Sporting Adventures of Charles Carrington, Esq.

by "Old Calabar"

Reader, must I confess it? I am a Cockney, born and bred in the "little village." Though I passed some eight or ten years in a Government office, yet my heart was not in the work. I had frequent illnesses, which kept me away; those days—must I own it?—were generally spent in a punt at Weybridge with one of the Keens. At Walton or Halliford I was great in a Thames punt; and I then imagined few could hold a candle to me in a gudgeon or roach swim; that I was the fisherman of England, par excellence. I am wiser now.

At last my absences from office were so frequent that I had quiet intimation to go; but, having friends who were pretty high in office, I got an annuity in the shape of ninety pounds a year. A fresh berth was procured for me at four hundred per annum, where I had a good deal of running about. This suited me much better, as it enabled me to indulge in my proclivities. I now took to shooting, and rather gave fishing the go-by.

I believe I tormented every gunmaker in the West End to death. I was continually chopping and changing, inventing fresh heel-plates to the "stocks." I would have a thick one of horn for a thin coat, and a thin one of metal for a thick coat. Then I had them made with springs to diminish the recoil. I was laughed at by every one who knew anything about the matter; but I was so eaten up by self-conceit that I imagined no one was au fait at guns but myself, and would take no advice. My shooting was not what a sportsman would call "good form"; but this I did not believe.

"Dash it, Muster Carrington," said an old Somersetshire farmer to me one day; "always a-firing into the brown on 'em, and mizzing the lot. It can't be the gun, or because you wear gig-lamps. You're no shot, zur, and never will be;" but I laughed at the old fellow's ignorance. Rather rich that. I, with one of Grant's best guns, not a shot—rubbish! But I determined I would make myself a shot; so I went over to Ireland to an old friend of mine, who lived in a wild, remote part of Galway. He was a first-class sportsman in every way; took great pains with me, and taught me a good deal. I learnt to ride to hounds with him, not well certainly, but in my vanity I soon imagined I not only rode, but shot better than my instructor. One day, after shooting at twenty-three snipes, and only killing one, and the next missing thirteen rabbits turned out from the keeper's pockets, I was fain to admit I was not the shot I thought myself; so I betook myself back to London—a sadder, but not a wiser man. I then entered one of the pigeon clubs. Pigeon club? it was one. I won't say anything about that. If I had gone on with it I should soon have had pockets to let. I was terribly laughed at by every one, for I could neither shoot nor make anything by betting.

I then determined to try hunting, and wrote to my old friend in Ireland to procure me a couple of horses. This he did, and sent me a couple of good ones. I enjoyed the hunting more than I did the shooting, because I could ride a little, and got on better.

Sending my horses down to the country one fine morning, the next I followed them to ——, where I had taken a little box for the season. Many were my mishaps during the few months I was there, which was not to be wondered at.

I was in the famous run I am about to relate, and one of the unfortunate victims who came to grief on that occasion.

In the county of Croppershire, and not far from the little post town of Craneford, a pack of fox-hounds was kennelled: they were under the joint mastership of two gentlemen, Samuel Head, Esq., commonly called Soft Head, and Henry Over, Esq., who was usually designated Hi Over; the secretary was George Heels: he went by the name of Greasy Heels.

A local wag had nicknamed it the "Head-over-heels Hunt;" but another aristocratic gentleman and a public-school man said that a much more distingué and appropriate title would be the classical one of the Sternum-super-caput Hunt. This it was ever afterwards called; and certainly no hunt deserved the name better, for hardly a man amongst the whole lot could ride; they were ever being grassed, or "coming to grief."

Men from the next county used to say to each other, "Old fellow, I am in for a lark to-morrow. I'm going to see the 'Sternum' dogs;" or, "I am going to drive the ladies over next week, when the Sternum hounds meet at the cross-roads; they want a laugh, and to see a few falls."

The huntsman to these hounds was John Slowman. He was not a brilliant huntsman, but he could ride; he had no voice; could not blow the horn well, which was, perhaps, a lucky thing.

