Nangurcha—Pig marked down, but difficulty in procuring beaters— Reason why—Necessity of paying beaters personally—Canes as cover—A sharp half-mile—Temporary escape of the boar— Measures to dislodge him ineffectual—Beater ripped—Subsequent measures effectual a running fight—Horse slightly ripped—Boar shuts up, and is attacked on foot—The finish.
Natta had strongly recommended a move to Nangurcha, on the other side of the hills, for his emissaries reported pig to be lying in the fields in the neighbourhood of that village. The only obstacle to the immediate transfer of the camp to that place was the incapacity of Mackenzie to travel, but all postponement on that account he stoutly opposed. It was eventually decided, therefore, to move .the camp, leaving Norman to take care of Mackenzie till the dooley arrived, which it was expected to do that evening. Vivian also remained behind for the purpose of shooting and keeping the others company. After seeing his friend off, Norman and his companion promised to rejoin the hunters.
Nangurcha was a pleasant place to camp at. The village was enclosed within a wall, which also contained within its precincts the dwelling of the Thakoor, or chief, who held the surrounding country as a fief under the feudal supremacy of the Eao. He was one of the Bhayad, or brotherhood of the Kao's family; a term which included those of the most distant relationship, and not necessarily limited to any near tie of blood. He was one of the first in the province to co-operate with his chief and the political officers, in suppressing the practice of female infanticide, once so prevalent among the Eajpoots.
One side of the town wall overlooked and was built on the bank of the bed of a river, composed of mingled rock and sand, through which ran a streamlet of water. Somewhat above, round a bend of the river's course, considerable pools attracted in the early morning small flights of teal and wild duck, which abounded on several tanks scattered over the surrounding country. In the neighbourhood of the village, on the other side, there was a good deal of cultivation, including large fields of the castor-oil plant, in which pig are frequently to be found. The thick overgrown hedges and patches of jungle which surrounded these, or were interspersed throughout the fallow-land and other fields, were also resorted to by pig from the neighbouring hills ; and one or two patches of sugarcane formed an irresistibly attractive cover.
The hunters had dismounted on the fort side of the river near a well, in the neighbourhood of which ground was marked out for the camp.
On the other bank of the river grew a small thicket of baubel trees, and beyond, and to the sides of this, extended a partially cultivated country which became broken up into ridges, ravines, and tracts of brushwood, as it approached and merged in the hills which here rose more gradually than on the Phoolrea side. These were, as there, stony and much intersected by nullahs and gullies, but afforded, on the whole, somewhat easier ground for riding. They fell away on either flank till lost in the general undulating character of the country.
The peepul tree under which the party, on their arrival from Phoolrea, had taken up their position, was on the top of the river s bank, overshadowing a well which was sunk in the ground at the edge of the river below. The water was raised to the top by means of a Persian wheel. From the trough into which it was there collected it was distributed over the adjacent field. The knarled and knotted roots of the tree afforded convenient seats for the hunters, as they subsequently did for the camp loungers. The numerous pea-fowl which roosted in the branches overhead were now wandering at will among the corn-ricks and in the neighbouring fields and jungle. Several stacks of hay and straw, each surrounded by its hedge of dead thorns, principally of the wild jujube, showed that there was as yet no lack of forage, and numerous flocks of small birds hovered about these.
The hunters had traversed the three or four miles of hill between Phoolrea and Nangurcha, after eating an early breakfast at the former place, and now awaited news from Natta.
This soon reached them in the person of the old shikaree himself, who informed them that there were pig in the fields on the other side of the village, and among them a very heavy boar which he had tracked to a sugar-cane field. He complained that beaters, who would be necessary in the fields, were almost unprocurable, at least, that they would not come at his demand. A polite message was accordingly despatched to the thakoor, with a request for his aid. This was shortly afforded by means of his myrmidons, who soon produced enough of beaters in number, though, as far as material went, sadly deficient. They consisted of any one who could be picked up in the village, and included amons; them several of the Buneea caste, pressed into the service in the absence of other and, for beating purposes, more useful classes of men. The latter had, for some reason, made themselves scarce.
Not improbably payment had on some former occasion been withheld, or entrusted to servants to dispense to the beaters ; and that, unsupervised, is equivalent to a handsome gratuity to the former, for no inconsiderable percentage is pretty sure to stick to the fingers of the go-between. Servants should never be entrusted with such distribution, except under the eye of the masters.
Inattention and a careless disregard of justice of this description frequently entail a loss of sport on good and willing paymasters, as well as on the delinquents themselves. It is sometimes impossible to ascertain whether the latter have what they call " cut" the poor, wretched beaters of a portion of their small wage for some misunderstanding of orders or ^supposed carelessness in beating, or whether the non-receipt of full or sometimes of any hire is attributable to their negligence in not personally superintending its donation.