" Well, your friend had certainly a narrow squeak for it," said Danvers. " I remember an occasion, however, where the boar preferred attacking the horse to the man.
" I was one of a hunting party near Sukkur in Upper Scinde. I don't know if many of you fellows have been in that part of the world, but it is quite a different style of hunting country to this, or indeed, any other with which I am acquainted. The whole country of Upper Scinde within miles of the river Indus may be considered in the light of an extensive cover for pigs, except those parts in the vicinity of the villao-es which have been cleared for cultivation. It is an alluvial flat, subject to inundations in the summer and autumn, and quite destitute of hills, except a few in the neighbourhood of Sukkur. Before we got hold of the country, the old Ameers used to enjoy a bit of sport as well as ourselves, though they pursued it in a different way. I much doubt if those debauched and enervated old scamps could have sat a horse after a pig, though it would have been a fine sight to see them. In lieu of hunting, however, they preferred shooting them, and with this object enclosed certain portions of the jungle with immense walls, called maharas, composed of long-withes and boughs mostly of jow interlaced, much in the style of English wattle fences, though far higher and stouter. They were usually indeed six or seven feet high, and fixed between strong stakes, so that the pig should not be able either to jump over or break through them, but run down alongside. In these walls at intervals were small gates, which, when the Ameers were not shikaring, were left open, and afforded free ingress and egress to the numerous pig. They were usually built so as to separate a thick tract of jungle from the neighbouring more open land ; and, as it was found to be very difficult to get the pig out in the open without some contrivance or other, the Upper Scinde English hunters used to keep up one or two of these walls at their own expense. I hear, though, that the jungle has since quite overgrown our old hunting-grounds.
" The way we managed was this. Towards morning, when the pig were supposed to have left the jungle, and were feeding away from it, the gates I have mentioned were closed; fires were lighted all down the line of mahara in its immediate vicinity, and men stationed in the weak places, with orders to keep up a general howling. By these means the pig were kept away from that particular jungle, and in the morning we sallied forth and beat others, to which it was expected they would have betaken themselves, and whence, when driven out, would make for the principal and favourite cover. The most important of these maharas indeed the only one we systematically kept up was situated close to the village of Aliwan, and was frequently a place of meet, on account of its being an almost certain find.
" We had built near the village a rough sort of large barn-like place, too, of the same material as the mahara, and this was roomy enough to contain from a dozen to twenty beds, so that we were never obliged to send tents out, but chummed all together in our common landy, as it was called.
" We had ridden out from Shikarpore where I was on leave one afternoon, and met at dinner about half a dozen strong, having previously ordered the usual night arrangements for keeping the pig beyond the mahara.^ " Scinde, you know, a perfect furnace for more than half the year, is bitterly cold in the winter season, and we used to have some difficulty in keeping ourselves warm in the landy, for the air penetrated through a thousand openings in the loosely constructed walls of jow. But it was very jolly, and those parties were always uncommonly merry.
"Early on the following morning, after a cup of tea and a biscuit, we sallied out to take up our position behind a certain screen of piled-up bushes, which in some degree concealed us from the pig breaking from the jungle. It was the cover we usually first beat, and in it we rarely failed to find hog.
" We were not disappointed on this occasion, for after half an hour or so of anxious expectation, and when the beaters had got about three parts of the way through that particular stretch of jungle, a nice sounder, with a good boar in it, broke away. Occasionally they went in a direction away from, but more commonly, as on this occasion, towards our mahara.
" After giving them sufficient law, we crashed away in pursuit. The first part of the ground was open, but so cut and rooted up by the pigs themselves in their search for food, as to form numerous broad, deep patches of rough, uneven surface ; and although horses and men accustomed to it usually made light of this ground, it caused now and then an ugly fall. Separating this from the fallow cotton fields which lay near the mahara, was a nullah filled with jow, and which, in the time of the inundation, formed a stream only to be crossed by swimming. It was generally an object to get, if possible, tolerably near the pig before they reached this, so as to be able to mark their point of exit on the other side, and pick them up there quickly. This was desirable, as sometimes they ran down the cover afforded by its jungly bed, and, while the hunters were vainly galloping in one direction, they might emerge at a point far distant and get clear away.
