2. The Hunt
Before I was two years old a circumstance happened which I have never forgotten. It was
early in the spring; there had been a little frost in the night, and a light mist still hung over
the woods and meadows. I and the other colts were feeding at the lower part of the field
when we heard, quite in the distance, what sounded like the cry of dogs. The oldest of the
colts raised his head, pricked his ears, and said, "There are the hounds!" and immediately
cantered off, followed by the rest of us to the upper part of the field, where we could look
over the hedge and see several fields beyond. My mother and an old riding horse of our
master's were also standing near, and seemed to know all about it.
"They have found a hare," said my mother, "and if they come this way we shall see the
And soon the dogs were all tearing down the field of young wheat next to ours. I never
heard such a noise as they made. They did not bark, nor howl, nor whine, but kept on a
"yo! yo, o, o! yo! yo, o, o!" at the top of their voices. After them came a number of men
on horseback, some of them in green coats, all galloping as fast as they could. The old
horse snorted and looked eagerly after them, and we young colts wanted to be galloping
with them, but they were soon away into the fields lower down; here it seemed as if they
had come to a stand; the dogs left off barking, and ran about every way with their noses
to the ground.
"They have lost the scent," said the old horse; "perhaps the hare will get off."
"What hare?" I said.
"Oh! I don't know what hare; likely enough it may be one of our own hares out of the
woods; any hare they can find will do for the dogs and men to run after;" and before long
the dogs began their "yo! yo, o, o!" again, and back they came altogether at full speed,
making straight for our meadow at the part where the high bank and hedge overhang the
"Now we shall see the hare," said my mother; and just then a hare wild with fright rushed
by and made for the woods. On came the dogs; they burst over the bank, leaped the
stream, and came dashing across the field followed by the huntsmen. Six or eight men
leaped their horses clean over, close upon the dogs. The hare tried to get through the
fence; it was too thick, and she turned sharp round to make for the road, but it was too
late; the dogs were upon her with their wild cries; we heard one shriek, and that was the
end of her. One of the huntsmen rode up and whipped off the dogs, who would soon have
torn her to pieces. He held her up by the leg torn and bleeding, and all the gentlemen
seemed well pleased.
As for me, I was so astonished that I did not at first see what was going on by the brook;
but when I did look there was a sad sight; two fine horses were down, one was struggling
in the stream, and the other was groaning on the grass. One of the riders was getting out
of the water covered with mud, the other lay quite still.
"His neck is broke," said my mother.
"And serve him right, too," said one of the colts.