Yonder's Henry

Short Story (1934) from Esquire

Yonder's Henry

A slightly befuddled account of a completely cockeyed hunt, starring Henry, a foxy hound

by Thorne Smith

His question so upset me I put down my drink untasted.

Albert was like that. Upsetting. Years ago I had gone to school with Albert. He had been upsetting then - a sort of experimental liar indefatigable in his efforts to plumb the depths of human credulity. Fifteen years in the discard that had been. Now fate had returned Albert - Albert Green - to my side. In a little bar in a little town in the large state of Texas we had been celebrating all morning. I now wonder why. In his charmingly casual manner Albert had just inquired if I cared to go fox hunting. He had added modestly that he lived in this state of Texas together with a population composed almost entirely of foxes. The first part of this statement might just possibly be true. I'm inclined to believe it is. He seemed to be living in Texas. It would take a big, strong state like Texas to stand for Albert. He would have upset any normal state just as he upset me. At the moment he was more interested in upsetting a lot of foxes.

I asked him a frank question. "Albert," I asked him, "do I bear on my face the stamp of a man consumed with a secret passion for foxes?"

"Don't have to be passionate about foxes, just to hunt 'em," he replied. "In fact, you can hate foxes."

I stopped to consider exactly where I stood about foxes. It surprised me to discover that I had no strong feelings either for or against foxes. Years ago I had heard something about a fox mentioned in connection with a bunch of grapes. Since that time, however, foxes had gone their way and I had gone mine. Our paths never crossed. I saw no reason why they should.

"We'll waive that part of it," I said with befitting dignity. "What do you know about fox-hunting anyway?"

Albert indulged in a tragic laugh. "Every possible thing," he asserted. "Own the finest pack of hounds in Texas. You'd think they were on tracks the way they follow foxes. Wonderful dogs. And Henry! What a hound. Man! Man! Ho, I know all about foxes. Recognize one at a glance."

"To recognize a fox is one thing," I told him, "but to chase him over the landscape is an elk of another burrow."

"Come on down to my place and I'll show you," urged Albert. "We'll do more than just hunt foxes. Henry'll juggle some for you. It's his way."

Precocious dogs, like precocious children had always been one of my pet aversions, but the picture of a noble hound juggling a number of foxes fired my imagination. I accepted Albert's invitation, which goes to prove that one should never talk with Albert in a barroom.

On further consideration I am inclined to believe one should never talk with Albert at all.

Chapter II of "Yonder's Henry"