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Title: Ladies in the Field: Sketches of Sport
Author: Greville, Beatrice Violet Graham, 1842-1932 [Editor]
Language: English
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Sketches of Sport




It is scarcely necessary nowadays to offer an apology for sport, with
its entrancing excitement, its infinite variety of joys and interests.
Women cheerfully share with men, hardships, toil and endurance, climb
mountains, sail on the seas, face wind and rain and the chill gusts of
winter, as unconcernedly as they once followed their quiet occupations
by their firesides. The feverish life of cities too, with its
enervating pleasures, is forgotten and neglected for the witchery of
legitimate sport, which need not be slaughter or cruelty. Women who
prefer exercise and liberty, who revel in the cool sea breeze, and love
to feel the fresh mountain air fanning their cheeks, who are afraid
neither of a little fatigue nor of a little exertion, are the better,
the truer, and the healthier, and can yet remain essentially feminine
in their thoughts and manners. They may even by their presence refine
the coarser ways of men, and contribute to the gradual disuse of bad
language in the hunting field, and to the adoption of a habit of
courtesy and kindness. The duties of the wife of the M. F. H. fully bear
out this view.

When women prove bright and cheerful companions, they add to the man's
enjoyment and to the enlarging of their own practical interests. When,
in addition, they endeavour to love Nature in her serenest and grandest
moods, to snatch from her mighty bosom some secrets of her being, to
study sympathetically the habits of birds, beasts and flowers, and to
practise patience, skill, ingenuity and self-reliance, they have learnt
valuable lessons of life.

Lastly, in the words of a true lover of art: "The sportsman who walked
through the turnip fields, thinking of nothing but his dog and his gun,
has been drinking in the love of beauty at every pore of his
invigorated frame, as, from each new tint of autumn, from every misty
September morning, from each variety of fleeting cloud, each flash of
light from distant spire or stream, the unnoticed influence stole over
him like a breeze, bringing health from pleasant places, and made him
capable of clearer thoughts and happier emotions."




    _By the Lady Greville._

HUNTING IN THE SHIRES.                     29

HORSES AND THEIR RIDERS.                   61
    _By The Duchess of Newcastle._

THE WIFE OF THE M. F. H.                   71
    _By Mrs Chaworth Musters._

FOX-HUNTING.                               89

TEAM AND TANDEM DRIVING.                  105
    _By Miss Rosie Anstruther Thomson._

TIGERS I HAVE SHOT.                       143
    _By Mrs C. Martelli._

RIFLE-SHOOTING.                           157
    _By Miss Leale._

    _By Diane Chasseresse._

COVERT SHOOTING.                          197
    _By Lady Boynton._

A KANGAROO HUNT.                          233
    _By Mrs Jenkins._

CYCLING.                                  245
    _By Mrs E. R. Pennell._

PUNTING.                                  267
    _By Miss Sybil Salaman._




Of all the exercises indulged in by men and women, riding is perhaps
the most productive of harmless pleasure. The healthful, exhilarating
feeling caused by rapid motion through the air, and the sense of power
conveyed by the easy gallop of a good horse, tends greatly to moral and
physical well-being and satisfaction. Riding improves the temper, the
spirits and the appetite; black shadows and morbid fancies disappear
from the mental horizon, and wretched indeed must he be who can
preserve a gloomy or discontented frame of mind during a fine run in a
grass country, or even in a sharp, brisk gallop over turfy downs. Such
being the case, no wonder that the numbers of horsemen increase every
day, and that the hunting field, from the select company of a few
country squires and hard-riding young men, has developed into an unruly
mob of people, who ride over the hounds, crush together in the
gateways, and follow like a flock of sheep through the gaps and over
the fences, negotiated by more skilful or courageous sportsmen. Women,
too, have rushed in where their mothers feared to tread. Little girls
on ponies may be seen holding their own nobly out hunting, while Hyde
Park, during the season, is filled with fair, fresh-looking girls in
straw hats, covert coats and shirts, driving away the cobwebs of
dissipation and the deleterious effects of hot rooms by a mild canter
in the early morning. Unfortunately, though a woman never looks better
than on horseback, _when she knows how to ride_, the specimens one
often encounters riding crookedly, all one side, to the inevitable
detriment of the horse's back, bumping on the saddle like a sack of
potatoes, or holding on with convulsive effort to the horse's mouth,
are sufficient to create a holy horror in the minds of reasonable
spectators. Park-riding is not difficult compared with cross-country
riding, yet how seldom do you see it perfect? To begin with, a certain
amount of horsemanship is absolutely necessary. There must be art, and
the grace that conceals art; there must be self-possession, quiet, and
a thorough knowledge of the horse you are riding. Take, for instance, a
fresh young hunter into the park for the first time. He shies at the
homely perambulator, starts at the sound of cantering hoofs, is
terrified by a water-cart, maddened by the strains of the regimental
band, or the firing of the guards at their matutinal drill, and finally
attempts to bolt or turn round as other horses, careering along, meet
and pass him in a straggling gallop. If he backs, rears, kicks, shies
and stops short, or wheels round suddenly, with ears thrown back, his
rider need not be surprised. Horses cantering in every direction
disturb, distress and puzzle him. On which side are the hounds? he
wonders. Why does not his rider extend him? Where are the fences, and
when will the fun begin? These, no doubt, are some of the thoughts that
pass through a well-bred hunter's mind, for that horses _do_ reason
in their own peculiar fashion I am convinced, and that they fully
recognise the touch and voice of the master, no one can doubt who has
noticed the difference in the behaviour of a hunter when ridden by
different persons. If the park rider wishes for a pleasant conveyance I
should strongly recommend a hack, neither a polo pony nor a cob. But
where, oh where, are perfect hacks to be found? They should be
handsome, well-bred, not quite thorough-bred, about 15·3, with fine
shoulders, good action, and, above all, perfect mouth and manners. No
Irish horse has manners, as a rule, until he comes to England, or has
the slightest idea of bending and holding himself, owing to the fact of
his being usually broken and ridden in a snaffle bridle. This practice
has its uses, notably in that it makes the horses bold fencers, and
teaches them not to be afraid of facing the bit, but it is not
conducive to the development of a park hack, which should be able to
canter round a sixpence. I remember in my young days seeing Mr
Mackenzie Greaves and Lord Cardigan riding in the park, the latter
mounted on a beautiful chestnut horse, which cantered at the slowest
and easiest of paces, the real proverbial arm-chair, with a beautifully
arched neck, champing proudly at the bit, yet really guided as by a
silken thread. _That_ was a perfect hack, and would probably fetch
now-a-days four or five hundred guineas. No lady ought to ride (if she
wishes to look well) on anything else. Men may bestride polo ponies, or
clatter lumberingly along on chargers, or exercise steeple-chase horses
with their heads in the air, yawing at a snaffle; but, if a woman wants
to show off her figure and her seat she should have a perfect hack, not
too small, with a good forehand, nice action, and, above all, a good
walker, one that neither fidgets nor shuffles nor breaks into a trot.

Bitting is, as a rule, not sufficiently considered. In the park, a
light, double bridle, or what they call in Ireland a Ward bit, is the
best, and no martingale should be required. People often wonder why a
horse does not carry his head in the right place. Generally, unless the
horse is unfortunately shaped, this is the fault of the bit, sometimes
it is too severe, or too narrow, which frets and irritates the horse's
mouth. A horse with a very tender mouth will stand only the lightest of
bits, and is what they call a snaffle bridle horse, not always the
pleasantest of mouths, at least out hunting; for I cannot think that a
lady can really ever hold a horse well together over a deep country,
intersected by stiff fences, with a snaffle, especially if he is a big
horse with somewhat rolling action. It has been said by a great
authority on riding that no horse's mouth is good enough for a snaffle,
and no man's hands good enough for a curb. I remember the late Lord
Wilton, one of the finest cross-country riders, telling me to be sure
never to ride my horse on the curb over a fence. But, as I suppose
there is no absolute perfection in horse or man, each rider must, to a
certain extent, judge for himself, and ride different horses in
different ways. But you may be sure of this, that the bitting of grooms
is generally too severe, and the hands of a man who rides all his
horses in martingales, snaffles, and complicated arrangements of bit
and bridle, are sure to be wrong. The matter practically resolves
itself into hands. They, after all, are the chief essentials in riding.
The "Butcher" on horseback who tugs at his horse's head as if it were a
bedpost, who loses his temper, who digs in the spurs incessantly, and
generally has a fight with his horse over every fence, invariably
possesses bad hands as well as a bad temper. I believe the reason that
women who ride hard generally get fewer falls than men, is to be
accounted for by the fact that they leave their horse's head alone, do
not interfere with and bully him, and are generally on good terms with
their mounts. For this reason I disapprove strongly of women riding
with spurs, and think that in most cases _men_ would be better without
them. I had a personal experience of this once, when I one day lent a
very clever hunter, who had carried me perfectly, to the huntsman. He
rode her with spurs, she went unkindly all day and refused several
fences, a thing I had never known her do before. Many men are too
fond of looking upon horses as machines, ignoring their wishes and
peculiarities, whereas the true horseman is in thorough sympathy with
the animal he bestrides, and contrives by some occult influence to
inspire him with confidence and affection. A horse, bold as a lion with
his master on his back, may very often refuse with a timid, nervous or
weak rider. One man, like the late George Whyte Melville, can get the
rawest of four-year-olds brilliantly over a country, while another
finds difficulty even with an experienced hunter.

I believe thoroughly in kindness and gentleness in stable management. I
would dismiss at once a groom or helper who hit, or swore at, or
knocked about a horse. Horses are very nervous creatures, and keenly
susceptible to affection. I had once a beautiful chestnut hunter, quite
thorough-bred, and a perfect picture, with a small, beautifully-shaped
head, and large, gentle eye. He had evidently been fearfully
ill-treated, for, if anyone came near him he would shrink into the
corner of his box, tremble violently, and put his ears back from sheer
nervousness. After a bit, seeing he was kindly treated, he learnt to
follow me like a dog. Another mare, who came with the reputation of
a vicious animal, and was supposed to bite all those who approached
her, used, after a time, to eat nicely from my hand, much to the
astonishment of her late master, who saw me go freely into her box. No
man can be a really good rider who is not fond of horses, and does not
care to study their peculiarities and tempers, and govern them rather
by kind determination than by sheer ill-treatment.

A lady rider should look to her bit before she starts, see that the
curb chain is not too tight, and the bit in the proper position. She
should visit her horse daily, and feed him in the stable till he knows
her voice as well as one of mine did who, on hearing it, would rise up
on his hind legs and try to turn himself round in his stall whinnying
with pleasure. And, above all, she should study her saddle. Sore backs
are the terrible curse of a hunting stable, and are generally produced
by bad riding, hanging on to the stirrup, instead of rising when
trotting, from the body, and sitting crooked on a badly-fitting saddle.
The woman's seat should be a perfectly straight one. She should look,
as she sits, exactly between the horse's ears, and, with the third
pommel to give her assistance, she ought to maintain a perfect balance.
Every lady's saddle should be made for her, as some women take longer
saddles than others. The stuffing should be constantly seen to, and,
while the girths are loosed, the saddle itself never taken off till the
horse's back is cool. If it is a well-made saddle and does not come
down too low on the withers, a horse should very rarely have a bad
back. I have always preferred a saddle of which the seat was flat and
in old days used to have mine stuffed a good deal at the back so as to
prevent the feeling of riding uphill. Messrs Wilkinson & Champion now
make saddles on that principle, on which one can sit most comfortably.
Numnahs I do not care for, or if they are used they should only be a
thin leather panel, well oiled, and kept soft and pliable.

No lady should hunt till she can ride, by which I mean, till she can
manage all sorts of horses, easy and difficult to ride, till she knows
how to gallop, how to jump, and is capable of looking after herself.
Half the accidents in the hunting field occur from women, who can
scarcely ride, being put upon a hunter, and, while still perfectly
inexperienced, told to ride to hounds. They may have plenty of courage
but no knowledge. Whyte Melville depicts pluck as "a moral quality, the
result of education, natural self-respect and certain high aspirations
of the intellect;" and nerve "as a gift of nature, dependent on the
health, the circulation and the liver. As memory to imagination in the
student, so is nerve to pluck in the horseman." Women are remarkable
for nerve, men for pluck. Women who ride are generally young and
healthy. Youth is bold and inconscient of its danger. Yet few men or
women have the cool courage of Jim Mason, who was seen galloping down a
steep hill in Leicestershire, the reins on his horse's neck, his knife
in his mouth, mending the lash of his whip. In fact, a good deal of the
hard riding one sees is often due to what is called "jumping powder,"
or the imbibing of liqueurs and spirits. For hard riding, it should
never be forgotten, is essentially not good riding. The fine old
sportsman, ripened by experience, who, while quietly weighing the
chances against him, and perfectly aware of the risks he runs, is yet
ready to face them boldly, with all the resources of a cool head and a
wide knowledge, is on the high road to being a hero. These calm,
unassuming, courageous men are those who make their mark on the field
of battle, and to whom the great Duke of Wellington referred when he
spoke of the hunting field being the best school of cavalry in the

Most of us want to fly before we can walk. This vaulting ambition
accounts for the contemptible spectacles that occasionally meet our
sight. A city man, who has had half-a-dozen riding lessons, an enriched
tradesman, or an unsportmanlike foreigner, must needs start a stud of
hunters. We all remember the immortal adventures of Jorrocks and Soapy
Sponge, but how often do we see scenes quite as ludicrous as any
depicted in Sartees' delightful volumes. Because everyone he knows goes
across country, the novice believes fondly that he can do the same. He
forgets that the real sportsman has ridden from earliest childhood; has
taken his falls cheerfully off a pony; and learned how to ride without
stirrups, often clinging on only bareback; has watched, while still a
little chap in knickerbockers or white frocks, holding tight to the
obliging nurse's hand, some of the mysteries of the stable; has seen
the horses groomed and shod, physicked or saddled, with the keen
curiosity and interest of childhood, and has grown up, as it were in
the atmosphere of the stable. Every English boy, the son of a country
gentleman, loves the scent of the hay, not perhaps poetically in the
hay field, but practically in the manger. He knows the difference in
the quality of oats, and the price of straw, the pedigree of the colts,
and the performances of the mares, long before he has mastered the
intricacies of Euclid, or the diction of Homer. To ride is to him as
natural as to walk, and he acquires a seat and hands as unconsciously
as the foals learn to trot and jump after their mother; and
consequently, as riding is an art eminently necessary to be acquired in
youth, everything is in his favour, when in after life the poor and
plucky subaltern pits himself on his fifty-guinea screw against the
city magnate riding his four-hundred-guinea hunter. Fortunately this is
so, for riding, while entrancing to its votaries, is also an expensive
amusement; yet so long as a man has a penny in his pocket that he can
legitimately dispose of for amusement, so long would one wish him to
spend it thus, for the moral qualities necessary to make a good rider
are precisely those which have given England her superiority in the
rank of nations. The Irish with their ardent and enthusiastic natures,
are essentially lovers of horses; and an Irish hunter is without
exception the cleverest in the world. He has generally a light mouth,
always a leg to spare, and the nimbleness of a deer in leaping.
_Apropos_ of the latter quality, I remember the answer of an Irishman
who was selling a horse, when asked if he could jump,--

"Is't lep, ye mane, yer honour? Well there never was a leper the likes
of him!"

"Does he feed well?"

"Feed, yer honour? He'd fatten on a bowling alley!"

Hunting in Ireland, while rougher and more unconventional, is certainly
safer than in England. The fences are big, but you do not as a rule
ride so fast at them, and are therefore not so likely to get a bad
fall; in addition, there is rarely if ever any timber to jump. But
against that, there are a great many stone walls, and nasty big black
ditches, called drains, which are boggy and unfathomable, and the banks
of which are rotten; and there is no road riding possible, and few
gates, while lanes are rare and far between. Nevertheless, I believe it
is the best hunting country for ladies. It has no big hairy fences to
scratch your face and tear your habit, and no ox-rails; the country is
grass and beautiful going; you can ride a horse a stone lighter than in
England, and on a good bold horse you can go pretty nearly straight.

The vexed question of habits appears now to be one of the most serious
matters, in consequence of the many accidents that have happened to
ladies. When I began riding, we wore habits that tore if they caught,
and, consequently, no one was ever hung up or dragged. The strong
melton cloth of the present day does not give at all, and therefore is
a source of great danger if the habit catches on the pommel. None of
the so-called safety habits up to the present seem to be absolutely
satisfactory, nor any of the dodges of elastic or safety stirrups. Mr
Scott, Jr., of South Molton Street, has invented the latest safety
skirt, but this is in reality no habit at all, only an apron, and
therefore can scarcely be called a skirt. One great security is to have
no hem to the habit. Another is, to be a good rider (for the bad riders
always fall on the off side, which is the reason their habit catches on
the crutch). The third is to have a habit made of tearable material;
and this, I believe, is the only solution of the question, unless
ladies decide definitely to adopt a man's dress. Meanwhile, I would
impress upon all women the great danger of hunting, unless they are
fully capable of managing their horses, choosing their own place at a
fence, omitting to ride over their pilot, or to gallop wildly with a
loose rein, charging every obstacle in front of them, and finally,
unless they have some experience in the art of horsemanship.

Military men possess great advantages in the hunting field. To begin
with, they are taught to ride, and probably have passed some years in
India, where the exercise is commonly preferred to walking. Ladies of
all ages and figures ride there, and, no doubt, in so doing, preserve
their health and their looks. There is a peculiar charm in Indian
riding. It is indulged in in the early morning, when the body is
rested, the nerves strong, and the air brisk and fresh; or at eventide,
when the heat of the day is over, and a canter in the cool breeze seems
peculiarly acceptable. How delightful are those early morning rides,
when, after partaking of the refreshing cup of tea or coffee, your
"syce" or groom brings the pawing steed to your door, and once in the
saddle, you wander for miles, with nothing to impede your progress but
an occasional low mud wall, or bank and ditch, which your horse takes
in his stride, or a thorny "nullah," up and down whose steep sides you
scramble. There is something fascinating in the sense of space and
liberty, the feeling that you can gallop at your own sweet will across
a wide plain, pulled up by no fear of trespassing, no gates nor fences
nor unclosed pastures with carefully guarded sheep and cattle, no
flowery cottage gardens; the wide expanse of cloudless sky above you,
the golden plain with its sandy monotony stretched out in front, broken
only by occasional clumps of mango trees, or tilled spaces, where the
crops grow, intersected by small ditches, cut for the purposes of
irrigation--free as a bird, you lay the reins on your horse's neck, and
go till he or you are tired. Or in northern India, on a real cold,
nipping morning before sunrise, you gather at the accustomed
trysting-place and hear the welcome sound of the hounds' voices. A
scratch pack, they are, perhaps, even a "Bobbery" pack, as the name
goes in India; but the old excitement is on you, the rush for a start,
and the sense of triumphant exhilaration, as the hounds settle to their
work, and the wretched little jackal, or better still, the wolf, takes
his unchecked course over the sandy hillocks and the short grass. A
twenty-minutes' run covers the horses with lather, and sets your pulses
tingling. Presently the sun is high in the horizon, and its rays are
beginning to make themselves felt. A few friendly good-byes, some
parting words of mutual congratulation, and you turn to ride gently
home, with a feeling of self-righteousness in your heart, as you greet
the lazy sister, or wife, or brother, who stands in the verandah
looking for your coming. A bath--that inestimable Indian luxury--a
lingering toilette, and so to breakfast. And what a breakfast, with a
lovely appetite to eat it. Fish, beefsteaks, cutlets, the most savoury
and delicate of curries, fruit and coffee, ought to satisfy a Sybarite.
After which a cigarette on a lounge in the verandah may be indulged in.
By this time the day is only just begun, and you are free to fill the
remaining hours with work or the claims of society.

Most lovers of horseflesh, seizing their sun-hats from the peg, sally
out into the "compound" (a kind of grass enclosure with a few mango or
tamarisk trees planted in the middle, the low roofs of the stables and
the native servants' dwellings forming a background to it), and talk
that cheery rambling talk all true sportsmen delight in.

The horses, some in their stalls, some picketed outside under the
trees, are munching large bundles of fresh green lucern (a kind of
vetch, and a substitute for grass); while the ebon grooms, seated on
their haunches on the ground, hold bits and bridles between their toes,
and rub away at them with praiseworthy energy. On one side are the polo
and harness ponies, the match pair which the lady shows you with pride;
on the other, the pony unbroken and savage, just bought at a fair while
beyond are two or three "whalers," fine sixteen-hand upstanding horses,
all pronounced excellent fencers and first-rate pig-stickers. The grey
yonder, a compact, neat-looking animal, resembling an Irish hunter, was
out this morning. Like most Australian horses, he is a great
buck-jumper, and going to covert his master has some trouble in keeping
a steady seat, but when settled down into his gallop, no mud wall is
too high, no ditch too broad, and no day too long for him. Many are the
prize spears he has won on hardly-contested pig-sticking expeditions.

Then on Sunday, the day voted to sport in India, merry paper chases
fill an idle hour or two just before sunset. Any old screw,
country-bred pony or short-shouldered Arab may be brought out on these
occasions. The hard ground resounds with a noise like the distant roll
of thunder, as the line of horsemen clatter along, raising a cloud of
dust behind them. Falls abound, for the pace is good, and the leader of
the chase well mounted.

The sugar canes rattle crisply like peas on a drum, as you push your
way quickly through the tall grass crops, which, forced violently
asunder by your horse's progress, fall together again, and leave no
trace of your passage. Down a soft, sandy lane, you canter, while your
horse sinks in up to his fetlocks, past a dirty little native village,
swarming with black children, where women in picturesque attitudes lean
and chatter by the shady well; then over a rough, stony plain,
intersected by cracks and crevices in the hard gaping earth, where you
must pick your way carefully, and hold your horse together lest he
break his leg and your neck, for (drawback of all in India) the ground
is dreadfully hard, and falls do hurt. At last the chase is over, and
your wearied beast stands with legs apart and nostrils heaving, trying
to get his wind. The sun has gone down in the sudden fashion peculiar
to tropical climes. Gloaming there is none, but a lovely starlight, and
the clear rays of the moon to guide you safely on your way home. Ruddy
lights shine out from the native huts, sundry fires shed a wild lustre,
the faint, sickly odour of tobacco and opium fills the air, and the
weird beating of a tom-tom is heard in the distance.

For those to whom such a wild hot scramble, or the long free gallop
over the plains does not appeal, there is the pleasant ride along the
mall under the flowering acacia trees, where friends meet you at every
step, and your easily-cantering Arab, with flowing mane and tail, is in
harmony with the picturesque Oriental scene. Everyone rides in India,
for in many places it is the only means of transit. In Assam and
Central India, where roads are bad, or non-existent, and the railroads
are many miles away, it is absolutely necessary for the tea-planter to
reach his plantations on horseback, riding long distances over rough
ground; while the commissioner or civilian making his judicial rounds,
or the sportsman in search of big game, rides his twelve or fourteen
miles a day, camping out in the jungle at night. The lowest subaltern
owns a pony or two, and rides to and from his military duties, and the
pony may be seen led up and down in front of the mess house, or
standing playfully flicking the flies off with his tail, while the
faithful syce, his lean brown limbs trained to exceeding fineness by
the long distances he runs, squats meekly on the dusty ground, and
calls his charge by all sorts of endearing names, which the animal
seems perfectly to understand. Hand-rubbing, or what is vulgarly called
"elbow grease," is much practised in India, and a groom attentive to
his duties takes a pride in polishing a horse's coat till it is smooth
and glistening as satin. Notwithstanding this personal care, however,
Indian horses, especially country-breds, are not famed for the
sweetness of their tempers, and generally disagreeably resent their
masters' attempt to mount. This has accordingly to be done in the most
agile manner. Animals may be seen kicking, biting, plunging and even
flying at one another like savage dogs, with teeth exposed, lips drawn
back, nostrils heaving and eyes flashing. Yet few people would exchange
the wild, daring horsemanship of India with its pig-sticking and its
wild game hunting, necessitating the utmost degree of nerve and
determination, for the flat and unprofitable constitutional in Rotten
Row, the country ride along a road, or even the delights of fox-hunting
in England.

Riding men, who love the sport for its own value, are usually
sunny-tempered, kindly at heart, and generously disposed. Women, who
ride, are easy to please and unaffected; in fact, what many men
describe as "a good sort." In conclusion, my advice to girls is, to
take a riding man for a husband, and to follow themselves as far as
possible all out-door pursuits and amusements. Their moral qualities
will not suffer from it, while their physique will gain considerably,
for bright eyes, a clear complexion, and a slim figure are beauties
never to be despised.



"There are emotions deeply seated in the joy of exercise, when the body
is brought into play, and masses move in concert, of which the subject
is but half conscious.

"Music and dance, and the delirium of battle or _the chase_ acts thus
upon spontaneous natures.

"The mystery of rhythm and associated energy and blood-tingling in
sympathy is here. It lies at the root of man's most tyrannous
instinctive impulses."

Considering that J. Addington Symonds was a permanent invalid, exiled
to Davos by his health, he shows in this paragraph extraordinary

Fox-hunting is not merely an idle amusement; it is an outlet for man's
natural instincts; a healthy way of making him active, and training his
character. Whether it exercises his mental faculties in a like degree
is another question. I do not think a man can be very stupid who rides
well to hounds. The qualifying remark that "he is so perfectly mounted"
rather adds to his credit than otherwise, for, with unlimited means,
and the best possible intention it is difficult in these days of
competition to get together a stud of hunters of the right stamp.

People vary considerably in their notions of the right stamp; but most
men and women who know anything about horses look out for quality, good
bone, loose elbows, active shoulders, strong back, clean hocks, and a
head put on the right way; whether in a horse over sixteen-hands or a
pony. A judge of horse flesh will never be mistaken about these
qualifications, either in the meanest-looking cab horse or a rough
brute in a farmyard.

