Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Sport and Work on the Nepaul Frontier
Chapter XI

The sal forests—The. jungle goddess—The trees in the jungle—Appearance of tae forests—Birds—Varieties of parrots—A "heat" in the forest—The "shekarry"—Mehrman Singh and his gun—The Banturs, a jungle tribe of -wood-cutters—Their habits—A village feast—We beat for deer—Habits of the spotted deer—Waiting for the game— Mehrman Singh gets drunk—Our bag—Pea-fowl and their habits— How to shoot them—Curious custom of the Nepaulese—How Jusggroo was tricked, and his revenge.

Tjrhoot is too generally under cultivation and too thickly inhabited for much land to remain under jungle, and except the wild pig of which I have spoken, and many varieties of wild fowl, there is little game to be met with. It is, however, different in North Bhaugulpore, where there are still vast tracts of forest jungle, the haunt of the spotted deer, nilghau, leopard, wolf, and other wild animals. Along the banks of the Koosee, a rapid mountain river that rolls its flood through numerous channels to join the Ganges, there are immense tracts of uncultivated land covered with tall elephant grass, and giving cover to tigers, hog deer, pig, wild buffalo, and even an occasional rhinoceros, to say nothing of smaller game and wildfowl, which are very plentiful.

The sal forests in North Bhaugulpore generally keep to the high ridges, which are composed of a light, sandy soil, very friable, and not very fertile, except for oil and indigo seeds, which grow most luxuriantly wherever the forest land has been cleared. In the shallow valleys which lie between the ridges rice is chiefly cultivated, and gives large returns. The sal forests have been sadly thinned by unscientific and indiscriminate cutting, and very few fine trees now remain. The earth is teeming with insects, chief amongst which are the dreaded and destructive white ants. The high pointed nests of these destructive insects, formed of hardened mud, are' the commonest objects one meets with in these forest solitudes.

At intervals, beneath some wide-spreading peepul or bhur tree, one comes on a rude forest shrine, daubed all over with red paint, and with gaudy festoons of imitation ilowers, cut from the pith of the plantain tree, hanging on every surrounding bough. These shrines are sacred to Chumpa buttee, the Hindoo Diana, protectress of herds, deer, buffaloes, huntsmen, and herdsmen. She is the recognised jungle goddess, and is held in great veneration by all the wild tribes and half-civilized denizens of the gloomy sal jungle.

The general colour of the forest is a dingy green, save when a deeper shade here and there shows where the mighty bhur uprears its towering height, or where the crimson flowers of the seemul or cotton tree, and the bronze-coloured foliage of the sunput (a tree very like the ornamental beech in shrubberies at home) imparts a more varied colour to the generally pervading dark green of the universal sal.

The varieties of trees are of course almost innumerable, but the sal is so out of all proportion more numerous than any other kind, that the forests well deserve their recognised name. The sal is a fine, hard wood of very slow growth. The leaves are broad and glistening, and in spring are beautifully tipped with a reddish bronze, which gradually tones down into the dingy green which is the prevailing tint. The sheshum or si-woo, a tree with bright green leaves much resembling the birch, the wood of which is invaluable for cart wheels and such-like work, is occasionally met with. There is the hoomlhe, a very tough wood with a red stringy bark, of which the jungle men make a kind of touchwood for their matchlocks, and the pem-ass, whose peculiarity is that at times it bursts into a wondrous wealth of bright crimson blossom without a leaf being on the tree. The paras tree in full bloom is gorgeous. After the blossom falls the dark-green leaves come out, and are not much different in colour from the sal. Then there is the mhowa, with its lovely white blossoms, from which a strong spirit is distilled, and on which the deer, pigs, and wild boar love to feast. The peculiar sickly smell of the mhoica when in flower pervades the atmosphere for a great distance round, and reminds one forcibly of. the peculiar sweet, sickly smell of a brewery. The hill sirres is a tall feathery-looking tree of most elegant shape, towering above the other forest trees, and the natives strip it of its bark, which they use to poison streams. It seems to have some narcotic or poisonous principle, easily soluble iu water, for when put in any quantity in a stream or piece of water, it causes all the fish to become apparently paralyzed and rise to the surface, where they float a,bout quite stupefied and helpless, and become an easy prey to the. poaching "Banturs" and "Moosahurs" who adopt this wretched mode of fishing.

