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VII.—THE PLAIN OF SHARON.
Here the scene changes. dows were filled (for glass was
One more move, and the not) with translucent blue-print blindfold chess - player aban- paper coaxed from Signal offidoned, for a time, his game. cers. North Force ceased to exist. Luxuries such as settees, armThe 4th Cavalry Division was chairs, wardrobes, were imordered to Sarona, near Jaffa. ported, manufactured, or There the pack began that won.' Subalterns were seen season which will live in the in droves riding down the memory of every one who transformed village street, dropwent out with them, when a ping cards at what looked like bath-chair in Cheltenham is his English holiday cottages, set only ride.
in gardens something like what German cultivators—self-ex- one has at home. iled on religious grounds-built Clattering, troops of “sirSarona. War came, and they dars” rode into stable-yards had to be moved elsewhere, and straightened each other's for the front-trench line, before Sam Brownes and neckties Allenby's “push,” ran not far punctiliously before calling, with ahead. Their village sheltered, gifts of silk handkerchiefs and in turn, British and Italian fruit, to
fruit, to welcome a newlysoldiers ; was abandoned when arrived memsahib in warm' Hinthe great forward move came, dustani (which, being someand had fallen into a most times a war bride, she did not unpicturesque decay.
always understand). Enter the Division - with Side-saddles from home or wives, for the adventurous raised mysteriously in the counpioneers of the officers' women- tryside ; did the German fräukind had already made their leins ride 1-were seen. Never way out to join their husbands. mind the make! A bit shabby? An intrepid handful, indeed, The regimental saddler will see had ventured into Syria, mak to that. Not enough to go ing “homes of sorts" in tents round! Then there are plenty beside the Orontes, and queer here who can ride astride. little walled-in houses hired Amazed Arabs found their from village notables. Pros- villages invaded not only by pects of real cottages in the English horsemen and their European style, in a village set dogs (that was a madness the among orange - gardens and wonder of which had ceased), almond-groves, drew many more but by women on horseback; to the Palestine plains.
not walking behind, mark you, Unspeakable dirt was shov- with a cauldron balanced on elled-not merely scrubbed, but the head, while the lord and shovelled-away. Broken win- master rode ahead, but riding
and talking, rosy-faced and earth cracks have sides black unveiled, with the men—and and precipitous, their depths, well ahead at times, when the perhaps sixty feet below, a mount was good and et ta'aleb morass of grey-green, and deep was running fast.
enough to engulf horse and For the country, picture mile rider. after mile of close springy turf No few spills were occasuch as you may find on the sioned, too, by the war-time Sussex Downs, but lit with trenches and shelter-pits, now flowers lovelier than even Sussex overgrown with green and praccan provide. Solomon sang tically invisible (but still fes“The Rose of Sharon," 1 which tooned with hidden barbed we should call a narcissus; wire), which dotted the hillbut there is still food for many sides over which the old battlepoets' songs in the stretches of line ran. purple iris, the blue lupin, the Bible names come thick in scarlet and pink anemones, the our hunting diary. Each vilmontbretia and ranunculus, lage of Sharon's plain, set high which set whole hillsides ablaze, on its ancient mound, has its acres at a time, with colours place in the ancient chronicles. no garden at home can rival. Ibn Ibrak, whose gardens gave Isaiah was not far out when he respite to so many a hardspoke of the "excellency of pressed jack, is Bene-Berach. Sharon.”
Like Yazour, near by, and Beit Spring here is not heralded Dedjan (Beth-Dagon; not the by "them stinkin' violets,” but one in the Bible, but nevertheby a scent of almond and orange less a place sacred to the Philblossom so heavy that the istine god), it is named as a stranger, coming when it is at city conquered by Sennacherib. its full, almost faints for a Kefr Ana is Ono (“the valley breath of unsweetened air. For of craftsmen ”-Neh. vii. 37; obstacles, a cactus hedge here xi. 35), through which Joseph and there—but be wary of it; was led when he journeyed its inch-long 'spikes are a terror from Egypt into the Holy to horses, and may be death Land; probable resting-place, to hounds — and the yawning too, of the Holy Family in the wady which suddenly, when flight into Egypt. Yehudiyeh the pace is hot, gapes before is Jud or Jehud, a.city of a startled field. Seldom actu- Dan.2 ally running with water, except Every run hounds gave us, when the sudden fierce rains every notable point we made, turn them, for a week at a was across soil rich in the histime, into raging torrents, these tory of Israel.
