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to throw their loads away, and here they lie to-day. Such is the Hindoo tradition.
However that may be, these gigantic blocks, illuminated by the pale moon, were weirdly effective, and imparted to the landscape a grand and striking appearance.
As the moon becomes paler and paler the scenery around becomes more and more awe-inspiring. But in a few moments its light dies away as a gorgeous purple in the eastern sky heralds the coming of another morn. Suddenly a crimson tint spreads over the landlight which involuntarily recalls to my mind the Valpurgis night in Faust. It is a rapid transformation scene I witness. A little lake on my left looks as if on fire, and every moment one expects to see Mephistopheles' spirits of the deep ascend, to tread their weird whirldance on the rocky shore.
The nocturnal scene was grand in the extreme, and in harmonious accord with the opening of a tiger-hunt in an Indian jungle.
Dawn, as well as twilight, in India, are as short as they are brilliant, so that when we reached the spot where we were to mount our horses it was already broad daylight. In a few moments Ali Beg has distributed a number of fiery Arab steeds among us, and the cavalcade is in motion. We proceed at a gallop, headed by the stately Ali Beg, who reminds us that the day is short, and time is precious to a tiger-hunter. We soon overtook Salar Yung and his Hindoo retinue, the great Minister's horse evidently feeling the weight of its precious burden in no small degree.
At a gallop we penetrate further and further into the desolate jungle, until the road is but a stony path distinguished by whitepainted slabs. He who does not follow must take care of himself, with the far from pleasant prospect before him of losing his way in the wilderness, a prospect which causes us not to lose sight of Ali Beg and his guides, though the ride seemed to afford those unaccustomed little pleasure. However, to most of us it was delicious to gallop in the fresh morning air, and not least to me. no question of halt or trot; at a gallop one mile was covered after the other. What a delicious sensation to gallop thus across limitless tracts on horses unable to make a false step, and whose spirited bounds bespoke inexhaustible strength!
After a ten-mile ride there was a change of horses, but some of us, among whom myself, had to use the same until the next station. When this was reached my horse had covered twenty English miles in less than one hour and three-quarters. I had never had an idea of horses possessing such stamina. Indeed when I now think of this ride it seems almost incredible to me. Fancy what services a regiment of cavalry mounted on such horses could render a general at the present day!
During the five minutes' halt here, whilst fresh horses were
saddled, we inspected a camp of nomad natives close by. These people have no fixed residences, but lead, like our Lapps, a roaming life, supported by the great herds of cattle accompanying them.
During the ten miles remaining the road became so bad that we had to slacken our headlong speed, though on descending the rocky bridle-path leading down to our camp the horses proved to be as clever climbers as they previously had been racers.
From this height we have an opportunity of admiring the grand solitude of an Indian jungle : on all sides, as far as the eye can reach, but an immense ocean of thickets and long grass. There is something remarkably imposing in the sight : magnificent in all its sombre desolateness.
In the meantime some of our party, among whom was my brother Oscar, being somewhat behind, had lost their way on our left, our shouts failing to meet with any response ; but on approaching the camp they reappeared, and Oscar, who had lost his way, said that he had seen the trail of a tiger, which was confirmed by a shikarie' who came up and brought us the welcome tidings of a tiger-kill’ the very same night only a mile and a half from the camp. At a quick gallop we rode up to the splendid white tents visible between the tall sbrubs.
No time was to be lost; in an hour we were to be ready to mount the elephants—such was the order. The unusual opportunity of catching the tiger so to speak in bed,' after its nocturnal marauding expedition, should not be lost for one moment; and already at 10.30 a troop of twelve elephants left the camp, in whose howdas' we were seated thus: First came Salar Yung, followed by Captain Sundström and Oscar, on a very great elephant; then Count Adelborg and myself on one nearly as big; behind which came Lieutenant Ribbing with Colonel Dobbs; and, last, Dr. Holmer, accompanied by a Hindoo, terrible to behold, whose function was to bring us luck,' as we were told that when he was present no sportsman ever missed fire.
