" It is one of the small-toothed breed, sahib," the old shikaree quickly rejoined, in a somewhat deprecating manner, and then added, more triumphantly, "Look, too, at the lean hind-quarters and the long feet! He is a ' sooeur,' and, in my judgment, three years old."
"Well, I suppose we must make him so, at any rate. But what is to be done now, Natta ?"
Natta proposed to beat the line of bushes near to one end of which the pig had been killed, and where the men were already collecting. After such slight refreshment as pocket-pistols afforded to the more thirsty, the horsemen mounted and proceeded to the place indicated. Breaking up into two parties, one went on either side of the jungle, moving along with the beaters who were formed in line between them. In this manner beating recommenced.
The fresh pugs of a large sounder, with that of a heavy boar amongst them, were seen and pointed out by Natta on the edge of the jungle. But the beat progressed for a long while, and nothing turned up. Natta was in a state of considerable excitement, and several times averred that they must be quite close, and were probably slowly moving on a-head. But, as time went by, and no pig broke or were viewed, he dismounted from his pony, and carefully examined the many pugs about.
The usual tiffin hour was past, and Mackenzie, with others, had been for some time clamorous for an ad-j ournment. This was now recommended by old Natta, who stated that while the gentlemen were feeding he, with the other puggees, would try and make out what had become of the pig.
The beaters were accordingly stopped, and gathered in knots over their pipes. The girths of the horses were unloosed, bridles removed, and the midday feed of grain given • while the hunters gathered round the tiffin-basket in the shelter of some high bushes, and there fell to work on its contents, a round of hunting beef from Kattiwar, the slaughter of kine being prohibited in Cutch, being a special delicacy. A most enjoyable meal that jungle tiffin usually is, seasoned with hunting conversation and banter!
The time passed pleasantly enough on this occasion, till the reappearance of old Natta warned each to finish his glass of beer or other liquid, and again prepare to take the field.
The shikarees considered that the pig were lying in one or other of several patches but slightly connected into which the jungle was broken up; and suggested that the hunters should be stationed singly or in small parties at different places along the edges of these. They feared that otherwise the pig might move quickly ahead unseen and steal away, and thus get such a start that, even if detected, they might make the hills before they could be overtaken.
Norman had on this occasion to occupy the most advanced post, with Melton and Mowbray as his nearest neighbours. The rest were scattered about, those nearest to the place where tiffin had been disposed of being Stewart and Vivian. Norman was yet in progress to his station, when a distant shouting from the other side, and not far from the place recently quitted, announced to those within hearing that something was astir.
Seeing the hunters who were on his side riding back, being himself too distant to hear the hallooing, Norman turned his horse, and went at an easy gallop down the edge of the jungle. The two who immediately preceded him, after doing likewise for some time, crossed through an opening to the other side, and he followed in their wake, all the rest being now out of sight either in the jungle or on that side of it. He here came across some of the beaters, who were scattered and running about in a state of great excitement. Some shouted him to go one way, some another ; but what had become of the pig or their pursuers seemed uncertain. However, he dashed through the jungle, and again caught sight of his two neighbours riding beyond, but evidently not with a pig in front.
Before following them, therefore, he took a careful look round, especially in the direction in which some of the beaters had pointed. In the far distance, a long way to the right of the two in front, and about parallel with them, he sighted a black object bobbing up and down, and going right out into the Bunnee.
His friends, he thought, had probably been directed after it, but had failed to hit the right line and missed it. Shouting vigorously, so as to attract the attention of the two or any others within hearing, he settled down to the long stern chase in prospect.
With his eyes fixed on the little black object jumping along midst the scrub, which fortunately was there scant and thin, he every now and then raised his spear aloft and uttered a shrill yell, to intimate that he was riding with a pig in view. This at last attracted the attention of the two horsemen, and they also wheeled in pursuit.
The pig was evidently making for some of the larger patches of high grass which plentifully sprinkled that part of the Eunn ; but the boar for luckily a fine young boar it eventually proved to be was yet far from the friendly cover when he became aware that he was pursued. Norman had hitherto been going along at a hand gallop, but keeping the old horse well within himself. He now took a look over his left shoulder, and saw that it was again his old antagonist, Melton, who was nearest, though yet far behind. He was coming along at a pace which would in the end overhaul him, but not, he hoped, till after the boar was run into.
Closer and closer he drew upon the pig, who was rather beaten with his long gallop ; but his start had been so great, that the line of bushes had faded into a dim line on the horizon as Norman approached, and had the gratification of perceiving that it was a boar. His horse, though slow, was of unparalleled stoutness, and had plenty left in him, when the flagging pig was neared. It was one of the chances of the hunting-field, that the horseman most unfavourably placed at the start, should now be doing all the riding of a pig, with but a very slender chance for any other.