Somehow or other the Sternum hounds generally killed, and had a great many more noses nailed to their kennel-door than most of the neighbouring packs. The great secret of their success was that the hounds were let alone; they never looked for halloas or lifting, and if they did they very seldom got it. They were great lumbering, throaty, slack-loined, flat-sided animals; but they could hunt if let alone, and often carried a good head, and went along at a pretty good bat too; and as they had but few men who rode up to them, they were not as a rule pressed or over-ridden.

The Sternum gentlemen were great at roads, though now and then they would take it into their heads to ride like mad, especially when there was anyone from a neighbouring hunt to watch their proceedings. Then there were riderless horses in all directions, for the country was a stiff one, and took a deal of doing.

"Ah, gentlemen," Slowman would exclaim, as the field came thundering up ten minutes after a fox had been broken up, "you should have been here a little sooner; you should indeed. Mag—nificent from find to finish. Don't talk to me of the Dook's, or the Belvoir, or the Pytchley either, nor none of them hunts as have three packs to keep 'em agoing. Give me two days a week, and such a lot of dogs as these. I dessay the Markis will make a huntsman in time. Frank Gillard ain't a bad man, and Captain Anstruther is pretty tidy; but there's too much hollerin', too much horn, too much lifting and flashing over the line. They mobs their foxes to death; I kills mine."

Slowman was magnificent at these times, and felt more than gratified when compliments were showered on him on all sides.

"Right you are, Slowman." "You know how to do the trick, old fellow." "Best huntsman in Europe." "There's half-a-sovereign to drink my health."

Then Slowman would collect his hounds, nod to the whips, and return home a proud and happy man.

The Sternum hounds hunted a week later than their neighbours, and at the two meets that took place during that period they generally had large fields, and always on the last day of the season, because Messrs. Head and Over gave a grand breakfast.

On the occasion I am about to speak of, the last day of the season, a breakfast was to be given of more than usual magnificence. The hounds had had a good season, and the masters determined that they would be even more lavish than usual.

Great were the preparations made when it was known that the neighbouring hunts were coming in force to see them, and have one more gallop before they put their beloved pinks away in lavender.

Slowman, the huntsman, the evening before the eventful day, had gone through the kennels, made his draft for the following morning, looked to the stables, and given orders about the horses and other little matters pertaining to his craft.

He was seated by his cosy fire, and in a cosy arm-chair, puffing meditatively at a churchwarden, and now and then taking a sip from a glass of hot gin-and-water that stood at his elbow. "Bell's Life" was at his feet, and before the fire lay a couple of varmint-looking fox-terriers. Slowman was thoroughly enjoying himself, and wondering if the six-acred oak spinny which they were to draw first the next morning would hold a good stout fox.

"John," said his wife, bustling into the room, "Captain Martaingail wishes to know if he can see you an instant: he is on his horse at the door."

"Lord bless me, Mary! surely," sticking his feet into his slippers and rushing to the front door. The Captain was a favourite of his. The gin he was drinking was a present to him from the Captain; the "Bell's Life" was the Captain's. The Captain always came of a Sunday for a chat and look through the kennels; and the Captain was one of the very few of the hunt who could ride. He always gave Slowman a fiver at the end of the season, and many good tips besides; so he was a prime favourite with the huntsman.

"Good evening, good evening, Captain," said Slowman, going to the door. "Come in, sir. Here, Thumas—Bill—Jim—some of you come here and take the Captain's horse. Throw a couple of rugs over him and put him in the four-stall stable, take his bridle off, and give him a feed of corn."

"Now, sir, come in," as the Captain descended from his hack and gave it to one of the lads. "I was just having a smoke, sir, and a glass of gin-and-water—your gin, sir; and good it is, too."

"That's right, Slowman. And I don't care if I take one with you. It's devilish cold, but no frost. I want to have a talk with you about to-morrow."