Hunting people of long experience will tell us they have had one horse
in their lives. One that suited their temperament, that they took
greater liberties with, that gave them fewer falls, and showed them
more sport than all the others. Whyte Melville says, "Forty minutes
over an enclosed country establishes the partnership of man and beast
in relation of confidence." The combination of pluck, decision and
persuasion in a man, and nervous susceptibility in a horse, begets
intimacy and mutual affection which many married couples might envy.
One horse may make a man's reputation, and pleasantly raise the average
of an unequal, even shady, lot in his sale at Tattersall's.

I had a brown horse that did a great deal for me. He was nearly
thorough-bred; by Lydon, dam by Pollard, 15·3, with beautiful limbs and
freedom. He had poor ribs, rather a fractious mouth, and the courage of
an army. I hunted him for six seasons; in Cheshire, Yorkshire,
Lincolnshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bedfordshire, Leicestershire,
Buckinghamshire, and Northamptonshire, and he never gave me a fall.

I once fell off him. After an enormous jump over an average fence,
prompted by a feeling of power and capacity, he gave a sort of skip on
landing, and on this provocation I "cut a voluntary," to use a sporting
phrase. He died of lockjaw, to my unceasing regret. I remember in 1885
being mounted on an extraordinary hunter. I had not gone ten strides
before I knew I could not hold him. My patron, on receiving this
information, said, "What does it matter! hounds are running--you surely
don't want to stop?" "Oh, no!" I replied, "but I cannot guide him."
"That doesn't matter--they are running straight," so, stimulated by
this obvious common sense, I went on in the delirium of the chase, till
I had jumped so close to an innocent man that my habit skirt carried
off his spur, and, in avoiding a collision at a ford, I jumped the
widest brook I have ever seen jumped; and after that I got a pull at
him. He could not put a foot wrong, and was perfectly unconscious of my
wish to influence him.

I began hunting with the inestimable advantage of possessing no horses
of my own. For four years I rode hired horses, and had many uncouth
falls, but I never hurt myself or my horse. There is freemasonry among
"hirelings," I think: they know how to protect themselves and their
riders. They jump without being bold; they are stale without being
tired; and they live to be very old; by which, I presume, they are
treated better than one would suppose. The first horse I ever possessed
of my own cost £100, and was called Pickwell, after a manor house in
Leicestershire. He was 15·2, with a swivel neck. For the benefit of
people who do not understand this expression, I will say he could
almost put his head upon my lap. He was a very poor "doer," and,
towards the end of the season, assumed the proportions of a tea-leaf,
and had to be sold. He could not do a whole day even when only hunted
three days a fortnight. He was an airy performer, and I was sorry to
part with him. I hunted him with the Grafton, the Bicester, and Selby
Lownides. Parts of the Grafton country are as fine as Leicestershire,
without having quite its scope or freedom. It is a very sporting
country, with fine woodlands and good wild foxes. When I hunted there
we had, in Frank Beers, as good a huntsman as you could wish to see.

In a paper of this length any criticism of the various merits of
hunting countries would be impossible. In a rough way this is how I
should appraise them. The Cottesmore for hounds. The Burton for foxes.
The Holdernesse for horses. The Pytchley for riders, and the Quorn for
the field.

This needs some explanation.

The Cottesmore is the most beautiful hound country in England. It is
wild and undisturbed: all grass, and carrying a good scent. No huntsman
can interfere with his hounds, and no field over-ride them, for the
simple reason that they cannot reach them easily. The drawbacks of this
from a horseman's point of view are as obvious as the advantages to a
houndman's. The country is very hilly in parts, and a good deal divided
by unjumpable "bottoms," which the experienced do not meddle with, and
which are only worth risking if you get away on good terms with the
pack, "while they stream across the first field with a dash that brings
the mettle to your heart and the blood to your brain," and your
instinct tells you that you are in for a good thing! You gain nothing
by chancing one of these bottoms in an average hunting run. The
scientific subscriber who knows every inch of the country will be in
front of you, and you are fortunate if you get your horse out before
dark. Brookesby thus describes the Cottesmore:--"A wide-spread region,
scarcely inhabited; ground that carries a scent in all weathers;
woodlands which breed a travelling race; and mile upon mile of
untracked grass, where a fox will meet nothing more terrifying than a

If hounds really race over the hilly part of the Cottesmore, no horse
or rider can follow them straight. He must use his head and eyes, not
merely test his pluck and quickness.

He need never lose sight of the pack if he is clever, and he will see a
vision of grass landscape stretching away below him, and all around
him, that will not fade with the magic of the moment.

There are people who predict the abolition of fox-hunting in England.
These think themselves the penetrating observers of life; they are
really the ignorant spectators, who take more trouble to avoid barbed
wire than to prevent it being put up; people who join in the groan of
the times, without energy or insight. Prophecies of this kind should
have no value, unless it be to make hunting people more consciously
careful. Since there are larger subscriptions than ever, and more
people hunt, we can only trust that compensation will be given
liberally, but not lavishly, and upon principles of good sense and
justice. I have thus digressed merely to say that if such a day should
arrive, hunting is likely to survive longer in the Cottesmore than in
most countries.

The Burton (Lincolnshire) presents a striking contrast to the
Cottesmore. It is as flat as Holland, and you must be on the back of
hounds if you wish to see them work. Most of the country is ploughed,
and, by a time-honoured custom which brought both credit and money to
the Lincolnshire farmers, many of the fields are double ploughed. This
latter, to ride over, is only a little better than steam plough. As the
price of wheat in England has fallen by 30 per cent. the farmers are
ruined, and they are laying down more grass every year. The
characteristic fence of the county is a wide drain set a little away
from the hedge and cut very deep. The upstanding fences, although lower
than those in the shires, are pretty high if you look at the depth of
the ground from which you take off.

The gorse covers are splendidly thick and overgrown and take a long
time to draw; a good many of the fashionable packs, I know, would
hesitate to expose themselves to such rough work as drawing Toff Newton
or Torrington gorse. The foxes are more like Scotch foxes, large and
grey. They are wild, and take some killing, sometimes running for two
hours. There are not enough inhabitants to head them or cheer the
discouraged huntsman by occasional information.

In Cheshire I saw five foxes killed on one day, but a huntsman in
Lincolnshire will be lucky if he kills two in a week.

I hunted two winters with the Burton hounds, and I am sure the largest
field I ever saw was twenty people. The master, huntsman and two whips
included. Hunting in a big country with a small field and wild foxes is
the best way of learning to be independent. If, as was my experience,
you have a hard-riding huntsman, who gets down early in the run; one
whip who takes the wrong turn out of cover, and the other who hangs
back after a refractory couple of hounds, a few poorly-mounted farmers
and unlucky gentlemen, you can realise with moderate difficulty the
possibility of the proud position of being alone with hounds; although
this distinction may be capable of the same explanation as was the
position of the Scotch boy who, when boasting of being second in his
class, was compelled to admit that it consisted of "Me and a lassie."

I said the Holdernesse for horses, and I certainly never saw a better
mounted field or a finer lot of riding farmers--all of them sportsmen
and gentlemen. They ask long prices for their young horses, if they
will sell them to you at all, but the chances are they have already
promised them to some London dealer. Yorkshire horses are, perhaps,
after Irish, the most famous. They are mostly thorough-bred, and can
gallop and stay. I shall never forget a horse I held for a young farmer
which would not allow him to mount. I can see it now. A long,
loose-limbed bay, with a small, keen, bony face, and an eye that looked
through you. I have a great weakness for a horse's face, and think in a
general way it shows as much character as a man's. His back was perhaps
a trifle too long, but his girth was deep, and he moved like an
athlete. He was as wild as a hawk, and could hardly keep still for love
of life, dancing at every shadow, and springing feet into the air when
anyone passed too near him. He was beautifully ridden and humoured and
ultimately settled into the discouraging trot known as "hounds pace." I
asked his owner what he wanted for him, and how old he was. The man
said that he was rising six, that he wanted £300, and had often refused
£250. We had a long talk, as we trotted down the road to draw the next
cover, about horses in general and his bay in particular. I fancy his
feats lost nothing by being repeated, but I shall not relate them, as
what they gained by tradition they would lose by print.

The Holdernesse is a light plough country, and, like Lincolnshire, its
common fence is a deep drain, into which your horse can absolutely
disappear. I saw eight men down in one, all at the same time, and a
young thorough-bred horse in a deep drain is about the worst company in
the world.

There is not a finer country to ride over in England than the Pytchley.
Unfortunately, too many people agree with us, which is a slight
objection to hunting there.

They have wonderful sport, a first-rate huntsman and a rich community.
Lord Spencer is the keenest of masters and best of sportsmen. Whyte
Melville says of him in his riding recollections: "The present Lord
Spencer, of whom it is enough to say he hunts one pack of his own in
Northamptonshire, and is always in the same field with them, never
seems to have a horse pull, or, until it is tired, even lean on his
hand." I should like to have been praised by Whyte Melville. He is one
of the few novelists whose heroes are gentlemen, who can describe
English society and a straight forty minutes over countries that we

The Pytchley is not cut up by railroads, like the Quorn. There is not
nearly so much timber as there is in Leicestershire, but it is as big
if not bigger.

In old days, Lord Spencer told me, they said, "You may, perhaps, go
through the Pytchley, but you must get over the Quorn."

If anything will teach one to gallop, it is riding for a bridle gate in
the company of three or four hundred people, none of them morbidly

You must get there, and get there soon, as it is the only visible means
of securing a start, or getting into the next field. Sometimes one's
horse has a sensitive habit of backing when he is pressed, which allows
everyone to pass you. In any case, you will have a horse's head under
each arm; a spur against your instep; a kicker with a red tape in his
tail pressed towards your favourite mare, with the doubtful consolation
of being told, when the iron of his hoof has rattled against her
fore-leg that "it was too near to have hurt her." Your hat will be
knocked off by an enthusiast pointing to the line the fox is taking,
and your eye will dimly perceive the pack swaying over the ridge and
furrow, like swallows crossing the sea, two fields ahead of you. If you
harden your heart and jump the generally gigantic fence at the side of
the gate, you expose yourself to the ridicule of the whole field; for
it is on these occasions that your favourite is pretty sure to fall on
her head.

No one is responsible for the manners of a field which is largely made
up of "specials" from Rugby, Leamington and Banbury. A Northamptonshire
hunting-man is as nice a fellow as there is in England, and outside his
own country has the finest manners; but the struggle for existence in
the field with hard-riding casuals has hardened his heart and
embittered his speech.

Every field has its own character; an indescribable "something" which
one feels without being able to define. There is a friendliness and
distinction about the Melton field peculiarly its own. The Quorn
Fridays are joined by Mr Fernie's field, the Cottesmore, Belvoir and
others, and is in consequence very large. Tom Firr, the huntsman--and a
man who can very nearly catch a fox himself--is less moved by a large
crowd than anyone I ever saw, unless, perhaps, it be his hounds who
"come up through a crowd of horses, and stick to the line of their fox,
or fling gallantly forward to recover it, without a thought of personal
danger, or the slightest misgiving; that not one man in ten is master
of the two pair of hoofs beneath him, carrying death in every shoe."

A friend of mine--a cricketer--said that he did not know which country
he preferred hunting in--Leicestershire or Northamptonshire--but there
was the same difference between them as playing at Lords and playing at
the Oval.

Melton Mowbray is about three hours and a half from London. By leaving
London at 7·30 you can hunt with the Pytchley at an eleven o'clock
meet. You must get up earlier to hunt with the Quorn. I doubt if many
people would risk leaving London between five and six in a climate like
ours, where you cannot be quite sure that between five and eleven heavy
snow may not have fallen, or that the damp in one county is not hard
black frost in the next.

Some say that Melton is not what it was. Perhaps this is because there
are no poets left to sing of it. Bromley Davenport, Whyte Melville and
others have left us. Perhaps the red town has spread, and the old
fox-hunters who grumble have grown older. Of course the old days were
better when they found themselves leading "The cream of the cream in
the shire of the shires." These days do not come twice. A man is
fortunate to have had them once, and be able to say with the poet and

    Be fair or foul, or rain or shine,
    The joys I have possessed in spite of fate are mine.
    Not Heaven itself upon the Past has power.
    What has been _has_ been, and I have had my hour.

It is no small consideration to a Meltonian that he can hunt six days a
week, and never leave his house at an undue hour.

The Duke of Beaufort told me that the three best huntsmen living were
Tom Firr, old Mr Watson (of the Carlow hounds), and Lord Worcester, and
he is pretty sure to be right on any sporting matter. Whatever people
may think of the last two named, Tom Firr's reputation is as firmly
established as was Fred Archer's in another line.

From criticising the countries, I should like to pass on to the riders,
both men and women, that I have seen and admired; but, not being a
journalist, I could not commit this indiscretion. I shall content
myself, and perhaps not offend anyone, by writing a few general
observations on women's riding.

No woman can claim to be first-rate over a country, unless she can take
her own line. Most women have pluck, and would follow their pioneer
were he to attempt jumping an arm of the sea; but place them alone in
an awkward enclosure, they will not know how to get out of it. They
need not of necessity take a new place in every fence, but if a gap is
away from the line they imagine to be the right one, it is irritating
to see them pull out to follow one particular person. They don't
diminish the danger by surrendering their intelligence, if they are
well mounted and conscious of what they are doing. A good rider chances
nothing, but must of necessity risk a good deal.

I do not think women are good judges of pace, and although they are
seldom afraid of jumping, they hardly ever gallop. Men will say it is
because they sit on one side and have not the power to make a horse
gallop. This is obviously true in the case of many horses, but there
are some who, roused by the nervous force in their riders, will gallop
without being squeezed, and who want nothing more than to be held
together and left alone.

There is a great deal of nonsense talked about "lifting" and
"recovering" a horse. More horses have recovered themselves by being
left alone in moments of difficulty than by all the theories ever
propounded. When a horse pecks with a man he is thrown forward; a
woman, if she is sitting properly and not hanging her toe in a short
stirrup, is, if anything, thrown back, and, from the security of her
seat, is able to recover her horse with more natural advantage than a
man. A woman's seat is strong, but never balanced; a horse refusing
suddenly to the left may upset her balance without moving her in her
seat. When a horse bucks, from the very fact that to keep on, she must
sit tight, it is so tiring that the chances are she will be bucked off
sooner than a man. If she gets the least out of her saddle she cannot,
by reason of the pommels, get back, whereas a horse may play cup and
ball with a man for a long time without missing him.

There are two classes of hunters that a woman should not be mounted on;
the two that Whyte Melville says want coercion.

"The one that must be steered, and the other smuggled over a country."
A nervous, fractious brute will go as well, if not better, with a woman
than with a man on him.

It is, I suppose, a want of independence in the feminine character that
makes most women follow some particular man. They are nearly always
beautifully mounted, and have keen enough observation to measure the
height of a fence, and see the weak place. You will hear a man say to
his wife,--"I must give Favourite a turn, dear, she is getting sticky,"
and he will take his wife's mare, an accomplished hunter, wise as a
chaperon, and ride her with a cutting whip. It is probably the result
of always following another horse, which has taken the spirit of
emulation out of the mare, robbing her of a sense of responsibility and
a chance of being among the first few in a fine run.

A man seldom rides as hard if he is followed by a lady. He loses his

At one time no woman could fall without a certainty of being dragged by
her habit skirt, or her stirrup; but now, at anyrate, that danger has
been removed, by Scott's[1] apron skirt, and Mayhew's[1] patent side

          [1] Scott in South Molton Street; and Mayhew in Seymour
          Street, Edgeware Road.

I saw a narrow escape once, some years ago. A young lady of indifferent
nerve, mounted by a male relative on an uncongenial horse, trotted
slowly down hill to a high fence to see what was on the other side. The
horse, supposing he was meant to jump the fence, not unnaturally
proceeded to do so, much against the lady's will. Her weak resistance
succeeded in landing him on his head, in a deep ditch on the other
side. She fell off, and was hung up by her habit skirt. The horse
recovered himself, and, feeling a heavy weight on one side of him, was
seized with a panic of fear, and, laying back his ears, thundered along
in the ditch which had a gravelly bottom. A gentleman, unconscious of
what had happened, rode down to the fence from the other side, and
cannoned upon landing against the loose horse and prostrate lady; they
all rolled over together. As the lady's head had apparently been
bumping the grass bank for some twenty yards, we supposed she was
killed; but, on extrication, she was discovered to be unhurt. The man
had broken his collar-bone. Her habit was of the old-fashioned kind,
and did not give way.

Everyone has seen similar casualties, and men, as well as women,
dragged on their heads; it is the most alarming part of hunting.

I am told that there is a great art in falling, and certainly it
requires judgment to know when to hold on and when to let go of the
reins. There can be nothing more exasperating to a man than to loose
his horse in a trifling accident, when he has a first-rate place at the
beginning of a run. A friend of mine looking over a dealer's yard
stopped before a flea-bitten mare. He said he would like to see her run
out, as she looked like suiting him. The dealer replied,--"I could not
honestly recommend her to you, sir, she would run away with you."
"But," said my friend, "she is the very animal I want! The last one I
had ran away without me."

Loose horses are trials that go far to proving your character; you may
make a friend for life by catching his horse. There are, of course,
occasions when it would be mere waste of time attempting anything of
the sort, when a stupid animal careers wildly away in the opposite
direction of hounds; but I am often struck by the way self-centred
people let the easiest opportunities pass of serving their neighbours.
I have been delighted by seeing men, purposely looking the other way,
punished by the confiding animal going straight up to them, making it
impossible, with the best show of clumsiness, to avoid bringing him
back to his grateful owner, who perspiring, runs across the ridge and
furrow, in breeches and boots of the most approved fashion.

There is one other and last side of fox-hunting with which I will

R. L. Stevenson says, "Drama is the poetry of conduct, and Romance the
poetry of circumstances." There is only one sport that combines drama
and romance; the sport for kings. There are days when your very soul
would seem to penetrate the grass, when, with the smell of damp earth
in your nostrils, and the rhythm of blood-stirring stride underneath
you, you forget everything, yourself included. These days live with
you. They console you for the monotony of Swiss scenery. They translate
you out of fierce Indian sunshine; they rise up between you and the
gaslight, and shut out the grey grinding streets. You wake up to ask
the housemaid half unconsciously whether it is freezing; the answer
leaves you uncertain, and you jump out of bed. There is a damp fog on
the window, which you hastily wipe away, to see the paths are brown,
and the slates wet; there is no sun and no wind. You hear the tramp of
the stable boy's feet below your room, and snatches of a song whistled
in the yard, you can see the clothes line hung with stable breeches,
and a very old dog poking about the court. You tie your tie, left over
right, with the precision of habit, and, seizing your letters, run down
to breakfast. You are independent of your host; he has a hack. You ask
your hostess what she is going to do with herself, while she walks
across the yard to see you start in the buggy. You let the boy drive
while you read your letters. You thrust them into your pocket and bow
faintly over a high coat collar as you swing past the different riders
and second horsemen. You see your horses at a corner of the road, and
are told you cannot ride Molly Bawn, as she "'it 'erself" in the
night--an unsatisfactory way horses valuable have of incapacitating
themselves. You get on your horse and ride through a line of bridle
gates till you find yourself in a bewildering throng of people and
horses, just outside the village. Ladies leaning over their splash
boards, talking to fine young gentlemen, unconscious of their shaft,
which is tickling a horse of great value, the groom leading it, too
anxious about his own mount to observe the danger. Children backing
into bystanders, with their habits in festoons over the crupper; ladies
standing up in their carriages divesting themselves of their wraps, and
husbands unfastening their hat boxes; dealers discreetly and
conspicuously taking their horses out of the crowd and cantering them
round the field to show their slow paces, looking down at the ground
and sitting motionless, as if unconscious of any onlookers. Hard,
weather-beaten men in low crowned hats, with double snaffles in their
horses' mouths, are feeling their girths, and ladies in long loose
coats explaining to their pilots that they wear their strap on their
heels, not on their toes. Your host comes up now, and you wonder, to
look at his hack, that he ever arrived at all. You ask as delicately as
you can what he is riding. "Old S----n," he replies, and you find
yourself criticising the winner of a former Grand National. In all this
fret and fuss Tom Firr sits like a philosopher, surrounded by the
questioning pack; vouchsafing an occasional remark to a farmer or a
patron of the hunt. At last the vast field is set in motion, and, with
an eye on Firr, you jog down the road to draw. Instead of following the
knowing ones, and standing outside the covert at an advantageous point
down-wind, you go inside and watch the hounds dancing through the
little copse, shaking the dewdrops on the undergrowth, and scattering
with indifference the startled rabbit. In perfect stillness you thread
your way slowly through the tangled tracks, your horse arching his neck
and pointing his toes as if he were stepping to the drum and fife.
There is a spring in the grass path, and a thrill in the air which
makes you lift your face to the open sky as if to receive the essence
of the day, and a blessing from the unseen sun. Suddenly, without
warning, a silver halloa rings through the air, driving the blood to
your heart, and you find yourself wheeling your horse round and
crashing through the undergrowth to a gap you had noticed as you came
along. The whole field is thundering round the cover as you jump out of
it with the last hound, and the pack makes hard for a fence of
impassable thickness. Luckily for you they turn up it, and a lagging
hound joins his friends half-way up the fence, where the growers are
thinner. The gate is locked, but the rail at the side is jumpable, and
your horse takes off accurately and lands you in the same field as
hounds. You find yourself with Firr and five or six others, who have
galloped twice your distance, to catch them. You avoid a boggy gap,
which the two riders ahead of you are making for, and catch hold of
your horse for a clean "stake-and-bound." It is down hill, and you feel
as if you never would land. You jump into a road, and nearly fall off
as your horse turns suddenly down it, following the other horses. The
hounds cross, and you are carried down the road past the few places
where you could jump out, and the people behind profit by their
position and get over where hounds crossed. You hammer along the road
with twenty people shouting "Go on!" whenever you want to stop, till an
open gate takes you into the field, where you see five or six men a
good way ahead of you. Nothing but pace serves you then, and all the
warnings in the world that there is wire, or a brook, will not turn you
from your intention to catch them again.

By luck, which you hardly deserve, the wire is loose upon the ground,
and you only twing-twang it with one shoe as you land, and are off
again before it curls like a shaving round your horse's leg.

You have put wire between you and the field, and are now free to go as
you please for the next twenty minutes. Firr and five others are your
only rivals, and they are ready to whistle a warning where the country
gets complicated.

The pack check for a moment outside a small cover, but the fox is too
tired and too hard pressed to go into it, and Firr gets their heads
down with a sound, quite impossible to spell, and five minutes after,
the hounds are tumbling over each other like a scramble at a
school-feast, and Firr holds up the fox with an expression in his face
as if he could eat him.

                 *       *       *       *       *

You tuck the rug round you, with your mouth full of buttered toast.
Your lamps are lit, and the sky is aglow.

"Let 'em go please. _Come!_" and with a bound and a clatter you leave
the sun behind you, and, shaving the gate-post, swing down the turnpike



Why are ladies sometimes considered nuisances out hunting? Because the
generality of riders are unfortunately in the way of their neighbours,
and have not the remotest idea of what they ought to do.

Before they inflict themselves on the hunting field, they should learn
to manage their horses, to keep out of the way, and should they wish to
jump, to ride straight at their fences, not landing too near their
pilots, and not taking anyone else's place. When once they can
accomplish so much, they will no longer be considered troublesome. In
fact, few things are more dangerous than riding in Rotten Row, simply
because the greater part of the riders have not the faintest idea of
the risks they incur. You will see both young men and young women
galloping recklessly along with a perfectly loose rein, sometimes
knocking down the unfortunate ones who happen to be in their way, and
followed by grooms who have usually even less idea of riding and finish
the mischief their owners have begun.

Then the untidy, slipshod way the riders are often turned out is a
disgrace to a country which is considered to have the best horses and
riders in the world. What must foreigners--Hungarians, for instance,
who know something of riding, of horses, and of horsemen--think of the
doubtful spectacle two-thirds of the riders present. Poor old screws,
who have usually to pull the family coach of an afternoon, broken-down
hunters, an apology for hacks, are to be seen carrying their fair
burdens, who look anything but at home in their saddles, with hair
piled up in latest but most unworkmanlike fashion, flapping blouses,
and habits that look as though night-gowns, still worn, were beneath.
Of course many people cannot afford expensive hacks, but I would sooner
any day have a broken-winded or broken-kneed screw that was well-bred
and well-shaped, than a sound one who looked an underbred, lazy,
three-cornered beast. Besides, there is no reason why anyone who can
afford a horse at all, should not have it well groomed, with neat
saddle, and brightly-burnished bit, and be at the same time smartly
turned out herself. It is as cheap to be clean as to be dirty; and a
little extra trouble will go a long way in the desired direction.

For the safety of the multitude, it would be a good thing if all people
who are going to ride or drive on the public highway were made to pass
an examination as to their capabilities, and I do not believe, if that
were so, that half of the present riders in the road would be admitted.

Children are taught to ride quite on the wrong principle. How can a
child of three understand or appreciate a ride in a pannier on some fat
Shetland's back? The age of eight years is quite soon enough for any
child to begin; before that time it is impossible for them to control
the smallest pony, and this very experience often destroys their nerve.

In buying a pony, be very sure that it is sound, with a nice light
mouth; twelve hands is quite small enough. Most children's hands are
spoilt by letting them learn to ride on a pony destitute of any mouth,
the result is they learn to hold on by the poor thing's bridle, and
anyone who does that can never ride well. Let girls first learn to
stick on a cross saddle before putting them on a side saddle, it
teaches them to sit straight, and is much better for them in every way.

