Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

39. CHAPTER XXXIX (continued)

With greater promptitude than he had shown yet, he reckoned up his money and found he had two shillings and threepence at his command; there was his knife which might sell for a shilling, and there was the silver watch his Aunt Alethea had given him shortly before she died. The carriage had been gone now a full quarter of an hour, and it must have got some distance ahead, but he would do his best to catch it up, and there were short cuts which would perhaps give him a chance. He was off at once, and from the top of the hill just past the Rectory paddock he could see the carriage, looking very small, on a bit of road which showed perhaps a mile and a half in front of him.

One of the most popular amusements at Roughborough was an institution called "the hounds"--more commonly known elsewhere as "hare and hounds," but in this case the hare was a couple of boys who were called foxes, and boys are so particular about correctness of nomenclature where their sports are concerned that I dare not say they played "hare and hounds"; these were "the hounds," and that was all. Ernest's want of muscular strength did not tell against him here; there was no jostling up against boys who, though neither older nor taller than he, were yet more robustly built; if it came to mere endurance he was as good as any one else, so when his carpentering was stopped he had naturally taken to "the hounds" as his favourite amusement. His lungs thus exercised had become developed, and as a run of six or seven miles across country was not more than he was used to, he did not despair by the help of the short cuts of overtaking the carriage, or at the worst of catching Ellen at the station before the train left. So he ran and ran and ran till his first wind was gone and his second came, and he could breathe more easily. Never with "the hounds" had he run so fast and with so few breaks as now, but with all his efforts and the help of the short cuts he did not catch up the carriage, and would probably not have done so had not John happened to turn his head and seen him running and making signs for the carriage to stop a quarter of a mile off. He was now about five miles from home, and was nearly done up.

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