THE MADDING CROWD.
The scene is an Irish Point-to-Point meeting.
The course lies along a shallow valley, bounded on the north by a wall of cloudy blue mountains.
At each jump stands a group of spectators; the difficulty or danger of an obstacle may be measured by the number of spectators who stand about it, recounting tales of past accidents and hoping cheerfully for the future. Motor cars, side-cars, waggonettes, pony-traps and ass-carts are drawn up anyhow round a clump of whitewashed farm buildings in the background.
Blanketed hunters are having their legs rubbed or being led up and down by grooms. Comes a broken-winded tootle on a coach-horn and the black-and- scarlet drag of the local garrison trundles into view. The unsophisticated gun-horses in the lead shy violently at the flapping canvas of an orange-stall and swerve to the left into a roulette-booth presided over by a vociferous ancient in a tattered overcoat and blue spectacles. The gamb