I shirked the task of endeavouring to attain my object by swimming.
" Eventually the water ran out when the rain ceased as rapidly as it had risen, and most fortunately for me the political agent in Cutch, who was travelling from Mandavie, arrived with an escort; and an hour or so after my swim we were able to ford the stream without any difficulty. The bridle of my pony had caught in some prickly-pear bushes, and he was soon captured and brought to me, and I reached Bhooj without any further adventure."
"I have been told," said Hawkes, "that the best and safest plan in cases of swimming horses in rough water, is to get out of the saddle, and gripping the horse by the mane, paddle alongside."
" I believe you are right," was Norman s reply. "A horse swims far swifter and better than a man. I have seen natives take them in that way across rivers? just keeping their own bodies immersed, and kicking out a little, but otherwise letting the horse do the principal part of the work. The old horse I have now, with a rope attached to his head-stall to guide it, was once taken by a native across the Beemah river, then in flood, and I suppose a quarter of a mile broad. The horse soon outswam the man, and, instead of being guided, pulled him in tow. I myself went over in a small boat. In crossing the Taptee they often haul the horse's head right up to the boat, so that, even if not a good swimmer, it is lugged across; but these are large ferry boats."
" To return to the circumstance of pig taking to water," said Stewart. "I suppose most of us have seen how thoroughly they enjoy a good roll in it. If a hunted pig is lost and water is near, he will most likely be met with if the hunter proceeds there at once, as I told you in my anecdote yesterday evening. I once, however, saw a boar fall a victim to his thirst in rather a singular manner. This occurred also near Dongwa in Guzerat, and at the same meet, though not on the same day, as the muggur affair I have already described.
" We had hunted, and slightly wounded, a large boar, and losing sight of him for a brief space among the prickly-pear hedges which surround the fields in that part, marvelled to see nothing of the beast as we jumped into the open field into which he had entered. Shortly before he had been viewed by several of us, and his sudden disappearance was unaccountable. The earth seemed to have swallowed him up. We rode to and fro, but there was nothing to be seen of him : till at last a peasant came up to one of the riders, pointed to the middle of the field, and beckoned him to go along with him. He went, and was conducted to a slight dip in the ground, in the lowest part of which a well-pit had been dug out as a trough indicated for the watering of cattle.
"The water was within two or three feet of the surface; and on looking in my friend saw a pig swimming about, and making strenuous efforts to climb on to the bank and get out, but without success. The pig eyed him savagely and snorted rage and defiance, and the hunter, shouting to the rest of us, jumped off his horse, and without taking time for consideration, commenced prodding at the unfortunate occupant of the well. We were all soon around; and some on foot, some from horseback, engaged in digging at the poor beast, who soon succumbed with numerous wounds.
"When he was dragged out, and we reflected on the exceedingly dirty advantage we had taken of poor piggie's thirst and natural inclination for water, I confess I, for one, felt considerably ashamed of the part I had taken in the porcicidal act.
" It was the lost, wounded boar, who seeing water, and finding it easy of reach, had evidently plunged in headlong, regardless of the difficulty there might be in getting out again."
" Yes," remarked Mackenzie, " a pig will do any- ' thing for a roll in water when distressed. I have seen them fling themselves down in it even when closely pressed by the hunters ; and I don't wonder at it, for it revives them wonderfully. They run and fight after a dip in and lap at water, as if they were quite fresh."
After one or two had related instances in illustration of the revivifying effect of water on hunted pigs, in respect both of its internal and external application, the party broke up, and most of them were soon enjoying that " uncurtained sleep," the natural result of healthy and invigorating exercise. A couple of them, however, having their yet unfinished cheroots still smoking, and seduced by the brilliant, unclouded beauty of a moon near its full, pulled their wraps more tightly round their frames for the night air was very chill and sauntered to a neighbouring rise in the ground. They had seen the wild and desolate landscape of the " Eunn " as it appeared in the early morn, and under the glare and heat of the noon-day sun, and now they looked on it in the calm, cold light of an Indian winters moon.
Both were true, keen sportsmen, and deeply alive to all the beauties of this glorious world. With the manly, adventurous nature, was associated an almost tender love and appreciation of the external beauties and varying aspects of the scenes into which their pursuit led them.
The sheets of water and the salt-encrusted waste of sand shimmered and sparkled in the moonbeams, while the distance sank by imperceptible gradations into a mellow haze of semi-luminous vapour. The hills to the right were bold and defined in outline, looking nearer than they actually were, and the neighbouring trees loomed large as they stood out against the moonlit sky. The night was calm, but ever and anon the sighing night air came creeping over the waste with a low wailing murmur, and the leaves were stirred into gladness, and their shadows danced on the white tents beneath in a million of fantastic evolutionsBut the dreamy solitude of niglit was broken by the sounds of life which came from the marsh and its adjacent waters. The plash of the wild-duck settling, as flock after flock came swooping down, might be heard at intervals, and occasionally also the rushing sound of their pinions overhead as a flight swept past on its swift and trackless course. Strange sounds of pipings and boomings, too, would arise from the marsh, and mix with the croaking of frogs, sounds undetected in the noisy hum of daylight, but now clearly and distinctly audible. The jackals howled at intervals ; and a distant wail, like a child's lamentation, announced the presence of a grisly hyaenaŚ a sound only rivalled by the despairing melancholy of the hoot of an owl.
The two men, Norman and Mowbray, were neither of them strictly so-called religious, but they walked back to their tents quiet and subdued, not unimpressed by the wild solitariness of the scene ; perhaps, for the moment, with minds attuned to rise from the contemplation of the visible handiwork of its Creator to Him who had made it.