" This time, however, we all found our way through the nullah successfully, though some parts were difficult, and got well after the boar on the other side A few deep trenches, cut to lead the water during the time of the inundation, and at this season hidden by high pampas grass and jungle, afforded rather dangerous obstacles, owing to the difficulty of seeing the cut. But most of us, as well as our horses, knew the nature of these, and also the easiest points at which to negotiate them. So, though some were more or less thrown out at different times, we managed to be pretty close together when the pig neared the mahara.
" The poor beast must have been pretty bewildered on this occasion, with so many horsemen in pursuit, and an incessant howling kept up by the men stationed on the weak parts of the wall. This, however, he had not yet reached, when three of us closed with him and had a desperate struggle for the first spear.
" Sometimes one, sometimes another, seemed to have the lead as the boar jinked or turned, until the man on my left for I was in the centre drew a little away from us as the pig gave him a chance. He took advantage of it, made a desperate effort to spear, and succeeded. With his spear out, holding it by the very end, he managed to prick the boar, and only just in time, for, in another second, I closed, and drove my weapon well in. We were now close to the mahara, and racing down alongside it, and, as I shot ahead, the boar must have turned and met the third man of the party. He came, end-on, against the charging pig, and horse and man went down with a tremendous crash. The rider was shot far in advance, but not being much hurt, quickly picked himself up, and, luckily, the pig when he, too, had got over his surprise charged at the horse, who also lost no time in recovering his legs. The latter galloped away, with —to the great satisfaction of my friend on foot the enraged boar in full pursuit. It, luckily, seemed to have fixed its especial enmity and attention on the horse, or perhaps, in the scrimmage, had not caught sight of the dismounted man, who soon climbed on to the top of the mahara to be out of harm's way.
" The rest of us soon tackled the boar again, and he quickly bit the dust; but the unfortunate horse, when recovered, was found to have a tremendous gash on the inside of one of the fore pasterns, from which the blood came in streams ; and it was long before he was again fit for the field.
" It was a fortunate escape, certainly," said Vivian, who had also visited Upper Scinde. " But I was told the other day of a far closer shave than that. It may possibly have happened at the very place you describe, Danvers, for it occurred in Upper Scinde, though I rather think it was at the ' Ban Mahara/ not, as you know, very many miles away. Wherever it was, however, it happened in this way :—
"A** very old and savage boar had been driven out, and the party of hunters had got away well in its wake, though, as I imagine, rather too close after it broke. P--, who was a very heavy weight, made the best of a fair start, and quickly came up with the sulky old fellow. Before he had time to spear it, round it came unexpectedly at him and charged home. It caught the horse in front, ripped him desperately, and brought him down. P-was projected to a considerable distance, and, as it turned out for him, fortunately, was stunned. The boar left the horse, and rushed up to the prostrate rider, with evidently the most vicious intentions. P--, however, being insensible, moved not ; and the pig, finding no resistance to his intended digs, simply smelt at the senseless form. Satisfied with the damage wrought, or disdaining to attack an inanimate object, after a snuff or two, he took himself off, and trotted away into a neighbouring jungle, as far as I remember, untouched.
** See Appendix, Note G.
" A narrow squeak, indeed," remarked Mowbray; " but it is not always with the tush that pigs do damage. m ' .
" On one occasion, when I was at Ajmere, in Eaj-pootana, with our political chief on duty, a wretched boy was brought into our camp hospital by his friends, with a broken leg. He had been employed in the fields in the neighbourhood, and had either disturbed a sounder of pig, or, in some other way, got in their road. At any rate, they charged him, and one hit him full with its snout, so it was said, knocked him clear over, of course, and fractured his leg without a trace of any bite or rip. In this state he was found and brought in."
" Very likely the work of a sow," said Vivian ; "but they bite fearfully hard also, at times. I once saw one lay hold of a horse's tail, and tug away vigorously before the latter managed to get clear by a liberal display of his hoofs, which knocked piggee out of time. They will seize hold of anything a horse's leg, or a man s foot, if it comes in their way. It was close to the very mahara of which Danvers spoke, that on one occasion a sow charged one of the hunters, and, springing up, laid hold of his foot. The blood spurted out; and when, after the pig was killed, we examined the wound, it was found to be rather a bad one, for the leather of the boot had been bitten quite through."
"I suppose one might multiply, ad infinitum, accounts of accidents of this nature," observed Mowbray. "On the very first occasion on which I ever saw a pig killed, a horse was ripped, and a man very nearly so. As it happened in the Deccan, at the most celebrated meet of the "Nugger Hunt'—the grove of Arkola and in quite a different style of country to those described, I may as well give you an account of the day's proceedings.