Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Fox Hounds are a huntsman's joy. Once they hit the line, they are fury let loose, a spine-chilling, merciless pack of hounds outdistancing horse and field, checking, working, hitting it off again through five hours of relentless chase. Now is the apprentice hounds' big chance to win entry into the working pack. Now the huntsman will have a chance to see if Dixie is a babbler, noisy and giving tongue too freely, which young'uns will draw best, which can find a fox, which are the flighty ones and which the skirters.
Up past the Jones Farm and on to Trimble's Hollow the procession hacks to covert, the field following on behind?the riders in twos and fours, rat-catcher dressed, dropping back, now coming forward again, rising in the saddle to the trot-toe-trot, trot-toe-trot of their thorough bred horses.
The Cheshire isn't a flossy hunt, nor a social event with an easy ride and an early home. Not all its members are people of leisure and means; there are farmhands and steelworkers, too, rich only in their love of the sport. This is a huntsman's meet, packed with heart-pounding jumps at breakneck speed and a grueling pace which never seems to let up. This is the noble science brought to its peak in America, a matchless pack of hounds led by one of the best masters in the country.
Now they are at covert. They've approached upwind so as not to give warning to the young fox cub they hunt.
In cubbing, only the young fox is hunted, as the inexperienced hounds would never be able to match their wits against an old and wily fox, who would outwit and therefore discourage them before they learned what they were supposed to hunt.
The field stands halted outside the wood, waiting for hounds to draw. "Eloo-in, eloo-in," cries Mrs. Hannum, casting hounds into covert with a cheer. The old-timers crash into the undergrowth, noses to the ground. Fanning out, they work every inch of the ground, weaving, doubling back, their sterns feathering, silently nosing their fox. The young hounds bound in after them, not yet sure why but not wanting to lose the main pack.
"Yoi?rouse him, wind him," calls Mrs. Hannum, as she urges them to draw. Woods and brush come alive with the rustle of dry leaves and breaking bramble. Then suddenly comes an urgent, high-pitched yipping sound from old Raider on the left.
HARK TO RAIDER
"Speak to it, Raider, speak to it. Hark." A young hound joins him, nose to the ground, drawing in a scent which sets the hackle on its body stiff, and together young and old throw up their heads and send out their music.
"Hark to Raider, hark to Raider?Hark! Hark! Hark!" cries Mrs. Hannum, digging in her spurs and bolting after the black-and-tan blur ahead of her. And then every hound is on it, and a chorus of roaring and loud-ringing mouths shatters the crystal air as hounds are "gone away." The field flows after them over post and rail, ditch and stream, sending their horses on at a steeplechase pace where the going is good, steadying them at the rough or "trappy" spots.