Anyone with bad hands can never be a really good rider. You can go
hard, be able to ride a horse that has bad manners, such as kicking,
bucking, rearing, running away, for that is simply a matter of nerve;
but a good rider means someone whose horse always goes nicely and
kindly, who does not hang on his mouth, who knows how to make him
gallop, and can ride really well at a fence. Half the falls out hunting
come from putting your horse crookedly at the fence, and from losing
your head when he has made a mistake.

Always endeavour--should your horse come down with you, and you have
not parted company--to keep your presence of mind. Do not try to get
off, as that will probably lead to a worse accident. Leave the reins
alone, for nothing frightens a horse more when he is down than touching
his mouth with the bit. Sit quite still, and it is more than likely
that you will be able to continue your ride without the smallest
mishap, or even a dirty back.

A great deal has been said on the subject of ladies' horses. One thing
is quite certain--they cannot be too good, and for a side saddle a fine
shoulder is indispensable; for, if you ride a horse without it, the
sensation is most unpleasant. You feel as though you were sitting on
his ears. Before mounting, always see that the saddle is not put on the
top of the withers, but just behind them, so that the weight does not
fall on the top of the shoulders. Besides being less likely to give a
sore back, the rider is much more comfortable. The reason why ladies
give a sore back so often is that they ride with too long a stirrup,
and do not sit straight. Sit well to the off side, and, should you
think your saddle is not quite straight, either get someone to alter it
for you or go home, for anything is better than to have your horse laid
up for a month with a bad back. I think a well-bred horse about 15·2,
with a nice light mouth, is the nicest mount for a woman. For if one
gets a really good fencer and galloper this size, he is far better than
a big underbred horse that tires one out immediately. But, of course,
everyone has to be mounted according to her weight. A nice light weight
can see a great deal of sport on the back of a really good pony about
fourteen-hands. It is wonderful the big fences many such ponies will
contrive to get over, if they really mean business. The first pony I
ever had was a little twelve-hand Welsh mare, and there was nothing
that pony wouldn't jump or scramble over somehow. What was too high for
her she would get under. She could crawl and climb like a cat, and
gallop faster than most horses; and, when she was twenty years of age,
was as fresh as a three-year-old. In fact, my brother won three races
of five furlongs on the flat with her, against much bigger ponies. The
best thing I can wish any of our readers is to have another, whether
horse or pony, as good and as game as she was.




If there is one calling in which a real helpmate can be of more use to
a man than any other, it is in that many-sided and arduous undertaking
called "hunting a country."

Not that it is to be desired that a lady should take an active part in
the field management, like the well-meaning dame who is reported to
have said to an offender, "If I were a gentleman I would swear at you."
But without letting zeal outrun discretion, how much may a "mistress of
hounds" (as we will call her for brevity's sake) do to promote sport
and good feeling, besides deciding on the cut of a habit, and on who is
to be invited to wear the hunt colours.

"I have been a foxhunter myself, and I know how selfish they are," was
the remark once made to the writer by an old gentleman in Leicestershire,
and it must, in candour, be admitted that there was some truth in his
agreeable frankness.

Now, the mistress of the hounds should do all in her power to make
hunting acceptable, by trying to counteract the overbearing egotism
which no doubt is apt to be the effect of an absorbing pursuit on men's

She should bear in mind that hunting was, after all, made for man, and
not man for hunting, and that because some people are fortunate enough
to be born with a taste for that amusement, combined (which is
important) with the means of gratifying it, there is no reason why
others less happily gifted should be despised and sent to the wall.

The cause of fox-hunting was never yet furthered by votaries, who
appear to think everything else in the way of sport unworthy of thought
or notice. "Give and take," should be their motto, as well as that of
all conditions of men, in fact, "more so" considering that, in the
present day, most followers of hounds are indebted to others for their
fun, and do not own a yard of the land they ride over.

Many a man is "put wrong" for life, and hastily designated as a
"beastly vulpecide," who would have been pleased to find a fox for his
neighbours now and then, though not caring for the sport himself, if he
had been treated with the consideration generally shown in other
matters. Therefore, the lady we have in our mind will do all she can to
sympathise with the pursuits and amusements of others besides hunting
people, and will do her best to destroy the idea that a fine horsewoman
must necessarily be "horsey," or a lover of fox-hounds "doggy."

Since the extraordinary popularity of Whyte Melville's and Surtee's
novels and songs, a generation has grown up, who have flattered
themselves into the belief that the fact of riding after hounds at once
makes heroes and heroines of them, and that they are almost conferring
a benefit on their fellow-creatures by emulating Kate Coventry or the
Honourable Crasher.

Formerly people went hunting because they liked it, now with many it is
a means to an end, a passport to good society, a fashion rather than a

In the true interests of fox-hunting this is to be deplored, but as it
is impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff, a mistress must
content herself with smoothing over difficulties, with trying to avoid
collisions between those who _live_ in a country, and those who _hunt_
in it; and it will be her aim to make up for any roughness or seeming
neglect on the part of those who follow her husband's hounds.

As Jorrocks told James Pigg, "There must be unanimity and concord, or
we sha'n't kill no foxes."

A lady should herself set an example of courtesy when meeting at a
country house by dismounting and paying her respects to the hostess,
especially if the owner is not a habitual follower of the chase. She
may also sometimes make an opportunity to call on her way home for a
few minutes, not obviously with the desire of snatching a few
mouthfuls, like a hungry dog, and then tearing out again, but in a
neighbourly, pleasant fashion, for no one likes to be unmistakably made
a convenience of.

These little amenities go a long way towards what is called "keeping a
country together," and, when the lady at the head of affairs sets her
face against rudeness and "cliqueishness" there is likely to be less
friction between those whom a Melton sportsman once designated as the
"cursed locals," and the sporting gentry who are only birds of passage.

Politeness in the field is, of course, part of our ideal lady's nature,
and she could no more omit to thank the sportsman, farmer, or labouring
man, who showed her an act of civility, than if he were her partner at
a ball; though a story _is_ told of a gentleman in a crack country, who
said to a fair follower of the chase, that she was the forty-second
lady he had held a gate for, and the first who had said "Thank you."

But let us turn to the farmer, who with his farmyard gate in his hand,
is anxiously watching some young stock crowding against his valuable
ewes in an adjoining field, while a light-hearted damsel is leading a
select party over the wheat, so as to outstrip the riders who follow
the headland, on their way to draw a favourite covert. Possibly that
farmer in "a happier day than this," rode his own nag horse with the
best of them, and talked cheerily to his landlord about the cubs in the
big rabbit hole, and the partridge "nesses" in his mowing grass, but
now neither he nor "the Squire" can afford nag horses or shooting
parties. It is toil and moil, all work and no play, for the occupier;
and very likely the landlord has had to let the pleasant acres on which
he and his forefathers disported themselves, and feels shy of the
tenants for whom he is unable to do all they have been accustomed to.

It is in these cases that "the lady" will come to the front, with all
the tact and kindliness that is in her. Instead of rushing rudely past
him, she will pull up and listen to the poor man's remarks, and,
perhaps, help him to restrain his straying beasts. There are so many
occasions in a day's hunting, when a few minutes more or less are of
little importance, that it is a pity they should not be utilised in
promoting good feeling and mutual understanding, instead of being
wasted in grumbling at the huntsman, and abusing the sport he shows.

The mistress of the hounds can do something, surely, by precept and
example, to discourage the outrageous lavishness coupled with meanness,
which is the curse of modern life, and is nowhere more odious and out
of character than in the hunting field.

People who spend every sixpence they can afford, and some they cannot,
on their habits and boots and saddles, cannot, of course, produce one
of those useful coins at an opportune moment, but if they _could_ stint
themselves now and then of an extra waistcoat or tie, they would find
that the spare cash would go a long way towards mending a broken rail;
to say nothing of the different feeling with which the advent of hounds
would be regarded, if it meant money _in_ the pocket, instead of _out_
of it.

Munificence in the few, but meanness in the many, is, unfortunately,
too much the rule among hunting men and women. They find it apparently
much easier to write tirades to the _Field_ on the subject of "wire"
for instance, than to produce a few shillings and quietly get it taken
down, as in some instances could easily be done. A wooden rail costs
sixpence, a day's work half-a-crown, and it does seem rather pitiful,
that, considering the three millions more or less annually spent on
hunting in the United Kingdom, it should be found impossible, except in
a few well-managed districts, to provide funds for fencing.

Our mistress might well turn her attention to this matter, and she may
induce other ladies to look round their own neighbourhoods, and see
what can be done in this way in a friendly spirit, without the
formalities of committees and subscriptions.

It is not unlikely that among the tenant farmers or freeholders of our
lady's acquaintance may be one, who from age or "bad times" has been
obliged to retire to a smaller sphere, but whose heart is still true to
fox-hunting, and who would delight in being of use, if he only knew
how. Such a man, mounted on an old pony, could be of the greatest
service in a hunting country. He would follow in the track of the
horsemen, shutting the gates they have invariably left open, and would
have an eye on the perverse young horses and wandering sheep which do
not "love the fold," but prefer to _rush_ madly, like their betters,
after the fascinations of a pack of hounds.

There may be instances in which the mistress of the hounds herself is
content to "take a back seat" and to humbly watch her husband's prowess
without emulating it, and in such a case she can do a good deal in the
way of shutting gates, calling attention to stray stock, and noting
damage done to fences and crops.

It is quite impossible for a master to see half the delinquencies
committed by his field, though he is, of course, held responsible for
them, but if the rearguard of the merry chase, so to say, was brought
up by an official, whose business it was to detect the offenders who
get off and "jump on top" of fences, it would be a cheaper and more
satisfactory arrangement in the long run.

In a wet season it should be borne in mind that it hurts _all_ crops to
be ridden over, grass as well as arable, and therefore roads and
headlands should be strictly adhered to when going from covert to
covert. Any considerable damage should be apologised for, if possible
at once, and if people were not so desperately afraid of paying for
their amusement (because that amusement is called hunting), an
acknowledgement given there and then to the sufferer would do him no
harm, and the cause of fox-hunting a great deal of good. A season or
two ago, a whole field of ardent (?) sportsmen in a crack country
allowed themselves to be delayed for a long time bandying words at an
occupation bridge, with a man who had "turned awkward," and who was
completely in his rights within stopping the way if he chose.

It seems curious that among a hundred horsemen, worth among them,
probably, as many thousands a year, no one seems to have been struck
with the idea of producing a sovereign to pay for the cutting up of the
grass that must follow the passage of such a squadron.

But perhaps we have dwelt too long on the seamy side of the duties of a
mistress of hounds. Let us turn to the more agreeable contemplation of
her pleasures.

Should she belong to a hunting family, she will have heard from her
father, ever since she can remember, stories of the "brave days of
old," of Meynell, and Musters, and the giants of those days. She will
have learnt to sing "Osbaldeston's voice, reaching the heavens, boys,"
to repeat the "Billesdon Coplow" and "Ranksborough Gorse," and in the
intervals of schoolroom lessons she will have been taken to see packs
now, perhaps, become historical.

If a dweller in the North Country, the name of Ralph Lambton will be
familiar to her; and in the South, legends of John Ward and Mr
Farquharson of Badminton, and Berkeley, have been the delight of her

Should she be fortunate enough to live in "the Shires" she may, from an
early age, have looked up at the towers of Belvoir, where hunting and
hospitality are a byword and a delight, and she may just remember the
glories of Quorn, and Sir Richard, of Lord Henry, and the Burton, like
Mr Bromley Davenport,

              "Nourishing a verdant youth,
    With the fairy tales of gallops, ancient runs devoid of truth."

The kind cheery voices of Captain Percy Williams and Mr Anstruther
Thomson, always indulgent and encouraging to young people, may have
fostered her natural love of the chase, and she may, while hunting with
the former, have imbibed some idea of riding, from the sight of the
celebrated Dick Christian handling the young horses at Rufford.

She will have looked with a reverential awe at blind Mr Foljambe of
Osberton, who was able to judge of any hound by the sense of touch,
long after that of sight was denied him, and who still hunted led by a

Perhaps a little private hunting with beagles, or foxhound puppies, may
have given our future mistress an interest in individual hounds, their
treatment and characteristics, so that by-and-by, when she has to do
with things on a larger scale, it is easier for her to know one hound
from another, and to appreciate their differences, than if she had
never seen less than seventeen or eighteen couple together.

Very likely it may have been her dream from childhood to marry a Master
of Hounds, so when, as the old song says,--

    "A young Country Squire requested her hand,
    Whose joy 'twas to ride by her side,
    So domestic a prospect what girl could withstand,
    She became, truly willing, his bride."

Then would follow the interest of making acquaintance with the country,
with all classes of people in it, with the coverts, lanes, and
bridle-paths, the lovely little bits that most people never see at all,
to say nothing of the pleasant companionship of hounds, horses, and

Captain Percy Williams's advice to a young M. F. H. was, "Stay at home
with your wife and your hounds," but how can a man do so, if his wife
is all agog to drag him to London or abroad directly the hunting season
is over? Hounds should be a summer as well as a winter pastime, but
whether they are so or not depends almost entirely on the wife of their

When all is said and done, two people who are young, happy, and
like-minded, can scarcely find an enjoyment greater than that of going
out hunting together with their own hounds. To be starting on a nice
horse, on a fine morning, for one long day of happiness, is a delight
that can only be enhanced by sharing it with a kindred soul, and best
of all if that soul is a husband's.

Then the greetings from all classes at the meet, the feeling of giving
pleasure to so many, the pride in the hounds, and the skill of the
huntsman, tempered though it be with anxiety for the success of the
day's sport, all go to warm the heart and fire the imagination as
nothing else does.

And as the hours pass imperceptibly, and the brown woods open their
vistas, and yellowing pastures alternate with dark hedgerows, and the
chiming of hounds with the distant holloas, there is the anticipation
of an

    "Oak Room with a blazing fire
      To end a long day's ride,
    And what to them is chance and change
      While they sit side by side."

Years afterwards, when many other things have turned to bitterness or
disappointment, comrades of the hunting field will be a solace and a
pleasure to each other, and the mistress of the hounds, when no longer
following their cry, will be with them in spirit, will be interested to
the points of each run, the performance of each pack, and her heart
will ever beat true to

    "The friends for whom, alive or dead, her love is unimpaired;
    The mirth, and the adventure, and the sport that they have shared."



"The sport of kings, the image of war without its guilt, and only
five-and-twenty per cent of its danger."

There are many ladies very well qualified to write a valuable paper on
the art of riding over a country, but, possibly, the following short
sketch--from the _hunting_ more than the riding point of view--may
be of interest, as I am sorely afraid ladies are sometimes apt to
forget the presence of the _hounds_, and little consider the trouble
and anxiety it takes to bring into the field a really efficient pack.

Some masters may have the good fortune to start with a ready-made and
perfect pack of hounds--a most perishable possession--as a very short
time of unintelligent management will reduce the finest pack in the
kingdom to a comparatively worthless one--but the majority have to
begin from the bottom for themselves.

Fortunately, draft hounds are plentiful, and a hundred couple or more
can easily be bought--out of which (taking care to get quit of any
_good-looking_ ones) forty couple sufficient for a start may be got.

Now as to horses.

Many people suppose that any sort of screw is good enough for a
servant's horse. No more fatal or uneconomical error exists.

A huntsman's horse should be as near perfection as can be got; and this
cannot be had for little money.

A huntsman has sufficient to do to attend to his business, without
being a rough rider at the same time, and ought to feel himself to be
the best mounted man in the field, or thereabouts.

If he is put on inferior animals, he has a very strong temptation to
feed his hounds back to his horse. A really strong pack of hounds on a
_good_ scent will run away from any horse living.

And that wonderful huntsman one hears of "who is always with his
hounds," nine times out of ten always has his hounds _with him_.

All servants' horses should be well-bred, strong, and short-legged, for
it must be borne in mind that they have much harder work than
gentlemen's horses, therefore care should be taken that they are
qualified to carry a good deal more weight than would appear necessary
to the uninitiated.

Hounds and horses having been bought, we must now proceed to man the

To begin with--The Master.

Let us suppose an M. F. H., who has been properly taught the trade (for
it is impossible for anybody, be he never so rich, to satisfactorily
perform the duties of this important position, unless he has been
thoroughly grounded in the _rudiments_).

Such an one is always courteous and kindly to those with whom he is
brought in contact, be they connected with the agricultural interest,
or members of his field. There is a vast deal of human nature in
people, and a little civility goes a long way.

An ill-mannered master is a curse to any country, and a mere
"Field-Damner" is a creature unfit to live.

Few know the troubles of keeping a country, and the cordial
co-operation of the master in this work is of vital importance.

Our supposititious M. F. H., however, thoroughly appreciates this
obligation, and, bearing this in mind, he will select for his huntsman
a respectable, well-mannered servant. Nothing farmers and keepers
detest so much as an ill-conditioned, uncivil man.

The first necessity in a huntsman is, that he should be a man whom
hounds are fond of, and who is fond of them. He should be in constant
companionship with his hounds, taking the greatest care in keeping them
off their benches as much as possible. The neglect of this somewhat
troublesome duty in many kennels results in lameness.

He must be an early man in the morning, as hounds ought to be finished
feeding by eight o'clock the day before hunting.

He should carefully watch the constitution of each hound, and feed it

It is _impossible_ for hounds to drive and run hard unless they are fed
strong, and are full of muscle.

A thin hound is a weak hound and tires at night.

Hounds ought always to be cast in front of their huntsman, but this
cannot be done unless they are really strong and vigorous.

If to these important qualifications can be added a fine horseman, so
much the better; but riding is really a secondary consideration in a
huntsman, provided he is workman enough to keep pretty handy with his

There is no occasion to give young gentlemen a lead over the country,
let them find the way for themselves.

A good cheery voice is also a valuable property in a huntsman.

For his whipper-in, he will have a young man who has learnt his duty,
as described in a little book called _Hints to Huntsmen_,[2] by heart.
If he knows that, and _practises_ it, he will have all the necessary

          [2] _Hints to Huntsmen_, by Colonel Anstruther Thomson,
          published by Fifeshire Journal Office, Cupar-Fife.

A more abominable sight does not exist than the _hard-riding_
whipper-in, he is, for the most part, a useless, conceited lad, who
will never do any good in this world or the next.

The second whip should be a nice, quiet boy, and a good horseman.

Having got our establishment into working order, we will now take it
out for a hunt, which I will try to describe from the point of view
indicated in my opening paragraph.

For a right good place to find a fox, give me a smallish wood. As a
rule, hounds come away from a wood _settled_ to their fox, which is not
the case from a gorse, the first whip having been sent on to view the
fox away.

The field being placed by the master (who remains with them)[3] in a
favourable position, our huntsman throws his hounds into covert,
encouraging them to spread and draw, being careful that they are in
front of his horse. When a well-known voice proclaims the hitting of
the drag, he cheers the pack to that hound, calling it by name, as
"Hark to Melody! Hark to her! Hark!" But they fly to one another of
themselves, and shortly there is a grand cry.

          [3] You will recollect that our master has been _taught_, and
          knows that whip's work is not his duty.

One ring round the wood, and the whipper-in's "Tally-ho, gone
awa-a-a-y" is heard, he having taken good care to let the fox well away
before holloa-ing. The huntsman now makes his way as fast as possible
to the holloa, at the same time blowing his horn for the information of
the field--


--as the hounds leave the covert, well settled to the scent.

And now, I think, you can appreciate my preference of a wood to a

Then, what a scene of excitement. Men and women in such a fuss and
hurry. In the whole lot only about three really calm and collected--the
master (seeing a useful scent, and hounds with a fair start, is, for
once in a way, delighted to say, "Catch them if you can!"), and an
oldish man or two still able to take their part, if hounds _really_

Let me, like black care, sit behind one of these latter, and view the
chase through his spectacles. He knows every gate and gap in the
country for miles round, but this morning he sees he must desert his
favourite paths if he wants to see the hounds run. All the dash of
twenty years ago returns to him, as he slips his steady old hunter over
a somewhat awkward corner, and (before most of the young ones take in
the situation) is making the best of his way to the down-wind side of
the now flying pack.[4]

          [4] If you have a chance, always get the down-wind side of
          hounds running, because, even if you lose sight of them, you
          can still hear the cry, while, if you are up-wind, it is
          extraordinary what difficulty you have in hearing them.

Well, here we are. And, first, let us take a look at the hounds. For a
scratch lot, they are well together, and the careful kennel management
of the summer shows itself.

Now for the horsemen, see the _hard_ gentleman of tender years
GALLOPING from sheer funk at fences, that one of the old school jumps
out of the most collected canter. And then, oh, ye gods, the girls!
brave beyond words, jamming their unfortunate horses into every sort of
difficulty, with elbows squared, and the sole of their foot exposed to
the astonished gaze of those behind them.

Alas! alas! the art of equitation will soon be a lost one.

Fifteen minutes racing pace takes the nonsense out of all. The fox
turns sharply down-wind, and the huntsman--who has been riding
carefully and quietly--knows they have overrun it. Not one word does he
say, letting his hounds swing their own cast. As they do not recover
the line, he is compelled to give them a bit of assistance.

With such a scent, he can go a little fast; so, at a sharp trot,
he makes his cast back, his whip putting the hounds on to him. No
noise nor rating, such as is only too frequently heard. An ugly
black-and-white brute hits the scent down a hedgerow. He cheers the
pack to him, well knowing it was not the lack of beauty that caused the
old dog to be where he is.

Now, stand back and see them hunt, with nothing to mar your pleasure in
watching the wonderful instinct of a high-bred foxhound, except the
chatter of the male and female thrusters, describing to each other the
wonderful leaps they have severally surmounted.[5]

          [5] If you go out hunting, _hunt_. There is nothing more
          irritating to the real sportsman than the incessant chatter
          and laughter of people who take no intelligent interest in
          the business of hunting.

The fox now runs the road for a quarter of a mile. Whatever you do,
keep off them, and give hounds room to turn.[6]

          [6] When hounds run down a road, get your horse on the grass
          siding. Nothing is so apt to force hounds beyond the scent as
          the rattle of horses' feet behind them.

The chase continues down-wind. How they swing and try. Look how they
drive as they hit the scent, then spread themselves like a fan, only to
fly together again as a trusted comrade speaks to the line.

"All this comes of condition," as my old gentleman says.

Hark! a holloa forward.

Do you think a sensible man will lift them?

No; so long as they can carry on, he knows they will go quicker than he
can take them.

More patient hunting, through sheep and over bad ground, the huntsman
cheering his hounds, but never interfering with them, as they work out
all the turns of a sinking fox for themselves.

They'll have him directly, one can see by the determined rush of the
older hounds. Sure enough! In another minute they run from scent to
view, and pull their fox down in the open.

Five-and-forty minutes, and I ask you if this is not a sporting hunt.

My old friend dismounts, leading his horse away, at the same time

"It is a nasty sight to see ladies watching a poor fox pulled to

Although a note on the subject of blowing a hunting-horn may not be of
great interest to many people, still, I venture to think, no harm can
be done in placing before your readers how a huntsman ought to
communicate on that instrument with his hounds and field.

When he views a fox--


In-drawing (especially in a big wood)--


if hounds are wide of him, they stop to _listen_ to the first note, and
_go_ to the second. To stop hounds off heel or riot--


To call hounds in the open to cast--


"Gone away"--


To draw hounds out of covert--


When a fox is killed--




Some people only use the long rattle at the death, but my opinion is
that the eight very sharp notes should be blown, as hounds know that
they mean a _fox_, and a fox _only_, whether alive or dead.



Being almost a beginner myself, it is with diffidence that I commence
to relate my small experiences in four-in-hand driving. It is only
because I have had the advantage of watching a first-rate coachman in
my father that I venture to do so--having taken care to gather from him
many hints and wrinkles as to what to do, and _not_ to do, and more
especially the _reason_ WHY.

It is, I know, supposed to be easier to drive a team than a tandem,
because two horses abreast are believed to be less foolish than two
single horses. Personally, I think _all_ horses are astonishingly
foolish at times, and, for a lady, a tandem is much less heavy.

Of course it depends in a measure on people's _hands_ whether horses
feel heavy and hang, but the weight of four horses on a woman's wrist
is decidedly a strain, until, through practice, she becomes accustomed
to the feeling--that is, unless the team is so perfectly trained that
they almost drive themselves.

In driving a team, the first thing to be learnt is the art of
"catching" a four-in-hand whip. It certainly _looks_ easy enough, and
many a time have I watched my father, with one upward turn of his
wrist, catch it unerringly every time, and felt--"Of _course_ any
duffer could do that!"--eagerly proclaiming my ability to do it too.
This, however, is an altogether different affair. No twisting, no
jerking is allowed, but simply a turn of the wrist, making something
like a figure eight in the air, and leaving the thong caught on the
stick (never try to catch your thong _with_ the stick) with a loop
above and a few turns round the stick below, which brings both lash and
stick into your hand together. It is an impossible thing to describe,
and the only way to learn it is to get some patient friend to show you
how. And you will require all your Job-ish propensities, for it is by
no means easy at first, and it makes you feel very foolish when all
your efforts fail, after it has looked so ridiculously simple in the
hands of an expert. Nothing looks worse than people essaying to drive a
team _without_ knowing how to catch their whip, and their wild attempts
to attain that end are almost pathetic, for the flourishes they make,
end invariably only in a hopeless complication and tangle.

Having mastered your whip, the next thing to do is to defeat your
reins--and beware that they do not defeat you, for they are very
mixing, and the numbers one has to deal with make one almost giddy,
after the ordinary single pair. In driving a team, or a tandem, you
should not hold your reins one through each finger, as in riding, but
put one rein--your near leader's--over the top of the fore-finger of
your left-hand, and the other leader's rein--the off--and the near
wheeler's reins BOTH between your first and middle fingers (the
leader's upmost), while your off wheeler's rein comes lowest of all,
between your middle and third finger. It looks rather complicated on
paper, but is really very quickly learnt, especially if the wheeler's
reins are a little different in colour, having probably become darker
through more constant wear.

