunt may end.
We struggle up and clamber, none
the better for our boots and spurs
and feverish haste. Anon we pause
for breath, when lo, behind us, the
fox is pounding heavily up the hill !
He has completely circled round it,
and again is making for the earths
that lie beside us. But close upon
his brush there follows Ranger, ever
to the fore, with all the ruck not
many yards behind. Now Ranger's




almost on him ; he turns upon his

Each rears on end with an angry
worry at the other's throat, but in a
second more the white and mottled
avalanche is on them, and it is a
struggling mass of tugging, growling
hounds that we spring into with
"Who whoop!"


jN the deep shade of a
mango tope, in the
Meerut Kadir, a camp
was pitched for the
Christmas pig-sticking meet. Among
some adjoining trees a few more
tents formed the temporary home of
some ladies who had come out to
the jungle to witness the sport.

Among these were Edna Clay and
her mother.

(Had they been English people



I should possibly have referred to
them in the reverse order ; but
with Americans the relative import-
ance of the members of a family is,
as a rule, in an inverse ratio to that
which obtains in England. The
American fathers and brothers come
at the back-end of the list, while the
daughter of the house leads at the

The Clays had been wintering in
Meerut, where the good climate and
the social cheeriness of the large
military station contributed to make
it an agreeable substitute for the
usual Continental watering - places
that form the habitat of Americans
blizzarded out of their own country.

Having many friends among the
6th Hussars at Meerut, the ladies had

been readily persuaded to come and
try what camp life was like, and to
see a little of this wonderful sport
which they found from experience
was apt to draw men away from their
most solemn engagements. " Pig-
sticking" was a talisman that appa-
rently entitled men to break off an
acceptance to dinner, or to disappear
in the middle of a dance, to drive off
in their dak gharri to some distant

The light rains which usually fell
about Christmas-time had not come,
consequently in the middle of the
day the sun was powerful, and pig-
sticking was only carried out in the
mornings and afternoons.

To-day, although none of the heat
of the midday sun was able to pene-

trate through the massive foliage of
the mango-trees and the double fly
of the roomy tent beneath them,
Miss Edna seemed in a restless
mood. She could not sit down to
write, as her mother did, long screeds
to their men-kind at home, nor was
she gifted with the power to sketch
the sunny view outside their door ;
her banjo lay neglected in its case,
and the latest novels failed to-day to
attract her.

" What is it, my dear ? " asked
the patient mother for the fourth
time, looking up from her letter-

" It is this, mamma. I am not

going to leave India — I know it."

She was standing at the moment,

with her hands clasped behind her,



staring out at the sunlit scene ; then
she turned suddenly to her mother,
and with unwonted vehemence ex-
claimed, ^^ I've been a fool. I can-
not help it. I have let myself fall in
love. I never thought about it — I

never foresaw it. And now " she

paused, looking out again across the
sea of yellow grass.

Her mother had laid aside her pen
and taken of¥ her glasses, scarcely
surprised, but beaming, anxious to
hear more. "Well, my dear, and
why not ? I have long seen how he
admires you. And as for not leaving
India — that would be about the first
thing you would do. He has told
me how he wants to retire from the
army as soon as he can get a good
excuse — to go and live in his own


family mansion, a superb place from
what "

" Mamma/' interrupts poor Edna,
almost tearfully, ** it is not ^ the
Devil ' I am in love with — I wish it
were ! It is the ' Deep C. ! ' "

To say that she was taken aback
would scarcely express the state of
mind into which Mrs. Clay was
thrown by this avowal. In vain she
sought for words to express her pro-
test ; this match between her daughter
and the Honourable Jack Austin,
better known among his friends as
^* the Devil," she had fondly pictured
to herself, and secretly and very
cautiously had furthered to the best
of her ability. For what other reason
had she, at her time of life, left the
comforts of a well-ordered house in


Meerut for the unknown ills of camp
life, but that Jack Austin would be
of the party of pig-stickers in whose
company she and Edna were to be
thrown ? Her dream, which had
seemed about to culminate in reality,
had been shattered at one blow, and
she could scarcely for the moment
realise the fact.

^^And the ^ Deep C too— of all
people!" This was Major Calvert
of the 6th, a dark, handsome, but
taciturn man. "Whatever could Edna
see in him ? " were points that sug-
gested themselves to her mind.

"But, my dear child," she urged
aloud, considerately putting in the
second place that which she con-
sidered very much in the first,
" Major Calvert is so— so staid ; and


Mr. Austin is Lord Ravensham's
heir, you know."

^^ I know, I know all that. And I
like 'the Devil' better than I liked
any one before. He is, for one thing,
a gentleman. Only yesterday he was
telling me all about his home and his
people. His mother and sisters must
be sweet. And I thought then how
lovely it would be — but to-day, I see
that it is impossible."

Edna here sank down into a low
chair, and, after toying for an instant
with a paper-knife, resumed her
troubled gaze on the distant scene,
resting her chin upon her hand.