Along the banks of the streams vegetation gets very luxurious, and among the thick undergrowth are found some lovely ferns, broad-leaved plants, and flowers of every hue, all alike nearly scentless. Here is no odorous breath of violet or honeysuckle, no delicate perfume of primrose or sweetbriar, only a musty, dank, earthy smell which gets more and more pronounced as the mists rise along with the deadly vapours of the night. Sleeping in these forests is very unhealthy. There is a most fatal miasma all through the year—less during the hot months, but very bad during and immediately after the annual rains; and in September and October nearly every soul in the jungly tracts is smitten with fever. The vapour only rises to a certain height above the ground, and at the elevation of ten feet or so, I believe one could sleep in the jungles with impunity; but it is dangerous at all times to sleep in the forest, unless at a considerable elevation. The absence of all those delicious smells which make a walk through the woodlands at home so delightful, is conspicuous in the sal forests, and another of the most noticeable features is the extreme silence, the oppressive stillness that reigns.

You know how full of melody is an English wood, when thrush, blackbird, mavis, linnet, and a thousand warblers flit from tree to tree. Now the choir rings out its full anthem of sweetest sound, till every bush and tree seems a centre of sweet strains, soft, low, liquid trills, and full ripe gushes of melody and song. But it is not thus in an Indian forest. There are actually few birds. As you brush through the long grass and trample the tangled undergrowth, putting aside the sprawling branches, or dodging under the pliant arms of the creepers, you may flush a black or grey partridge, raise a covey of quail, or startle a quiet family party of peafowl, but there are no sweet singers flitting about to make the vaulted arcades of the forest echo to their music.

The hornbill darts with a succession of long bounding flights from one tall tree to another. The large woodpecker taps a hollow tree close by, his gorgeous plumage glistening like a mimic rainbow in the sun. A flight of green parrots sweep screaming above your head, the golden oriole or mango bird, the koel, with here and there a red-tufted lulbul,make a faint attempt at a chirrup; but as a rule the deep silence is unbroken, save by the melancholy hoot of some blinking owl, and the soft monotonous coo of the ringdove or the green pigeon. The exquisite honeysucker, as delicately formed as the petal of a fairy flower, flits noiselessly about from blossom to blossom. The natives call it the "Mudh-penah" or drinker of honey. There are innumerable butterflies of graceful shape anil gorgeous colours; what few birds there are have beautiful plumage; there is a faint rustle of leaves, a faint, far hum of insect life; but it feels so silent, so unlike the woods at home. You are oppressed hy the solemn stillness, and feel almost nervous as you push warily along, for at any moment a leopard, wolf, or hyena may get up before you, or you may disturb the siesta of a sounder of pig, or a herd of deer.

Up in those forests on the borders of Nepaul, which are called the morung, there are a great many varieties of parrot, all of them very beautiful. There is first the common green parrot, with a red beak, and a circle of salmon-coloured feathers round its neck; they are very noisy and destructive, and flock together to the lields where they do great damage to the crops. The lutkun sooga is an exquisitely-coloured bird, about the size of a sparrow. The ghural, a large red and green parrot, with a crimson beak. The iota, a yellowish-green colour, and the male with a breast as red as blood; they call it the amend Vhela. Another lovely little parrot, the taeteea sooga, has a green body, red head, and black throat; hut the most showy and brilliant of all the tribe is the putsoogee. The body is a rich living green, red wings, yellow beak, and black throat; there is a- tuft of vivid red as a topknot, and the tail is a brilliant blue; the raider feathers of the tail being a pure snowy white.

At times the silence is broken by a loud, metallic, bell-like cry, very like the yodel you hear in the Alps. You hear it rise sharp and distinct, "Looralei!" and as suddenly cease. This is the cry of the kookoor ghet, a bird not unlike a small pheasant, with a reddish-brown back and a fawn-coloured breast. The sherra is another green parrot, a little larger than the putsoogee, but not so beautifully coloured.

There is generally a green, slime-covered, sluggish stream in all these forests, its channel choked with rotting leaves and decaying vegetable, matter. The water should never be drank until it has been boiled and filtered. At intervals the stream opens out and forms a clear rush-fringed pool, and the trees receding on either bank leave a lovely grassy glade, where the deer and nilghau come to drink. On the glassy bosom of the pool in the centre, fine duck, mallard, and teal, can frequently be found, and the rushes round the margin are to a certainty good for a couple of brace of snipe.

