Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and his guards, and all the people of Kullerputty who were not bedridden, advancing towards the Residency-the band playing "The Girl I've Left Behind Me " like fury, and the Rajah and his courtiers sitting on half a dozen elephants. The setting sun shone on the Rajah's howdah, and cap, and dress of gold, and on the glittering housings-all embroidered with gold and beetle wings-of his great elephant. The effect was very pretty, and would have told immensely at the pantomime just adverted to. In the morning, the Rajah had worn a spangled muslin dress with a short train, which an attendant tucked up in a most ridiculous fashion when the great man walked. The dress which he wore this evening was of cloth of gold, and much shorter and his cap, also of gold embroidery, had a jewelled plume in it. Three of his relations who were present wore much the same kind of dress, but had only small black feathers in their caps, as had also the Sirkele, who had encased his enormous rotundity in a court suit over his white dress, and looked perfectly elephantine! At last, the Rajah's torches were ordered, the betel-nut and garland affair was gone through twice over, once by the Resident to the Rajah and his suite, and once by the Rajah to ourselves. He then departed with the same state as that with which he came; and we most unanimously agreed in being very glad that it was all over, and made ourselves ready for a return to Pokerapooram on the morrow.

28th. We left Kullerputty early this morning, leaving a company of sepoys to keep matters all right, and we passed the day in the usual "faineant" camp style. In the evening, a body of militia joined us, under two very great, and very highly gilt, men; and it was rumoured that the rebels had drawn together again, and were bivouacked near the village at which we encamp to-morrow morning.

[ocr errors]

29th. After marching about three miles we parted company with the Rajah's ragged host, which turned off to the eastward with orders to reconnoitre some villages in which the rebels were said to have reassembled yesterday, and to send us word should the enemy be there in force. We held on our way for six miles more and encamped, and were just about to fortify ourselves with a breakfast, when a messenger, "bloody with spurring," galloped up on a miserable tattoo, which he nearly capsized over the Commandant's tent ropes, and, as well as his excitement would allow him, told that two thousand of the in

CAPTURE OF REBELS.

167

surgents were encamped-if squatting on the ground may be so called-near a village about three miles from our tents. We were all up and off in five minutes, and arrived in due course at the village, but saw nothing till we had passed through it, when a long line of the rebel scouts appeared on a highswelling plain about a mile and a half in front of us. The gallant militia had, with great prudence, halted at about two miles' distance to the southward, and we had sent them word to advance upon the enemy from that quarter while we came on from the west. There was a thick jungle, about a mile square, in rear of the rebels, and behind it a large village; and through this village we, assisted by the Rajah's people, who came up in a frenzy of bravery when they found that we were on the spot, drove the enemy, most of whom made off in various directions when they came to the village.

This place was soon surrounded; and a strict search commenced, which ended in the capture of upwards of a hundred of the insurgents, among them some men of note, who had distinguished themselves in various ways, such as setting houses on fire, half murdering the Rajah's peons, &c. The row was tremendous, and the expedients resorted to to escape capture were very ingenious. Besides such common shifts as getting under heaps of straw and perching like fowls on the cross beams of roofs, several were found, in dark corners of rooms, with great chatties (earthen vessels) over their heads and shoulders; and many were lugged out of the large wicker-work plastered receptacles for grain, to which the only access was through the hole, stuffed with a fid of straw, in the roof. The unfortunate captives were beaten and violently pinioned by the Rajah's people as soon as caught; nor were our own sepoys very goodhumoured towards them. One sepoy with whom I remonstrated upon his having beaten a rebel, preparatory to tying his hands, said to me, "Sir, I have had nothing to eat since three o'clock yesterday afternoon, and I suppose that I shall get nothing before three this afternoon; and shall I refrain from striking! No! by all my gods!" Whack-whack. I burst out laughing, and left him to wreak the vengeance of his empty stomach upon his unlucky captive. The indignation of the whole breakfastless force was certainly very great, and several languages were sworn up on the occasion before we got back in triumph to our camp. This was the wind up of the campaign:

the prisoners were carried off by the militia to Kullerputty, and we returned, the next day, to Pokerapooram. And, for all this, we have got no medal!!!"

