" Well, since bears, et hoc genus, haye taken the place of boars this evening at my request," said Mackenzie, " I will relate, as my contribution to the night's entertainment, an affair with a bear in the Ghauts, which may have some interest, as a man was boned on the occasion, and we were eventually brought almost though not quite to as close quarters as Melton. As there were three of us, however, there was little risk. It is a long jump from one to the other side of India, and I can't pretend that the scenery of the Ghauts approaches that of the Himalayas ; yet a range of mountains in some parts so abrupt and bold, as to admit of a rock being launched from their summit in the Deccan to their base in the Concan, as I have myself seen done, cannot be devoid of picturesqueness and beauty. Indeed, there is lovely scenery of a wild and rugged nature to be found generally distributed about them, and many hill peaks and rocky summits j ut out in the most singular forms. Then the jungles, in many parts, are additionally attractive, as being the haunts of the so-called bison, tigers, bears, panthers, samber, and smaller fry.
" When I was stationed with my regiment at Poona, I and two others got a month's leave, and made a trip into the hills in search of whatever game we could get. The place at which we met with most success was a village of the name of Mangaum, situated on a knoll between jungle covered hills in the open valley near the sources of the river which flows by Poona, and there we killed six bears, the adventures with one of which I am going to relate.
" Hitherto, the hills on the right side of the valley, down which the stream flowed, had proved the most prolific ; but, on this occasion, we were to try our first beat on the left. The wild, active, hill Mahrattas are capital fellows for viewing and marking down game in their native wilds, indeed, the best, I think, I ever saw. The country about there also, abounding with the peaks and eminences of the spurs which jut into the valley, and between which are finely wooded dells and ravines, render it peculiarly adapted to that mode of finding game.
"A bear was reported to be slumbering in a large tract of jungle between two such spurs as I have mentioned ; and the neck of this valley narrowed till it formed a narrow pass or gap between the higher tops of the hills, rising on either side. At the lower end it opened on the principal and wider valley. It was arranged that the beaters should beat up, while we held different positions on one side nearer the pass. There were, however, several other places by which the bear was just as likely to slip out of the glen, and these it was necessary also to hold. I was stationed in command of a nullah which came down from the upper part of the hills. One of my friends went on to guard the gap itself, and the other was posted about midway between us, but all on the same side of the little valley.
" The beaters worked well as usual there, and the beast, it was said, had been sighted moving in front of them, but no look-outs near me had seen anything of it. Happening, however, to glance to the other side of the nullah I commanded, I saw, somewhat higher up, a bear standing and quietly listening to the noise far below.
"It had evidently sneaked round and escaped observation. It was about fifty yards off, not near enough to be fired at if a closer shot can be confidently expected ; but, as such was not now the case, I gave it a barrel and knocked it over, and, before it recovered itself, had fired again. It then slipped into the nullah, and I afterwards got a snap shot at it as it went through the bushes to my rear in the direction of my friends.
" My shots had, of course, warned them, and they were on the alert. It made its appearance and was saluted with two or three barrels, which turned it down again into the dell it had first quitted. We caught one more glimpse of it far below, and then lost sight of it.
" The little Mahrattas were, however, soon scuttling along the hill sides, and busy in following it. After a time they marked it down into a patch of jungle right back near the point of junction of the dell with the larger valley. On being apprised of this we made backward tracks along the side of the spur by a path which wound through dense masses of that strongly-scented jungle shrub, with which the hunter of the Deccan Ghauts becomes so familiar. To follow a wounded bear in that country involves sometimes a pretty considerable amount of active exercise; and it took us a good hour on this occasion to get back to the main valley. Arrived at the small village where we had left our ponies previous to ascending the hills, and near which the bear was said to be lying, we found that its actual whereabouts was a matter of some uncertainty. However, we continued our walk in the direction it was supposed to have taken, and the lookouts darted about through the jungle, and along the slopes, in hopes of catching a glimpse, for it was said to have again moved.
" We had separated, though two of us were pretty to close together, when a terrible row down in the jungle put us on the qui vive. Along with an angry bear's grunting growl, however, we soon distinguished a man s cries for help, and the excited shouts of his brethren calling on us to go to the rescue. The two of us who were nearest accordingly made our way through the jungle to the spot, and found a man on the ground, a good deal wounded by the bears claws, but fortunately unbitten most probably attributable to a broken jaw, for we afterwards found that one of our bullets at some period of the day had smashed the bear's upper jaw.
" He was soon tended by his fellows, and taken to the little village not far distant; but before we left him, he told us he had come suddenly on the bear, who charged and knocked him over, and clawed at him, but left on the shouting of the other men in the neighbourliood. When our companion joined us we went in pursuit in the direction indicated, and soon found that the beast had taken to a small thickly-wooded water-course with steep but low banks. On the side of this we got along as quickly as we could, and before we had advanced very far came suddenly upon the beast, who was evidently very severely wounded.