(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

John Standish Sawyer, a hard-riding, fox-hunting country gentleman whose farm lay not far from London, decided one fall afternoon that he had too little and too poor hunting in his own country. He also wished to show himself off as a horseman and hunter among a better class of hunters than those in his own vicinity. That evening, the bachelor sat in his study alone; he tried to decide, with the help of numerous glasses of brandy and water, what hunting community he would visit during the remainder of the season. He finally decided that he would go to Market Harborough, which had a good season and good attendance.

The following morning, Mr. Sawyer walked to a neighboring farm to buy a new horse for hunting, since he had only two hunters in his stable. At the neighboring farm, whose owner was more a horse trader than an agriculturist, Sawyer found a beautiful roan that was just what he wanted. Returning to his own farm, The Grange, Sawyer went out to the stables and informed old Isaac, the groom, that he was to bring the new horse home and then prepare to take the inmates of the stable by railway to Market Harborough. Isaac knew his master and did not argue, although he did not quite approve of the journey.

Two days later, Isaac and the horses arrived at Market Harborough, where Sawyer joined them after traveling down to London to outfit himself with new, stylish boots and riding clothes. On the train from London to Market Harborough, Sawyer met a tired-seeming young gentleman, also an ardent fox hunter, named the Honorable Crasher. At the time, neither made much of an impression on the other, although from Sawyer’s position the Honorable Crasher was quite a fashionable figure.

The first morning after Sawyer’s arrival at Market Harborough was a very foggy one. Nevertheless, Sawyer had his groom prepare one of his hunters and joined a group of hunters, one of whom was the Honorable Crasher. When the fog refused to break, the two new friends were invited to lunch with the parson of the neighborhood, Mr. Dove, who was also an ardent hunter. The luncheon was a pleasant one, especially for Sawyer, who was impressed with Cecilia Dove, the parson’s pretty young daughter, a girl greatly devoted to fox hunting. The girl found Sawyer to be a pleasant chap with a respectable estate, and she was also quite taken with him.

Several weeks went by swiftly. Sawyer proved himself to be as good as or better than the other riders at Market Harborough. In addition, there were plenty of foxes to be hunted, most of which gave the hounds and the hunters a lengthy and swift chase. Sawyer’s new horse, the roan, proved as good as he had expected. Sawyer found himself thrown into the company of some merry bachelors who enjoyed life to the utmost and respected him. In addition, he often spent time with pretty Cecilia Dove, who was as captivated with Sawyer as he...

(The entire section is 1180 words.)