I could not twist any more, it was just which of us could get there first. I gathered all my remaining strength, for I was mad, mad with terror, and bounded forward.
After me came Jack, I felt his hot breath on my flank. I jumped the ditch, yes, I found power to jump that ditch where there was a rabbit run just by the trunk of a young oak. Jack jumped after me; we must both have been in the air at the same time. But I got through the rabbit run, whereas Jack hit his sharp nose against the trunk of the tree and broke his neck. Yes, he fell dead into the ditch.
I crawled on a few yards to a thick clump and squatted down, for I could not stir another inch. So it came about that I heard them all talking on the other side.
One of them said I was the finest hare he had ever coursed. Others, who had dragged Jack out of the ditch, lamented his death, especially the owner, who vowed that he was worth L50 and abused Tom. Tom, he said, had caused him to be killed—I don’t know how, but I suppose because he had ridden forward and tried to turn me. The Red-faced Man also scolded Tom. Then he added—
“Well, I am glad she got off, for she’ll give us a good run with the harriers one day. I shall always know that hare again by the white marks on its back; also it is the biggest I have seen for a long while. Come on, my friends, the dog is dead and there’s an end of it. At least we have had a good morning’s sport, so let’s go to the Hall and get some lunch.”
The Hare paused for a little, then looked up at me in its comical fashion and asked—
“Did you ever course hares, Mahatma?”
“Not I, thank goodness,” I answered.
“Well, what do you think of coursing?”
“I would rather not say,” I replied.
“Then I will,” said the Hare, with conviction. “I think it horrible.”
“Yes, but, Hare, you do not remember the pleasure this sport gives to the men and the dogs; you look at it from an entirely selfish point of view.”
“And so would you, Mahatma, if you had felt Jack’s hot breath on your back and Jill’s teeth in your tail.”
The Hare sat silent for a time, while I employed myself in watching certain shadows stream past us on the Great White Road. Among them was that of a politician whom I had much admired upon the earth. In this land of Truth I was grieved to observe certain characteristics about him which I had never before suspected. It seemed to me, alas! that in his mundane career he had not been so entirely influenced by a single-hearted desire for the welfare of our country as he had proclaimed and I had believed. I gathered even that his own interests had sometimes inspired his policy.
He went by, leaving, so far as I was concerned, a somewhat painful impression from which I sought relief in the company of the open-souled Hare.