This page has been validated.



his hounds, and not with men. The master gives the chase a good quarter of an hour by the clock; and, leaving the unearthly, or perhaps too earthly sounds behind him, the otter makes up-stream as fast as he can go. It is surprising how far an otter can get in the time, but fear lends speed to his feet. Then begins the prettiest part of the sport. The hounds are laid on, they dash into the river, and instantly open in full cry. The water teems with the scent of the otter; but the deep pools, rapid stickles, and rocky boulders over which the river foams hinder the pace. There is ample time to admire the spirit-stirring and beautiful scene. The whole pack swimming a black-looking pool under a beetling tor in full chorus; now and then an encouraging note on the horn; the echoes of the deep valley; the foaming and roaring Dart flowing down from above; the rich colour from the fern, the gorse, the heather, the moss, and the wild flowers; a few scattered weather-beaten oaks and fir trees, and the stately tors aloft, striking on the eye and ear, make one feel that otter-hunting on Dartmoor is indeed a sport.

"The Dart is a large river, for a Dartmoor stream, and presents many obstacles to the hounds; but they pursue the chase for some distance, and at length stop and mark, as they did before. The otter has got out of hearing, and has rested in a lair known to him under the river-bank. The terriers and an otter-pole dislodge him, and the sport becomes fast and furious. He is seen in all directions, sometimes apparently in two places at once, which makes the novice think there are two or three otters afoot. 'Hoo-gaze!' is now often heard, as one or another catches sight of him, and the field become very noisy and excited. It is still the object to run him up-stream, whilst he now finds it easier to swim down. 'Look out below!' is therefore heard in the fine voice of the master.