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CHAPTER VI.

Trichinopoly.-Coollamullay Mountains.-Thieves of Trichinopoly. Cattle Poisoners.-Salem. - Shervaroy Hills.Narinjeepett.-Voyage down Cauvery River.-A Bear Shot. -Bear and Cubs.-The Cummum Valley.-Rous Peters.— Nursingpooram.-Unsuccessful Encounter with Elephant.— Bull Bison Shot. Also immense Python.-Embarkation Duty. My First Elephant.-" Story of a Campaign."

SOON

(OON after we arrived at Trichinopoly the Mahorum festival came on; and a great riot was occasioned by the Hindoos carrying an idol in procession, with distracting noise of horns and tom-toms, past the "Jumma Musjid" or principal Mahomedan mosque, thus exciting the fierce ire of the Moslems, who resented the insult in a most violent manner. The main guard turned out, and, under protection of their bayonets, the police peons very gallantly captured several of the rioters.

At the end of this year I commenced to keep a "Shikar" Journal, upon which I shall now draw as may seem desirable. I went, with three others, in November, to the Coollamullay mountains, about thirty miles north of Trichinopoly, On this first expedition there was nothing worth noting, except that we shot some strange-looking hornbills. The birds, which are quite as large as pheasants (though

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not so desirable to place on table), are very gay in colour : red, yellow, and black; and their immense bills and horns are covered with yellow and red dyes, which come off on the finger when touched. This colouring matter is obtained from a sort of paint-box, or receptacle, which is found just above the bird's tail, and which is crammed full of pigment of all shades of red and yellow. Of the first pair of hornbills that we saw, we shot one; but the companion escaped, though slightly wounded, and doubtless put on an extra coat of paint in honour of its escape !

A great hurricane did much damage at the end of this year : the great trees which lined the roads were blown down in dozens, and traffic was stopped until they were cleared away. At this time, also, a very annoying occurrence took place in our Mess-house. The annual inspection was taken by the General of Division, and, after it was over, we, according to custom, entertained him, his staff, and all the “ big wigs ” of the station, at dinner. When the General got up to depart, his gold-laced cap was missing, and was never found! Some rascally thief had actually stolen the cap of the guest of the evening, and the whole regiment was devoured with shame and rage. The General, moreover, did not take his loss

very kindly; he was very surly and sulky over it. The thieves of Trichinopoly are famous, or infamous, all over the south of India : they belong to a separate, and low, tribe of Hindoos, and are called “ Kullers." The residents at Trichinopoly are subject to a kind of black (very black) mail, which is discreditable to Government, who might stop the practice by taking sharp measures with the head-men of the tribe, and by making them give security for the good behaviour of their tribesmen. Every occupier of a house is obliged to keep one of these people in his pay, as a “Cowlcarra " or watchman ; and, if he does not keep one, for his house to be robbed, and probably entirely cleared of valuables, is only a question of time: sooner or later, the thieves take their revenge for his neglect to keep a thief in his pay. .

These watchmen are a great nuisance whenever they happen to be awake at night: they howl hideously to prove that that they are on the alert; and if one begins to howl, all the rest take up the noise and make a horrible uproar.

Fires, in the native lines, were very common at Trichinopoly, and were very often incendiary. The incendiaries were the thatchers, who lived by renewing grass and leaf roofs, and who, when they thought it time for the lines to be renewed, settled the question by promptly setting them on fire.

This rascally proceeding is not an uncommon one throughout India, and with the same motive: to get profitable employment in renewing the roofs. A crime of much the same nature is also known to exist in many places, i.e. that of poisoning the cattle, both horses and oxen, of travellers passing along a road. The poisoners are

Chumars," or leather-dressers, who do not hesitate to poison a horse worth a thousand rupees, with the vile object of getting a rupee or two by his hide and hoofs.

In the beginning of 1852 I acted for a short time as Police Officer at Trichinopoly. The greater part of the work was the disposal of petty cases of assault ; and, unless the evidence on the complainant's part was very clear, my plan was to fine both parties. This gave great satisfaction. In this duty I acquired a

the 66

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perfect insight into the fact that, whenever a native accuses another of an assault, he or she always adds to the accusation a charge of theft also; so, having heard the complainants half through, and when he or she stopped to take breath, I would say, “And then the defendant stole half a rupee, which was tied up in the corner of your handkerchief ?” “Yes, protector of the poor! he did ! he did !” And the native clerks and policemen would look at each other and wag their heads in appreciation of the magistrate's profound penetration and cleverness. I had no remuneration for my efforts in the cause of justice, as I was merely acting for a friend who had taken a month's leave of absence; but, shortly afterwards, I obtained a staff appointment as QuartermasterGeneral's Officer in the Division, and I remained thirteen years in the Department. An officer had a narrow escape,

this

year, cobra, which fell from his verandah roof on to a sofa on which he was lying, and then stood up on its tail to look at him. Probably the cobra was as much frightened as he was ; anyhow, he escaped without being bitten.

Just at the end of the hot weather I went on duty to Salem, eighty miles north of Trichinopoly ; and I spun out the time to close upon a month, combining duty with pleasure. This was my first experience of a journey with bullocks, and it was a terrible one! I expected to do the first forty-five miles in less than ten hours; but it occupied over seventeen. rough bit of road, the bullocks, from a slow waggling trot, pulled up into a crawling walk. I had to get out and walk over every sandy place, the wretched animals toiling, sorely tail-twisted, behind me. When

from a

At every

sleepy, I curled myself up on the seat of my “buggy (Indian for a two-wheeled vehicle, a sort of gig), and kept dropping off to sleep for a few minutes at a time, waking up again at some crash into a rut, or drop on to a stone, and so on all night. In the early morning, I had a fine view of the Coollamullay mountains. They were about seven miles off; and their massive slopes and densely-wooded ravines stood out clear and sharp in the bright morning light.

At Salem, where two friends met me, we made the ascent of the Shervaroy mountains, 5,000 feet high, and ten miles north of the town. Half this distance is smooth travelling over a plain, the other half is a steep climb up the mountain. Half-way up is a large flat rock, known as “ Stapleton's Rock," so named after a young officer who ascended these mountains thirty or forty years ago, went to sleep in the middle of the day on this rock, was taken up ill with sunstroke, and died the next day at Salem. On arriving at the mountain top, the difference of climate was very cheering and enjoyable, and the little station on the plateau, with its cleared slopes planted with coffee bushes and gay with wild roses and raspberries, looked very pretty and home-like.

After leaving Salem we visited the jungle of Narinjeepett, noted some years before for man-eating tigers, which had, however, all been killed off by a gang of shikarries, whom Government took into pay for the purpose of destroying the terrible animals. There is a road, along the right bank of the river Cauvery, leading from Narinjeepett to the Mysore country, and all along this road were cairns of stones every few hundred yards, and often much closer together, showing where a tiger had sprung out and

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