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Tent Life in Tigerland
Chapter VI - The Bear and The Blacksmith

A Bancoorah yarn—Billy the blacksmith —The black sloth bear-—Camp at Susunneah marble quarries—A transformation scene—Night melodious—Locale of the hunt —To our posts!—The beat —Billy is dry—"Look out! there's a bear!"—Down goes Billy - Bruin a-top—A novel wrestling match--Intense excitement—Over the prccipice !—Search for the body—Miraculous escape—"Twanka. diddleoh"—More about tears—The surveyor's fight for life—A terrible disfigurement—Marvels of modem surgery-—A sweetheart true as steel—A slap at sceptics- — Truth stranger than fiction."

One evening after a blank day for tiger, we were all sitting under the shamianah, and the conversation turned on bears.

Pat was very anxious to get a bear-skin, to send to his friends, and it was his remark, I think, which gave a direction to the talk.

"Oh, you never find bears so low down as this," Joe remarked.

"No? I thought there were plenty of them."

"Oh, no; they generally stick to hilly country, or the elevated forest lands, but are rarely met with in grass jungle in the riverine plains such as these."

"Are they dangerous shooting?"

"Well, not particularly. They are easily shot, and a little of it goes a long way."

"They are dangerous brutes at close quarters, though." I remarked.

"How? Did you ever have a tussle with one?"

"Well, not myself, but I have shot them, and have seen many shot, and one of the most exciting adventures I ever took part in was with a bear."

"Out with it, Maori."

"Spin us the yarn, old man," with numerous other similar ejaculations.

"Let's Lave a 'peg' first," said Mac; and he at once shouted for the Bearer.

The B. and S. was soon brought, and all hands settled down comfortably in their long easy chairs, to hear my story.

I turned to Pat.

"You remember old Billy Parrot?"

"What, little ' Beely,' as the natives used to call him? I should think I do; what a rum little beggar he was, to be sure."

"Was that the little blacksmith that came up to erect the machinery at Rampore?" said Butty.

"The same."

"He was an awful' swiper' wasn't he?"

"Yes, when he could get it. He was about the strongest little man of his inches ever came into Tirlioot," continued Pat.

"He was altogether a character. Oh, I know your yarn now. It happened down at Bancoorah, didn't it?"

I rejoined in the affirmative.

"Ah," said Pat, "that was a rum go, and no mistake. But you ought to tell these fellows what sort of a man your hero was."

"Oh, you can do that," I rejoined.

"Well, boys," said Pat, nothing loath, "Billy, as you have just heard, was originally a blacksmith. He had been a sailor, and had knocked about the world a good deal, and at last had got a billet in the Calcutta mint, on some miserable tullub (i.e., pay) of perhaps 40 or 50 rupees a month. When Henry H. was down in Calcutta one cold weather, looking about for a man to come up and put his machinery together, he came across Billy. The prospect of a good job in a planting district at 150 rupees a month was quite enough to seduce Billy from his allegiance, and he accordingly came up to Tirhoot.

"He was a good-natured little fellow, as strong as a bull, a splendid wrestler, as we soon found out, but not very polished in his manners—fond of liquor."

"Small blame to him," said George.

"But his bete noir was a lady. He never felt at ease when in a lady's presence; for, poor fellow, he had never been much used to polished society, and the ladies used to quiz him unmercifully."

"What was that song he used to sing again? It had a capital chorus, I remember," asked Mac,

"Oh, aye! let me see, what was it?" Pat ruminated.

"I remember the chorus," I said. "Twanka diddleoh— don't you remember, Pat?"

"Ah, that was it. I only remember the beginning of it—

"I am a good blacksmith,
The prince of good fellows;
I drive away care
While I work at my bellows.

I forget the rest, but the chorus runs thus." Pat then sang—

"Twanka diddleoh, Twankediddleoh,
He that loves good ale
Is a jolly good fellow."

I have often wished to get the words of the song. It was a capital chorus, though it may lack the polished beauty of a Tennysonian lyric, and many a time I have joined lustily in the refrain, with choice spirits keen and true, who now sleep peacefully in the perfumed garden plots of factories, scattered through the sunny plains of Beliar.

Billy was tremendously strong, and we used to pit him against native wrestlers whenever we could get him up to the scratch. He was really a proficient wrestler, and very fond of that most manly but much neglected sport. To get up his muscle, Billy used to go into severe training, and I never saw him worsted in an encounter but once, when he was thrown by a slim wiry Brahmin, from somewhere near Delhi.