Taking the arm-chair, he mixed himself a glass of liquor, and lit a cigar.

"Slowman," he commenced, "there's the devil's own lot of people coming to-morrow. There's Jack Spraggon, from Lord Scamperdale's hunt. He's sent on Daddy Longlegs, his Lordship's best horse, and another; so he means going. Jealous devil he is, too. Soapy Sponge will be here with Hercules and Multum in Parvo; old Jawleyford, and a host of others of that lot. Then there's Lord Wildrace, Sir Harry Clearall, and God knows who besides. There's more than forty horses in Craneford now—every stall and stable engaged; and there will be twice as many in the morning.

"Ah! sir, it's the breakfast as brings 'em—at least, a great many of 'em."

"Well, I daresay that has something to do with it," replied the Captain; "but a great many come to have a laugh at us. The fact is, most of our men can't ride a d——. Then look at Head and Over, they are always coming to grief and falling off. No wonder they get laughed at. And most of the others, too. There will be no end of ladies out, too, and all to have a grin at us. Oh! by-the-way, Slowman, here is your tip. I may just as well give it to you to-night as later. I've made it ten instead of five this year, because you've shewn us such prime sport."

"Very much obliged to you, Captain, indeed," thrusting the note into his pocket; "and for your kind opinion too. I try to show what sport I can, and always will. So they're coming to have a laugh at us, are they! I wish we may find a good stout fox, and choke all the jealous beggars off. I'd give this ten-pound note to do it," slapping his pocket.

"It may be done, Slowman," replied the Captain cautiously; "in fact, I may say I have done it. But you must back me up; and, mind, never a word."

"I'm mum, sir. Mum as a gravestone."

"Well, you see, Slowman, having found out what they are coming for, I've a pill for them. You draw the six-acre oak spinny first. Well, there will be a drag from that over the stiffest country to Bolton Mill. That's eight miles as the crow flies. There, under the lee of a hedge, will be old Towler with a fresh-caught fox from their own country. As he hears the hounds coming up he will let him loose. He's not one of your three-legged ones, but a fresh one, caught only this afternoon. I've seen him—such a trimmer! He'll lead them straight away for their own country. And if the strangers, and old Spraggon, and Jawleyford, and all the rest of them can see it through, they are better men than I take them to be. I shall have my second horse ready for me at the mill. And so had you better. I'll take the conceit out of the beggars."

"By the living Harry!" exclaimed the huntsman, "a grand idea. I must draft Conqueror, Madcap, and Rasselas. They are dead on drags. But, Captain, if the governors twig it?"

"Not a bit, Slowman. They, as you know, won't go four miles."

"Yes, sir, yes. I know all that. But if they should twig? They have the coin, you know." The huntsman had his eye to the main chance.

"But they will not, Slowman. Now, I will tell you a secret; but, mind, it's between ourselves. Honour, you know."

"Honour bright, Captain," replied the huntsman, laying his hand on his heart.

"Well, then, to-morrow at breakfast, Head and Over will announce their intention of resigning."

"No, sir; you don't mean it?" said the huntsman hastily.

"I do," replied the Captain, "And I am going to take them on, and you too. I am to be your M.F.H. It's all cut and dried. So you see you should run no risk. But not a word of this."

The huntsman sat with his mouth open, and at last uttered, "Dash my boots and tops, Captain, but you are a trimmer! But," he continued, "if we find a fox before we come on the drag?"

"But you will not, Slowman. The cover is mine, and has been well hunted through to-day, and will be to-morrow morning again. No fox will be found there."

The two sat for an hour and more talking and arranging matters, so that there might be no failure on the morrow. And all having been satisfactorily arranged, the Captain mounted his horse and rode home.

The following morning—the last of the season—was all that could be desired. A grey day with a southerly breeze. It was mild for the time of year. Great were the preparations at Mr Head's house. He gave the breakfast one year, Over the next. It was turn and turn about.

