" The day was a very tempestuous one. A heavy gale was roaring down the river from the wild gorges about Umb and the mountains above Derbund, where our camp lay during the winter of 1863-64, and flights of duck and teal were blown about in all directions. One incident of the day's sport worth commemorating was a successful right and left. I brought down a teal far up to windward with one barrel, say at an angle of 45 degrees, when, turning to aim at another, which I also killed, the first in falling struck the brim of my hat, and dropped dead at my feet, just as I had pulled the second trigger.
" Once scattered, the ducks went down the river before the wind, and then a very remarkable sight presented itself. They all seemed to rally, and forming one long line, stretching from bank to bank, right across the river, there some hundred yards broad, worked their flight slowly up on their return. The wind was so strong that their progress was but slow, certainly not much faster than a man could walk, and I was enabled to mount my horse and gallop towards them, near enough to get a raking shot, had the animal I rode been steady enough to have allowed me to aim. The little Arab, however, had been excited by a long gallop across the sands from the mouth of the Sirun, close opposite to the fort and village of Kubbul, on the other bank of the river. This was still held by a few of the enemy, the remnant of the Sitana fanatics, at that time engaged with the force under Sir N. Chamberlain in the Umbeyla pass across the Indus. Sitana itself was distant scarcely three miles up the river, and altogether, shooting under the very nose of the enemy added somewhat to the zest of one of the pleasantest day's wild fowl shooting I ever had.
" It came on to rain, occasionally mixed with bitter sleet, in the afternoon, and I .was glad to accomplish the sixteen miles into camp at Derbund before nightfall.
" That zest you speak of the chance of being potted by an enemy is, I take it, a matter of taste, Melton," said Norman; " but I must confess that when the chance is very small, it does lend a certain sort of piquancy to sport. I felt it somewhat when a day or two after we had captured the forts of Mohumra on the Euphrates, in the Persian war, and the Iranee army had retreated towards Ahwaz, I went out and killed a few snipe on that classic ground, just beyond the lesser forts on the side of the Hufur river, opposite to our camp. The swamp lay in the angle formed by the junction of the latter river with the Euphrates, or Skat-el-Arab, as it is there called. I was paddled across in a small ship's boat, accompanied by a servant of my own, and I wandered through some deep mud and water, and struggled through a lot of bushes, in the hope of picking up something. We were bivouacking in the date-groves at the time, and not over well off in the matter of supplies. I had, however, managed to get hold of my gun and some ammunition from the ship which had brought me and a portion of my regiment from Bushire, and thus armed, I tried my luck, as I have said, on the opposite shore, partly with the object of being the first in the force to bag a snipe on the Euphrates.
* * See Appendix, Note N.
" Unfortunately the tide was in, and the few snipe I found were excessively wild, flying away to places where I was unable to follow them. I bagged but a couple and a half, and knocked over a brace of blacks among the bushes, losing, however, one of them. It was soon after this that I met an armed man sneaking about. He bad the appearance of a Beloochee, many of whom were said to be in the Persian service, and I regarded him with some suspicion as I approached him in that unfrequented spot. When he saw me, he hesitated, and seemed inclined to avoid a closer acquaintance. As he could not understand me, or I him, I was unable to learn what he wanted there. However, he took himself away, and I soon after returned to camp across the Hufur, having had the zest to my sport increased quite as much as I cared for, not knowing how many stray blackguards there might have been concealed, ready for any little bit of looting."
The conversation now turned on the subject of the "Dooree jungle," and the singularly good cover it afforded for pig and snipe.
" It certainly does nearly always contain pig," observed Norman. " I have beaten it now many times, and never blank, but still with a want of success in killing. The only large boar I ever killed, or saw killed, near it, was that of which I gave you a description the other evening, and that was not driven from the jungle itself. I have run one or two good ones into it, but none out. Luck, somehow, seems to stick to certain places."
" Indeed it does so," said Mowbray. " I know a nice little beat in Rajpootana, which is safe to hold a tiger. Twice I have visited it once alone and each time been successful in turning up game, but as far as I myself was concerned, without success in bagging anything.
" The period of my first visit was the same that I have before referred to, when I was ordered to join a force near Kotah to assist in hunting Tantia Topee. I had received the order at Neemuch, and made the best of my way from that place by a wild, jungly, and rarely-frequented route at least, as regards the latter half of it. An exceedingly beast-ridden tract of country it is.
" On my arrival at Singhowlee, which is about half way, and a small town of some local importance, a dead panther was brought in. It had been killed by some travelling jogies, who had shot it close to the road on which I was at that moment riding.
" As I was on political employ, and consequently a person of some importance in those parts, the dignitaries of Singhowlee met me on my approach, and, in reply to my usual inquiries on the subject of shikar in the vicinity, informed me that tigers and bears were to be found within three or four miles. At about that distance, an abrupt range of hills rose from the more level ground on this side; but instead of dropping as suddenly on the other, they sloped away gradually and imperceptibly, forming at first, indeed, a tolerably level table-land, studded with eminences. From this rock-faced barrier were cut re-entering gorges or clefts, , which in some instances penetrated back well into the table-land, and were there called " koondahs." One or two of these were reported to be nearly certain finds, so I made arrangements for a beat.