Sometimes on a withered branch overhanging the stream, you can see perched the ahur, or great black fish-hawk. It has a grating, discordant cry, which it utters at intervals as it sits pluming its black feathers above the pool. The dark ibis and the ubiquitous paddv-bird are of course also found here; and where the land is low and marshy, and the stream crawls along through several channels, you are sure to come across a couple of red-headed sarus, serpent birds, a crane, and a solitary heron. The moosahernee is a black and white bird, I fancy a sort of ibis, and is good eating. The dolidliur is another fine big bird, black body and white wings, and as its name (derived from dokha, a shell) implies, it is the shell-gatherer, or snail-eater, and gives good shooting.

"When you have determined to beat the forest, you first get your coolies and villagers assembled, and send them some mile or two miles ahead, under charge of some of the head men, to beat the jungle towards you, while you look out for a likely spot, shady, concealed, and cool, where you wait with your guns till the game is driven up to you. The whole arrangements are generally made, of course under your own supervision, by your Shekcarry, or gamekeeper, as I suppose you might call him. He is generally a thin, wiry, silent man, well versed in all the lore of the woods, acquainted with the name, appearance, and habits of every bird and beast in the forest. He knows their haunts and when they are to be found at home. He will track a wounded deer like a bloodhound, and can tell the signs and almost impalpable evidences of an animal's whereabouts, the knowledge of which goes to make up the genuine hunter.

When all is still around, and only the distant shouts of the beaters fall faintly at intervals on the ear, his keen hearing detects the light patter of hoof or paw on the crisp, withered leaves. His hawk-like glance can pick out from the deepest shade the sleek coat or hide of the leopard or the deer; and even before the animal has come in sight, his senses tell him whether it is young or old, whether it is alarmed, or walking in blind confidence. In fact, I have known a good shekarry tell you exactly what animal is coming, whether bear, leopard, fox, deer, pig, or monkey.

The best shekarry I ever had was a Nepaulee called "Mehrman Singh." He had the regular Tartar physiognomy of the Nepaulese. Small, oblique, twinkling eyes, high cheekbones, flatfish nose, and scanty moustache. He was a tall, wiry man, with a remarkably light springy step, a bold erect carriage, and was altogether a fine, manly, independent fellow. He had none of the fawning obsequiousness which is so common to the Hindoo, but was a merry laughing fellow, with a keen love of sport and a great appreciation of humour. His gun was fearfully and wonderfully made. It was a long, heavy flint gun, with a tremendously heavy barrel, and the stock all splices and splinters, tied in places with bits of string. I would rather not have been in the immediate vicinity of the weapon when he fired it, and yet he contrived to do some good shooting with it.

He was wonderfully patient in stalking an animal or waiting for its near approach, as he never ventured on a long shot, and did not understand our objection to pot-shooting. His shot was composed of jagged little bits of iron, chipped from an old kunthee, or cooking-pot; and his powder was truly unique, being like lumps of charcoal, about the size of small raisins. A shekarry tills about four or five fingers' depth of tins into his gun, then a handful of old iron, and with a little touch of English powder pricked in with a pin as priming, he is ready for execution on any game that may come within reach of a safe pot-shot. "When the gun goes off there is a mighty splutter, a roar like that of a small cannon, and the slugs go hurtling through the hushes, carrying away twigs and leaves, and not un frequently smashing up the game so that it is almost useless for the table.