Mind you take your reins _before_ you get on to your box, and _never_
commit the folly of getting into a carriage before your coachman, or
coachwoman, has hold of the reins, for it is both dangerous and

Before you take the reins, it is well to look round all the harness and
satisfy _yourself_ that the curb chains and throat-lashes are loose
enough (grooms are so fond of pulling everything up as tight as it will
go, and often seem to treat throat lashes and curb chains on the same
principle as girths). See that the bits are not too short in the
horses' mouths, that your leaders are properly coupled, and also your
wheelers. You cannot be too particular about detail in this case, and
mind the pole chains are not too tight. They should be easy, so that
they can just swing--the pole carrying itself without resting any
weight on the horses' collars.

After you have seen that all is right, go round to the off side wheeler
and take your leader's reins from off his pad, put them in your
left-hand, with forefinger between, then pick up your wheeler's in your
_right_-hand, with forefinger between. Now pass them on to their
ultimate destination (one on each side of the third finger of your
left-hand), and draw the _near_ reins through your fingers till you get
them so short (while you are still on the ground) that they will all
come even when you are sitting on your box. Nothing denotes a muff more
than omitting to do this. Of course the driver must judge how much rein
to take in, with his or her eye, before getting up.

As you cannot swarm on to your box hampered by the reins in your
left-hand, you must take them in your right until you have settled
yourself comfortably, and are sitting (not standing) firmly on your
seat, which should not slant up too much, for one gets more purchase if
one is not merely leaning against the box. Once there, change your
reins back into your left-hand, take the whip out of the socket, catch
it, drop your hand, and set sail.

The correct thing, I believe, is to have the whip ready caught and laid
across the wheeler's quarters. That is what they did in old coaching
days, and the driver used to take it up with his reins together in his
right-hand, with the whip pointing towards his right shoulder. He then
got up, with reins and whip all ready to start as soon as he said the
word "Go!"

It would be a good thing if grooms at the horses' heads _would_ let
go the _instant_ you give them the hint to do so. Nothing is more
irritating to both horse and driver than a man who will hold on after
you have started.

In starting, you should have your leaders a little shorter by the head
than the wheelers, as the wheelers should start the coach. Letting the
leaders start first is very likely to end in disaster. Like buckets in
a well, they jump off with a jerk before the wheelers are ready. Just
as they subside, off go the wheelers. The result is confusion, and
possibly a broken trace.[7] Take up your reins then, to avoid this
calamity, feeling all your horses' mouths, but with the leaders'
accentuated; and, when you are quite ready to start, just drop your
hand and chuckle to them. Never "kiss" at your horses, and never say
"Pull up,"--both are shocking and unpardonable.

          [7] One should always go out provided with an extra trace, in
          case of accidents.

As to the use of a four-in-hand whip, there is almost as much art in
hitting the leaders as there is in throwing a fishing-fly. You should
always hit your leaders under the bars, and quietly, to avoid startling
the other horses. In driving anything, whether one horse or four, you
should always begin by touching your horse quite gently at first, just
drawing the whip across his shoulder. If this hint is not enough,
repeat it a little harder and a little harder still, so that he
improves his pace gradually, this obviates the uncomfortable jolts and
jerks caused by bad coachmen when using their whips; they make the
mistake of hitting hard the _first_ time, the horse jumps forward and
the passengers nearly dislocate their necks in consequence. Also, you
should always hold them a little tighter when you are going to use the
whip to prevent their starting forward, for many horses will jump at
the first touch, no matter how lightly it is laid across them.

In turning a corner with a team or tandem, take up your leaders' reins
a little and give them the hint which turn to take _before_ you get to
the corner (this is technically called "pointing your leaders"). They
are generally quick enough at taking your hint, and then mind you allow
enough space for the hind wheels of your coach.

Always go quite slow off the top of a hill. Take up your leaders
_before_ you get to it. You can get safely down any hill, no matter how
steep, provided you start slow enough off the top. The pace is bound to
increase the further down you get, so it is wise not to start too fast,
otherwise you end in an uncomfortable sort of gallop, with the coach
overhauling the horses all the way. Sometimes it is a good plan to
increase your pace, supposing there is a hill to be got up just in
front of you; in that case, get your horses into a gallop going _down_
so as to get a run at the next hill, and the impetus will carry you up
much easier if you have a real good swing at it. Of course a long hill
is a different thing, especially if it is off the flat, and in every
case your horses must be considered.

It is important that horses should be brought in cool, therefore one
should do the last mile of the journey slowly and quietly that they may
not be too hot on arriving at their stable.

It is a bad thing to keep horses waiting at the start, they are not
generally gifted with much more patience than we are, and it is worse
to check them once they are on the move, therefore it is best, when all
the passengers are on board, that the last to get up should sing out
"Right," to let the coachman know they are really ready to be off, and
so prevent the risk of being implored to "wait just ONE moment" for the
forgotten coat or umbrella, or the thousand and one things people
always _do_ forget until the very last instant, notwithstanding what is
usually the fact that they have been dawdling about hours before hand,
with nothing else to do but to prepare themselves for the cold and rain
which, in this climate, is about the only thing one can count on.

Once off, try to leave your reins alone as much as possible; it is
irritating to your horses' mouths, and looks bad, to be always
fidgeting and pulling at either one rein or the other. Don't let your
leaders do all or nearly all the work, and going down hill don't let
them do any, but catch hold of them pretty short just before you get to
the brow of the hill and pull them back--a tiny bit on one side to
prevent the wheelers treading on their heels.

In taking up and shortening your reins, many people say you should
always push them from in front with the right-hand, and not draw them
through the fingers from behind, though the latter way often seems the
most natural, and all coachmen do not agree on this point. It looks
better to drive with _one_ hand, the left, and to keep the right for
the whip and an occasional assistance only; but a woman must have
wrists of iron to drive a team with one hand for long, especially as
the wrist should always be bent in driving as well as in riding.
Driving with straight wrists is altogether wrong. One thing never to be
forgotten is always to make your wheelers follow your leaders, thereby
you can generally assume an air of nonchalance, and pretend that you
_intended_ the sudden deviation off the middle of the road caused by
the digression of the leaders, if your wheelers immediately follow in
their footsteps. Should it be only a slight digression, a pull at the
two reins between your first and second fingers _both at once_, will
put them right immediately, as that gets at your off leader and near
wheeler at the same time, and is a very quick way of getting the team
straight again. It is better form not to use the break unless it is
absolutely necessary. People bore one so who are always putting their
drags on and off. I do not mean the "shoe," as that, of course, must be
put on, on occasions when the hill is steep to prevent the coach
running on to the horses.

I remember once driving with my father in the Fife country, where the
roads resemble switchback railways more than Christian highways. We had
arrived at the top of a very steep pitch, and the grooms having slipped
on the shoe, we were trundling serenely down, when, just as we reached
the middle of the hill where the whole impetus of the coach was at its
worst, snap went the chain and away rolled the shoe off down the hill
on its own account, of course the sudden release sent the coach with a
great lurch on the top of the wheelers, while we all clung on, craning
our necks to see what was going to happen next. Quick as thought out
flew the whip thong, and in an instant my father had touched the horses
all round and we were flying down the hill at racing pace. We got to
the bottom all safe and had galloped to the top of the next hill before
he took a pull. It was very exciting for the time, and the only thing
to be done under the circumstances to keep the horses going quicker
than the coach, but not an experiment one would care to try with an
inferior coachman.

We have all been mercifully blessed with nerve, and many a time has our
courage been severely put to the test. We had a very near shave one day
some years ago coming back from Ascot. We were driving all the way home
to London after the last day's racing. Our off leader was a very
violent, hot horse, called "The Robber," who kept raking and snatching
at his bridle from morning till night. As we were passing through a
little town--Brentford--we tried to worm our way between the pavement
and a baker's cart, which was proceeding slowly in front and giving us
very little room to pass.

This irritated The Robber, who, making a wild bounce forward, wrenched
the bridle clean off the wheeler's head! (His rein was passed through
the upright terret on the top of the wheeler's bridle, and must have
got caught somehow). The bridle flopped against the pole, which
frightened the whole lot and they started off at a gallop. The baker,
seeing this, thought we were anxious to race him, and set sail too.
Naturally his increasing pace excited our horses more than ever, and
the three with bridles pulled their hardest, while the loose one pegged
along with his head in the air.

The off-horse being bitless, it was only the near-side rein that took
effect on their mouths, so the end was that we edged nearer and nearer
to the pavement, till, at last, the leaders turned and jumped on to it.
At the same moment Captain Carnegy (who, luckily, was just sitting
behind the box) leapt to the ground, and made a grab at the loose
wheeler, catching him by the nose, and so saved us from some trouble.
The leaders, in the meantime, had run straight into a draper's shop,
and were curveting about on the top of four or five school children,
whom they had hustled to the ground.

It looked very nasty for a minute, but they were mercifully extracted
all unhurt, and a few coins soon mollified their gaping parents.

_Apropos_ of having the leaders' reins through the top terret, it is
supposed to look smarter, but that it is not a very good plan is proved
by the aforesaid catastrophe. The rings on the wheelers' throat-lashes
are really much better for ordinary use.

My father used to drive a great deal, and, before he joined the
Four-in-hand Club, he used to drive the Exeter and London mail-coaches
regularly, three or four times a week, fifty years ago, when he was in
the Ninth Lancers. It must have been hardish work, for he drove all
night. He started at seven p.m. after his day's soldiering, and drove
forty-four miles each way, getting back to barracks at seven p.m. next

He tells me they only took eight passengers with them, four inside and
four out, besides the coachman, and the guard who sat by himself
behind, with his feet resting on the lid of the box in which lay the
mail-bags, and always armed with two pistols and a blunderbuss, besides
the horn.

There is nothing so pretty as hearing a coach-horn really well blown,
and very few indeed can do it properly. It is, unfortunately, a thing
which people have no conscience about attempting, though their
listeners are not left in doubt as to whether they are proficients in
the art from the first moment they seize the instrument. How senseless
of failure they are, too, as they puff out their cheeks in fatal
perseverance, while tears start from their eyes, and the noise!--well,
that once heard, is not easily forgotten. Though it is not within the
province of a coachman, it is well to know how to make "music on three
feet of tin," for it is often very necessary to arouse sleepy carters
and all the other drowsy souls who encumber the earth and the Queen's

Like catching a whip, it is an impossible thing to explain, beyond
saying that you should begin by putting the tip of your tongue _into_
the mouthpiece, and bring it sharply out again with a little TIP sort
of sound, and without puffing out your cheeks _at all_. The higher the
notes you want to get, the harder you should compress your lips to the
mouthpiece. And after all is said and done, the horn it is that
generally retains the mastery, and blessed indeed is he who achieves
anything beyond the air generally associated with the decrease of our
ancient friend the cow.

The first tandem I ever drove was a long time ago, when I was quite
small, and exceedingly proud I was of my turnout. It was very smart,
all _white_.

It certainly had the merit of being unique, for my wheeler was
a milk-white goat of tender years, while my leader was a
disreputable-looking old bull-dog of equally snowy hue, and the
harness was--well, pocket-handkerchiefs--mostly _other_ people's.

I drove them in a little go-cart on low wheels, and they went very
well, poor little things, though I always had to run in front myself
and call them, if I wanted them to go at all fast.

That tandem came to a very sad and tragic end, for I grieve to say
that, after many months of close friendship, my leader found it in his
heart to devour the wheeler, which black deed brought my tandem to an
abrupt termination.

Some years ago I got a lot of practice driving a scratch team down
from Banffshire to Fife. A long journey, which took three days to
accomplish, and over a very rough road too, for the first stage was
forty miles right across the moors. Splendid wild scenery, but most
horrible going, up hills and down dales, through water courses, and
scrambling along old stage-coach roads, which could hardly be dignified
now by the title of tracks. We scrambled up and down the steepest of
mountains, and altogether felt rather relieved when at length we
deserted the moor and gained the level road quite close to Balmoral.[8]
It is a beautiful road from Balmoral into Braemar, broad and level,
with wide verges of grass on either side, and bordered by fir trees,
lighted up here and there by the silver stems and golden leaves of
graceful birches, while the river Dee dances along over the rocks and
stones by the side of the road, brawling its running accompaniment to
the rattle of the bars and the rhythm of the horses' hoofs. Passing
below the "Lion's Face," and just outside the beautiful "policies" of
Invermark, we trotted cheerily into the little town of Braemar, and
there put up for the night.

          [8] Balmoral, with its grey pepperpots and tunnels, standing
          out closely against the dark background of pine trees and fir
          woods, and overshadowed by the high mountain of Loch-na-gar,
          veiled by the soft, blue haze of distance peculiar to the

The second stage was further still, and we guessed it at about sixty
miles on to Perth.

Happily the horses came out looking fresh and fit, having fed and
rested well, and, by ten o'clock, we were once more on the move.

This time the roads were better, but still rather elementary in some
places, and we encountered several of those old hogbacked bridges which
are very trying to the pole, and more than likely to break it as it
jerks up, on the top, when the leaders are going down one side, while
the wheelers are still climbing up the other. We stopped an hour at
Blair Athole on the way, and fed the horses, while we ourselves had

The team was pretty well steadied by this time, and as easy to drive as
a single horse; though, of course, it needed judgment to keep them
trotting steadily on for the ten or eleven hours it took to do the

The last stage, from Perth to Fife, was on the beautiful old north road
all the way, and, as it was only a distance of twenty miles, we did it
leisurely, and turned into our own stable-yard about three hours after
we started.

It was great fun, and, after driving for so long, I felt I could have
gone on for weeks, but for an acute knowledge of where every bone began
and ended in both my arms and back.

We accomplished that same journey twice that year; the first time in
spring, and again in September we came down after the grouse-shooting
with a different team. That second time was not quite such a success,
as the cold was something frightful, and the hurricanes that swept over
the tops of those moorland hills nearly blew us all away (we had a
brake instead of the coach, as being lighter for the horses and handier
for the luggage, etc.). The whole of the first two days it _poured_
unceasingly, a good, honest, unrelenting deluge, and I never shall
forget our plight on arriving at Blair Athole, soaked to the skin,
while my coat pockets were so full of water that my pocket-handkerchief
was floating about on the surface like a boat on a pond.

We dried ourselves as best we could at the kitchen and laundry fires of
the hotel, but we were just as sopped as ever ten minutes after we had
started again. However, 'tis a poor heart that never rejoices, and we
all revived later in the evening, after we had become dry and warm and
_recurled_ (which is very important to a lady's happiness). _Nothing_
makes one feel so miserable and dejected as the knowledge one is "quite
unbanged," as an American was once heard to exclaim, on catching sight
of her straightened fringe in the looking-glass.

I have always been very fortunate in my cargo, which makes a vast
difference to one's pleasure in driving.

I do not object to my passengers clinging on to the carriage, nor even
to their pinching each other, but people who shiver and squeak, and,
worse than all, make clutches at the reins, ought really to be
condemned to take the air in handcuffs, or else to walk.

My particular friends have always rather erred on the side of
foolhardiness, and I shall never forget my intense surprise at the
rashness displayed by a large party at a house where I was staying two
years ago. Our host, being the possessor of a very nice team, had
promised to drive us over to an Agricultural Show about to be held in
an adjacent town on a certain Wednesday. We were all looking forward to
our outing with great glee, and nothing occurred to agitate our minds
until the very day of the anticipated treat, when early that morning a
pencil scrawl was brought me from my host saying he had been suddenly
called away to attend some important function at the opposite end of
the country; he therefore could not come to the show, but if I cared to
take his place and drive his team they should be ready at eleven

I immediately thought--the question was not so much would I like to
drive the party, as would _they_ like to be driven by _me_?

However, after most anxious and searching inquirings on my part as to
whether they were all insured, to my amazement they bravely asserted
they would in any case risk it and come!

So round came the coach. I must confess to a slight misgiving on
beholding that the usual near wheeler had been put off leader for a
change, and in his stead they had given me an ancient and ill-favoured
roan mare, who, I knew, had never been driven in a team before.

No sign of apprehension escaped me, however, as I clambered sternly on
to the box. The start was a little sketchy, as the roan mare began by
making a series of low curtseys, instead of progressing in the ordinary
way, while the ex-wheeler was a little out of his element too, as a
leader. By the mercy of Providence I succeeded in landing my coach-load
safely through the narrow gateway, and on to the field (filled as it
was by a stupid Scotch crowd) and I pulled up in triumph by the barrier
of the show-ring.

I am afraid I must in honesty confess that I _did_ run both my chariot
and horses into one wire fence on the way--but the leaders would THINK,
and the horses were all so determined, that _they_ knew the way better
than _I_ did, that they had borne us half-way past the corner before I
could get hold of them to turn down the way _I_ wished to go. There was
no harm done, luckily, and I managed to haul them out again undamaged,
and proceeded without further misadventure.

There are not many things much more calculated to annoy, than a horse
who always "_thinks_," the stupid beast who _will_ stop at every shop
passing through his own village on a Sunday, when he must surely see
that all the shops are shut, or the animals who turn eagerly down every
lane and corner that they come to, albeit they have passed by that road
a thousand times before and have never been called upon to turn either
to right-hand or to the left. And yet a horse who _wont_ think is
almost equally exasperating. Such a beast seems glad enough to lame
himself or stamp on one's toes without thinking even for a moment
whether it might be inconvenient or otherwise distasteful to his

One thing I have forgotten to put down, is what to do in the event of a
wheeler lying on the pole (which of course shoves it to one side, and
the coach must needs follow in its train). Supposing, then, your off
wheeler happens to be performing this antic and is pushing the whole
coach by his weight to the left side. You should pull your leaders to
the _right_, and, by so doing, make them pull the pole across until you
get the concern straight again.

The only upset my father ever had with a team was caused by his
omitting to do this, and that is why he told me never to forget it.

I have been implicated in many other strange drives, notably two with
tandems and one with three horses abreast.

I will begin with the last one first, as it was a very transient

One very snowy winter we had to take recourse to a sledge to get about
the roads at all, and although it is very delightful at first, when one
hopes that every night will bring a nice thaw (how the frozen-out
fox-hunter prays for that night), after three or four weeks' incessant
frost and snow the novelty of sleighing wears off and one longs for
some new excitement.

We had arrived at these extremes, my father and I, so, struck by a
happy inspiration, we one day determined to "yoke" three ponies abreast
in our sledge and see what would happen. We had not long to wait for
the result, for no sooner were they harnessed and we leapt in, than
away they all went with one accord down the avenue as hard as ever they
could rattle, kicking great hard snow-balls into our faces all the way.
Down the hill and across the grass like mad things. My father put the
whip between his teeth and held on with all his might. I relieved him
of his whip and sat tight, until we reached a big beech tree, with a
sort of mound round its roots. Here the ponies disagreed as to which
side they should go, but, to avoid any jealousy or ill-feeling, they
settled the question by one going to the right, while the other two
elected to take the left-hand side of the tree. This fairly finished
our flight, for the sledge dashed up sideways against the roots and
then turned over like a turtle. Of course we were both precipitated on
to the road and were dragged along some little way by the rugs.
Fortunately there was a gate which happened to be shut a little further
on, and this ended our troubles by stopping the ponies altogether, and
there they all stood with their heads craning over the fence, while we
picked ourselves up and disentangled ourselves from the _débris_.
Luckily the sledge being so very near the ground we were not hurt, and
really, being dragged along by the rugs was rather a pleasant
sensation. Though it is a good thing to remember, when one is being run
away with, under ordinary circumstances in a carriage, to undo the rugs
and keep your legs clear, in case of accidents.

How often have rugs and petticoats caused one to fall headlong in
getting in and out of "machines" (as our Scotch people say). Never
shall I forget one Sunday morning, on our arrival at the church door,
when I proceeded (in all the glory of my Sunday-go-to-meeting apparel)
to climb down from the dog-cart, which was pretty high and fitted out
with the most inhuman arrangements of steps. I tripped jauntily off the
first step towards the second when I became aware that my body was
extended on the cold, cold ground, and my head was resting confidingly
between the horses two hind feet. What had happened? Oh, _only_ my
frock had remained swathed round the top step, that was all. Mercifully
the horse was tame, and made no objection to my unexpected arrival
among his hind legs. I had to crawl out from under the cart, covered
with mud and speechless with fury. Two broken knees, and two scratched
palms, gloves destroyed beyond all hope, and my hat jobbed over one
eye, everybody in fits of laughter, of course, especially my own
family. Why is it, I wonder, that one's own relations always display
such extreme lack of good taste on such occasions? I must say I arose
from that puddle in anything but a Christian-like and Sabbatical frame
of mind.

I fared better, however, than another young friend of mine, who, in
dismounting out of the very same cart, turned a catherine wheel and
alighted on the road with a broken arm.

Be cautious, therefore, and always scramble out of a cart or carriage
backwards, and, if the step be high, see that your dress descends with
you and does not remain at the top.

One of the tandem drives I mentioned happened some two years ago, when
my sister and I were staying with some friends about sixteen miles from
home. We had been out cub-hunting all morning, found an old fox, and
had a capital run, which landed us quite close to our own front door
just in time for luncheon. This, of course, we could not resist, so we
put our horses in and to our joy discovered a dog-cart had
arrived--sent by our kind hostess to convey us back to her house, while
the groom led our horses home. Having sent them off under his charge we
proceeded to put the harness horse into his dog-cart, and were just
about to start when a telegram arrived from my father (who was also
away from home), ordering our groom to take a horse over to K---- for
him to hunt next day.

As "K" happened to be the very place we were starting for, we
determined to take his horse over ourselves. But how? that was the

We did not quite like the idea of tying him on behind, for well we knew
he would be certain to tumble over something during the journey and
contrive to break his knees.

Why not tie him on in _front_ we both exclaimed, with that "one great
mind which jumps."

Of course that was obviously the way to get him over those intervening
sixteen miles of hill.

As he was the bigger of the two, and had never been driven in tandem
before, we thought we had better put him in wheeler. Hastily pulling
out the horse which was already harnessed we proceeded to try and fit
our own rotund steed between the shafts. His figure, however, was
hardly slim enough for the position, and he began to resent the
suggestion with some asperity.

Satisfied that we should do no good with them that way on, we reversed
the order; replacing the original horse in the wheel, we hitched our
obese animal on in front. We then started. I must say he fired some
most alarming salutes with his heels going down the avenue, and
terrified us for the safety of our borrowed wheeler, but the ensuing
hills very soon settled him down and brought him to reason, which was
well for us, as we had not started on our journey till pretty late, and
it was rapidly becoming dark. Needless to say we had no lamps, the road
was horribly rough and mountainous, and we had still many miles to go.
At last we turned in to the lodge gates and up the avenue at K--. It
was dark enough outside on the road, where I could just see my
wheeler's outline in the gloom, but here among the trees (for the
approach is more of a wood than an avenue) it was so pitch dark I
positively could not see my own hand in front of me. Having no light,
we proceeded by faith, and appeared to be getting on extremely well,
when suddenly, with an awful jolt and a bump, the whole concern stopped
short and I nearly flew off my perch with the jerk. My sister was out
like a shot and got to the wheeler's head. He was still there, that she
could feel; groping a little further she collided with the leader, he
was there too, that was a comfort, anything further she could nob
discover without the aid of a light.

Fortunately we had provided ourselves with some matches just _in case_,
and, on striking one, we discovered both horses standing on three legs,
one of the leader's traces having caught round his off hind leg, while
the other trace was twisted over the wheeler's near fore-leg! They both
behaved like true Britons, and waited patiently until we got them
disentangled and set straight again, when we set off once more and
managed to get to our destination without further mishap.

The last exciting drive I had with a tandem was again with my father,
and again in the snow. The roads were barely passable with snowdrifts
piled up on either side six foot high or more. It so happened that
Colonel Gardyne had been staying with us, and it behoved him to get
away by a certain train on a certain day.

Inexorable to our entreaties to postpone his departure, we were obliged
to accede to his request that he might be borne somehow to the station.
As the roads were very bad and too heavy with snow for one horse, we
selected another out of the stable and put him on in front; we then
scrambled into the dog-cart and prepared for the worst. As it happened,
however, we were _not_ prepared for what followed. The leader had not
been in before and did not fancy the game, nor did he approve of the
snow walls; notwithstanding this we got to the station fairly intact
and deposited our guest in safety.

We had not proceeded far on our homeward journey when a great black
puffing engine made its appearance round a corner, with crimson eyes,
and snorts, and noise, and all the honours attendant on a perambulating
thrashing machine. Horrid things they are at the best of times, but
more especially objectionable when one has a couple of three-cornered
horses, one behind the other. Of course the effect of this apparition
was wild confusion, the leader waltzed round and round till he got tied
up into a knot, then set to work, and kicked himself free, breaking
every stitch of harness on his body.

We had no extra tackle (which was foolish), therefore the only thing to
be done was to get him home. Luckily we were not far away, so I
scrambled on to his back and rode him, using the remains of the pad as
a pommel and got him in all safe.

My father having some business in the neighbouring town went on in the
cart alone. Soon he overtook an ally, who, bent on the same errand, was
stumping bravely through the slush (having wisely refrained from taking
out his own horses on such a road). On being offered a lift he mounted
gladly, thankful to curtail his disagreeable tramp, and reassured by
the sight of a single and confidential-looking quadruped. His joy,
however, was shortlived, for the very next turn happened to lead
straight up to our park gates. Dobbin (being one of the genus I object
to so strongly who "_think_") instantly _thought_, and made a dive for
the corner. The wheel, colliding violently against the curb-stone,
precipitated the unfortunate passenger headlong into a snow-drift,
where he remained half buried, with only a large pair of feet flapping
in the air to indicate the spot where the casualty had occurred.




My personal experiences of tiger-shooting in India have been neither on
a large scale nor of a very heroic and exciting nature; yet, such as
they are, I gladly place them upon record for the sake of those who may
not have had the good fortune to see sport of this particular kind.
Tiger-shooting, however, has been so well and so often described that I
cannot hope to be able to tell anything of a novel character about it.

