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pretended to run very fast after a large grey beast, which we knew to be a wolf; but this very fast running was all a sham, and they went in reality a great deal too slowly to incur the danger of catching the wolf; in fact they only spurned the dust, and almost "marked time," so, of course, the wolf lobbed off, very leisurely, to his retreat in the jungle.
The day after our arrival at Ramdospillay, an old woman came along the road in great agitation, her tongue wagging like a bell-clapper, and said that she had just seen a tiger in the road, at the base of a large rocky hill, about a mile from our camp; and that he had grinned at her and gone up the hill. We went out, therefore, and certainly did see an animal among the rocks at the top of the hill; but it was partly concealed by the long grass, and the distance was great, so that we were not sure whether it was a tiger or only a panther; most probably it was the latter, natives call all cats "baug" indiscriminately. A strange thing was seen here by me one morning. We woke up at daylight; the tent door was open, and there was a brass basin full of water on the ground. I was only half awake, and the light was dim, but I certainly saw some large animal at the basin; it did not lap the water, and it vanished before I had taken a full look at it, but it was something wild. I have always thought it was a panther or a leopard. These bold animals have often been known to enter a tent and to carry off dogs from inside. A friend of mine, travelling without a tent, in the Hyderabad country, was sleeping on a cot in the open air, and had two powerful English-bred dogs chained to the cot. A panther came and seized one of the dogs, and had not the collar and chain been of the strongest, the
HOMILY ON GUN ACCIDENTS.
dog would have been carried off. As it happened, the tackle was good and the dog heavy, but the tug nearly upset the cot, and my friend jumped up, only to see the panther spring away in the dim moonlight, and to find his dog much torn, but not mortally injured.
While at Ramdospillay, a young comrade was good enough to give me a look down his gun-barrels, when walking along a jungle path in front of me; and when I remonstrated, he treated the matter very lightly, and could hardly be persuaded to alter his mode of carrying the I therefore avoided his company gun. for the future, in shooting excursions. Nothing is so miserably foolish as to give a gun a chance of injuring oneself, or one's companion. Nothing, again, is easier to avoid. Let a gun go off if it will, i.e. if it cannot be helped, as is sometimes the case; but never hold it, under any circumstances whatever, in such a position as to enable it to do mischief if it does go off. Never let the muzzle cover anyone, even for a second. This is a golden rule in shooting, and should never be lost sight of. As to the reckless and wicked trick of pointing a gun or pistol "in fun" at another person, it should be made a highly penal offence, and when, as has so frequently happened, it results in the death of the object of the idiotic jest, it should be punished as "manslaughter." We should then have but few cases of people being shot in this way. Now that breech-loading arms have so universally superseded muzzle-loaders, there can very rarely be any excuse for accidental discharge of a gun; and if the above golden rule be only observed, there cannot be any mischief.
We returned to Secunderabad by the way of Raymond's tomb, and visited the mausoleum of the
gallant Frenchman whose name and deeds are still remembered by the inhabitants of the Deccan.
In the cool season, towards the end of this year, we had some grand sham fights, and some incidents in connection with them occurred which might have ended badly. At one regimental sham fight, one wing against the other, the men got excited, as is often the case, and, in skirmishing with blank cartridge, the two flank companies approached each other nearer than they ought, and a light company man put the muzzle of his musket close to the nape of a grenadier's neck, and fired, thereby blowing off the collar of the man's coat, and a good bit of skin, and singeing all the hair off the back of his head. For this, the too energetic "light Bob" was severely dealt with, as he well deserved to be.
An even worse case of the kind happened during the excitement of a brigade field-day and sham fight. A sepoy, who was not identified, was skirmishing in bush jungle, and took a pot at the adjutant of an opposing regiment, who was riding past him (and who certainly had no business in the enemy's line), and fired at him so close, in fact almost touching, that he blew his waistbelt off! Of course, on both these occasions the usual order had been given, that opposing forces were on no account to approach within one hundred yards of each other; but on sham-fight parades, when officers and men get excited, these prudent rules are very commonly forgotten.
At one such parade, when we were at Samulcottah, the grenadiers were, by the arranged programme, retiring from the attack of the light company. The light Bobs were rather jubilant and obstreperous under these circumstances, and on their pressing the attack
rather more closely than was correct, the grenadier captain, who was a surly fellow, swore a great oath, and gave the order to his men to face about and fix bayonets. Very possibly something unpleasant might have happened, only that the Colonel happened to be close by, and rode up in a desperate hurry to moderate the grenadier's warlike emotions; and so it ended peaceably.
At the end of this year I lost the Adjutantcy by promotion to Captain. I had paid heavily for this speedy promotion; for we had bought out several majors and captains in the preceding five or six years, under a tardily granted permission, by the Honourable Company, by which officers were permitted to "add to the comfort of their seniors on retirement." My shares with interest amounted to over 12,000 rupees, equal to £1,200.
March to Cuddapah.-Snipe at Yellagode.-Murder of a Civilian. The Happy Valley.-Abundance of Partridge.— A Bear shot. On duty to Cumbum. Rock Snake and Fowl. Fish and Fishing. The Cumbum Lake. - A Sambur shot. Also a Python and a Cobra. - Jungle-fowl Shooting. Return to Cuddapah. - Death of a Cunning Bear. Yenadee Trackers. Wild Dogs.-Nulla Mulla Mountains.-Man-eating Tiger.-Torture and the Torture Commission. Again to Cumbum. Monstrous Cobra.Curiosities of a Grave-yard. - Officer mauled by a Bear. -Shikarry Munnoo. - Sambur shot.-Sambur and Wild Dogs.-Suicide of an Officer.-March to Trichinopoly.
HAVING, to our great sorrow, got the route for
Cuddapah, a about 250 miles south of Secunderabad, and esteemed to be the hottest place in the south of India, we left our pleasant cantonment on 9th February 1849, and, after a prosperous march, arrived, towards the end of March, just in time for the hot season, which, at Cuddapah, fully justifies the bad name which is given to that station.
Cuddapah is in a kind of punch-bowl formed by the hills which, on three sides, surround the town