A gallop after a boar through jow—Taking a boar flying—Diseased pig—A discussion about tushes—My last boar—The Vinjule jungle—Nearly shot on to a boar—Forced from the jungle— Killed—A long stern chase—Spur torn off—Forced into the jungle—Killed—Boars' tushes and tigers' claws as charms—Pigs' blood as a tonic—Dead tiger found—Former sport at the Venotree jungle—Wholesale slaughter of sows.
" How's your nose ?" asked one of Norman, as tliey sat round the camp-fire in the evening, discussing the events of the day. " I fancy I can almost see it glowing."
"Then your vision or fancy accurately represents what I feel," was the reply. " It's very shaky, and feels as if a cheroot could be lighted at it."
" I nearly met with a similar accident in Scinde once," said Danvers. " We were hunting a bit of wild country between Sukkur and Aliwan, where we had built a landy apart from any village. The place was nearly overgrown with jow, which was, however, low and thin, and quite rideable.
" Very early in the morning we rode off to the dry bed of a creek of the Indus, and remained there in ambush so as to detect any animal who might cross it after being driven from a dense mass of j ungle, beyond which the beaters had been collected. It was probably a flowing stream during the inundation season, but was now dry, and about the only spot where pig could be well detected, as jow extended far on both its banks. Well, in time, a large boar was seen to arrive on the further side, and after a little consideration, plunge into the sandy nullah and hobble across. Directly he was well over, away we went, and soon discovered him cantering leisurely along in the low jow. The thick jungle he was making for was not very distant, but we had time to kill a heavy old customer like the one we were following.
" There were six or seven of us in all, and a very pretty scurry it was through the jow, which usually gave way easily enough before us, necessitating, however, sometimes a little jumping, much as among furze in England.
"We soon got on good terms with the boar, who had a splendid pair of tushes. He was evidently in anything but good wind or condition, and before he could reach the jungle we were upon him. I forget who was actually leading, but several of us were close together when we ran up to him. Notwithstanding his want of speed or stamina, he proved uncommonly active at close quarters, and dodged us about the thicker bushes of jow in rare style, throwing us off by rapid turns into or behind them. I think most of us must have had a rush at him only to be thrown off, and we were turning, and twisting, and wheeling our horses in every direction. Some of us were before, some behind, indeed all round him, and he still remained unspeared. Of course the competition only rendered each of us the more anxious to secure first spear, and each case of being foiled increased it.' He had just eluded one man, when his effort brought him right in front of, and facing me. Over, on the top of, or through him, my rush must carry me. I determined not to be thrown off by giving him space to evade my thrust, so drove my horse straight at him, end on. My spear went in somewhere, there was a grunt, the splintering of a bamboo, a whack against my horse, who had sprung into the air, and as I shouted " spear," I found my horse had cleared the boar, and I was all right on the other side.
" But unfortunately at the very moment of my onset, a rider coming up on the flank had also obtained a chance, and it was said by those around had speared a second before myself. I thought I had obtained it, but of course the verdict of the others was final.
"After all, the pig made good his entry into the thick jungle, but so severely wounded that we did not think he could go far. So when we had got one or two trackers we dismounted, for the jungle was too thick to ride through, and followed his trail on foot. We soon came upon him lying dead. And a very noble pair of tushes he had. If I remember right they measured, when extracted, between nine and ten inches. It was one of the longest pairs I ever saw.
" The boar himself we found certainly in miserable condition. He was covered with nasty, open, ulcerous sores, from which there was a good deal of purulent discharge."
" Did any of the people eat him in that state ? " asked Norman.
" No ! " was the reply. " They were very careful about the flesh of the wild pig, for they recognised it as diseased and uneatable occasionally when it appeared externally to be sound. But a cut into the flesh would show that it was spotted, and this they attributed to small-pox. .
" Pig inhabit those jungles in such numbers that no wonder there is disease to be found. We got another run soon after; but this time we were led over a part of the country which had been inundated, and now, under the effect of the hot sun, had opened into gaping cracks and fissures. I got a tremendous spill, and was much shaken."
" It was an awful sell for you, not getting the tushes of the boar," said Hawkes. " Just losing by such a shade must have been provoking. Were they much curled ?"
" The upper tushes, as is usual with old boars, were so. Indeed they curled round under the lip until they appeared almost to have re-entered the jaw. The lower tushes were long outside, and sharp, and they, you know, rarely make much of a curve. They get ground down, broken, or blunted, before that could take place."
" Yes ! " remarked Norman ; " I have seen very old boars with much less outside than had younger ones barely full grown. But while the lower get worn away, the upper seem to grow, and curl, and raise the lip more and more. I have had in my pos-session several in which the point had so come round as to touch the gum, thus forming three parts of a circle."
" Some people appear to fancy that boars rip with the upper tush," observed Mowbray. "It is evident that it is not intended for such a purpose. Its thickness, rotundity, and bluntness prevent its being used in any such way. Its use seems to be to act as a sharpener to the lower, and also in a measure to protect it. An old boar at bay will champ his tushes evidently in an angry desire to render them as pointed as possible, and the very marks serve to show that such is their relative use.