Abbildungen der Seite
[blocks in formation]

a native for a month; and, as I proved when I wanted to fence in a garden of considerable size, it would put up over two hundred yards of substantial brush-wood fencing.

Our little military cantonment consisted of one house for the officers and one for the native doctor, lines for two companies of sepoys, place of arms, hospital, magazine, and store-room, &c.-all, except the magazine and store-room, being built of junglewood and bamboo-work, plastered with mud and whitewashed, such construction being commonly known as "wattle and daub." The roofs were of bamboo thatched with jungle-grass; and these houses were fairly cool and comfortable. The great danger

was of fire.

There was a large tank close to our station, full of duck and teal, and the marshy borders of which held a good number of snipe this was a great resource to us, and our bags of small game were usually satisfactory, though towards the end of our six weeks' sojourn our persevering fusillade had caused a perceptible diminution in the number of the shyer tribes of water-fowl.

While we were at this place a furious storm came on in the night and nearly wrecked the whole station. Luckily repairs, however extensive, were not very costly. In this storm we suffered the loss of an antelope, which I had brought from Samulcottah-a nice lively little pet. Its horns, which were exceedingly sharp and were growing long, had their tips guarded with brass knobs to prevent him from injuring people, for his temper was uncertain and easily put on the move. This little animal was tied up at night in an out-house, which had a mat door only to close

it on the night of the storm the out-house was very much damaged and all but blown down. In consequence of the floor becoming soaked with rain, the peg to which the antelope was fastened drew, and the poor little beast was killed by a roving hyæna and almost entirely devoured. We found the foot-marks of the hyæna all over the place. This little tragedy set us to work to devise schemes of vengeance against the numerous hyenas which, we knew, infested the jungles, and we constructed several ingenious traps for their benefit, but without success. We killed village dogs (which rarely have any particular owner) and baited with their carcases, and our traps were sprung more than once; but the hyæna is a tremendously powerful beast, and invariably tore itself away from our nooses, or crawled from beneath our heavy log falls.

While we were at Nursapatam the regiment had marched to Chicacole, over a hundred miles farther north, which place had not been for some years previous occupied by a full corps. We joined it at this new station, which was, like Samulcottah, near the sea, the distance being, in both cases, about seven miles. The houses of the officers and of the judge (who was a very eccentric character) were ranged round three sides of the parade-ground, the fourth side of which was occupied by the places of arms, and backed by the native town. A river, rendered highly odoriferous by the evil habits of the native population, ran just beneath the back walls of the houses on that side of the square which was opposite to the places of arms.


Tame Bear.-His Tragical End.-Snipe.-Water-fowl.-Jeypore.-Our First Bear.-A belated Bruin.-Indian Badger.-Bears and Dogs.-Sacred Birds.-Strange Cure for Dysentery.-Kimedy.-Snipe-shooting.-Bears at Mongolwalsah.-Death of a Bear.-Two Bears in a Bush.Antelope.-The Bear and Brahmin.-Lucky Pistol-shot.Bear and Panther.-March to Secunderabad.-Moneylenders.-New Cantonment laid out.-Cholera in marching Regiments.-Sad Deaths of a Family.


OON after our arrival we bought a half-grown and half-tamed bear, which, on leaving his native master, and being chained upon our mess-house premises, lamented exceedingly; not only so, but also broke his chain, and chased me into the Mess-house, where I saved myself by mounting and running the whole length of the dining-tables, and so made my escape up-stairs. The quondam bear-leader was summoned in hot haste to secure our intractable property (for which we had paid him thirty rupees), and it was touching to see Bruin's joy at again meeting with his friend. He was this time secured with a stronger chain, and did not again break loose. But he did not improve in temper, nor did we make any progress in acquiring his affections; so we determined, subaltern like, upon getting the utmost possible amusement out of our purchase, by spearing him on the parade

ground! When, however, this design became known, a married officer came up in great excitement, and entered a violent protest, beginning with "You will kill my wife," and winding up with, "shall report to the Colonel at once." This irate officer lived on one side of the parade-ground, and an addition to his family was shortly to be expected; we, therefore, had to change the venue to a large space of open ground on the other side of the town, and thither came all the subalterns, on horses and ponies, and armed with spears; also, all their dogs, well fastened in leashes; lastly, the condemned bear! Poor Bruin was let loose, and shambled off, and his spearing was essayed, but as all the horses and ponies were of one mind, and that mind was not, on any account, to approach the victim, this mode of execution had to be abandoned, and "Oh shame! Oh sorrow!" the gasping and yelling mob of dogs were let loose, and a veritable inhuman baiting of the poor beast was carried out, which, after an outrageous noise and scrimmage for nearly half an hour, ended in the exhausted and sorely bitten bear being speared to death " on foot." This is not a nice story to tell, but, as our old Colonel said when he heard it, "Boys will be boys!" and there was an end of it.

There is no use in pretending that a troop of young subalterns are a demure, well-behaved, or even a particularly moral set; but their wild oats are soon sown, and the majority turn out very respectable characters in after time, none the worse, perhaps, for having had their fling in their youth.

We enjoyed first-rate shooting of small game at Chicacole. At Kintelly, a swamp about six miles off, over the river, there were thousands of snipe. This



haunt was, for a long time, known only to the Scotch judge and his Scotch servant " Willum," almost as great a character as his master. On the discovery being made by a lucky sub., who was riding across country, the judge and his Scotchman lost their monopoly of the snipe preserve.

There never was such a place for duck as Chicacole. At Shere Mahomedpett, a mile or two across the river, there was a tolerably large tank. This tank in particular was the resort of thousands of geese, duck, teal, and all other water-fowl. The water was black with them, and the sound of their wings, when the first shot stirred them up, was astounding. The tank being several gunshots across, they-at all events, the least wild and wary species-stood a good deal of bullying, and many a good day's sport did we enjoy. We usually occupied a small ruined and deserted temple on the tank "bund"; and the only objection to this place of shelter was that an immense congregation of very small bats inhabited the open joints and crevices of the stone walls and roof; and very evil was their smell. The stench of a multitude of bats is peculiarly sickening. We enjoyed the fairly cool climate of this part of India; often sitting, after mess, round a large wood fire, roasting mealy potatoes therein. We remained at Chicacole during the whole of the next year, 1844, and we found it a pleasant, though very quiet and out-of-the-way place.

We bought, regimentally, a small sea-side bungalow, where we had occasional picnics and fishing parties; our eccentric friend, the Scotch judge, got a silk net from England, for which he paid £60, and which he used very successfully in the sea.

The Chicacole district, and, indeed, the whole

« ZurückWeiter »