It came from gettin' 'eated, that was 'ow the thing begun,
And 'ackin' back to kennels from a ninety-minute run;
'I guess I've copped brownchitis,' says I to brother Jack,
An' then afore I knowed it I was down upon my back.
At night there came a sweatin' as left me deadly weak,
And my throat was sort of tickly an' it 'urt me for to speak;
An' then there came an 'ackin' cough as wouldn't leave alone,
An' then afore I knowed it I was only skin and bone
I never was a 'eavy weight. I scaled at seven four,
An' rode at eight, or maybe at just a trifle more;
And now I'll stake my davy I wouldn't scale at five,
And I'd 'old my own at catch-weights with the skinniest jock alive.
And the doctor says the reason why I sit an' cough an wheeze
Is all along o' varmint, like the cheese-mites in the cheese;
The smallest kind o' varmint, but varmint all the same,
Microscopes or somethin'--I forget the varmints' name.
But I knows as I'm a goner. They never said as much,
But I reads the people's faces, and I knows as I am such;
Well, there's 'Urst to mind the 'orses and the 'ounds can look to Jack,
Though 'e never was a patch on me in 'andlin' of a pack.
You'll maybe think I'm boastin', but you'll find they all agree
That there's not a whip in Surrey as can 'andle 'ounds like me;
For I knew 'em all from puppies, and I'd tell 'em without fail --
If I seed a tail a-waggin', I could tell who wagged the tail.
And voices--why, Lor' love you, it's more than I can 'elp,
It just comes kind of natural to know each whine an' yelp;
You might take them twenty couple where you will and let 'em run,
An' I'd listen by the coverside and name 'em one by one.
I say it's kind of natural, for since I was a brat
I never cared for readin' books, or fancy things like that;
But give me 'ounds and 'orses an' I was quite content,
An' I loved to ear 'em talkin' and to wonder what they meant.
And when the 'ydrophoby came five year ago next May,
When Nailer was be'avin' in a most owdacious way,
I fixed 'im so's 'e couldn't bite, my 'ands on neck an' back,
An' I 'eaved 'im from the kennels, and they say I saved the pack.
An' when the Master 'eard of it, 'e up an' says, says 'e,
'If that chap were a soldier man, they'd give 'im the V.C.'
Which is some kind a' medal what they give to soldier men;
An' Master said if I were such I would 'a' got it then.
Parson brought 'is Bible and come to read to me;
''Ave what you like, there's everythink within this Book,' says 'e.
Says I, 'They've left the 'orses out!' Says 'e, 'You are mistook;'
An' 'e up an' read a 'eap of things about them from the Book.
And some of it amazin' fine; although I'm fit to swear
No 'orse would ever say 'Ah, ah!' same as they said it there.
Per'aps it was an 'Ebrew 'orse the chap 'ad in his mind,
But I never 'eard an English 'orse say nothin' of the kind.
Parson is a good 'un. I've known 'im from a lad;
'Twas me as taught 'im ridin', an' 'e rides uncommon bad;
And he says--But 'ark an' listen! There's an 'orn! I 'eard it blow;
Pull the blind from off the winder! Prop me up, and 'old me so.
They're drawin' the black 'anger, just aside the Squire's grounds.
'Ark and listen! 'Ark and listen! There's the yappin' of the 'ounds:
There's Fanny and Beltinker, and I 'ear old Boxer call;
You see I wasn't boastin' when I said I knew 'em all.
Let me sit an' 'old the bedrail! Now I see 'em as they pass:
There's Squire upon the Midland mare, a good 'un on the grass;
But this is closish country, and you wants a clever 'orse
When 'alf the time you're in the woods an' 'alf among the gorse.
'Ark to Jack a'ollering--a-bleatin' like a lamb.
You wouldn't think it now, perhaps, to see the thing I am;
But there was a time the ladies used to linger at the meet
Just to 'ear me callin' in the woods: my callin' was so sweet.
I see the crossroads corner, with the field awaitin' there,
There's Purcell on 'is piebald 'orse, an' Doctor on the mare,
And the Master on 'is iron grey; she isn't much to look,
But I seed 'er do clean twenty foot across the 'eathly brook.
There's Captain Kane an' McIntyre an' 'alf a dozen more,
And two or three are 'untin' whom I never seed afore;
Likely-lookin' chaps they be, well groomed and 'orsed and dressed --
I wish they could 'a seen the pack when it was at its best.
It's a check, and they are drawin' down the coppice for a scent,
You can see as they've been runnin', for the 'orses they are spent;
I'll lay the fox will break this way, downwind as sure as fate,
An' if he does you'll see the field come poundin' through our gate.
But, Maggie, what's that slinkin' beside the cover?--See!
Now it's in the clover field, and goin' fast an' free,
It's 'im, and they don't see 'im. It's 'im! 'Alloo! 'Alloo!
My broken wind won't run to it--I'll leave the job to you.
There now I 'ear the music, and I know they're on his track;
Oh, watch 'em, Maggie, watch 'em! Ain't they just a lovely pack!
I've nursed 'em through distemper, an' I've trained an' broke 'em in,
An' my 'eart it just goes out to them as if they was my kin.
Well, all things 'as an endin', as I've 'eard the parson say,
The 'orse is cast, an' the 'ound is past, an' the 'unter 'as 'is day;
But my day was yesterday, so lay me down again.
You can draw the curtain, Maggie, right across the winder pane.