It fell quite dead, and it was found that Mackenzie's last bullet had gone through its heart, or close to it. Besides this wound, the animal had a couple of bullet holes in its neck.
The sportsmen now again sent for their ponies, and rode to their bivouac. After refreshing themselves and taking a rest, they remounted, and quietly rode to Seesagud, where they met the rest of the party at dinner. They had directed one of the neilghye's tongues, a steak or two, and some marrow bones, to be brought on; the rest was sent into cantonments.
Natta reported that the local puggees had informed him that no pig had visited the weedy nullahs in the neighbourhood for some time ; and this was, to a certain extent, verified by the brief investigation he had been himself able to make. He proposed, therefore, that the camp should move on the morrow to Phoolrea, situated at the foot of the Chitranu hills, and that he should visit some likely places on the way there in the early morning. This was accordingly decided upon as the programme for the next day's proceedings; one or two, however, intimated that they should not hunt, but beat the country about Mhow for small game.
The success of the blue-bull hunters that day formed a topic of conversation after dinner, and strangely enough most of those present referred to them in the feminine gender as neilghye blue cow. Mowbray, who was learned in the wisdom of the native languages, remarked on this.
" Why can't you fellows refer to the beast in the vernacular as a blue bull ? " he remonstrated. " Ghye may certainly express cattle; but when speaking of the male individually, why not call him by his name, 'ghau'?"
" It's one of many little peculiarities you clucks have," observed Melton; " I can t say much for the accuracy of some of your terms. Why, you always call a c coolen9 a 6 cullum,' though for what reason I have been quite unable to make out. Different countries of course have local distinctions of name, but I hear all the natives call the bird ' coolen/ 99
" Right, oh King !" replied Stewart; " and I dare say on your side you never heard of such a thing as an ' eshnaff/ which is the native rendering for snipe. I don't suppose they have got a word of their own for it in these regions, and so have adopted a modification of ours."
" It is curious," Mowbray remarked, " how unmeaning customs and prejudices establish themselves. Now we generally talk of buck and doe samber, instead of stag and hind. Surely so large an animal of the deer tribe is entitled to the nobler appellation. Fancy, in Scotland, speaking of a red-deer buck of ten tynes! It is really time that Indian sportsmen should correct some of these little irregularities, which are ludicrous, and have a ring anything but sportsmanlike."
" Why, it's only the difference in a name," remarked Stewart; " you seem to know the distinctions better than we do. Ha ! ha! It reminds me of a story which is by no means mat dpropos."
" A clergyman or minister, I should call him, for he was of the Presbyterian persuasion one day paid a visit to a poor woman, one of his parishioners, to condole with her on the recent death of her husband. The good dame received her ministers condolences and exhortations to submit, with becoming gratitude. Indeed, so effectual were they, that the afflicted woman was brought to regard her loss with remarkable firmness and serenity of mind.
"' Deed, aye, sir !; she said, ' I ken it's my duty to bear my sair loss wi' becoming resignation, syne the gude man peace be wi; him is in Beelzebub's bosom.'
" In Beelzebub's bosom ! my good woman,' hastily ejaculated the horrified parson; 'yell mean Abraham's bosom no Beelzebub, wha' is the father o' sin.'
"Ah weel, sir/ the dame replied, c I doubtna' ye're richt. Ye ken thae gentlemen better than I do.'"
" That is all very well as a story," said Mowbray, " but it doesn't apply here. I maintain that a coolen should be called a coolen, and a large male deer a stag, and not a buck which is a term applicable only to the smaller species. However, to return to our original subject. That second blue bull you fellows shot to-day must have had original notions on the subject of danger. I wonder he wasn't scared by the shot at the cow just before."
" A right-minded bull would certainly have accepted such notice to quit," observed Mackenzie; " but animals sometimes take strange freaks into their heads as to what danger is or is not. As a case in point, I will relate a singular chance I once got at a black buck. It happened when I was marching, on one occasion, from Deesa to Nusseerabad. Near the village of Chundawal where there is a traveller s bungalow —the route re-approaches the main range of the Aravelly hills, from which it is quite disconnected for the previous seventy miles or so ; and, after another march, penetrates them. From the foot of the hills, and extending far to the north till they merge in the sandy wastes which lie between Jodhpore and Scinde and the Punjaub, are fine plains with wide, rolling tracts of grass-land abounding with antelope. Pig are to be had under the hills, for I have seen their pugs; and a friend once chased a bear, which crossed the road in front of him, early one morning. I never had time to organise a beat, but I have no doubt that it is an excellent shikar country.
" The march over, and a hasty breakfast consumed, I sallied out with gun and rifle and a common country cart to stalk the antelope, which I heard were plentiful towards the hills, about a couple of miles away. After going about so far, I sighted a herd, and directing the bullock-driver to steer laterally towards them, marched myself at the side of the cart most remote from the game. As we approached the herd, which was much scattered, I observed a couple of nice bucks on the outskirts and somewhat in our direction, who were engaged in combat. I at once decided on endeavouring to get a shot at these, and accordingly made my ghareewallah manoeuvre with that object. After carefully circling round though, as they paid little attention to my movements, I might perhaps have gone straight towards them—I got within a hundred yards, and letting the cart proceed onwards, stopped. "When it had cleared me I aimed at the nearest buck, and dropped him as dead as a herring. " That was nothing singular; but his foe, or companion for I think they were engaged in a sort of friendly tilt appeared more surprised than startled at the sudden and incomprehensible conduct of the other, so simultaneous with the rifle crack. He galloped away, however, to one flank, but only to a short distance, and then, wheeling round, looked towards his prostrate companion, probably wondering why he did not come to renew the interrupted passage of arms. It was the more singular, because troops were so frequently marching along that road, that the game was wary enough.