Contests between trained rams, as well as cock fighting, are very favourite amusements with wealthy natives. Billy had a magnificent trained ram, and I have seen him kneel down, brace up his brawny muscles, and present the fleshy part of his arm and shoulder, for the ram to butt at. In this way, Billy trained both his ram and himself simultaneously, killing "two birds with one stone." To see the ram with "bossed front" come tearing down at the charge at his utmost speed, and come smash on Billy's braced-up muscles with a souf, you would have thought his arm must be pounded into a jelly, and that Billy would never survive the shock. It never seemed to hurt him, however. I have seen him go through the ordeal more than once, and the natives used to think him a perfect man of iron.

"Well," said George, "I would object to being made such a Butt of, anyway."

Pat shied his slipper at him, while groans arose from all sides.

"You ought to pipe us a stare after that," said Butty.

Pat again started "Twaukediddleoh," and we all joined in the chorus.

"When the noise had subsided, they again asked me for my yarn about Billy and the Bear.

Before working up my climax, however, I had perhaps better begin by giving the reader a few items of information about the Indian bear, and the scene of the occurrence between Billy and Bruin.

Forsyth, in that most delightful book, "The Highlands of Central India," says :—

"The common black sloth bear of the plains of India, Ursus labialus, is very plentiful in the hills, on either side of the Narbada, between Jubbulpur and Manilla. Indeed, there are few parts of these highlands where a bear may not at any time be met with. They are generally very harmless until attacked, living on roots, honey, and insects, chiefly white ants, which they dig out of their earthen hillocks. The natives call them adam zad, or, 'sons of men,' and, consideling them half human, will not as a rule molest them. Really, their absurd antics almost justify the idea. Sometimes, however, a bear will attack very savagely without provocation—generally, when they are come upon suddenly, and their road of escape is cut off. As a rule, in frequented parts, they do not come out of their mid-day retreats, in caves and dense thickets, until nightfall; but in remote tracts they may be met with in the middle of the day."

They are plentiful in the western parts of India. In the Bombay Residency about Shahpore, Goonda, and other localities under the western ghats. They may be met with, too, in Central Assam, and indeed in most of the hilly parts of the mighty Indian Peninsula. I have shot them on the Nepaul Frontier in North Bhaugulpore, and near the border in Oudh, but the scene of the occurrence I am about to narrate lies in Bancoorah. This charming place nestles amid the Rajmehal Hills, in Bengal Proper, and is a favourite haunt of many varieties of large game.

1 had received an invitation from our former Superintendent of Police, to join him in a Bear-shooting excursion, and I accordingly packed up my traps and started.

Arrived at Sahibgunge, I had encountered poor Billy, as drunk as the Piper o' Dundee, and held in pawn by the irate kitinutgar of tlie Dawk Bungalow, for liquors and other goods supplied. I could not leave Billy to the tender mercies of our sable Aryan brother, and knowing he was very good if put on his honour, I took him along with me. In due course we reached Bancoorah.

1 need not weary you with the preliminaries for a shikar party in the East. There is no stint of comforts, let me tell you, and the Anglo-lndian well knows how to cater for all the wants of frail mortality.

Our party consisted of the Judge of the District, the Doctor, one or two Calcutta Barristers, my friend the Peeler, Billy, and myself. I had lent Billy s gun; we had always plenty of spare habiliments in our dressing-cases and portmanteaus, and one fine morning off we set from the station in the highest spirits, and after "juist a wee snifter to clear oor thrapples," as the Doctor put it. Needless to remark, our disciple of Galen hailed from "north the Tweed." His prescription gave unbounded satisfaction to Billy, who remarked to me confidentially,—

"Ah, Maori! He's a fine fellow, that Doctor, no mistake!"

After a smart ride, we reached our encampment in the cool of the evening, and again the soothing weed and the worship of Bacchus claimed their votaries. About eight p.m. dinner was announced, and we. adjourned to the mess room.

We were camped at a place called Susunneah. Near by were some famous marble quarries. The whole neighbourhood was reported to be well stocked with game. The country was difficult to beat, and we had an army of coolies for that purpose. Among the hills were many rugged gullies and precipitous gorges and numerous caves, among which the bears took up their quarters.

Every arrangement had been made for our comfort, and to those who do not know what high official position, combined with good pay, can do in the East, I may as well sketch the surroundings. Our mess room for instance.

