A sharp spurt—Pig escapes wounded—A singular accident—Horse killed—Beating the Dooree jungle—Difficulty in getting pig to break—Gone away at last—A fast set-to—Speared and done for—The bags of the shooters—Incidents in the day's sport.
A shoveller cluck and teal or two, on the tank in the neighbourhood of the village, proved a great temptation to some of the sportsmen who sauntered there early in the morning, a temptation, however, which, if indulged, would have subjected them to the merited reproof of their brother hunters.
The upper part of the swamp and jungle was but a short distance from the camp; and though pig would not probably have been driven thence by any firing about the village, Natta hoped to mark some down apart from it, and in rideable ground, and in these situations they are more jealous of danger, and more easily disturbed; so the shovellers and teal were left unmolested.
While the party were yet seated at breakfast, Natta came in to say that he had marked clown a sounder among the broken patches of jungle on the edge of the Runn, towards the village of Loorea, and there he proposed hunting before beating the Dooree jungle. In the latter, he found that pig were not nearly so plentiful as had been represented, but he hoped to show some.
Breakfast was, in consequence, hastily finished, and half a dozen followed the old shikaree to the place where he had left men watching over the safety of the sounder. The remaining four preferred to shoot, and had already gone, or afterwards went, to the tank at Ehoda and elsewhere.
The ground was in capital order for tracking, and this had enabled Natta to baithao the pig (cause the pig to be seated), as he himself expressed it, so quickly. The place, similar to others before described, was composed of mixed open ground and low cover.
The first shout and discharge of clods- of earth for stones there were none aroused the pig, and away they went, about half a dozen in number, but all of moderate size.
There was only about sufficient space in which to overtake them before the big jungle was reached ; and, to do this, the hunters were bound to use every exertion. One or two of the leading horsemen soon got on sufficient terms to scatter the sounder, and, selecting the largest, separated and stuck to it, notwithstanding its artful dodges round the clumps of bushes.
It was a sharp spurt, and sometimes one and sometimes another hunter obtained the advantage, as he happened to find himself leading on the right side of a bit of jungle, and the others, more or less, for the moment, thrown out. At last, as they neared the jungle, a sharp turn of the pig round a patch of cover brought him suddenly across Melton, who leant forward and succeeded in slightly spearing it. Again he closed, and gave it a deeper wound, but it threw him off by dashing into a bit of thick jungle. Vivian, who was nearest, and Melton, both rode to the further side of this, and there awaited the pig's exit. The boar came to the edge, and at first seemed to meditate a charge, but, disliking the appearance of its opponents, or deeming discretion the better part of valour, suddenly wheeled and passed behind the nearest horse. This manoeuvre effected, it again lay out a pace which, before the horses could be put into rapid motion, had given it a considerable start. They set to work, however, and once more quickly overhauled the pig, who managed, though, still to keep ahead by crashing through bits of jungle, which somewhat stayed the horsemen. Again they closed with it, but it was on the very edge of the big jungle, into which it disappeared, and the discomfited riders, who were the only two close up, were obliged to pull in their horses.
Some casualties had taken place, which accounted for the diminished size of the field at the close of the run. Owing to a slight difference of opinion which Norman had had with his horse, as to the best side by which to pass some bushes, they had adopted a medium course, and gone down bodily into the midst with a tremendous crash, not without some detriment to the facial beauty of the rider.
Stewart and Mowbray had come together in violent collision among the strips of jungle, and Mowbray's knee happening to catch Stewart's leg behind, just in the bend of his knee, he had lifted him bodily from his saddle, his own boot being torn in the operation. His horse just managed to avoid the prostrate form of the hapless Stewart, who was lying a complete spread-eagle on the ground; but, beyond having his wind all knocked out of him, was none the worse.
But the most serious accident remains to be related.
Danvers, who had somehow not got off so well as the others at the start, and was thrown out, came across one of the scattered pig, which, though a small one—-fante de mieux he rode. It took towards the Runn, and Danvers succeeded in getting up to it. He attempted to spear, but his arm, as I have said, was weak from a recent dislocation, and he missed and struck the ground, the shock twirling the spear from his grasp. The spear then rebounded without breaking, and, springing completely round, came with the point towards the galloping horse.
The discomfited hunter pulled up and dismounted, and he had no sooner done so than the poor horse fell over on his side and died.
The spear had entered just behind the shoulder and in front of the girths thus narrowly avoiding pinning Danvers' leg to the saddle and had penetrated deep, causing a fatal wound. Before the horse fell, the rider was unaware of its having been struck.*
This sad accident cast something of a gloom over the party, when, on re-assembling, they were made acquainted with it. But the vicissitudes, accidents, and dangers of the hunting-field cannot be permitted to interfere with the prosecution of the sport. So, after an examination of the unfortunate beast and expressions of sympathy with Danvers, the rest prepared to beat the Dooree jungle, the former naturally declining to take any further part in the day's hunting.