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Well, well : it is an amiable weakness : we confess it freely: we are rather monomaniac on the score of fishing. But every man has his foibles; and few, we believe, do less mischief than ours.
Not that we are altogether amiable. Don't think it. We have a good deal of spite about us on a fitting occasion. People talk of "proper pride :" why not “ proper spite." Yes, it is certainly amiable, and we must cherish the feeling. That horrid old Major, for instance. He has thought proper to lake up his abode amongst us, and he sets up as a rival to me in the noble art of angling. Catch as many fish as I will, some rascally good-natured friend is always at hand 10 tell me the Major has caught more. Go as early as I will to my favourite meadow, the Major is always there before me ; and he knows all my best holes, and every eddy in the stream where a good fish lies. It's impossible to stand this much longer. If the Major don't quit Willowford, I shall. My lease has only ninety years to run out, and then I'm determined on going, if the Major has not quitted before.
If I ever do get a quiet day by myself, it is by dint of some deeplylaid stratagem. I am obliged to feign going to a funeral, or having a sprained ankle, or something of that sort ; and even then, ten to one but my rival has got some counter-plot which upsets all my schemes entirely. When I do succeed in mystifying the old fellow, it's a great triumph to me. T'other day I gave myself out as subpænaed on a trial for bigamy. All the village believed it, and I took care that the news should come to the Major's ears. Well, I have you now, my old cock," said ), as I received from his servant, the day before the trial, a letter from the Major to his brother on the Grand Jury, which he begged I would do him the favour to take charge of.
“ I have you now, old boy;" I exclaimed, as I trudged down the back lane, with my creel at my back and my trusty bit of hickory in my hand. “I have you now," I repeated, as I turned into the old meadow, and saw no semblance of a human form along the whole sweep of the river. For the first time for many weeks I put together my rod with something like presence of mind; unwound my line without getting it twisted round my leg ; and arranged my flies without having a hook stuck in my thumb: for I had no rival presence to controul me. Away to work I went, whizzing my May-flies here and there with all the independence of a Juan Fernandez. The flowers seemed more bright, the meadows more luxuriant, the song-birds more blithe, the sky more serene, than they had appeared for ages. The kingfisher, as he came twittering by, seemed like some good genius of the stream; and the gaudy dragon.fly, at play among the bulrushes, might well pass, with a mind of such amenity, for a harbinger of good luck from the land of faëry: so poetical do we become when away from
the haunts of men, when out of the noise of carts and winnowing machines.
monarch of all we surveyed;" we looked up stream and down stream, and no Major was there.
On we went-on, on, by meadow and ravine-by rapid and shallow -over this, mill-dam, across that wood-bridge-deeply anxious now, as some monarch of the deep rose within eyeshot at a vagrant greendrake-careless anon, and almost playing at fishing, as an extra fit of poeticalness came over us, by some flowery wood-side or in some delicately-adorned meadow. Mixed up with all these feelings was the one great leading sentiment, I am here alone-the Major is not nigh.
Yes,” I exclaimed, as I sat down under an old tree-stump in the middle of a most beautiful meadow; yes,” I said, as I turned out the edible contents of my wallet,“ yes, yes, I have at last had a comfortable day to myself; I have for once escaped the torture of that humanized Peter Schlemil's shadow : I have at length rid myself of that haunting spectre, that horrid old Major."
“ Don't be personal."
“Who the devil's that? Who-the-dev—” But having looked carefully round and found no human being in sight, I didn't give myself the trouble of finishing the sentence, but went on munching my bread and cheese.
Extraordinary, how fancy will sometimes overcome us—munch, munch–I could almost have sworn I heard a voice-munch,
munchand, what was more odd than ever, it sounded-munch-just like the Major's-munch, munch, munch."-And I looked again to the right and to the left; but no Major was there.
“ An old vagabond !-munch, munch." " A what?"
I stopped munching. I let fall my knife, and the piece of kissingcrust I had just . reduced to the proper dimensions for mastication. I opened my eyes to twice their natural width, and pricked up my ears to twice their natural length. This time I was sure I had heard a voice. I started to my feet.
“ Who is there?” I cried. “ Man or Devil, come forth! who dared interrupt me? who had the audacity to cry- A what?”
“ Ridiculous !” I exclaimed, as I once again sat down under the old gnarled trunk, and picked up my double-bladed knife and lump of kissing-crust: for I had examined, not only the meadow round about, but the tree itself by making its circuit. And “ John” was not“ behind .the tree.”
" Ridiculous !" I repeated ; “ that I should suffer myself to be made the victim of such a delusion; that I should suffer myself to be so worked upon by a feeling of rivalry and childish triumph. Well, well :
I will never do so again. Let the Major act as he will — let him come at what hour he pleases—let him take what mean advantages he mayJet the paltry, old, interloping, trespassing, poaching old rascal -”
“ There's my card !"
I looked up once again. Was I mad ! or dreaming only some horrible dream! There was still no man to be seen ; but the tree, the gnarled, thunder-riven tree under which I had been sitting, held out its-hand, I was going to say, but no—its branch, and in that branch was a card bearing the name of “ Major Hook of H. M. regiment.”
“ Zamiel ! are you Zamiel ?" (for I had been to see Der Freischütz only the week before ;)" if so, I renounce thee, devil, and all thy works."
