- By Siegfried Sassoon
Extracted and condensed from Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man, Part Seven, Chapter II.
October arrived; the drought broke with forty-eight hours’ quiet rain; and Dixon had a field day with the new clipping machine, of which it is enough to say that the stable-boy turned a handle and Dixon did the rest. He had decided to clip the horses’ legs this season; the Ringwell was a bad country for thorns, and these were, naturally less likely to be overlooked on clipped legs, which also were more sightly and dried quicker than hairy ones.
Resplendent in my new red coat, and almost too much admired by Aunt Evelyn and Miriam, I went off to the opening meet by the early train from Dumbridge to Downfield. Half an hour’s ride took me to the kennels, where I joined an impressive concourse, mounted, in vehicles, and on foot. The sun shone after a white frost, and everyone was anxious to have a look at the new Master. My new coat was only a single spot of color among many, but I felt a tremendous swell all the same. Familiar faces greeted me, and when we trotted away to draw Pacey’s Plantation, old Mr. Dearborn bumped along beside me in his faded red coat and blue and white spotted birds-eye cravat. “This horse ought to have one of you young chaps on his back!” he exclaimed. “Jumps too big for an old buffer like me; never known him to put a foot wrong, clever as a cat—(hold up, will you!)...his clever hunter having tripped badly on some stones.