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0105_001E Hunting Sketches Anthony Trollope

The Man who Hunts and Does Like it

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Let us follow him on an ordinary day. His groom comes to his bed-chamber at seven o'clock, and tells him that it has frozen during the night. If he be a London man, using the train for his hunting, he knows nothing of the frost, and does not learn whether the day be practicable or not till he finds himself down in the country. But we will suppose our friend to be located in some hunting district, and accordingly his groom visits him with tidings. "Is it freezing now?" he asks from under the bedclothes. And even the man who does like it at such moments almost wishes that the answer should be plainly in the affirmative. Then swiftly again to the arms of Morpheus he might take himself, and ruffle his temper no further on that morning! He desires, at any rate, a decisive answer. To be or not to be as regards that day's hurting is what he now wants to know. But that is exactly what the groom cannot tell him. " It's just a thin crust of frost, sir, and the s'mometer is a standing at the pint." That is the answer which the man makes, and on that he has to come to a decision! For half an hour he lies doubting while his water is getting cold, and then sends for his man again. The thermometer is still standing at the point, but the man has tried the crust with his heel and found it to be very thin. The man who hunts and likes it scorns his ease, and resolves that he will at any rate persevere. He tumbles into his tub, and a little before nine comes out to his breakfast, still doubting sorely whether or no the day "will do." There he, perhaps, meets one or two others like himself, and learns that the men who hunt and don't like it are still warm in their beds. On such mornings as these, and such mornings are very many, the men who hunt and do not like it certainly have the best of it. The man who hunts and does like it takes himself out to some kitchen-garden or neighbouring paddock, and kicks at the ground himself. Certainly there is a crust, a very manifest crust. Though he puts up in the country, he has to go sixteen miles to the meet, and has no means of knowing whether or no the hounds will go out. " Jorrocks always goes if there's a chance," says one fellow, speaking of the master. " I don't know," says our friend; " he's a deal slower at it than he used to be. For my part, I wish Jorrocks would go; he's getting too old." Then he bolts a mutton chop and a couple of eggs hurriedly, and submits himself to be carried off in the trap.

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Though he is half an hour late at the meet, no hounds have as yet come, and he begins to curse his luck. A non-hunting day, a day that turns out to be no day for hunting purposes, begun in this way, is of all days the most melancholy. What is a man to do with himself who has put himself into his boots and breeches, and who then finds himself, by one o'clock, landed back at his starting-point without employment ? Who under such circumstances can apply himself to any salutary employment ? Cigars and stable-talk are all that remain to him; and it is well for him if he can refrain from the additional excitement of brandy and water.

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Hunting Sketches
Anthony Trollope

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