"There is certainly nothing like riding on and not giving up a pig directly he is lost," remarked Mackenzie. " There is always a chance of picking him up again ; and he rarely stops for any length of time till he has gained some thick jungle, or got well away from the part in which he has been hunted. I wonder at his pulling up in the hedge you mention, Stewart."
" So do I," was the reply ; " but having seen me come at him, and being forced to go back for all in front was open country—I suppose he intended resting till the coast was clear and he could make good his object, which, I think, was to reach the mangrove about Nowenal."
" As you observe," said Norman, " hunted boars will rarely stop for any time in small patches of jungle. My losing the huge fellow I spoke of was a case in point; and I dare say many of you, like myself, have occasionally lost pig by waiting about a bit of jungle into which you had ridden them, and their sneaking away unperceived."
" I have more than once," replied Hawkes. " I can call to mind two good boars which I lost in this very part of the country, and on each occasion I felt confident that the pig was still in the patch of jungle over which I, and in one case others also, kept watch. One is not always so fortunate as you two fellows in the runs last described.
" One was during the monsoon, and three of us were out for the day, hunting the thick patches, in the neighbourhood of Nakonia, on the other side of the river, which flows by Khoda-Nata, perhaps four or five miles from this. We had killed one nice young boar after some very severe riding through the jungle clumps, which were at that season overgrown and thick. Another had been run and lost; and we were returning, when the puggees came across the track of a large boar. As luck would have it, he was lying close at hand in one of those Ions; thick bits of cover which, somehow, seem to spring up and thrive best on the sandy soil, where it has drifted into mounds and heaps round the fields. There we found him at home, and being a very weighty old party, I, who had the advantage at the start, soon closed with him and got a dig just on the outskirts of a field of low barjerie. We had been hunting all day, and I was rather done, and consequently it was not a very effective one.
Each of my companions also got a chance; and though the old boar thus had three wounds, they were all slight, and proved insufficient to stop him, as he disappeared in one of the bush-topped mounds I have referred to. Round this we kept watch and ward till the puggees came up. We firmly believed and declared he was still in it, but they found he had sneaked away along a narrow strip, and made another thick patch. We pugged him up, but were obliged to leave him as evening was drawing on, and he had got into the high thick grain fields in the neighbourhood of Looreea.
"That was a stiff clay's work, for the only way to force our way through the jungle strips was to ride hard into them, and so get through by sheer weight.
Both the horses of my friends finished lame from the blows of bush branches thus received, and mine, though not lame, had an ugly lump on his shinbone. Notwithstanding their injuries, however, they had to be brought in at once, for the flies, at that season, on the edge of the Runn, were such an intense nuisance that neither men nor horses could stand it. I heard afterwards that many villages were deserted in consequence.
" On another occasion, at the same season, we lost a good boar, which had been marked down close to Nakonia. Two of us only were out, and my friend being thrown out at the start, I got the ' lay in,' and lost him in a thick patch of jungle. Over this I kept watch, but, as in the other case, he had managed to sneak away unperceived, and though we pugged him over all sorts of ground for hours, we were not so lucky as Norman, and never again fell in with him. But had I ridden ahead, instead of waiting to keep watch over the patch of jungle, I could hardly have failed to pick him up, as the ground which he crossed further on was for a bit delightfully open."
"It is indeed astonishing how pig will in a moment disappear," observed Vivian. " They seem to have a sort of Fortunatus' cap, which renders them invisible for a time."
" Well," said Mackenzie, " I shall combine the cap of night with that of Fortunatus, have a mild sleep-persuader, and turn in; " an example which the others soon followed.