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shouted jubilantly, "Who is the owner of this pretty thing?" Thereupon a squalid, shivering figure emerged from under a bush, and the captain, with sad misgiving, recognised his own servant in the halfdrowned object, who answered to his facetious query, "This Master's bandy, Sir!" (the cart of the country is "bandy" in the vernacular). The Captain's hilarity was checked for the rest of that morning; not so that of the subalterns', and many were the jokes cut upon the occasion when we assembled together at the mess-tent.
Just before crossing to the left bank of the Kistnah river, we encamped at Kota Mungelgherry, a place possessed of a very tall and sacred pagoda. Lottery tickets were then very fashionable, and were issued yearly or half-yearly by the Government, and several tickets were bet upon the height of this pagoda as compared with that in the Vellore fort. Each whole lottery-ticket cost, to the best of my recollection, 100 rupees, and the prizes ranged from the lakh, or 100,000 rupees, down to 180 rupees, of which lowest amount there was a swarm of prizes. On this occasion I bet a ticket that the Mungelgherry pagoda was twice the height of that at Vellore. This ticket I lost; but I had hedged with another ticket that it was half as high again as the Vellore edifice, and this I won. Both tickets turned up blanks, so that Government was the only gainer by the transaction. The bets were decided by a measurement taken at both places.
There is an old story that a common coolie at Madras, having by hard work, or good luck, or both, managed to scrape together 100 rupees, bought a ticket with his money, and that this ticket actually turned up the lakh! Poor Ramasammy went off his
THE COOLIE AND THE "LAKH."
head altogether; dressed himself in grand clothes, kincaubs, shawls, &c. from top to toe; hired a finelooking horse, mounted on which (the first ride he had ever taken on horseback) he rode into Fort St. George to show himself in all his magnificence. Alas! the fine horse shied at the sentry at the fort gate; off tumbled Ramasammy and broke his neck. So much for his enjoyment of the lakh !
At Mungulgherry an incident which might have had tragic results took place. The regiment had a small brass cannon, of ancient make, said to have been captured at the siege of Seringapatam. It was about a foot and a half long, and of two inches calibre, and was mounted on a small iron carriage. It was easy for one man to lift the whole thing. This gun was fired in camp on the evening of every halting day. On the evening in question it was loaded with a double charge of powder; and, as mischief would have it, the Adjutant popped in and rammed down a kidney from the saddle of mutton which had formed part of the mess dinner. On applying the match, the officers and many natives standing round the while, a stunning report ensued, with various whizzes and whistlings of heavy bodies hurtling through the air, evidently due to some unusual action on the part of the little cannon. The gun had burst, and pieces of it were found, many yards off, among the tents. Strange to say, no one was hurt.
Soon after this occurrence, I had my attack of "liver," and was leeched, blistered, and calomeled, nearly to death's door; for such was the treatment in those days. No more shooting for me on that march. I was carried along each morning in a dhooly, and, though much better when we arrived at
Samulcottah, was fit for nothing in the way of duty for some weeks afterwards. At Samulcottah, I bought a house from an officer of the relieved regiment. This sounds like a heavy purchase; but the house, which consisted of two fair rooms only, with a dressing-room and a bath-room, cost me only 600 rupees £60; this amount to be paid in monthly instalments of 60 rupees each. The house had once belonged to a well-known botanist, Dr. Roxborough ; and the garden, which was a very good one, held many rare and valuable trees, fruit-bearing as well as others.
There was one thing on the premises which had better have been away-no other than the tomb of the Doctor's wife, which stood exactly opposite to the front door, and not five yards from it! A strange and unpleasant crotchet of the Doctor, to deposit the remains of his deceased spouse in such a place! To remove the tomb (an oblong stone structure) would have shocked the prejudices of many of my neighbours I therefore did the next best thing, and trained a fine "Rangoon creeper" over the tomb, which, in a few months, was completely hidden by the pink and white flowers of the fast-growing plant.
Subalterns' Pets again.-Tame Python.-Country round Samulcottah. Large and Small Game.-Beemarum Tank.-Lucky Shot at an Antelope.-Shot by a Comrade.-A wooden Cobra.-Accident on Parade.-Treasure Party.—Treasure Escort Stories.-A Bag of Snipe.-Doctor of the Old School. A new Arrival and his Equipage.-Bull-spearing and Pig-baiting.-More Tricks on Monkeys.-Juggapett and its Rajah.-Wild Hog.-Comet.-Native Prophecy of Fall of "John Company."-March to Nursapatam.-Small Game. -Traps for Hyenas.-March to Chicacole.
HEN we became settled in our new station, the institution of subalterns' pets assumed large proportions. My share was a pair of very special monkeys, imported from the extreme south of Indialittle black, long-coated fellows, with white whiskers. and beards; also I had a rather large "python" or "rock snake." When the snake, which was about eight feet long, was supposed to be hungry, a live "bandicoot" was procured, and a much interested party of subalterns assembled to "early tea" (and coffee) at my house.
The snake was brought out of his box and placed in the middle of the circle of chairs, close to Mrs. Roxborough. The ill-fated bandicoot, tied with a long string on on one hind leg, was then introduced, and drawn backwards and forwards over the squirming
serpent. After a minute or two of this excitation of his appetite, the snake, now coiled up into a small compass, with his head on the top of his folds, made a lightning dash at the victim, which was, as quick as thought, seized and hidden in the coils of its hungry foe. Two or three minutes of pressure sufficed: the coils were unfolded, and the bandicoot taken by the nose and pouched-sucked down, as it were-without any preliminary slavering. The end of this not very interesting pet was that it got out of health, and the large black ants, which swarm in most parts of India, got into its box, and murdered it. Nothing could keep them out; the smell of a sick snake was irresistible; and, morning after morning, the box was full of the odious insects, all prodding and nipping in the joints of the snake's armour.
Some time before this, I got a great fright. The snake was kept in a large box in my verandah, and the lid of the box was weighted with a heavy stone. One morning, just at dawn, I entered my bath-room, and, to my horror, saw a great snake, in the dim light, crawling round the room. For the moment, I entirely forgot my own snake, and instantly tumbled out of the bath-room, and raised an alarm. The next minute I recollected my snake, and the possibility of its having escaped; and so it was; and my disagreeable pet was speedily returned to his box, and two heavy stones placed on the lid.
We enjoyed ourselves very well at Samulcottah in the way of sport. The country round the station is rather flat, and there are many shallow tanks; also a good deal of what may be termed moorland-tracts of swelling ground, with high grass and thinlyscattered bushes on the high slopes, and thick cover