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It was formerly one of the Rajah's Palaces, and although now rather out of repair, is still a fine building. The principal room is supported by carved stone pillars, and opens upon a handsome terrace, to which you ascend by a broad flight of steps, and in the centre of which is a fountain, guarded by four Elephants, elaborately carved in black marble. The back of the house opens upon a large garden, which is kept in good order, and well stocked with grapes, oranges, plantains, mangos, and other fruits.
After I had bathed and made myself comfortable, and whilst some curry was being prepared, I received a visit from the Patell, or Head man of the village, who came in state, attended by the principal Inhabitants, to pay his respects to the Burrah Sahib. He was mounted on his best pony, the mane and tail of which were dyed bright scarlet, and followed by two or three servants bearing on their heads brazen dishes filled with fruit and flowers, as an offering to me.
I could hardly keep my gravity when I found myself, a jolly Subaltern, with no other dress than a shirt, loose drawers, and slippers, seated in the midst of the Rajah's hall of audience, to receive a deputation of handsomely dressed Natives ; but as they evidently took me for a Burrah Sahib, I did my best to sustain the character, and received their homage with the air of a three-tailed Bashaw.
The Patell, who had been a Soldier in his youth, was a fine handsome old Man, and very talkative.
My stock of Oriental learning being, as yet, very limited, I could not, of course, benefit by the many high-flown compliments which were bestowed upon me; but with the aid of mine Host of the Bungalow, we managed to keep up the conversation pretty well.
The venerable Patell began by asking me my name, whence I came, and whither I was going. He then proceeded to ask after every European he had ever seen or heard of taking it for granted that I must of course be intimately acquainted with them all—and was very particular in his inquiries about his old friend “ Wellesley Sahib"against whom he had the honour of fighting when in Tippoo's service. He begged to know whether he was still alive, and if he had got a good pension; and appeared much pleased when I told him he had been appointed “ Grand Vizier"—(Prime Minister) to the King of England. He stroked his snowy beard, exclaiming, “ Atcha"-(very good), and reinarked that " Wellesley Sahib” had been better treated than he, his Rajah having only appointed him Patell of a Village. Who the worthy man took me for I know not, but he evidently thought me a person of some importance, for he concluded his harangue by begging that I would exert my interest with the Rajah, to procure him a better appointment--a favour which I promised to grant, the first time I was favoured with a private audience.
After sitting for an hour, I began to think the visit had been prolonged to a sufficient length, and my want of knowledge of Oriental customs might have prolonged it till next morning, had I not applied for advice to my Interpreter, who, smiling at my ignorance of Indian etiquette, informed me that I, being the superior, my Visiter could not take his departure without my giving him permission to do so; I accordingly desired the Interpreter to inform him that,
“the Sahib was graciously pleased to say he might take leave,"giving him at the same time a present of a few Rupees in return for his fruit, and the Old Gentleman making his best salaam bowed himself out, amidst a Aourish of trumpets.
By the time I had finished my curry, the sun had set, so bidding my obliging friend adieu, I stepped into my palanquin, and resumed my journey.
The monotonous chaunt of the Bearers soon lulled me to sleep, and all went well till about three o'clock in the morning, when I was roused from a sound sleep by feeling the palanquin come bump upon the ground.
On jumping out, I found that my conveyance—a ricketty old concern at the best—had fairly broken down with me, the fore pole being snapped off close to the body, and the hind one badly sprung.
A remarkably pleasant adventure, thought I, after I had ascertained the full extent of the damage. Here am I, in the midst of a jungle, two days' march from the nearest military station, and Heaven knows how far from any village ;-the night as dark as Erebus ;-the Bearers a set of half-savage Villagers who do not understand a word I say, squatted round me on their heels, and jabbering like a parcel of monkeys, in concert to the dismal howling of the jackalls, but making no attempt to remedy the mischief. “ The Sahib's star is unfortunate” “ It is our fate,"—that is enough for them, and there they sit with true Oriental apathy, twirling their moustaches, and staring at the shattered palanquin, as if they expected new poles to grow of their own accord.
After a great deal of talking and scolding, and violent gesticulation, I at last succeeded in making the wretches understand, that, in spite of fate, and unlucky stars, I was determined to proceed ; and having got them to raise the body of the palanquin on their heads, we resumed our march, the Mussaulchie leading the way with his torch, and I bringing up the rear with the broken pole over my shoulder.