It has been my good fortune to "assist" (in the French sense of the
word) at the death of five tigers. And here I should premise that,
according to the laws of Indian sport, a tiger is considered the trophy
of the gun that first hits it, whether that shot prove fatal or not. As
will be seen presently, I succeeded in killing the third of the five,
but it was my husband's tiger and not mine, as my first shot missed it.
I did _not_ kill the first and second of the five, but they were my
tigers because I was the first to hit them. In the case of the fourth
tiger I was the first to hit, and with a second shot I killed it; but
the tiger was mine by virtue of the first shot, not the second. This is
a not unfair rule, because the first shot often proves fatal, even
though for a time the tiger manages to get away, and if some rule of
the kind were not in existence, and the tiger were supposed to belong
to the gun that appeared to administer the _coup de grâce_, there would
be a great deal of indiscriminate firing, which would result, to say
the least of it, in the skin being hopelessly ruined.

But to come to my story. In January 1887, my husband, Colonel Martelli,
who was at the time Political Agent and Superintendent of the Estates
of Rewa, Central India (the Maharajah being a minor), was making his
annual tour, and we were in camp at Govindghar, about fourteen miles
from the capital. There were with us my sister, the agency surgeon and
the usual tribe of camp followers.

After we had been in camp about a week, a shikari brought us news that
there was unquestionably a tiger not many miles away. To discover more
exactly where he was, buffaloes were tied as bait to trees in four or
five places, at a radius of three or four miles from the camp, and we
waited in much excitement for further intelligence. As apparel of a
very noticeable or attractive character is obviously unsuited to a
tiger-hunt, I gave my native tailor overnight some plain cotton
material, and he presented it to me in the morning, dyed green and made
up into a serviceable dress. He had also covered my Terai sun-hat with
the same material. Early in the morning word came into camp that we
were to be on the alert, and, about ten a.m., news reached us that the
tiger had been seen.

We started off immediately, my husband and I on one elephant, and the
doctor and my sister on another. Seated behind us in the howdah was a
shikari, carrying our guns. _My_ weapon was a 450 double express rifle,
by Alex. Henry.

We had had Chota Hazrie, so took a lunch-breakfast with us. Passing on
our way what we thought would be a charming spot for our _déjeuner_, we
left our servant Francis there with our hamper. Imagine our disgust
when, upon reaching this spot, hungry and expectant, on our return, we
found that Francis had disappeared, and with him all traces of the
hoped-for meal. It turned out afterwards that some bears had come
unexpectedly upon the scene, and Francis had, not altogether
unnaturally, sought refuge in flight.

Ignorant of the fate of our breakfast, however, we pushed on, and about
two miles from camp met the head shikari--Mothi Singh by name. Acting
under his instructions we dismounted and followed him through the
jungle. We pushed along what professed to be a path, but of which all I
can say in its favour is that it was slightly better than the jungle of
grass and underwood through which it passed, more than once indeed
boughs and branches had to be cut down to make it possible for my
sister and myself to get along.

We at length reached a rock, fifteen or twenty feet in height, on the
summit of which Mothi Singh placed us, and past which the tiger would
be driven. I was to have first shot. The beaters, three hundred or four
hundred in number, now began their work, shouting, beating drums and
tom-toms, blowing bugles, firing blank cartridges, and steadily
pressing forward in our direction. We, of course, maintained the most
profound silence, and watched with the deepest interest for the
appearance of the tiger. As we waited, all sorts of creatures, scared
by the beaters, passed us--pig and deer, pea-fowl and jungle fowl, the
majestic sambhur, and the pretty nilghai, not to mention foxes and
jackals, went by within shot, but for to-day, at anyrate, they were
safe. At last came the tiger. He advanced like an enormous cat, now
crouching upon the ground, now crawling forward, now turning round to
try and discover the meaning of the unwonted noise behind him. When he
was about eighty yards from us I fired and hit him on the shoulder;
then the others fired, and the tiger bolted. At this moment Hera Sahib,
the commander-in-chief of the Rewa army, and who had been directing
"the beat," came up on an elephant, and, as he had brought with him a
spare elephant, my husband mounted the latter, and they went off
together in search of the tiger, leaving us upon the rock.

Two hours later they came upon the wounded tiger hiding in the jungle.
The moment he saw that he was discovered, he charged Hera Sahib's
elephant, and the latter, being a young animal, bolted. The tiger then
turned and charged the elephant my husband was riding, which stood his
ground. The tiger, charged underneath the elephant, but fortunately my
husband got a snap-shot at him and rolled him over. He crept into the
jungle again, however, but was now past serious resistance, and
although he made a brave attempt to reach his enemies, he was easily
despatched. He measured over nine feet in length.

My husband's tour over, we returned to our head-quarters at Rewa, and a
very few days later, in the dusk of the evening, news came that another
tiger had been seen in the same neighbourhood as that in which we shot
the first. My husband and I started off at three the next morning in a
dog-cart; our horse was only half broken in, and I was driving. About
eleven and a half miles from Govindghar our steed deposited us in a
ditch, and we were compelled to walk the rest of the way there. At
Govindghar elephants were in waiting for us, and we made our way in
much the same fashion as on the previous occasion to the rock of which
I have already told. The beat, too, was precisely similar to the former
one. Presently the tiger appeared. I was so struck by his magnificent
appearance, that, although I was to have first shot, I waited so long
that eventually my husband and I fired together. The tiger facing us, I
fired again, and then, in his rage, he charged straight at the rock on
which we were standing. As he came on I fired a third time, and hit him
between the shoulders. He disappeared somewhere at the base of the
rock, and, although he was out of sight, we could hear him growling
with pain. We did not dare, of course, to come down from our rock, as
we had no idea where he was, or to what extent he was crippled, but,
after waiting about half-an-hour, Hera Sahib came up on an elephant and
killed him. It turned out that the tiger had crept under another rock
at the base of that on which we were standing, and was too badly
wounded to come out and face his foes. This tiger was a much handsomer,
and a larger one than the first.

Not long after the above, my husband was appointed Political Agent,
Eastern States, Rajputana, which consists of Bhurtpore, Dholepore, and
Karowlie. Each state has its own Rajah. I did no more tiger-shooting
until the early part of the year 1891.

In February then we went to Karowlie, and on our arrival there we were
met by the Maharajah, who at once informed us that news had just
arrived that a tiger was in the neighbourhood, and courteously asked us
to accompany him in pursuit of it. We gladly accepted this invitation,
and were told to hold ourselves in readiness, as a gun would be fired
from the palace as soon as definite information arrived, and it would
then be necessary to start at once.

The gun was fired at about noon and off we went, the Maharajah and his
retinue, and our two selves. We were conducted through very thick
jungle to the Maharajah's shooting-box, about nine miles distant. We
were able to ride only a portion of the way, part of the remainder I
was carried in a "Tonjon" (sedan chair), and for the rest of the
journey I had to walk and struggle through the dense jungle as best I
could. The shooting-box we found to consist of a small stone tower,
built on the edge of a ravine. We were posted upon the top of the
tower, and the tiger was to be driven up the ravine and within shot of
our rifles.

The Maharajah is a very keen sportsman and a capital shot, but with
great politeness he insisted upon my firing first. Alas, when the
moment arrived--and the tiger--the jungle was so thick that I could
hardly see the animal, and, I regret to say, I missed him altogether.
My husband fired and wounded the tiger severely; I then fired again and
killed him.

News was brought to us not to leave our post as there was another tiger
in the jungle. The Maharajah had been much put out at my missing my
first shot and so losing the tiger, but insisted courteously on my
having an opportunity of retrieving my disaster; of course I was only
too glad to avail myself of his kindness.

A few minutes later the second tiger appeared, and, getting a better
view of him than of his predecessor, I succeeded in hitting him in the
chest. The Maharajah then fired and put a second bullet into him; I
fired and gave him his _coup de grâce_.

Within a week news was brought to Karowlie that another tiger had made
his appearance, this time about ten miles away, and in quite another
direction. The whole country in this neighbourhood was cut up by
ravines, and when we arrived at the place indicated to us, we found
that there was no rock which we could turn into a citadel, no handy
tree from whose branches we might fire upon the foe, and of course no
shooting-box; and, as in addition, it was quite impossible to bring the
elephants along, we had to take our stand on foot and hope for the
best. Should the wounded tiger charge us, we should have to make sure
of stopping him before he could reach us. With us, on this occasion,
were three young officers, who had never been present at a tiger-hunt,
and who probably had never seen a tiger out of the Zoological Gardens.
Accordingly, they were allowed to draw for choice of places and for
first shot. They naturally selected the coign of vantage, and between
them slew the tiger. I did not even see him till he was dead. They went
off immediately, in a great state of elation; but the Maharajah told me
that there was a panther in the jungle. Presently the animal came in
sight with a tremendous rush, and I fired, wounding him severely; but
although we traced him for some miles we saw no more of him and he got

This is all I have to tell. If, from the description I have given,
anyone should be inclined to say that the tiger does not appear to have
much chance of escape, the answer is that it is not intended that he
should have any. Tigers are shot in India, not as game is in England
for hunting, to give amusement to men, horses and dogs, not as in
pheasant or partridge shooting, with a remote reference to the demands
of the table, but to save the lives of the natives and their cattle. If
you don't kill the tiger he will kill you. But although the odds are on
the shikari and against the tiger, whether you fire from the back of an
elephant, from the top of a rock, or in the branch of a tree, there is
always room, unfortunately, for a misadventure, and consequently
tiger-shooting will always be a useful school for endurance, judgment
and self-reliance.




At the Bisley Meeting of 1891, I took part in some of the competitions
open to all comers. The measure of success which I achieved has gained
a publicity for which I was scarcely prepared, and has brought around
me a group of correspondents who have plied me with questions as to my
experience in rifle-shooting, and the rise and progress of my devotion
to an accomplishment so unusual for ladies, and even deemed by many to
be somewhat out of their reach.

I purpose, therefore, to put a few notes together, in which I shall
endeavour to answer some of the questions proposed to me, and to relate
such passages of my experience as may serve to encourage those of my
own sex who may have some ambition in this direction.

It was a little more than four years ago when I first handled a
Martini-Henry rifle. I was looking on at the shooting one afternoon at
the Guernsey "Wimbledon," and wondered if it was a very difficult thing
to hit the target, which appeared to me to be such a mere speck when
seen from so great a distance. I had, some time before this, fired a
few shots with a fowling-piece at an impromptu target, but
rifle-shooting looked to me far more real and interesting. At length I
succeeded in persuading my father to allow me to try my hand at a shot
with a rifle.

I remember that there was some discussion, at that time, about the
recoil, but as I was so very ignorant of the management and powers of
the rifle, I did not give this really serious question the necessary
attention. I believe that had I heard, at this early stage, as much
about recoil as I have since, I should probably have been afraid to
shoot with a Martini.

A certain militia man, who is now one of our best shots, related to me
a curious incident which happened to him when he first fired with a
service rifle. He was shooting in the prone position; and, after
pulling the trigger, he heard a great noise, and immediately there was
a good deal of smoke about; but the rifle had disappeared. On looking
round, however, he saw his rifle behind him! He had been resting the
under part of the butt lightly on his shoulders, and holding the rifle
loosely; thus the force of the recoil had actually driven it past him
over his shoulder.

I have heard of many other cases of the recoil becoming dangerous; but
I believe it is from fear of being "kicked" that recruits fail to hold
their rifles properly while pulling the trigger.

In my own case, certainly, "ignorance was bliss"; for, in firing my
first shot, I was enabled to give my whole attention to keeping the
rifle steady, and placing it firmly against my shoulder for that
purpose alone undisturbed by any fear of recoil. And I believe that
this absence of fear is the chief reason why I have been able to use a
Martini-Henry rifle without suffering from the recoil.

Thinking from the experience of my first shot that shooting was easy, I
was anxious to go on with it. Many experienced shots volunteered
information which was very helpful; but I soon discovered that I was
wrong in thinking that rifle-shooting was merely a matter of seeing the
bull's eye over the sights. The first difficulty was that of keeping
the rifle steady. I had to learn exactly how to hold it and for this I
had to study _position_.

I had fired my first shot in the kneeling position. I did not then know
of any other, except the standing and lying down. The former I could
not manage, as the rifle was too heavy to hold up without any support
for the arms; and the lying down position seemed to me, then, to
require a great deal of practice. This conjecture has been well
justified by my subsequent experience. I have never since fired from
the kneeling position, as a much better one was recommended to me,
namely, the sitting position. In this way I can have a rest for both
arms, which is an advantage over the other method in which it is only
possible to rest one.

Having chosen a position, I found that it needed a great deal of
studying. It was then that I discovered another great difficulty,
_i.e._, that of pulling the trigger without disturbing the aim. I
received some advice on this subject which at first sounded rather
curious. I was told to squeeze the trigger "like I would a lemon" and
to let it go off without my knowing. This accomplishment requires a
great deal of practice, but is well worth the trouble of learning; for
I am confident that it is the great secret of good shooting.

During my first few months of shooting, I only used to think of taking
a correct aim at the bull's eye, and trying to keep still while pulling
the trigger. I was so absorbed in this effort, that it did not occur to
me for some time that there was much more than this dexterity to be
gained in order to be sure of making a good score. There remained the
great question of finding the bull's eye.

This, of course, involves the scientific part of rifle-shooting; and
although, at first, I was alarmed at the difficulty of the subject, I
soon saw that the shooting would become tame and monotonous without it.

The range where I was in the habit of practising (and still do
practise) is near the sea. The targets have the sea for a background,
and, as is often the case near the sea, we have a great deal of wind.
It was quite easy to understand that the wind would affect the course
of the bullet; but it did not turn out to be so easy as it appeared, to
calculate in feet and inches how much allowance should be made for this
source of disturbance. Fortunately "young shots" are not expected to be
able to find out this for themselves by the long and painful discipline
of repeated failure; and it is always easy for them to obtain advice
from persons on the range who have had more experience than themselves.
I was very fortunate in that way myself, and feel very grateful for the
good instruction I have received from several "crack-shots."

There are two things to be considered--the elevation and windage.

The elevation does not vary so much as the windage. Having once found
the normal elevation of a given rifle for the different ranges, it will
not afterwards need very great alterations. But the different effects
of wind, light, and atmosphere upon it are interesting, and require
careful attention.

If the wind is blowing straight down the range from the targets, it
will naturally increase the resistance for the bullet. Also, by
retarding its speed the trajectory will be lowered, thus causing the
shot to strike below the spot aimed at. To counteract this the aim must
be taken higher, but the rifle is so constructed that by raising the
slide of the backsight a little, aim may be taken at the original spot.

When the wind is blowing towards the targets, from the firing point, it
has little or no effect upon the bullet, as the speed of the latter is
so much greater than that of the wind. A side wind will slightly alter
the elevation of the bullet, in a ratio to its strength.

Most good shots agree that it is safer always to take up the same
amount of foresight into the alignment; as by taking a large foresight
at one time and a small one at another, one is apt to get confused,
especially when other matters have to be considered at the same time.
But it must also be remembered that the different degrees of the
light's intensity have a marked effect upon the appearance of the
foresight, and must be allowed for. If the light is very dull, the
foresight will not be very distinctly seen; and, unconsciously, more of
it will be brought up. This has the effect of bringing up the muzzle
end of the rifle, and of giving the bullet a higher trajectory, thus
causing the shot to strike high. But, on the other hand, if the light
is bright the foresight is easily seen, and less of it is unconsciously
taken up, so causing the shot to drop. These differences in the
appearance of the foresight are corrected by raising the backsight in a
bright light, and lowering it when dull.

Mirage and refraction are very troublesome matters to deal with, for
the bull's eye appears to be where in reality it is not. And it is
almost impossible to ascertain the allowances which should be made for
this source of error without the advantage of a trial shot.

The condition of the atmosphere as to temperature and humidity has much
to do with the fouling inside the rifle. In hot, dry weather it is apt
to get hard and dry. After a few shots have been fired, it cakes and
fills up the grooving of the rifle. Consequently the amount of the spin
of the bullet is affected, often causing the shots to drop, and
spoiling all chance of accurate shooting. This can be avoided by
blowing down the rifle after each shot, when the moisture of the breath
will greatly improve the condition of the encrusted barrel. Many rifle
shots have indiarubber tubes for this purpose, and blow down the barrel
through them from the breech end. Some competitors even take more
trouble; for, after each shot, they shut the breech, and get up from
their position in order to blow down from the muzzle end. This method
involves more exertion, but it is evident that any moisture blown down
with one end stopped, and thus permitted to accumulate, must of
necessity be more effective in cleansing the barrel.

In warm, damp weather, the fouling becomes moist and greasy, letting
the bullet slip through easily. These differences in elevation caused
through fouling can also be allowed for by altering the elevation on
the rifle between the shots.

An ingenious little instrument called the Vernier is used for measuring
the elevation, When it is considered, that, at 600 yards distance from
the targets, the difference of 1/150th of an inch on the backsight will
be equal to half a foot on the target, it will evidently be of the
greatest importance to be able to adjust the sights accordingly. For
this purpose Verniers are made so delicate as to move the backsight
through such a small space as the 1/150th of an inch at a time. By this
means of adjustment, should a shot strike straight above the bull's
eye, you have only to notice the exact amount of the error in inches,
and then the elevation can be lowered 1/150th of an inch, or a "degree"
as it is called for every six inches the shot is above the mark;
provided always that the other conditions are the same as before.

Theoretically, wind is far more easy to deal with than elevation; for,
if the wind blows across the targets from the left, it would naturally
drive the bullet to the right. Therefore, by aiming in the direction
the wind is blowing from, proper allowance can be made. The difficulty
lies in the practical part, _i.e._, of judging exactly how far the
bullet will be driven from its true course. Practice is the only
possible teacher in this matter; and it is wonderful to see how some
experienced shots will estimate the strength of the wind, acting only
on their own judgment, and succeed in hitting the bull's eye at first
shot, and especially when we learn that at 600 yards as much as fifteen
feet of windage is sometimes required. But at times there seems to be a
certain amount of chance attached to the "finding of the bull's eye." I
have heard of a competitor who had fired several shots and could not
find the bull's eye. He was firing in a competition called "Cartons,"
in which the most central hit takes the highest prize. After several
unsuccessful shots, he wished to alter some part of his rifle and for
this purpose turned it upside down. In doing so he accidently pulled
the trigger. This turned out to be a singular instance of good luck,
for the shot not only was fired without harming anyone, but actually
hit the very centre of the target! This undesigned shot proved to be
the best Carton of the meeting, bringing the competitor a prize of
several pounds. I have often heard it said on the range that "there is
no luck in shooting except bad luck;" and it certainly is very
disappointing to lose several points in a competition before you
succeed in finding the bull's eye; but it is still more disappointing,
when, having found it, the wind keeps changing its force or direction,
and so increasing your perplexity. The only consolation in this
disagreeable experience is, that a great deal more is learnt from one
bad score under these circumstances, than from many good ones made with
a steady wind.

All my remarks have referred to target-shooting only, in those cases
where competitors are not hurried, but can take their own time to paint
their sights and adjust them with "machines," carefully marking the
allowance for windage on their sights, so that they may aim at the
bull's eye every time, and have no more to think of but holding the
rifle steady. I use all these helps myself, finding them a great
advantage; and I believe that studying all these minute but necessary
particulars is a good training for those who may have to use their
rifles for more serious purposes than competing for prizes at rifle
meetings. For, although in practical shooting they will be obliged to
use the rifle just as it is served out, they will prove themselves to
be experienced shots, and know how to handle their weapons with that
skill which is always the result of careful training and practice.




Deer-stalking is like marriage, it should not be "enterprised nor taken
in hand unadvisedly or lightly," nor should it be undertaken by those
who are weak and delicate, for it entails many hardships and much
exposure to wet and cold.

Imagine the state of a thorough-bred racehorse, if it were kept
standing for hours in a snowstorm, with no clothing on, directly after
it had run a race. Yet, a like sudden change from violent exercise
taken in great heat, to hours of immovability in the most bitter cold,
is of constant occurrence when stalking deer in the late autumn, in the
Highlands of Scotland. For instance, the stalker may have to toil with
wearied feet up a steep hill, under the burning rays of an October sun,
when, suddenly and unexpectedly, some deer will come in sight, hurrying
over the ridge in front of him to seek for shelter from an impending
storm. Retreat is impossible, there is no time even to choose a
hiding-place; the stalker must throw himself face downwards, most
likely in the middle of a bog, and remain there without moving hand or
foot as long as the storm lasts and the deer remain in sight. In the
meantime the sun has vanished, and the day has changed from broiling
heat to piercing cold; and, while the wind gets up and the hail beats
pitilessly on his prostrate form, the stalker must be ready, with
numbed and aching finger to pull the trigger of his rifle, the moment
the darkness has lifted sufficiently, for him to make out which are the
largest and most shootable deer.

It will be seen from this that deer-stalking is not all pleasurable
excitement, and that those who go after deer must be prepared to endure
a certain amount of physical discomfort. Pipes cannot be smoked, nor
can whisky be imbibed within sight and within shot of deer; neither can
sandwiches be munched, nor may you even take a drink at a burn. The
soul of the sportsman must soar above hunger and thirst--such luxuries
as two o'clock lunch and five o'clock tea are not for him--even the
simple use of a pocket-handkerchief is denied him under certain

The paraphernalia needed by the stalker is very limited in extent. It
consists of a rifle, a dozen cartridges, a telescope, and a long knife.
Stout, easy-fitting nailed boots are _de rigueur_ for walking; also
thick stockings--not necessarily rough or irritating to the skin--and
neutral-coloured clothes, light in weight. Nothing else is essential. I
have given elsewhere a detailed description of the dress I myself found
most suitable for the hills, so I will only repeat here that it should
be of either drab or grey cloth--water-proof, but not air-proof--with a
dash of pink, green, or orange in it according to the prevailing colour
of the ground over which you have to stalk. A long grey macintosh of
the best quality can be carried in the forester's pocket and put on
during heavy storms. This should have a separate hood, which may be
used either to sit on, or as a protection to the head and neck from
rain and wind.

The fewer people the stalker has to accompany him the more likely he is
to get sport. One man to carry the rifle, or stalk for him, is
sufficient. It is quite unnecessary to have a second forester with
dogs, as they only disturb the deer and are seldom required.

Foresters, whether from an imperfect knowledge of English or from
"thinking the more," are usually a silent and uncommunicative race. The
sort of way an ignorant--or supposed to be ignorant--sportsman is
treated when sent out with an experienced stalker for the first time,
is much after this fashion.

The forester shoulders the rifle and goes up the side of a hill with
quick, elastic step, and you follow with aching muscles and panting
breath. At last there is a halt, and he takes out his glass and looks
carefully over the ground, first searching the places where deer are
usually to be discovered, then scanning the rest of the vast expanse of
hill and valley spread out before him. You, also, take out your glass
and strain your unaccustomed eye in looking for deer. After a time you
find some, and wonder if by chance they have escaped the keen eye of
the forester, for he has shut his telescope, and is silently descending
the hill again.

"Sandy!" you call out.

"Surr--mem?" correcting himself as he remembers your sex.

"Did you see those deer?"

"Hwhich deer was it?"

"There are some deer feeding on that green patch, didn't you see them?"


"But wouldn't they do to go after?"

"They're no verra bug, but I'm thunkin' one of them micht do," and
Sandy moves on again.

"But, Sandy!"


"Why can't we go after the one that _might do_?"

"We'll require to go round a bittee and come doon on them."

To "go round a bittee" you find to your cost means to go right back to
the bottom of the hill whence you came, to tramp miles round the base
of the mountain, and finally to climb up over the top so as to come
down on the deer. On the way you come across some small staggies which
decline to move, being quite well aware that they are not worth
shooting. Fearing they will spoil all your sport by moving the other
deer, Sandy lies still and taps two stones together to frighten them a
little, but they still refuse to go away and only stare stupidly at

"Ye'll jist wave yer hwhite mop," whispers Sandy.

You wonder what he means, as you do not generally carry _mops_ about
the hills. Then Sandy, seeing your bewilderment, makes a gesture with
his hands over his face in the most solemn manner, and you are reminded
of the children's game:--

    "I wipe my face with a very good grace,
    Without either laughing or smiling."

and produce your white pocket-handkerchief--which certainly, there is
no denying, _has_ been used as a mop pretty often on the way up--and
waving it at the deer, have the satisfaction of seeing them trot away
in a direction where they will do no harm.

After that Sandy says nothing more, but goes trudging on ahead till he
stops to take the rifle out of its case and load it. Then he begins to
crawl very slowly and cautiously, taking care not to scrape the
heather, or knock the stones, and you do exactly the same till you join
him behind a big boulder; when he puts the rifle in your hand, saying
in a whisper,--

"Noo then, ye'll tak yon beast that's feeding to the west."

And you look up excitedly, not knowing in the very least the
whereabouts of the deer; but while you are trying to make out which is
the "beast that is feeding to the west," a greater beast that is
feeding to the east, in the shape of a hind, has already made you out,
and the whole herd of deer have galloped away without giving you the
chance of a shot. You turn and look blankly at Sandy, and Sandy looks
disgustedly at you, and behind your back he exclaims, that you "jist
mak' him seeck."

Little of the science of deer-stalking can be learnt from following
blindly behind a silent forester; though no doubt a novice would get
more deer and disturb less ground by putting himself entirely into the
hands of a first-rate stalker than by attempting to go his own way, and
acquiring experience at the expense of repeated failure.

The two great difficulties with which the amateur has to contend are,
the wrong impression given by the appearance of ground when seen from a
distance, and the imperfect knowledge of the direction from which the
wind will blow when he gets within reach of deer. The other
difficulties, such as keeping out of sight of the deer he wishes to
shoot, and avoiding other deer or sheep, can be overcome, with
practice, by any intelligent person; but to know the direction in which
certain winds will blow in certain places, is a constant puzzle even to
the oldest and most experienced sportsman.