The mother, in her confusion of
mind, remained silent, and the girl
presently continued her almost sad








" Yes ; I had always looked on
Major Calvert as the best of my
friends, as he was Mr. Austin's.
Indeed," she added, with a slight
laugh, " I would almost sooner have
gone to him for advice in a difficulty
than to you, mamma. With him I
always felt that I was with an old
friend. To-day, coming back from
pig-sticking on the elephant with
him, I was chaffing him for being so
staid, when in reality his mind is full
of fun. Then I saw a look cross his
eyes that made me ask — without
thinking — if he was in any trouble.
He told me then the sad sorrowful
little story of his life, which he has
never spoken of, even to Mr. Austin.
And when he told me that it was my
kindness and sympathy had drawn


him out, I thought what a prize he
would be to any one as her helpmeet
for life. Now I know that I love him
as I never cared for any man before.
And yet " — with a fluttering sigh of a
laugh — " I suppose he would not
look at me ! "

In the meantime, while this con-
versation was going on between Mrs.
Clay and her daughter, in the neigh-
bouring camp Jack Austin and di-
vert were, by way of smoking to-
gether, in the latter's tent. I have
never heard who first called them^^the
Devil" and the ^'Deep Sea." Though
unlike each other in very many
ways, they were an unusually good
pair of friends. If you fell out with
one — which was not an easy thing



to do — you fell out with both. Jack
Austin, ''the Devil," was a cheery,
light-hearted, typical British sub-
altern, ready for any game that was
going, while Major Calvert, ''the
Deep C," though a keen sportsman
and full of dry and — what is not
always the same thing — kindly hu-
mour, was of a quiet disposition,
avoiding rather than courting society,
and was therefore credited with
having some character below the
surface. Many a man, indeed, has
passed as a clever one before the
world simply because he has been
^^: wise enough not to let out to what
extent he is a fool.

Why the two men should have
become such peculiarly good friends
it is difficult to see, as theoretically
93 E





like to the like is the proper apposi-
tion ; but, as a matter of fact, this
does not work out in practice, where
Hke with the unhke very often hit
it off completely and satisfactorily.
Such had, in fact, happened in this

In their tent this morning, after
the events of the morning's pig-
sticking had been discussed, there
had been very little conversation
between them ; both had sat silently
smoking for some time, which, after
all, is the way of good friends. Sud-
denly the Devil broke the silence by
exclaiming, " Look here, Bloggs " —
Bloggs was the name by which he
usually addressed Major Calvert
when not on parade — " I am tired of
soldiering. I've hung on a bit hoping

to see a little service, but British
cavalry seem to be too carefully
bottled up nowadays for one to have
a chance of it. You have been lucky,
and so, perhaps, you can't enter into
my feelings. But that's how it is,
and I'm going to send in my
papers ! "

" My dear chap, I quite agree with
you about our fine old crusted
cavalry, but a day may yet come !
And besides, I don't see exactly why
this sudden resolution, noWy with the
pig-sticking and polo tournament
just coming on. You haven't had to
do orderly officer *more than three
days a week on an average,' as Mr.
Glimmer would say — what has put
your back up ? "

"Nothing has put my back up.

It's the other way. I'm going to ask
Miss Clay to be my wife."

"Good heavens!" This came
with so sharp a change of tone
from Calvert that Austin almost
jumped round in his chair to look
at him.

" What is it, old chap ? Do you
know anything against it ? " cried

" No — at least, not exactly— except
that — well, I had intended to do the
same thing myself."

"You I"

" Yes, but it never struck me that
you were meaning anything that way.
I never thought "

Then both relapsed into silence
for a moment, till Austin summed up
the situation with the remark :



" Well, by gum, we are in a queer
hat ! What is to be done ? "

There was then a silence for so
.long that Austin, coming back to
the actual situation first, exclaimed,
" Bloggs, are you asleep ? " Calvert,
who was lying back in an armchair,
no longer smoking, merely flung
back the word with some scorn in
his tone, " A-sleep ! "

The Devil, finding that he had an
audience, proceeded to give out his
views : "Well, I've been thinking it
over, and I don't see a way out of the
difficulty. You haven't asked her,
you say ; have you broken ground at

" Yes, I have in a way broken the


" Well, then, we're no better off



than before. For I've been prepar-
ing her by telling her all about my
people and prospects, and so on,
though I've not asked her right out.
But it seems to me she is very young,
you know, and you're getting on a
bit "

^^ Thanks, Jack, but I'm not so old
as all that ; and even if she took a
man of my age, it would be better for
her than being shackled on to a
flighty young Devil Uke you."

The Devil gave up this argument
with a sigh, and lay back in his chair
with his arms behind his head, star-
ing at the ceiling for further inspira-

Presently Calvert continued : " No,
my boy, I am perfectly fixed on it.
But are you quite sure that you mean




business ? May it not be with you
one of those fascinations which
you'll allow do come to you now and

" No ; in those affairs I never
speak of my people and prospects,"
retorted the Devil with proper pride.

'' Quite right. I even found a
difficulty in speaking of my pros-
pects, so gave her more of my past,
from which she could herself evolve
my character."

" Your past ! Oh, by George !
then I give in. A man with a past
is a hopeless chap to contend against.
A girl will jump at him like a trout
at a fly ; she don't care what his
future is likely to be provided he has
got a past. Well, it seems to me that
we are as we were."




" We shall have to leave it to her
to decide. But^ look here, it is tea-
time over there ; we ought to be
going. I don't see any use in cutting
each other's throats over it ; but it is
a hat ! "

A few minutes later they were
wending their way across to the
ladies' camp, when Austin, who had
been silent for some time, suddenly
stopped Calvert and excitedly began,
^* Bloggs, I see a way ! I was think-
ing how evenly matched we are at
this new game, just as we are said to
be at polo and pig-sticking. If we
leave the settlement of the thing to
her we shall be working against each
other all the time, we shall both ask
her, which will be very uncomfort-
able for her, and she'll have to say




*No' to one of us, which will be

d d uncomfortable for him. One

is almost inclined to draw lots about
it, but that is so jolly unsatisfactory
for the loser. What do you say to
having a match after a pig, you and

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Online LibraryRobert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell Baden-Powell of GilwellSport in war → online text (page 2 of 5)