This sudden turn had let up Vivian. But Norman still held the lead after he had brought his horse round and once more got in the wake of the pig, now showing evident symptoms of distress. It reached the watercourse, which was hardly large enough to be called a nullah, but Norman was not to be denied, and pushed it in and out through the jungle, dashing at it when more open spaces gave a chance. Fairly perplexed, it left the cover and ran along parallel with it just outside. This was an opportunity Norman soon seized and availed himself of. He was quickly alongside, and after a little coquetting, managed to spear it severely, and it was soon killed between the two, for Vivian arrived on the scene before the coup-de-grace was administered. Having taken for granted that it was a boar, the pursuer had neglected to identify its gender, and only then learnt that. it was a sow. Though the run had been a long one, it ended within a quarter of a mile of the beaters. The shikarees, therefore, shortly arrived, and a few men having been obtained to carry the dead pig, the hunters once more returned to the fields. But before recommencing beating they adjourned to a tree. There, while the horses with their girths unloosed were indulged with their mid-day meal, the hunters enjoyed a quiet bit of tiffin.
Watching the bubbling water which was emptied into the trough from the huge leathern bag periodically raised by bullocks from the well by which they sat; soothed also by the fragrant post-prandial weed, and lulled by the monotonous chaunt of the bullock-driver as he encouraged his team to the right pace down the incline necessary to raise the bag ; the two sportsmen felt that quiet enjoyment and absence of care that satisfaction with the world in general so indicative of the successful hunter. .
But there was work yet to be done. It was confidently asserted that other pig reposed in some of the fields yet unbeaten, and an evident restlessness and desire to be up and doing on the part of old Natta, disturbed the dreamy, contemplative rest of the two sportsmen, and aroused them once more to activity. With outer and inner man refreshed by their slight meal and hour s repose, they prepared to beat the yet remaining fields. Girths were tightened, bridles adjusted, spears examined, and if blunted or sprung, changed, and the party was soon again in motion.
Moving as before, one at either extremity, the hunters advanced with the line of beaters. Two large fields were drawn blank, but in the third a cloud of dust accompanied by the usual view yelling intimated that game was again a-foot. Norman soon passed Vivian, and getting well behind the pig, gave a shout and held his spear aloft as he caught sight of a large heavy body cleaving its way through the cotton. It was a whopper and no mistake, and Norman chuckled greatly at the prospect of adding so very respectable an addition to the already satisfactory bag of the clay.
He soon got on pretty intimate terms, and was settling himself for coming to conclusions with the evidently very weighty pig ahead, when lo ! a number of little striped porcine creatures came into view just in front of him, and sticking as close as they could to the tail of their old mother.
" Ware sow and squeakers !" he shouted, as he pulled up disappointed, and was joined by Vivian. " There is no other pig with them. Begad! I thought we were in luck, and had got hold of a big boar, for I didn't see the young ones in the cotton at first."
The beat was afterwards re-continued, but without any further success, and the hunters returned to camp.
The others had brought in numerous coolen, whose cries rendered vocal many parts of the surrounding country, where they existed in immense flocks. Indeed, from the camp itself they might frequently be discerned high up in the heavens, wheeling round and round in serried phalanx, till the weary eye failed to trace their further and continuously ascending gyrations, though their cry remained distinctly audible. Duck, snipe, quail, and partridges, with a few hares, were also brought in, though not in any large numbers.^
Most of the party had returned in time to receive the old thakoor, who was a fine handsome specimen of the Rajpoot gentleman.
When collected as usual round the camp-fire, Danvers mentioned that he had, during his day's wanderings, put up a couple of hyaenas out of some prickly-pear bushes, and barely resisted saluting them with a dose of small shot. "I particularly want to get a good skin," he said, " and it was rather tantalizing to remember that I had left my rifle behind/'
" Ay/' remarked Stewart; " but how often it does happen that such chances occur when one is unprepared to take advantage of them! But if close enough, I should have felt much inclined to try the effect of the small shot. I don't suppose they would have charged."
" It would be a serious thing to be seized by a hyaena," said Mowbray, " for their jaw is one of the most powerful among animals. But they are very cowardly brutes. I have ridden and speared them, and never saw one make an actual charge. They conducted themselves like pariah clogs, and contented themselves with biting at the spear. But Stewart's remark reminds me of a chance I once had at a tiger, when discretion appeared to me more desirable than valour, being quite unprepared for so august a visitor.
* See Appendix, Note E.
" I was travelling by myself, and I halted for a day or two at Durree, in the Muckundra Pass, memor-able as that through which Colonel Monson retreated before Holkar, in 1804. By-the-by a most defensible position, and one of high military importance, strategically considered, that is. A very singular barrier is formed by a narrow strip of hill-range which, running from the strong fortress of Gogrone on the Kalee Sind river, in Jhalawar, to Durree, and then on towards Bhynsrorgurh on the river Chumbul, divides the large well-watered alluvial plain to the east and south of Kotah, from another in the direction of Bhanpoora, and the rich Malwa country. It is a natural line of rampart stretching across the plain, and penetrable by regular troops only in two or three places, the principal being by the Mukundra Pass at Durree. From Durree towards Gogrone, parallel ridges enclose a glen which, in a military point of view, is a perfect covered way. This is filled with jungle, and the hill-sides are covered with grass, rendering it to the sportsman a most attractive locality. Samber are numerous. Cheetul too are to be found ; and -sometimes a tiger or panther announces his pre-sence by an occasional kill.