Having proceeded in this manner about a couple of miles, we arrived at a small cluster of huts in the midst of the jungle. Here the palanquin was set down, the Bearers once more squatted upon their heels, and the shouting and lamentations were recommenced. The inhabitants of the Village, alarmed by such unusual sounds, rushed out of their huts, and stared at the broken palanquin, and talked, and shouted, and held up their hands in astonishment at the extraordinary ill luck which attended the Sahib's star! but no one appeared to have the most remote idea of what ought to be done under the circumstances.
It was in vain that I stamped, and raged, and showed them money, and made signs that I wanted ropes to mend the palanquin. The poor people only shook their heads, and drew back from me in alarm, as if they thought me deranged. At last, after having put myself in a terrible heat, and exhausted my whole stock of invectives, in bad Hindostanee, and worse Malabar, two or three men left the crowd, and ran into the Village; so, thinking that I had, at last, made them understand what I wanted, I lighted a sheroot, and sat down on the top of my disabled palanquin to await the result with patience; whilst the Bearers remained squatted on the ground, with their eyes fixed upon me, as if they fancied I was performing an incantation which was to set all to rights.
By the time my sheroot was finished, my patience was also exhausted, the crowd had dispersed, and still no appearance of anything being done. So, as a last resource, I seized the torch, and taking one of the Bearers with me, went on a voyage of discovery round the Village. The houses were all closed, and no one would reply to my repeated knocking; but, at last, in an outhouse I discovered a goodly piece of bamboo, which I took possession of, and a little further search produced a coil of rope, and a small hatchet, which I also appropriated, and with these materials I soon managed to splice the bind pole, and rigged on a sort of yard across the front of the palanquin, which, although anything but a workmanlike job, served very well to carry it empty to the next stage.
By the time my arrangements were completed it was broad daylight; so, with a hearty malediction bestowed upon the stupid Jungle Wallahs, I shouldered my rifle, and proceeded on my way.
A fatiguing walk of fifteen miles, under a broiling sun, brought us to a good-sized village, where I managed to get my palanquin sufficiently well secured to carry me on, and, about sunset, reached Hurryhur, without further adventure.
Hurryhur, 21st February.--Hurryhur is a small Cantonment for one Regiment, and having been only lately established, there are not more than two or three houses built for the Officers; the remainder living in their tents. It is situated in the midst of a barren sandy plain, with hardly a tree or shrub in sight, and looks the very picture of desolation. The Regiment quartered here is the 24th Native Infantry. I brought a letter of introduction to one of the Officers, by whom I have been most hospitably received, and comfortably lodged. There are not more than five or six Officers present with the Regiment, and only one Lady, the Adjutant’s Wife, who tells me she has not seen the face of an European Woman for two years, and complains sadly of the dullness of the place. The country about here is in a very disturbed state. The Regiment is ordered to march in a few days to attack a petty Rajah who has revolted, and fortified himself so strongly in a Hill Fori among the western Ghauts, that all efforts to dislodge him have hitherto failed. He is so situated that artillery cannot be brought to bear upon him, and they will have either to shell him out, or reduce him by famine. The poor Adjutant's Wife is to be left with an Assistant Surgeon, and a few invalids, to take charge of the Cantonment, and does not appear at all happy at the prospect.
My Servants and Horses, which I sent on before me from Bangalore, did not arrive till yesterday evening; so that I have been obliged to vegetate here ever since the 17th; and, in spite of the kindness and hospitality I have experienced, am beginning to weary sadly of Hurryhur and the Adjutant's Wife.
I have just received a letter from my Brother, saying that he cannot meet me here, as he intended, and proposing the following route, which I intend to adopt :
He is to have bearers laid for the first 40 miles, to Davigherry, and from thence to Dharwar, (55 miles,) three of his own horses are to be posted at equal distances. I shall leave this to-morrow evening; run the first forty miles during the night; start from Davigherry at daylight; and ride into Dharwar, in time for a late breakfast.
Dharwar, 24th February.--I arrived here yesterday without any adventure worthy of remark, except having been stopped during the night by a party of the disaffected Natives, who, as I before remarked, are in a very unsettled state, and have stopped and plundered several Travellers of late.
I was awakened, in the middle of the night, by feeling the Palanquin set down, and hearing a scuffle outside. On jumping out, with a pistol in each hand, † found myself surrounded by twenty or thirty wild looking men, armed with sticks, knives, and old swords. Two or three of the Bearers were lying on the ground with broken heads, and the others, who it appeared had made some show of resistance, were getting unmercifully mauled. Knowing that with my two pistols, besides a rifle, and double-barrelled gun, which were also in the palanquin, ready loaded, I was more than a match for the poor half-naked wretches who surrounded me, I did not like to shed blood unnecessarily; and, in spite of the urgent entreaties of the Bearers to fire, I contented myself with talking in an angry tone, pointing to my pistols and making signs to the people to disperse. At first they drew back ; but when one of the fellows advanced towards me, brandishing a knife, I immediately fired over his lead, keeping the other pistol ready to fire into him, if necessary. This answered my purpose quite as well as if I had sent the poor inisguided wretch to the shades before his time, for he immediately turned tail, and his companions, uttering a yell of terror, fled in all directions.