We found, in this rocky wilderness, an apartment brilliant with towers and lights, a table glittering with glass and plate, and groaning under the weight of such a repast as is rarely seen, except at the board of some mighty "swell," high up in the Olympian heights of senior service and good appointments.

But two short days before, this banquet hall had been the abode of dirt, discomfort, smoke, noise and confusion. Cobwebs stretched their cheerless cords in dusty festoons from the grimy roof. The smoky walls gave back the lurid gleam of iiuttering, flickering flame. Dusky forms were seen through the smoke, gliding about with red-hot iron bars in hand, like evil spirits bent on errands of malice and destruction. A thick sulphureous pall hung all around; and from within came sounds of clanging iron, clattering steel, and a groaning wheezy pulling sound, as if the demons of the pit had got the asthma; but which actually proceeded from about half a dozen broken-winded blacksmiths' bellows. In fact, not to mystify you further, the apartment had been used as the smithy attached to the quarries.

Under the active supervision of my host, however, the forges had been pulled down, anvils and bellows hid away: the floor, cleared of its litter, had been laid with slabs of smooth white stone from the neighbouring quarries.

Under the transforming magic wand of a raj mistree, or a master mason, and a pot of whitewash, the walls now glistened white as purity itself, while the grimy cobwebs had given place to tasteful curtains and handsome hangings. But I must "belay"—''heave in the slack," or we will never get to the bears.

Over that dinner I would fain linger. If you want the perfection of cookery, go to India. The fragrant odours, the savoury steams, the tender, juicy, seasoned tit-bits of

game, the incomparable salad, the well-selected wines, the foaming champagne, well iced—for our Calcutta friends had brought up a notable supply of ice with them—and then the after siesta, when, with pipe gently pressed between the lips, the aromatic vapour curling lovingly around our heads, the relaxed lingers of the left hand toying with the polished stem of the champagne goblet, the punkah swinging gratefully overhead, mind and body at perfect ease, we—but hold!— this really will not do; we shall never get to the bears.

Ah, here comes the shikari; so now to give our orders, and then "turn in."

This was accordingly done, and soon a deep silence reigned around, only broken at intervals by a stertorous gurgitation from Billy; a squeak occasionally from the creaking punkah; or a rustle, as some uneasy sleeper, on whom the salmon had taken effect, turned restlessly on his couch.

Outside, however, in the shade of the trees, a different scene was being enacted. Here a number of ghatwals had congregated; and with that intense admiration of classic music which distinguishes the mild and veracious Hindoo, they waked the echoes of the surrounding bilk, and lulled the pallid moon to sleep, with gentle serenades, chanted with all the melting pathos which a strongly nasal intonation can bestow, and charmingly accompanied by the brittle diapason of about a dozen large Sonthali drums.

This agreeable concert, varied at intervals by the demoniac bowling of a pack of jackals and the baying chorus of all the dogs in camp, was maintained till nearly dawn.

Nothing is so dear to the native as this unearthly din all night. They call it music. Profane Anglo-Indians sometimes call it something else and christen it with a boot-jack, or any handy missile.

At 3.00 a.m., a voice in sweetly modulated tones awoke the silence of the tent in which four of the party were asleep.

"Sahib! Sahib! " No answer.

"Sahib!" a little louder. "Sarce teen budja hai/" which means, "It's half-past three o'clock." Still no reply. The speaker then gave a gentle twist to a big toe, which protruded from beneath the sheet. Whereupon a voice, like that of the Numean lion, terrible in its wrath, roared out,"Jehunnum ko jao, soar ka beta" which, being translated, meant a peremptory order to the son of a pig to betake himself to the antithesis of Paradise. At the same time the owner of the voice, a brawny giant, uprose, with staring eyes and dishevelled hair, but not before the obsequious attendant had made a precipitate retreat through the friendly doorway.

This awoke all the sleepers, and we were soon discussing: chota hazree. Then gun cases were opened, cartridges hunted up, arms distributed among the music-loving ghatwals, the horses and elephants were brought forward, and all hands-fairly started for the jungle, which was some four miles off.

A most suspicious looking box was sent on ahead, in charge of two brawny coolies who groaned beneath its weight.. This was popularly supposed to contain fireworks, and, if by a wild fiction you can call a sandwich a Catherine wheel, a bottle of soda water a cracker, and other liquors squibs and Roman candles, then it was fireworks. Several hours later, when the hot sun had parched the gullets of the sportsmen, the "fireworks " were let off to great advantage, I can assure you.

