In the grey dawn the game was turned and the branch broken by our best piqueur. A rare day's hunting lies before us.

Google says piqueur is a French word means whipper in English. But I still can't understand the words piqueur and game here.

I find in old English , game has the meaning of wild animals or birds that people hunt for sport or food. It's uncountable. Probably it's correct for this context.

[Edit] More specific context of this sentence are:

And then, if he lived near to a cover, there would be the more hares and rabbits to eat out his harvest, and the more hunters to tramper it down. My lord has a new horn from England. He has laid out seven francs in decorating it with silver and gold, and fitting it with a silken leash to hang about his shoulder. The hounds have been on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Mesmer, or Saint Hubert in the Ardennesm, or some other holy intercessor who has made a speciality of the health of hunting-dogs. In the grey dawn the game was turned and the branch broken by our best piqueur. A rare day's hunting lies before us. Wind a jolly flourish, sound the bien-aller with all your lungs. Jacques must stand by, hat in hand, while the quarry and hound and huntsman sweep across his field, and a year's sparing and labouring is as though it had not been.——The Essential Travel Writings, Robert Louis Stevenson


1 Answer 1


My reconstruction has grown too long for a comment, So here goes

In the grey dawn the game (the deer probably)
was turned (startled out of hiding; various sites)
and the branch (thicket, brushwood, furze Oxford Shorter)
broken (burst open ShorterOxford break vb., VII 1))
by our best piqueur (whipper-in Elian and Oxford).
A rare day's hunting lies before us.

The deer will have been sleeping concealed in the thicket of brushwood. The piqueur's job will be to know these hiding places; and the hunt starts when the deer breaks cover.

  • I just wondered why you deleted your comments:).
    – Rowan
    Dec 6, 2015 at 4:30
  • A thoroughly comprehensive answer, thank you all you guys.
    – Rowan
    Dec 6, 2015 at 4:36
  • @ Rowan they seemed to be duplicates: piquer = whipper in. Game = deer/quarry. And turned, broke, branch needed citations. BTW I still don't know how the raconteur fits into the story. Is his harvest destroyed? Does he join th hunt?
    – Hugh
    Dec 6, 2015 at 4:37

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