Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1298
When they go out to hunt, the members of Jorrocks’ Surrey fox hunt do not always keep their minds on the sport. As they gather, their talk includes shouts to the dogs, quotations on the price of cotton, advice on horses, and warnings of bank policies. While waiting for the...
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When they go out to hunt, the members of Jorrocks’ Surrey fox hunt do not always keep their minds on the sport. As they gather, their talk includes shouts to the dogs, quotations on the price of cotton, advice on horses, and warnings of bank policies. While waiting for the dogs to run the fox closer, they all eagerly pull out bread and meat from their roomy pockets.
One morning, a new man joins the veteran Surrey hunters. He is plainly an aristocrat. The others are paunchy and stooped, but he is thin and straight. His handsome mount contrasts sharply with their skinny nags. They all watch him enviously. He is evidently new in Surrey, for he drives his horse at a fast clip through the bottomlands, heedless of the numerous flints. The riders are glad when he retires from the chase with a lame horse.
As he leaves, Jorrocks rushes up with the news that the stranger is no less a personage than a Russian diplomat. The whole hunt joins in heartily wishing him back in Russia for good.
In town, Jorrocks runs into agreeable Mr. Stubbs, a footloose Yorkshireman. He invites Stubbs to the hunt on Saturday morning. As long as Jorrocks pays the bills, the Yorkshireman is glad for any entertainment. On the appointed foggy morning, Jorrocks is on time. He is riding his own bony nag and leading a sorry dray horse for his guest. The fog is so thick that they bump into carriages and sidewalk stands right and left. The Yorkshireman would have waited for the fog to lift, but doughty Jorrocks will tolerate no delay. Mrs. Jorrocks has a fine quarter of lamb for supper, and her husband was sternly ordered to be back at five-thirty sharp. Jorrocks is never late for a meal.
On the way, Jorrocks’s horse is nearly speared by a carriage pole. The resourceful hunter promptly dismounts and chatters a bit with a coach driver. When he remounts, he has a great coach lamp tied around his middle. Thus lighted, the two horsemen get safely out of town.
The hunt that day holds an unexpected surprise for both of them. Jorrocks put his horse at a weak spot in a fence to show off a little for his younger friend. He wants to sail over in good time and continue after the fox. Instead, he lands in a cesspool. His bright red coat is covered with slime and mud for the rest of the day. The Yorkshireman, however, notes that Jorrocks carries on until the end of the hunt and gets home in time for his lamb dinner.
As usual, Jorrocks goes hunting in Surrey on a Saturday. When his horse goes lame, he stops at the smith’s shop for repairs, and his five-minute delay makes him lose sight of the pack. Consequently, he loses out on a day’s sport. As he sits brooding in a local inn and threatening to withdraw his subscription to the Surrey hunt, Nosey Browne enters. Jorrocks is delighted to see his old friend and willingly accepts an invitation to a day’s shooting on Browne’s estate.
A few days later, he collects the Yorkshireman and sets out eagerly for the shooting. He is saddened to find that Nosey’s estate is little more than a cramped spot of ground covered with sheds and other outbuildings. Squire Cheatum, learning that Nosey is bankrupt, forbids his neighbor to hunt in his woods; Jorrocks, therefore, is forced to hunt in the yard behind the sheds. Soon he sees a rabbit. In his excitement, he takes a step forward and shoots the animal. As he is about to pick up his prize, a gamekeeper arrives and accuses him of trespassing. After an extended argument, it is shown that Jorrocks’s toe was, at the moment of shooting, over the line on Squire Cheatum’s land, and so the wrathful Jorrocks is fined more than one pound.
Jorrocks will not accept calmly a fine that is so obviously unfair. He hires a lawyer and appeals the case to the county court. On the day of the trial, Jorrocks beams as his attorney pictures him as a substantial citizen with a reputation for good works. He squirms as the squire’s lawyer describes him as a cockney grocer infringing on the rights of countryfolk. At the end, the judges wake up and sustain the fine.
After the fox hunting season ends, Jorrocks accepts an invitation to a stag hunt. The Yorkshireman comes to breakfast with him on the appointed morning. Jorrocks leads him down into the kitchen, where the maid sets out the usual fare. There are a whole ham, a loaf of bread, and a huge sausage. There are muffins, nine eggs, a pork pie, and kidneys on a spit. Betsy is stationed at the stove, where she deftly places mutton chops on the gridiron.
As the two friends eat, Mrs. Jorrocks comes in with an ominous look on her face. She holds up a card, inscribed with a woman’s name and address, that she found in her spouse’s pocket. Jorrocks seizes the card, throws it into the fire, and declares that it is an application for a deaf and dumb institute.
The men set out for the hunt in Jorrocks’s converted fire wagon. Ahead of them is a van carrying a drowsy doe. They are shocked to learn on arriving that their “stag” is that same tame deer imported for the day. She has to be chased to make her stop grazing on the common. Jorrocks’s disappointment is complete when he learns that he was invited only for his contribution to the club fund.
Abandoning the hunt for a while, Jorrocks takes a boat trip to Margate with the Yorkshireman. The expedition is also a failure, for he leaves his clothes on the beach when he goes for a swim and the tide engulfs them. The unhappy grocer is forced to go back to London in hand-me-downs.
Jorrocks, seeing numerous books for sale at fancy prices, determines to write a four-volume work on France that will sell for thirty pounds. With little more ado, he collects the Yorkshireman and sets out for Dover. He is charmed with Boulogne because the French are merry and the weather is sunny. On the coach to Paris, Jorrocks met the Countess Benvolio, as he calls her in cockney fashion. The countess is quite receptive to the rich grocer. She seems to be a beautiful, youthful woman, until she goes to sleep in the coach and her teeth drop down. Once in Paris, Jorrocks is snugly installed as the favored guest in her apartment. He begins to collect information for his book.
The countess is avid for presents, and before long, Jorrocks begins to run short of money. He tries to recoup at the races, but the Frenchmen are too shrewd for him. Finally, he offers to race fifty yards on foot with the Yorkshireman perched on his shoulders, against a fleet French baron who is to run a hundred yards. Jorrocks takes a number of wagers and gives them to the countess to hold. He wins the race easily. He regains his breath and looks about for the countess, but she has disappeared.
With little money and being unable to speak French, the Englishmen take quite some time to return to the countess’s apartment. By the time they arrive, a gross Dutchman is installed as her favorite. When Jorrocks tries to collect his wagers, she presents him with a detailed board bill. Pooling his last funds with the Yorkshireman’s hoard, he is barely able to pay the bill. Chastened by his sojourn among the French, Jorrocks returns to England.