On our arrival in the jungle we found our policeman had arranged everything for our comfort. We were to post ourselves along the edge of a steep precipitous gully—here called a khud—and let the gatwals and coolies beat up to us. Mychans, or platforms in the trees, had been prepared for us about fifty yards apart; and we were not long in taking our places. Being a pretty good shot, and being, moreover an invited guest, I had been told off to the extreme right of the line. Close to my mychan was a pretty well worn deer track, leading to a rugged precipitous descent into the deep khud beneath, and in the rear of our position. The sides of the khud were strewn with rugged splintered boulders and sharp jutting rocks. In every crevice a multitude of bushes and gnarled trees had found a precarious foothold, and hid the depths below as with an impenetrable screen; but we could hear the gurgling and splashing of a hill-stream far down in the deep recesses and parrots, mango birds, orioles, and other creatures of gorgeous plumage, darted hither and thither and imparted an aspect of animation to the scene.

Billy was away near the other end of the line, and my friend the Police Superintendent occupied the mychan next to mine. Being old stagers we hail each provided ourselves with a neat little portable "moorah," or cane stool, and from our comfortable perches we smiled with grim satisfaction as dimly, through the leafy screen, we could descry our less thoughtful companions, wriggling on a knot, or straddling a branch with their legs dangling beneath.

I soon disposed of my knife, cartridge belt, and other incumbrances, in branches handy, and with my revolver stuck in my cummerbund, I settled myself down, to wait the result of the hank, as the beat in forest jungle is termed.

Soon a distant shout announced that the coolies had begun the beat,—the drums could be heard fitfully in the far distance, and the yells and shouts swelled in volume as the men crested a ridge, and became subdued and deadened again as they plunged through the hollows amid the rocky ground. There were numerous caves in the jungle, believed to be tenanted by bears; but as we had received no certain intelligence of the presence of Bruin, and as our Calcutta friends were anxious to get ail the sport possible, it had been arranged that we were to fire at anything that might get up.

Very soon a rustle was heard in the thicket in front; the sharp crack of a rifle and the whiz of a bullet followed, as the doctor opened the ball by a shot at a small ravine deer, the deer came over in one direction, and was just "taken out of my teeth" by the "Peeler," who tumbled it over in front of me.

The line of beaters now drew nearer and nearer, and the firing and excitement became general. I knew the crack of the number. 16 I had lent to Billy, and recognised its sharp ping more than once. Hares, partridges, peafowl, jackals, jungle fowl, and other small game, hurried past unheeded. From the tremendous din, we judged bigger game was afoot. Every eye was strained to its widest extent, every ear on the alert, every nerve tense and strung. Soon, with a magnificent bound, a, noble stag came leaping forth, followed by a trembling string of frightened fawns and does. He passed the "Peeler," and received a bullet in the hind leg, and as he tottered up to my mychan my express bullet caught him full in the neck, and he toppled over. A few spasmodic struggles and all was still. The hinds went tearing madly down the rugged defile, and then the beaters began to emerge in twos and threes, and we were reluctantly obliged to confess that there was "no Bruin this journey."

We now descended, discussed a few of the "fireworks," sent the killed deer away to the foot of the hill, and then again prepared to take up our stations.

The beaters who had beaten from the east end had opened out from the centre and gone right and left face, so as to get clear of the jungle, and were leisurely making their way to the west end to beat back.

A long silent wait now ensued. Our doctor I could just faintly see on his perch, to all appearance fast asleep. C. and I had been exchanging a few quiet remarks in a low undertone, when our ears at the same instant caught a suspicious crackle of breaking sticks, and, pointing our guns at the place whence the sound proceeded, we were ready to fire, when forth from the foliage appeared the heated visage of Billy, looking like a full moon, and he hailed us in husky accents—

"Maori, for goodness' sake give us a 'peg'! I'm as dry as a lime-burner's wig."

"Confound you, Billy," I said; "why the Dickens couldn't you wait? We might have a bear on us at any moment, and you might spoil the sport.

"Oh, hang the bears," said Billy; "I'm as dry as a match box, and I must have a 'peg'! "

To get quit of him, C. handed him down a leathern bottle containing the needful, and Billy took a long pull; then another, yet another, and then, wiping his mouth with the back of Ins hand, returned the bottle to C. In the meantime I had descended from my mychan, foolishly leaving my battery behind me, and was leisurely stepping out to take "a slight taste of the crature" myself. (Note to the tyro in Indian shooting: never leave your gun in jungle-shooting, you know not what at any moment may get up.)

