" The date grove so called from the numerous date trees was the place it was determined to beat in the first instance, as it was known to be full of pig; and towards this, accordingly, we all wended our way, soon after an early breakfast on the following morning.
"It was during the monsoon, so everything was pleasant, and fresh, and green, and the streams and nullahs running with water. The celebrated jungle we were going to beat was intersected by one of these streams, along the banks of which it extended for about a mile, with a varying and irregular width, nowhere, however, exceeding, I should think, three or four hundred yards. It was in the plain, and the ground around in the immediate vicinity was composed of cultivated land, with the monsoon crops now springing up. For a short distance on all sides extended the open country, and the stream I have mentioned flowed down a strath-like little valley, between ranges of low, stony, sloping hills, which joined the plain not far off. Another stream took its course down a similar valley, near the village of Arkola. These hills, which were covered with loose stones, were offshoots or spurs of the higher range, distant about three miles away ; and towards these last the pig would make, if driven out of the grove.
" The rolling stones of the Deccan hills form queer riding ground to the novice ; and at first I was a little astonished at its nature, so different to anything I had seen in England. But custom soon habituates one. It is, though, ugly ground for horses, for their legs get terribly cut about, and an old Deccan hunters battered understandings look as if they had been gashed all over. I need hardly say a fall on such ground is far from desirable.
"There was a little peasant steading most conveniently situated not far from the end of the jungle, at the hill end of it, and to this we betook ourselves, so as to be concealed from any pig breaking up the nullah. It consisted of a well, huts, stacks, and a group of trees, and was surrounded by a hedge of thorns, and altogether formed a position large enough to screen the whole party.
" By Jove! how excited I was as the beaters commenced at the further end, or that furthest from the hills! and the feeling seemed contagious among both men and horses. Even the old sportsmen were nervously anxious, and unable to disguise it, even had they cared to do so. We had men on the look out in different directions, and every now and then the wave of a small flag in some tree in or close to the jungle announced the progress of pig, and kept our excitement alive. The confused noise of the beaters had hitherto been softened by the distance into a sort of blended jumble of sounds, from which came, as it were, occasional raps of noise, vocal and instrumental. But as the line advanced, and the different distinctive notes of tom-toms and other instruments, though mingled with human voices, became separately audible, the excitement increased. Presently a pig was seen in the outskirts of the end of the jungle, and it was quickly followed by others. They listened awhile, and then dashed away towards the hills up the bank of the nullah.
" When they had got well ahead, the old sportsman under whose direction we all were, but who did not intend himself to ride, gave the word, and away we went. I know that I galloped off howling and spurring like a madman with the excitement, and I was not altogether alone in letting off the steam in that manner.
" The sounder had got a good start, and made the best of it; and by dodging about the nullah and its tributary watercourses, held their own till the leading horsemen overtook them a little beyond the opening of the valley through which the stream wound its course.
A general scattering here ensued, and the pigs, no longer acting in concert, took each its own line as taste or the exigencies of the moment dictated. I remember I passed several of small size, and was greatly tempted to try and get a dig at them, but being under the impression that all should 'follow my leader,' who I presumed to be in pursuit of the largest boar, I left them unscathed.
" I soon came upon one pig lying dead, and my special friend, a young fellow of some three years' Indian experience, standing beside it.
" It turned out, however, that there were no large boars with the sounder, and, I think, only one more was added to the list of killed. After this, we returned towards the hiding place; and when the scattered members of the party had assembled, the beat recommenced, for the men had been stopped by signal when the hunters gave chase.
" It was known that those we had pursued were but a very small instalment of all the pig the jungle held ; but we were hardly prepared to see such a number as broke after a considerable interval of anxious suspense. A long line of pig of all sizes, but with one monster in the centre as big as a donkey, greeted our enraptured sight, and streamed away in the same direction as that taken by the first lot. I don't think I have ever since seen so many pig collected together.
" The excitement before they broke was great, for we knew that they were assembling at the extremity of the jungle in unusually large numbers; but the reality exceeded our greatest expectations, and many were the exclamations of astonishment as they filed past.
"The old donkey was naturally an object of much interest and speculative regard as to who should become the happy possessor of his tushes ; but he was not, I regret to say, on that occasion, brought to bag.
" Our chief would not allow us to ride till they had made a good offing. When the sounder broke up, pig seemed to be running in every direction, making it extremely difficult to stick to one, and, I doubt not, more than one was exchanged. Somehow, the whacker himself had managed to secrete his unwieldy carcase among the nullahs, and eluded all but one of the sportsmen, who himself, however, eventually lost sight of it. With so many, crossing and recrossing, the attention was constantly distracted from the hunted pig, till it was well separated. Thus the party broke up into several detachments, each after its own boar. I stuck to one nice fellow, in company with three or four others, and he led us into the small stony hills I have described, after having given us a good rattle about among the nullahs.
" I was outpaced by the crack horses with whom I was contending, but managed to be close up, when, after a good set-to, one of my companions obtained the spear, and the boar commenced a sort of running fight.