The hunting horn . . . (episode 97)

mole

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
CORSETTSHIRE ZY6 4GT

November 8 2000

I had one of my more perturbing experiences whilst out gardening the other day pet. During the course of bouncing down a lonely farm track – in a particularly secluded part of Corsettshire – at 0740, when light was faintly dawning, I had occasion to bounce past a group of men clad in flat green caps, just outside a farm. I also had occasion to notice a sizeable quantity of 4×4’s, and horse boxes, parked in an adjacent field. The men stared at me and I stared back. They were still staring down the track after I went past, en route to the large stone house, at the bottom of the track. The only way forward out of this spot is, naturally, down a mud-laden lane which meanders (in the wrong direction) through an overhead tunnel of trees.

Of course, just my luck, I was motoring along in my Citroen Dyane ‘Piebald’ clad in one of those woolly Nepalese hats (complete with plaits) – which certainly did not fit into any scene featuring country pursuits. Indeed, I looked like a large advertisement for ‘Hunt Saboteurs Inc.’ There was nothing for it dear. Once I reached my destination, I had to get out and start unloading the large consignment of silver-leaf Cineraria and Bellis perennis (the double daisy) which I had brought with me and were intended for an empty, south-facing, bed of soil.

There was rather a silence coming from the track from which I had just come, so I embarked upon some slight nonchalant whistling and kept my eyes directed well away from the gate and passing track. Eventually, parties of up to five horse riders (at a time) jogged past and they too seemed to be humming, with their eyes similarly averted.

I must say, dear, I breathed a sigh of relief when the last hunter (as in horse) had gone past and I began to embark on planting my double daisies in their stations. I also let the house Labrador out as he is one of those who is particularly prone to barking at even non-existent intruders. I was thinking that it would be such a pest if I had to get my old set of garotting cables out the car in order to defend myself against any huntsman who thought I might be a hunt informer. (I would have had to get up on a chair – given the virtually non-existent phone signal in this spot – in order to let anyone at all know that God knows what activity was being enacted in the locale of Deserted Wooded Valley.)

About half-an-hour elapsed (with no persons viewed anywhere about the house and garden) when I distinctly heard the sound of a hunting horn emanating from a large wooded copse about one mile off in the distance. And this was followed by the sound of yelping dogs . . . Oh dear. I thought. I hope I am going to be able to get out of here (intact). And, indeed, leaving was a slightly more demanding pursuit than usual owing to metal hurdles having been placed across the track and groups of land rovers being dotted over the hillside. However, I have to say that the metal hurdles were politely removed, as I approached, by the farmer and we both waved and said, ‘Cheerio.’ (I had, by this time, removed my woolly hat.)

The next time I saw the house and garden owner, I was feeling that perhaps I should address the situation in some way.

I said, “Do you know in advance when ‘sporting pursuits’ are being carried out in the immediate vicinity of the house?” I fancy the lady looked a mite uncomfortable when I said this, for she hastily assured me that such events only occur once a year and, hopefully, next year, I will be somewhere else!

Yours, recently escaped from the jaws of controversy,

Aunt Evangeline

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