C. was lying full length on his mychar reaching down for the bottle, when a shrill whistle made our hearts jump, and the Judge yelled out from the far left—

"Look out, you beggars, there's a bear! "

Instantly I turned to rush back to my perch of safety.

Bill dropped the bottle and spluttered out—

"The devil there is:"

C. sprang into position, and tried to reach down his gun.

In less than five seconds, however, with a curious savage grunt, and a rush through the bushes, a great she-bear was close upon Billy.

She had a little cub, a wee beady-eyed round little ball of fur, hanging like grim death to her back, and she came swiftly with a lurching rolling gait, and it began to look very awkward indeed for Billy Parrot.

I do not think she would have waited to attack either of us, but instinctively I pulled my revolver and fired. The bullet took her fair in the lower jaw, and made a terribly splintered wound; and then, with a savage growl of pain and wrath, she rose up and rushed straight at Billy, who seemingly had been too bewildered to fly.

I was "making tracks" for my friendly tree now, as hard as I could run, and C. yelled out to Billy—

"Here, Parrot, give us your hand, man. Look smart, you rnuff, or you'll be grabbed!"

Billy seemed for an instant to be undecided. C. had lain down, and was again trying to grasp Billy's hand. Billy's inches were, however, too few; he could not reach the friendly succouring clasp. All this passed much quicker than I can describe it.

Just at the last moment, all too late as it proved, Billy tried to flee. The hot breath of the infuriated bear was now on his cheek. He made a leap, but his foot caught in a vine, and down he went.

In an instant the savage growling brute was on top of him. Well it was for Billy now that my shot, after all, had caught the brute in the jaw.

A bear's fangs, let me tell you, are no child's toy. But the brute was powerless to bite.

Still they can lacerate a man terribly with their long, powerful black claws, with which they tear open the hardened ant-hills.

My heart was beating like a sledge hammer. By this time both C. and I had got our guns, but we could see nothing but a confused mass of fur and leggings. Billy, however, now seemed to be getting his "dander up," as our Yankee friends would say.

I am sorry to say Billy was not a pious young man, he was swearing most horribly, and really concerned for his safety as we were, we could scarcely retain our gravity.

The bear had got him in a firm hug, and was rolling over and over with him, growling most savagely, and smothering him with the blood that rushed from the broken jaw.

Billy's knowledge of the tricks of the wrestling ring, and his great strength, here now, however, stood him in good stead. His strong little bandy legs were twined, with a clutch like ivy, round the hind quarters of the bear, keeping it from tearing him with its hind claws. He had got his left elbow right under the bear's throat, a favourite wrestling trick of Billy's, keeping its mouth from his face, and with his right fist he was dealing the infuriated brute sounding blows in the face, the ribs, and over the snout, shouting like a madman all the while, and mingling Hindoo and marine oaths together, in the oddest and most laughable jumble imaginable.

I never saw such a sight, and, imminent as was the danger to our poor friend, I fairly roared with laughter. This seemed to rouse Billy's ire worse than ever, and he began to expend a few of the vials of his wrath upon me. By this time, the whole of the party, attracted by the noise, were coming trooping to the spot.

The bear was a big powerful animal, and we began to note with concern, that in their struggles, the strangely but, after all. not unevenly matched combatants had rolled very near to the edge of the khud.

We shouted to Billy to apprise him of this new danger, but he was too excited, and too intent on administering punishment to his enemy, to catch the import of what we said. Over and over they rolled. They writhed and panted and struggled. Billy's grip was as unyielding as the bear's. For once the shaggy monster of the woods had encountered a hug fully as determined as his own.

You may imagine all this passed as quick as words can speak. There had been no time to do anything. The Doctor was now tearing at a vigorous sapling; but a club was just as powerless in our hands as a knife or gun. We could get no chance to strike or shoot, for we might just as likely hurt Billy as the bear.

The growling savage was tearing at Billy's shoulders, cutting deeply into the flesh, as we could see. The cub had disappeared into the undergrowth. Billy was pommeling the bear, raining his blows with lustiest good will on the bleeding face of the maddened animal.

Over and over they rolled. They were now terribly near the edge of the khud.

"Oh, Heavens! he'll be killed," cried the Judge.

We were now seriously alarmed.

My ill-timed hilarity was now hushed, and a wild dread tugged at my heart-strings.

