« ZurückWeiter »
dive, and they had to repel their assailants by pushing them off into the water so often as they rested their chins or paws upon the plank. The poor Jockoos were also battered with pellet bows, and one was frightened out of his senses by a mine which was cunningly laid for him, by placing a small packet of gunpowder under his plate of food, his attention being taken off while the slow match was lighted. Jockoo rushed to the plate when able, as he thought, to do so in peace, and was stuffing his cheek-pouches with boiled rice, when the explosion took place, and monkey, plate, and all, were hoisted! After this unhandsome trick, the monkey, for many days, never addressed himself to his food without first putting his head sideways on the ground from a safe distance, and having a good look to see whether there was any suspicious appearance at the bottom of his plate. We had one very large and savage male monkey, which dropped down from his pole upon an orderly boy who was passing by, and bit the sole of the boy's foot across in the most frightful manner, for Jockoo's teeth were almost as large as a leopard's. This monkey was tried, in great form, by a court-martial of subs., and shot.
I had a narrow escape of committing homicide about this time, i.e. the early part of 1842. When out with my gun in the early morning, I saw what I thought to be a large vulture sitting in a grain-field. At the distance, about 200 yards, it looked exactly like a vulture sitting, hunched up, as they often are, on the ground. I put a bullet into my gun, and was just about taking aim, when the supposed vulture rose up, and exhibited the meagre form of an old man wrapped up in a "cumbley," or black blanket.
I was very thankful that I had not pulled trigger at him, for, on such occasions, there seems often to be a strange fatality, rendering the aim of even an indifferent marksman, at long distances too, more sure than usual.
JUGGAPETT AND ITS RAJAH.
Very little else is recorded by me in 1842, except that I got a heavy fall from my horse, and, falling with all my weight on my right wrist, I both broke and dislocated it. My wrist recovered its strength very fairly, but was permanently and greatly disfigured. I had another fall this year, but without any bad consequences.
Riding along a road, I charged a herd of buffaloes, thinking, in my innocence, that they would drive just as other cattle do when ridden at, but the buffs received my charge most stolidly, and made no attempt whatever to get out of the way, so I came over, horse and all, on a buffalo's broad back. None of us were hurt. The horse and I picked ourselves up, the buffalo waddled off with his nose straight out, and with his long horns laid back on his shoulders ; and I determined never again to charge a buffalo.
In the beginning of 1843, our doctor (not the one who could not ride) was ordered off to another regiment, and I and one or two more went out with him two stages on the northern road. We halted the first day at Juggapett, at which place there was a young snob of a Rajah, who greatly affected things English, and who turned out a number of beaters, with the idea of showing us some "pig-sticking." The Rajah was dressed in boots and breeches, and an embroidered muslin jacket, cut in native style, a big turban, and spectacles! A sweet figure he was! He was mounted on a screaming, badly-bred horse, caparisoned with a
scarlet saddle cloth; and, as he posted himself with his tag-rag and bob-tail suite exactly in front of the cover from which the hog were expected to break, it is not wonderful that we failed to see any. The next morning we rode to Darmaveram, through a very pretty jungly country, with a background of high wooded hills to the northward. Here two fine old pensioned native officers of "Sebundees" (a kind of military police, formerly maintained for the purpose of keeping the hill tribes in order) met us, and organized a beat in the jungle hard by. I had a good chance at a spotted deer, which came close up to me; but which I lost by my gun-cap missing fire. Afterwards I came across and slew a large hog, the first I had ever seen in its native jungles. It is not correct, strictly speaking, to shoot a hog, in India, under any circumstances; but, as there was no riding-ground at Darmaveram, or anywhere near it, and as, also, I was little better than a griffin, I think my offence may be condoned; indeed, I have done much the same thing, occasionally, under similar circumstances, in later years. When there is no riding-ground within, perhaps, two or three hundred miles, there can be no harm, that I can see, in shooting hog. After halting one more day at this pleasant place, we returned to Samulcottah. Heavy rain having fallen on the mountains, we found that a small river, usually quite fordable, had been excessively swollen by the rain, so we had to swim our horses over, an operation. quite new to us, and which I, for one, did not at all enjoy.
In, I think, July or August, an immense comet became visible, low down in the western sky, just after sunset. It had a bright nucleus, and a train
which extended one-third up to the zenith. It was visible for many days, and the natives shook their heads, and augured many evils to result from the great "broom-star," as it is when rendered from the vernacular into English. It was in talking with a native about this comet, that I first heard of the strangely verified notion that the "Company's Raj" would come to an end in 1857, or rather in 1858. fifteen years this will happen," said the man with whom I was speaking; and the 1st of November 1858 was the official date of the dethronement of "John Company," the best of masters; and of the proclamation of the "Empire of India."
In the fall of this year I was sent, with two companies of my regiment and a junior subaltern as my companion, to Nursapatam, a small outpost station about one hundred miles north of Samulcottah. The march was a pleasant one; not the less so that I was my own master. The country through which we marched was very pretty: a great deal of jungle, both heavy and thin; ranges of picturesque hills covered with forest; valleys densely clothed with bamboos and with flowering shrubs, and also with tall trees, and watered by running streams and occasional tanks all the landscape being here and there varied by cultivated fields belonging to grass-roofed hamlets and villages. On this march, Private Venketram, the man whose musket burst on parade, became, to all appearance, insane, and was placed under restraint in the hospital tent: he was finally discharged the service as incurable. A report subsequently gained credence among the men that Venketram had again enlisted in the 37th Madras Grenadiers, and had been promoted to naique (native corporal).
MARCH TO NURSAPATAM.
On the tenth morning we reached Nursapatam; and almost immediately after the detachment marched in, and before the tents had come up, a stout young sepoy fell down dead on the parade ground, probably from heart disease indeed the Dresser (native doctor) said so. There was no post mortem examination : such are very much disliked and dreaded by the natives, and are very seldom resorted to never, it may be said, in a native regiment, unless there be grave suspicion of foul play. We were not long at Nursapatam. Six weeks after the party which we had relieved marched away, we ourselves were relieved by a detachment, with two officers, of another regiment. Nursapatam was a very enjoyable place, at all events for a short sojourn; possibly we might have become tired of it if we had remained there much longer. The village was very small, and there was a clearing" in the jungle, perhaps half a mile square: the dense jungle stretched away northward to a range of very high mountains, the loftiest peak of which, "Gaulikondah" (the hill of the winds), was nearly five thousand feet in height, and was about ten miles distant from our station. These mountains were inhabited by a race of mere savages, who had little intercourse with the people of the plains except on the weekly market days in the vicinity of large villages, when the hill people came down and brought, for sale or for barter, "Ioose jacket" oranges, very small but of delicious flavour, tamarinds, hill plantains, bees'-wax and honey, and many other natural products of their wild hills and valleys. At Nursapatam it was not possible to spend much money. A rupee would buy a bushel of small oranges, or sixteen good fowls, or two fair sheep, or enough rice to feed