It was on this journey that I became acquainted with a curious fact in natural history, as regards the disposition of one species of wasp, if not of others of the tribe. I saw a wasps' nest, formed of leaves stuck together with mud, hanging from the bough of a small tree on the side of a jungle path. I said to my shikarry, "Look out, wasps!" for they were buzzing about in great numbers all round the nest. To my surprise, my shikarry grinned, and, instead of moving on as I did, and giving them a wide berth, he swung round a loading rod which he was carrying, and struck a violent blow on the bough, thus breaking it off from the tree. I was in horror, knowing the vicious temper of these insects when disturbed; but he told me and I saw that it was so-that the wasps would do no harm now that their nest was cut off. The calamity to their fortress, so thorough in its effects, seemed to stupefy them, and they took no notice of us, but crawled, despairingly, over their ruined dwelling. The shikarry said that if he had failed to cut the bough entirely off the wasps would have attacked us with their wonted enthusiasm. The entire destruction of their abode is necessary to ensure the aggressors impunity.

Another Tour in Southern Division.-A Revengeful Old Woman. Veeranoor. - Bear-shooting. Rungamullay. Belling the Boar.-How to Poach for Hog.-A Pair of Tuskers. Four Elephants shot in one Herd.-Bear and Cub.-Enormous Centipede.-The "Boycotted" Moslem.A Week with Bruin.-The "Hunting of the Bear."-Some Bear Stories.-Himalayan Bears.

-

66

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER VII.

A

N absurd but very annoying affair happened at the house of an officer of my regiment at Trichinopoly. The lady of the house gave what is called a tea-fight," and some dozen people were gathered to it. A very handsome gold bracelet, of the farfamed Trichinopoly workmanship, and which had just been made for the lady, was handed round and duly admired, and replaced in a basket on a side-table. An unlucky spinster-of a certain age, by the byewho was one of the guests, took it into her head, "for fun," to abstract and hide the bracelet, intending to enjoy the search and consternation when its disappearance should be found out. She, therefore, when all were otherwise engaged, took it and carried it into an ante-room and hid it under a roll of music. It did create excitement, with a vengeance! for when the perpetratrix of the silly joke had enjoyed for some time its success, and had given the clue to the place where she had hidden it, to her horror and dismay it

had disappeared in sad earnest, and nothing was ever heard of it again! No doubt whatever, one of the servants, male or female, had been peering into the room and had seen the bracelet hidden, and had taken an opportunity, when the guests were playing a noisy and engrossing round game at cards, to abstract it. The distress of the unhappy joker may be imagined. She "boohooed" aloud, and refused to be comforted. The bracelet had cost 150 rupees

=£15.

At the close of this year I started again on a tour round part of the division, and made first for Salem, via the Puchmullay (Green Hill) jungles. There were bears on a hill close to the village of Vengalum, but I had no luck with them. I was amused one morning at seeing an old woman gesticulating violently in the direction of the Puchmullay mountains, where in a deep ravine there is a Hindoo temple dedicated to Periasawmey ("the great god"). She was screaming at the top of her cracked voice; and, on inquiry, I found that she was addressing an urgent request to the god of the ravine, that he would inflict some horrible injury on a person in the village with whom this old hag had quarrelled; most particularly she begged the deity to order matters that a corpse might speedily be carried out of her enemy's house. "Ah-h!”—in this case she promised a sheep in sacrifice-"Ah-h!” -otherwise not a grain of incense or a bunch of flowers should he ever have from her in future-" Ah-h!" -and so she went on, working herself up, as these "mild Hindoo" women do, into a greater rage every moment, tugging at her fusty grizzled hair with her skinny fingers, and giving the idea that she was possessed with a legion of devils at the least.

« ZurückWeiter »