“ Poacher, rascal, and devil. This is too much. Take my card, sir; and know that it is the injured Major Hook who addresses you. The dress in which you see me, made of bark and mackintosh, in semblance of an old tree, was intended only to deceive the fish : but I
perceive it has had a more extended effect. I see too, sir, your have caught three brace and a half of trout and two brace of grayling. I am happy to say that I can double your number in both items, and the smallest of my fish is nearly as large as the biggest of yours. If you wish to know when I arrived on this ground, it was at half-past six this morning. And if you wish to know where I shall be at the same hour tomorrow morning, it will be at the gravel-pit on Murderhole Common, just under cover of the fir wood—and be so good as not to be behind your time, as the grey-drake is just coming into season, and I wish to have a little fishing after it's all over.”
And the tree“ cut its stick."
THE TURF IN INDIA.
SECOND MEETING, 1841–42. ABOUT this time twelve months, we received from a quandom sporting chum an account of the “ Spring Meeting of Madras," held in January, which we had the pleasure of submitting to the readers of the N.S.M. The “ chances of war” have carried our friend to Calcutta in the interval, and in memory of the days when we sported—
" Twa blithesome chiels thegither." he has sent us by the last “overland” his notes upon men, horses, and things, in the sporting world of that Presidency. From these we select with pleasure the first day of the “ Calcutta Spring Meeting,” Feb. 1, 1842.
The alarms and disasters of the distant frontier of Cabool seem to be little heard or heeded by the sporting community, of British India. Indeed I believe that the genuine sportsman, wherever he is found, can forget all else in the enjoyment of its legitimate pursuits. He cares for little beside,
“ While he has his dog and his gun." Some of the merriest hunting days on record were enjoyed with the Duke of Wellington's pack amid all the terrors of the Peninsular war; and the Calcutta hounds have been meeting at their usual haunts ; the spring meeting went on with the same regularity; and the Jessore Races, though delayed by local causes, were fixed for the 25th of February, just as though Cabool had never been heard of. The sport however, has been but indifferent. The meeting began on Tuesday, February 1st. The first race was
"The Merchant's Plate, added to a Sweepstakes of twenty-six gold Mohurs each, (10 forfeit, if declared by 2 p.m. the day before the race,) for all Arabs, Calcutta weight for age, Maidens allowed 10lbs. Heats, 2} miles.
The entries were three, the first of which our readers may remember since last year*
Mr. Allan's gr. b, Glendower (Joe).......
2 3 Mr. Lokman's b. b. Chusan (Roostum)..... This was a race for Arab horses; and it is necessary to observe that the weighing on the Indian turf depends entirely upon this circumstance. Horses are divided into three different classes :- Arabs, which are weighted 'lowest ; Cape, New South Wales, or India horses, which rank considerably higher ; and English, whose superiority is admitted by the vast excess (generally 2st.) which they are rated to carry. The favourite for the Merchant's Plate was Walmer, and the knowing ones were sadly taken aback by the result. In the first heat Glendower led and was closely followed by Walmer and Chusan, who were evidently afraid, not of the leader, but of one another. By degrees, however, they crept up, and at the end of the first mile, all three appeared together—a beautiful race and evidently in earnest. But on a sudden Glendower fell off, and after a sharp struggle round the “ Sudder corner,” Chusan got a decided lead of two or three lengths, which he kept without much difficulty, Walmer being to all appearance unable to mend his
pace. In the second heat all the calculations of the morning were put astray. The favourite appeared hopelessly beaten, and it seemed a hollow thing thing for Chusan. Most unexpectedly, however, Glendower got away with an enormous start, and he was regarded as so completely hors de
• See N.S. M. No. IV. New Series, pp. 302-3.
combat in consequence of his failure in the last heat that neither of his rivals cared to challenge him, till it was too late. Towards the close Chusan made a rush, but in vain ; he kept, and perhaps increased his lead, and came in a winner with the utmost appearance
The race had now become a perfect puzzle. Walmer was regarded as already out of it altogether; and it was difficult to say whether Glendower's success was not owing to his extraordinary luck, in starting especially, as when tried in the first heat, he had been found miserably wanting. On the whole, the odds were upon Chusan, though delicately enough offered. Away they went together, and though all racing hard, kept this position for the first mile. But Chusan's backers were sadly disappointed to see him, as they began to turn home, fall completely out of the race, and leave it entirely to Walmer and Glendower. The former had the lead and the further advantage of the inside. But the strength began to tell. Glendower went up to him, and in a most beautiful struggle, which it was long almost impossible to decide, was eventually judged the winner by a head. The result was completely unexpected, and took many a “ shrewd calculator" by surprise.
The second race was A Handicap Stakes of 25 Gold Mohurs, p. p. two miles, open to all horses, handicap weights; only one horse to start from each stable." This race was rather a failure. The list did not fill as was anticipated, there only appearing
Mr. White's gr. b. Athlone, (Gash)..........
Mr. Lokman's b. h. The Grand Master (Roostum). Mr. Lokman's star was still unpropitious. The Grand Master, who had come to Calcutta with many a laurel gathered in the lists of Bombay, had fallen in public estimation by his failure (attributable to bad condition) at the former Calcutta meeting. The present race, however, showed clearly that he had'nt it in him.” For awhile they went together, and at a very fair pace. But it soon became apparent that Athlone was but keeping The Grand Master in good humour. After rounding the “ Sudder Corner," in the run home, he passed him without an effort, and held his lead to the close, winning by fully three lengths.
So ended the first day of the meeting. We trust in our friend's good faith and good nature for a full report of the second. And we will hope that his report may come in more cheering company than that of the tidings which were conveyed by the overland which brought his last communication.