We were seemingly all actuated by a desperate impulse to save Billy at one and the same moment. We rushed forward, but all too late.

With a last defiant whoop from Billy, the interlocked combatants gave one lurch on the giddy edge of the deep, rocky precipice, and, as we rushed to the verge, we saw the black jumbled mass bound from an overhanging sharp-edged ledge of basalt, and rumblingly disappear down the gloomy shaded depths of the chasm.

I felt nearly sick. The Judge staggered up against a tree. For several moments none of us spoke,

"Good Heavens, it is awful!" said one of the barristers.

C. was the first to evince some decision of purpose.

Not one of us, I am certain, ever expected to see poor Billy alive again.

"Let us get down," said C.

He whistled on a small silver whistle for some of the syces to come up, and we prepared to descend by the deer track I have already noted, to search for the mangled remains of our poor comrade.

When some of the men came up, C. ordered a spare elephant to be got as soon as possible; and then—a melancholy, moody, and silent party—we began the steep descent, each fearing the worst, and not daring to hope that the poor fellow had escaped a cruel death.

It was a wild, rugged spot. "We were soon in a dense shade, Towering rocks raised their rugged bosses on either side. It was no easy task, and not unattended with danger, getting to the bottom of the khud.

Not one of us spoke. I do not think one of us exchanged a syllable as we clambered down. We were all too busy with our forebodings, and sick at heart with the fate of our companion.

At last we got to the bottom of the deep ravine, and slowly, and struggling amid shattered rocks, tenacious creepers, and prostrate forest trees, began our search up the gloomy hollow.

Already the news had spread among the beaters. It is amazing how quickly an alarm spreads among these wild hill-men. A knot of them were now tearing recklessly down the path by which we had descended, and their loud expressions of alarm and commiseration broke the silence.

I felt awfully sad at heart. I was reproaching myself with having brought the poor fellow with me, to act as a sort of butt; and my heart smote me as I thought how, if I had only aimed truer, or rushed in to help a little sooner, our poor comrade's life might have been spared.

C was in front, making a desperate attempt to clamber over a huge boulder that lay right in the path. Dense matted jungle barred the way on every side. Behind this wall of jagged rock we expected to find the mangled body of poor Billy. It was impossible any one could fall from such a height and not be killed.

I hurried forward and tried to push C. up from behind. He was desperately tugging at a tuft of grass which grew out of a cleft in the rock, when a sound smote on the stillness that caused me to stagger. My knees bent under me. C., who had been standing on my back with one foot, while like a cat he tried to find a foothold on the rock with the other, swayed like a ripe apple, and clutched still more desperately at the tuft of grass.

Again the sound!

Down I fell on my face. Down came C. on the top of me, and rolling over on to the Doctor, who was close behind, he communicated his motion to the Judge, and there we all went rolling down the scaur together. The natives, seeing us all rolling in a heap in this ludicrous manner, imagined the bear had attacked us again, and began swarming up the rocks and trees in all directions, and for a few minutes the gloomy cavernous-like bottom of the deep narrow khud resounded with noises like the pit of Tophet.

"What in the name of thunder had caused all this commotion?

Only this!

On the other side of the great opposing rock, we could now distinctly hear, "Twauke diddle oh! Twanke diddle ok! Twanke diddle, iddle, iddle, oh! " crooned softly.

"We leapt to our feet. "Hurrah!" we shouted, and then we hurrahed and shouted, and leapt about again, and generally behaved as if we had all suddenly gone mad.

There was no doubt about it; Billy had escaped as by a miracle, and there he was, giving us his jolly old chorus, albeit he gasped somewhat for breath, and seemed to be rather thick in the wind.

We soon got over the rock. The natives tore a way through the creepers and ferns; and we found Bily alive, but sorely torn and bruised, sitting on the mangled carcase of his late enemy, and though very shaky and faint, yet still full of pluck, and as eager for a "peg" as ever.

Poor Billy! He soon had a brimming soda and brandy brought him, and then we learned the particulars of his unpremeditated and unprecedented fall.

As we looked up at the frowning crags, we could scarcely, even yet, reconcile his escape with the grim evidence of the fearful height he had fallen.

Yet, barring a terrible bruise on the thigh, and his torn and lacerated shoulders, he was sound in wind and limb. On examining the bear, we found that the whole of her ribs had been smashed in, as you would crush an egg-shell. She must have fallen on the jagged rock we saw from the top, and fortunately her body reached the earth first, and doubtless saved poor Billy from being smashed into a mangled heap. My pistol bullet had smashed her under jaw completely. My pistol was a Thomas's patent, and carried a large ball, but Billy's escape was, after all, simply miraculous.