The Banturs, who principally inhabit these jungles, are mostly of Nepaulese origin. They are a sturdy, independent people, and the women have fair skins, and are very pretty. Unchastity is very rare, and the infidelity of a wife is almost unknown. If it is found out, mutilation and often death are the penalties exacted from the unfortunate woman. They wear one long loose flowing garment, much like the skirt of a gown; this is tightly twisted round the body above the bosoms, leaving the neck and arms quite bare. They are fond of ornaments—nose, ears, toes and arms, and even ankles, being loaded with silver rings and circlets. Some decorate their nose and the middle parting of the hair with a greasy-looking red pigment, while nearly every grown-up woman has her arms, neck, and low down on the collar-bone most artistically tatooed in a variety of close, elaborate patterns. The women all work in the clearings; sowing, and weeding, and reaping the rice, barley, and other crops. They do most of the digging where that is necessary, the men confining themselves^ to ploughing and wood-cutting. At the latter employment they are most expert; they use the axe in the most masterly manner, but their mode of cutting is fearfully wasteful; they always leave some three feet of the best part of the wood in the ground, very rarely cutting a tree close down to the root. Many of them are good charcoal-burners, and indeed their principal occupation is supplying the adjacent villages with charcoal and firewood. They use small narrow-edged axes for felling, but for lopping they invariably use the Nepaulese national weapon—the Jcoulree.. This is a heavy, curved knife, -with a broad blade, the edge-very sharp, and the back thick and heavy. In using it they slash right and left with a quick downward stroke, drawing the blade quickly- toward them as they strike, They are wonderfully dexterous with the kookree, and will clear away brush and underwood almost as quickly as a man can walk. They pack their charcoal, rice, or other commodities, in long narrow baskets, which they sling on a pole carried on their shoulders, as we see the Chinese doing in the well-known pictures on tea-chests. They are all Hindoos in religion, but are very fond of rice-whiskey. Although not so abstemious in this respect as the Hindoos of the plains, they are a much finer race both physically and morally. As a tide they are truthful, honest, brave, and independent. They are always glad to see you, laugh out merrily at you as you pass, and are wonderfully hospitable. It would be a nice point for Sir Wilfrid Lawson to reconcile the use of rice-whiskey with this marked superiority in all moral virtues in the whiskey-drinking, as against the totally-abstaining Hindoo.

To return to Mehrman Singh. His face was seamed with smallpox marks, and he had seven or eight black patches on it the first- time I saw him, caused by the splintering of his tiint when he let off his antediluvian gun. When he saw my breechloaders, the first he had ever beheld, his admiration was unbounded. He told me he had come on a leopard asleep in the forest one day, and crept up quite close to him. His faith in his old gun, however, was not so lively as to make him rashly attack so dangerous a customer, so he told me. "Hum usko jan deydeaoos wukt" that is, "I gave the brute its life that time, but," he continued, "had I had an English gun like this, your honour, I would have blown the soar (Anglice, pig) to Jehuddum, i.e. Hades." Old Mehrman was rather strong in his expletives at times, but I was not a little amused at the cool way lie spoke of giving the leopard its life. The probability is, that had he only wounded the animal, he would have lost his own.

These Nepaulese are very fond of giving feasts to each other. Their dinner-parties, I assure you, are very often "great affairs." They are not mean in their arrangements, and the wants of the inner man are very amply provided for. Their crockery is simple and inexpensive. When the feast is prepared, each guest provides himself with a few broad leaves from the nearest sal-tree, and forming these into a cup, he pins them together with thorns from the acacia. Squatting down in a circle, with half-a-dozen of these sylvan cups around, the attendant fills one with rice, another with dhamI a third with goat's-flesh, a fourth with turharce or vegetables, a fifth with chutnee, pickle, or some kind of preserve. Curds, ghee, a little oil perhaps, sugar, plantains, and other fruit are not wanting, and the whole is washed down with copious draughts of fiery rice-whiskey, or, where it can be procured, with palm-toddy. Not unfrequently dancing boys or girls are in attendance, and the horrid din of tom-toms, cymbals, a squeaking fiddle, or a twanging sitar, rattling castanets, and ear-piercing songs from the dusky -prima donna, makes night hideous, until the grey dawn peeps over the dark forest line.

Early in January, 1875, my camp was at a place in the sal jungles called Lohurneah. I had been collecting rents and looking after my seed cultivation, and Pat and our sporting District Engineer having joined me, we determined to have a beat for deer. Mehrman Singh had reported numerous herds in the vicinity of our camp. During the night we had been disturbed by the revellers at such a feast in the village as I have been describing. We had filled cartridges, seen to our guns, and made every preparation for the beat, and early in the morning the coolies and idlers of the forest villages all round were ranged in circles about our camp.

