An hour's pugging had carried them well away from the mainland, and the pig, if started within a reasonable distance of the riders, could hardly fail to lose one of their number. Another hour only rendered this more certain, when from certain symptoms, or rather from instinct for the faculty of divining the proximity of the game appears often more intuitive than the result of any powers of reasoning—Natta declared his belief that the pig were not far off.
He had hardly spoken, when from a clump of scrub and grass on one flank of the party, and distant about a hundred yards, the pig suddenly dashed out into view, and made for the mainland.
The three hunters, who were pretty close to each other, started together in immediate pursuit. But the horses were not by any means evenly matched in speed, for Danvers' speedy flier drew rapidly away from Mowbray, while Hawkes, who was riding an old screw, fell as much to the rear. In less than half-a-mile, Danvers had run up to the pig, singled out the biggest, a boar, and separated him from his companions.
For a time the well-breathed pig held his own, but directly Danvers saw he was getting blown, and really called on his horse, he shot up to it. But the boar made a sharp double and let in Mowbray, who was waiting for some opportunity of the sort. Danvers came round, however, and once more obtained the lead. He closed, and when within distance, made his thrust. But his arm was tired and weak having been some time before put out of joint and he missed the pig and broke his spear in the ground. Norman then again assumed the command, of which he did not fail to avail himself, and speared the pig twice in rapid succession. Danvers now rode off to meet the shikarees, who were running rapidly after the hunt, to get a fresh spear, and Mowbray again tackled the boar, who charged, and was received full on the spear; but the bamboo snapped, and the hunter, now defenceless, wheeled off to a flank. Looking round for Hawkes to come and complete tlie affair, he detected that individual in the distance in full pursuit of the other two pig, who seemed to have rather the best of it Here was a pretty fix, a fine young wounded boar and nothing with which to slay him. Mowbray had not even his shikar knife, supposing that to have been made in any way available. All he could do now was to endeavour to keep the pig out until Danvers should arrive with a fresh spear, or Hawkes return from his pursuit. Riding round to get between the pig and the mainland, he kept as close as he could without endangering his horse, and tried to push it back. Fortunately one of his thrusts had struck either the spine or some of its neighbouring muscles, and partly paralysed the boar's hind-quarters.
He soon saw that the beast was doomed, for it could make but slow progress. Indeed, it had not gone far, when Danvers reappeared with a fresh spear, and galloped up to the pig. The boar charged, though feebly, owing to his loss of pushing power; but Danvers' arm was so weak, that though he managed to strike the boar, the spear was sent flying from his grasp.
" I can make nothing of it," he said. " My arm is utterly powerless, and I have not sufficient strength left to kill a rat."
Mowbray, therefore, now got off his horse, picked up the spear, and soon after again brought the slowlymoving boar to bay. The latter's charges were now so feebly made that the spearman failed to get a fair, effectual blow till, almost riding over it, he drove his blade deep into the chest and half through the length of the body, and the encounter was at an end.
The shikarees soon joined, and when the gralloching so necessary an operation with a boar was effected, the body was strung on to a pole, the shikarees undertaking to convey it as far as the nearest village, there to be relieved by other men.
As they approached the mainland, they met Hawkes returning from an ineffectual pursuit of the two speedy sows, who had quite outrun the old screw he rode. On seeing the boar first speared, he thought he would try and get a pig of his own; for his ill-success in which he was chaffed by his companions, who also added some little censure for his leaving the boar a circumstance which might have led to its escape.
A couple of miles short of Dooree, they visited some curious ruins of old Jain temples, built under the hills, and which commanded a fine look-out over the Kunn. But, as evening was drawing on, their inspection was necessarily brief, and they continued the journey, leaving the hills, which had been hitherto close on their left hand, behind, and striking out into the promontory of mixed jungle and fields, near the salient point of which Dooree was situated.