If a valley lies east and west, and the wind blows east or west, you
can generally count on being able to stalk _up_-wind. But should the
wind be _north_ in a valley lying east and west, it will constantly
blow _south_ on the southern side of a northern mountain, or it _might_
blow east or west. There is only one manner of ascertaining the
direction of a light and doubtful breeze, and that is by continually
plucking little bits of the fluff off your homespun coat, and allowing
them to float about in the air.

Deer are far more frightened at getting the wind of a human being than
they are at seeing him; consequently they will gallop away faster, and
run to a much greater distance after scenting a person than they will
after seeing him. They are also far more frightened at sight of a man
walking upright at a considerable distance, than at seeing one crouched
up and immovable quite near them--though in the latter case he may be
so close that his face, hands, and even the rifle are discernible.

When a seal is doubtful about anything floating on the water, it will
take a long circuit round, and keep out of shot until it has got to
windward of the suspicious object. Once to windward all doubt is at an
end, and, if the object should prove to be an enemy, the seal will
immediately disappear under water. But, fortunately for sportsman, deer
are not clever enough to adopt this plan, or we should find stalking
even more difficult than it is now. For if deer catch sight of a
suspicious-looking object, the hinds generally come a step or two
nearer to it, instead of going round to get the wind, and when they
have quite decided that it looks like something uncanny, they will go
off with a bark, occasionally stopping to look back. In the meantime
the stags will be preparing to rise, so you must be ready to seize your
chance of a broadside shot--for a stag lying with face towards you,
will generally, on rising, turn his body broadside before bolting away.
Should the deer, however, get a puff of your wind, it is of no use to
wait; you must either take a snap-shot at their retreating heels, or
refrain from firing at all, and trust to getting another stalk when
they have settled down again later in the day.

You can never, under any circumstances, take a liberty with the wind;
but, on wet and stormy days, it is extraordinary how you may crawl
about in full view of deer without frightening them, so long as they do
not happen to be looking at you while you are actually moving. To begin
with, the wet deadens any sound you may make in crawling; ferns do not
crackle, nor does the grass rustle, and, as there is no light and
shade, objects are less distinctly seen. But a sky line must always be
avoided when possible, or, if not, it should be crossed with the utmost
care by keeping flat and moving slowly; as deer are quick to note any
strange excrescence on the edge of a hill.

There are only two really important things to avoid when out stalking.
One is the unnecessary disturbance of deer by firing shots late at
night, or by careless stalking--both of which will send them off the
ground you are on, and over to that of your neighbour--and the other is
shooting at deer when the chances are more in favour of wounding them
than of killing them outright.

Sport is sometimes cruel--_though never so cruel as nature_, as any
observer can bear witness--but that is no reason why sportsmen should
be careless about giving unnecessary pain.

There are so many different sorts of rifles turned out by the various
gunmakers, that it would be difficult to say which kind is the best. I
have not had a large experience, but, having tried a single-barrelled
Henry--with which I regularly missed--a double-barrelled Lankaster, and
a Purdey, besides the various kinds of small rifles made by Rigby,
Adams, and Holland, I do not hesitate to say that the best shots I ever
made were at running deer with an old-fashioned _muzzle-loader_, with
solid conical bullets!

One of the great charms of deer-stalking, besides the delightful
feeling of being out all day long in the fresh air surrounded by the
most beautiful scenery, is, that there is so much variety in it, as no
two stalks are ever in the least alike. One might go season after
season over the same ground, but it would be impossible to shoot two
deer under precisely similar conditions.

A beginner can scarcely understand the fascination which deer-stalking
exercises over a more practised sportsman. When a novice is taken out,
the stalker is naturally anxious to give him every chance, and, at the
same time, is not over-particular about the size of the deer--which may
possibly be missed; so he generally manages to bring him up to within
easy distance of a single stag, standing broadside. The novice knows
nothing of the intricacies of the stalk, or of the difficulties which
have been overcome. He has, perhaps, been taken up one deep burn, and
brought down another on the same hillside, possibly without having had
any climbing, crawling, or wading to do; after which he is told to look
between some tufts of heather over the edge of a bank, when he will see
the stag feeding just below. He then raises up the loaded rifle, and,
feeling rather as though he were going to shoot at a red cow, calmly
takes a deliberate aim, with his elbows resting on the bank, and hits
the beast right through the heart. The whole business has appeared so
easy that he cannot understand the excitement of the stalker over it;
and he feels rather ashamed than otherwise of the fuss that is made
about him on his return home. But, the next time he goes out, he may
have to shoot immediately after a stiff climb uphill; the deer is
further off than he thinks, and is very much the same colour as the
ground; he is out of breath, and more careless about his aim, and the
consequence is that he misses it clean, and fires the second barrel
with no better result. After this, the novice begins to see that it is
not altogether so tame and easy a business as it appeared at first;
and, when next he gets a chance at a stag, his heart will commence to
beat, he will feel nervous about his aim, his knees will tremble and
his hand shake, and he will at last feel that there is some excitement
about deer-stalking after all.

Deer-driving is by no means such good sport as deer-stalking. When deer
are driven, if they go the way that is intended--which depends chiefly
on the weather and not at all on the skill of the sportsmen--all that
is necessary to obtain a large number of stags is to keep a cool head,
and to take a steady aim. But these qualifications are usually just
those which are conspicuous by their absence at the generality of deer
drives; consequently, the number of shots that are fired at deer--all
within easy distance--in proportion to the number of deer slain or
wounded, is quite remarkable.

I have often wondered how soldiers behave on a field of battle, where
there is danger to life and limb, added to the noise, smoke, bustle and
excitement. _Do they ever hit a man at all except by accident?_ And is
it likely that the time, ammunition and money annually wasted on firing
at a mark will teach men not to lose their heads on a field of battle,
with the enemy advancing towards them, when they cannot even keep cool
at a deer drive, where there is absolute silence and stillness, and the
deer are often too frightened and bewildered to do more than stand
still to be shot at!

It would be very interesting to keep a record of the number of drives
which come off properly, compared with those which are failures; and of
the number of shots fired at each drive, in proportion to every deer
killed. I also fancy it would improve the sport in a forest far more if
a record were kept of all the misses which were made out stalking, than
if a high average of weights were insisted on, as this can only be
accomplished by sparing the old deer, which, being past their prime and
deteriorating every season, should certainly be killed at the expense
of the average.

Deer-driving, more than any other kind of sport, depends on weather.
When out stalking one generally succeeds in getting more deer on a
stormy than on a fine day, but with driving it is just the reverse. The
day cannot be too fine, as the mist and rain, which so constantly
accumulate about high mountains, are the chief reasons why drives are
such frequent failures.

The way a drive is arranged is as follows. Every available stalker,
forester and gillie is sent out before daylight to make an immense
circle round the corries and mountains from which the deer are to be
driven. Unfortunately the mist usually comes low down in the night, and
the men cannot possibly tell, when they make their early start, whether
it will lift or not.

Deer have certain passes which they use when going from one corrie to
another, and, if they are disturbed, they make for one of these passes
_up_-wind. But when everything has been settled, the guns are placed in
a pass which is _down_-wind to the deer, and out of sight of the
corrie, into which they are being collected by the beaters.

It is a very difficult matter to force deer to go down-wind, as it is
against all their instincts to do so, and, if they have had much
experience, they will be perfectly aware that men with rifles are
awaiting them on the ridge, and, instead of going forward over the
pass, they will break back at the last minute and rush through the
beaters--who can only pelt them with sticks and stones--rather than
face the known danger of the guns in front of them.

In a deer drive it is necessary for the day to be clear, in order that
the beaters may see each other as well as the deer. It is equally
important that the deer should see the beaters, as these latter are
placed as stops to prevent them going to the passes up-wind where there
are no guns. If the deer are quite determined not to go down-wind over
a pass, nothing that the beaters can do to force them will make any
difference, and the drive is consequently spoilt. If the wind changes,
or does not blow fair, the guns know at once that their chance of sport
is over, for deer would rather face an army which they can see, than a
puff of wind from an unknown foe.

Shooting at driven deer is much less fatiguing than stalking. The drive
is fixed to come off at a certain hour, and the sportsmen ride ponies
or walk to their posts, each carrying his own rifles--as the foresters
are all employed in beating. The ponies are then left in charge of some
boys, and each man is allotted a post in which he can make himself
comfortable, put on his cloak and eat his lunch; pipes also are not
forbidden for a while. But, after a bit, he must, on no account, move
or leave his place, even if there is snow on the ground and he is
perished with cold, for it is very possible that a few deer, not
belonging to the drive, might be feeding just below the ridge of the
hill, and, seeing other deer disturbed and coming towards them, they
would probably feed quietly over the pass close to all the guns. If
they were to see anyone move, they would at once bolt back whence they
came, and every deer in sight would know that they were fleeing from
danger, and would refuse to come up the pass. But if they were allowed
to move quietly on till all the guns were passed, they would soon
disappear, and their fresh tracks would be of use in keeping the deer
which followed from being suspicious of any lurking danger.

The first deer to appear over a pass are usually a hind and calf; and
hearts begin to beat furiously as, after many hours of waiting, they
walk slowly past the line of guns, pricking their long ears forward and
staring right and left suspiciously. Suddenly the hind gives a
start--she has come across a footprint; she sniffs at it, quickens her
pace, and trots away with her little calf beside her. All at once she
gets a puff of the wind and away she goes--bark, bark, bark--but as
there are no other deer in sight she can do no harm. Then some more
hinds come on, followed by a few small staggies, and the excitement
among the guns becomes intense as they know now that the drive has
begun. As the first deer get the wind and begin to gallop, a grand
Royal appears. He passes most of the rifles scathless--for there is no
greater crime than to fire at one of the first few deer and so turn all
the others back--but the last gun, seeing that there are now plenty of
good stags over the brae, lets fly at him and may bowl him over (this
is purely imaginary, for my experience is that he _does not_ bowl
him over), then crack, crack, go the other rifles as barrel after
barrel is fired--two or three rifles to each man, and two barrels to
each rifle--and the fat and heavy deer come panting by, bewildered by
the incessant firing and the whizz of the bullets about their ears,
driven forward by the shouts of the beaters behind, who are pressing
them on to their death, and terrified when some magnificent beast makes
a plunge forward on receiving its death-wound, and tears up the soft
ground with its hoofs as it rolls over and over, its thick horns
crashing against the rocks. Then the last and heaviest of the deer come
rushing down the pass followed by the beaters, capless and perspiring.
The ground is strewn with dead and dying, the sportsmen leave their
posts and each claims his deer (many more claims being made for the
large than for the small ones); the dogs are let loose after the
wounded, and thus the most successful drive of the season comes to an

The ponies which have conveyed the sportsmen up the mountain now come
in useful to carry home the dead beasts; and, in the evening, after
dinner, the ladies, in their dainty dresses and flashing diamonds, come
out across the yard to inspect the trophies of the chase which are laid
out on the ground in front of the larder; while the weird and fantastic
scene is lighted up by blazing torches held aloft by kilted Highlanders.




    "The reason firm, the temperate will,
    Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill."

    "A mingled yarn--good and ill together."

A few years ago a "shooting-lady" was almost as much a _rara avis_
as the Great Auk; if here and there one member of the sex, more
venturesome than her fellows, were bold enough to take to the gun in
preference to the knitting needle, she was looked upon as most
eccentric and fast, and underwent much adverse criticism. Now, however,
_nous avons changé tout cela_. Ladies who shoot, and who shoot well,
too, are springing up on all sides, and the clamour raised by their
appearance is gradually subsiding. There are still dissentient voices
here and there, it is true, voices which proclaim aloud that women have
no place in the covert and among the turnips, and that the cruelty of
the sport should be an insuperable objection to their joining in it. A
discussion of all these pros and cons is, however, outside the scope of
these notes, we have simply to deal with facts as they stand, and,
undoubtedly, the "shooting-lady" is now as much an established fact as
is her sister the "hunting-woman."

That a woman who is fond of sport need lose nothing in grace, charm, or
refinement, we have ample evidence to show. She does not necessarily
become masculine either in manner or conversation; but she should,
nevertheless, endeavour to master the rudiments of whatever sport she
engages in; and it is with the hope of assisting some of my
fellow-sportswomen to accomplish this, that I here record some of my
experiences, not omitting my mistakes, and adding a few hints to
beginners; though I regret that I have no moving accidents by flood or
field, nor "hairbreadth 'scapes" to recount!

There is certainly a pleasant amount of excitement about shooting--not
perhaps equal to that afforded by "forty minutes without a check," but
quite enough to make one willing to brave the elements, even on a raw
November morning, and to stand with one's fingers aching with cold
behind a fence waiting for the advent of that little brown bird who
will flash past you like a meteor--alas! too frequently only to leave a
feather or two floating behind him, and then to continue his course

I well remember the first running rabbit I ever killed. I was armed
with an old-fashioned muzzle loader--we were walking round the
hedgerows in some pastures. The rabbit was sitting in a tussock about
thirty yards from the fence. I cautiously advanced in such a manner as
to get a crossing shot. The rabbit was put up, and I, taking a
_very_ deliberate aim, had the intense satisfaction of seeing him
double up just as he reached the fence! _What_ a moment! No 'Royal'
killed at 140 yards could have afforded more delight than did that
wretched little bunny.

Of course, previously to this, I had fired at a mark and at sitting
objects, in order to get into the way of handling the gun, aiming and
so forth.

It is of the _first_ and greatest importance on beginning to shoot to
learn to be careful, and the golden rule is, _always_ to handle a gun
as though it were loaded and cocked; the habit once acquired, it is
just as easy to carry a gun safely as not.

Coolness and confidence are equally necessary--but practice alone will
bring these. A beginner is apt to be flurried when the game gets up;
she sees nothing else, thinks of nothing else but killing it, and takes
no account of the beaters, guns, or dogs surrounding her. She points
the gun at the bird or beast, and perchance (horrid thought!) follows
it all round the compass with her finger on the trigger! Wherefore it
is better she should not take the field with other guns (unless she
wishes to make enemies of her best friends), until she has full command
over the gun and can put it up easily and quickly. If the game gets up
too near, she must wait till it has reached the proper distance, _then_
raise the gun to her shoulder and fire at once. This is the only way to
become a quick and steady shot.

_Apropos_ of following; once when grouse-driving I was placed in a butt
between two other guns, both of them strangers to me. They looked _very
much_ askance at me, and I fancy one of them thanked his stars he'd
insured his life the week before! The one in the left hand butt at once
moved both his "guards" on to the side of the butt next me. Soon three
birds, the forerunners of the army to follow, came over between my
right-hand neighbour and me, two of them making straight for his butt.
To my surprise he did not fire. The third bird I hit with my first
barrel, and seeing as it passed me that it had a leg down, I turned
round and killed it going away from me with the left barrel. After the
drive was over I asked him why he hadn't shot. "To tell you the truth,"
he said, "I was watching you. I was a little anxious to see if you
would _follow_ that bird, but after that, I saw you were _all right_!"
My left-hand warrior confessed, later on, that he had been peppered by
the gun on the other side of him! Whereat I chuckled!

As to the gun used, everybody must please themselves. I shoot with a
20-bore, the left barrel slightly choked, weight 5 lbs., and loaded
with 2-1/4 drachms black powder, 3/4 oz. No. 6 shot. For covert
shooting, E. C. or Schulze is better, it is quicker up to the game and
almost smokeless.

A 16-bore makes killing easier, but the extra weight, at the end of a
long day, counterbalances this advantage. I shot with a 28-bore
belonging to a friend one day last winter, and was perfectly astonished
at the way and the distance it killed, but you have to be _very_ dead
on to make good practice with so small a bore. A gun to fit you should
come up to the shoulder quite easily, and, without any adjusting, you
must bring the sight straight on to the object. If you see all down
the barrel, the stock is too straight, if, on the contrary, you see
nothing but the breech, it is too much bent and you will shoot under
everything. But I would advise the beginner to go to the "Worth" of
London gunmakers (Mr Purdey), put herself in his hands, and, like the
sartorial genius of Paris, he will turn her out fitted to perfection.
An indiarubber heel-plate is sometimes a wise precaution, to avoid a
bruised shoulder and arm, which if you happen to be going to a ball,
does not perhaps add to your beauty!

The left-hand should be held _well forward_. This gives much more power
over the gun, it also looks much better. With regard to the position of
the feet, it is well to recollect that elegance _is_ compatible with

It is a matter of some difficulty, at first, to judge distance
correctly. The novice generally begins by blowing her game to bits, to
make sure of killing it, I suppose, though in reality this makes it far
harder. The other extreme, firing very long shots, is equally
reprehensible, as nine times out of ten the game goes away wounded,
even when occasionally it is dropped by a fluke. Any distance between
twenty and forty yards is legitimate, though the latter is rather far
for a hare going away from you.

_Never_ hand the gun cocked to an attendant, and always unload when
getting over a fence, and on putting the gun down for luncheon.

Now for a few words on aiming; but I must here protest that this does
not profess to be a shooting "Bradshaw," but merely, as it were, an A B
C guide!

For a beginner, no doubt the easiest way, in the case of any ordinary
crossing shot, is to put up the gun on the object, then fling it
forward as far in front as is thought fit, and fire, but, after a time,
I think this kind of double action will no longer be found necessary.
The gun will be put up _at once_ in front of the game, the eye taking
in by instinct and practice the line of the object, and experience
telling how far in front of the game to hold the gun. This is certainly
true with regard to ground game. Quite high-class aiming is to put the
gun up a little before the head of the object, and swing the gun
forward with the bird, pulling the trigger _without stopping_ the gun.
This is beyond doubt the best and most correct method, but not easy to

I take it for granted that you shoot with both eyes open.

It is impossible to lay down a rule how far in front to hold the gun
for a crossing shot. It depends upon the pace the bird is going, and
its distance from you, but, roughly speaking, for an ordinary shot at
twenty-five yards, the object's own length in front _may_ be enough
(but I write this with some diffidence). For a driven bird or high
pheasant, my experience is, you can't get too far ahead! For a rabbit
or hare going away from you aim at the back of its head; coming towards
you, at its chest.

One of the greatest charms of shooting is its "infinite variety." Let
us take for example, to begin with, a day's covert shooting.

The waggonette with its pair of matched bays (of course we have the
best of everything--on paper) stands at the door. You pack yourselves
in, with a goodly amount of rugs and furs, and away you go, ten miles
an hour, through the park. There has been a sharp frost, the cobwebs
are all glistening in the sun, and the road rings under the horses'
feet in a manner ominous to the lover of the chase proper, but music in
the ears of the shooting-man. The leaves are mostly off the trees, but
here and there some few remaining ones shiver gently to the ground; the
bracken is brown and withered, and rustles crisply as the deer brush
through it, startled at the sight of the carriage. The wind is keen and
biting, but you turn up your fur collar and defy "rude Boreas."

Arrived at the starting point you take, on your way to the first cover,
two or three rough grasses. The rabbits having been previously ferreted
and otherwise harried, have forsaken their strongholds, and have, so to
speak, gone under canvas--they are dotted about all over the fields in
seats. (It is astonishing how easy it is, until the eye becomes
practised, to miss seeing a rabbit in a seat.) You form a line, a
beater or two between each gun across the pasture. Before you have gone
ten yards, a rabbit jumps up from underneath a beater's foot, and makes
tracks for the nearest hedgerow or plantation, only, however, to fall a
victim to the right-hand gun. The report alarms another, who, without
delay, seeks to follow in the steps of his predecessor, but a charge of
No. 5 interferes with his scheme, and he also succumbs to fate.

Soon the fun becomes "fast and furious," four or five rabbits are on
foot together, necessitating quick loading and steady shooting. Here
one breaks back through the line, and comes past you full tilt. You
take a rapid look round to see that no unlucky beater lurks in the rear
picking up the wounded--bang--ah! you didn't allow for the oblique line
of bunny's course, and were half a foot behind him. The second barrel,
however, stretches him a corpse on the field of battle.

At the end of the pasture runs a narrow strip of plantation. Here the
shooting is more difficult. The brambles are very thick; you have to
take snap-shots as the rabbits bounce from one thicket to another. You
must fire where you think he'll _be_ (not where he is), but even this
manoeuvre is not always successful, as that old man who has been acting
as stop at the end of the strip will tell you. "Nobbut eleven!" says
he, "there's bin fortty shots fired! Ah coonted 'em!" Conscience-striken,
you look at one another, and positively tremble before the scorn depicted
in that old man's eye.

Then comes a small outlying covert. Two guns placed back to back
command the end--the rest go with the beaters. A wood-pigeon is the
first to make a move, which it does with a tremendous bustle and fuss;
it affords a pretty shot, coming straight overhead, and falls with a
"plop" behind you. Next to take alarm is an old hare. She scampers
through the brushwood, staring _behind_ her, and makes for her usual
exit--a hole in the hedge, little knowing, poor thing, that she is
galloping straight into the jaws of death, for your neighbour's
unerring weapon promptly does its duty.

Then, maybe there arises a wild shout, a discordant "Tally-ho!"
followed by sundry yells of all shades, and a banging great fox breaks
away across the stubble, disappearing in the fence only to emerge again
in the pasture. I think a fox one of the most beautifully-proportioned
animals there is. He is built on such racing lines! with those long
galloping quarters, that deep chest, and muscular neck. Look at him as
he steals away over the grass without an effort; he doesn't appear to
be going any pace at all, and yet in a moment he is out of sight! No
hurry, my friend! You may take it easy to-day, but in a very short time
you'll dance to another and a quicker tune played by 17-1/2 couple of
the "best hounds in England!"

Meanwhile, four rabbits have taken advantage of your soliloquy to make
good their escape. You fire a snap-shot at one as he bobs into the
fence. "Mark over," and a pheasant whirrs over the top of the wood. You
hastily cram a cartridge into your gun, raise it and pull, only to find
that you've forgotten to cock the right barrel; you change on to the
left trigger, but this has put you "off," the pheasant goes scathless,
and is handsomely knocked down by your companion-in-arms. Perhaps this
is an argument in favour of a hammerless gun!

On reaching the big covert the aspect of things is changed. The guns
are placed at intervals down the rides, and the beaters go to the far
end to bring it up towards you. It is always well to let the guns on
either side of you, know your whereabouts, both for your own sake and
theirs. Only let us hope you won't meet with the treatment that a
friend of ours received. He was placed next to a very deaf old
gentleman. Aware that he could not make him hear by calling, or (which
is much preferable) by whistling, he took out his handkerchief and
waved it to attract his attention. The old gentleman caught sight of
it, put up his gun and took a steady and deliberate aim at it! You can
easily imagine how our friend ducked and bobbed, and threw himself
prone on the grass round the corner!

After a pause a distant shot is heard, then another, and soon you hear
the tap tap of the beaters, and "Rabbit up," "Mark over," "Hare to the
right," may be continually heard, unless, as in some places, silence is
enjoined on the beaters. "Mark cock" is, however, everywhere an
exception to this rule, and at the magic words, every gun is on the
alert! I never understand why a woodcock should be productive of such
wild excitement and reckless shooting as it generally is! The bird
flits through the trees a little above the height of a man's head,
looking as easy to kill as an owl, but it is a gay deceiver, for barrel
after barrel may discharge its deadly contents at it, and still that
brown bird flits on as before, turning up and down as it goes. Of
course (on paper) _you_ are the one to kill it, when you are loaded
with congratulations--their very weight testifying how unexpected was
the feat. Rather a doubtful compliment! Half the wood being shot, the
guns move round to the outside. What has hitherto been done, has been
chiefly a means to an end. The pheasants have been driven with the
object of getting them into this particular corner. Possibly the wood
stands on the slope of a hill; this gives the best shooting, as the
birds fly over the valley affording high and difficult shots,
especially if coming down-wind. I think there is nothing prettier than
to see real high birds well killed. They fall like stones, with heads
doubled up--not waving down, wings and legs out-stretched like the arms
of a semaphore!

    "Thick and fast they come at last,
    And more, and more, and more."

But do not let this tempt you into firing too quick. Pick your bird and
kill it, though I grant you this is not an easy thing to do. Many men
seem quite to lose their head at a hot corner. They fire almost at
random, though, in the case of a few birds coming, they will scarcely
miss a shot.

By this time it is growing dusk. The December afternoon is closing in.
There is a mist rising from the river, the air feels damp and chill,
and your thoughts turn to a bright fire, a tea-gown, and those
delicious two hours before dinner.

To my mind, grouse-shooting is the cream of sport. To begin with,
Scotland itself has a charm which no other country possesses. Then it
is such nice clean walking! However much you may curtail your skirt,
_mud_ will stick to it, but on the heather there is nothing to
handicap you--you are almost on a level with MAN!

From the moment you leave the lodge on a shooting morning, your
pleasure begins. The dogs and keepers have preceded you. A couple of
gillies are waiting with the ponies. You mount, and wend your way over
the hill road, ruminating as you go, on the possible bag, and taking
in, almost unconsciously, the bewitching feast that nature with such a
bountiful hand has spread before you.

On either side a wide expanse of moorland, one mass of bloom, broken
here and there by a burnt patch or some grey lichen-covered boulders.
The ground gently slopes on the right towards a few scrubby alders or
birches, with one or two rowan trees, the fringe of green bracken
denoting the little burn which to-day trickles placidly along, but in a
spate becomes a roaring torrent of brown water and white foam. Beyond
is a wide stretch of purple heather, then a strip of yellow and crimson
bents, dotted with the white cotton-flower. The broken, undulating
ground, with its little knolls and hollows, tells of nice covert for
the grouse when the mid-day sun is high, and the birds are, as an old
keeper used to say, "lying deid in the heather."