As it was the last breakfast he was to give as an M.F.H., Head determined it should be a good one. Mrs Head was great before her massive silver tea set; and she had her daughter on her right to assist her.

At the time appointed Lord Wildrace, who had driven over in his mail phaeton, put in an appearance in his No. 1 pink, closely followed by Spraggon, who determined to have ample time for his breakfast. Then old Jawleyford entered, and rushing up to the lady, declared it was too bad of her not to have come over and seen them. At any rate, they would come and spend a week with them soon at Jawleyford Court, would they not? Then Soapy Sponge turned up, looking as smart and spruce as ever.

We cannot go through the breakfast—or the speech of Mr Head, and the other by Mr Over, or the regrets of the company on their resigning the joint mastership, or the cheers on the announcement that Captain Martaingail had consented to keep them on.

"Devilish good feed," growled Jack Spraggon to Sponge, who was drawing on his buckskin gloves. Jack was a little elevated; for he had not spared the cherry-brandy or the milk punch.

"It was that," replied his friend. "Feel as if you could ride this morning, don't you?"

"Yes, I can—always do; but no chance of it with such dogs as these."

"Don't know about that," returned Sponge. "They generally find, and kill too."

Such a field had been rarely seen with the Sternum hounds—horsemen, carriages, mounted ladies, all eager.

"Let the whips be with you, or rather at the outside of the cover, to keep the people back," whispered Captain Martaingail to the huntsman. "I will go to the top of the cover when I give the view halloa. You know what to do."

"Certain of a fox, I suppose, Martaingail?" asked Lord Wildrace, as they were smoking their cigars close to the hounds, who were drawn up on a bit of greensward, giving the ten minutes' law for the late comers.

"It has never yet been drawn blank," returned the Captain. "Ah! there goes Slowman with the hounds. Time's up."

Cigar ends were now thrown away, girths tightened, stirrup-leathers shortened or let down.

The Captain stole into cover, and then galloped away to the far end.

Presently a ringing tally-ho was heard.

"Found quickly," growled Jack Spraggon, as he bustled along on Daddy Longlegs to get a good place.

"That's your sort, old cock!" ejaculated Sponge, as he dashed past him on Hercules, throwing a lot of mud on Jack's spectacles from his horse's hoofs.

"Oh, you unrighteous snob!—you rusty-booted Cockney!" exclaimed Spraggon, rubbing at his spectacles with the back of his gloved hand, thereby daubing the mud all over the glasses, and making it worse. "Just like you, you docked-tail humbug!"

Too-too went Slowman's horn. "Give 'em time, gentlemen—give 'em time!" he screamed, as he took the wattled fence from the spinny into the fallow beyond. The hounds took up the drag at once, and raced away.

"Yonder he goes!" exclaimed the captain, pointing with his whip to some imaginary object, and, digging the latchfords into his horse, was away.

The first fence was a flight of sheep-hurdles, stretching the whole way across a large turnip field. Here Jawleyford on his old cob came to grief, being sent flying right through his ears.

"Sarve you right!" muttered Spraggon, as Daddy Longlegs took it in his stride. "You would not do a bit of paper for me last week. May you lie there for a month!"

"Pick up the bits," roared Sponge to him as he galloped past, "and lay in a fresh stock of that famous port of yours."

But the hounds were carrying too good a head for much chaff. The gentlemen of the Sternum hunt were riding like mad. Already horses began to sob; for the pace was a rattler, and the country heavy. The celebrated Rushpool brook was before them—that brook that so many have plumbed the depth of. It wants a deal of doing.

Lord Wildrace charged it, so did Spraggon; but both were in. Sponge, on Hercules flew over. Slowman and the Captain did it a little lower down. Head, Over, and a host of others galloped for a ford half a mile away.

Out of a large field only eight or ten cleared the Rushpool brook. His lordship and Spraggon were soon out and going; and their horses having a fine turn of speed enabled them to come up with the hounds again; and their checking for a few minutes, in consequence of some sheep having stained the ground, let up the rest of the field on their now nearly beaten horses.

