'Of course I do, Marius. But you shouldn't have been so funny. You nearly made me laugh. That would have been fatal.'
Batala, a walled town, about a mile across, has a population of some 25,000 people, and is twenty-four miles to the east of Amritsar. The Dalhousie range of the mighty Himalayas lies about fifty miles off; but the mountains, when snow-capped, look very much nearer. In those days there was not, as there is now, a line of rail connecting Amritsar with Batala. The journey from one to the other had commonly to be accomplished, either by tum-tum, a light cart, with two or three changes of horses; or else by ekka, a country cart, which last mode of conveyance was very often used by Miss Tucker in coming years. It was a peculiarly rough and wearisome mode of travelling, the ekka having no springs; but very early she took to doing as far as possible what the Indians do in such cases. Anything that would tend to make her one with them was eagerly attempted. For instance, she began speedily to sit upon the floor as Natives do; and at Indian gatherings or feasts she would not only sit as they sat, but would share their food. She must have been singularly supple-jointed for her years, to be able to adopt this position without any serious inconvenience. The Rev. Robert Clark writes, with reference to her Batala mode of life:鈥擖br> 'Peggotty.'
The time went very pleasantly. Some adventures I had — two of which I told in the Tales of All Countries, under the names of The O’Conors of Castle Conor, and Father Giles of Ballymoy. I will not swear to every detail in these stories, but the main purport of each is true. I could tell many others of the same nature, were this the place for them. I found that the surveyor to whom I had been sent kept a pack of hounds, and therefore I bought a hunter. I do not think he liked it, but he could not well complain. He never rode to hounds himself, but I did; and then and thus began one of the great joys of my life. I have ever since been constant to the sport, having learned to love it with an affection which I cannot myself fathom or understand. Surely no man has laboured at it as I have done, or hunted under such drawbacks as to distances, money, and natural disadvantages. I am very heavy, very blind, have been — in reference to hunting — a poor man, and am now an old man. I have often had to travel all night outside a mail-coach, in order that I might hunt the next day. Nor have I ever been in truth a good horseman. And I have passed the greater part of my hunting life under the discipline of the Civil Service. But it has been for more than thirty years a duty to me to ride to hounds; and I have performed that duty with a persistent energy. Nothing has ever been allowed to stand in the way of hunting — neither the writing of books, nor the work of the Post Office, nor other pleasures. As regarded the Post Office, it soon seemed to be understood that I was to hunt; and when my services were re-transferred to England, no word of difficulty ever reached me about it. I have written on very many subjects, and on most of them with pleasure, but on no subject with such delight as that on hunting. I have dragged it into many novels — into too many, no doubt — but I have always felt myself deprived of a legitimate joy when the nature of the tale has not allowed me a hunting chapter. Perhaps that which gave me the greatest delight was the description of a run on a horse accidentally taken from another sportsman — a circumstance which occurred to my dear friend Charles Buxton, who will be remembered as one of the members for Surrey.
At the end of this was written, 'You and Miss Masterton will be fetched at 2.20. Both will be prepared to take notes. Formal dress, please.5
What was Scott thinking? He was raised on cross-country skis in Minnesota. What did he knowabout melting shoes and ice coffins? Even the Badwater race director, Chris Kostman, knew Scottwas out of his element: “This race was thirty-five miles further than his longest previous race,”