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"A Week with the Pachyderms."-On Leave to England, and back to India. - To Trichinopoly.- Embarkation Duty.Autancurray. Advantages of Autancurray as compared with Madras Harbour. The Sepoy Mutiny. Why no Mutiny in Madras. To Beypore on Duty. - Walliaur Jungle.-Gun Accident at Walliaur.-Down the Cauvery in Basket-boat.-Appointment to Nagpore Force.-From Trichinopoly to Kamptee.-Bears at Pericait.-Arrive at Kamptee.-Climate of Kamptee.
NOW proceed with the "Week with the Pachyderms."
Bruin was the theme of my last contribution, and, according to promise, I turn over the leaves of my journal for the sequel of my jungle rambles in the end of 1855 and beginning of 1856. Exciting as are sometimes the encounters with my shaggy friends, and dangerous as are their teeth and claws to the unlucky wight who gives them a chance of wreaking their vengeance upon him, still more exciting is the pursuit of that most mighty of animals, the ponderous elephant; still more dangerous the blind fury of the irritated monster, when, maddened by his smarting wounds, and transformed from the quietest denizen of the forest into a savage, thirsting for the blood of his enemy, and filled with the sole idea of revenge for injuries received, he rushes, regardless of obstacles, crashing through the groaning jungle, dashing trees and tangled creepers from his headlong path; and, if he finds within reach the object of his rage, tearing him limb from limb, kneading him into the blood-stained earth, pounding and smashing him out of all
DANGERS OF ELEPHANT-SHOOTING.
semblance to humanity, till he leaves nothing of his tormentor and foe but a mass of hideous clay, the mere sight of which would inspire horror and chill the blood in the veins of any child of Adam!
After this terrible picture of what may be the result of too ardent a pursuit of the modern mammoth, the reader may perhaps expect to hear of "hair-breadth 'scapes" and cruel scenes of elephantine vengeance wrought before the eyes of the inditer of these pages; but, alas for the interest of the present lucubration, such is not to be the case. Many an elephant have I shot at some I have shot; for be it known that shooting at an elephant is by no means tantamount to killing him, as all elephant-hunters can testify; but never yet have I been actually charged, or seen anyone else pursued, though I have more than once put myself in full sight of wounded tuskers: but it has always ended in the elephant making the best of his way from the scene of action, without coveting any further acquaintance with either my big rifle or myself. Many other sportsmen can, however, tell a different tale. In some jungles-especially, it would appear, in Ceylon-to be seen by a solitary male elephant is, almost always, to be charged also; but I have never met with a rogue of this kidney: my experiences have been confined to one tract of jungle, which I have visited occasionally for three or four years, and the pachyderms of which were, I verily believe, very unsophisticated and peaceable animals until I went among them and taught them what powder and ball meant. Since the time when I first hit upon the jungles of Wursanaad the repose of the lords of the forest has been often broken upon, not only by myself, but by other keen sportsmen who were attracted thither by the report of my rifle, and the éclat attending upon the disbursement of sums of money, from the Collector's treasury, in exchange for sundry tails and trunks handed in, as vouchers, by the owner of the same heavy "wepon."
It is, therefore, likely enough that some of the huge tuskers which have lately been knocked about the head, like "Bunsby," that ancient mariner, may turn rusty, and " see in every bush an officer," and incontinently charge at any inquiring sportsman who may seek to explore their haunts. Be it so; in that case, unless I am caught and treated after the fashion which I have described with such unction, I will send to Maga an ac
count of my next expedition to Wursanaad, where I hope to be, big rifle in hand, before two months are past.
This jungle is one of a peculiar nature: it by no means answers to the general idea of an elephant-jungle. There are no park-like glades, no savannahs of waving elephant-grass, overtopping the labouring sportsman as he stumbles over the wiry hassocks, and almost concealing the giant game; not even are there the thickly-clustered bamboos, with polished stems creaking and rustling in the breeze. None of these are there at Wursanaad-there nothing is seen but one vast expanse of thorn-jungle, matted together with interlacing creepers, and penetrated, in all directions, by narrow paths formed by the elephants. By elephant-paths I do not mean paths which are easy to follow: most of them are very difficult of access; for the brambly thorns and pliant creepers close over them after the elephant have passed along; and, though unfelt, perhaps unnoticed, by the monstrous beasts, yet present formidable obstacles to the tender-skinned biped who intrudes on the recesses of the jungle.
