" On the same cart with myself was a good-looking native gentleman, with whom I, being a stranger, was unacquainted. I found afterwards that he was a near relative of the Guicowar's, and went by the title of ' Appa Sahib.'
" Our leopard was, like the others, hooded ; and the keeper held him by a chain. The latter also kept a piece of some stuff, which looked like hard soap, in the other hand for him to lick, and occasionally fed him with small lumps of some substance. The beast was a very fine one, and sat on his haunches as docile as a dog, freely allowing us to stroke him.
" There were, I think, three other cheetahs. Ours was, however, deputed to make the first trial, and our cart accordingly went ahead of the others, and a long way in front of the line of elephants.
"After going for some time over that deep black soil, which in the Lot weather opens into gaping rents and deep fissures, we approached wide patches of grass land, and saw many deer feeding in and about them. Being preserved for such occasions as the present, and undisturbed by shooting, they were very tame, and allowed us to get near them without much difficulty.
" A buck, somewhat removed from the rest, was selected for our first attempt, and the cartman drove his bullocks diagonally across its front. The hood was now slipped off the cheetah's eyes, and his attention directed to the animal in question. He saw it at once, and by the quivering of his tail evinced his restrained eagerness. When within about a hundred yards, he leapt lightly from the cart with a graceful suppleness and elegance of action very beautiful to see. For a moment he paused, then crouched stealthily along towards his destined victim.
" The antelope had been lazily watching the cart, to the sight of which it was accustomed, but now seemed to become aware of approaching danger. It looked for one moment, as the leopard sprang forward from his crouching movement, then clashed away at full speed. But the cheetah had commenced his bounds. For a short distance the velocity with which he cleaves the air is amazing, though, of course, this he is unable to keep up for any great length of time. A few tremendous leaps, which even the proverbial speed of the antelope did not avail to elude, and the leopard with a last decisive spring was upon it. Striking the poor thing to earth, he quickly fastened on the throat, held it down, and sucked the life blood from his expiring victim. The whole contest of speed was almost momentary ; for if not caught within a hundred or so yards, the cheetah is unable to continue the tremendous springs, and declines further pursuit.
" The keeper, accompanied by my native friend and myself, and some of those from the other carts, now rushed up, and some blood was obtained from the dead buck and offered to the cheetah in a shallow dish. With his fangs still fixed in the throat of the antelope, however, he at first only responded by a muffled, snarling growl, but was eventually induced to leave the body and lap some of the blood offered him. He was then chained, and by these means, and the additional attraction of a lump of raw flesh, the keepers once more got Kim on to the cart, where he tranquilly remained.
" Another of the cheetahs was now taken to the front, and we had afterwards several repetitions of the first run. But in some instances the animal was sulky and refused to exert himself at all. In others, either from commencing his bounds at too great a distance, or from the buck being startled too soon, although the leopard did his best, a capture was missed. The animal would, in those cases, pull up when he found himself beaten, and quietly remain till the keeper arrived to escort him back to the cart.
" The sport is all very well as an occasional spectacle, and is interesting enough in itself, but it is one I would not care to see frequently. It becomes rather tame and monotonous after a few courses, and I don't think many of us were sorry when the last run came off, and we returned late in the afternoon to the tents, where a splendid late tiffin, or early dinner, with abundance of champagne, was served to us. The Guicowar did not himself feed with us, but he came in after dinner for a short time with his married daughter a grass widow, by-the-bye. She seemed quite at home, albeit unveiled : and though not bad looking, had not much stamp of Nature's nobility about her. In fact, few of the Mahratta princes or their families generally of low origin show many signs of blood or aristocracy."
"Perfectly true, Norman," said Mowbray, approvingly, " and in that respect they present a marked contrast to the chiefs of the Eajpoot race. The latter, though sometimes diminutive in stature, have frequently beautiful hands, and show, in the quiet, courteous, unostentatious gentility of their demeanour, fair complexions, and general aristocratic bearing, the attributes of ancient pedigree and high lineage. Indeed, no families on the earth can compare with them in the ability to trace their descent back into remote ages. I believe Porus, who was King of Lahore and fought Alexander the Great, to have been a Rajpoot."
" Hear, hear !" exclaimed Stewart. "Our Eajpootana official is waxing eloquent in praise of his interesting, but, I fear, somewhat debauched and effeminate friends, some of whom, it strikes me, have had in former times to knock under to the despised Mahrattas, as well as the Greeks.
" Granted ; but not the less are they of a more gentle bearing, and a nobler race ; and though cle-bauched, and to some extent effeminate, are, like their prototype, Sardanapalus, capable of great deeds. Their whole history proves it."
" It is a pity then," retorted Stewart, " that they don't manifest their capabilities more clearly and frequently at present. It is astounding to me how you politicals can put up with some of their customs. The taking off of your shoes in Durbar, for instance."
" My dear fellow, office and responsibility convert many a man s ideas or rather, I should say, it obliges a man to go into his work thoroughly, with some consideration for the customs and prejudices of those he has to deal with. If he has got a conscience, it forces him to do what he deems right by all, and considerably modifies former crude and undigested ideas on the subject, though I admit that the taking off of shoes is a custom which should be abrogated. It is gradually falling into disuse."
" Grapes are sour with Stewart," suggested Norman. " I know I wish some discerning; individual, high in authority, would discover my manifold excellences, and persuade a paternal Government to acknowledge them by appointing me to a political post."
" Ay, ay !" returned Stewart. " But I am like the Scotchman who tried to outboast the Englishman, and declared that their grapes were magnificent.
" ' But, sir,' said the Englishman, ' they are sour.' "' I ken that weel/ was the reply ; ' but we aye like things soor in Scotland.' So yon see I prefer that they should remain sour."
With this tribute to the canniness and taste of his countrymen as well as of himself, the speaker retired to his tent, and was soon followed by the others.