Chapter 2 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 707

The Hunt

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Something memorable happens when Darkie is two. He and the other colts are feeding in the lower part of the field when they hear dogs baying nearby. One of the older colts recognizes the sound of hunting, and they all go to the gate where they can watch; Duchess and an older horse are already there. She tells her son the dogs have found a hare, and they will get to see the hunt if the dogs come this way.

Soon the chase comes to the field next to the watching horses. First come the dogs; they are neither whining nor howling, but the noise is nothing like Darkie has ever heard. Soon some men on horseback follow; some of them are wearing green jackets. The older horse and the colts wish they could gallop with them, but the hunters are soon gone.

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Latest answer posted February 21, 2021, 12:16 pm (UTC)

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In a field below, the dogs and horses come to a halt, and the dogs all have their noses to the ground, running around in every direction. The old horse says the dogs have lost the scent and thinks the hare may escape. Darkie asks where the hare came from and learns that the hunters just choose any hare they can find. Suddenly the baying begins again, and the dogs and hunters begin racing back up the hill toward the watching horses.

The horses can see the frightened hare as it makes its way to the fence, followed by dogs and men as they leap streams and dash over the field. The rabbit is unable to get through the fence and soon the dogs, with their wild cries, are on top of the poor creature. One shriek and the animal is dead. The hunters come and whip the dogs off the hare, holding up the torn and bloody carcass. All the gentlemen seem happy with the outcome of the hunt.

Darkie is astonished at the entire proceeding. When he looks back down the field, he sees several horses still near the water below. One of them is struggling in the stream; the other is groaning on the ground. One rider, covered with mud, is getting out of the stream, but the other remains on the ground, unmoving. Duchess tells Darkie that the man has broken his neck. All the horses, including Darkie, believe the man deserved his fate, but Duchess says that while she does not understand the men’s desire to hunt in such a way, horses are only horses and do not know what motivates men to do the things they do.

As they continue to watch, the horses see men going to help the fallen rider. The first to arrive is their master, who had been watching the hunt. When he picks up the rider, the man's head falls back and his arms are limp; all the men look very serious and now there is no noise. Even the dogs are quiet, seeming to know something is wrong. The men carry the fallen man to the master’s house. Later Darkie learns the man was George Gordon, the Squire’s young son and the pride of his family.

Once the body has been moved, action resumes. One man rides off to get the doctor, one rides to get the farrier, and another goes to inform the Squire of his son’s accident. The farrier examines the fallen horse and shakes his head, as one of the horse’s legs is broken; soon there is a “loud bang and a dreadful shriek,” and then all is still. Duchess is troubled, as she has known the horse, “Rob Roy,” for many years. He was a good horse, and Duchess would never go to that part of the field again. Several days later, the horses hear the church bells ringing for a long time, and over the gate they see a long black coach draped with a black cloth and drawn by black horses. Other coaches follow in a procession of black as the bells keep tolling. Young Gordon is being taken to the churchyard to be buried. What the men did with Rob Roy remains a mystery, but all these events happened in order to catch and kill one little hare.

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