" I met the charge with a well-directed spear, and it entered between the neck and the shoulder. As I got out of the way I was unable to withdraw the weapon, and accordingly left it standing out in front, well fixed in his body. I should perhaps have been justified in using my revolver now, as I had no other means of polishing off the boar. But then I thought he might not be wounded to the death, and so I had some compunctious visitings on the subject of employing fire-arms. The unfortunate beast again got under weigh, and made for the thicker parts of the jungle ; but the spear still remained fixed, and at every stride the end, bending from its own weight and swinging from side to side, struck a bush or a stone, or jammed against the ground, and each blow thus received served to drive it in further and further.
" The boar made many efforts to seize it in his mouth, but, owing to its position, could not grip it. This went on for a short time, till at last the point of the spear protruded near the tail, the entire length of the body being thus perforated.
" He now lay down, and I approached close. With a boar's pluck he once more got on his legs and made an effort to charge; but he was quite exhausted, and fell down. Seeing that the affair was nearly finished, I drew my revolver with the double object of putting the poor beast out of pain and of letting my men know where I was. Accordingly I fired at him, and made, I must confess, a most palpable miss. However, before I decided to try another barrel, the pig gave a last grunt and expired, being in a measure his own executioner.
" My men soon came up, and were astonished at the vigour of the thrust which had so completely traversed the boar. I heard them remarking on it, and on the extraordinary strength I must be possessed of to deliver such a blow. Knowing this, I was not altogether taken by surprise when a vakeel from the Rajah visited me that evening and complimented me on my success, and the mighty force with which it had been achieved.
" The boar when cut up proved to be covered with fat, and my jolly Sikh troopers, men of the fine old stamp, who had fought us at Chillianwallah and Gujerat, derived immense gratification from the process of dismemberment, and carefully collected every scrap of fat with which to lubricate the more sinewy or harder portions of the meat. A famous meal they had that day, far better and more palatable than when made from the dry meat of antelope or of the half-starved sheep with which I occasionally presented them. No Mussulman prejudices on the subject of pork or mode of slaughter interfered with its complete enjoyment by those jovial warriors.
" I examined the embankment on which I first saw the bears, and found that the Mo wall trees were much scratched and torn with the claws of the animals in their efforts to climb. I went after them next morning also; but, if they had visited the place, they had decamped earlier than on the preceding day, for I saw nothing of them."
" What do you mean by the ' keraie ?'" asked Norman.
" The keraie in that particular place was the gorge through which the river Chumbul flowed. It runs in a winding sluggish state between walls of cliff, much broken in parts, and affording a dangerous footing to an adventurous climber, though how heavy animals like bears get up and down it is difficult to say. Among these cliffs, and the huge boulders of overturned rock which garnish the more broken portions, are numerous caves and recesses which are sought by bears and other animals. Rocks also lie on the bank of the river, between which and the cliff at this season is a tract of rough broken cover. In fact, the whole of this wild, rugged, and very peculiar region is eminently suited to wild beasts. On the top of the cliff is a brown jungle, which, more or less thick, fringes it for miles. The river is deep and broad, perhaps two or three hundred yards across, and although in the neighbourhood of a town so large as Kotah, the whole forms a singularly wild and secluded piece of landscape. I scrambled about among the rocks on the occasion I refer to, and visited several large caves, but without succeeding in turning anything out. The 'kerai' is the term applied, I believe, to the rough broken ground, or perhaps to the gorge itself, for the same word I have frequently heard used in that part to express generally a place of a similar nature."
" Rather an adventurous morning, certainly, for a man strolling out in search of an antelope," observed Vivian. " But do you really think you would have tackled a bear with a spear ? "
" Well, I don't know," was the reply. " I think I should if 1 had got a fair chance on a bit of open ground. Of course, I should have rushed past at speed, that is, if my horse would have faced the bear, which it is my belief he would have done. I should never have dreamt of standing to receive a charge, but endeavoured to finish the action with my revolver."
" Ticklish, at best," said Mackenzie. " I have read of men spearing, or attempting to spear, bears from horseback, but nearly losing their lives in the attempt. I once myself rode at a leopard. I was out with some other fellows after pig, when I saw what I thought was a cheetah sneaking along behind some bushes. I dashed at it, but it bounded away with a roar into some high grass we were then beating, and we saw nothing more of it. My companions averred it was a panther, though I myself did then, and still do, think it was hardly large enough for one. However, whatever it was, I very nearly succeeded in getting a dig at it, though, had I deemed it a veritable panther, I think I should have left it alone."
" Your solitary encounter with a boar, Mowbray, reminds me of one I had near this very place last year," said Norman ; " and, as on that occasion, I, too, lost what I at first went in for, it will serve as a pendent to your anecdote. It was a perfect triumph of pugging, a means of finding game, to my mind, far more satisfactory than beating, embracing as it does the very essence of woodcraft.