Arrived at Dooree, they found the camp pitched somewhat irregularly on a fallow field, under some scattered trees. These clumps of trees rise above the adjacent jungle, and serve to indicate to the distant spectator the position of the villages in the neighbourhood of the Runn. Round about the village itself cultivation was carried on by means of irrigation from wells, the water of which was, for the most part, brackish. The sandy fields more inland now generally cleared of the crops sown during the monsoon — presented open spaces of varying areas, thickly interspersed with clumps of bushes and long, narrow sand mounds surmounted by thickets, at times much resorted to by wild-pig, especially during the monsoon.
Their favourite ground, however, was a thick bush jungle which grew on the edge of a swamp of deep black mud and brackish water, which gave sustenance to a quantity of tamarisk. This stretched along the very edge of the Runn ; and in it pig delighted to wallow and enjoy its agreeable coolness during the midday heats. Sheets of water still covered a considerable portion of the harder waste beyond for the monsoon rain had the previous year fallen abundantly —and were resorted to by countless myriads of wild-cluck, and numerous flocks of coolen, or " Cullum," as the Bombay sportsman erroneously calls the Indian crane. But these, as well as pelicans and other aquatic birds which also frequented that great stretch of water, were in general unapproachable, owing to the open nature of its neighbourhood. Snipe were plentiful in the swamp, but these, of course, were tabooed till such time as the pig had evacuated the jungle.
The hills, distant perhaps from one and a half to two miles, had become reduced in size to a mere succession of stony eminences as they approached the river which entered the Runn, a couple of miles further along the coast line. The isolated temples and serai at Rhoda Mata, on the road to Bhooj, lay on the further bank of this river ; and beyond them again was a piece of dammed-up water which went by the name of Rhoda Tank, a capital shooting-place for wild-duck, while snipe and quail and a few black partridge were also to be found near it.
As the shooters dropped in, it was found that though no large bags had been obtained, the sum total made a respectable show, and afforded a good supply for the camp larder.
Mackenzie, however, who was a first-rate shot, and had brought in a fair amount, complained that he had been quite off his shooting that day, and lamented one or two particularly bad shots that he had made.
" Why, what can you expect ?" said Hawkes, " when you consume such an amount of east-wind every night after dinner."
" Consume such an amount of east-wind, you scapegrace!" was the rejoinder; "my head, thank goodness, is not a shallow-pated affair like those of the degenerate ensigns of the present day. I can take my whack comfortably, without getting drunk."
" That," said Hawkes, " depends a good deal on what you call getting drunk. Now I think the other night, when you were directed to your own tent, you could hardly be considered as altogether sober. Eh ! come, how do you define it ?"
" Define it, define it ? Why, no one can define it. But I knew perfectly well what I was about."
" Mac is like Bailie Sueketdown," observed Stewart. " And who the deuce was Bailie Sueketdown ?" asked Mackenzie, in an injured tone of voice. " What have I got in me like a bailie ?"
" 111 tell you," was the reply. " The bailie, worthy man, was a jovial soul, and liked a crack with his neighbour over a comfortable glass of toddy, a liking he indulged pretty regularly. One evening he was thus engaged, when the conversation turned on the subject of drunkenness, and what a man might reasonably take without being fou.
" Some said one amount, some another ; at last the bailie was appealed to as one having authority to decide the vexed question.
" ' 'Deed then,' he said, ' I'm no vera sure. A man may tak' a gude skinfu', an no be fou. I whiles do so myselV
"6 But what, bailie,' asked one, ' should you consider a quantum safficit ? In your own case, for instance, how many tumblers can you conveniently carry wi'out being fou ?'
"6 Hoo many tumblers ! Weel, to say truth I canna at this moment precisely recollect hoo many I tak' when I'm cracking wi' my friends. I aye count up to the tenth tumbler, but after that, ye ken, I'm a wee troubled to mind hoo many mair they may be.'
" Apply that, Mac. Perhaps, though you may never be drunk, you may sometimes arrive at that happy state in which tumblers are beyond computation; when the memory just a little fails, like the worthy bailie's. But, of course, that does not involve being fou."