Swallowing a hasty breakfast we mounted our ponies, and, followed by our ragged escort, made off for the forest. On the way we met a crowd of Banturs with bundles of stakes and great coils of strong heavy netting. Sending the coolies on ahead under charge of several headmen and peons, we plunged into the gloom of the forest, leaving our ponies and grooms outside. When we came to a likely-looking spot, the Banturs began operations by fixing up the nets on the stakes and between trees, till a line of strong net extended across the forest for several hundred yards. We then went ahead, leaving the nets behind us, and each took up his station about 200 yards in front. The men with the nets then hid themselves behind trees, and crouched in the underwood. With our kookries we cut down several branches, stuck them in the ground in front, and ensconced ourselves in this artificial shelter. Behind us, and between us and the nets, was a narrow cart track leading through the forest, and the reason of our taking this position was given me by Pat, who was an old hand at jungle shooting.

When deer are being driven, they are intensely suspicious, and of course frightened. They know every spot in the jungle, and are acquainted with all the paths, tracks, and open places in the forest. When they are nearing an open glade, or a road, they slacken their pace, and go slowly and warily forward, an old buck generally leading. When he has carefully reconnoitred and examined the suspected place in front, and found it clear to all appearance, they again put on the pace, and clear the open ground at their greatest speed. The best chance of a shot is when a path is in front of them and behind you, as then they are going slowly.

At first when I used to go out after them, I often got an open glade, or road, in front of me; but experience soon told me that Pat's plan was the best. As this was a heat not so much fur real sport, as to show me how the villagers managed these affairs, we were all under Pat's direction, and he could not have chosen better ground. I was on the extreme left, behind a clump of young trees, with the sluggish muddy stream on my left. Our Engineer to my right was about one hundred yards off, and Pat himself on the extreme right, at about the same distance from II. Behind us was the roads and in the rear the long line of nets, with their concealed watchers. The nets are so set up on the stakes, that when an animal hounds along and touches the net, it falls over him, and ere he can extricate himself from its meshes, the vigilant Banturs rush out and despatch him with spears and clubs.

We waited a long time hearing nothing of the beaters, and watching the red and black ants hurrying to and fro. Huge green-bellied spiders oscillated backwards and forwards in their strong, symmetrically woven webs. A small mungoose kept peeping out at me from the roots of an old india-rubber tree, and aloft in the branches an amatory pair of hidden ringdoves were billing and cooing to: each other. At this moment a stealthy step stole softly behind, and the next second Mr. Mehrman Singh crept quietly and noiselessly beside me, his face flushed with rapid walking, his eyes flashing with excitement, his finger on his lip, and a look of portentous gravity and importance striving to spread itself over his speaking countenance. Mehrman had been up all night at the feast, and was as drunk as a piper. It was no use being angry with him, so I tried to keep him quiet and resumed my watch.

A few minutes afterwards he grasped me by the wrist, rather startling me, but in a low hoarse whisper warning me that a troop of monkeys was coming. I could not hear the faintest rustle, but sure enough in a minute or two a troop of over twenty monkeys came hopping and shambling along, stopping every now and then to sit on their hams, look back, grin, jabber, and show their formidable teeth, until Mehrman rose up, waved his cloth at them, and turned them off from the direction of the nets toward the bank of the stream.

Next came a fox, slouching warily and cautiously along; then a couple of lean, hungry-looking jackals; next a sharp patter on the crisp dry leaves, and several peafowl with resplendent plumage ran rapidly past. Another touch on the arm from Mehrman, and following the direction of his outstretched hand, I descried a splendid buck within thirty yards of me, his antlers and chest but barely visible above the. brushwood. My gun was to my shoulder in an instant, but the shekarrv in an excited whisper implored me not to tire. I hesitated, and just then the stately head turned round to look behind, and exposing the beautifully curving neck full to my aim, I fired, and had the satisfaction of seeing the fine buck topple over, seemingly hard hit.

A shot on my right, and two shots in rapid succession further on, showed me that Pat and H. were also at work, and then the whole forest seemed alive with frightened, madly-plunging pig, deer, and other animals. I fired at, and wounded an enormous boar that came rushing past, and now the cries of the coolies in front as they came trooping on, mingled with the shouts of the men at the nets, w here the work of death evidently was going on.

It was most exciting while it lasted, but, after all. I do not think it was honest sport. The only apology I could make to myself was, that the deer and pig were far too numerous, and doing immense damage to the crops, and if not thinned out, they would soon have made the growing of any crop whatever an impossibility.