Further away rise the hills in their stately grandeur, green, and
olive, and grey, and purple; how the light changes on them! One behind
the other they lie in massive splendour, and, more distant still, the
faint blue outline of some giant overtops the rest, with here and there
a rugged peak standing out against the sky. And, pervading all, that
wonderful, exhilarating, intoxicating air!

Rounding a bend in the road, you come across three or four hill-sheep,
standing in the shade of the overhanging bank. Startled, they lift
their heads and gaze at you, then rush away, bounding over the stones
and heather with an agility very unlike the "woolly waddle" of our fat

Anon, in the distance, you see Donald and the dogs on the look-out for
you, the dogs clustered round the keeper, a most picturesque group.

When you reach them and dismount, a brace of setters are uncoupled and
boisterously tear around, till peremptorily called to order. You take
your guns, etc., the dogs are told to "hold up," and the sport begins.

In a few moments "Rake" pulls up short, and stands like a rock; "Ruby"
backs him. You advance slowly, always, when possible, at the side of
the dog standing, and pause for your companion to come up. Rake moves
forward, a step at a time, his lip twitching and his eyes eager with
excitement; another second and the birds get up. Seven of them. (Here
let me give the beginner a hint. Take the birds nearest you and
furthest from your companion, never shoot across him, don't change your
bird, and don't fire too soon.) You re-load and walk up to where they
rose, there will probably be a bird left. Up he gets, right under your
feet. You let him go a proper distance, then neatly drop him in the

This kind of thing is repeated again and again, varied by an odd
"bluehare," or a twisting snipe. The dogs quarter their ground
beautifully, it is a pleasure to see them work, for grouse are
plentiful, the shooting good, and they are encouraged to do their best.
Perhaps there may be a bit of swamp surrounded by rushes in which an
occasional duck is to be found. The dogs are taken up, and the guns
creep cautiously forward, taking care to keep out of sight till within
shot. You then show yourselves simultaneously on the right and left,
when the birds will generally spring. Remember to aim _above_ a
duck--because it is always rising.

Later on in the season grouse get wilder, and the shooting consequently
more amusing. The old cocks grow very wary, but sometimes, coming round
the brow of a hill, you light suddenly on a grand old fellow, who, with
a "Bak-a-bak-bak," rises right up into the air, turns, and goes off
down-wind forty miles an hour. Catch him under the wing just on the
turn--a lovely shot. If you miss him he won't give you another chance
that day!

By way of variety you are sometimes bidden to assist at a neighbouring
"drive" for black game and roe. On one occasion we were asked to join a
party for this purpose. We set off with an army of guns and beaters,
some of the former decidedly inexperienced ones. It is, of course,
essential in roe-driving, that you should, when in position, keep
absolutely still. It was known that two bucks with exceptionally fine
heads frequented the wood, and our host was anxious to secure them. My
husband was placed in a very likely place, and there, in spite of
midges and flies galore, he possessed his soul in patience. Suddenly he
thought he heard a footstep; the sound was repeated, and, cautiously
moving to discover what it might portend, he saw the gun stationed next
him calmly patrolling up and down, flicking away the midges with his
white handkerchief! My husband didn't get that buck.

After luncheon, our party was reinforced by the butler and the French
cook. Both arrived with guns, which they carried "at the trail," at
full cock over the roughest ground. The chef was a long, lean, lank,
cadaverous man looking as if he wanted one of his own skewers run down
him. He was dressed in shiny black clothes and wore _enormous_
slippers. Comfortable enough, no doubt, on the _trottoir_ of his
"beloved Paris," but scarcely suitable for the hill! So he seemed to
find, for he shortly retired, when we felt considerably happier.
Another time, the best wood, the _bonne bouche_, was carefully beaten
through while we were discussing a _recherché_ champagne luncheon. Just
as we finished, the shouts, cries, and discordant noises which denote
the approach of beaters, were heard, and shortly after, one of the
keepers came up and informed us that the whole wood had been gone
through and that seven roe, to say nothing of a red deer had been seen!
Evidently "someone had blundered." I do not myself think there is much
sport in roe-driving. To begin with they are such pretty graceful
animals, one cannot kill them without remorse. Also it requires very
little skill to put a charge of shot into them even at a gallop.

Nor is a grey-hen a difficult bird to kill. Heavy and slow--what Mr
Jorrocks calls "a henterpriseless brute"--it flops along through the
birch trees (though, when driven, and coming from some distance it
acquires much greater speed), looking more like a barn-door fowl than a
game bird; but the Sultan of the tribe is quite a different thing.
Wild, wary and watchful, he is ever on the _qui vive_. When you do
get a shot at him he is travelling by express, and having, most
probably, been put up some distance off, he has considerable "way" on.
You see his white feathers gleam in the sun, and the curl of his tail
against the sky. Shoot well ahead of him. Ah! great is the satisfaction
of hearing the dull thud as he falls, and of seeing him bounce up with
the force of the contact with mother-earth. Truly, an old black-cock is
a grand bird! His glossy blue-black plumage, white under-wings and
tail, and red eye make such a pleasing contrast.

I remember once, when grouse-driving towards the end of the day, the
beaters brought up a small birch wood which stood near the last row of
butts. There were two or three ladies with us. One of them, a most
bewitching and lovely young woman, accompanied a gallant soldier into
his butt, to mark his prowess. As luck would have it, nine old
black-cock flew over that brave colonel's butt, but, strange to say,
_four_ went away without a shot, and not one of the nine remained as
witnesses of his skill! Now, let me point out, had that said charming
girl been _shooting_, she would have been stationed in a butt by
herself, and, judging by that soldier's usual performance, at least
five of those old black-cock would have bitten the dust that day! And
"the moral of that is"--give a graceful girl a gun!

The hill ponies are wonderfully sagacious animals. When they have been
once or twice over a road, they will never mistake their way. Once,
when staying in Sutherlandshire, two of us started at 10·15 a.m. We
rode about four miles, before beginning to shoot, over a very bad bit
of country. There were two burns to ford, some curious kind of grips to
jump, and several boggy places to circumnavigate.

We shot away from home till about 6·30, then met the ponies and started
on our ride home--about nine miles. We neither of us knew the way,
beyond having a vague idea as to the direction in which the lodge lay.
The first part was easy enough, a narrow sheep-walk guided us, but at
length that failed, and there was nothing for it but to trust to the
ponies. We could only go at a foot's-pace. The September evening fast
closed in, and it came on to drizzle, until, for the last two miles, we
could scarcely see two yards before us, and yet those ponies brought us
home--over the two fords, avoided the treacherous grips and the boggy
places, never putting a foot wrong the whole way! It was long past nine
when the lights of the lodge hove in sight. Truly that night's dinner
was a "thing of beauty" and bed seemed a "joy for ever!"

Two days later found me keen as mustard to scale the heights of Ben
Hope for ptarmigan. It was almost the only game bird, except
capercailzie, I had never shot, and I was extremely anxious to seize an
opportunity of doing so. Five guns set out. We rode a considerable
distance, until the ground became too soft for ponies to travel.
Arrived at the foot of the hill I gazed in dismay at its steep, stony
height, and felt like the child in the allegory who turns back at its
first difficulty! But pluck and ambition prevailed, and I struggled
gamely up, though, hot and breathless, I was forced to pause more than
once ere we got even halfway. We had agreed that, on no account, were
we to fire at anything but ptarmigan. When we had ascended about 1300
feet a covey of grouse got up. One of the sportsmen, nay, the very one
who had been foremost in suggesting that ptarmigan only should be our
prey, turned round, and feebly let fly both barrels, wounding one
wretched bird which disappeared into the depths below, never to be seen
again! As the report reverberated through the hill, the whole place
above us seemed to be alive with the cackling of ptarmigan, and, in a
moment, without any exaggeration at least twenty brace were on the wing
at once, making their way round the shoulder, over the Green Corrie to
the highest part of Ben Hope. I think the spectre of that grouse must
haunt that sportsman yet!

Of course there were a few odd birds left, and, before we gained the
top, we had each picked up one or two, though, through another
contretemps, I missed my best chance. I had unwillingly, over a very
steep and rocky bit of ground, given up my gun to the keeper. The
moment after I had done so, two ptarmigan got up to my left, offering a
lovely cross shot, and, before I could seize the gun, they fell, a very
pretty double shot, to our host on my right. When we reached the
summit, we found ourselves enveloped in a thick fog, although down
below it was a brilliant hot day; so dense was it, that, notwithstanding
we were walking in line, some of us got separated, and it must have
been almost an hour before we joined forces again. Altogether it was
a hard day's work, but, having attained my object, I was sublimely
indifferent to everything else.

Driving is certainly the form of shooting that requires the most skill,
whether it be grouse or partridge, and is most fascinating when you can
hit your birds! Grouse-driving appears to me the easier of the two;
partly because they come straight, and partly because you can see them
much further off, also they are rather bigger, though they may,
perhaps, come the quicker of the two. Nothing but experience will show
you how soon you can fire at a driven grouse coming towards you. Some
people get on to their birds much quicker than others. I have heard it
said that as soon as you can distinguish the plumage of the bird, he is
within shot. Aim a little above him if he is coming towards you--a long
way ahead if he is crossing.

If you shoot with two guns, I assume that you have practised "giving
and taking" with a loader. Otherwise there will be a fine clashing of
barrels and possibly an unintentional explosion. The cap and jacket for
driving must be of some neutral tint, any white showing is liable to
turn the birds. Of course you must be most careful never to fire a side
shot within range of the next butt. A beginner is more apt to do this,
from being naturally a slow shot at first.

The same rules hold good for partridge-driving, only there you usually
stand behind a high hedge, consequently you cannot see the birds
approaching. You hear "Ma-a-rk" in the distance, and the next
moment--whish! They are over, scattering at the sight of you to right
or left; take one as he comes over you, and you may get another going
away from you--or a side shot--provided there is no gun lower down whom
you run the risk of peppering.

Walking up partridges in turnips affords the same kind of shooting as
grouse over dogs; not bad fun when they are plentiful, but hardish work
for petticoats! If a hare gets up and bounds away, the moving
turnip-tops will be your only guide to her whereabouts, aim rather low,
or the chances are you fire over her back. A curious incident once
happened when we were partridge shooting. Two hares were put up, and
running from opposite directions up the same row they "collided," and
with such violence that one broke its neck and the other was so stunned
that it was picked up by a beater! The Irishman might with truth have
said--"Man, they jostle one anoither." And this in spite of the Ground
Game Act!

You will occasionally come across snipe in turnips. They are horrid
little zig-zagging wretches! If you wait till their first gyrations are
over, they do, for a second, fly straight (for them), and even a
20-bore can sometimes lay them low.

I once shot a quail. I mistook it for a "cheeper" minus a tail, and
gazed placidly at its retreating form, murmuring to myself, "too
small," when I was electrified by a yell--"Shoot, shoot!" Being trained
to habits of obedience, I promptly did as I was told, and brought the
"little flutterer" down. A quail in a turnip field! I should as soon
have expected to meet one of the children of Israel.

On a winter afternoon, _faute-de-mieux_, shooting wood-pigeons coming
in to roost, is a pastime not to be despised, but it is very cold work.
A windy evening is the best; luckily pigeons always fly in against the
wind, so you can get on the leeside of the plantation and shoot them
coming in, or you can ensconce yourself under the shelter of some
fir-boughs near the trees in which they are accustomed to roost. A
pigeon takes a lot of killing, he possesses so many feathers; then he
has an eye like a hawk, and can turn with incredible speed. If there
are several guns in different woods you may easily get 100 in an hour
or two, and often many more.

Of the grandest sport of all I grieve to say I can write nothing. I
have never had the chance of a shot at a stag. It is not possible to
describe a stalk by hearsay only; besides, in my remarks hitherto, I
have recorded nothing which has not come within my own actual

I can, however, easily imagine the intense pleasure of being well
brought up to within, perhaps, 100 yards of a good stag, the excitement
of having the rifle thrust into your hands with a whispered "Tak'
time," the cautious raising of the weapon to a rest, the anxious moment
as you take your sight and gently press the trigger, and the supreme
delight of hearing the "thud" of the bullet as it strikes, and as the
smoke clears off, of seeing him stagger a few paces and fall "never to
_rise_ again." I forbear to draw the reverse side of the picture.

Of course, in many forests, stalking is quite feasible for ladies,
though not within reach of all. I confess I envy those fortunate
individuals who have, more than once, compelled some "antlered monarch
of the glen" to bow his lofty head and lower his colours at their

With regard to dress--I believe, for those who can endure the feel,
wearing all wool is a great safeguard against rheumatism, chills, and
all evils of that ilk. But, on this subject, every woman will of course
please herself. I will therefore merely give an outline of my own
get-up. A short plain skirt of Harris tweed, with just enough width to
allow of striding or jumping, a half tight-fitting jacket to match,
with turn-up collar and strap like a cover-coat, pockets big enough to
get the hands in and out easily, a flannel shirt and leather belt, or,
for smarter occasions, a stiff shirt and waistcoat. Knickerbockers of
thin dark tweed, high laced boots with nails, or brown leather gaiters
and shoes. If a petticoat is worn, _silk_ is the best material for
walking in. I have neither mackintosh nor leather on my dress, I
dislike the feel of both. For wet weather, a waterproof cape, with
straps over the shoulders so that it can be thrown back, if required,
in the act of shooting, is very convenient.

But there is really only one essential in a shooting costume. It MUST
be loose enough to give the arms _perfect freedom_ in _every_
direction--without this, it is impossible to shoot well or quickly.

One last hint. Never go on shooting when you are tired. It will only
cause you disappointment, and others vexation of spirit, for you will
assuredly shoot under everything. Bird after bird will go away wounded,
time after time your mentor (or tormentor) will cry "low and behind,
low and behind," until, in angry despair, you long to fling the empty
cartridge at his head. Take my advice "give it up, and go home!"

That the above notes may not be free from numerous sins of omission and
commission, I am well aware. It would be great presumption on my part
to suppose that my feeble pen could do what many men have failed to
accomplish. But if any hints I have given prove of service to beginners
and encourage them to persevere (even though at present, like the old
woman's false teeth "they misses as often as they hits"), my pleasant
task will not have been in vain.




It has been said "An Englishman is never happy unless he is killing
something," and nowadays, at any rate, his happiness seems increased if
members of the weaker sex share this propensity with him; and so a
short account of a kangaroo hunt may not be inappropriate in a book
about women's sports.

This is an exclusively Australian pastime, and has peculiar incidents
of its own from the start to the finish. We do not see pink coats and
heavy hunters, the bay of the hounds does not break on our ear, there
are no hedges to leap, nor brooks, followed by a flounder through a
ploughed field; we do not come home in a cold drizzle at the end of a
delightful day, and sit near the fireside, wondering whether there will
be a frost before morning, and whether the mare's legs will last this
season. No, our hunting is done under a bright sun and balmy breezes,
and, though we miss the prettiness and order which accompany a meet in
the "auld countree," still, there is a rugged beauty about our
surroundings. The horses are well-bred, though many of them not well
groomed; the riders are graceful and plucky, and the _tout ensemble_
makes a fair picture to the lover of horseflesh and sport.

Well, friends have come together, the kangaroo hounds (they are a cross
between the deerhound and greyhound,) are let loose and gambol round
the horses, letting out short barks of satisfaction as the riders
mount. Off we go. The country is hilly and thickly-wooded, logs lie in
all directions, but our horses, bred in the district, pick their way,
and go at a smart canter in and out of trees, and jump the logs as they
come to them.

A low Hist! from the leader of the chase--he is the owner of the
station--mounted on a thorough-bred bay, the hounds stand a second with
pricked up ears, and their heads high in the air, for they run by
sight; then off they go, and off we go after them. The kangaroos, six
in number, led by a big "old man," spring along at an amazing pace,
crash goes the brushwood, here and there a hound rolls over, making a
miss at a log, but, in a second, he is up again, straining every nerve
of his graceful body to reach his companions. We are nearing a wire
fence; will the kangaroos be caught before we come to it? If not, some
pretty riding will be seen, and British pluck will be needed to carry
horse and rider over a five-feet fence, topped with barbed wire.
However, our courage is not to be tested this time; the fleetest hound
has the "old man" by the throat, the rest of the pack come up, and in a
few moments all is over. A boy skins the victim and the tail is cut
off, later on to make soup.

Now we have a consultation as to which way we shall go. It is getting
near luncheon time and our host wants us to camp on a pretty bend of
the river, so we take our course in that direction, spreading over a
good space, and all keeping a good look-out.

We are ascending a mountain, the way is stony, and, as we go along, the
scenery continually varies. Hill after hill rises before us, separated
by deep gorges, all thickly timbered and abounding in ferns and
flowering shrubs. The magpies warble and the thrush whistles its piping
note, interrupted now and then by the shrill laugh of the jackass. But
some kangaroos have been sighted, and even the most ardent lovers of
scenery are at once on the alert.

Up and down hill we go, with many a slip and a scramble, horse and
rider none the worse. The kangaroos rush at a tremendous speed, some of
them carrying a young one in their pouch; one poor beast is so hard
pressed she throws the young one out of her pouch; it hops away through
the grass, to be caught later by friendly hands and carried home as a
pet. No such luck for the mother, the hounds are on her and she is
rolled over, and on they go again in pursuit of her fleeter companions.

A big fence has scattered them, but one, more plucky than the rest,
makes a frantic spring. Alas! the quick run has been too much for his
powers and he gets caught on the merciless barbed wire. The foremost
rider, thinking the kangaroo would clear it, is preparing to take the
fence in a flying leap, but the sight of the kangaroo caught makes the
horse baulk, and crash they all come down together. With a wonderful
quickness the rider rolls himself away from the fallen horse and is
helping the animal up, both none the worse, except for a few scratches
and a good shaking.

Everyone is now agreed that luncheon has been well earned, so we ride
and drive (for a buggy and pair of ponies have been following in our
tracks) to a favourite spot. And what a sight breaks on our eyes! We
are in a valley, with hills towering around us, the river makes a sharp
bend, along the banks are a mass of wattle trees in full bloom, the
beautiful yellow flowers lighting up the dark green leaves and reddish
brown bark. The sky is cloudless, and a little way off, lies a herd of
Devon cattle, quietly chewing the cud, and mildly wondering what has
brought such a large party, evidently bent on play instead of work, to
their retreat. We see a ripple on the still, deep, flowing water, and a
platypus swims along quickly to his nest on the bank. A little lower
down we hear the whirr of the wild duck, which have been disturbed by
our coming.

A fire is soon lighted; one is told off to unpack the basket of good
things; another grills some steak, someone else undertakes potatoes,
the oldest bushman of the lot says he will regale us with "Johnnie
Cakes." These are made of flour and water and a little salt, rolled
very thin and cooked in the ashes, and very good they prove to be; and
last, but not least, we make the tea, boiling the water in a tin pot
and putting the tea into it.

In about half an hour our various cooks have all ready, and we lie
about on the grass and satisfy the cravings of hunger. After that pipes
are lighted and stories go round of former exploits, how wild horses
have been caught and tamed, how thousands of kangaroos have been driven
into yards made for the purpose and died of suffocation in the crowd;
of adventures with wild cattle and blacks, etc., etc. More serious
subjects, too, are being discussed in twos and threes; for there is
something quiet and soothing in the scene around, that brings to mind
memories long forgotten, joys and sorrows long past, and amid this
picture of peace and beauty, friends talk and open their hearts to each
other, and realise the fact that nature can preach a more eloquent
sermon than is heard from many a pulpit. But everything in this world
must come to an end; the horses are caught and harnessed and we all jog
homeward. On the way the younger spirits of the party have a gallop
after stray kangaroos and bring the tails back with them as trophies.

One incident in the last chase may be worth mentioning. The kangaroos
are bounding along, with the hounds and horsemen close behind them.
They come to a three rail fence of heavy timber; without a miss the
kangaroos take it in a flying leap and apparently without any extra
exertion; over go the hounds, and the horsemen follow to a man, then
the excitement increases for they are coming to a big lagoon; splash
goes a kangaroo into it and now we see a real fight. The kangaroo
stands up to his neck in the water, beating about with his legs, and
the hounds swim around. A young one, not knowing the danger, makes a
snap at his throat, he is instantly seized in the animal's arms and his
back broken. Poor Daisy! your hunting days have been short and you had
yet to learn that discretion was the better part of valour. The older
hounds keep swimming round, gradually coming nearer, and several at
once make snaps at different parts of the kangaroo. A hand-to-hand
fight takes place, the kangaroo ripping and wounding the hounds with
his powerful hind claws; but the plucky beasts keep their hold, and
amid yelps of rage and pain, the splashing and reddening of the water,
and the shouts of the huntsmen to encourage the hounds, the victim
sinks, after a vigorous struggle for his life.

As we drive down the mountains the sun is setting, banks of heavy
clouds are rising, tinged with purple, and prophesying a thunderstorm,
which is made more sure by the distant roar we hear. There is a
stillness in the air, broken by the cracking of the brushwood and the
ominous cry of birds. Suddenly a streak of lightning startles us,
followed by a loud crash which echoes round and round. We hurry home,
and only arrive just in time to escape a thorough soaking, for the rain
comes streaming down.




"There should be nothing so much a man's business as his amusements."
Substitute _woman_ for _man_, and I, for my part, cannot quarrel
with Mr Stevenson's creed. Our amusements, after all, are the main
thing in life, and of these I have found cycling the most satisfactory.
As a good healthy tonic, it should appeal to the scrupulous woman
who cannot even amuse herself without a purpose; it has elements of
excitement to attract the more adventurous. It is a pleasure in itself,
the physical exercise being its own reward; it is a pleasure in what it
leads to, since travelling is the chief end of the cycle. That women do
not yet appreciate it at its true worth, that, as a rule, they would
still rather play tennis or pull a boat than ride a bicycle, is their
own great loss.

Cycling is the youngest of woman's sports. It did not come in until the
invention of the tricycle, or three-wheeled machine; necessarily it was
out of the question for anyone wearing skirts, divided or otherwise, to
mount the tall bicycle, or "ordinary." In 1878 tricycles, invented at a
still earlier date, were first practically advertised, and one of the
authors of the book on cycling in the _Badminton Library_ says, that
already in that year "tradition told of a lady rider, who, in company
with her husband, made an extended tour along the south coast; and in
quiet lanes and private gardens feminine riders began to initiate
themselves into the pastime." But, despite the courage of their
pioneer, not until a few years later did they desert private lanes for
public roads, and then it was only in small numbers. Had they been more
enterprising, a serious hindrance in their way was the fact that at
first makers refused to understand their requirements. The early
tricycles made for us were meant to be very ladylike, but they were
sadly inappropriate. It was really the tandem which did most to
increase the popularity of the sport among women. The sociable, where
the riders sit side by side, was the first of the double machines, but
it is an instrument of torture rather than of pleasure, as whoever has
tried to work it knows to his or her cost. Its width makes it awkward
and cumbersome even on good roads, and when there is a head wind--and
the wind always blows in one's face--the treadmill is child's play in
comparison. The tandem, on which, as the name explains, one rider sits
behind the other, takes up no more space than a single tricycle and
offers no more resistance to the wind, and this means far less work.
Besides, for many women to have a man to attend to the steering and
braking, in those early days was not exactly a drawback; but even with
the tandem progress was not rapid. I remember my first experience in
1884, when I practised on a Coventry "Rotary" in the country round
Philadelphia, and felt keenly that a woman on a cycle was still a
novelty in the United States. I came to England that same summer, but
the women riders whom I met on my runs through London and the Southern
Counties, I could count on the fingers of one hand. The Humbers had
then brought out their tandem, and for it my husband and I exchanged
our "Rotary," and started off in the autumn for Italy, where we rode
from Florence to Rome. I have never made such a sensation in my life,
and, for my own comfort, I hope I may never make such another: I ride
to amuse myself, not the public. It was clear that Italian women were
more behindhand than the English or Americans. There are, nowadays,
more women riders in France, probably, than in any country, but in the
summer of 1885, on the road from Calais to Switzerland, by Sterne's
route, I was scarce accepted as an everyday occurrence.

Single tricycles improved with every year, and the introduction of the
direct-steerer, or well-known "Cripper" type, assured their popularity.
More attention being paid by makers to women's machines, more women
were seen on the roads. Then came the greatest invention of all, the
"Woman's Safety." A certain benevolent Mr Sparrow, had, some years
before, in 1880 to be accurate, built a woman's bicycle, a high one
with the little wheel in front, something like the American "Star"; but
the awkwardness of mounting and dismounting made it impracticable. Men
had been riding the dwarf bicycle for two or three years before one was
introduced with a frame that made it as suitable and possible for
women. How near this brings us to the present, is proved by the fact
that in the Badminton book, published in 1887, though there is a
chapter on "Tricycling for Ladies," there is nothing about bicycling
for them. I experimented in 1889 with a tandem safety, on which the
front seat was designed for women, and then the single safety, with a
dropped instead of a diamond frame, was already in the market. But it
had made slight headway. In America it grew more rapidly in favour. The
average road there is worse than here, and therefore the one track--the
bicycle's great advantage--was much sooner appreciated. Cycling for
women has never become fashionable in the United States, but, in
proportion, a far greater number of American women ride, and with
almost all the safety is the favourite mount. In France also the sport
is more popular with women than in Great Britain, and one might almost
say that it is the safety which has made it so. Riding through Prussia,
Saxony and Bavaria in the summer of 1891, I met but two women cyclists,
and they both rode safeties. In England, however, women, until very
recently, have seemed absurdly conservative in this matter; they clung
to the three wheels, as if to do so were the one concession that made
their cycling proper. A few of the more radical--"wild women" Mrs Lynn
Linton would call them--saw what folly this was, and many have now
become safety riders; but not the majority. Only the other day, in
Bushey Park, I met a large club on their Saturday afternoon run; half
the members were women, but not one was on a bicycle. This, I know, is
but a single isolated instance, but it is fairly typical.