"Fastish thing, my Lord, is it not?" said Over to Lord Wildrace, who was mopping his head with a scarlet silk pocket-handkerchief.

"Yes," said the nobleman, turning his horse's head to the wind, "devilish sharp. I'm cold, too. I wish I could see my second horse. I'm pumped out."

"Have a nip of brandy, Wildrace," said Captain Martaingail, offering his silver flask. "Been in the water, I see—and a good many more, too," casting his eyes on half a score of dripping objects. "It's a very distressing jump to a horse, is that Rushpool brook. By gad, they have hit off again!"

Slowman knew well the line to cast his hounds, and they soon hit it off, and went racing away again, heads up and sterns down.

At last Bolton Mill was in sight, and here many got their second horses, the head grooms from the other hunt having followed the Captain's, and the joint masters' servants were there already.

Spraggon was quickly on the back of The Dandy; but he was hardly up before a view halloa was given in a field below them, and a hat held up proclaimed their fox was ahead of them.

"It's all right, Slowman," said Captain Martaingail, as the hounds feathered on the line and took it up.

"He's right away across the Tornops," shouted a keeper-looking man (this was Towler, who had shaken the fox out) as the field came up, "an' a-going like blue murder."

The hunting was now not quite so fast, but they got on better terms with their fox after a little, and settled well to him.

A good stout fox he was too, and deserved a better fate. He led them right into his own country, but before he could reach a friendly earth, seven or eight miles from where he was shook out, the hounds ran into him in the open.

Some eight or ten of the field were in at the finish, and others came up at intervals.

"Here, gentlemen," exclaimed Slowman triumphantly, to the strangers from a distance, "this is one of your foxes. I guess we sent him back to you faster a precious deal than ever you sent him to us. Sorry we've killed him, though, your dogs want blood, poor things. You've seen what the Sternum hounds can do now! We're not to be laughed at, are we?"

This impudent speech had not much effect generally, but several gentlemen turned away disgusted.

The run was quoted in every sporting paper; and it was years and years before people forgot the great Rushpool Brook run, the last of the season.

The hounds had achieved a reputation, and Captain Martaingail took care they should not lose it. He carried the horn himself after he took to them, Slowman acting as first whip; he drafted most of the hounds, and got together a fresh pack, that were not only good-looking, but could go too. But the dogs never lost the name of the "Sternum-super-caput" hounds.

Whilst I am on the subject of hunting, I may as well tell you a funny story which happened to a friend of mine; this took place near London, and although I did not come so badly off as my friend, yet I was nowhere at the finish.

It is of a thorough cockney that I am about to write; of one who made the City his home; did a little in Stocks and on 'Change: he had done so well on it that he had four hunters standing not a hundred miles from the Angel at Islington. Thither he used to go of an evening on the 'bus to his snug little chambers, to which was attached a capital stable with four loose boxes, and in these four boxes stood four decentish nags. I don't know that they were reliable fencers, but they could gallop; they were bang up to the mark—well done, well groomed, and well clothed.

Frank Cropper was proud of his horses, and his stud-groom, Dick, was his right hand in all matters. Dick, though he professed to have a profound knowledge of horses, in reality knew nothing about them, and had to thank his strappers for the condition and fettle they were in.

But Dick was great at getting up leathers and top boots, was extremely fond of dress, turned out well, and though he could not ride a yard, led every one to believe he was invincible in the saddle.

He was grand when he used to dodge about in the lanes after the Puddleton currant-jelly dogs, riding his master's second horse. Cropper thought it the correct thing to have out a second horse with the harriers. No one ever saw Cropper or his man take a fence; they used to gallop through places or fences that had been smashed by some one before them, or creep through gaps made in hedges.