Poor fellow, he bore all the pain of his removal with the most imperturbable nonchalance. Fortunately, the doctor was handy, and by the evening, Billy, propped up in a camp bed, with wraps and pillows at his back, was again able to give us his glorious chorus:

"Twankedlddle oh, &c., he that loves good ale

Is a jolly good fellow." ******

When I had finished my yarn, Pat proposed Billy's health, and we all did justice to the toast.

Poor Billy has long ago gone to the silent land of shadows. Peace to his ashes.

"Did you catch the cub?" asked Mac.

"Yes," I replied. "The beaters found it, and C. kept it for a long time and taught it many tricks. You know they are easily tamed."

Eventually, he got tired of it, arid gave it to his bearer, who, in turn, sold it to a travelling Caboolee, and my own bearer, Chubbo Latt, pointed out to me at Sonepore fair, last year, a dancing bear, which he stoutly affirmed was the same cub that we caught on that memorable day when Billy wrestled the mother and came oot the victor.

These Indian sloth bears can be taught almost any tricks. They are very commonly led about by wandering showmen, principally Afghans, in this way, muzzled, from village to village, and go through a variety of antics to the great amusement of the children.

The keeper generally has a long cord affixed to the poor bear's snout, and as he jerks this, he intones in a sing-song nasal drawl—

"Nateho, lihalo ; Nateho! Arree, Nateho! hah!" "Dance, my bear, dance!" &c.

Bhalo is the common name in Bengal for the bear, and they are really very tractable, and can be taught almost anything; but when wounded, or roused, as you have just seen by my story, they can become very dangerous and savage foes. I can further illustrate this.

At the time of the Prince of Wales's visit to India, I happened to be laid up with a severe illness, which necessitated constant nursing and medical attendance. The celebrated war correspondent, Archibald Forbes, and Mr. Henty, special correspondent of the Standard, were my brother's guests; and partly to make room for them, and also to be constantly near the doctor, I got a snug little private room in the fine General Hospital, out near the Cathedral, in Calcutta.

In the next room to mine was a merry young fellow, a surveyor in the Indian Survey Department, and we soon struck up an intimacy. I was unable to leave my bed, but B. used to come in and beguile the tedium of my forced inaction. Poor fellow! His had been a terrible trial; he was all bandaged up, round the head and face, and for some time it was painful to see him come in. At first I did not like to ask him what was the matter, but seeing my curiosity, he one day volunteered the information.

"You are wondering what I am bandaged up like this for," he said; "I'll tell you."

"Fact is, I've lost half my face, from an encounter with a bear."

My looks expressed the concern and curiosity I felt.

"Yes," continued B., "the brute has spoilt my beauty for me, but I had the satisfaction of killing the varmint."

Then he told me the particulars.

He had been out surveying in the hills, somewhere in the Nerbudda valley, I think it was; and his men had cut several lanes in the thick grass and underwood, for the purpose of his survey. One day, while peeping through his theodolite, an immense she-bear came calmly out into the cleared avenue, and stood placidly surveying him. To take sights of another kind was the work of an instant. Picking up his rifle, he sent a ball crashing in behind the shoulder of the bear, and the shaggy brute toppled over, seemingly shot dead. Very foolishly and incautiously, poor B. bounded forward exultantly to examine his prize. As he was turning the apparently dead beast over, she suddenly got up and fetched him a terrific clawing "wipe" across the face. The poor fellow's voice faltered when he told me this part of the story.

The whole of his right cheek, his lower eyelid, half of his lips and nostrils were clawed clean away.

With a trembling sob in his voice he, added,—

"I wouldn't have minded much, old man, but I was just about to be married to the nicest little woman in the world, and she doesn't know anything about this, and I am afraid now to let her know."

Poor gallant fellow, he was too true a man to ask the girl he dearly loved to wed a maimed and disfigured unfortunate, like himself.

But I may as well tell the sequel.

His men had got him to Jubbulpore, where the doctor did all for him that he could, and sent him down to Bombay. Here the stitching had all to be done over again, and the poor fellow nearly died from exhaustion and loss of blood.

His first thought had been of his promised bride, and he had begged his friends not to tell her of his terrible disfiguration.

