" Directly it saw us on the bank just above it, at us it came, and was knocked back with a volley. The nearest of our party was close upon it, and probably not more than three or four yards distant. It picked itself up and again made an effort to scramble up the low bank, and again was dropped into the nullah by two of those to whom it was then visible. By this time, however, it had had enough, and was settled without much further scrimmaging. It was a large female.
" And what became of the wounded man ?" asked Smart. " .
"Oh, he came round in time/'was the reply. "Some rupee-plaister acted as an excellent salve to his sores."
" The being dropped each time it attempted to get out of the nullah," said Mowbray, " reminds me of a similar performance with the first tiger I ever assisted in slaying.** I was stationed at Nusseerabad in Kaj-pootana, and went with a friend for a month's shikar during May into the Boondee jungles, about sixty miles distant. Four or five days had passed without our bagging a tiger, though we received khubber of one which got away without our having a chance at it. So we shifted our little camp to a place called Khut-kur, to which we rode one morning. I killed a fine buck cheetal on the road, which was all we got; but on our arrival at Khutkur to which we had sent on men the night before we found that the same tiger we had missed a day or two previous was marked down, and that mandwas, or resting-places from which to fire, were being built in some neighbouring trees. The mandwa seems to be an institution in that part of the country, for I have shikared elsewhere in Raj-pootana without any such construction being attempted, except for sitting up at night. '
** See Appendix, Note L.
"The jungle was very thick, and we were posted about sixty or seventy yards apart, both of us commanding: a hill in front. From it came a nullah which lay between us, and part of this was fully exposed to fire from my tree. Most of you know the anxious excitement with which one generally has to wait for a tiger when being beaten up ; but on this occasion we had no opportunity of exercising that commendable quality —patience. The beaters had been taken round to the other side of the hill, and we had barely established ourselves in the mandwas, and the first shout of the distant line announced that the beat had commenced, when the tiger accepted the notice to quit, and came galloping over the hill in splendid style as hard as he could go, and roaring as he came on to the utmost of his ability.
" There was no sneaking along, or anything in the slightest degree indecisive about the matter. Apparently quite regardless of any hidden danger in front, lie galloped straight on to the position held by my friend. L-would gladly have let him approach closer, but owing to the thickness of the jungle in front and to his right was afraid of losing sight of him ; so, a favourable opportunity occurring when within about thirty yards, he blazed away sharply right and left. The volley was delivered with such effect that the tiger was knocked clean over into a part of the nullah I have mentioned, and which was commanded from my position, but not so from that of my companion.
" It was about forty yards distant, and as the tiger recovered himself and tried to scramble out of the nullah, I planted a bullet in his shoulder and dropped him back. Again he got up and made an effort to ascend the bank, and again I dropped him with another bullet placed not far from my first, and so effectually that he needed no third, as he never rose from the last shot. After waiting a while we descended our respective trees, and went down into the nullah and found him quite dead. He was a fine full-grown male, with enormous whiskers, and had in his death-agony driven one of his teeth right through his foot.
" Such was the first engagement with a tiger at which I was ever present."
" And a clean, neatly-executed piece of sport, too," was Mackenzie's complimentary rejoinder.
" You have seen a good deal of Rajpootana, Mowbray," said Melton. " I suppose there are heaps of all sorts of game there."
" Indeed there are," was the reply. " In the wilder parts, among the hills and great uninhabited jungles which extend over large areas, tigers, bears, and other game, roam at will unmolested, save for the occasional expeditions of English sportsmen. But even by them several parts have remained unvisited; and as nearly the whole country belongs to native chiefs, and they usually interdict the killing of game by the villagers, wild animals are abundant. Indeed, over wide and desolate tracts of country, villages there are none, nothing but extensive wastes of brown jungle, interspersed with rocky ravines and stony hills, the natural fastnesses of predatory beasts.
" But within the limits of a country extending over something like 480 miles of latitude by 530 of longitude at the extreme points, of course every sort of ground is to be found, from the Gooroo Sikur, the highest peak of the Aravelly hills, to the low level of the desert towards Scinde and the Punjaub.
" On most of the vast alluvial plains antelope abound in countless herds. The principality of Meywar is renowned for its lakes, and the whole country is thickly dotted with tanks, the resort of innumerable wild-geese, duck, snipe, and other waterfowl. Quail, partridges, and hares are to be found as elsewhere, and immense flocks of the great sand grouse appear in the cold season in the open sandy plains. Coolen, bustard, oubara, and floriken are each to be met with according to season and locality, and pig abound in many ride-able portions of the country.
" The lakes and rivers yield several kinds of excellent fish, including mahseer, murrul, and other edible sorts. In the streams, too, is found a small fish, in shape and spots exactly like a trout to the ignorant, but which is said to belong to the dace tribe. It rises freely to the fly, and affords capital sport. I have killed six or seven dozen of them in a few hours. It is not a bad shikaring country altogether."**
"I should think not," said Mackenzie. "It is a sort of country that would suit any sportsman's complaint, whatever form it took. May I soon visit it! But now to-bed, to dream of such a sporting paradise."
** See Appendix, Note L.