The monkey, being a sacred animal, is never molested by the natives, and the damage he does in a night to a crop of wheat or barley is astonishing. Peafowl too are very destructive, and what with these and the ravages of pig, deer, hares, and other plunderers, the poor ryot has to watch many a weary night to secure any return from his fields.

On rejoining each other at the nets, we found that live deer and two pigs had been killed. Pat had shot a boar and a porcupine, the latter with No. 4 shot. H. accounted for a deer, and I got my buck and the boar which I had wounded in the chest; Mehrman Singh had followed him up and tracked him to the river, where he took refuge among some long swamp reeds. Replying to his call, w e went up, and a shot through the head settled the old hoar for ever. Our hag was therefore for the first beat, seven deer, four pigs, and a porcupine.

The coolies were now sent away out of the jungle, and on ahead for a mile or so, the nets were coiled up, our ponies regained and off we set, to take another station. As we went along the river bank, frequently having to force our way through thick jungle, we started "no end" of peafowl and getting down we soon added a couple to the bag. Pat got a fine jack snipe, and I shot a Jhela, a very fine waterfowl with brown plumage, having a strong metallic, coppeiy lustre on the back, and a steely dark blue breast. The plumage was very thick and glossy, and it proved afterwards to be excellent eating.

Peafowl generally retire to the thickest part of the jungles during the heat of the day, but if you go out very early, when they are slowly wending their way back from the fields, where they have been revelling all night, you can shoot numbers of them. I used to go about twenty or thirty yards into the jungle, and walk slowly along, keeping that distance from the edge. My syce and pony would then walk slowly by the edges of the fields, and when the syce saw a peafowl ahead, making for the jungle, he would shout and try to make it rise. He generally succeeded, and as I was a little in advance and concealed by the jungle, I would get a fine shut as the bird flew overhead. I have shot as many as eight and ten in a morning in this way. I always used No. 4 shot with about drams of powder.

Unless hard hit peafowl will often get away; they run with amazing swiftness, and in the heart of the jungle it is almost impossible to make them rise. A couple of sharp terriers, or a good retriever, will sometimes flush them, but the best way is to go along the edge of the jungle in the early morn, as I have described. The peachicks, about seven or eight months old, are deliciously tender and well flavoured. Old birds are very dry and tough, and require a great deal of that old-fashioned sauce. Hunger.

The common name for a peafowl is mar, but the Nepaulese and Banturs call it majoor. Nov majoor also means coolie, and a young fellow, S., was horrified one day hearing his attendant in the jungle telling him in the most excited way, "Majoor, majour, Sahib; why don't you fire?" Poor S. thought it was a coolie the man meant, and that he must be going mad, wanting him to shoot a coolie, but he found out his mistake, and learnt the double meaning of the word, when he got home and consulted his manager.

The generic name for all deer is in Hindustani Hurin, but the Nepaulcse call it Cheeter. The male spotted deer they call Kubra, the female Kubrek. These spotted deer keep almost exclusively to the forests, and are very seldom found far away from the friendly cover of the sal woods. They arc the most handsome, graceful-looking animals I know, their skins beautifully marked with white spots, and the horns wide and arching. "When properly prepared the skin makes a beautiful mat for a drawing-room, and the horns of a good buck are a handsome ornament to the ball or the verandah. "When bounding along through the forest, his beautifully spotted skin flashing through the dark green foliage, his antlers laid back over his withers, he looks the very embodiment of grace and swiftness. He is very timid, and not easily stalked.

In March and April, when a strong west wind is blowing, it rustles the myriads of leaves that, dry as tinder, encumber the earth. This perpetual rustle prevents the deer from hearing the footsteps of an approaching foe. They generally betake themselves then to some patch of grass, or long-crop outside the jungle altogether, and if you want them in those months, it is in such places, and not inside the. forest at all, that you must search. Like all the deer tribe, they are very curious, and a bit of rag tied to a tree, or a cloth put over a bush, will not- unfrequently entice them within range.