In silence and solemnity the procession moved towards the jungle, in order not to awake the sleeping tiger. In spite of it being the . cold season,'I suffered tremendously from the heat under my broadbrimmed Indian hat. But who could have time to complain of the heat then, though one could hardly breathe and was bathed in perspiration ?
After a while a flock of soaring vultures indicates that we are approaching the spot where the tiger consumed its nocturnal meal, and behind a ridge, strewn with blocks of stone, and which seemed only 500 yards off, the slain bullock had been tied up. The native huntsmen maintained that the tiger must be near, as the birds continued to soar restlessly over the spot, without daring to descend to their prey, in all probability from fear of the tiger slumbering close by. Shortly after, we have reached the northern slope of the ridge referred to, where the elephants are ranged in a semicircle, at a distance of some 250 yards from the top, the position for each elephant being indicated to the 'mahout' by an old grey-haired shikarie, who evidently is quite at home in the jungle. Adelborg and myself are stationed on a little mound in the jungle, whence we have a fairly good view all around. Low shrubs, in some places forming to the eye impenetrable thickets, surround the spot in which our elephant stands hidden behind a couple of great blocks of stone, and a similar jungle covers the slope in the direction whence we expect the beaters. A ravine runs on our right, along the bottom of which we are told the tiger should come. On the other side of the ravine Oscar and Sundström are posted; next to them, an elephant with some of the suite of the Minister; then Salar Yung himself with Ali Beg; whilst farthest on the left wing Holmer is stationed, and to our left Ribbing and the Colonel.
' Perhaps I ought to explain that by a 'tiger-kill’is meant the slaying by a tiger of some animal tied up in the jungle to attract its attention preparatory to a hunting party being arranged.
After a while's anxious waiting, yells and loud sounds of drums and cymbals are heard in the distance, and in a few moments one dusky figure after another appears on the brow of the hill. We now rise in the howda and, cocking our express rifles, scan every shrub in front of us. It is becoming exciting. But still no tiger is visible, and the beaters begin to separate and break the line. Adelborg and myself have just agreed that there is no tiger within the line, when suddenly the report of a gun is heard from Salar Yung's elephant, indicating there is something up. It is Ali Beg who has shot at a tiger, which is attempting to break through at the side of his elephant. This is immediately followed by a shot from the elephant carrying the attendants of the Minister, and in the next few seconds the retreating tiger is subjected to a veritable peppering from that quarter. We double our attention, but fail to see anything except the smoke of the guns. The beaters again collect, but a number of frightened coolies run terrified in all directions, and even the elephants show signs of fright, stamping and swinging their trunks to and fro. What an animated scene indeed! And the moments of the greatest excitement, whilst prepared to encounter the attack of the wounded tiger every second, will hardly ever fade from my recollection.
In the meantime, however, Ali Beg seems to call us by waving his hat, and we beckoned to our mahout to urge the elephant forward, delighted at the thought that there might still be something for us to do; and in a few moments we are alongside Ali Beg, who instantly jumps from his own elephant into our howda. The usually calm and dignified man trembled in every limb with excitement. He Vol. XX.-No. 114.
informs us in a brief sentence that the tiger is wounded, and orders a pursuit. But having advanced a few steps our elephant absolutely refused to go further, when Ali Beg pointed to a thicket right in front of us, urging me to fire; but in spite of the greatest efforts I could not discover the tiger, which the experienced eye of the native had detected at once. Adelborg saw the animal sneak away just as the elephant suddenly turned round and retreated. However, a few well-directed prods with the pike of the mahout soon brought the terrified animal round again, and now I detected the black-barred tawny skin of a tiger, lying under a low bush close by, ready to 'spring. I pulled the trigger just as the animal was on the point of springing, at all events so it seemed to me. It was followed by a shot from Adelborg's gun, and supplemented by one from my left barrel, both of which hit the animal. In the meantime the other elephants had advanced concentrically towards the spot where the tiger was supposed to lie hidden, and in a moment shot followed upon shot from all sides. The tiger attempted once more to rise, but fell immediately backwards. The King of the Jungle lay dead at our feet!