And so I obtained a signal victory, which was all the more satisfactory for having been bloodless.
After posting on quietly for the remainder of the night, I arrived, about daybreak, at the village of Davigherry, where I found my first horse, with a Sewar, or Native Trooper, to act as guide. I immediately mounted, leaving my palanquin in charge of the Horsekeeper, and the pags being all in hunting condition, with a fresh guide at each stage, I cantered over the remaining 55 miles in less than five hours, and had the happiness of once more embracing my dear Brother, whom I had not seen for many years.
Dhurwar, Ist of March.-We have opened our campaign gloriously! Yesterday I shot two Spotted Bucks before breakfast; and to-day we have taken the scalp of the famous wandering Tiger which has been the terror of the neighbourhood for the last six months.
This morning, Elliot's Shikaries, who have been on the trail of the Tiger for a week past, brought intelligence that they had at last succeeded in marking him down. After following him from jungle to jungle, they watched him, at daybreak this morning, as he was returning to the Omlekop thickets, and turned him into one of the small nullahs (ravines), on the hills, beyond Mussoor, where he was surrounded, and word sent into Camp that we should lose no time in going out, as he was savage, and likely to break though the line.
Old “ Anak,"—the Elephant, was instantly despatched with guns and ammunition in the howdah, and Elliot, mny Brother, and I, followed, soon after, on horseback. On arriving at the ground, eight miles from Camp, we found everything looking well for a certain kill. The Tiger had been marked into a small open ravine, where there was no strong cover, and every rising ground within sight was crowned by a look-out man, to turn him, or mark him down, if he should break away.
All possible precautions having been taken to prevent his escape, we mounted the Elephant, and the Tiger was roused by a rattle of tomtoms and a wild shout from the Beaters. He was on foot in a moment, and, with a loud roar, dashed from the nullah, and took away, across country, at a lobbing gallop.
The Elephant was badly placed, and the Tiger passed us at a distance of 150 yards, going at a pace which rendered the chances of hitting him very slight indeed.-Two balls rang among the rocks close behind him, and, just as he was topping the hill, a long rifle shot appeared to touch him, for a short, angry roar was borne back upon the breeze, and the Beaters made signs that he was hit.
We followed at the best pace old “ Anak” could muster, and, on reaching the summit of the hill, saw the Tiger slowly stealing down a ravine on the opposite side. He was out of shot, and we halted to mark him down, and to send the Beaters to a place of safety; for he was evidently wounded, and therefore dangerous. One man alone, intoxicated with opium, disregarded every warning signal ;-the Tiger was going straight towards him ;-we called and beckoned in vain ;the infatuated wretch drew his sword, and waved it in defiance, while we saw the fatal crisis approaching, and could do nothing to save him.
Elliot ordered the Mahout to urge the Elephant forward at his utmost speed, I shall never forget the excitement of that moment-My Brother and I, both novices in Tiger-hunting, were almost in a rabid state, and in our anxiety to rescue the doomed wretch from his impending fate, we stamped with impatience, and abused the Mahout, for not exerting himself sufficiently, although he was plying the goad with all his strength, making the blood flow, and extorting a scream of pain from the unfortunate Elephant at every stroke.
But all was in vain. Before we were half way down the hill, the Tiger had caught sight of the poor helpless drunkard, standing directly in his path, and his doom was sealed. He might still have made an effort to escape, for he had a long start; but he appeared paralyzed by fear, when he saw the Tiger making directly towards him with terrific bounds. The monster was upon him with the speed of light. We saw him rear for an instant over his victim, who attempted to defend himself with his sword and shield. One savage roar rang through the soul of the stricken wretch, and he was dashed to the ground, amidst a cloud of dust, through which we could just distinguish the agitated forms of the Tiger and the wretched man, writhing like a crushed worm in his gripe. It was over in an instant. The Tiger trotted off, sulkily, to a small patch of thorny bushes, and being now excited to madness, by the taste of blood, stood boldly awaiting our attack,
The Elephant was pushed forward with all speed, the Tiger roaring furiously as we advanced, and the moment his splendid head appeared, a volley from six barrels, sent him back staggering into the centre of