And yet the safety is the machine of all others, which, were my advice
asked, I would most care to recommend. And I would have the wheels
fitted with cushion tyres--the large rubber tyre with a small hole down
the centre--or, better still, with pneumatics, the tyres that are
inflated with air. Both deaden vibration. The latter necessitate
carrying an air-pump and a repairing kit, for if the rubber be cut or
punctured, as frequently happens, the air, of course, escapes at once,
and the cut or puncture must be mended and the tube blown up again,
which means trouble. But the many improvements introduced make the task
of repairing easier every day. My career as a bicyclist began in 1891,
but, short as it may seem, I think it has qualified me to speak with
authority. For my little Marriot, and Cooper's "Ladies' Safety,"
carried me across Central Europe, and as far east as the Roumanian
frontier. My experience agrees with that of all other safety riders,
men or women. The chief advantage of the machine is, as I have said,
its one track, but this cannot be over-estimated. Roads must be,
indeed, in a dreadful condition if space for one wheel to be driven
easily over them cannot be found. The bicyclist can scorch in triumph
along the tiniest footpath, while the tricyclist trudges on foot,
pushing her three wheels through the mud or sand. Moreover, there is
less resistance to the wind, and in touring, it is far easier to
dispose of the small light safety than of the wider machine when you
put up in a little inn at night, or are forced for a time to take the
train. Many a night in Germany, Austria, and Hungary did my bicycle
share my bedroom with me.

The chief drawback to the safety is usually found in learning to mount
and steer. I shall be honest, and admit that there is a difficulty. The
tricycle has the grace to stand still while the beginner experiments,
but the safety is not to be trifled with. Sometimes it seems as if a
look were enough to upset it. Of course, at first, it is well to let
someone hold and steady it until its eccentricities are mastered, for
it is entirely in the balancing that the trouble lies; the mount in
itself is as simple as possible. The rider stands to the left of the
machine by the pedals; taking hold of the handle bars she slowly wheels
it until the right pedal is at the highest point, turns the front wheel
a little to the right, and puts her right foot on the right pedal; this
at once starts the machine and raises her into the saddle, and as the
left pedal comes up, it is caught with her left foot. The great thing
is to have confidence in the machine; she who shows the least fear or
distrust is completely at its mercy. To dismount is as simple: when the
left pedal is at its lowest point, the right foot is brought over the
frame and the rider steps to the ground. If a sudden stop be necessary,
she must put the brake on, not too abruptly, or she may be jerked out
of the saddle.

The steering is the true difficulty in safety riding, and yet it cannot
well be taught; it must come by practice, with some very painful
experiences in the coming. The obstinacy of the safety seems at first
unconquerable. During my apprenticeship, many a time have I been going
in a straight line with every intention of keeping on in it, when,
without warning, my safety has turned sharply at a right angle, rushed
to the ditch and deposited me there. But the funny part of it is, that
the woman who perseveres, gradually, she can scarcely explain how, gets
the better of its self-willed peculiarities until she has it under
perfect control.

The best plan is, in the very beginning, to take a few practical
lessons. There is an excellent teacher to be found at Singers' shop, in
Holborn Viaduct, where a cellar paved with asphalt is kept as a school.
The beginner would do well to practise there until she can at least sit
up on the machine and balance it a little, and until she begins to
understand the first principles of steering. At this point in bicycling
education I would urge her to leave the schoolroom for the high road.
If she waits until she is too far advanced on asphalt, where the
machine goes almost by itself, she may have to commence all over again
on an ordinary road. She should learn what is called ankle action from
the start. Once the cyclist gets into a bad style of riding it is hard
for her to get out of it; and the more the ankle comes into play the
less strain is there on the muscles of the legs. A good rider expends
half as much energy and makes far better time than the woman who has
not mastered the art. If going up hill be exhausting, why, then it is
wise to walk. Going down, if the hill be long, the brake must be used
from the start, and to know how to back-pedal is important. To
back-pedal is to press on the pedal when it is coming up instead of
when it is going down. Nothing could be more dangerous than to lose
control of a machine on a down grade. Some of the most serious
accidents have been the result of the rider's letting her cycle run
away with her in coasting.

I have enumerated the virtues of the bicycle. As to its vices, I do not
find that it has any. An objection often is raised against it because,
if brought to a stand-still by traffic or any other cause, the rider
must dismount at once. But I do not count this a serious hardship; I
have never been inconvenienced by it. Again, it is urged that the
luggage-carrying capacity of the safety is small compared to that of
the three-wheeled machine. This is truer of the woman's than of the
man's bicycle, since we, poor things, must carry our knapsack behind
the saddle or on the handle bars, while a most delightful and clever
little bag is made by Rendell & Underwood to fit into the diamond frame
of a man's safety. But, for a short trip, actual necessities--that is,
a complete change of underclothing, a night-dress, and a not too
luxurious toilet case--can be carried in the knapsack slung behind. For
a long trip it is always advisable to send a large bag or trunk,
according to the individual's wants, from one big town to the next on
the route.

Luggage suggests the subject of dress, as important to the woman who
cycles as to the woman who dances. A grey tweed that defies dust and
rain alike, makes the perfect gown; if a good, strong waterproof be
added, a second dress will not be needed. For summer, a linen or thin
flannel blouse and jacket--perhaps a silk blouse, for evening, in the
knapsack--and, for all seasons, one of Henry Heath's felt hats complete
the costume. For underwear, the rule is wool next the skin,
combinations by choice. Woollen stays contribute to one's comfort, and
each rider can decide for herself between knickerbockers and a short
petticoat. There is something to be said for each. This is practically
the outfit supplied by the Cyclists Touring Club for its women members.
As for style, an ordinary tailor-made gown, simple rather than
elaborate, answers the purpose of the tricyclist. The bicyclist does
not get off so easily. Even with a suitable dress-guard, and, no matter
what the makers say, the dress-guard should extend over the entire
upper half of the rear wheel, there is ever danger of full long skirts
catching in the spokes and bringing the wearer in humiliation and
sorrow to the ground. Many strange and awful costumes have been
invented to obviate the danger--one that is skirt without and
knickerbockers within; another that is nothing more nor less than a
shapeless bag, when all that is needed is a dress shorter and skimpier
than usual, with hem turned up on the outside, and absolutely nothing
on the inner side to catch in the pedals. Now, the trouble is that for
the tourist, who carries but one gown, and who objects to being stared
at as a "Freak" escaped from a side show, it is awkward, when off the
bicycle, to be obliged to appear in large towns in a dress up to her
ankles; she might pass unnoticed in Great Britain, but on the Continent
she becomes the observed of all observers. At the risk of seeming
egotistic, I will explain, as I have already explained elsewhere, the
device by which I make my one cycling gown long and short, as occasion
requires. There is a row of safety hooks, five in all, around the
waistband, and a row of eyes on the skirt about a foot below. In a
skirt so provided, I look like every other woman when off the machine.
Just before I mount, I hook it up, and I wheel off with an easy mind,
knowing there is absolutely nothing to catch anywhere. I have read in
cycling papers many descriptions of other women's bicycling costumes,
but never yet have I discovered one which, for simplicity and
appropriateness, could compete with mine.[9]

          [9] Since printing this, a few Englishwomen have appeared on
          the public roads in knickerbockers, and have made, as was to
          be expected, great talk in the cycling press. Frenchwomen
          gave them the example; in France, there is scarce a woman
          bicyclist who has not adopted knickerbockers, or else a sort
          of gymnasium dress. Of the greater comfort and safety
          secured, there can be no question; the chief drawback to this
          costume, especially for the tourist, is its conspicuousness.

On all that concerns touring, it is important to dwell, for it is in
travelling on the road that women must find chief use for their cycles,
and this they have had the common sense to realise. Quite a number
belong to the Cyclists' Touring Club, and are among its more active
members. True, a few have appeared on the path, have turned the highway
into a race course, and occasionally, have broken records and done the
other wonders to which I, personally, attach no value, whether they be
performed by men or women. Mrs J. S. Smith, whose husband is the
manufacturer of the "Invincible" cycles, has with him, on his
"sociable" and tandem, run at several Surrey meetings and in other
places, and her feats are included in the list of the world's records.
Mrs Allen of Birmingham, once rode two hundred miles in twenty-four
hours. Fraulein Johanne Jörgensen, the woman champion of Denmark, is
fast breaking the records of her own country, and threatens to come
over and break those of England. The ease with which Mrs Preston Davies
(wife of the inventor of the Preston Davies tyre) rode up Petersham
Hill, though not exactly a record, made quite a little talk among
cyclists. Miss Reynolds, who rode from Brighton to London and back in
eight hours, is the heroine of the day. We have even seen a team of
women professionals imported from America only to meet with the failure
they deserved. But, fortunately, these are the exceptions. I say
fortunately, because, while I am not prudish enough to be shocked by
the mere appearance of women on the path, I do not think they have the
physical strength to risk the fearful strain and exertion. If men
cannot stand it for many years, women can still less. Cycling is
healthy; to this fact we have the testimony of such men as Dr
Richardson and Dr Oscar Jennings, whose books on the subject should be
consulted by all interested; especially Dr Jenning's "_Cycling and
Health_," since in his chapter on "Cycling for Women," he has
collected together the opinions of leading authorities. Like everything
else, however, if carried to excess, cycling becomes a positive evil.

It can be overdone on the road, but here the temptations are not so
great. I know many women who have toured often and far, and are none
the worse for it. There are few, however, who have taken notable rides.
Mrs Harold Lewis of Philadelphia, once, with her husband, travelled on
a tandem from Calais across France and Switzerland, and over some of
the highest Swiss passes. In the Elwell tours from America--a species
of personally-conducted tours on wheels--women have more than once been
in the party. But of other long journeys so seldom have I heard, that
sometimes I wonder if, without meaning to, I have broken the record as
touring wheel-woman. But the truth is, that, while every racing event
is chronicled far and wide in the press, the tourist accomplishes her
feats without advertisement, solely for the pleasure of travelling by

And what stronger inducement could she have? Hers is all the joy of
motion, not to be under-estimated, and of long days in the open air;
all the joy of adventure and change. Hers is the delightful sense of
independence and power, the charm of seeing the country in the only way
in which it can be seen; instead of being carried at lightning speed
from one town to another where the traveller is expected and prepared
for, the cyclist's is a journey of discovery through little forgotten
villages and by lonely farm-houses where the sight-seer is unknown.
And, above all, cycling day after day and all day long will speedily
reduce, or elevate, her to that perfect state of physical well-being,
to that healthy animal condition, which in itself is one of the
greatest pleasures in life.

Women have used cycles for other purposes. Doctors ride them to visit
their patients, the less serious go shopping on them. Clubs have been
formed here, and more successfully in America. There is at least one
journalist, Miss Lilias Campbell Davidson, who is on the staff of the
_Bicycling News_ and the _Cyclists' Touring Club Gazette_. But, when
all is said, the true function of the cycle is to contribute to the
amusement and not the duties of life, and it is in touring that this
end is best fulfilled.




That punting is an art, and a very graceful one, was borne in upon me
late one hot, lazy, summer afternoon, while idly musing under the
verandah of a houseboat on the upper Thames, and from that day to this,
one of my most ardent desires has been to become an expert punter. It
was in the prettiest reach on the river, just above the lock, that the
houseboat lay. The sun was setting behind the trees, and tinting with a
rosy glow the mist that was creeping up from the bank. Perfect peace
was over the scene, and did not Nature abhor silence as much as she
does a vacuum, I might almost say that silence rested upon the river.
But birds sang, now and then a fish would jump, curl its silver body in
the air, and return to its watery home with a splash, the mooring
chains of the houseboat were grating as the river rippled by, and in
the distance was the hissing sound of the weir. Suddenly there came a
noisy intrusion, the peacefulness was disturbed, the air was full of
discordant voices and the irregular splashes of ill-managed oars, for
the lock-gates had opened and let loose a crowd of noisy, scrambling,
Saturday half-holiday folk. Happily, they soon passed by, and the sound
of their incongruous chatter and laughter, and intermittent splashing
followed them out of my ken, and then all was quiet and peaceful again,
and I was left gazing dreamily at the disturbed fishes darting about in
the shallow water where the houseboat lay.

Presently a gentle rippling sound caused me to look up. A girl was
punting past, there was no splashing, no scramble, apparently no
effort. The girl never moved from where she stood, only her body swayed
backwards and forwards on her pole, easily and evenly, and the long
straight craft glided by, answering to every touch. I hardly realised
then that this slim, graceful girl was doing all the work herself, it
looked so easy and simple. The water bubbled aloud under the bow of the
punt, and the girl's shadow floated on the water, the red sunlight lay
like a pathway before her, and the ripples seemed to part to make way
for her as she brought her punt steadily along. She made a lovely
picture, and I watched her as she went down the river, in the rising
mist and the sunlight, marvelling at the straight line she kept,
watching the monotonous motion of the pole rising and falling, and
listening almost unconsciously for the hollow ring of the shoe striking
on the hard ground, till a sudden bend in the river took her out of
sight, though, for some time, I still saw the top of her pole over the
bushes rhythmically rising high in the air and disappearing from view.
From that moment I decided to be a punter--this girl was once only a
beginner--surely, I thought, there was hope for me.

I need not dwell on all my personal experiences--there is a great
sameness about the first efforts of all punters, they all go round in
circles. But there are certain hints which beginners will do well to

First of all they must not be discouraged by the inevitable clumsiness
of their first endeavours, the ease and grace of punting comes only
after much experience.

To the girl who wishes seriously to become a punter, it is far better,
having once understood the principle by which a punt is propelled and
steered, to go out and struggle alone. If someone is always by to take
the pole from her, should any difficulty arise, she will not gain that
independence which is so absolutely essential to every punter.

Just a word as to dress.

A good punter can dress as she pleases, but all beginners get wet; no
one can teach them how to avoid this until they have acquired a certain
style. Therefore I should recommend a serge skirt, not too long, that
will stand any amount of water, a loose blouse, with sleeves which can
unbutton and roll up; shoes with low heels, and, for preference,
india-rubber soles, as they prevent slipping if the punt be at all wet.

As in rowing and sculling the work in punting is distributed all over
the body, and does not only exercise the arm, as so many beginners
imagine. In punting, all the weight of the body should be thrown back
on the pole with the push, which, by the way, should never be given
until the shoe has gripped the ground. This brings into play all the
muscles of the back, shoulders, and arms, also the hips. This upright
position is attained by swinging the body back on the pole when the
shoe has gripped the ground, while one foot is firmly planted a little
in advance, and the other leg rests behind with bended knee, thus
enabling the arms to be kept nearly straight and the hands well over
the water.

Punting in this stationary position is technically called "pricking."
Of the different styles of punting I shall speak more fully later on.

The greatest difficulty for the beginner is to keep the punt straight,
but to achieve this it is only necessary to be always watching the bow
of the punt, and to remember that whichever way the top of the pole
points, the bow will run in the opposite direction. In steering there
are, practically speaking, two strokes--in one the pole is thrown in
away from the side of the punt, which brings the bow in towards the
bank, and in the other the pole is dropped in under the bottom of the
punt, which turns the bow away from the bank. A punter, by the way,
always punts from the side nearest the bank. But the steering should
not be perceptible, and must never be allowed to detract from the
strength of the stroke. It is effected, as I have said, by the angle at
which the pole is thrown in, and also by the position of the shoe on
the ground at the finish of the stroke. The direction of a punt with
"way" on is altered by the slightest touch.

The very bad habit of steering with the pole behind off the ground,
using the pole as a rudder, is never practised by good punters. In very
deep water, or in a strong stream, it must either break or strain the
pole, and it is not nearly so quick or effectual a way of steering as
the proper method I have described.

There are two ways of punting, known respectively as "pricking" and
"running." Roughly speaking "running" is more general on the upper
river, that is, above Windsor, and "pricking" on the shallower and less
muddy waters of Staines and Sunbury; though "pricking" is much more
popular in all parts of the river than it was a year or so ago--very
few people "run" punts below Maidenhead now.

For "running" all the weight should be in the stern. The punter must
not go too far forward up the bow or she will stop the "way" of the
punt. A steady pressure should be kept up while walking down the punt
once the pole is thrown into the water, and a strong push given at the
finish in the stern. If the pressure is too great at the commencement
of the stroke, by the time the stem is reached the bow will have run
out into the stream, so that, at the finish of the stroke, too much
force has to be used to bring the punt in again. This detracts from the
speed and causes a zig-zag course. As in "pricking," there should not
be too much steering. It is impossible, in "running" a punt, to steer
entirely without the effort being perceptible. Against a strong stream
and wind, and with a heavy load it is often far easier to "run." For
"pricking," the punter assumes a stationary position in the stern,
about a third of the way up the punt and facing the bow, while all the
weight to be carried is put in front of the punter. The pole must never
be reversed to bring the punt in or out, but kept the same side, that
is, in the shallow water nearest the bank. The pole should be thrown in
as near the side of the punt as possible without scraping it each time.
This enables the punter to keep an upright position, and exert more
force than if the pole were held far away from the punt.

A pole is taken out hand over hand, and should be recovered in as few
movements as possible. In racing especially a quick recovery is a very
great advantage. It should be taken out in two movements in shallow
water, so that a fast punter would be ready to throw in her pole for
the next push before a punter with a slow recovery had taken her pole
out of the water. Of course, in very deep water, two movements will be
found impossible.

In an ordinary way, and going up stream, the pole is thrown about
opposite to with the body, but going down, in a very strong stream the
pole should be thrown in some way in advance of the body, otherwise the
punter loses her grip on the ground in consequence of the stream
carrying the punt so rapidly on that the pole floats uselessly out in
the stream, and no time is given for the push. A punt can be stopped
dead by reversing the pole--not to the opposite side of the punt, but
by throwing it in in the opposite direction to that in which the punter
is pushing. A punt is sometimes considered somewhat awkward to turn,
but the distance of her own length is nearly enough in reality if she
is turned properly! When the "way" on her is stopped the pole should be
thrown in the other side, across the deck--the shoe pointing a long way
off from the punt, so that the pole slants right across, the punter
facing the stern. This stroke repeated once or twice will turn a punt
almost in her own water.

When crossing strong streams, the bow must be kept well up against the
stream, or the current will carry the punt right round. In a strong
wind the same precaution is necessary. It is sometimes easier in much
wind to push the punt backwards--the stern foremost, the punter
standing in the bow. A punt is not so much influenced by the wind with
all the weight in front, and is therefore easier to keep straight. If
the bow is out of the water, it is blown from one side to the other,
and it is often very difficult to steer. In the wash of a steamer
punters should keep away from the bank, or the punt may be swept on to
it, when it will probably ship water.

In going over new ground, it is well to be prepared for mud or loose
shingle. If there has been any dredging, the ground is always loose,
and it is easy to lose one's balance if quite unprepared for the ground
crumbling away under a hard push. The same thing takes place with an
unexpected deep hole, where the pole is flung in and cannot reach the

If a punter be always prepared for these things, there is no danger,
but an unthinking beginner is apt to throw in her pole fiercely, and on
finding it stuck fast in the mud, she will probably fall in herself if
she clings to it valiantly but foolishly. Never cling to a pole
therefore--rather let it go. For this reason, or in case of
accidentally breaking a pole, punters should always carry an extra one
in the punt.

Some people have straps on the outside of their punts for extra poles,
but these are apt to be a nuisance in locks, and they spoil the trim
and neat appearance of a punt. Beware of a wooden bottom to a lock, for
the shoe of the pole may stick fast in the wood and the bow of the punt
swing round across the lock-gates.

A punt has one great disadvantage.

In a lock full of boats, perhaps half the number of people do not know
how to manage their own boats, and have not the least idea how to get
out of the lock. Therefore they are apt to dig their boat-hooks into
the nearest punt, if they can, and expect to be towed out. So, while
looking out for a wooden bottom to the lock, beware also of those
"boat-hooks fiends" who do not think it necessary to learn how to
manage their boats so long as they can splash about with a pair of
sculls, and trust to a punter guiding them safely out of locks.

Keep the pole between the punt and the side of the lock to avoid the
greasy sides.

Double punting, that is two persons punting together simultaneously, is
very effective on the river. To do this the punter may stand in various
ways, but I consider the best is for both punters to stand in the
stern, almost back to back, one a little in advance of the other, to
set the stroke. This necessitates hardly any steering, for, with a pole
on each side, the punt will keep itself straight if both strokes are of
equal strength. In turning, the inside one should hold the punt steady,
while the other pushes--the punt will then turn as on a pivot.

Some people stand at opposite ends of the punt, with both poles one
side, but I cannot recommend this method, because too much weight is
then thrown on to one side, and a punt will not travel well unless
properly balanced. In all double punting little or no steering should
be required if both work well together. But wherever the punters may
stand, the most important point is to keep time--perfect time. This is
a _sine qua non_ in all good double punting. Nothing looks so bad
as to see two persons double punting when quite regardless as to time.

Both poles must be recovered together and in the same number of
movements, otherwise it looks a scramble, and the poles appear to be of
different lengths.

The principle of steering is, of course, the same in double punting as
in "pricking" and "running," only that here the work is divided, the
business of one being to bring the bow in, the other to take it out.
Punters must never interfere with each other's stroke, and never seem
to be waiting. If the last stroke has been too strong, so that it has
sent the punt out of the ordinary course, or not strong enough, so that
she has run in, the punter should not wait till her fellow punter's
stroke has corrected the fault, but should throw in her pole in time
with the other, even if no pressure be required at all, just to keep
the time. The strongest punter should be at the back, if there be any

Punts vary from the heavy fishing ones to the narrow and unsteady
racing craft. But a useful punt for ordinary work is about 3 feet wide
and 26 feet long. The seat is arranged about 3 to 4 feet from the deck,
allowing just room for the punters to stand. This is, of course,
intended for "pricking" from the stern. A semi-racer, to hold one
person besides the punter, is about 22 inches or 2 feet wide, about 27
feet long. A racing punt about 16 or 17 inches wide and from 30 to 32
feet long.

Really the most important item to a punter is the pole, though many
inexperienced people give all their attention to their punts, while
they think almost any pole will do, in which they are very much
mistaken. The pole is, if anything, more important than the punt
itself. For my own part, I prefer to any other a made pole about 15 or
16 feet long. For hard work and long distances this is certainly the
best. Great attention must be paid to the shoe. If the prongs be too
close they will pick up stones continually, and probably split the pole
or break. The best shoe for ordinary work is shaped something like a
horse-shoe, but the prongs must not incline inwards on account of
stones. The prettiest and most graceful shoe is one with rather long
prongs, not too close, made of nickle-plated iron. The shoe should
always be heavy enough for the pole. Poles are made of various woods,
and steel tubing has been tried, but these, however, have not been
found very practical. Larch poles are apt to splinter, red larch are
better, but they are not very strong, and they are very difficult to
obtain, while they are seldom quite straight. Bamboo poles are very
well for a calm river, with little or no stream, but they are not much
use for hard work, they are so light that they are always inclined to
be top-heavy. All bamboos should have very heavy shoes, and even then
they must be heavily weighted in addition. It is almost impossible to
get them heavy enough at the bottom. A pole should sink at once, and
not require pushing down. It will be found that a bamboo has to be held
down, or it will rise of its own account and float out, giving no time
for the push. They are considered unbusiness-like by serious punters.
But sometimes at regattas they are found useful. The Henley course, for
instance, is very deep all the way along the meadow side, even quite
near the bank, therefore a long pole is necessary, and these are apt to
be very tiring and heavy when punting all day. A bamboo must never be
left out in a hot sun when it is wet, or it will crack between the
joints and when put back into the water will fill, so that the water
runs out over one's hands and arms. But of whatever kind the pole may
be it must be properly balanced, and not top-heavy. The lightest punt
will not make up for a badly-balanced pole. In racing this should be
remembered. It is customary to "prick" from the middle of the punt in
racing. A stroke called the overhand push is much used for speed. After
the first push is given, and the pole is bent with the chest, without
moving the back foot, only the heel of the front one, and, turning the
body, a second push is given. The advantage of this is that the punter
is able to push twice without taking the pole out of the water, and a
longer swing of the body is accordingly obtained. When women race, they
do so in ordinary punts, not in racing punts. There are not many
punting races open exclusively to ladies; in fact, as far as I can
ascertain, they are only included in the programmes of the regattas at
Goring and Streatly, at Wargrave and at Cookham, and the Thames Ditton
and Hampton Court Aquatic Sports. At the Maidenhead and Taplow Town
Regatta there is a Lady's and Gentleman's Double Punting Race, and
there is some talk of a Ladies' Punting Championship competition being
inaugurated at Maidenhead.

In spite of the paucity of punting races for ladies, however, there are
several ladies in various parts of the Thames whose style and speed
have won for them something more than local renown. For instance, at
Staines, there are Mrs Hamilton, Miss Kilby and Mrs George Hunter; at
Maidenhead, Miss Ethel Lumley and Miss Annie Benningfield; at Bray,
Miss Maud Lumley; at Hampton, Miss D. Hewitt, who in '91 won the
Ladies' Punting Competition at the Hampton Court and Thames Ditton
Aquatic Sports. In addition to these, there is Mrs Sharratt of Surly
Hall Hotel, better known, perhaps, as Miss Ada Morris, the daughter of
the lock-keeper at Bray, who has the reputation of being one of the
best punters, if not the best, on the Thames. Some people punt Canadian
canoes, but this, though pretty when well done, does not come under the
heading of serious punting.

The practice of paddling punts is often indulged in on crowded courses,
such as Henley in the regatta week, but this I need hardly say is never
done by good punters. Even there it is far better to use a long pole.

In conclusion, I think I may say that there is no prettier sight on the
whole river than a girl, neatly dressed, punting well and gracefully;
but, like riding, it is an exercise which must be done well. A
hot-looking girl struggling with her pole is a spectacle that must
excite anything but admiration from either the river or the bank. Good
style and ease, so important in punting, come only after much practice.





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