And now to hunting again. our jack over in the open. Old These are jottings, from the Sexton and Sanitor were fairly racing
for blood and were within a few Master's diary, of runs with yards of him when he crossed a wady the Armageddon Hunt after it and gained a good hundred yards on had settled in what we called hounds. On they went again, gainSarona Vale":
ing inch: by inch on him, and the
leading hound was within five yards Met at the Queen's Bays at 7.15 A.M. of his brush when he entered the A very large field, numbering about gardens of Beit Dedjan. 150, met hounds. . . . Moving off
Here scent was not so good, and due east, hounds were put on to a after ten minutes hounds halloa—a fox. There wasn't an ounce stopped, five fresh jack being viewed of scent, and hounds could only very This hunt was a five-mile point as
away from one small orange-grove. occasionally get the line. However, after ten minutes of very slow hunt
the crow flies. ing, during which time old Hardwick did some excellent work, scent gradu
Met at the 38th Central India ally improved as the sun got stronger Horse at 1.30 P.M. We drew the and hounds started to bustle with open country and were soon on a some rare music.
jackal. We then had an hour and We evidently changed on to a forty minutes, covering a large bit of jackal amongst the hills, and scent country with two four-mile points. got better until we were running
However, altho' it was a fine gallop, good pace. Taking us into Turk hounds undoubtedly changed many Farm, hounds never dwelt a second times and we had great trouble in but pushed him through and away at keeping tail hounds up as the pace the east and so across to Mulebbis was very hot. Wood, entering the cover with their Finally old Sexton and Vanquish jackal some two hundred yards ahead. pulled down their jack together while Running down the side, our good old the rest of the pack were hunting jack took us clean through the cover another. However, there were eight and went away near “ Lone Tree," couple of hounds up in the end, and and hounds rolled him over in the they ate him, skin and bones and all. open (square 021b). This was a rare Old Nelson was lost and has not good hunt of 40 minutes, the last been seen since. part being exceedingly fast.
Micky was also left out, but was A four-mile point. Not more than found four days later. two-thirds of the field were up at the kill and nobody was with hounds Met at 7.30 A.M. at the mouth of when they actually rolled him over. the Auja. About 70 people out. All hounds up-i.é., eight and a half Moving off across the river, a jackal couple.
was soon found and hounds fairly
raced for 25 minutes, rolling their Met at Queen's Bays at 7.30 AM. jack over in the open. A field of about 130, including four Finding again at once, hounds took ladies, met hounds.
us at a desperate pace for five miles piloted over a beautiful line of as straight as a die. country. Leaving Sakia close on our Only seven people out of the field left, we found the going a bit heavy saw the end of this run, as the pace as we were taken over to Wady was killing. Hounds were stopped at Nosrah, where I think in all proba- the first check, as tail hounds were bility we changed.
badly left, and it took us some time On our way towards Beit Dedjan, to collect them. after crossing the wady hounds Left out Hardwick, Bengal, and gained a view and looked like rolling Wisdom. Bengal came back during
the afternoon and Wisdom was col- the main wady. However, luck falected in the evening. Hardwick re voured us, for some shepherds headed turned after a week, and came home the fox here. He swung back and dead-beat and as thin as a scare pointed his mask for Red House crow.
Wood, which we saw hounds enter There were five falls. Don about a mile ahead of us, the pace his back, and used foul language being so killing. On arrival at the while a lady follower was passing. wood hounds were called off, as the One Indian officer lost his horse, place swarmed with fresh jack. which ultimately drowned itself in So ended a damn good day, and as the Auja.
I write this in an office at Kantara, I
pray that this hunt will not prove to Met at 2 P.M. at the Kennels and be my last with this wonderful little found at once in an orange-grove a pack. hundred yards distant. Then followed a real good woodland hunt,
[It was not.
The Master, with short bursts across the open, and after an hour hounds killed in exiled for a while at the Base the corner of an orange-grove. on a Staff job, came back to
All hounds up, also Micky and everybody's delight, his own Bint, who were both bitten.
included.] Met at Ibn Ibrak village at 2 P.M. A field of about 70 met hounds.
Met at the mouth of the river Auja Hounds soon put up a fox in the at 2.30 P.M. Took hounds across in open and a nice three-mile point fol- a boat. The ford was very deep and lowed, taking him right across a many of the field got wet. beautiful line of country to the large Moved off over the sand dunes, but wood, where, after some trouble, did not find until entering a patch of hounds were whipped off, having lupin. A jack was soon away close changed on to a jack.
in front of hounds, but unfortunately Here the field, through coffee- he bent right-handed and so made for bousing, nearly all got lost and so Sheikh Muennis orange-groves. missed a second excellent run.