Though the jungle is low, and, as a rule, deficient in forest trees; yet the banks of a broad and sandy river which winds through it are fringed with some noble trees; and many a pleasant hour have I spent beneath their grateful shade, while my scouts, little jungle men, who call themselves "pulleers," have been looking for a herd of elephant. Very pleasant it is to lie under the shade of a great tree, all a-chatter, perhaps, with monkeys and bright-hued birds, to watch the water gently rippling over the old black rocks, listening, the while, for sounds in the distant jungle, and rehearsing, in anticipation, the stealthy approach to, and fierce attack tack upon, the unsuspecting herd. I know that they are not far off: probably they are huddled together, chewing the cud, under a clump of trees taller and more umbrageous than the surrounding thickets; for it is now high noon and "hot enough to melt the nose off a brass monkey!" Presently three little, almost nude, and entirely dirty, figures appear on the bank of the river; and, stepping quietly, come up with strangely solemn faces. My long-legged shikarry rises and asks the news; but the stolid faces relax not until they come close up. Then the oldest and most scaly-looking savage extends one stumpy digit, and says that there is an elephant about a mile off. How big? is the
ATTACK ON A TUSKER.
question; and, in answer, he grasps his own thigh, and nods, by which I understand that it is a tusker, and that the ivory is as thick as the limb indicated.
I will not follow any farther this imaginary bit of shikar, which I have introduced merely to show the way of setting to work; but will ask the reader to come with me on the morning of the 18th December 1855, when I made my first attempt, in this expedition, upon the pachyderms. This morning a large tusker was reported to be feeding in the jungle, across the river which runs close by my camping-ground. I got the news at 10 o'clock; but rain was falling, and I did not start out after him until 1 in the afternoon. The jungle was very wet; but my gunlocks were well wrapped up. After crossing the river and walking about two miles through heavy thorn-jungle, we came to a large mass of rock, about twenty feet high in the highest part, just overtopping the surrounding thicket. Here we stopped, and listened for the elephant. Rain fell at intervals, and a soft breeze gently stirred the leaves of the thorn-trees. Presently we heard a crack in the jungle, about a quarter of a mile to windward of us; and the weather being so cool, it seemed pretty certain that the elephant was moving about and feeding. After listening for a short time, we heard another crash of a broken tree, a little nearer than before; and, in another minute, he blew two or three times. Almost directly afterwards, I saw a tree shake, and a muffled crash showed that the beast was at work on its boughs. For near an hour he thus continued to feed in the thickest part of the jungle, still gradually drawing nearer to us. At length I saw a tree shak on the skirts of the jungle near the rock on which I was standing, not more than a hundred yards from me; but this part of the cover was an almost impenetrable thicket of thorns and creepers. Two of my men now went on along the side of the rock, and presently beckoned to me. I crept cautiously up to a small rock which was standing on the edge of the flat mass, and which was elevated somewhat above the jungle. A clump of trees rose out of the thorns at the distance of about fifty yards from me, and there he was! A small opening in the branches just showed his shoulder, and the side. of his head also, as far down as the middle of his ear. His ears were constantly flapping, and were pricked up at every little noise in the jungle.
It was far for a shot, and also there was a branch of a tree across the opening, at the upper part of his ear; but there was no other chance of a shot: if he should move even a foot his head would no longer be in sight. I watched him for some time, seeing his snake-like trunk playing among the branches of the tree just above his head, every now and then bringing down a delicate morsel in the shape of a branch as thick as my arm or leg. The shikarries advised a shot, as there was little chance of getting even so clear a mark in any other position. I laid my double rifle on the rock in front of me, and took a sight at the ear of the noble beast. I then cocked the right barrel; and I do believe that he heard the click of the lock, for the ears were pricked for a moment, and then the flapping commenced again. All was still in the jungle: scarce a breath of wind stirred the leaves. As I pressed the trigger, I could not but think of the difference which this slight movement of my finger would make. I fired—I heard a crack as if my great bullet (conical, steel tipped, and 3 oz.) had struck a rock. The clump of jungle shook, as if by an earthquake; and the mighty brute rushed forth with a piercing, shrill cry. On he rushed, like a tempest, the jungle yielding and groaning before him; the sharp crack of broken trees mingling with the continued sweeping sound of the smaller branches which were dashed, right and left, from his levelled path. After having charged along for about three hundred yards, he stopped for a moment, and then went on again, at a more moderate pace, in the direction of Wursanaad; and, in five minutes, all was still.
Now to see the effect of the shot. I went, creeping under the thorn bushes, to the spot where he had stood, and saw the huge footprints, showing how he had staggered on receiving the blow. One of the pulleers now drew my attention to a bush; and, looking at it, I saw that it was covered with blood: no scanty drops, but as if bloody rain had fallen on it. I crumpled up some of the leaves in my hand, which was instantly incarnadined from wrist to nail! We followed the track: no difficult matter where the jungle was levelled, some feet in width, as if by a broad roller. Still every leaf dropped blood, and in a place where the elephant had stood for a moment there was a puddle of it, as if a basinful had been spilt on the ground. "He will die," said all the shikarries. Probably he will; but shall I ever get his tusks out of the claws of the