Cutting up the game—Natta's pet—Classification of pig according to appearance—The sailor's song—A scene in the Himalayas—The Guddees and their country—A single-handed affair with a bear —A turn up with a bear in the Ghauts—A man boned—A set-to with a tiger—Rajpootana.
Norman's good fortune was naturally a subject of remark as the day's battles were fought o'er again at dinner ; but there was little or no envy, and each hoped his turn would come with more or less of success.
After dinner a brew of what now and afterwards went by the name of " East Wind," in reference to previous allusions, was compounded by its godfather with all the nicety and discrimination for which he was celebrated, and the party adjourned to the camp-fire outside.
The moon was shining with the effulgent brightness of the tropical winter night, and by its light and that of several torches, an important operation was being carried on at some distance to the leeward of the camp.
This was the dismemberment of the dead pigs previous to distribution among such of the followers and villagers as entertained no compunctious visitings on the subject of pork as an article of food.
The heads and other tit-bits were reserved for the hunters themselves ; one of the former for the purpose of being soused for the use of the camp, and the others to be sent into Bhooj, the jaw bones containing the tusks prize of the first-spear being previously cut out.
The cutting up was conducted amid much noise and clamour, and apparently to the exceeding gratification of a large number of on-lookers.
Already the smell of roasting meat could be distinguished pervading the camp ; for old Natta and his allies had early appropriated sufficient to supply them with a good supper. A sufficiency in this case meaning, to each man, a quantity about equal to what would satisfy three ordinary Englishmen. "Wonderful indeed was the receptive power and capacity of expansion of that pinched, tucked up, and wizened article, which Natta was in the habit of affectionately referring to as his pet (stomach.)
With a view to the additional enjoyment of the shikarees, Norman had issued a bottle of a potent spirit, a gross libel on the name of brandy.
Many of the hunters strolled down to watch the proceedings with cheroot in mouth a necessary precaution, for the partly-dissected carcase of a dead boar is anything but agreeable to those acute of nostril. A very short sojourn satisfied them, and they were all shortly collected round the log-fire.
"I observed to-day, Norman," said Mowbray, "that old Natta referred to your first boar particularly as a soor (pig), and then pointed out the peculiarities of its form. Did he mean anything particular V9
"' Soocur/ not ' soor/ was the word he used," Norman replied. " I don't know if any of you fellows ever heard any other shikarees do so; but Natta classes pig as of four different kinds."
"Well, I have often observed a great variety of shape, size, and colour in pig," replied Mowbray.
" In length of snout and size of foot, also," said Stewart.
"I suppose pig vary like other creatures," Mackenzie sagaciously remarked. "All are not made to order in one mould. You cannot keep actual breeds separate as among domestic pigs."
" True enough," answered Norman ; " but yet there are marked distinctions between different pig. Perhaps we should apply some Darwinian theory of natural selection ; only by that, not impossibly, we might trace them to porcupines. However, I was talking to Natta one day about the difference we speak of, and he told me he recognised four varieties."
" What are they ; and their distinguishing marks?" asked Vivian.
" First," replied Norman, " there is the c Meilier.' These are big-bodied, have big feet and tusks, and are tolerably plucky. Second comes the 'Mooghun.' They are heavy in front, but with small hindquarters. Their feet and tusks are of medium size, and they fight well. Third on the list is the * Kookunnee, They are smaller than either of the two first, in size of body, teeth, and feet, and they are the least plucky of the four varieties. Fourth, we have the c Sooeur, They are the smallest in size. Their feet are distinguished for their length. The tusks are of fair size, with a large portion within the jaw, and they are the pluckiest fighters of all."
" And how does he apportion the colours ," asked Stewart. " Some old boars are grey as badgers, and some deep, blue black. Others, again, are quite light, or with a yellowish tinge, or of a mud colour."
" He didn't tell me how he classified the colour," was the reply; " but it is, as you say, just as distinctive a feature as the shape."
" I suppose," said Mackenzie, " old Natta observed a difference in appearance, and so attempted to class them. I shouldn't wonder if he invented the names himself. Now, whose turn is it to give an anecdote ? Smart," he continued, addressing the sailor, " you distinguished yourself greatly to-day. Can't you give us a hunting experience, or ' a yarn,' I suppose I should call it?"
"Why, no," replied the jolly sailor, "though I did distinguish myself to-day, and had a good dig at old mother earth, after, as you say, nearly making meat of some of you, I must confess my hunting has hitherto been decidedly limited. Will a song do instead of a story ?"
" By all means," answered Mackenzie, and the proposal being received with acclamation, the sailor said,—
" Norman's lamentations on the subject of the spearing of sows and diminution of pig last night put the idea into my head, so I have written some new words to an old song which I will give you."
Being a bit of a rhymist, Smart had that morning cudgelled his brains till he produced the following parody, which he called,—
" 'Tis the last boar of the woods
Left sulking alone; All his female companions
Are speared and are gone. Not a pig of his kindred,