Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

225

very fond of the place. There was great scope for improvements in sanitary and conservancy matters; and as all these were under my charge, I made a kind of hobby of them, and rode it hard! too hard, indeed, for the entire appreciation of some of those who resided there, and who liked things to run in old grooves.

The climate of Kamptee deals in extremes. January is a really cold month, causing blue noses and cramped fingers to those who indulge in early morning rides, and also causing it to be pleasant to sit out in the sun, after the ride, until 8, or even 9 o'clock. February is cool only. In March the mornings and evenings are cool, with a strong suspicion of coming hot weather in the middle of the day. In April this suspicion becomes a certainty: the hot winds blow as if from the mouth of a furnace, and there is little alleviation from the fierce heat either by day or night. The strong hot wind, however, is a boon to those who can stay within doors, for it is perfectly cooled in its passage through thick and well-watered tatties (woven screens) made of sweet-scented cuscus grass, and keeps the temperature in the house down to something reasonable, say 86° to 88°, that of the outer verandah ranging from perhaps 100° to 112°. In May the heat continues; and that part of June which immediately precedes the rains is all but intolerable, suggesting thoughts of "heat apoplexy," and, alas! often more than thoughts; for one of these fearful nights, when the wind has altogether failed, and the atmosphere is that of an oven, frequently causes from eight to ten cases of heat apoplexy in the barracks, some of them, usually, fatal. Men who drink hard are the most liable to

CLIMATE OF KAMPTEE.

this terrible seizure, which strikes down a strong man like a lightning stroke: those who are temperate commonly, but not always, escape. But, in India, it cannot be too strongly stated, an intemperate man gives himself no chance whatever: he may possibly live for years; but drink will, sooner or later, bring him to his end.

In most years, about the second week in June, the rains bless the station, and cause instant relief. Sometimes they come on quite in the beginning of the month; but this is rare. More frequently they hold off till near the end of June; but they ought to make their appearance by the 10th or 15th. From their advent, and through the rainy months of July, August, and perhaps September, the temperature is moderately cool and, to my feelings, pleasant; but many people dislike "the rains," and find those months close and steamy. By the middle of September the S.W. monsoon has died out; and from that time till the middle of October, when the N.E. monsoon rushes up, heralded commonly by a heavy storm, the climate is "muggy " and objectionable.

When the N.E. monsoon has set in, and for the remainder of the year, the climate is, as described for January, delightful; and it is possible to enjoy outdoor pursuits all day, not only without danger from the sun, but with a positive comfortable appreciation of its beams. Once in every few years the terrible hot weather which I have described is broken by a succession of violent storms with hail and lightning. In such a year the hot weather is not a thing of terror: nobody growls except the ardent sportsman, who finds his long-desired hot weather excursion after tigers entirely spoiled. In such a season, the tiger

HOT-WEATHER STORMS.

227

finds water for his wants in every hollow, and needs not to hold to the banks of rivers and to perennially green swamps, but roams about at his sweet will, and is "here to-day, and gone to-morrow." After every such hot-weather storm the thermometer falls from ten to twenty degrees; and though it creeps up again fast enough, yet it affords a welcome respite to the fevered frame of man, woman, and child; and the heat, pulled down every few days by such storms, loses its force and venom.

CHAPTER IX.

Kamptee.-To Poonah.-With 91st Regiment to Kamptee.-A Strange Panic.-A Man lanced to Death.-On Leave to Seldoo.-Shoot a Neilghye and a Bear.-Festival at Mahadeo, and Cholera.-Shoot a Bear and a Sambur.-To Moothoor. Signs of Cholera along the Road.-A Tiger at Night. Chindwarra. Ascent of Mountains. Shoot a Barking Deer and a Bear. Return to Kamptee. Shoot a Bear and a Spotted Deer. - To Ajungaum. — Shoot a Sambur.-A Bad Shot at a Tiger.-Tigress and Cubs.-To Chankee Kopra.-Tiger and Leopards.-Fierce Leopard.To Moothoor with Sir R. Temple. - Strange Effect of a Shot on a Sambur.-Jilmillee.-Four Tigers shot and two Men killed.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

--

K

AMPTEE is a pretty and highly military cantonment. It is laid out in straight parallel streets and roads, each "bungalow 'bungalow" standing in its own well-planted grounds. Fine trees, many of them bearing bright flowers at one or other season of the year, shade every road. Thus Kamptee is full of verdure, and may challenge comparison, in this respect, with any station in India. With very few exceptions, the houses are not tiled, but are thatched with long "rumnah " "rumnah" grass, and are surrounded by verandahs, also thatched and affording a cool shade to the inner rooms. The great fault of these houses is, in almost every case, that their floors are raised a

[blocks in formation]

few inches only from the ground: a false economy, when the cantonment was first laid out, has caused this, and renders them liable to much damp in the monsoon. Vegetation is most luxuriant, and every year it is necessary to enforce a free lopping and pruning and thinning-out of trees and hedges all over the station. The grass, when not eaten down by cattle, grows to the height of four or five feet during the monsoon, after which it is cut and dried for forage. The station is well provided with barracks and other public buildings; and its overgrown bazaars form two large towns with an aggregate population of about thirty thousand people, not counting the military and their immediate followers, probably ten thousand more.

In September of the year of my arrival I was directed to proceed to Poonah, to join the camp of the 91st Foot, and to return to Kamptee "in charge of camp arrangements." This regiment had just landed from Corfu, and was entirely void of Indian experience. My journey to Poonah was not an agreeable one: the distance is about four hundred and sixty miles, and I had to be at Poonah by the middle of October, having left Kamptee on the 23rd September-a tough piece of work for monsoon weather. I travelled very light, and rode the whole distance. I had with me a very small tent, and as little baggage as possible-all carried on three undersized tattoos (ponies). I joined, at Poonah, at the appointed time; but we did not march till the 2nd of November. On the day previous to our march I attended the "Proclamation Parade," which formally sounded the knell of good "John Company's" Government and inaugurated the "Empire of India." The parade was

« ZurückWeiter »