Occasionally he used to honour the Queen's with his presence; there he did it in grand style, sent his horses down by rail, or drove down in his cart, with his brown-holland overalls on, covering his boots and spotless buckskins from the smallest particle of dust or dirt; the overalls he would have taken off with a grand flourish just before the hounds moved away, and mounted his horse with the grandest possible air, telling Dick to ride to points, and to be sure to be handy with his second horse; but, somehow or other, he never got his second horse; Dick always mistook the line of country.

Once or twice Cropper had been known to grace the Epping Forest Hunt on an Easter Monday; but, somehow or other, Frank did not speak much of this: why, I know not.

"Dick," said his master one morning as he sat at breakfast, "the day after to-morrow is the last of the season—at least, the last day of any hounds I can get to; so I mean to have a turn with the —— staghounds."

"Do you, sir? I wouldn't if I were you, sir; hate that calf-hunting. The Queen's ain't up to my ideas of huntin'; no staghounds are; but these hounds are duffers; the master's a duffer, the huntsman is a duffer, the whips are duffers, and so are the hounds. No, sir, be Cardinal Wiseman, and go with the —— pack."

"No, Dick, I have made up my mind to see these hounds; it's a certain find; open the door of the cart and out pops your stag. It's the last day of the season, and I mean to have a good gallop."

"Very well, sir. You will go down by rail, I suppose?"

"Yes, Dick, yes; by rail. You will go on by the eight o'clock train. I shall follow by the ten."

"All right, sir." And they separated, the man to look to his stable and things, the master to do a little on 'Change.

Frank Cropper went in for a good breakfast on the morning of the last of the season, took plenty of jumping powder in the shape of Kentish cherry brandy, and topped it up with some curaçoa.

"I feel," says Cropper, as he got into the train, and was talking to some City friends who were bound on the same errand as myself; "I feel, my boys, that I shall take the lead to-day, and keep it, too. Ha, ha! What do you think of that? A church would not stop me. Temple Bar I should take in my stride, if my horse could jump it. I'm chockful of go this morning; I shall distinguish myself."

"Or extinguish yourself," remarked one.

Cigars and an occasional nip at their pocket pistols whiled away the time till the train arrived at its destination; there, Cropper and another took a fly, and drove the three miles they had to go. They were quite determined they would not dirt their boots or spotless leathers by a three miles' ride; they would appear at the meet as bright as their No. 1 pinks, Day & Martin, and Probert's paste could make them.

"There they are!" exclaimed Cropper's friend, as he caught sight of the hounds drawn up on a small common. "By Jupiter, but there's a lot out! it's the last day of the season."

Cropper descended from the fly in all the glories of his ulster coat and overalls; his horses were there under the charge of spicy-looking Master Dick.

The overalls were slipped off, and, with the ulster, consigned to the driver to leave at the station; and our hero mounted his horse and was ready for the fray.

Now, this meet not being far from town, and a large number of the London division being present, the worthy master, having a proper regard for his hounds, thought a few jumps might choke off a good many who would press upon the hounds. So he had the deer uncarted some three-quarters of a mile from where they were, the van containing him was backed not very far from a flight of sheep-hurdles, and a double line of foot people being formed, the door of the cart opened and out leapt the stag. Looking around him for an instant, he started away at a quick trot, and then, as the shouting became louder, commenced to canter, cleared the hurdles, and was away.

"Lot of these London cads down here to-day," remarked young Lord Reckless to his friend Sir Henry Careful. "Don't know, 'pon my soul, what they come here for."

"For about the same reason you do—to see the hounds, and get a fall or two."

"Ah, that's all very fine," retorted his Lordship, "for you to say so. You never ride at anything, therefore you are pretty safe. I ride at everything."

"But never by any chance get over," interrupted the baronet, "except through your horse's ears."

What more they said was cut short by the hounds coming up on the line of the stag, and racing away.

I got over the hurdles all right, and so did most of the field; but at the second fence I was down. And I saw Cropper unseated at the same instant, and his horse galloping wildly away at the third fence. Dick was shot through his horse's ears into the next field.

I was rushing about for mine, over my ankles in mud, when I encountered Frank Cropper and his man Dick in the middle of the slough.

