A Great Man?

Entry by: percypop

23rd November 2017
A Great Man

Peter Cheney loved the countryside. He farmed a few acres in the best part of Suffolk and enjoyed the company of his gundogs and friends.

He was seen out hunting on mid-week days and was known to take a straight line in any country. He never told a lie, but when asked about the ‘flashy’ horse he was riding that day, he just said “Well, she went well today.” Few people knew he was showing one of the local coper’s nags (in a dropped noseband) which they wanted to sell, and only he could ride.

At any party he was a charming success. Nobody doubted that he enjoyed the attention of a succession of ladies within the county set but he was a welcome addition to any dinner party.

He gambled a little but never cheated, although how he won large sums on rank outsiders that showed a turn of speed on race day was never clear.

He drank with the best and enjoyed spending a night in the local pub with the local poachers and riff raff. Those nights often ran on in to daylight when the chums would try out a little sport in the famous coverts of Lord Dashwood who lived nearby. His shoots were famous throughout the county.


One early morning in August, in the woods around the Dashwood estate, the calls of the cock pheasants drew Peter from his bed like Circe calling to Odysseus, it was irresistible. Gun in hand and dog at heel, he circled the wood and took a brace of pheasant in the first half hour. It was only after he had taken an early hare that he saw Gregory, the Dashwood gamekeeper, striding out of the trees.
“Good day to you Mister Cheney. Up bright and early I see.”
His eyes focussed on the game bag with feathers peeping out of the flap.
Peter put on his best smile. “Just pottering”
Gregory looked him in the eye. “Yes Sir, hope you find another hare or summat.”
Peter called his dog and strolled away without a backward glance.
That evening, the Dashwoods gave a grand dinner party. Hermione Dashwood paid particular attention to her social duties. Everyone who was anyone hoped for an invitation to one of her dinners.
At eleven that morning, she rang Peter in great distress.
“Peter! You must help me out! One of the men from my party has fallen ill! I need you to come and eat with us.”

Nothing could have been better; he knew Dolly Caruth would be there and wangled a place next to her at the table. It was going to be a grand evening.

The company was all he expected. Dolly was there catching his eye whenever her husband was distracted. Dashwood was particularly charming and attentive and the dinner was going splendidly. They ate Beluga with small blinis to begin with and then the butler processed to the head of the table with a troop of maidservants holding trays of game arranged in a delightful way. There were pheasants, woodcock and grouse in silver dishes for every guest.

The elderly man servant came directly to Peter’s chair. He had a domed silver tray which he held aloft with a dignified air. Guest turned to stare as he bent to offer the dish to Peter. He lifted the lid.
“Lady Dashwood ordered this specially for you, Sir”

On the dish lay fish and chips in newspaper.

“She thinks you would like a change of diet Sir!”