" I was shooting with a valued old single-barrelled rifle, an excellent one for deer, so that I was unprovided with another barrel with which to salute him. But he seemed determined to give me every chance.
There he remained, gazing earnestly in the direction of the fallen, till, with the utmost promptitude, I reloaded, and from the very same spot was enabled to take aim at him.
" He was not more than a hundred and fifty yards away, if indeed so much, and again this time old ' kill-deer; did not fail me. The bullet caught the buck about the shoulder, and after galloping away for a short distance he fell over and was gathered to his companion."
"Pretty a very pretty little affair," said Stewart, approvingly; " a double rifle, though, would have given you a right and left shot."
" I rather prefer it as it happened," was the reply. " There is more singularity about it than if it were a mere right and left, which often occurs."
"I quite agree with you," said Mowbray. "Curiously enough, a very similar incident occurred to myself; and this, too, happened when I was camped near Kotah, as I have before described.
" I had killed a chinkara early in the morning, and was returning to my tent, when, not far from the place where I had first seen the three bears I spoke of, I came across a herd of antelope. They allowed me to get tolerably close, and I selected a young buck, distant about a hundred yards. I missed him, and the herd galloped away. The wind was strong towards myself, and consequently the rifle crack reached them with diminished sound. It may have been owing to this that after springing away for a few bounds, they pulled up and turned to gaze at me with their wonted curiosity. I quickly reloaded for I, too, had only a single rifle and before they continued their flight I had time to select a good buck, standing half-side on, watching some of the does in his front. He was at about a hundred and eighty yards' distance, and I made a neat shot, which compensated for the first miss, and planted my bullet just behind the heart.
He ran a few yards, staggered, reeled, and dropped dead as usual, to the great astonishment of several of his wives, or rather widows, some of whom stopped for a moment to gaze at him and his strange movements.
" I also very nearly once got another second chance in like manner to Mackenzie, and in exactly the same way. Had I too been shooting with a double rifle, I should probably have bagged my brace of bucks, right and left. :
" It occurred in Ulwur. I was out one afternoon, and had unsuccessfully attempted to stalk, and for some time followed, a herd of antelope without being able to get a shot. At last, as I was pursuing them, almost despairing of doing so, a couple of bucks seemed with one consent to imbibe a mutual hostility, and determined then and there to have it out. The herd moved on, while they engaged in a fierce encounter, and with pretty even success. So intently were they employed, that though I was considerably exposed, having no cart with me, I walked straight up to within about eighty yards, and deliberately aimed at the nearest. Over he went to the shot, and his adversary, momentarily believing, I suppose, that the sudden collapse in the strength of the other was owing to his own superior vigour, proceeded to take immediate advantage of it. With horns locked, they had been hitherto struggling the one to push back the other, and now the unwounded buck bored down, on his prostrate enemy with great fierceness. Suddenly, however, something appeared to strike him perhaps he saw or smelt the blood from the other's wound for he desisted from his persecution, and, turning round, galloped away. The wounded buck, too, rose and trotted into a neighbouring field of corn, still standing, for the month was September.
" I soon reloaded and followed, and searched about for some time without finding the buck, though I did not believe he could have gone far. My man and myself were beginning to look about for his pugs, when he rose close to me from a furrow where he had been lying like a hare, and was making off when I brought him down, and immediately afterwards administered the coup-de-grace with my hunting-knife."
" It is a great pity that there are no black buck here in Cutch, or at any rate, in this part of it," Norman observed. " It seems rather curious that chinkara alone should inhabit it, and in such great numbers. I have polished off as many as seven or eight of the latter in a day, but have never seen a single antelope."
" Nor I," responded Mackenzie ; " but Cutch is a country after its own kind altogether. There is nothing in the shape of the felinse in it, except a few cheetahs, and, it is said, a panther or two in the Charwa hills."
" And, alas ! v sighed Norman, " pig for which it was formerly famous — are rapidly being killed or dying out. I assure you they were so numerous in former years in some parts where not a pug is now to be found that any number of runs might be obtained. I have been all round the Arbrasser, and killed but three or four in my trip; and I have it on good authority, that, in places about Juckow and Wursur, and even here, numbers could formerly be found for the looking. They are nearly extinct there now, as well as in this part. Ah, it will be a sad time for those who come after us! "
And the speaker took a long pull at a tumbler of punch as he made this melancholy reflection.
" It's my belief," said Stewart, " that if Government continues to encourage the native appetite for mule-twist, and ten pounder shirtings and yarns, the country will go to the devil. Those singularly-named articles of commerce whatever they be are always looking up, or active, or performing what one would think were physical impossibilities of that sort. They will, sir, before long, mark my words, lead to the demoralization of the country. They will be wanting to grow cotton everywhere."