Failing to get well in Bombay, he had now been some time in the Calcutta hospital as a private patient, and in a few days he was to undergo an operation, from which he had hopes he would emerge with some renewed promise of eventual recovery.

To be brief, the operation was performed. It was done by Sir Joseph Fayrer, I believe, with Dr. Ewart and others assisting, and was witnessed by the Duke of Sutherland, I remember, who came into my room to give me a kindly word in passing through. I daresay he thought I was one of the regular patients. I'm none the less grateful for his kindly meant courtesy. Remember I am only stating veritable facts.

The operation caused great stir at the time, and is in itself a wonderful tribute to the marvellous development of surgical skill at this stage of the world's history.

B. was supplied with a perfect new eyelid from a flap of skin taken from his brow. From the skin of his neck a new cheek was formed. From his throat a layer was dissected, twisted up, and formed into lips, and a new nostril was also fashioned for him from the same material.

It may please the sympathetic reader to know that the girl he loved so well stuck to him like a brick, and the last I heard of them was that they were happily married, and B. was—barring a few ugly scars, of course—very little the worse for his rude encounter with an Indian she-bear.

Now those are facts. There are, as I have already pointed out, some unbelieving and possibly vacant-minded individuals who think themselves awfully smart and knowing; they will not believe anything that falls beyond the range of their own narrow comprehension and restricted experience.

These are the men who sneer at all tiger stories, who openly flout every traveller as a romancer, and who are so wise in their own conceit, and so entrenched in their little petty circle of limited common-place experience, that they scout every man who happens to have seen a few strange adventures as an impostor, and laugh the laugh of scornful disbelief whenever the travelled man opens the wallet of his memory, and tells a few of his reminiscences.

Such conventional unbelievers remind me of a capital story of a well-known Australian colonist, who experienced a rebuff of the sort I refer to once, when he was home in England.

Our retired squatter, among other places in the old country, had paid a visit to see the beauties of the South of England, and found himself at Torquay on the occasion to which I refer.

It happened to be the weekly market day, and many of the neighbouring farmers had come into the market town. Our colonist found himself at dinner-table at the farmers' ordinary at one of the chief hotels, and sat down near the end of the table. Opposite to him sat a wizened old farmer, with cheeks like a winter apple, and with a keen look of bottled-up curiosity on his face.

The gentleman who sat at the other end of the table during dinner called to our friend, whom he knew as an Australian gentleman—

"Mr. So-and-so, the pleasure of a glass of wine with you," adding, "It is not every day we get a real live Australian amongst us."

This fired the little old fanner's curiosity.

"With a look of mingled bonhomie, curiosity, and deference, he said—

"Be ye from Australia, sor?"

"Yes, I've just returned after an absence of thirty years."

"Foine country, be'ant it?"

"Well, I've got every reason to speak well of it, being enabled to retire from business."

"Ah!" there was a pause.

"What might be the price of oxen out your way now?"

"Oh, I've seen them sold at 25 a Lead."

"Ah! fair price, that."

"Yes, and I've seen them sold at 5s. 6d."—Sensation.

The old farmer seemed undecided. A short time elapsed. Then he returned to the charge.

"What might be the price of wedders now in Australy?"

Our "Waler " was equal to the occasion.

"I've seen them sold at 20s. apiece."

"Fair price!"

"Yes, and I've seen them sold at eighteenpence a dozen."

Still further sensation.

The old farmer stared aghast. The company were getting amused and interested.

The bluff old English yeoman was however not to be put down thus. He at length hazarded another question.

"What might be the size of your fields now in Australy?"

Our friend, having in his mind's eye a station on the "Downs," where five or six flocks of sheep could be seen depasturing from the verandah of his house, and to give the farmer a further idea of the size of the Downs, said, referring to a well-known mountain in Devonshire—

"Have you ever been to the top of Hey Tor?"


"And you can look upon two seas from the top, can't you?"

"Yes, maight be, on a foine day!"

"Well, that's the size of our fields."

The old man was thoroughly nonplussed. Our friend was as grave as a judge. The old fellow laid down his knife and fork, crammed his hat on his head, then he said slowly and deliberately—

"Thou beest the biggest liar ever God created."

He left the room amid roars of laughter, in which our friend heartily joined, and yet he uttered naught but unvarnished truth in his Australian information.

To my sneering unbelieving critics, who have twitted me with "drawing the long bow" in my hunting adventures, I commend the moral—

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in thy philosophy."

And also,—the world is bigger than a cheese plate.

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