"Where the deuce is my second horse?" roared Cropper to his servant. "I thought I told you to ride him to the points."

"So I was going to, sir; but he stumbled, and unshipped me."

"Good heavens! what is to be done?" exclaimed Cropper. "I shall lose the run. Here, you fellows," to a lot of countrymen about, "catch the horses—half-a-crown each for them."

But the nags were not so easily caught, and it was half an hour before they were secured. Both I and Cropper were wet and cold; so, leaving Dick to go on with the horses by train to London, and get the coats at the station, Cropper and I started on foot to walk there. He was too bruised and cold to ride; so was I.

You may suppose that the remarks we heard going along were not complimentary: "Two gents in scarlet as has been throwed from their 'orses, and a-stumping of it home," etc.

At last I was getting nearly beat, and so was my friend, when we espied a fly coming along the road. In it was seated Warner of the Welsh Harp at Hendon. Taking pity on us, he gave us a lift, and drove us to the nearest station, and we reached London in due time.

This was the last of my hunting experiences. I got disgusted with it, and sold my horses. Having read flaming accounts from Cook's tourists, some of whom had been round the world in ninety days, I packed up my guns and some clothes, and started for America.

I did not remain long in New York, as I was anxious to commence shooting. So I was not long in getting to the small town of ——, and, putting up at the best hotel the place afforded, which was not a very good one, sent for the landlord.

"Wall, Britisher, I'm glad to see yeu," commenced the American Boniface, coolly seating himself on the table, and commencing spitting at a bluebottle fly on the floor. "So yeu've come here to see our glorious American Constitootion. Wall, I guess yeu'll be pretty considerable surprised—tarnation surprised, doggoned if you won't. We're an almighty nation, we air. Going a-shooting, air yeu? Wall, I calkerlate we've got more game hereabouts than would fill all London, and enough ships in our little river the Mississi-pi to tow your little island across the broad Atlantic—we hev, indeed, stranger. There's lots of grouse; but nary a buffeler, bar, nor alligater about here. But I s'pose yeu means to take up yer fixins here in this feather-bed bully hotel afore yeu makes tracks?"

I assured him such was my intention.

"Wall, then, stranger, what will yeu like?—cocktail, mint julip, brandy smash, or cobbler? I've a few festive cusses in the bar as will tell yeu all about the shooting. Let's hev a licker-up with them."

To this I assented, and walked into another room with him, where there were Yankees of all descriptions.

I determined to make myself popular, and stood drinks to any amount.

"Bust my gizzard, but yeu air a ripper!" exclaimed my tall friend. "He air, ain't he, bully boys?"

What more they said was drowned in a terrific row which took place at the other end of the apartment.

"Hillo!" shouted my tall friend. "Come on, stranger, if yeu want to see our pertikelur customs of this hemisphere. Bet my boots it's Bully Larkins and that old 'oss from Calerforney. Go it, my cockeys!" he screamed out as he mounted on a table, "go it, old coon!" alluding to one of the combatants; "go it! Billy's a-gaining on yeu, and if yeu don't look out he'll riz yer har with his bowie knife, gouge yer eye, and fetch yeu out of yer boots—he will, by——!"

Such a fearful row I never heard. All were in a state of frenzied excitement—knives glittered in the hands of many. Whilst all this was going on I made my way out of the apartment, and locked and bolted myself in my own.

In half an hour my landlord came to the door, and knocked for admission.

"It's all over, stranger," he said as he entered. "Old Calerforney carved two of Bully Larkins' fingers off with his bowie, and Larkins bit off half t'other's nose. I guess he ain't beautiful. They're festive cusses here, and air always at it. Nary a day passes without a free fight."

I need hardly say the next day I took my departure for New York, and was off to England by the first boat. I had had quite enough of my American friends and their notions.

I have given up sporting, as I found I could make no hand at it. I shoot occasionally for amusement, and fish occasionally, but never lay down the law as an authority.