When we shortly afterwards gathered round the fallen monarch, everybody had fired, and everybody tried, with more or less success, to trace his deadly bullet. Our booty was a fine male tiger, measuring nine and a half feet in length.
Shortly afterwards we were told that a female tiger with two cubs had succeeded in breaking through the line, in a south-westerly direction, and although the chances seemed against us, it was decided to attempt a drive a little distance from where we were, around a cave, whither it was assumed that they had escaped. But the attempt proving fruitless, we returned to our camp. Thus ended my first tiger hunt. I had not indeed succeeded in beholding the King of the Jungle move freely, and in full view, but the excitement of expecting every moment an attack from the infuriated animal was in itself a keen delight to a sportsman.
We were splendidly accommodated in the magnificent tents. On one side we Swedes were quartered, opposite our Hindoo friends, and midway between us stood the enormous assembly and dining tents. Although we were nearly forty miles from any human habitation, in fact, in a wilderness, we enjoyed every luxury as, for instance, beds with mosquito nets, carpets, dressing tables, chairs, baths, and every other requisite in abundance. Oscar and myself inhabited a tent which would have furnished ample accommodation for a regiment of soldiers. At least a thousand men must have been engaged in transporting our camp to this spot, partly on their backs and partly on carts, the long way through the jungle, a striking illustration of how little these Oriental magnates value labour and money when bent upon gratifying a cherished pursuit.
A little after our return to the camp the air was rent with deafening cries—wild shouts of joy mingled with the sound of drums and cymbals. And in a few minutes the slain tiger is seen approaching, stretched on the back of an elephant and surrounded by all the shikarie swinging a trophy over its head. Our royal victim enjoyed all the honours of a triumphal entry into the camp.
Dinner was, as may be imagined, consumed in the best of spirits, and the champagne bottle circulated freely among us Europeans, but the law of the Prophet inhibited our Hindoo friends from partaking of the forbidden juice, especially before infidels. I have, however, a strong suspicion that our hospitable entertainers made up for their abstention after dinner, and enjoyed the fluid, in privacy, like good Christians.
During the night some thirty bullocks were exposed as “kills, and when we awoke the next morning the returning shikarie reported that three of them had been killed by panthers. Of these, however, it was only possible to pursue one, as the trail of the rest led to unapproachable mountain fastnesses. It was, therefore, decided to attempt driving this panther out of the narrow ravine in which it was supposed to lie hidden.
Shortly afterwards we are again seated on our elephants, in the order of the previous day, and as the hiding-place of the animal is only a little distance from the camp, the attack may be made at
We had, however, been seated a long while before discovering anything unusual. But suddenly the long black line of beaters comes to a halt, breaks, and sways backwards, the shouts of the men being redoubled. As quick as lightning Ali Beg throws himself on his horse and gallops to the spot, and we soon learn that the enraged panther had attacked the beaters several times, who, therefore, refused to move forward. One man, we were told, had been killed, but whether this was really so we never could ascertain.
However, the elephants are quickly moved forward, and we are soon collected on both sides of the ravine in which the beast lies hidden. As the ravine was only thirty yards wide and about five yards deep we were close upon the panther, though we could not see it. Now the question arose, what were we to do next? The beaters were too frightened to be of any further use, and the animal showed no sign of willingly leaving its hiding-place. Salar Yung as well as Colonel Dobbs urged us most earnestly not to move the elephant into the thicket, as the panther would without doubt attack the first who dared to approach it. As the panther is more active it is more dangerous than the tiger, and when enraged it takes the offensive, sometimes jumping at one bound into the howda, whereas the tiger cannot reach higher than the elephant's neck or shoulder. Under such circumstances, however, the game is equal, the result depending upon the coolness of the sportsman and his practice in handling his