These, of course, swarmed with Putting hounds into a small orange- jack, but after a couple of tries one grove near the big cover, E—was went away at the east end and took soon opening his throttle, and a rare us up over Muennis Hill, through the pretty bit of hunting it was, as hounds small orange-grove, and on towards quickly picked up the line and Hadrah bridge. streamed off down a bit of a wady. At this stage hounds were so beat, At first it looked as if our pilot was owing to the heat, that they were making for the hills, but swinging stopped, and, after tail hounds were left-handed he took us right across collected, we took them down to the the flats to Ibn Ibrak village. Every river to get a drink. hound going like the devil-Sexton Moving off again, hounds soon found and Vanquish racing for the lead, in a wheat-field, and a very fast 15 with old Sanitor and Winsome in minutes followed, our jack running close attendance. Never has there dead straight up the old trench railbeen a better sight than seeing these way for a good 3 miles. Hounds hounds stream across a beautiful were then again stopped, as fresh jack stretch of grass country.
were too abundant and tail hounds Funnily enough, our fox did not were already starting to hunt on their enter the village gardens, but, turning own. sharp left-handed again, took us away On our way home hounds put up to Sakia. Just before entering the a jack in a small patch of barley. gardens here Charlie was viewed just They meant having blood from the in front of hounds, but still goin" start, for they never allowed their strong. Not checking for a second jack to get far ahead. A very fast here, they pushed him right through ten minutes followed, and we continuand headed for Beit Dedjan, going over ally viewed our jack. VOL. coxy.-NO. MCCXCIX.
Finally, when hounds were running horses were really put to a test. On very close on a bit of hilly ground, arrival at the bank of the Auja they overran the line and immedi- our hunted jack was viewed well ately threw their heads up. However, beat not a hundred yards in front altho' nearly all of the field had over- of hounds. ridden the spot, old Bengal quickly Although hounds gained a view they put things right by dropping into a soon had to get their noses down trench and pushing the jack out at again as our jack took advantage of the far end. A sharp sprint and then every small wady. It is uncertain they rolled him over in the open. whether hounds changed here, al
The country was very tricky, as though, judging by the beat condition there are a quantity of cracks and of our hunted jack, it appears rather hidden trenches.
probable. However, without checking I saw three loose horses at one a second they carried the line over time.
the river and so made straight across Major had a nasty fall, and for the woods just close to Mulebbis went to hospital with concussion. village. As leading hounds entered
A doctor cut his mouth about, the cover our jack was viewed about having come a cropper into a blind 150 yards in front. At this stage trench.
several fresh customers had been disFive and a half couple of hounds turbed and tail hounds were not quite out.
up. Thus owing to the abnormal
number of jack in the large woods Met at the mouth of the Auja at hounds were stopped. 6.30 A.M. A field of 70 to 100 met All hounds up bar Bengal. A sixhounds. The sand - dunes held a mile point as the crow flies. stout jack, and the best run of the The General took the time as 23 season was the result.
minutes, so the pace speaks for itself. The General viewed him away and Hounds never checked once from start F-kept on his right flank as far to finish, and although old Sexton and as Sheikh Muennis, to stop him from Sanitor were some hundred yards entering the orange-groves there. ahead of the pack at the finish every
One could see at once that there hound just went his hardest. was a screaming scent, as hounds, flashing over a ploughed field, settled After watering hounds from a pack down and just few. Breasting Mu mule 1 we drew the lupins north of ennis Hill after crossing the El Jelil Sakia, and before long
GBroad they left a small orange-grove was halloaing a jack away at the north on their right, and so made across end. A very sharp burst right across the low lying ground east of the to Triangle Wood followed. village. Crossing the old trench railway we were piloted over the spur
Met at Sheikh Muennis at 6.30. A that runs down to Hadrah bridge. small field met hounds, the early
From thence our jack kept straight morning sorting out the better sportsahead and gallantly set his mask for men from the rest. We drew some Mulebbis Wood, yet four miles away: barley, and General G- was soon
Going over good galloping ground, halloaing a jack away. Bending righthounds went at such a pace that handed he took us on a right-handed
'This was a marvellous proceeding—a speciality of the Sarona Vale.
Even in March, it was warm hunting, and hounds were terribly done. So a Bengali driver, mounted on one mule, led another loaded with canvas waterbottles. “Where the dogs go,” he was strictly charged, "there you are to go." He did. Never was thruster keener than this obedient Indian soldier.
The sight of him, taking hedge and ditch and everything that came his way, with the canvas water-bottles flying heavenward as the led mule followed, was one that would have gladdened hunting-folk at home.
The row kicked up by the led mule, when restive at covert-side, is another story.