Norman had managed to organise a very jovial and pleasant party of ten in number, including several strangers, who had come to that out-of-the-way province either for the sake of sport, or on duty, or as travellers. One, Melton, was a cavalry officer from Bengal. Another one, Mowbray, on political employ in Raj-pootana, had come on leave to visit his friend Norman. Two, Dan vers and Vivian, were men of one of H.M/s line regiments, and had taken this route by which to rejoin their corps in Scinde from an excursion to the south. In addition to these, Norman s own regiment had furnished two more members of the hunt, Mackenzie and Hawkes, to wit. The artillery battery was represented by its commander, Stewart, and the doctor, who had come with another friend " merely/' as he said, " to look on." That friend, however, though a capital fellow, was an indifferent rider, and was very nearly a thorn or, rather, spear in the side of more than one of the hunters. He was a sailor from a surveying vessel then lying at Mandavie, and the astounding positions into which that man persistently contrived to bring his spear were a source of continual apprehension and clanger both to himself and companions during the short time he was permitted to use it.
Such was the party who, headed and piloted by Norman, were cantering along in detachments of two or three, on the cart track, deep in dust and sand, which led to Lodye.
A considerable interval interposed between each detachment, and even between the individual horsemen where the road was too narrow to admit of two riding abreast, for the dust was smothering. There was little fear of the road being mistaken if the leader was right, for the long line of dust he left floating far to the flank and rear, clearly indicated the route ; and, had that not been sufficient, the fresh tracks of the galloping horses left, in most parts, a trail broad enough not to be mistaken by a hunter of the slightest experience.