The Dooree jungle blank—What is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the fowl—Beef or pork—A couple of sows found and accounted for — Sniping—A strange ailment—Orders for the march—A couple of lucky shots—A wild day's shooting in the Hazara—Sniping on the Euphrates—Unlucky spots—A tigress' death lamented—Native irrepressibility—An unmitigated sell— Escape of two tigers.
Natta came in very early next morning indeed, before tlie hunters had prepared for breakfast and reported that he had only been to visit the thick jungle and swamp, which he had found deserted. He admitted that one or two might be lingering in the jungle ; but after the difficulty experienced on the previous day in persuading anything to break, he deemed that it would be lost time attempting a beat there on this day, when it was doubtful even if the cover contained a boar. He considered, rather, that the hunters should endeavour to get a run by pugging whatever pig might be about into the nullahs and clumps of jungle between Dooree and the hills ; and with this intent he had dispatched trackers in different directions.
" Then the swamp is open for shooting!" ejaculated Mackenzie, enquiringly. " Begad, won t I tickle up . the snipe !"
" Why, yes, I suppose so," said Norman, meditatively. " I certainly expected to get more out of the Dooree jungle ; but I hear the villagers have been shooting pig all about the villages in this neighbourhood. They say the Eao has taken off the interdict against destroying them."
" Then the Bao ought to be flogged!" exclaimed Stewart, with the most culpable irreverence for the flesh of the Lord's anointed.
" Ay, ay!" said Mowbray, the political, " that is very well. But you see in this case what is sauce for the goose may indeed be sauce for the gander, but yet be anything but a desirable addition for a fowl. I think the Rao is quite right. In fact, the preservation of pig, however delightful a thing for English hunters, yields considerably less gratification to the villagers themselves. With crops in the ground, they somehow entertain a rooted aversion to the near neighbourhood of swine and their nightly depredations or perhaps I should say rootings. Let us make the most of what we have, and entertain some consideration for the wretched people about us."
" There speaks the embryo political agent and haunter of the abodes of princes. Avaunt, thou man of Durbars ! Why should I not desire chastisement to be inflicted on the person of his atta-anointed Highness ? The chief of these realms has persistently declined to permit the gratification of the natural British appetite for beef, and my men grumble greatly at the deprivation. Surely he can't do less than allow us to supply its place with pork, It is for him to compensate the villagers, if they are losers. You may depend upon it, they wouldn't care if we lived on bullocks."
" Rather an ingenious way of putting the argument, certainly. Where slaughter of kine is prohibited, you would have the natives to preserve game, especially pigs, as a substitute ?"
" I would, most exalted adviser of princes ; and I recommend you, when accredited to the court of some royal Highness in Rajpootana, to impress on his benighted mind your conviction, that the consumption of either beef or pork is necessary to the maintenance of Englishmen in a tranquil and peaceable state of mind. You might hint that thrones have been lost for less."
" And supposing then he offered to supply any amount of tame village pigs !"
" I should kick him for the impertinence of his suggestion," was the pugnacious reply. " By pork, of course I mean the flesh of wild pigs slain in a fair field, and by the sweat of the brow not village scavengers." t " Well, some of the chiefs of Rajpootana might certainly supply you ; for they have regular preserves, with shooting-boxes and towers erected at favourable intervals. Towards these buildings the pig are attracted by being regularly fed from them; so when the king is minded to go out shooting, he enters with the favourites of his court into one of these places, and pots the unfortunate porkers as they approach in unsuspicious security. Some parts of the country are completely overrun. However, there is plenty of waste land, so it does not so much signify."
" A fine idea of sport that! " observed Mackenzie ; " but, after all, not very much worse than shooting tame pheasants in a battue except that pigs were born only to be hunted, not shot. But I suppose there are some men who would really prefer sticking at the corner of a cover and potting pheasants as fast as they could load or rather, men load for them— to trudging through the deep slush and swamp and tangled jow, and, with some hard work, get a good day's wild-snipe shooting, such as I expect to-day. It's a matter of taste, perhaps, but give me the latter."
"Do you know," continued the heavy-weight, to whom shooting was more adapted than hunting, "I am rather glad there are no pig in the jungle; for I long to work my wicked will off the snipe."
During breakfast the parties for the day were made up. Owing to the uncertainty attending the hunting, but three—Mowbray, Vivian, and Melton expressed their determination to stick to the pig. It was arranged that three should beat the swampy ground for snipe, and the remaining two visit the tanks at Rhoda, Tooreea, and other places.
It was noon before Natta sent in to say that he had marked down a couple of pig near Kotye the village under the hills and thither the small party of hunters proceeded.
One of the interminable patches of jungle was pointed out as the residence of the pig, and a few persuasive arguments in the shapes of stones and clods of earth, combined with others of a vocal nature, soon had the desired effect. One of the pig a fair-sized one came out, and dashed away in the direction of the Dooree jungle. Mowbray got away close after it, followed at some distance by Vivian. There was one circumstance, and one only, attending its death which is particularly deserving of record. It was killed with a single spear-thrust. The pig a sow— was a very fast one, and though Mowbray got away so close behind and raced it all the way at full speedy the sow had made about half the distance to the swamp before he could turn it. He here managed to press the animal from the strips of jungle through which its course had principally lain, and drove it into and across an open field. It jinked as he closed, but, following the plan of riding at the head to intercept it, he approached diagonally with the usual effect. It came at him, received the spear well over the shoulder, and dropt as he wheeled his horse after the encounter and prepared to do battle afresh. It was an exceedingly quick thing altogether, and Vivian never had a chance of spearing.