Old skekarries will tell you that as long as the deer go on feeding and flapping their ears, you may continue, your approach. As soon as they throw up the head, and keep the ears still, their suspicions have been aroused, and if you want venison, you must be as still as a rock, till your game is again lulled into security. As soon as the ears begin flapping again, you may continue your stalk, but at the slightest noise, the noble buck will be off like a flash of lightning. You should never go out in the forest with white clothes, as you aru then a conspicuous mark for all the prying eyes that are invisible to you. The best colour is dun brown, dark grey, or dark green. "When you see a deer has become suspicious, and no cover is near, stand perfectly erect and rigid, and do not leave your legs apart. The "forked-parsnip" formation of the "human form divine" is detected at a glance, but there's just a chance that if your legs are drawn together, and you remain perfectly motionless you may be mistaken for the stump of a tree, or at the best some less dangerous enemy than man.

As we rode slowly along, to allow the beaters to get ahead, and to let the heavily-laden men with the nets, keep up with us, we were amused to hear the remarks of 'the syces and skekarries on the sport they had just witnessed. That's old man, Juggroo, a merry peep-eyed fellow, full of anecdote and humour, was rather hard on Mehrman Singh fur having been up late the. preceding night. Mehrman, whose head was by this time probably reminding him that there are "lees to every cup," did not seem to relish the humour. He began grasping one wrist with the other hand, working his hand slowly ruund his wrist, and I noticed that Juggroo immediately changed the subject. This, as I afterwards learned, is the invariable Nepaulese custom of showing anger. They grasp the wrist as I have said, and it is taken as a sign that, if you do not discontinue your banter, you will have a fight.

The Nepaulese are rather vain of their personal appearance, and hanker greatly after a good thick moustache. This Nature has denied them, for the hair on their faces is scanty and stubbly in the extreme. One day Juggroo saw his master putting some bandoline on his moustache, which was a fine, handsome, silky one. He asked 1'at's bearer, an old rogue, what it was.

*Oh," replied the bearer, "that is the gum of the sal tree; master always uses that, and that is the reason he has such a line moustache."

Juggroo's imagination fired up at the idea.

"Will it make mine grow too?"


"How do you use it?"

"Just rub it on, as you see master do."

Away went Juggroo to try the new recipe.

Now, the gum of the sal tree is a very strong resin, and hardens in water. It is almost impossible to get it off your skin, as the more water you use, the harder it gets.

Next day Juggroo's face presented a sorry sight. He had plentifully smeared the gum over his upper lip, so that when he washed his face, the gum set, making the lip as stiff as a board, and threatening to crack the skin every time the slightest muscle moved.

Juggroo was "sold" and no mistake, but he bore it all in grim silence, although lie never forgot the old bearer. One day, long after, he brought in some berries from the wood, and was munching them, seemingly with great relish. The bearer w anted to know what they were. Juggroo with much apparent nonchalance told him they were some very sweet, juicy, wild berries he had found in the forest. The bearer asked to try one.

Juggroo had another fruit ready, very much resembling those he was eating. It is filled with minute spikelets, or little hairy spinnacles, much resembling those found in ripe doghips at home. If these even touch the skin, they cause intense pain, stinging like nettles, and blistering every part they touch.

The unsuspicious bearer popped the treacherous berry into his mouth, gave it a crunch, and then with a howl of agony, spluttered and spat, while the tears ran down his cheeks, as he implored Juggroo by all the gods to fetch him some water.

Old Juggroo, with a grim smile, walked coolly away, discharging a Parthian shaft, by telling him that these berries, were very good for making the hair grow, and hoped he would soon have a good moustache.

A man from the village now came running up to tell us that there was a leopard in the jungle we were about to beat, and that it had seized, but failed to carry away, a dog from the village during the night. Natives are so apt to tell stories of this kind that at first we did not credit him, but turning into the village he showed us the poor dog, with great wounds on its neck and throat where the leopard had pounced upon it. The noise, it seems, had brought some herdsmen to the place, and their cries had frightened the leopard and saved the wretched dog. As the man said he could show us the spot where the leopard generally remained, we determined to beat him up; so sending a man oil' on horseback for the beaters to slightly alter their intended line of beat, we rode off, attended by the villager, to get behind the leopard's lair, and see if we could not secure him. These fierce ami courageous brutes, for they are both, are very common in the sal jungles; and as I have seen several killed, both in Bhaugulpore and Oudh, I must devote a chapter to the subject.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus