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Title: Life in an Indian Outpost
Author: Casserly, Gordon
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    LIFE IN AN
    INDIAN OUTPOST

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[Illustration: AFTER THE PROCLAMATION PARADE.]



    LIFE IN AN
    INDIAN OUTPOST

    BY

    MAJOR GORDON CASSERLY

    (INDIAN ARMY)

    AUTHOR OF
    "THE LAND OF THE BOXERS; OR CHINA UNDER THE ALLIES"; ETC.

    ILLUSTRATED

    LONDON
    T. WERNER LAURIE LTD.
    CLIFFORD'S INN



    CONTENTS

    CHAPTER I

    A FRONTIER POST
                                                                     PAGE
        Our first view of the Himalayas--Across India in a troop
            train--A scattered regiment--An elephant-haunted
            railway--Kinchinjunga--The great Terai
            Jungle--Rajabhatkawa--In the days of Warren
            Hastings--Hillmen--Roving Chinese--We arrive at Buxa
            Road--Relieved officers--An undesirable outpost--March
            through the forest--The hills--A mountain road--Lovely
            scenery--Buxa Duar--A lonely Station--The labours of an
            Indian Army officer--Varied work--The frontier of
            Bhutan--A gate of India--A Himalayan paradise--The
            fort--Intrusive monkeys--The cantonment--The Picquet
            Towers--The bazaar--The cemetery--Forgotten
            graves--Tragedies of loneliness--From Bhutan to the sea     1


    CHAPTER II

    LIFE ON OUTPOST

        The daily routine--Drill in the Indian Army--Hindustani--A
            lingua franca--The divers tongues of India--The sepoys'
            lodging--Their ablutions--An Indian's fare--An Indian
            regiment--Rajput customs--The hospital--The doctor at
            work--Queer patients--A vicious bear--The Officers'
            Mess--Plain diet--Water--The simple life--A bachelor's
            establishment--A faithful Indian--Fighting the
            trusts--Transport in the hills--My bungalow--Amusements
            in Buxa--Dull days--Asirgarh--A lonely
            outpost--Poisoning a General--A storied
            fortress--Soldier ghosts--A spectral officer--The
            tragedy of isolation--A daring panther--A day on an
            elephant--Sport in the jungle--_Gooral_ stalking in the
            hills--Strange pets--A friendly deer--A terrified
            visitor--A walking menagerie--Elephants tame and
            wild--Their training--Their caution--Their rate of
            speed--Fondness for water--Quickly reconciled to
            captivity--Snakes--A narrow escape--A king-cobra; the
            hamadryad--Hindu worship of the cobra--General Sir
            Hamilton Bower--An adventurous career--E. F.
            Knight--The General's inspection                           19


    CHAPTER III

    THE BORDERLAND OF BHUTAN

        The races along our North-East Border--Tibet--The
            Mahatmas--Nepal---Bhutan--Its geography--Its
            founder--Its Government--Religious rule--Analogy
            between Bhutan and old Japan--_Penlops_ and
            _Daimios_--The Tongsa _Penlop_--Reincarnation of the
            Shaptung Rimpoche--China's claim to Bhutan--Capture of
            the Maharajah of Cooch Behar--Bogle's mission--Raids
            and outrages--The Bhutan War of 1864-5--The Duars--The
            annual subsidy--Bhutan to-day--Religion--An impoverished
            land--Bridges--Soldiers in Bhutan--Thefeudal
            system--Administration of justice--Tyranny of
            officials--The Bhuttias--Ugly women--Our neighbours in
            Buxa--A Bhuttia festival--Archery--A banquet--A
            dance--A Scotch half-caste--Chunabatti--Nature of the
            borderland--Disappearing rivers--The Terai--Tea
            gardens--A planter's life--The club--Wild beasts in the
            path--The Indian planters--Misplaced sympathy--The tea
            industry--Profits and losses--Planters' salaries--Their
            daily life--Bhuttia raids on tea gardens--Fearless
            planters--An unequal fight                                 45


    CHAPTER IV

    A DURBAR IN BUXA

        Notice of the Political Officer's approaching visit--A
            Durbar--The Bhutan Agent and the interpreter--Arrival
            of the Deb Zimpun--An official call--Exchange of
            presents--Bhutanese fruit--A return call--Native
            liquor--A welcome gift--The Bhutanese
            musicians--Entertaining the Envoy--A thirsty Lama--A
            rifle match--An awkward official request--My
            refusal--The Deb Zimpun removes to Chunabatti--Arrival
            of the treasure--The Political Officer comes--His
            retinue--The Durbar--The Guard of Honour--The
            visitors--The Envoy comes in state--Bhutanese
            courtesies--The spectators--The payment of the
            subsidy--Lunch in Mess--Entertaining a difficult
            guest--The official dinner--An archery match--Sikh
            quoits--Field firing--Bhutanese
            impressed--Blackmail--British subjects captured--Their
            release--Tashi's case--Justice in Bhutan--Tyranny of
            officials--Tashi refuses to quit Buxa--The next payment
            of the subsidy--The treaty--Misguided humanitarians        64


    CHAPTER V

    IN THE JUNGLE

        An Indian jungle--The trees--Creepers--Orchids--The
            undergrowth--On an elephant in the jungle--Forcing a
            passage--Wild bees--Red ants--A lost river--A _sambhur_
            hind--Spiders--Jungle fowl--A stag--_Hallal_--Wounded
            beasts--A halt--Skinning the stag--Ticks--Butcher
            apprentices--Natural rope--Water in the air--_Pani
            bel_--Trail of wild elephants--Their habits--An
            impudent monkey--An adventure with a rogue
            elephant--Fire lines--Wild dogs--A giant squirrel--The
            barking deer--A good bag--Spotted deer--Protective
            colouring--Dangerous beasts--Natives' dread of bears--A
            bison calf--The fascination of the forest--The generous
            jungle--Wild vegetables--Natural products--A home in
            the trees--Forest Lodge the First--Destroyed by a wild
            elephant--Its successor--A luncheon-party in the
            air--The salt lick--Discovery of a coal mine--A
            monkey's parliament--The jungle by night                   83


    CHAPTER VI

    ROGUES OF THE FOREST

        The lord of the forest--Wild elephants in India--_Kheddah_
            operations in the Terai--How rogues are made--Rogues
            attack villages--Highway robbers--Assault on a railway
            station--A police convoy--A poacher's death--Chasing an
            officer--My first encounter with a rogue--Stopping a
            charge--Difficulty of killing an elephant--The law on
            rogue shooting--A Government gazette--A tame elephant
            shot by the Maharajah of Cooch Behar--Executing an
            elephant--A chance shot--A planter's escape--Attack on
            a tame elephant--The _mahout's_ peril--Jhansi's
            wounds--Changes among the officers in Buxa--A Gurkha's
            terrible death--The beginner's luck--Indian and Malayan
            _sambhur_--A shot out of season--A fruitless
            search--Jhansi's flight--A scout attacked by a
            bear--Advertising for a truant--The agony
            column--Runaway elephants--A fatal fraud--Jhansi's
            return                                                    104


    CHAPTER VII

    A FIGHT WITH AN ELEPHANT

        We sight a rogue--A sudden onslaught--A wild elephant's
            attack--Shooting under difficulties--Stopping a
            rush--Repeated attacks--An invulnerable foe--Darkness
            stops the pursuit--A council of war--Picking up the
            trail--A _muckna_--A female elephant--Photographing a
            lady--A good sitter--A stampede--A gallant
            Rajput--Attacking on foot--A hazardous feat--A narrow
            escape--Final charge--A bivouac in the forest--Dangers
            of the night--A long chase--Planter
            hospitality--Another stampede--A career of
            crime--Eternal hope--A king-cobra--Abandoning the
            pursuit--An unrepentant villain--In the moment of
            danger                                                    124


    CHAPTER VIII

    IN TIGER LAND

        The tiger in India--His reputation--Wounded
            tigers--Man-eaters--Game killers and cattle thieves--A
            tiger's residence--Chance meetings--Methods of tiger
            hunting--Beating with elephants--Sitting up--A
            sportsman's patience--The charm of a night watch--A
            cautious beast--A night over a kill--An unexpected
            visitor--A tantalising tiger--A tiger at Asirgarh--A
            chance shot--Buffaloes as trackers--Panthers--The wrong
            prey--A beat for tiger--The Colonel wounds a tiger--A
            night march--An elusive quarry--A successful beat--A
            watery grave--Skinning a tiger                            141


    CHAPTER IX

    A FOREST MARCH

        Reasons for showing the flag--Soldierless Bengal--Planning
            the march--Difficulties of transport--The first day's
            march--Sepoys in the jungle--The water-creeper--The
            commander loses his men--The bivouac at
            Rajabhatkawa--Alipur Duar--A small Indian
            Station--Long-delayed pay--The Subdivisional Officer--A
            _dâk_ bungalow--The sub-judge--Brahmin pharisees--The
            _nautch_--A dusty march--Santals--A mission
            settlement--Crossing a river--Rafts--A bivouac in a tea
            garden--A dinner-party in an 80-lb. tent--Bears at
            night--A daring tiger--Chasing a tiger on elephants--In
            the forest again--A fickle river--A strange animal--The
            Maharajah of Cooch Behar's experiment--A scare and a
            disappointment--Across the Raidak--A woman killed by a
            bear--A planters' club--Hospitality in the jungle--The
            zareba--Impromptu sports--The Alarm Stakes--The raft
            race--Hathipota--Jainti                                   174


    CHAPTER X

    THROUGH FIRE AND WATER

        India in the hot weather--A land of torment--The
            drought--Forest fires--The cholera huts
            burned--Fighting the flames--Death of a sepoy--The bond
            between British officers and their men--The sepoy's
            funeral--A fortnight's vigil--Saving the Station--The
            hills ablaze--A sublime spectacle--The devastated
            forest--Fallen leaves on fire--Our elephants'
            peril--Saving the zareba--A beat for game in the
            jungle--Trying to catch a wild elephant--A moonlight
            ramble--We meet a bear--The burst of the Monsoons--A
            dull existence--Three hundred inches of rain--The
            monotony of thunderstorms--A changed
            world--Leeches--Monster hailstones--Surveyors caught in
            a storm--A brink in the Rains--The revived
            jungle--Useless lightning-conductors--The Monsoon
            again--The loneliness of Buxa                             196


    CHAPTER XI

    IN THE PALACE OF THE MAHARAJAH

        The Durbar--Outside the palace--The State elephants--The
            soldiery--The Durbar Hall--Officials and gentry of the
            State--The throne--Queen Victoria's banner--The hidden
            ladies--_Purdah nashin_--Arrival of the _Dewan_--The
            Maharajah's entry--The Sons' Salute--A chivalrous
            Indian custom--_Nuzzurs_--The Dewan's task--The
            Maharani--An Indian reformer--_Bramo Samaj_--Pretty
            princesses--An informal banquet--The _nautch_--A
            moonlight ride--The Maharajah--A soldier and a
            sportsman--Cooch Behar--The palace--A dinner-party--The
            heir's birthday celebrations--Schoolboys'
            sports--Indian amateur theatricals--An evening in the
            palace--A panther-drive--Exciting sport--Death of the
            panther--Partridge shooting on elephants--A stray
            rhinoceros--Prince Jit's luck--Friendly intercourse
            between Indians and Englishmen--An unjust complaint       213


    CHAPTER XII

    A MILITARY TRAGEDY

        In the Mess--A gloomy conversation--Murder in the army--A
            gallant officer--Running amuck on a rifle-range--"Was
            that a shot?"--The alarm--The native officer's
            report--The "fall in"--A dying man--A search round the
            fort--A narrow escape--The flight--Search parties--The
            inquiry into the crime--A fifty miles' cordon--An
            unexpected visit--Havildar Ranjit Singh on the trail--A
            night march through the forest--A fearsome ride--The
            lost detachment--An early start--The ferry--The
            prisoner--A well-planned capture--The prisoner's
            story--The march to Hathipota--Return to the fort--A
            well-guarded captive--A weary wait--A journey to
            Calcutta--The escort--Excitement among the passengers
            on the steamer--American globe-trotters--The court
            martial--A callous criminal--Appeal to the
            Viceroy--Sentence of death--The execution                 232


    CHAPTER XIII

    IN AN INDIAN HILL STATION

        To Darjeeling--Railway journeys in India--Protection for
            solitary ladies--Reappearing rivers--Siliguri--At the
            foot of the Himalayas--A mountain railway--Through the
            jungle--Looping the loop--View of the
            Plains--Darjeeling--Civilisation seven thousand feet
            high--Varied types--View from the Chaurasta--White
            workers in India--Life in Hill
            Stations--Lieutenant-Governors--A "dull time" in
            Darjeeling--The bazaar--Types of hill
            races--Turquoises--Tiger-skins for tourists--The
            Amusement Club--The Everlasting
            Snows--Kinchinjunga--The bachelors' ball--A Government
            House ball--The marriage-market value of Indian
            civilians--Less demand for military
            men--Theatricals--Lebong Races--Picturesque
            race-goers--Ladies in India--Husband hunters--The empty
            life of an Englishwoman--The dangers of Hill
            Stations--A wife four months in the year--The hills
            _taboo_ for the subaltern--Back to Buxa                   262


    CHAPTER XIV

    A JUNGLE FORT

        I decide on Fort Bower--Felling trees--A big
            python--Clearing the jungle--Laying out the
            post--Stockades and _Sungars_--The bastions--_Panjis_
            and _abattis_--The huts--Jungle materials--Ingenious
            craftsmen--The furniture--Sentry-posts--Alarm
            signals--The _machicoulis_ gallery--Booby-traps--The
            water-lifter--The hospital--Chloroforming a
            monkey--Jungle dogs--An extraordinary shot--An unlucky
            deer--A meeting with a panther--The alarm--Sohanpal
            Singh and the tiger--Turning out to the rescue--The
            General's arrival--Closed gates--The inspection--The
            "Bower" and the "'Ump"--Flares and bombs--The General's
            praise--Night firing--A Christmas camp                    280


    CHAPTER XV

    FAREWELL TO THE HILLS

        The Proclamation Parade--An unsteady charger--"Three cheers
            for the King-Emperor!"--The Indian Army's loyalty--King
            George and the sepoys--A land held by the sword--An
            American Cavalry officer's visit--Hospitality of
            American officers--Killing by kindness--The brotherhood
            of soldiers--The bond between American and British
            troops sealed by blood--U.S. officers' opinion of us--A
            roaring tiger--Prince Jitendra Narayen--His visit to
            Buxa--An intoxicated monkey--Projected visits--A road
            report--A sketch fourteen feet long--The
            start--Jalpaiguri--A planters' dinner-party--Crossing
            the Tista River--A quicksand--A narrow
            escape--Map-making in the army--In the China War of
            1860--Officers' sketches used for the Canton Railway
            survey--The country south of the hills--A sepoy's
            explanation of Kinchinjunga--A native officer's theory
            of the cause of earthquakes--Types on the road--After
            the day's work--A man-eater--A brave postman--Human
            beings killed by wild animals and snakes in
            India--Crocodiles--Shooting a monster--Crocodiles on
            land--Crossing the Torsa--Value of small
            detachments--The maligned military officer--A life of
            examinations--The man-killing elephant again--Death of
            a Bhuttia woman--Ordered home--A last good-bye to a
            comrade--Captain Balderston's death--A last view of the
            hills                                                     296



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    After the Proclamation Parade                 _Frontispiece_

    Buxa Duar                                _To face page_   16

    "The fort was built on a knoll"                 "         16

    Rajput sepoys cooking                           "         24

    British and Indian officers                     "         24

    My double company                               "         28

    My bachelor establishment                       "         28

    A kneeling elephant                             "         36

    "The ladies of the hamlet came forward"         "         54

    Bhuttia drummers                                "         54

    Chunabatti                                      "         56

    "From my doorstep I watched them coming
    down the hill"                                  "         66

    The Deb Zimpun's prisoners                      "         66

    The Durbar in Buxa                              "         74

    A _sambhur_ stag and my elephant                "         90

    Bringing home the bag                           "         90

    Forest Lodge the First                          "        100

    Forest Lodge the Second                         "        100

    "The _mahout_ was holding up the head"          "        110

    Subhedar Sohanpal Singh                         "        128

    "We saw another elephant"                       "        130

    The tiger's Lying in state                      "        172

    The tiger's last home                           "        172

    "My sepoys drilling"                            "        178

    Buglers and non-commissioned officers of
    my detachment                                   "        178

    The walled face of Fort Bower over the
    river                                           "        282

    The stockade and ditch of Fort Bower            "        282

    The gate with wicket open and drawbridge
    lowered                                         "        286

    Captain Balderston inside the stockade          "        286

    Bringing home the General's dinner              "        290

    "I was mounted on a country bred pony"          "        296

    "An elephant loaded with my stores and
    baggage"                                        "        296



LIFE IN AN INDIAN OUTPOST



CHAPTER I

A FRONTIER POST

    Our first view of the Himalayas--Across India in a troop
        train--A scattered regiment--An elephant-haunted
        railway--Kinchinjunga--The great Terai
        Jungle--Rajabhatkawa--In the days of Warren
        Hastings--Hillmen--Roving Chinese--We arrive at Buxa
        Road--Relieved officers--An undesirable outpost--March
        through the forest--The hills--A mountain road--Lovely
        scenery--Buxa Duar--A lonely Station--The labours of an
        Indian Army officer--Varied work--The frontier of
        Bhutan--A gate of India--A Himalayan paradise--The
        fort--Intrusive monkeys--The cantonment--The Picquet
        Towers--The bazaar--The cemetery--Forgotten
        graves--Tragedies of loneliness--From Bhutan to the
        sea.


Against the blue sky to the north lay a dark blur that, as our troop
train ran on through the level plains of Eastern Bengal, rose ever
higher and took shape--the distant line of the Himalayas. Around us the
restful though tame scenery of the little Cooch Behar State. The
chess-board pattern of mud-banked rice fields, long groves of the
graceful feathery bamboo, here and there a tiny hamlet of palm-thatched
huts--on their low roofs great sprawling green creepers with white
blotches that look like skulls but are only ripe melons. But the dark
outlines of the distant mountains drew my gaze and brought the heads of
my sepoys out of the carriage windows to stare at them.

For somewhere on the face of those hills was Buxa Duar, the little fort
that was to be our home for the next two years.

For four days my detachment of two hundred men of the 120th Rajputana
Infantry had been whirled across India from west to east towards it.
From Baroda we had come--Baroda with its military cantonment set in an
English-like park, its vast native city with the gaily painted houses
and narrow streets where the Gaikwar's Cavalry rode with laced jackets
and slung pelisses like the Hussars of old, and his sentries mounted
guard over gold and silver cannons in a dingy backyard. Where in low
rooms, set out in glass cases, as in a cheap draper's shop, were the
famous pearl-embroidered carpets and gorgeous jewels of the State, worth
a king's ransom.

Four days of travel over the plains of India with their closely
cultivated fields, mud-walled villages, stony hills and stretches of
scrub jungle, where an occasional jackal slunk away from the train or an
antelope paused in its bounding flight to look back at the strange iron
monster. Across the sacred Ganges where Allahabad lies at its junction
with the River Jumna. The regiment was on its way to garrison widely
separated posts in outlying parts of the Indian Empire and neighbouring
countries. Two companies had already gone to be divided between Chumbi
in Tibet and Gantok in the dependent State of Sikkim, and to furnish the
guard to our Agent at Gyantse.

The month was December; and they had started in August to cross the
sixteen-thousand-feet high passes in the Himalayas before the winter
snows blocked them. The regimental headquarters, with four companies,
was on its way to embark on the steamers which would convey them a
fourteen days' journey on the giant rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra to
Dibrugarh and Sadiya in Assam.

At Benares my two companies had parted from the rest and entered another
troop train which carried us into Eastern Bengal.

Every day for three or four hours our trains had halted at some little
wayside station to enable the men to get out, make their cooking-places,
and prepare their food for the day. The previous night my detachment had
detrained at Gitaldaha, where we had to change again on to a narrow
gauge railway, two feet six inches in width, which would take us through
Cooch Behar to our destination. The railway officials informed me that
we must stay in the station all night, as the trains on this line ran
only by daylight. I asked the reason of this.

"They cannot go by night on account of the wild animals," was the reply.

"The wild animals?" I echoed in surprise.

"Yes; the line runs through a forest, the Terai Jungle, full of
elephants and bison. Three months ago one of our engines was derailed by
a wild elephant and the driver badly injured. And not long before that
another rogue elephant held up a station on the line, stopped a train,
blockaded the officials in the buildings, and broke a tusk trying to
root up the platform."

And when daylight dawned and I could see the toy engine and carriages, I
was not surprised at the fear of encountering an elephant on the line.

Now on our fifth day of travel we were nearing the end of the journey.
We had passed the capital of Cooch Behar and were approaching Alipur
Duar, the last station before the Terai Forest is reached. Suddenly,
high in the air above the now distinct line of hills, stood out in the
brilliant sunlight the white crest and snowy peaks of Kinchinjunga,
twenty-eight thousand feet high, and nearly one hundred and twenty miles
away. Past Alipur Duar, and then hills and snow-clad summits were lost
to sight as our little train plunged from the sunny plain into the deep
shadows of the famous Terai Forest--the wonderful jungle that stretches
east and west along the foot of the Himalayas, and clothes their lowest
slopes. In whose recesses roam the wild elephant, the rhinoceros and the
bison, true lords of the woods; where deadlier foes to man than these,
malaria and blackwater fever hold sway and lay low the mightiest hunter
before the Lord. And standing on the back platform of our tiny carriage
my subaltern and I strove to pierce its gloomy depths, half hoping to
see the giant bulk of a wild elephant or a rhinoceros. But nothing met
our gaze save the great orchid-clad trees, the graceful fronds of
monster ferns, and the dense undergrowth that would deny a passage to
anything less powerful than bisons or elephants.

In a sudden clearing in the heart of the forest, the train stopped at a
small station near which stood a few bamboo huts and a gaunt,
two-storied wooden house in which, we afterwards learned, an English
forest officer lived his lonely life. The place was called Rajabhatkawa,
which in the vernacular means, "The Rajah ate his food." It was so named
because, nearly one hundred and thirty years before, in the days of
Warren Hastings, a Rajah of Cooch Behar ate his first meal there after
his release from captivity among the hill tribesmen of Bhutan who had
carried him away into their mountain fastnesses. They had released him
at the urgent instance of a British captain and two hundred sepoys who
had followed them up and captured three of their forts.

Among the crowd of natives on the platform at this station were several
of various hill races, Bhuttias and Gurkhas, with the small eyes and
flat nose of the Mongolian. I was surprised to see two Chinamen in blue
linen suits and straw hats, fanning themselves and smoking cigarettes,
as much at home as if they were on the Bund in Shanghai or in Queen's
Road in Hong Kong. But later on I learned that Rajabhatkawa led to
several tea gardens, where Chinese carpenters are always welcome. These
men are generally from Canton, the inhabitants of which city emigrate
freely. I have met them in Calcutta, Penang, Singapore, Manila, and San
Francisco.

On again through the jungle our train passed for another eight miles,
and then drew up at a small station of one low, stone building with a
nameboard nearly as big as itself, which bore the words "Buxa Road." It
stood in a little clearing in the forest, where the ground was piled
high with felled trees, ready to be dispatched to Calcutta. This was the
end of our railway journey.

The sepoys tumbled eagerly out of the train, threw their rolls of
bedding out of the compartments, fell in on the platform and piled arms,
and then turned to with a will to unload the heavy baggage from the
brake-vans. A number of tall, bearded Mohammedans, men of the detachment
of the Punjabi Regiment we were replacing, were at the station. Their
major came forward to welcome me, and expressed his extreme pleasure in
meeting the man who was to relieve him and enable him to quit a most
undesirable place.

This was a blow to me; for I had pictured life in this little outpost as
an ideal existence in a sportsman's paradise.

"What? Don't you like Buxa Duar?" I asked in surprise.

"Like it?" he exclaimed vehemently. "Most certainly not. In my time I
have been stationed in some poisonous places in Upper Burmah, when I was
in the Military Police; but the worst of them was heaven to Buxa."

I gasped with horror. "Is it as bad as all that? How long have you been
here?"

"Three weeks," replied the major; "and that was three weeks too long.
Before you have been here a fortnight you will be praying to all your
gods to take you anywhere else."

This was pleasant. The subaltern of the Punjabis now came up and was
introduced to me. He had been six months in Buxa; and _his_ opinion of
it was too lurid to print. My subaltern, who had been superintending the
unloading of the baggage, joined us and in his turn was regaled with
these cheering criticisms of our new home. His face fell; for, like me,
he had been looking forward eagerly to being quartered in this little
outpost, where, we had been told, the sport was excellent. Fortunately
men's tastes differ; and after eighteen months' experience of this
much-abused Buxa, I liked it better than any other place I have ever
served in in all my soldiering.

I learned from our new friends that the fort was six miles from the
railway and fifteen hundred feet above it; so I inquired for the
transport to convey our baggage there.

Before leaving Baroda the quartermaster of our regiment had written to
the nearest civil official of the district, requesting him to provide me
with a hundred coolies for the purpose. There were also, I knew, three
Government transport elephants in charge of the detachment quartered in
Buxa Duar. These I saw at the station engaged in conveying the baggage
of the Punjabis, who were to leave on the following day. I asked for my
hundred coolies.

The major laughed when I told him of our quartermaster's requisition.
"Your regimental headquarters," he said, "evidently did not realise what
a desolate, uninhabited place this is. A hundred coolies? Why, with
difficulty I have procured eight; four of them women. You will have to
leave your baggage here under a guard, and have it brought up piecemeal
on the elephants after our departure. And now, if you will fall in your
men, I'll lead the way up to Buxa and gladly take my last look at it."

A baggage guard having been left at the station with our food and
cooking-pots, etc., my detachment fell in, formed fours and followed us.
From the clearing near the railway a broad road, cut through the forest,
led towards the hills. For the first three miles it was comparatively
level; and we swung along at a good pace between the tall trees rising
from the dense undergrowth. Breaking the solemn silence of the forest, I
eagerly plied our new friends with questions on the chances of sport
that Buxa afforded. But I found that they had done little in that way
and could give me scant information. The subaltern had shot a tiger on a
tea garden, but had hardly ever gone into the jungle. I learned,
however, that out of the three transport elephants now at my disposal,
two were trained for shooting purposes and were remarkably steady. This
at least was good news.

Towards the end of the third mile the road began to rise; and when it
emerged into a small clearing we halted for a few minutes. We were now
at the very foot of the hills; and from here we could see them for the
first time since our train had entered the forest. High above our heads
they towered. At first low, rounded, tree-clad buttresses of the giant
ramparts of India, long spurs thrust out from the flanks of the
mountains. Then lofty rugged walls of rock, jagged peaks, dark even in
the brilliant sunshine, precipitous cliffs over which thin threads of
water leapt and seemed to hang wavering down the steep sides.

In the clearing stood two or three wooden huts; and a hundred yards
farther on was a long and lofty open structure, with a thatched roof
supported on rough wood pillars. The flooring was of pounded earth with
three brick "standings," with iron rings inserted in them; for this was
the Peelkhana or elephant stables of the detachment. The clearing was
dignified with the euphonious name of Santrabari. Past the Peelkhana the
road entered the hills. At first it wound around their flanks, crossing
by wooden bridges over clear streams; then, rising ever higher, it
climbed the steep slopes in zigzags. Along above a brawling mountain
torrent, tumbling over rounded rocks in a deep ravine it went, across
wooded spurs and under stony cliffs. Huge bushes flamed with strange red
and purple flowers, thick shrubs hung out great white bells to tempt the
giant scarlet and black butterflies hovering overhead. Above our path
tall trees stretched out their long limbs covered with the glossy green
leaves of orchids. From trunk to trunk swung creepers thick as a ship's
hawser, trailing in long festoons or interlacing and writhing around
each other like great snakes.

But, as we climbed, the forest fell behind us. The trees stood farther
apart, grew fewer and smaller. The undergrowth became denser. Tall
brakes of the drooping plumes of the bamboo, thick-growing thorny
bushes, plantain trees with their broad leaves and hanging bunches of
bananas, the straight slender stems of sago palms with trailing clusters
of nut-like fruit springing up from tangled vegetation. A troop of
little brown monkeys leapt in alarm from tree to tree and vanished over
a cliff. With a measured flapping of wings a brilliantly plumaged
hornbill passed over our heads. The road crossed and recrossed the
mountain stream and led into a deep cleft among the hills towering
precipitously over us. And looking up I saw on the edge of a cliff the
corner of a building. It was the fort of Buxa at last. But before we
reached it a few hundred feet more of climbing had to be done; and we
panted wearily upward. Through a narrow cutting we emerged on a stretch
of artificially levelled soil, the parade ground, and halted gladly. We
stood in a deep horseshoe among the mountains, nearly two thousand feet
above the plains. Before us, peeping out from low trees and flowering
bushes, were a few bungalows; and above them towered a conical peak, its
summit another four thousand feet higher still. From it right and left
ran down on either side of us two long wooded spurs; and on knolls on
them stood three white square towers. Behind us, on a long mound, were
fortified barracks with loopholed walls. These formed the fort; and this
was Buxa Duar. We had reached our destination.

The major first showed our men to their new quarters; and I told them
off to their different barrack-rooms, and saw them settled down. Then he
and his subaltern led us to the Mess where we met a third officer, the
doctor, a young lieutenant in the Indian Medical Service named Smith,
who was to remain on in Buxa in medical charge of my detachment. Then
ensued the wearisome task of taking over charge of all the Government
property in the Station, from the rifle-range and the ammunition in the
magazine to picks and shovels, buckets and waterproof coats. We had next
to do our own bargaining over the buying of the store of tinned
provisions, jams, pickles and wines in the Mess, as well as the scanty
furniture in it. Among other things we purchased were two Bhutanese
mountain sheep--huge creatures with horns. Meat being a rare commodity
in Buxa, the major had bought them from a Bhuttia from across the
border. Not needing to kill them at once, he had let them roam freely
about the Mess garden until, as he said, they had become such pets that
he could not harden his heart sufficiently to order them to be killed
for food. My subaltern and I mentally resolved not to allow them to
become thus endeared to us by long association.

Dinner in the Mess that night was quite a pleasant function, everyone
but the doctor being in the best of spirits. As he was not to take his
departure on the morrow, he was not as cheerful as the two Punjabi
officers, who were delighted to think that they were so soon to leave
Buxa. They had, perhaps, reason to rejoice at their return to
civilisation and the society of their kind. They had come there from
Tibet, where they had been quartered in the wilds from the end of the
fighting in the war of 1904 to the evacuation of the country by our
troops. They frankly pitied us for the prospect of two years' exile in
this isolated post, where a strange white face was rarely seen. They
fully expatiated on the loneliness of it. In a Bhuttia village a few
miles over the hills there was an elderly American lady missionary. Down
in the forest below a few English tea-planters were scattered about, the
nearest fifteen or twenty miles from us. During the winter we might
expect an occasional visitor, a General or our Colonel on inspection
duty, or a Public Works Department Official come to see to the state of
the road or the repair of the buildings. During the rainy season, which
lasts seven months, from April to the end of October, with a rainfall
therein from two hundred to three hundred inches, we would see no
stranger and probably be cut off from outside intercourse by the washing
away of the roads. As during those months the forest below would be
filled with the deadly Terai fever, we could not solace our loneliness
by sport which rendered the remainder of the year bearable. And as the
jungle around us, which grew to our very doors would, during the Rains,
swarm with leeches which fasten in scores on man or beast if given the
chance, we would scarcely be able to put foot outside our bungalows,
even if tempted to face the awful thunderstorms and torrential Rains.

All this certainly did not sound cheering; so I changed the subject and
asked for information regarding my duties in the Station. I learned
that, in addition to my work of my detachment, I would hold the proud
but unpaid post of Officer Commanding Buxa Duar--an appointment which
would entail voluminous routine correspondence on me. I would also,
again without extra pay, represent law and order by being Cantonment
Magistrate, third class, with power to award imprisonment up to three
months' hard labour. Verily, the duties that fall to the lot of the
Indian Army Officer are many and various. Besides being a soldier he is
also a schoolmaster, having to set and correct examination papers for
certificates of education. He must be something of a master tailor to
decide on the fit and alteration of his men's new uniforms; a clerk to
cope with interminable correspondence; an accountant to wrestle with
complicated accounts. He must be an architect and builder to direct and
oversee the erection and repair of the barracks, which is done by the
sepoys themselves. Bad for him if he is not a good business man, for he
must often give out contracts for hundreds or thousands of pounds, and
see that they are properly carried out. A lawyer, to sit on or preside
at courts martial, or to administer the law to civilians as Cantonment
Magistrate. And sometimes it falls to his lot to replace the chaplain in
a military Station, read the lessons in church, or, perhaps, the Burial
Service over the grave of a comrade.

Next morning the detachment of Punjabis marched off; and as we watched
their files disappear down the winding mountain road, we three
Britishers certainly felt a little isolated and cut off from our kind.
Before the small column passed the last bend which would hide them from
our eyes, the major turned to wave us a cheery farewell. Poor fellow,
not long after, when in command of his regiment, he died of cholera in
Benares.

However, our depression was momentary; and we turned away to begin
making ourselves acquainted with our new surroundings. Buxa Duar stands
guard over one of the gates of India, which opens into it from the
little-known country of Bhutan. It commands a pass through the Himalayas
into the fertile plains of Eastern Bengal, a pass that has run with
blood many a time in the past. Through it fierce raiders have poured to
the laying waste of the rich plains below. Back through it weeping women
and weary children have passed to slavery in a savage land. And were the
strong hand of Briton lifted from it, its jungle-clad hills would see
again the blood-dyed columns of fighting men and the sad processions of
wailing captives. To-day its gloomy depths are peaceful. But to-morrow,
when the menace of a regenerated and aggressive China becomes real, its
rocky walls may once more echo to the sounds of war.

Three thousand feet above our heads, two miles away in a straight line,
but six by the winding mule track, lay the boundary-line between the
Indian Empire and Bhutana--a line that runs along the mountain tops and
rarely fringes the plains. It curves round the northern slopes of the
conical hill that towers above Buxa, Sinchula, the "Hill of the Misty
Pass."

Buxa Duar has been the scene of fierce fighting even in the short
history of England's rule in India. It was first taken by the British
from the Bhutanese in the days of Warren Hastings, when in 1772 Captain
Jones and his small column of sepoys swept them back into their
mountainous land. It was given back the following year. In 1864 we again
went to war with Bhutan and captured Buxa; and, although throughout the
winter of that year, our troops were closely besieged in it, it has
remained in our possession ever since. Formerly garrisoned by a whole
regiment, it is now occupied merely by a double company--two hundred
men--of an Indian Infantry battalion. They are the only troops between
the Bhutan border and Calcutta--three hundred miles away.

In all my wanderings I have seldom seen a lovelier spot than this lonely
outpost. Nestling in the little hollow on the giant Himalayas, its few
bungalows stood in gardens flaming with the brilliant colours of
bougainvillias and poinsettias, surrounded by hedges of wild roses, and
shaded by clusters of tall bamboos and the dense foliage of mango trees.
The encircling arms of the mountains held it closely pressed. The jungle
clothed the steep slopes around it, and rioted to our very doors. No
sound disturbed its peace, save the shrill notes of our bugles or the
chattering of monkeys by day, and the sudden harsh cry of barking deer
or the monotonous bell-like note of the night-jar after the sun had set.

The building dignified by the name of fort was in reality an irregular
square of one-storied stone barracks, their outer faces and
iron-shuttered windows loopholed for rifle fire. They were connected by
a low stone wall pierced with three gateways, closed at night or on an
alarm by iron gates, which slid into place on wheels. The fort was built
on a knoll, which on three sides fell perpendicularly for two or three
hundred feet in rocky precipices from ten to forty yards from the walls.
On the north face it was only about fifty feet above the parade ground,
which was a levelled space two hundred yards long and a hundred broad.
This served also for hockey and as a rifle-range; the targets being
placed in tiers up the steep hill-side on the east end.

Standing at the front gate and looking northwards towards the mountains,
one saw the ground rise sharply to the foot of Sinchula. Dotted about
among the trees and set round with orchid-studded, low stone walls or
flowering hedges, were four or five single-storied bungalows.

The lowest and nearest to the parade ground of these was the Commanding
Officer's Quarters, which I occupied. Higher up to the right, and
separated from mine by a deep ravine crossed by a little wooden bridge,
was an empty house, known as Married Officers' Quarters. Behind it was a
long wooden building raised on pillars, the forest officer's bungalow,
to shelter that official in his annual visit. Around it were a few
bamboo huts for his native clerks. Past my quarters ran the mountain
road which climbed the steep sides of Sinchula, and, degenerating into
a narrow mule track, wound round it to the Bhutan frontier. Near my
house it was shaded by mango trees which, when the fruit was ripe, were
very popular with the wild monkeys. To preserve the mangoes for
ourselves, I was then obliged to station a sentry on the road at
daybreak to keep the marauders off. In my garden stood a very large
mango tree, up which I used in the season to send a small Bhuttia boy to
gather the fruit. One day he found a large monkey there before him. It
attacked him savagely and I was obliged to shoot it to save him from its
fury.

A hundred feet above my house and on the left of the road stood in a
terraced garden the Officers' Mess, occupied by my subaltern and the
doctor. And three hundred feet higher still was the last building in
Buxa, the Circuit House, intended as a court-house and temporary
residence for any civil official who should chance to come there on
duty. The three white square towers, which stood on the spurs running
down from Sinchula were known as the Picquet Towers, and, conspicuous
against the dark mountains could be seen for many miles from the plains
below. They were intended to contain in war time small parties of the
garrison and hold points which commanded the fort at close range. From
one above the east face of the fort even arrows could be shot into the
interior of our defences; so its possession was a necessity to us. They
were strongly built of stone and loopholed, the door eight feet from the
ground, and reached by a ladder, windowless, the only light coming from
the loopholes. To the west of the fort beyond the mountain road and
behind another spur, was the bazaar or native town, which consisted
of a dozen wooden huts, and three or four brick houses, in which lived
the few _bunniahs_ or merchants who resided there to trade grain, salt,
and cloth, with the Bhutanese across the border. There were hardly
thirty natives in the bazaar, comprising our whole civil population. The
"shops" in the one tiny street contained little of use, even for our
sepoys' frugal needs, and nothing for ours; so that anything we required
had to be sent for from Calcutta--a day and a night by train.

[Illustration: BUXA DUAR.
My bungalow in the foreground; the Officers' Mess among the trees.]

[Illustration: "THE FORT WAS BUILT ON A KNOLL."]

Beside the bazaar was the European cemetery, a mournful enclosure which
was dotted with ruinous tombstones of British officers who had been
killed or died of disease in this solitary outpost. The most recent
grave was that of a former forest officer of Rajabhatkawa who, unable to
bear the loneliness of his isolated life, had shot himself in his house
in the jungle below. But before our detachment left Buxa another grave
was dug here to hold the body of a young captain of my regiment. Though
he died of disease, with no doctor there at the time to attend him, yet
it was in reality loneliness that killed him; for, depressed by the
solitude, he had no heart in him to fight against illness. But the
far-flung boundaries of England's Empire are marked everywhere by graves
like his.

From the south wall of the fort the ground fell in wooded spurs and
rocky cliffs to the forest fifteen hundred feet below. East and west the
interminable miles of trees ran on beyond the range of sight, clothing
the foot-hills and climbing the steep mountain sides. Here and there a
light green island in the darker-hued sea of foliage showed where a tea
garden lay in a clearing, the iron-roofed factories, and the planters'
bungalows visible through a field-glass. But to the south, beyond the
clearly defined edge of the forest, the cultivated plains of Eastern
Bengal stretched unbroken to Calcutta--three hundred miles away.
South-west, in the Rains when the Indian atmosphere is clearest, we
could see the Garo Hills fifty miles away in Assam, lying beyond the
broad Brahmaputra where it flows to join the Ganges and pour their
united waters through a hundred mouths into the Bay of Bengal--close on
four hundred miles to the south of us.



CHAPTER II

LIFE ON OUTPOST

    The daily routine--Drill in the Indian Army--Hindustani--A
        lingua franca--The divers tongues of India--The sepoys'
        lodging--Their ablutions--An Indian's fare--An Indian
        regiment--Rajput customs--The hospital--The doctor at
        work--Queer patients--A vicious bear--The Officers'
        Mess--Plain diet--Water--The simple life--A bachelor's
        establishment--A faithful Indian--Fighting the
        trusts--Transport in the hills--My bungalow--Amusements
        in Buxa--Dull days--Asirgarh--A lonely
        outpost--Poisoning a General--A storied
        fortress--Soldier ghosts--A spectral officer--The
        tragedy of isolation--A daring panther--A day on an
        elephant--Sport in the jungle--_Gooral_ stalking in the
        hills--Strange pets--A friendly deer--A terrified
        visitor--A walking menagerie--Elephants tame and
        wild--Their training--Their caution--Their rate of
        speed--Fondness for water--Quickly reconciled to
        captivity--Snakes--A narrow escape--A king-cobra; the
        hamadryad--Hindu worship of the cobra--General Sir
        Hamilton Bower--An adventurous career--E. F.
        Knight--The General's inspection.

            "Why, soldiers, why should we be melancholy, boys,
             Whose business 'tis to die?"


With the easy philosophy of the soldier we three officers settled down
rapidly in our new surroundings--new at least to my subaltern Creagh and
me. Life was a little monotonous; but we did not grumble more than the
Briton considers is his right. Our daily existence did not vary much.
Before the sun had risen above the Picquet Towers, my white-robed
Mohammedan servant woke me to the labours of the day, as the bugles in
the fort were sounding the "dress for parade." Moving noiselessly about
the room on bare feet he placed on a small table beside my camp bed, the
_chota hazri_ or "little breakfast," the light refreshment of tea,
toast, and fruit with which the good Anglo-Indian begins the morning.
The bad one prefers whisky-and-soda. Then my servitor laid out for me
the dull khaki uniform which in India, except on occasions of ceremony,
replaces the gayer garb of the soldier in England.

Morning and afternoon we drilled our men, watched them at musketry on
the rifle-range, or practised them in mountain warfare up the steep
slopes.

We found it difficult to manoeuvre off the parade ground, as the hills
around were mostly covered with such tangled jungle that one had to hack
a passage through it with a _kukri_ or a _dah_.[1] The drill of the
Indian Army is precisely the same as for British troops. The words of
command are invariably given in English, while only the explanations of
movements are made in the vernacular. Thus in action an officer ignorant
of Hindustani could take command of a native regiment in a crisis when
all its white officers had been killed. Hindustani is a lingua franca
invented in India by the Mohammedan armies of invasion from the north
for intercourse with the peoples of the many conquered States. It is
really a camp language made up of Sanscrit, Persian, Hindi and many
other tongues. Even some military words, such as "_cartouche_,"
"_tambour_," have been borrowed from the French, owing to so many French
adventurers having taken service in the armies of native princes in past
times. Nowadays the English terms for military things or new inventions
are adopted as they stand. Hindustani or Urdu is by no means
universally understood in India, though most Mohammedans throughout the
Peninsula have some knowledge of it; for nearly every race has its own
separate language or dialect and there are probably a hundred and fifty
different tongues spoken in our Indian Empire. Urdu, however, is a _sine
qua non_ for the British officer of the native army; and he has to pass
at least two examinations, the Lower and the Higher Standard, in it. But
in addition he must also qualify in the particular language spoken by
the majority of men in his regiment. A subaltern in a Gurkha regiment,
for instance, must pass in Gurkhali, in a Mahratta regiment in Mahratti;
and so on.

After morning parade I held orderly room, disposed of any
prisoners--rare things in the Indian Army--and took reports from the
native officers commanding the companies. Then I went to my office
where, such is the amount of accounts and correspondence in the Service,
I found at least two hours' work. Then I visited the hospital and went
on to inspect the lines, as the barracks of native troops are called.
The Indian sepoy is not luxuriously lodged. The barrack-rooms in Buxa,
better and more substantial than in most places, were single-storied
stone buildings roughly paved and furnished only with the men's
belongings; for Government does not even provide them with beds. So each
of my sepoys had fitted himself out with a _charpoy_ or native cot, a
four-legged wooden bedstead with a string network bottom which makes a
comfortable couch. On this lay his _dhurri_ or carpet, and his blankets.
Overhead on a rough shelf stood his canvas kit-bag containing his
clothing, while on pegs hung his belt, bayonet, and _puggri_ or turban.
Such luxuries as basins and baths are unknown to the sepoy. He strips to
his waist-cloth and even in the coldest weather washes himself under a
stand-pipe or pours water over his body from his _lotah_ or small brass
vessel which he always carries to drink from or use for his ablutions.
In personal cleanliness most Indian races are surpassed only by the
Japanese; and my men were either Mohammedans or Rajputs whose religions
enjoin frequent ablutions.

From the barrack-rooms I passed on to the sepoys' cooking-places. In the
Indian Army rations in peace-time are not provided for the men; but,
instead, they are given a certain allowance of money above their pay
known as "compensation for dearness of provisions." This helps them to
purchase their food, which consists in general of _chupatties_ or cakes
of flour and water, supplemented by _ghee_ or clarified butter, various
grain-stuffs, curry and sometimes a little meat. Many races eat rice
instead of flour. Their method of cooking is primitive. A hole scratched
in the ground and a couple of stones make the _chula_ or fireplace, in
which burn a few bits of wood or a handful of dry twigs. The sepoy mixes
his _atta_, or flour, into a paste with a little water in a large brass
dish, rolls it into balls and flattens them out into thin cakes on a
convex iron plate over the fire, the result being something like crisp,
thick pancakes. Having made a pile of these he grinds between stones
various spices, such as turmeric, chillies, onions and poppy seed,
moistened with water to make his curry, adds some cooked vegetables or a
raw onion, and his simple meal is ready.

Among Hindus, men of different castes cook and eat apart. A Brahmin must
have his separate fireplace, prepare his own food and eat alone. Other
castes are not so particular and can employ cooks. In an Indian regiment
each company or double company is generally composed of men of one race;
and Government allows and pays two cooks and a _bhisti_ or water-carrier
to each company, these menials, with Hindus, being necessarily of the
same caste as the sepoys they serve. Thus in my own battalion we have a
double company of Rajputs, one of Gujars, and one of Rawats--all these
being Hindus. The fourth is composed of Mohammedans. Each company is
officered by men of their own caste, a _Subhedar_ or captain, and a
_Jemadar_ or lieutenant; and every two companies are under a double
company commander and a double company officer, who are British, and
with the commandant, adjutant and quartermaster make up the European
officers of the regiment.

My double company in Buxa was composed of Rajputs; but, having had to
detach signallers, bandsmen, clerks, and other employed men to go with
the headquarters to Dibrugarh, some Mussulmans were temporarily attached
to bring it up to its original strength of two hundred men. The Rajputs'
method of eating their meals is rather peculiar. Before each they must
bathe and put on a clean _dhotie_, a cotton cloth wrapped round the
waist, passing between the legs and falling to the knees. They must eat
inside the _chauka_, a space of ground marked out and swept clean. Food
which they wish to carry away and consume outside the _chauka_, as, for
instance, if they are going on a long march, must be prepared in a
particular way with water instead of _ghee_, which is generally used by
them in cooking.

In my daily visit to the hospital I would find our medical officer,
Smith, hard at work. For, besides the sick of the detachment, he had to
tend any natives from outside who chose to seek the white man's
medicine. To help him he had a young Indian sub-assistant surgeon, who,
despite the scanty medical training he had received, pined to perform
major operations. With little knowledge of surgery he wished to resort
to the knife on every possible occasion. Once, when left in sole charge
of the hospital, he determined to amputate the leg of a Bhuttia
suffering from gangrenous sores. The patient, however, was of a
different opinion and during the night stole silently from the hospital
and fled in terror across the hills to his village. Like most
mountaineers the Bhuttias are very subject to goitre. Two out of every
three are the proud possessors of these enormous appendages, in some
cases nearly as large as the owner's head. They seemed to regard them as
ornaments, and absolutely refused to allow our medico to operate on
them. One day there was carried to the fort from Chunabatti, the only
village for miles round, a Chinaman suffering from beriberi. This man,
who knew no word of any language but his own, had made his way on foot
from China across Tibet and Bhutan over the Himalayas endeavouring to
reach Calcutta in search of work. Stricken down with this fell disease
he had lain for months in the village, living on the charity of the
Bhuttias, and was brought to our hospital only to die. Another
interesting case was a boy about seven years old who was brought in,
absolutely scalped by a blow from the paw of a bear which he had
disturbed when gathering wood in the forest. From brow to nape of neck
his skull had been left bare to the bone, in which were deep
indentations from the animal's claws. The shock of the blow would
probably have killed a European, but with the marvellous tenacity of
life among savage races, the boy soon recovered.

[Illustration: RAJPUT SEPOYS COOKING.]

[Illustration: BRITISH AND INDIAN OFFICERS.]

Our morning's work finished, we climbed up the hill for breakfast in the
Mess. This was a long, single-storied stone building with an iron roof,
erected on pillars which raised it six feet from the ground. From the
tangled wilderness of the garden, bright with the vivid colours of huge
bushes of poinsettia and bougainvillias, a flight of steps led up to the
railed veranda which ran along the front of the building, and on to
which opened the four rooms--the end ones used as quarters by Creagh and
Smith, the centre apartments being the ante-room and dining-room. I
wonder what some writers of military fiction, who prate glibly of the
luxury in which army officers live, would say to the bare rooms and
whitewashed walls of our Mess, furnished only with a few rickety tables
and unsteady chairs. Or my subaltern's abode. One room, an iron cot
borrowed from the hospital, a kitchen table, one dilapidated chair, a
tin bath, and an iron basin on an old packing-case, comprised the
sum-total of his possessions. Other furniture we could not get in Buxa;
for the nearest shops were three hundred miles away in Calcutta. Of
course, crockery, cooking-pots, glassware, linen and cutlery, we had to
provide for ourselves. These we had brought with us. Before long, by
dint of colour-washing the stone walls, hanging curtains and draperies
of native cloth, and decorating the bare walls with the heads of
animals we shot, we succeeded in making the Mess quite habitable and
cosy.

We were not much better off in the bare necessities of life. Buxa
produced little in the way of food. Chickens--more literally, hens of no
uncertain antiquity--and eggs of almost equal age were often procurable
locally. But no meat. Sometimes a Bhuttia from across the frontier
brought a goat for sale; and, although the Asiatic goat is an
abomination, yet such an occasion was a red-letter day for us. Bread was
sent us by rail from a railway refreshment-room twenty-four hours away,
and did not always arrive. Fresh vegetables we never saw until later on
we tried our prentice hands at gardening--and a sorry mess we made of
it. In the winter we could add to the pot by the help of our rifles and
guns; and venison and jungle fowl were a welcome change from the
monotony of our menus. But our staple food consisted of tinned
provisions--an expensive and wearisome diet. I dare say the British
workman would have turned up his nose at our usual fare; and I could not
blame him. Even the water supply in Buxa was a difficult question. Our
Mess got its water from a spring in the hills hundreds of yards away,
led down in bamboos to the kitchen. The fort was supplied from another
spring in the base of the hill on which it was built; and all day long
the _bhistis_[2] toiled up and down bringing the water in goatskin bags.
But a few months after our arrival the springs nearly gave out; and I
was faced with the necessity of abandoning fort and station, and moving
the military and civil population to camp on the banks of a river miles
away in the forest below, when we were saved by timely rain.

Yet despite the simple life we were leading in Buxa my monthly expenses
were more than twenty pounds for the bare necessities of existence. I
had to pay rent to Government for my bungalow, and a share of the rent
for the Mess, as well as my share of the expenses of mess-servants,
lighting, and food. My personal household consisted of my "boy" or
body-servant, a _dhobi_ or washerman, a _bhisti_ or water-carrier, a
_syce_ or groom, and my sword-orderly, a sepoy of the regiment. This
last individual, a Mussulman named Mohammed Draj Khan, had been in my
service for many years and, with the fidelity of the Indian, was
faithfully attached to me. He went with me to China in 1900 with the
Indian Expeditionary Force and returned with me again there five years
later. When I was going from Hong Kong on furlough to the United States,
Canada and Europe, I arranged for him to be given six months' leave to
his home in India. But when he heard of it Draj Khan was exceedingly
wroth.

"What? Am I not to accompany my Sahib?" he demanded indignantly.

"No; I cannot take you with me to Europe," I replied. "But I have got
you leave to go home to your wife whom you have not seen for four
years."

"Oh, my wife does not matter," was the ungallant answer; "she can wait.
But my place is with my Sahib wherever he goes."

And he has never forgiven me for not taking him; although he still
continues to serve me faithfully.

Our sepoys fared better than their British officers. We found on arrival
that the local _bunniahs_ or shop-keepers were in the habit of
supplying the men with very inferior and bad flour and other food-stuffs
and charging a high price for them, relying on the monopoly they
enjoyed. I determined to follow the example of the United States
Government and make war on trusts. So I sent my native officers to Cooch
Behar and other towns fifty miles away to purchase supplies, and ordered
flour in bulk from a mill under English management in Calcutta. I had it
sent by rail to Buxa Road Station, and conveyed thence by our elephants
and Bhuttia coolies. An elephant can carry a weight of ten or twelve
maunds--a maund being equal to eighty pounds. The sturdy Bhuttias, women
as well as men, could come up our steep road, each with a load of two
maunds on his or her back. Their burdens were fixed in two forked sticks
bound to the shoulders in such a way that when the bearers sat down the
ends of the sticks rested on the ground and supported the weight. But
when heavily laden a coolie cannot then rise to his feet unaided, unless
he first lies down, rolls over on his face, then pushes himself on to
his knees with his hands and stands up. In Chemulpo and Seoul in Corea I
have seen coolies employ a similar method of carrying their loads.

After breakfast I returned to my house to pass the hours until the
afternoon parade. After the dilapidated bungalows of most stations in
India, with their thatched roofs sheltering rats, squirrels and even
snakes, and their floors of pounded earth and decayed matting full of
fleas, ants and the myriad plagues of insect life of the East, my small
house seemed luxurious. It was built strongly of rough stone blocks to
withstand the awful mountain storms. The roof was of iron which rang
like a drum to the heavy rain and monster hailstones of the Monsoon.
It contained four small rooms with ceilings and floors of wood, each
with its fireplace. For during the winter we found it cold enough to
have fires going day and night, the jungle around furnishing us with an
ample supply of fuel. The meagre furniture which I had bought from the
major of the Punjabis was soon supplemented with a few more articles
sent from Calcutta. The little garden contained mango trees and a tree
bearing the huge and evil-smelling jack-fruit, of which natives are very
fond, though its sickening odour and oversweet taste repel most
Europeans. The hedges around my compound were of wild roses. At one side
stood my stable and the stone outhouses in which my servants lived; for
in India the domestics are not lodged in the bungalow.

[Illustration: MY DOUBLE COMPANY.]

[Illustration: MY BACHELOR ESTABLISHMENT.]

The afternoon was occupied with drills, signalling practice and military
lectures to the non-commissioned officers.

Buxa offered scant amusement within its limits to us Britishers. We had
hockey-matches with the men two or three times a week. Creagh, being a
keen golfer, tried to make miniature links about the fort; but, after
losing six balls in his first game in the jungle around, he gave it up.
We turned our attention to tennis. A comparatively level space hewed out
of the mountain-side was fixed on as a court. Rocks four or five feet
high were dug out of it; and the elephants were employed for days in
bringing up earth from the plains below to spread on it. But more rocks
seemed to grow in it and shove their heads through the thin covering of
mould, grass came in thick, wiry patches; and altogether our tennis
court could not be pronounced a success.

Evening brought with it the dullest hours of the day. The Calcutta
newspaper, which arrived by post every afternoon, was soon read; and the
English journals sent to us from regimental headquarters were a month
old. None of us were keen card players. Our library was small; and, as
light literature, drill books soon cease to charm. Our daily life was
too uneventful to afford many subjects of conversation; and as topics
the incompetency of Naik Chandu Singh or the slackness on parade of
Sepoy Pem Singh were not engrossing. England seemed too far away for the
discussion of its politics to interest us. The pitiable limitations of
men as talkers was painfully evident. Not being women we had no
ever-ready subjects of conversation in dress, babies and servants'
misdemeanours; and we could not talk scandal about ourselves. So, after
the meagre dinner that our Gurkha cook contrived out of the athletic hen
or tinned sausage, we threw ourselves into long chairs around the fire;
Creagh betook himself to the study of military books for his forthcoming
examination for promotion, and the doctor and I thumbed tattered novels
we had read a dozen times.

But Buxa was not the loneliest spot in which I have been quartered. As a
subaltern I was stationed alone for many months in Asirgarh in the
Central Provinces, an old Indian fortress on a hill lost in the jungle.
That was solitude itself. My nearest European neighbour was forty miles
away. I saw no white face and spoke no word of English for months at a
time. Once a year a General was supposed to pay it the compliment of an
official inspection, although the garrison consisted only of a British
subaltern and fifty sepoys. But I think that after one occasion when the
General and his staff officers nearly died on my hands of ptomaine
poisoning--really contracted on their journey thither, but ascribed by
the uncharitable among my friends to my base devices and resentment at
having my peace disturbed by this officious intrusion--this duty grew
out of favour with generals who valued their lives. This detachment has
since been abolished.

The fortress was wonderfully interesting, with a history reaching back
to the eighth century. It had passed through the hands of the various
masters of India in turn, and every stone of its walls had a story to
tell. Taken by the British from the Maharajah of Gwalior twice, it
remained in our possession from 1818, and was formerly garrisoned by a
company of Artillery, a British regiment and a wing of a native
battalion. Fallen from its high estate, a subaltern and half a company
were considered enough for it in my time. And the subaltern combined in
his own person the important offices of Commandant of Asirgarh Fortress,
officer commanding the troops, officer in charge of military treasure
chest, Cantonment Magistrate third class, and Church Trustee. For inside
the fort were a Protestant Church in disused barracks, a ruined Catholic
Chapel on the altar of which wild monkeys perched, and two cemeteries
full of graves of English dead. The post was a lonely one for a young
officer. I lived in the only habitable European building, formerly the
general hospital, for which I paid twenty-four pounds a year to
Government. The dead house was just outside my bedroom window. The
interior of the fort, the fifty-feet-high walls of which were a mile and
a half in circumference, was crowded with the ruins of an ancient
palace, a large mosque, an old Moghul prison with wonderful underground
passages and cells, and--most depressing of all--the gaunt wrecks of
English bungalows with bare rafters and tattered ceiling-cloths. A fit
habitation for ghosts. And ghosts there were. No native would venture
about the fort alone at night. Weird tales had my sepoys to tell of the
_Shaitans_ and _bhuts_, as they termed the spectral beings that wandered
within the walls in the dark hours and were seen again and again by my
men. They invariably took the form of British soldiers. And actually one
night when I was miles away out shooting in the jungle the sentry at the
gate turned out the guard to an approaching white officer, whom he took
to be me. The whole guard, eleven men in all, swore next day to the
ghostly visitant.

Few English folk at home, who fondly picture an officer's life in India
as one long round of social gaieties, of polo, sport, races and balls,
realise the tragedies of loneliness of many who serve the Empire. Of the
dreary solitude of a military police post in the jungles of Burma, of a
fort on the Indian frontier, where a young subaltern lives for months,
for years, alone. A boy brought up in the comfort of an English home,
used to the pleasant fellowship of a regimental mess, is there condemned
to isolation from his kind, to food that a pauper would reject, and a
lodging a cottager would scorn. Should one of the many diseases of India
lay its grisly hand on him he is far from medical aid. He must fight his
illness alone, lying unattended in his comfortless quarters. Outside, a
pitiless sun in a sky of brass pours down its rays on the glaring,
shadowless desert. Inside, the droning whine of the punkah mocks him
throughout the weary day, as it scarcely stirs the heated air. Night
brings only the more terrible hours of darkness when sleep is banished
from the tired eyes and the fever-racked brain knows no relief. Small
wonder that too often in his agony he seeks death by his own hand. I
have gone through the hell of sickness in a lonely post, when day after
day the awful pains of jungle fever tortured me and night brought no
relief. I have known what it is to gaze in my delirium at my revolver
and think it the kindly friend that alone could end my misery, until a
sane moment made me realise that its touch meant death and I had it
taken away from me. But I have known, too, many a poor fellow to whom
that saving interval of sanity was denied, to whom a bullet through the
tortured brain brought oblivion.

In comparison with Asirgarh, Buxa was quite a gay place. I was seldom
alone in it, and generally had at least one other white man with me. We
were kept in touch with the outside world by a telegraph line, which,
however, was constantly being broken by trees blown down by storms or
uprooted by elephants. Once a day a sturdy little Bhuttia postman toiled
up the hill with our letters. "His Majesty's Mail" carried for his
protection a short spear with bells on it to scare wild beasts; but this
did not save him from being occasionally stopped by wild elephants and
once being treed by a tiger. For sport we had to descend to the forest;
though sometimes a barking deer wandered into our gardens from the
jungle, and from the Mess veranda we shot a couple on the hill-side
across a deep _nullah_ or ravine.

Between my bungalow and the Married Officers' Quarters ran another
_nullah_. Occasionally, when there was no moon, a panther used to wander
down it, calling like a cat in the darkness which was too intense to
allow me a shot at the animal. When we came to Buxa we had wondered why
the windows of our houses were covered with strong wire netting, and
were inclined to be sceptical when told that this was to keep predatory
beasts out. But the Punjabi subaltern had been awakened one night by the
noise of some animal moving about his room in the Mess, he having left
his door open. He seized a handful of matches, struck them and saw a
panther scared by the sudden blaze dash out through the door. And twice
during our sojourn in Buxa did a similar thing happen.

This particular panther, for we assumed that it was always the same
animal, haunted the Station and preyed on the dogs in the bazaar. One
day on the road just below the fort it met one of my sepoys who promptly
climbed the nearest tree and remained in the topmost branches until his
shouts brought some other men to the rescue. Once at night I was roused
from sleep by wild cries from a Bhuttia's hut on the spur above our Mess
and learned on inquiry that the panther had carried off his dog. Another
time, in brilliant moonlight, an Indian doctor then in medical charge of
the detachment, who lived in the bungalow next to mine, saw the beast
sitting in the small garden intently watching the door of an outhouse in
which a milch-goat was kept shut up. The doctor ran indoors to fetch his
gun and had an unsuccessful shot at it as it jumped the hedge. Needless
to say we made many efforts to compass its death. One night it killed a
goat tied up as a bait to a tree within fifteen yards of the fort and
was wounded by a native officer waiting for it behind the wall. Yet not
long afterwards it climbed into the fort at night and carried off a
sepoy's dog. Many a time I sat up in a tree over a bleating goat in the
moonlight, but always in vain; and I suppose that panther still lives to
afford sport to our successors in Buxa.

Life was well worth living on the days when we could descend into the
forest for a shoot. At dawn we started down the three miles of steep
road to Santrabari where the elephants awaited us. For work in the
jungle these animals, instead of the howdahs or cage-like structures
with seats which they carry on shoots in fairly open country, have only
their pads, thick, straw-stuffed mattresses bound on their backs by
stout ropes. For in dense forest howdahs would soon be swept off. When
we arrived at the Peelkhana the _mahouts_ made the huge beasts kneel
down, or we clambered up, either by hauling oneself up by the tail,
aided by one foot on the hind leg held up for the purpose at the
driver's command, or by catching hold of the ears from the front and
standing on the curled-up trunk which then raised us up on to the
elephant's head. One either sat sideways on the pad or astride above the
shoulders and behind the _mahout_ who rode on the neck with his bare
feet behind the ears. Then our giant steeds lumbered off into the forest
with an awkward, disjointed stride which is sorely trying to the novice.
And sitting upright with nothing to rest the back against for eight
hours or more, shaken violently all the time by the jerky motion, is
decidedly tiring. Prepared for beast or bird, each of us carried a rifle
and a shot-gun, and, separating from the others, went his own way
through the forest. Sometimes a _sambhur_, the big Indian stag, was the
bag; sometimes a wild boar. Perhaps a _khakur_, the small, alert barking
deer, of which the flesh is infinitely more tender than a _sambhur's_,
or a few jungle fowl, rewarded our efforts. We carried with us food and
water for the day and did not return until evening. Then, after leaving
the elephants at the Peelkhana, came the fifteen-hundred-feet climb up
the steep road to Buxa. And in a long chair in the Mess the fatigues of
the day were forgotten in the pleasure of recounting every incident of
the sport.

Sometimes we went out among the hills around us to stalk _gooral_, an
active little wild goat. Clambering up the almost sheer sides of the
mountains or clinging to the faces of rugged precipices while carrying a
heavy rifle was a toilsome task; and too often, after a long and
perilous climb, did I arrive in sight of the quarry only to see it
disappear in bounding flight over the cliffs.

[Illustration: A KNEELING ELEPHANT.]

In our excursions into the forest or by purchase from natives we
gradually gathered together a varied collection of pets to solace our
loneliness. At different times I possessed half a dozen barking deer
fawns, one of which became an institution in Buxa. Scorning confinement
she insisted on being allowed to wander loose about the Station, and,
soon getting to know the sepoys' meal hours, visited the fort regularly.
She was punctual in her attendance at tea-time in my bungalow, being
exceedingly fond of buttered toast, and always claiming her share of
mine. More than once I have only just been in time to save her from the
rifle of one of our rare visitors who, seeing her on the hill-side, took
her to be wild. A small green parrot which I had similarly objected
to being shut up and flew freely about the Station. From wherever it
happened to be its quick eye always marked my servant bringing my
afternoon meal to the bungalow from the kitchen; and, having a strange
liking for hot tea, it used to fly in through the open door of my
sitting-room and perch on my head. It was little use my objecting to
this familiarity; for, if I attempted to dislodge it, it would stick its
claws into my scalp and hold on to my ear by its sharp beak until I let
it drink from my cup. Its propensity for swooping down in the open on
any white man was sometimes alarming to strangers. Once a certain civil
official visitor to Buxa who was jocularly reputed to be overfond of
alcohol and never far from the verge of delirium tremens was approaching
my bungalow when the parrot swept down on him and tried to alight on his
hat. Uncertain as to the reality of the vision circling around his head,
our visitor uttered a cry of terror and tried to brush the phantom aside
until I laughingly assured him that it was a real bird. He revenged
himself afterwards by encouraging the parrot in a depraved taste for
whisky.

In my afternoon walks I used to be accompanied by a small menagerie. Two
small barking deer stepped daintily behind me, their long ears twitching
incessantly. A monkey loped on all fours ahead, now and then stopping to
sit down and scratch himself thoughtfully. A bear cub shambled along,
playing with my dogs and being occasionally rolled over by a combined
rush of riotous puppies. On our return to the bungalow we would be
greeted by no less than five cats; while from its perch on the veranda a
young hornbill, scarcely feathered and possessing a beak almost as big
as its body, would survey us with a cold and glassy stare from its
unwinking eyes. Once in a beat in the forest my orderly caught a
_sambhur_ fawn which he bore, shrieking piteously, in his arms to me. In
a day or two it was perfectly tame, fed from my hand, and insisted on
sleeping on my bed. It was killed by a snake shortly afterwards.

I might almost include in our list of pets our three Government
elephants, of which we became very fond. They were named Jhansi,
Dundora, and Khartoum. I generally used the last in the jungle; though
when looking for dangerous game I preferred Dundora. Jhansi was a
frivolous and unsteady young lady of forty years of age; and shooting
from her back was impossible. I soon learned to drive them, sitting on
their necks and guiding them by pressing my feet behind the ears, as the
_mahouts_ do. I was sometimes called on to doctor them; and had to
perform almost a surgical operation on Jhansi, when wounded by a wild
elephant out in the jungle. I had fortunately been taught how to treat
their ailments when doing veterinary work in a transport course some
years before. Elephants are somewhat delicate animals and liable to a
multiplicity of diseases. Accustomed in the wild state to shelter from
the noonday heat in thick forests, they suffer greatly if worked in a
hot sun and get sore feet if obliged to tramp along hard roads.
Domesticated elephants are generally very gentle and docile; though
males in a state of _musth_ often become very dangerous. Contrary to the
usually received opinion they are not intelligent; but they are very
obedient. At the word of command they will kneel, rise, pick up an
article from the ground or lift a man on to their necks. When a _mahout_
is gathering fodder for his charge and sees suitable leaves out of reach
at the top of a small tree, he orders his elephant to break the tree
down. This it does by curling up its trunk and pressing its forehead
with all its weight behind it against the stem and thus uprooting it.
When crossing a stream they try to sound the depth with their trunks. A
bridge they attempt cautiously with one foot, and, if not satisfied with
its strength, will resolutely refuse to trust themselves on it. Though
good at climbing up steep slopes they are the reverse when descending.
On the level they are fast for a short distance only; but they can cover
many miles in the day when travelling. They are excellent swimmers and
are very fond of water. In the wild state they bathe whenever they can;
and tame elephants thoroughly enjoy being taken into the river and lie
in the shallows with a look of blissful content while their _mahouts_
wash them and scrub them with bricks. It is extraordinary how quickly
they become used to captivity. In a few days they let their keepers feed
them, mount them and take them to water. I have seen two, caught only
four months before, being driven in a beat for a tiger; and when he was
wounded and broke back into thick jungle they followed him
unhesitatingly at their _mahouts'_ command.

Like all hill-places Buxa was full of snakes. One night in the hot
weather when dining on the veranda, we found a viper climbing up the
rough stone wall of the Mess just behind our chairs. We vacated our
seats promptly and killed it with long bamboos. Another evening I
discovered one on my veranda. Once when camped in the forest with my
detachment, the officer who was then with me and I were sitting at a
small table having tea when one of the native officers came up. I had a
chair brought for him and he sat talking to us until dusk came. My
servant placed a lighted lamp on the table. Suddenly the native officer
who was sitting a few yards from me said quietly:

"Do not move, Sahib. There is a snake under your chair; and if you try
to stand up you may tread on it."

It was difficult to obey him and remain motionless; but, as it was the
wisest thing to do, I sat quietly until I saw a small and very poisonous
viper emerge between my feet and wriggle off. Then I jumped up, seized
the lamp from the table and a cane from my native officer and killed it.

In Buxa one afternoon when I happened to be inspecting the bazaar a
native ran up in a state of great excitement to inform me that a "_bahut
burra samp_," a _very_ large snake, was climbing up the precipice on the
west side of the hill on which the bazaar stood. I went with him and
found two or three Bhuttias looking over the edge at an enormous serpent
which was making its way up the steep face, clinging to projecting rocks
and bushes. From its size I took it to be a python, which is not
poisonous and kills its prey only by compression. We waited until the
snake had got its head and a third of its length over the brink and fell
upon it with sticks and clubbed it to death. I had it carried to my
bungalow where I measured it and found it to be fifteen feet two inches
in length. Preparatory to skinning it, I compared it with the coloured
plates in a book on Indian reptiles and found to my horror that it was
a king-cobra or hamadryad, the most dreaded and dangerous ophidian in
Asia. It is very venomous and wantonly attacks human beings; so that it
was fortunate for us that we had caught it at a disadvantage. There is a
recorded instance of one chasing and overtaking a man on a pony. It is
generally to be found only in the forests of Eastern Bengal, Assam, and
Burmah.

When one considers the enormous number of snakes in India it is
surprising how seldom they are seen. This is due to their rarely
venturing out in the daytime. But I have killed one with my sword when
returning from a morning parade in Bhuj and another, a black cobra five
feet nine inches long, in my bathroom in Asirgarh. Few Europeans ever
get over their instinctive horror of these reptiles; but the natives,
thousands of whom die every year from snake-bite owing to their going
about with bare feet and legs at night, have not the same dread of them.
In fact Hindus hold the cobra sacred, and have an annual festival, the
Nagpanchmai, in its honour. I have seen in Cutch the Rao (or Rajah) of
that State go in solemn procession on that day to worship it in a
temple, accompanied by his strangely-uniformed troops, which included
soldiers in steel caps and chain mail walking on stilts. They were
supposed to be prepared to fight in the salt deserts and sandy wastes
which surround Cutch.

Our first visitors from the outside world reached Buxa about a month
after our arrival. They were General Bower, commanding the Assam Brigade
to which we belonged, and his staff officer, come for the annual
inspection of the detachment. Brigadier-General (now Major-General Sir
Hamilton) Bower is a man whose paths have lain in strange places and
whose career reads like a book of adventures. A keen sportsman and a
daring explorer of untrodden ways, he was as a captain ordered by the
Government of India to pursue the Mohammedan murderer of an English
traveller, Dalgleish, through the savage wilds of Central Asia. For
months he chased the assassin through sterile regions where no European
had ever before set foot and at last hounded him into the hands of the
Russians at Samarcand where he killed himself in jail. His capture was
necessary to show the lawless tribesmen of Central Asia that a price
must be paid for a white man's blood and that the arm of our Government
could reach an Englishman's slayer in any land. Readers of E. F.
Knight's fascinating book, "Where Three Empires Meet" will remember the
author's meeting with Captain Bower in Kashmir in 1891, after the
latter's successful pursuit of this murderer, Dad Mohammed. Bower was
then starting on his celebrated journey from India overland to China,
which he has described in his work "Across Tibet." And since those days
his life has not been tame. Ordered to raise a regiment of Chinamen to
garrison Wei-hai-wei, he landed in Shanghai with one follower and soon
brought a corps of Northern Chinese into being, which, in two years
after its raising, fought splendidly in the bloody struggles around
Tientsin in the Boxer War of 1900. He afterwards commanded the British
Legation Guard in Pekin and found ample scope for all his tact and good
temper in the intercourse with the officers of the Guards of other
nationalities in the Chinese capital.

He spent three days with us; and though his inspection was thorough, and
entailed fatiguing manoeuvres through jungle I had hitherto regarded as
impenetrable and up mountains I had considered unscaleable, we were
sorry when his visit terminated. As a rule one does not hail a General's
inspection as a pleasant function. But General Bower proved the
pleasantest and most interesting visitor we ever had. Tired of our own
thrice-told tales we revelled in the interesting conversation of a man
who had seen and done so much in his adventurous career, who had
journeyed along untrodden ways, had fought strange foes and carried his
life in his hand in wild lands where no king's writ runs. We talked much
of Knight, whom I have the good fortune to know, a man who, like the
General, might be the hero of a boy's book of romance. His life had been
equally adventurous. He fought for the French in 1870, and against them
later in Madagascar. In a small yacht he crossed the Atlantic and
visited most countries in South America. In his wanderings beyond the
frontier of India he came in for the difficult little Hunza-Nagar
campaign and fought in it. Author, traveller, war-correspondent, amateur
soldier, he has been everywhere, seen and done everything. And, simple
and courageous, he is a type of the adventurers who made England great.
Romance is not dead while such men as he and Bower live.

With a General on official inspection one is inclined to speed the
parting guest; but as General Bower waved his farewell to us from the
back of the elephant which was carrying him downhill we were sorry to
part with him, and all three hoped to meet him the following year again
in Buxa. But when he came I alone was left. Smith had gone to Calcutta,
and Creagh was commanding another detachment of the regiment in the
heart of Tibet, even farther from civilisation than Buxa.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Heavy native knives.

[2] Water-carriers.



CHAPTER III

THE BORDERLAND OF BHUTAN

    The races along our North-East Border--Tibet--The
        Mahatmas--Nepal--Bhutan--Its geography--Its
        founder--Its Government--Religious rule--Analogy
        between Bhutan and old Japan--_Penlops_ and
        _Daimios_--The Tongsa _Penlop_--Reincarnation of the
        Shaptung Rimpoche--China's claim to Bhutan--Capture of
        the Maharajah of Cooch Behar--Bogle's mission--Raids
        and outrages--The Bhutan War of 1864-5--The Duars--The
        annual subsidy--Bhutan to-day--Religion--An
        impoverished land--Bridges--Soldiers in Bhutan--The
        feudal system--Administration of justice--Tyranny of
        officials--The Bhuttias--Ugly women--Our neighbours in
        Buxa--A Bhuttia festival--Archery--A banquet--A
        dance--A Scotch half-caste--Chunabatti--Nature of the
        borderland--Disappearing rivers--The Terai--Tea
        gardens--A planter's life--The club--Wild beasts in the
        path--The Indian planters--Misplaced sympathy--The tea
        industry--Profits and losses--Planters' salaries--Their
        daily life--Bhuttia raids on tea gardens--Fearless
        planters--An unequal fight.


Along the North-East Frontier of India lie numerous States and races of
which the average Britisher is very ignorant. Of late years Tibet has
bulked largely in the public eye owing to international and diplomatic
intrigues and our little war with it in 1904. But, previously, it was
probably best known to the Man in the Street as the country from which
according to the Theosophists, "the Mahatmas come from." They must all
have deserted it long since; for I never met anyone who had been in
Tibet who had ever heard of them there. Travellers like General Bower
who had journeyed through the land from end to end, officers of the
Anglo-Indian Army that made its way to Lhasa, others of my regiment who
had lived in Gyantse, learned to speak the language and mixed much with
the people, were all ignorant of the existence of these mysterious and
supernaturally gifted beings.

Nepal is best known as the country which supplies us with the popular
little Gurkha soldiers. But Bhutan, which lies along our Indian border,
is scarcely known even by name to the crowd. Yet, as long ago as in the
days of Warren Hastings, we had diplomatic intercourse with it; and half
a century has not elapsed since we were at war with the Bhutanese. Yet,
to-day, there are not a dozen Englishmen who have crossed its borders.

Bhutan is an exceedingly mountainous country, twenty thousand square
miles in extent, lying along the northern boundary of Bengal and Assam,
hemmed in on the west by Sikkim, a State under our suzerainty, and on
the west and north by Tibet. A Buddhist land, its system of government
is very similar to that of Japan before the Meiji, the revolution of
1868. It was founded by a lama who, after establishing himself as
supreme ruler, handed over the control of temporal matters to a layman
and a council of elders. Until the other day the country was nominally
governed by a spiritual head, the Shaptung Rimpoche, an incarnation of
the deified founder, known in India as the Durma Raja, and a mundane
monarch whom we term the Deb Raja. They were assisted by a council. The
analogy between them and the Mikados and Shoguns of Japan was very
close. To complete it the real control of the land was practically in
the hands of feudal barons called _Penlops_, who, like the _Daimios_ of
old Japan, ruled their own territories, and, when strong enough, defied
the Central Government. For the greater part of the last century the
_Penlops_ of Tongsa were the most powerful among these. The present
holder of the title was recently elected hereditary Maharajah of Bhutan.
He is Sir Ugyen Wang-chuk, K.C.I.E.--a most enlightened man and strongly
in favour of the British. During the war of 1904 with Tibet, he placed
all his influence on our side; and, his efforts to prevent bloodshed
being unavailing, he accompanied our troops to Lhasa. The Government of
India, in recognition of his services rewarded him with the K.C.I.E.,
and a present of rifles and ammunition. When our present King-Emperor
visited India as Prince of Wales in 1906, Sir Ugyen Wang-chuk was
invited to Calcutta and saw for himself the wonders of civilisation and
learned something of the might of England. It was shortly after his
return from India that he was elected Maharajah. Though he is now the
real ruler of the country the pretence is kept up of the Government
still being in the hands of the Durma and Deb Rajas. On the death of the
incumbent of the former position, his reincarnation is sought for among
young boys throughout the land, as happens in the case of the Dalai Lama
in Tibet.

In former times China held a shadowy claim to the suzerainty of Bhutan;
and when, after our war with Tibet, we re-established her influence over
that country, the Chinese endeavoured to reassert their hold over Bhutan
as well. The Tongsa _Penlop_ preferred having the British to deal with
and in January, 1910 signed a treaty by which he placed the foreign
relations of his country under the control of the Government of India.
But otherwise Bhutan is completely independent. We do not interfere in
any way in its internal affairs; and while the Bhutanese can enter India
freely, no Britisher is allowed into their country without special
sanction from our own authorities, which is rarely given.

The first occasion on which the Indian Government was brought into
contact with Bhutan was in the time of Warren Hastings. In those days
the Bhutanese claimed sovereignty over the forest-clad plains in the
north of Eastern Bengal. In 1772 they carried off the Maharajah of Cooch
Behar as a prisoner. A small British force pursued them into the hills
and made them surrender their captive. Hastings seized the opportunity
of their suing for peace to send an Envoy, Bogle, to endeavour to
establish trading relations with Bhutan. Bogle entered the country by
way of Buxa Duar and was at first well received by the Deb Raja. He gave
a flattering account of the people and their customs in his journal; and
his description of Bhutan might almost have been written yesterday, so
little changed is it. His mission bore little fruit; and the jealousy of
strangers, inherent in all Buddhist nations, soon put a stop to any
intercourse with India. A long series of raids into our territory and
outrages on our subjects along the border was borne with exemplary
patience for many years by the East India Company. But at length the
ill-treatment of another Envoy, Eden, sent to remonstrate with the
Bhutanese, led to our declaring war on them in 1864. Taken by surprise
at first, they were driven out of their forts in the Himalayan passes;
but they soon rallied, chased one of our columns in disorder out of the
country, forcing it to abandon its guns, and penned in our garrisons in
the captured forts. But, in the following year, despite their fanatical
bravery, they were defeated finally and compelled to beg for peace. The
Indian Government deprived them of the Duars, the forest strip of
country lying along the base of the Himalayas. The word _duar_ means
"door," or "gateway," and originally referred to the passes leading
through the mountains into India. The Bhutanese pleaded that this
deprived them of their most profitable raiding ground and source of
supply of slaves. Our Government, moved by this ingenuous plea,
compensated them by the grant of an annual subsidy of fifty thousand
rupees (now equal to £3333) which has recently been raised to a lakh,
which is one hundred thousand. This sum, like similar but smaller
amounts disbursed by us to savage tribes along our frontiers, may be
regarded as either a species of blackmail or a reward of good behaviour.
Should the recipients displease us in the conduct of their relations
with other countries or should they allow their unruly young men to raid
across our borders, the payment is suspended until amends are made. It
generally has the desired effect, and saves a punitive little war. I was
surprised, however, to find that the Bhuttias inside our frontier, who
were mostly refugees from the exactions and oppression of their own
officials, attributed our paying this subsidy to fear of the might of
Bhutan, and held it up to my sepoys as a proof of the greatness of their
nation.

Bhutan to-day stands much where it has for centuries past. Its religion
is a debased lamaism and idolatry, which replace the high moral teaching
of Buddha. Its impoverished peasants and even the lay officials are
heavily taxed to support in idleness the innumerable shoals of Buddhist
monks and nuns. Praying wheels and prayer flags and the support of lamas
are, as in Tibet, all that is necessary to ensure salvation. Arts and
handicrafts are decaying. Trade is principally carried on by the
primitive method of barter. Owing to the mountainous nature of the
country cultivation is much restricted. The only coins I could find
struck in Bhutan were a silver piece worth sixpence, and a copper one
worth the sixteenth of a penny. British, Tibetan and Chinese coins are
used. Most of our annual subsidy finds its way back into India in
exchange for cloth and food-stuffs. When paid by us a large portion of
it used to go to the ecclesiastical dignitaries in the capital, Punakha,
and the rest was distributed among the various _Penlops_. The Deb
Zimpun, the official sent into our territory every year to receive it,
now hands it over to the Maharajah, who disburses it.

The roads through Bhutan are mere ill-kept mule tracks. The forests,
which are in strong contrast to the usually treeless plateaux of
Northern Tibet, though not found at the greatest elevation in the
country, are well looked after; and the regulations for their
preservation are strictly enforced. A long series of internecine wars
has ruined the land; but of late years the predominance of the Tongsa
_Penlop_ has ensured internal peace. The only buildings of note are the
temples, the _gumpas_ or large monasteries and the _jongs_ or castles,
huge rambling edifices of stone and wood. The towns mostly consist of
wooden huts. But the Bhutanese are very clever in constructing bridges
over the rivers and torrents that traverse their mountainous country.
These are sometimes marvels of engineering skill, great wooden
structures on the cantilever principle or well-constructed iron
suspension bridges, remarkable when one considers the rude appliances at
the disposal of the builders.

There is no regular army in Bhutan, each _Penlop_ and important official
maintaining his own armed retinue; but every man in the country is
liable for service. Their weapons are chiefly single-edged straight
swords and bows and arrows. The swords are practically long knives and
are universally carried as cutting tools, for use in the forests. There
are very few modern fire-arms in the country. The Deb Zimpun, in his
visit to Buxa to receive the subsidy, was accompanied by his guard of
sixty men without a gun among them. He told me that he possessed a
fowling-piece himself which he had left behind, as he had no cartridges
for it.

Although Bhutan now possesses a Maharajah, the government is still
carried on on feudal lines. The _Penlops_ rule their own territories
without much outside interference. Under them are the _jongpens_ or
commanders of _jongs_, who act as governors of districts. Each _Penlop_
has a _tarpon_ or general to command his troops. Under the _jongpens_
are lesser officials known as _tumbas_. There is no judiciary branch,
and justice is rudely administered. A murderer is punished by the loss
of a hand and being hamstrung, or sometimes is tied to the corpse of
his victim and thrown into a river or over a precipice. The exactions
of the officials drive many refugees over our border: and the hills
around Buxa were peopled almost entirely by Bhuttias who had fled from
slavery and oppression.

The Bhuttia is a cheerful, hard-working and easily contented individual.
He is naturally brave, and has the makings of a good soldier in him. He
is generally medium-sized, broad and sturdy, with thick muscular legs
such as I have only seen equalled in the chair coolies of Hong Kong and
the rickshawmen in Japan. The northern Bhutanese are fair and often
blue-eyed. Their Tibetan neighbours hold them in dread. The dress of a
Bhuttia man is simple and consists of one garment shaped like the
Japanese kimono, kilted by a girdle at the waist to leave the legs free.
Their heads and feet are generally bare. The costume of the richer folk,
except on occasions of ceremony, is very much the same; but they
generally wear stockings and shoes or long Chinese boots. But even the
Maharajah often goes barelegged. The Bhutanese women are the ugliest
specimens of femininity I have ever seen. In the south they cut their
hair shorter even than the men do. But when they can they load
themselves with ornaments of turquoises or coloured stones.

Around Buxa the Bhuttia inhabitants build, high upon the steepest hills,
villages of wooden, palm-thatched huts supported on poles which raise
them well off the ground. Their household utensils and drinking vessels
are usually made of the useful bamboo. Around their houses they scratch
up the ground and plant a little; but their chief employment is as
porters or as woodcutters in the Government forests. They never seek for
work in the tea gardens near; though on these the coolies are well paid
and have to be brought from a long distance away in India. But the
Bhuttia is essentially a hill-man; and life in the steamy heat of the
Bengal plains would be unendurable to him.

A thousand feet above Buxa, on the slopes of Sinchula, stood a hamlet of
a dozen huts. Learning that the inhabitants were celebrating a yearly
festival, Smith and I, accompanied by a native officer, set off to visit
it. As we climbed the steep hill-side we heard fiendish yells and
shrieks, and conjectured that we were coming upon a devil-dance at
least. But we only found the men of the village engaged in an archery
contest. Two targets were placed about a couple of hundred yards apart;
and a party at either end shot at them. The small marks were rarely hit,
even when we placed rupees on them to stimulate the competitors; but
most of the arrows fell very close to them. A good shot was hailed with
vociferous applause by the marksman's team, a bad one by the shrieks,
groans and derisive laughter we had heard. When the contest was over we
were invited to try our skill and luckily did not disgrace ourselves.
Then the bows of the contestants were stacked together on the ground and
hung with garlands and leafy branches. The men sat down in two lines
forming a lane to the bows; and each drew out from the breast of his
kimono a small wooden or metal cup. Several women appeared from the
village, bearing food and drink in cane baskets or gaily decorated
vessels made of bamboo. We learned that the feast lasted six days and
that each one of the principal villagers acted as host and provided the
provender a day in turn and his womenfolk dispensed his hospitality.
To-day's entertainer began the proceedings by filling his own cup,
advancing to the pile of bows, bowing profoundly before it several times
and pouring the contents of his cup on the ground. As he did so he
muttered some words. Then he turned about and walked back. The other
men, as they sat cross-legged on the ground, shouted out a long
utterance which I took to be a form of grace before meals, and ended
with a series of ear-piercing yells which would have done credit to a
pack of mad jackals. The effect of the contrast between the fiendish
noises they made and their beaming countenances was comical. Then the
hostesses passed down the lines of men, handed them platters and heaped
rice and other food on them. The cups were filled first with the
vile-smelling and worse-tasting native liquor, and afterwards, when
emptied several times, with tea. Undisturbed by our presence the guests
made a hearty meal, the host walking up and down the lines and
encouraging them to enjoy themselves, while his women brought fresh
relays of victuals. But at last their appetites were satisfied. Then the
ladies of the hamlet who had been watching their lords and masters from
a respectful distance came forward. In addition to their ordinary
garments they wore capes of black velveteen, only donned on occasions of
ceremony; and their necks were hung with chains of imitation turquoises
and large, coloured stone beads. To the monotonous accompaniment of two
tiny hand-drums, beaten by men, they performed a mournful and
exceedingly proper dance. This the men applauded languidly. Among the
women I was struck by the European-like features of the very ugliest of
them. She was fair-haired, high-cheek-boned and long-nosed. She
contrasted strongly with the Tartar type of features of those around
her. I learned that she was the illegitimate daughter of a Scotch
military surgeon who had formerly been quartered in Buxa. She was
married to a Bhuttia, and, judging from her silver ornaments, was quite
a person of importance in the hamlet. But as I saw her afterwards
working as a coolie and passing with heavy loads up and down through
Buxa, it was evident that her economical father had not left her beyond
the necessity of toiling for her daily rice.

[Illustration: "THE LADIES OF THE HAMLET CAME FORWARD."]

[Illustration: BHUTTIA DRUMMERS.]

The dance finished the festivities for the day. We were led in
procession by the revellers through the village with songs and beating
of drums; and, having bestowed a few rupees on them, we departed amid a
loud chorus of thanks.

Some time afterwards I was present at a similar festival in Chunabatti,
the large village containing nearly a thousand Bhuttias, a few miles
over the hills from Buxa. Here the American lady missionary had resided
for over fifteen years; and I asked her for some explanation of the
festival. But she confessed that, even after her long residence among
the villagers, she knew nothing of their beliefs, religion or
ceremonies. I may mention that she had never made a convert. But as far
as I could see these cis-border Bhuttias were even more ignorant of
their faith than the dwellers in Bhutan. There were a few prayer flags
fluttering on the hill above the village; but _chortens_ and praying
wheels were conspicuous by their absence, though there was enough
water-power in the mountains for the latter to ensure salvation for
millions of believers in their efficacy. The village possessed one lama,
who was treated with scant respect. I often saw him teaching the small
boys to read the Hindi characters, which are the same as used for the
written Tibetan language.

This Chunabatti festival was celebrated in the same manner as the one we
had seen before, with eating, drinking, dances by the women, and archery
contests by the men. Some of the small boys were brought out to practise
with the bow; and many of them shot quite well. But there was absolutely
no trace of religious celebration.

To-day the boundary-line between Bhutan and India lies generally along
the summits of the last mountain-chain above the plains. Dense jungle
clothes the sides of the hills and descends to meet the upward waves of
the Terai Forest, which stretches along the foot of the Himalayas
through Assam, Bengal, and Nepal. The mountains are cloven by deep and
gloomy ravines through which swift-flowing rivers like the Menass,
Raidak, Torsa, and Tista pour their waters to swell the Brahmaputra and
the Ganges. Some of these torrents disappear underground a few hundred
yards from the hills and leave a broad river-bed empty for miles, except
during the Rains. But farther away they suddenly appear again above the
surface and flow to the south. The character of the jungle in the region
where they reappear is damper and more tropical than near the mountains,
and has earned for the forest the title of Terai, which means "wet."
Streams which on the level of Santrabari reached the plains, there
vanish, to come again above the ground near Rajabhatkawa.

[Illustration: CHUNABATTI.]

The long belt of the Terai Jungle is nowadays patched with clearings for
tea gardens; for the Duars' tea is famous. Mixed with tea grown near
Darjeeling at an elevation of six thousand or seven thousand feet it
forms a favourite blend. But the sportsman, no matter how fond he may be
of the "cup that cheers," cannot view without regret the clearing away
of thousands of acres of forests that shelter big game. And an artist
would not consider the destruction of the giant, orchid-clad trees with
the festoons of swinging creepers compensated for by the stretches of
more profitable low green tea-bushes in symmetrical and orderly rows.

Nor do the other signs of man's handiwork on a tea garden compensate for
the natural beauties they replace. Hideous factories, gaunt drying and
engine-houses with stove-pipe like chimneys rising above corrugated iron
roofs, villages of dilapidated thatched huts sheltering the hundreds of
coolies employed on the estate, and the unbeautiful bungalows of the
Europeans in charge. For on each garden there are from one to four
Britishers. The larger ones have a manager, two assistants, and an
engineer; on the smaller ones the manager perhaps combines the functions
of the others in his own person.

A planter's life is a lonely one. The gardens are generally a few miles
apart. Men busy, especially in the gathering season, from dawn to dark
have little inclination to go visiting after the day's work is done,
even if the roads were better and freer from the danger of meeting a
wild elephant on them at night. But in each little district a club-house
is built in some central spot within comparatively easy reach of all the
gardens around. It is generally only a rough wooden shed; but in the
small clearing around it a few tennis courts, or perhaps a polo ground,
are made. And here once a week all the planters of the neighbourhood,
with an occasional lady or two among them, repair on horseback through
the jungle. There may be flooded rivers to cross, wild beasts to avoid;
but, unless writhing in the grip of the planters' plagues, malarial or
blackwater fever, all will be there on club day. Like the Bhuttias in
our village feast one of the number takes it in turn to act as host. He
sends over from his bungalow, miles away, crockery, glasses, a cold
lunch, and, possibly, tea. For planters are not fond of it as a
beverage. Then men, who have not seen another white face for a week,
foregather, do justice to the lunch, play tennis or polo, and take a
farewell drink or two when the setting sun warns them to depart. Then
into the saddle again and off by forest road and jungle track to another
week of loneliness and labour. What tales they have to tell of the wild
beasts they meet on their way home in the deepening gloom! But the
planter fears nothing except wild elephants; and not them if he is on
horseback and a good road. Two men from the same garden who used to
linger longest at the bar came one evening upon a tiger, another time
upon a fine specimen of the more dreaded Himalayan bear, right in their
path. They were unarmed, but their libations had added to their natural
courage. Without hesitation, they dug spurs into their unwilling ponies
and with demoniac yells charged straight at the astonished wild beasts.
In each case tiger or bear found this too much for his nerves and
promptly bolted into the jungle.

There are few finer bodies of men in the world than the planters of
India. Educated men, they lead the life of a _gaucho_. Hard riders, good
shots, keen sportsmen, they are the best volunteers we have in the
Indian Empire; and more than once some of them have worthily upheld the
fame of their class in war.

During the last Abor Expedition of 1912 several of the Assam Valley
Light Horse, a Planters' corps, gave up their posts and went to the
front as troopers.

It is well to be content with your lot. From our cool hills I used to
look down on the bright green patches of the gardens in the dark forests
below and pity the poor planters in the humid heat of the summer months.
But when I visited them I found that their sympathy went out to us in
Buxa. On one occasion my host pointed to the dark wall of hills on which
three tiny white specks, the Picquet Towers of my fort, shone out in the
sunlight. With a sigh of compassion he said:

"Whenever we look up there and think of you poor fellows shut up in that
isolated spot we pity you immensely and wonder how you can bear the
dreadful loneliness of it. Down here we are so much better off."

As he spoke we looked towards the mountains, and at that moment a dark
cloud was drawn like a pall across their face. Its black expanse was
rent by vivid lightning; and the hollow roll of distant thunder in the
hills told us that one of the frequent storms was raging over my little
Station, while we stood in brilliant sunshine. And certainly at the
moment Buxa looked a gloomy spot.

Tea growing seems a profitable industry. I heard of estates which paid
a profit of sixty per cent, and noticed with regret fresh inroads being
made in the forest for more ground to plant in. Of course with a new
garden one must wait five years or so for any return on the capital
invested. And the initial expenses of clearing and preparing the soil,
buying machinery and erecting factories, are great. The coolies must be
brought from a distance, as the country around is too sparsely populated
to supply a sufficiency of labour. And before quitting their houses they
demand an advance of pay to leave with their relatives, and not
infrequently abscond after getting the money. Each company sends a
recruiting agent to collect these coolies who are well paid according to
the Indian labour-market rates. And the father of a family is better off
than a bachelor; for women and children help to gather the leaves, and
each worker brings in his or her basket to be weighed, and payment is
made by results. One sees the mothers with their babies on their hips
moving among the bushes and plucking the tender green shoots. The whole
process of manufacturing, from the planting and pruning, the gathering
of the leaf, and the withering and drying, down to the packing of the
tea ready for the market is interesting. Little goes to waste. The
floors of the factories are regularly swept, and the tea-dust thus
collected is pressed into blocks to form the brick-tea popular in
Central Asia and used as currency in the absence of money.

But tea growing is not all profit. Sometimes a hailstorm ruins the
year's crop, frost blights the plants, and losses occur in other ways.
The planters rarely own their gardens, but are usually in the service of
companies in England. They are not overpaid; a manager in the Duars
generally receives six hundred rupees a month, together with a house,
allowances for his horse and certain servants which make his salary up
to another hundred, in all about forty-seven pounds. But an assistant
begins on less than twenty pounds a month. Engineers, who look after the
machinery, are better paid; and some economically minded companies
promote the engineer to be manager, and so save a salary. The expenses
of living are not great, and a frugal planter--if such a being
exists--can save money.

To those fond of an outdoor existence the work is pleasant enough. Early
in the morning manager and assistants mount their ponies and set out to
ride over the hundreds of acres of the estate, inspect the plants, visit
the nurseries, and watch the coolies at work among the bushes or
clearing the jungle. Then through the factory and, if it be the season,
see the baskets of leaves brought in and weighed. And back to a late
breakfast, where tea rarely finds its way to the table, and a siesta
until the afternoon calls them forth to ride round the garden again. It
sounds an easy life and idyllic, but the planters say it is not.

In any land the sight of the rich plains stretching away from the foot
of the barren hills is always a tempting sight to the fierce mountain
dwellers. And for the Bhutanese it must have been a sore struggle to
curb their predatory instincts and cease from their profitable descents
on the unwarlike inhabitants of Bengal. Wealth and women were the prizes
of the freebooter until the shield of the Briton was thrust between him
and his timorous prey. Yet even to-day, although their nation is at
peace with us, the temptation sometimes proves too much for lawless
borderers. And parties of raiders from across the frontier swoop down on
the Duars. A tea garden, when a store of silver coin is brought to pay
the wages of the hundreds of coolies, is their favourite mark. The few
police scattered far apart over the north of Eastern Bengal are
powerless to stop a rush of savage swordsmen who suddenly emerge from
the forest, loot the _bunniahs_ and the huts on a garden, and disappear
long before an appeal for succour can reach the nearest troops. With the
fear of the white man before their eyes they do not seek to meddle with
the Europeans in their factories and bungalows. But the fearless
planters do not imitate their forbearance. In one garden a terrified
coolie rushed to the manager's house to inform him that Bhuttias were
raiding the village. Without troubling to inquire the number of the
dacoits the planter called his one assistant; and taking their rifles
the two Englishmen mounted their ponies and galloped to the village.
They found it in the hands of about sixty Bhuttias, armed with _dahs_,
who were plundering right and left. The planters sprang from their
saddles and opened fire on them. The raiders, aghast at this unpleasant
interruption to their profitable undertaking, strove to show a bold
front. But the pitiless bullets and still more the calm courage of the
two white men daunted them; and they fled into the friendly shelter of
the forest. That garden was never attacked again.

I was surprised to learn that on such occasions the planters had never
sent information to the detachment at Buxa. But they told me that, as
they never saw anything of the troops there, they almost forgot their
existence. They added that the raiders came and went with such rapidity
that it was hopeless for infantry to try to catch them. I determined to
alter this state of affairs. So, shortly after our arrival, I took
almost all my men out on a ten days' march, lightly equipped, through
the jungle district to show that we were not tied to the fort and that
we could mobilise and move swiftly if needed. I also devised a scheme by
which, on the first intimation of a raid reaching me, mobile parties of
my detachment would dash off at once over the hills to secure all the
passes near and cut off the retreat of the invaders, while other
parties, descending into the forest, would shepherd them into their
hands.



CHAPTER IV

A DURBAR IN BUXA

    Notice of the Political Officer's approaching visit--A
        Durbar--The Bhutan Agent and the interpreter--Arrival
        of the Deb Zimpun--An official call--Exchange of
        presents--Bhutanese fruit--A return call--Native
        liquor--A welcome gift--The Bhutanese
        musicians--Entertaining the Envoy--A thirsty Lama--A
        rifle match--An awkward official request--My
        refusal--The Deb Zimpun removes to Chunabatti--Arrival
        of the treasure--The Political Officer comes--His
        retinue--The Durbar--The Guard of Honour--The
        visitors--The Envoy comes in state--Bhutanese
        courtesies--The spectators--The payment of the
        subsidy--Lunch in Mess--Entertaining a difficult
        guest--The official dinner--An archery match--Sikh
        quoits--Field firing--Bhutanese
        impressed--Blackmail--British subjects captured--Their
        release--Tashi's case--Justice in Bhutan--Tyranny of
        officials--Tashi refuses to quit Buxa--The next payment
        of the subsidy--The treaty--Misguided humanitarians.


Soon after our arrival in Buxa I received a letter from the Political
Officer in Sikkim, Tibet, and Bhutan informing me that he proposed to
visit our little Station and hold a Durbar there in order to pay over to
a representative of the Bhutanese Government the annual subsidy of fifty
thousand rupees. He requested me to furnish a Guard of Honour of a
hundred men for the ceremony. The news that Buxa was to rise to the
dignity of a Durbar of its own and be honoured with the presence of the
Envoy of a friendly State was positively exciting. True, neither the
Durbar nor the Envoy were very important; still, with them, we felt that
we were about to make history. The officer who has charge of our
political relations with these three countries resides at Gantok, the
capital of Sikkim, and, until recently, administered the affairs of that
State. Of late years the Maharajah has been admitted to a share of the
Government.

In Chunabatti lived two natives of Darjeeling, British subjects, who
were paid a salary by our Government to help in transacting diplomatic
affairs with Bhutan. They were officially styled the Bhutan Agent and
the Bhutanese interpreter. Their knowledge of English, acquired in a
school of Darjeeling, was not extensive; and their acquaintance with
Hindustani was on a par. They were men of a Tibetan type, dressed like
our Bhuttias, except that they wore a headgear like a football cap and
also gaily striped, undoubted football stockings.

Shortly after the receipt of the Political Officer's letter, one of
these men, the Agent, came to my bungalow one afternoon and informed me
that the Bhutan Government's representative had arrived in Buxa and was
lodged in the Circuit House. The Agent wished to know when I intended
paying an official call on this personage. I had sufficient acquaintance
with the ways of Orientals to be aware that this was an impertinence,
for it was the place of the Envoy to make his visit first to the officer
commanding the Station; but, like the Chinese, who have a childish
desire to assert their own importance on every occasion, he was
endeavouring to steal a march on me. So I assumed a haughty demeanour
and informed the Agent that I would be prepared to receive the Envoy at
my house in two hours' time, as he must first call on me. The Agent at
once agreed that this was the proper course, as, indeed he had known all
the time.

I sent an order to the fort for a native officer and twenty men to
parade in full dress at my bungalow in a couple of hours, and then
prepared to hold my first official reception. Punctually to the time
named a ragged procession of sixty bareheaded, barelegged Bhuttias,
armed with swords and every second man of them disfigured by an enormous
goitre, descended the road from the Circuit House. From my doorstep I
watched them coming down the hill. They escorted a stout cheery old
gentleman in dirty white kimono and cap and long Chinese boots. He was
accompanied by the Agent and the interpreter and followed by two coolies
carrying baskets of oranges. This was the Bhutan Envoy, the Deb Zimpun,
a member of the Supreme Council of Punakha and Cup Bearer to the Deb
Raja, when there is one. The Guard of Honour presented arms as I
advanced to meet and shake hands with him. I addressed him in
Hindustani; but the old gentleman grinned feebly and looked round for
the interpreter. The latter explained that the Deb Zimpun spoke only his
own language; but that he would interpret my greeting. I then formally
welcomed the Envoy to India, and invited him to inspect the Guard of
Honour, such being the procedure with distinguished visitors. He was
quite pleased at this and passed down the ranks, looking closely at the
men's rifles and accoutrements. He noticed that two or three of the
sepoys, who had been called from the rifle-range and had dressed
hurriedly, wore their pouches in the wrong place and pointed it out
to me. When he had minutely inspected the Guard I led the way into my
bungalow and begged him to be seated. He took off his cap politely, and,
sitting down, produced a metal box from the breast of his robe, took
betel-nut out of it and began to chew it. An attendant holding a
spittoon immediately took up his position beside him. The Agent and
interpreter stood behind us and translated our remarks to each other.
The remainder of the motley crew remained in the garden or crowded into
the veranda, scuffling and shoving each other aside in their attempts to
get near the open door and look in at us.

[Illustration: THE DEB ZIMPUN'S PRISONERS.]

[Illustration: "FROM MY DOORSTEP I WATCHED THEM COMING DOWN THE HILL."]

At first the conversation, consisting of the usual formal compliments
full of hyperbole, did not flourish; and the Deb Zimpun's eyes roamed
round the apartment as he gazed with interest at my trophies of sport,
pictures, photographs, and curios. When the interpreter had finished
explaining some extravagant phrase, the Envoy asked eagerly if I had a
gramaphone. He was visibly disappointed when I replied in the negative,
and said that he had seen one on a previous visit to India and was much
interested in it. To console him I took out my cigar-case and offered
him a cheroot, which he accepted and smoked with evident pleasure. I
asked him if he would like a drink; and the interpreter replied that the
Deb Zimpun begged for two whiskies-and-sodas. I wondered if he wanted to
consume both at once or thought that my hospitality stopped at one. But
when the drinks were brought by my servant, I found that they were
wanted by the interpreter himself and his friend the Agent, as the Envoy
did not like whisky. I am sure that the old gentleman never asked for
them at all; so it was a piece of distinct impertinence on the part of
the interpreter, who was only an understrapper. I was struck all the
time by the contrast between his casual manner to me, an officer of his
own Government, and his servile deference to the Deb Zimpun who treated
him as an individual altogether beneath his notice.

When the conversation again languished I produced some luridly coloured
Japanese prints of the capture of Pekin by the Allied Troops, which I
had bought in Tokio after the Boxer War. I thought that they might serve
as a useful lesson of the weakness of the Chinese, who endeavour to
intrigue against us in Bhutan. These gaudy pictures delighted the Deb
Zimpun. He asked to have all the details explained to him and seemed so
interested that I made a present of the prints to him to start a Fine
Art Gallery with in Punakha when he returned to the capital. This gift
quite won his heart. He called into the room the coolies carrying
baskets of oranges and brown paper bags of walnuts and presented them to
me. The fruit, which was grown in Bhutan, was excellent; and only in
Malta have I tasted better oranges. This terminated the visit; the Envoy
rose, accepted another cigar, shook hands, and took his departure.

Next day Creagh and I dressed ourselves in full uniform and, accompanied
by an escort of sepoys, proceeded up the hill to the Circuit House to
return the visit. We were met on the veranda by the Deb Zimpun and,
chairs being placed for us, we three sat down. The interpreter was again
present, being temporarily attached to the Envoy's suite. I learned that
the Deb Zimpun was allowed by our Government the sum of two thousand
rupees (about £133) for his expenses while he remained in India. He must
have saved most of this money; for I found that he lived chiefly on the
contributions, voluntary or otherwise, of the Bhuttias residing in our
territory.

A servitor came forward and filled two glasses with Bhutanese liquor
from a bamboo bottle. They were offered us; and my subaltern and I made
a heroic attempt to drink the nauseous-looking stuff. But the smell was
enough. The taste! A mixture of castor and codliver oil, senna and
asafoetida would have been nectar compared with it. We begged to be
excused, on the plea that we had been teetotallers all our lives. I then
ordered my present to be brought forward. It was a haunch of a _sambhur_
which I had shot two days before. The gift was a great success. The Deb
Zimpun's eyes glistened and he showed his teeth, stained red with
betel-nut chewing, in a gracious smile. His unkempt followers crowded
around us, looked hungrily at the meat, and seemed to calculate whether
there was enough to go round. The Maharajah of Bhutan, as a good
Buddhist, had recently decreed that for two years no animals were to be
slaughtered for food in his country. So this venison was a luxury to
them all. Before the excellent impression of our gift could die Creagh
and I rose to take our leave and departed hurriedly.

But we were not to escape so easily. Hardly had we reached the Mess on
our return when we were informed that the Deb Zimpun had, as a special
mark of favour, sent his two best musicians to play for us. So we came
out on the veranda and found two swarthy ruffians squatting in the
garden, holding silver-banded pipes like flageolets. We seated
ourselves and the performance began. I have patiently endured Chinese,
Japanese, and Indian music, have even listened unmoved to the strains of
a German band in London; but the ear-piercing, soul-harrowing noises
that these two ruffians produced were too much for me. We wondered, if
these were the Envoy's best musicians, what his worst could be like. I
hurriedly presented each of them with a rupee and sent them away, more
than compensated by the money for their abrupt dismissal.

On the following day we invited the Deb Zimpun to lunch with us in the
Mess and instructed our Gurkha cook to do his best, which was not much.
We found that our guest, having visited India before and having
accompanied the Tongsa _Penlop_ to Calcutta, was quite expert in the use
of a knife and fork, and enjoyed European fare. He was very temperate
and refused to touch liquor. But he was not imitated in this by his
suite. After lunch he told us that his lama, who was sitting with the
rest of his followers in the Mess garden, was anxious to taste whisky,
of which he had heard. We invited the priest in and poured him out a
stiff five-finger peg of neat Scotch whisky. The holy man smelled it,
raised the glass to his lips, and elevated it until not a drop was left.
He could not apparently make up his mind as to whether he liked the
liquor or not. So we offered him another glass. He accepted it and
disposed of it as promptly. We looked at him in astonishment; but it had
no effect on him. I told the interpreter to ask him what he thought of
whisky.

"I don't like it much; it is too sweet," replied the lama.

We officers glanced at each other; and the same idea occurred to us
all. It happened that some time before we had got a small cask of beer
from Calcutta, which, owing to the journey or the heat, had gone very
sour and tasted abominably. A large glass of this delectable beverage
was offered to the holy man. As he drained it a beatific smile spread
over his saintly but exceedingly dirty face and he put down the empty
glass with a sigh.

"Ah! that is good. That is very good," he said to the interpreter. "I
would like more."

So he was given another large tumblerful. Then, absolutely unaffected by
his potations, he left the Mess reluctantly. After this experience we
kept this beer, while it lasted, for Bhuttia visitors, and found it a
popular brand.

After lunch I brought the Deb Zimpun down to shoot on the rifle-range,
as he had expressed a wish to that effect through the interpreter. He
seemed to understand the mechanism of the Lee-Enfield and made some fair
shooting at a moving target at two hundred yards. When my score proved
better than his he said laughingly that the rifle was not the weapon
with which he was best acquainted, but that he would challenge me one
day to a match with bows and arrows. By this time the old man and I had
become quite friendly, and we had all taken a liking to him. He had
invited me to pay a visit to Bhutan and promised to obtain the
permission of the Maharajah for me to enter the country.

Consequently I was not pleased when next day I received a letter from
the civil authorities of the district informing me that the Deb Zimpun
was occupying the Circuit House without permission, and requesting me to
remove him and his retinue to Chunabatti. The Political Officer had
asked that he might be allowed to reside in it; but, as on a previous
occasion he and his followers had done so and left it in an absolutely
uninhabitable state, this permission was now refused. The letter stated
that it had cost two hundred rupees to clean the house and make it fit
for European occupation again. I thought that this was but a small sum,
after all, compared with the two thousand the Government were already
expending on him. And to turn the Envoy of a friendly State out of the
house he was occupying in all good faith seemed an insulting course. If
he refused to vacate it peaceably, I presume I was expected to use
force, which would probably result in bloodshed. As to the issue there
could be no doubt, as the swords and bows of his followers would be poor
things to oppose to our rifles. But it seemed to me that this would be
giving rather too warm a reception to an official visitor and guest of
the Government of India. So I refused to comply with the wishes of the
civil authorities, much to the relief of the Political Officer when he
arrived and was informed of the matter. He told me that had I acted
otherwise it would have given dire offence in Bhutan just at a time when
our Government were particularly anxious to be on good terms with the
Bhutanese. I only understood what he meant when, more than a year
afterwards, I heard of the signing of the treaty with the Maharajah,
which placed the foreign affairs of the country under our control.

But, unfortunately, the Agent had received the same instructions as I;
and, to avoid trouble, he induced the Deb Zimpun to go to Chunabatti and
reside in his home. The Envoy was very displeased at having to leave
the Circuit House. I offered to place the empty bungalow, known as the
Married Officers' Quarters, at his disposal; but the old gentleman,
though very grateful and thanking me warmly, declined, as he did not
want to make another move.

The day after our luncheon-party to the Deb Zimpun a detachment of
native police came from Alipur Duar escorting a train of coolies
carrying wooden boxes which contained the fifty thousand rupees of the
subsidy. These were handed over to me; and I placed them in our
guard-room under a special sentry. Lastly the Political Officer, Mr
Bell, arrived by train from Darjeeling, which is three days' ride from
Gantok. He was accompanied by a portly Sikkimese head clerk in wadded
Chinese silk coat and gown, another clerk and a couple of pig-tailed
Sikkimese soldiers in striped petticoats and straw hats like inverted
flower-pots ornamented with a long peacock feather.

On the day after his arrival the Durbar was held. On the parade ground a
few of our tents were pitched to form an open-air reception hall. A
Guard of Honour of two native officers and a hundred sepoys in their
full-dress uniform of red tunics, blue trousers and white spats, was
drawn up near it; and the boxes of treasure were brought down and
deposited on the ground beside the tents. The only outside visitors were
the nearest civil official, the Subdivisional Officer of Alipur Duar,
and his wife and children; the three British officers and the native
officers not required with the Guard joined them in the tents. Mr Bell,
wearing his political uniform, descended on to the parade ground from my
bungalow and was received with a salute by the Guard of Honour. Then to
the beating of tom-toms and the wild strains of barbaric music a double
file of Bhuttias advanced across the parade ground escorting the Envoy,
who was riding a mule. We hardly recognised our old friend. He was
magnificently garbed for the occasion in a very voluminous robe of red
silk embroidered with Chinese symbols in gold, and wore a gold-edged cap
in shape something like a papal tiara. At the tail of the procession
came a number of coolies carrying baskets of oranges and packages
wrapped up in paper.

In front of the tents the Envoy dismounted. The Political Officer came
forward to shake hands with him; and the Deb Zimpun threw a white silk
scarf around his neck. This scarf is called the _Khatag_ and is the
invariable Tibetan and Bhutanese accompaniment of a reception. It is
also sent with important official letters. Bell now presented each of us
formally to the Envoy, who shook hands solemnly and hung us with
scarves. The scene in its picturesque setting of mountains and jungle
was a striking one. The Political Officer in his trim uniform and the
British officers in their scarlet tunics were outshone by the gaudier
garbs of the Asiatics. The Deb Zimpun's flowing red robe, the head clerk
in his flowered black silk Chinese garb, the Sikkimese soldiers in their
bright garments and the Bhutanese in their kimonos, made a blaze of
varied hues. Along one side of the ground was the scarlet and blue line
of the Guard of Honour, the yellow and gold _puggris_ or turbans of the
native officers and the gold-threaded cummerbunds, or waist-sashes, of
the sepoys shining in the brilliant sun. Above the Guard the slope and
wall of the fort were crowded with the other men of the detachment in
white undress, mingled with native followers in brighter colours. Down
the other side of the parade ground was a long line of Bhuttia men,
women, and children.

[Illustration: THE DURBAR IN BUXA.]

When we were seated the Deb Zimpun produced a document accrediting him
as the duly appointed envoy and representative of the Bhutan Government
to receive the subsidy. This having been perused by the Political
Officer and his head clerk and the official seals inspected, the boxes
of money were formally handed over. The usual procedure was to have one
of them opened and the contents counted, but on this occasion the Deb
Zimpun accepted them as correct and ordered his escort to take charge of
them. They were hoisted on the backs of porters who took them off to
Chunabatti. Then coolies came forward with the Envoy's basket of oranges
and the packages, which we found to contain cheap native blankets worth
a couple of shillings each. Oranges and blankets were given to each of
us. But as the Government of India has made a strict rule that no civil
or military officer in its service is to accept a present from natives,
the blankets were taken charge of by Bell's clerks to be sold afterwards
and the proceeds credited to Government. We were allowed to keep the
oranges. This proceeding terminated the Durbar.

As the officers of the detachment had invited the visitors to lunch, we
now adjourned to the Mess. Although our guests consisted only of the
Envoy, Bell, the Subdivisional Officer, Mr Ainslie, and his wife and two
children, our resources were sorely strained to provide enough furniture
for them. The doctor had to sit on a box. The head clerk acted as
interpreter and stood behind the Political Officer's chair. A special
shooting-party having descended to the jungle the previous day to
replenish the larder, the menu was almost luxurious.

After luncheon the Ainslies departed to Santrabari, where they were
encamped, having declined our hospitality in Buxa. As Bell was desirous
of entertaining the Deb Zimpun himself, he had arranged a dinner to him
and us in the forest officer's empty bungalow that evening. So it
devolved on me to keep our old gentleman amused until dinner-time, while
the Political Officer wrote his despatches. I took our guest down to the
rifle-range and kept him busy there till sunset. Then we had to go to my
house, where I tried to entertain him by showing him old copies of
English illustrated journals. But these require a deal of explanation to
the untutored Oriental, who cannot understand the portraits of the
favourites of the stage in the scanty costumes in which they are
frequently photographed. And I was distinctly embarrassed by some of the
Deb Zimpun's questions.

At dinner-time Bell preceded us from my bungalow, where he was staying,
and was ready to receive us on the veranda of the forest officer's house
when, escorted by servants carrying lanterns, we toiled up the steep
path to it. Dinner was laid in the long, draughty centre room in the
rambling wooden edifice; and as the night was cold the apartment was
warmed by an iron stove. The furniture was scantier and worse than in
the Mess. When we sat down to table the Deb Zimpun's rickety chair
collapsed under his weight and sent him sprawling on the floor. It was
an undignified opening to our official banquet. The old man presented a
ludicrous spectacle as he lay entangled in his red silk robe with the
gold-trimmed papal cap tilted over his eye; but we rushed to help him up
and controlled our countenances until we found him laughing heartily at
his own mishap. Then one glance at our host's horrified expression set
us off. A fresh chair was with difficulty procured and we sat down
again.

After dinner we gathered round the stove in informal fashion and smoked,
the Deb Zimpun helping himself steadily to my cigars. With the aid of
the head clerk, who was present to interpret, the conversation grew
almost animated. Our old gentleman expressed himself deeply gratified by
the kindness he had received from the officers of the detachment,
particularly the offer of a military bungalow, and said that if he
returned to Buxa the following year he hoped to find us all there again.
Me he personally regarded as a brother. We drank his health, a
compliment he quite understood, and with difficulty refrained from
singing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." When he departed we escorted him
as far as the Mess and bade him a vociferous "Good night," to the
amazement of the squad of ragged swordsmen and lantern-bearers who were
accompanying him back to Chunabatti.

Next day Bell left us to return to Sikkim; and we expected the Deb
Zimpun would also take his departure for Bhutan with the subsidy. But
day after day passed without any sign of his going, and we began to
wonder at his remaining after the purpose of his visit was completed. I
invited him to lunch with me again. One afternoon he appeared at the
head of his wild gathering, all of them carrying bows. He had come to
challenge me to an archery contest. We set up targets on the range at a
distance of two hundred yards. He defeated me easily, and chaffed me
gaily over his victory. To retrieve my honour I sent to the fort for
some Sikh throwing quoits, formerly used as weapons in war. They are of
thin steel with edges ground sharp, and when thrown by an expert will
skim through the air for nearly two hundred yards and would almost cut
clean through a man if they struck him fair. They ricochet off the
ground for a good distance after the first graze. We set up plantain
tree stems as targets, for the soft wood does not injure the edge. I
showed the Envoy how to hold and throw the weapon; but his first shot
went very wide indeed and nearly ended the mortal career of one of his
swordsmen. However, he improved with a little practice, and insisted
that all his followers should try the sport.

A day or two after this my detachment did its annual field firing. This
is a most practical form of musketry, consisting of an attack on a
position with ball cartridge, the enemy being represented by small
targets, the size of a man's head, nearly hidden behind entrenchments or
suddenly appearing from holes dug in the ground. I invited the Envoy and
his suite to witness it. The Deb Zimpun was deeply interested. He
followed us everywhere as we scrambled up and down steep hills firing on
the small marks dotted about between the trees, in the jungle and at the
bottom of precipices. The attack was arranged to finish up on the parade
ground where we could make use of the running and vanishing targets in
the rifle butts. The Bhuttias were immensely delighted with the
crouching figures of men drawn swiftly across the range and saluted
with bursts of rapid fire from the sepoys' rifles. But they broke into
an excited roar when our men fixed bayonets and charged the position
with loud cheers; and I looked back to find the Bhuttias following us at
a run, waving their swords and yelling wildly. When I went round to
inspect the targets and count the hits, the Deb Zimpun and his followers
accompanied me and were much impressed by the accuracy of the shooting.
They talked eagerly, pointed out the bullet-holes to each other, and
shook their heads solemnly over them. The interpreter told me that they
were saying that they would be sorry to face our soldiers in battle
after seeing the range, accuracy, and rapidity of fire of our rifles.
The Deb Zimpun returned with me to my bungalow and enjoyed a meal of
tea, cake, and chocolate creams as heartily as a schoolboy. On departing
he shook my hand and bade the interpreter express the interest with
which he had watched the field firing.

But alas for the inconstancy of human friendships! Our pleasant
intercourse was destined to an abrupt termination. The very next day I
was informed that the genial old gentleman had been levying blackmail on
Bhuttias residing in our territory and had seized and imprisoned in the
house in which he resided a man, three women, and three children,
intending to carry them off to Bhutan. The unexpected appearance of a
score of my men with rifles and fixed bayonets changed the programme;
and the prisoners were removed to our fort until Government should
decide their fate. As we marched them through Chunabatti the villagers
flocked round us and called down blessings on our heads for saving their
friends. One old lady, the wife of the male prisoner, fell on the
ground before Smith, who had accompanied me, embraced his legs and
kissed his feet, much to our medical officer's embarrassment.

Much correspondence and a Government inquiry resulted in the freedom of
the wretched captives. But before their release the Envoy, in response
to impatient letters from the Maharajah who was none too well pleased
with the delay in his return with the subsidy, marched off over the
hills to Bhutan without a farewell to us.

The case of the man who had been seized is a typical example of the
justice meted out in uncivilised countries. He was named Tashi and had
been born in Buxa before its capture by the British in 1864 and its
subsequent incorporation in our territory. After the war his family
retired across the newly made boundary. His father possessed land in a
village close to the frontier, which was in the jurisdiction of a
certain _jongpen_. He acquired more several miles away in a district
governed by another _jongpen_. On his death he left everything to Tashi,
who continued to reside in the first village. The second official
objected to this and eventually confiscated the land in his district and
applied it to his own use. When Tashi threatened to appeal to the
Supreme Council at Punakha he sent a party of his retainers to slay him
as the easiest method of avoiding litigation. When the other _jongpen_
remonstrated against this invasion of his district and proceeded to
repel it by force, his brother official pointed out to him that he could
not do better than follow the good example set him and seize Tashi's
remaining property. The advice seemed good; and the first _jongpen_
determined to kill Tashi himself. He sent several soldiers to put him to
death; but as they learned on arrival that the unfortunate owner of this
Bhutanese Naboth's vineyard had several stalwart sons and possessed a
gun, the gallant warriors contented themselves with establishing a
cordon round the village and sending for reinforcements. The luckless
Tashi realised that discretion was the better part of valour. He bribed
some of the soldiers to let him pass through the cordon at night and
with his family and five cows, all that he could save from the wreck, he
escaped into British territory. But the two Ahabs were not satisfied. It
was always believed that Tashi had managed to take some hoarded wealth
with him, although he lived in a poor way and worked hard for his living
in India. And this belief accounted for his capture on this occasion. On
previous visits of the Envoy he and his family had taken the precaution
to leave Chunabatti before his arrival.

After his release Tashi resolutely refused to quit Buxa.

"The Commanding Sahib is my father and my mother," he declared. "He has
saved my worthless life," for he had been informed that he would be put
to death as soon as he was out of British territory; "and I will not
leave his shadow, in which I and my family will dwell the rest of our
lives." However, he thought that this might not prove sufficient shelter
from the weather; so he built a bamboo house in the cantonment limits
and announced that he felt safe at last under our protection. Like all
Asiatics he considered that my interference on his behalf had
constituted a claim on me. However, as he was a useful man, I found
employment for him and allowed him to continue to reside in Buxa.

In the following year the Political Officer, accompanied by Captain
Kennedy, I.M.S., passed through Buxa on their way to Bhutan, where the
subsidy, now doubled, was paid in Punakha, the capital, and the treaty
by which the country was placed under British protection signed by the
Maharajah. So the Deb Zimpun and I never met again.

There is a certain type of individuals with malformed minds who moan
over the subjugation of the countries of barbarous nations by civilised
Powers. Do they honestly believe that the cause of humanity is better
served by allowing the noble savage to plunder and slay the weak at his
own sweet will rather than by subjecting him to the domination of
Europeans, be they French, Germans, Russians, Italians or British, who
guarantee freedom of life and property in the lands under their rule?
Liberty, with these barbarous races, means the liberty of the strong to
oppress the weak. Here, in the borderland of Bhutan to-day, the peasant
can till the soil, the trader enjoy his hard-earned wealth, where,
before the _pax Britannica_ settled on it, rapine, blood, and lust went
unchecked, where no man's life nor woman's honour was safe from the
fierce raiders of the hills. We hold the gates of India. Inside them all
is peace. Beyond them, oppression, injustice, murder!



CHAPTER V

IN THE JUNGLE

    An Indian jungle--The trees--Creepers--Orchids--The
        undergrowth--On an elephant in the jungle--Forcing a
        passage--Wild bees--Red ants--A lost river--A _sambhur_
        hind--Spiders--Jungle fowl--A stag--_Hallal_--Wounded
        beasts--A halt--Skinning the stag--Ticks--Butcher
        apprentices--Natural rope--Water in the air--_Pani
        bel_--Trail of wild elephants--Their habits--An
        impudent monkey--An adventure with a rogue
        elephant--Fire lines--Wild dogs--A giant squirrel--The
        barking deer--A good bag--Spotted deer--Protective
        colouring--Dangerous beasts--Natives' dread of bears--A
        bison calf--The fascination of the forest--The generous
        jungle--Wild vegetables--Natural products--A home in
        the trees--Forest Lodge the First--Destroyed by a wild
        elephant--Its successor--A luncheon-party in the
        air--The salt lick--Discovery of a coal mine--A
        monkey's parliament--The jungle by night.


From the dense tangled undergrowth the great trees lift their bare
stems, each striving to push its leafy crown through the thick canopy of
foliage and get its share of the sun. The huge trunks are devoid of
branches for many feet above the ground; but around them twist giant
creepers which strangle them in close embrace and sink their coils deep
into the bark. Here and there a tree, killed by the cruel pressure,
stands withered and lifeless but still held up by the murderous
parasite. From bole to bole these creepers, thick as a ship's hawser,
swing in festoons, coiling and writhing around each other in tangled
confusion. Tree-trunk and bough are matted with the glossy green leaves
and trails of mauve and white blossoms of innumerable orchids. The trees
are not the slender palms that fill the pictures of tropical jungles by
untravelled artists, but the giants of the forest--huge _sal_ and teak
trees and straight-stemmed _simal_ with its buttressed trunk star-shaped
in section with its curious projecting flanges.

Through the leafy canopy high overhead the sunlight can scarcely filter,
and fills the forest with a pleasant green gloom. The undergrowth is
dense and rank--tangled and thorny bushes, high grass, shrubs covered
with great bell-shaped white flowers--so thick that a man on foot must
hack his way through it. But here and there are open glades where the
ground is covered with tall bracken. Near the hills and in the damper
jungle to the south the bamboo grows extensively. Beside the river-beds
are patches of elephant grass, eight to ten feet high, with feathered
plumes six feet higher still. This is so strong and dense as to be
almost impenetrable to men, but everywhere through it wild elephants
have made paths. Wherever the big trees have been felled and the sun can
reach the ground the vegetation grows more luxuriantly. And, in the
southern belt of the forest, where the water from the hills rises to the
surface again, the jungle is wilder and more tropical. Here are huge
tree-ferns, the under sides of the fronds studded with long and sharp
thorns. Cane brakes, through which none but the heaviest and strongest
animals can make their way, abound.

Through the tangled confusion of undergrowth and twisted creepers my
elephant forces a passage with swaying stride, as a steamer ploughs her
way through a heavy sea and shoulders the waves aside. I am sitting on
Khartoum's pad near the _mahout_ perched astride her neck, guiding her
by the pressure of his feet behind her huge flapping ears. A network of
leafy branches of low trees bound together by lianas bars her progress.
At a word she lifts her trunk and tears it down, while the _mahout_
hacks at bough and creeper with his _kukri_ or heavy, curved knife. As
she moves on she plucks a small branch and strikes her sides and stomach
with it to drive off the flies which are annoying her. For thick as her
skin is, yet the insects which prey on her can pierce it and drive her
frantic. And once, feeling a sudden pain in my instep, I looked at my
foot and discovered an elephant fly biting through a lace hole in my
boot. Khartoum, having driven off the pests temporarily, lifts the
branch to her mouth and chews it, wood and all. Bechan, her _mahout_,
espies a small creeper which is highly esteemed by the natives as a
febrifuge and is considered a good tonic for elephants. So he directs
her attention to it. Out shoots the snake-like trunk and tears it from
the tree around which it is growing; and, crunching it with enjoyment,
she strides on through the undergrowth. Suddenly Bechan, in evident
alarm, kicks her violently behind the left ear and beats her thick skull
with the heavy iron goad he carries, the _ankus_, a short crook with a
sharp spike at the end. Khartoum stops short, then moves off to the
right. Thinking that he has seen some dangerous wild animal I whisper in
Hindustani, "What is it, Bechan?" "Bees," he says shortly and points
apparently to a lump of mud hanging from a low branch right in our
former path. Then I understand that he would be far less alarmed at the
sight of a tiger. For a swarm of wild bees is regarded with terrified
respect in India. The lump of mud is a nest; and, had we continued on
our original course and brushed against it, we would have been promptly
attacked by a cloud of these irritable little insects whose stings have
killed many a man. So we prudently give the nest a wide berth. The wild
beasts of the forest are not its only dangers. As again Khartoum tears
her way through some low-hanging branches, I feel a sudden sting and
burning pain in the back of my bare neck. I put my hand to the spot and
my fingers close on a big red ant which, knocked from a bough, has
fallen on me and is avenging its being disturbed by burying its venomous
little fangs in my flesh. Though I crush it, the pain of its bite
lingers for hours. Sometimes one dislodges a number of these insects
when forcing a passage through dense jungle; and they at once attack the
man or animal they alight on. So it is necessary to keep a sharp
look-out for them as well as for bees. Nor are these the only perils
that lurk in the trees. Though in the jungle serpents do not hang by
their tails from every branch, as we read in the books of wonderful
adventures that delighted our boyhood, still there is supposed to be one
poisonous snake in the Terai which lies along the branches, and if
dislodged strikes the disturber with deadly fang. I fortunately never
saw one; though in another place I have shot a viper in a tree.

We plod steadily on through the jungle. A gleam of daylight between the
stems of the trees shows that we are approaching a _nullah_. Khartoum
comes to a stop on the edge of the steep bank of a broad and empty
river-bed. After the gloom of the forest the bright transition into the
glaring sunlight is dazzling. To the right I can now see the mountains
towering above us; and, two thousand feet up, on the dark face of the
hills, the three Picquet Towers of Buxa shine out in the sun. At our
feet on the white sand lie huge rounded rocks which have been rolled
down from the mountains by the furious torrents of the last rainy
season. The river-bed is dry now; but were we to follow it a few miles
to the south, we would find at first an occasional pool and then further
on the water appearing above the surface and flowing on in a gradually
increasing stream. For these smaller rivers are lost underground in the
boulder formation near the foot of the hills and rise again ten miles
further south.

Our elephant slips and stumbles over the polished, rounded rocks until
she reaches the opposite bank. Up it she climbs at so steep an angle
that to avoid sliding off I have to lie at full length along the pad and
hold on to the front edge of it until she regains level ground. We pass
from the glare of the sunlight into the cool shade of the forest, and
the trees close around us and shut off the mountains from our view. As
we push our way through the undergrowth the _mahout_ stops the elephant
suddenly. "_Sambhur!_" he whispers. Following the direction of his
outstretched arm my eyes see nothing at first but the tangled
vegetation, the straight tree-trunks and the curving festoons of
creepers. But gradually they rest on a warm patch of colour and I make
out the form of a deer scarcely visible in the deep shadows. "_Maddi_"
(a female) grunts Bechan disgustedly and urges on his elephant. For he
knows the Sahibs', to him, ridiculous forest law, which ordains that
females are not to be slain, although their flesh is more toothsome than
that of a tough old stag.

It is a _sambhur_ hind. Apparently aware of her immunity she stands
watching us unconcernedly. Accustomed to the wild species, other animals
allow tame elephants to approach close to them until they discover the
presence of human beings on their backs. So this hind looks calmly at
Khartoum. Her long ears twitch restlessly, but otherwise she is
motionless; and I can admire her graceful form and the rich brown colour
of her hide at my ease. But at last it dawns on her that there is
something wrong about our elephant. She swings round and crashes off
through the undergrowth and is lost to sight in a moment. And we resume
our course.

Across our path from bush to bush great spiders have spun their webs;
and Khartoum, pushing through them, has accumulated so many layers of
them across her face as to blind her. So the _mahout_ leans down and
tears them off. These spiders are huge black insects measuring several
inches from tip to tip; and their webs are stout and strong almost as
linen.

Something scuttling over the fallen leaves in the undergrowth draws my
attention and I raise my rifle, only to lower it when, with a frightened
squawk, a jungle hen flutters up out of the bushes and flies away among
the trees. These birds are the progenitors of our ordinary barnyard
fowl, and so like them that once close to Santrabari, when out with a
shot-gun, I let several hens pass me unscathed, under the impression
that they were fowls belonging to our _mahouts_. And when in the heart
of the forest I first heard the cocks crowing I thought that we were
near a village. In Northern India these jungle cocks are beautifully
plumaged with red, yellow, and dark green feathers and long tails. In
Southern India they are speckled black and white with a little yellow.
When in the forest villages the tame roosters crow, their challenge is
taken up and repeated by the wild ones in the jungle around. And the
natives often peg out a cock and surround him with snares to catch the
wild birds which come to attack him.

But now Bechan suddenly stops Khartoum and whispers excitedly, "_Sambhur
nur!_" "A stag." For a moment I can see nothing in the tangled bit of
jungle he points to. Then suddenly the deepened blackness of a patch of
shadow reveals itself as the dark hide of a _sambhur_ stag. We have
almost passed him. He is to my right rear; and I cannot swing round far
enough to fire from the right shoulder. But I bring up the rifle rapidly
to my left and press the trigger. As the recoil of the heavy .470
high-velocity weapon almost knocks me back flat on the pad I hear a
crash in the brushwood. "_Shabash! Luga!_ (Well done! Hit!") cries
Bechan and slips from the neck of the elephant to the ground. Drawing
his knife he dashes into the jungle. For, being a Mussulman, he is
anxious to reach the stricken stag and _hallal_ it; that is, let blood
by cutting its throat while there is life in it. For the Mohammedan
religion enjoins that an animal is only lawful food if the blood has run
before its death. This is borrowed from the Mosaic Law and is really a
hygienic precaution against long-dead carrion being eaten.

From the elephant's back I cannot see the quarry now, but I slip down to
the ground and leave Khartoum standing stolidly, contentedly plucking
and chewing leaves from the trees around. Following Bechan's track I
find him holding the horn of a still feebly struggling _sambhur_ and
drawing his knife across its throat. The animal is a fine old stag about
fourteen hands high. The bullet has broken its shoulder and pierced its
heart. But such a wound does not necessarily imply instantaneous death.
I have seen a tiger, shot through the heart, dash across a _nullah_ and
climb half-way up the steep bank until laid low by a second bullet. And
_sambhur_ and other deer stricken in the same manner will run a hundred
yards before dropping. But this stag will never move again of its own
volition. As the blood gushes from the gaping wound in the throat the
limbs twitch violently and are still. Then Bechan raises its head for me
to photograph. This done I look at my watch. It is almost noon and I
have been on the elephant's back since six o'clock, so I am glad of a
rest; and, sitting on the ground with my back against a tree, I pull out
sandwiches and my water-bottle and have my lunch. But, having on a
previous occasion been disturbed by a rogue wild elephant, I lay my
loaded rifle beside me.

Bechan is busily employed. He cuts off the head, _grallochs_ the stag
and begins to flay it. After my lunch I get up to help him; for a
sportsman in India soon learns to turn his hand to this gruesome task.
It is a long job; and the _sambhur_ is a heavy weight when we come to
turn him over. The skin, particularly on the belly, is covered with
ticks, some big, bloated and immovably fixed, others small and agile. We
have to watch carefully lest any of them lodge on us, which they are apt
to do; for, with its jaws once clenched in the skin, this insect can
only be got rid of by cutting the body off and then pulling the head
away, which generally takes a bit of one's skin with it. And the
irritation of a bite lasts for months.

[Illustration: A SAMBHUR STAG AND MY ELEPHANT.]

[Illustration: BRINGING HOME THE BAG.]

At last the animal is completely flayed and the skin rolled up into a
bundle; for it makes excellent leather, and is much used in India for
soft shooting-boots and gaiters. Then Bechan displays his aptitude for
the butcher's trade. With his heavy curved _kukri_ he divides the
carcass, hacking through the thick bones with powerful blows. Having cut
it into portable pieces (for a whole _sambhur_ weighs six or seven
hundred pounds) he leaves me wondering as to where the rope to tie them
up will come from. He looks around him and then goes to a
straight-stemmed small tree with grey and black mottled bark. He cuts
off a long flap of this bark, disclosing an inner skin. In this he makes
incisions with his knife, pulls a long strip of it off and cuts it into
narrower strips. He hands one of these to me and tells me to test its
strength. Pull as I will I cannot break it. This is the _udal_ tree
which thus provides a natural cordage of wonderful strength. It is very
common in the forest. Making a hole between the bones of a haunch Bechan
passes a length of this fibre through and knots it. Then it takes all
our combined strength to lift the haunch and bear it to where Khartoum
is still patiently waiting. With difficulty we raise and fasten it to
the ropes around the pad. And when at last we have secured all this
meat, destined for hungry officers and sepoys in the fort and the
_mahouts_ and their families in Santrabari we look like butchers'
apprentices. My khaki shooting-garments are stained, my hands are
covered with blood and grime. I gaze around me hopelessly for water,
though I know we are miles from a stream. But the resources of this
wonderful jungle are not exhausted. Bechan points to one of the myriad
lianas criss-crossing between the trees.

"_Pani bel._ The water creeper," he says. I have heard of this
extraordinary plant and look carefully at it. It is about two inches in
diameter, four-sided rather than round, with rough, corrugated, withered
bark, in appearance similar to the corkwood bark used for rustic
summer-houses in England. Bechan walks to a hanging festoon of it and
cuts it through with a blow of his _kukri_. Nothing happens. I am
disappointed; for I had expected to find it tubular and see a stream of
water gush out. But the interior is of a white pulpy and moist material.
Then Bechan strikes another blow and holds up a length of the creeper
cut off. Suddenly from one end of this water begins to trickle and soon
flows freely. I wash my hands, using clay as soap. Bechan then tells me
to taste the water. Holding the cut creeper above my head I let the
water drain into my mouth and find it cold and delicious as spring
water. This useful _pani bel_, like the _udal_, is found everywhere in
these forests; and, as I am anxious to learn all I can of jungle lore to
instruct my sepoys, I carefully note the appearance of both.

We have consumed two hours in the task of flaying and cutting up the
_sambhur_. We sit down to rest and smoke before moving on again. I
light a cigarette and Bechan pulls out the clay head of a hookah and
fills it with coarse native tobacco.

Then at length, with Khartoum hung round with meat and looking like a
perambulating butcher's shop, we move on again. After we had been going
for ten minutes we come to a spot where a number of trees, some nearly
two feet in diameter, have been uprooted, and their upper branches
stripped off. This is the work of wild elephants, which push down the
trees with their heads to reach the leaves in the tops. We find their
trail in the long grass and bushes--not wide, for elephants move in
single file, so that it is difficult to tell whether one or twenty have
passed. However here and there tracks diverge from the main trail and
rejoin it further on, showing where one of the animals has wandered off
to one side in search of some succulent morsel; and in the sandy bed of
a dry stream we find their footprints, huge, almost circular impression
in the dust. Each elephant seems to step exactly in the marks of the
leader. Even tame ones advancing over open country will walk in single
file if left to themselves. We reach a spot where the herd had evidently
passed the night. All around the grass is pressed down and shows where
the huge beasts lay down to sleep. Wild elephants usually halt from
about 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., then move and feed until 10 or 11 a.m., when
they stop and shelter from the heat of the day in thick jungle. About
three or four o'clock in the afternoon they get on the move again; and
if they come upon water then they bathe. They travel about twenty or
thirty miles in the day, though if alarmed will keep on for double that
distance.

While we are following this trail a loud crash ahead of us awakens the
silent forest. I think at once that it is caused by the herd in whose
tracks we are. But Bechan, who is a man of few words, mutters
"_bunder_". And I look up and see a troop of monkeys leaping through the
upper branches and hurling themselves in alarm at the sight of us from
tree to tree. But their insatiable curiosity brings them back to peep at
us. Once this curiosity in one developed into impertinence; and the
impudent little beast deliberately pelted me. It happened that day that
when on foot I had been attacked by a rogue elephant which I had only
brought down with a bullet in the head fifteen paces from me. Ruffled by
the encounter I was going back to camp, seated on Khartoum's back.
Passing under a big tree a jungle fruit fell on me. Then, raising my
head, I saw a monkey in the tree grimacing and grinning derisively at
me. Coming after the elephant's attack his insolence seemed to add
insult to injury, and I felt tempted to reward it with a bullet. But it
would have been unnecessary cruelty; and I passed on leaving him still
mowing and making faces at me.

We leave the elephants' trail and emerge on a "fire line"; for in these
Government forests parallel belts, about twenty yards broad, are cleared
annually in an attempt to confine the ravages of the jungle fires in the
hot weather. They run east and west and are a mile apart, so that they
serve not only as roads, but also as guides to one's whereabouts in the
forest. As we come suddenly out on the fire line we see two or three
fox-like animals playing in it. They are the dreaded wild dogs which do
infinite damage to game. Even the tiger regards them with dislike and
fear; for, small as they are, they will worry him in a pack, chasing him
night and day and giving him no rest. They keep him always on the move,
remaining out of his reach until he is exhausted from fatigue and want
of sleep. They are pretty little animals, generally reddish, with sharp
ears and bushy tails. As soon as these stray dogs in the fire line see
us they bolt off into the jungle before I can get a shot at them; for on
account of the harm they do to the game every sportsman tries to kill
them. I once came upon a _sambhur_ and her fawn being attacked by a
number of these jungle pests. The hind was circling round, trying to
keep between her offspring and the enemy, and striking at the assailants
with her sharp hoof. Whilst some of the dogs engaged her in front others
tried to dash in at the fawn, retreating at once when the angry mother
swung round at them. They had already hamstrung the poor little beast
and torn out one of its eyes; so, when they fled as soon as they caught
sight of my elephant and the hind ran off, I put the wretched fawn out
of its misery with a merciful shot.

Across the fire line we entered the jungle again. Along a branch over
our heads a small animal runs swiftly and leaps into a neighbouring
tree. It is a giant squirrel, a pretty animal with long and bushy tail
and thick black fur, except on the breast, where it is white. It peeps
at us from behind the tree-trunk and then is lost to sight in the
foliage.

Khartoum pursues her leisurely way through the forest; for, in thick
jungle where we must swerve aside to avoid trees and hack a path through
creepers and undergrowth, we hardly go a mile an hour. But on a road I
have timed her to walk at the rate of four miles an hour. Suddenly my
eye is caught by a flash of bright colour; and I see a _khakur_ buck and
doe bounding through the trees ahead. Laying my hand on Bechan's
shoulder I make him stop the elephant. Then as the graceful little deer
cross our front in an open glade I fire and drop the male in its tracks.
The doe bounds off in affright. As the _mahout_ picks up the pretty
animal, too dead for him to _hallal_ it, binds its legs together and
hands it up to me to fasten on the pad, only the thought of its
succulent flesh reconciles me to the slaying of it. The _khakur_, or
barking deer, as it is called from its cry, which is similar to a dog's
bark, is of a bright chestnut colour and has a curious marking on the
face like a pair of very black eyebrows raised in surprise and continued
down the nose. The male has peculiar little horns with skin-covered
pedicles about three inches long, from which project the brow antlers
and the upper tines, which curve inward towards each other. These horns
are small, six inches being considered a very good length. The buck has,
in addition, a pair of sharp, thin, curved tusks in the upper jaw, which
it uses as weapons of offence. Satisfied with our bag we turn Khartoum's
head towards home, and reach Santrabari before dusk.

Such is a typical day in the jungle. Sometimes, though rarely, I was
unsuccessful in procuring something for the pot. But on one day I shot
three _sambhur_ and a _khakur_. My Rajput sepoys would not eat the flesh
of the former; for, like most Hindus, they imagined that its cloven hoof
made it kin to the sacred cow. But the Mussulmans of the detachment,
and the _mahouts_ and their families, and our coolies were grateful for
the meat.

Tough as a _sambhur's_ flesh is, we officers were glad of it ourselves
when nothing better offered. But our Hindus rejoiced exceedingly
whenever one of us brought home a wild boar; and the Mohammedans were
correspondingly disgusted, as pork is anathema to them. The slaying of a
boar with a gun in open country where pigsticking is possible is as
great a crime in India as shooting a fox in a hunting county in England;
but in the forest it is permissible. There were a few _cheetul_ or
spotted deer very like the English fallow deer in our jungles; but I
only saw one herd and secured one stag all the time I was at Buxa. They
usually frequent more open forests; and the spots on their hide
assimilating to the dappled light and shade of the sun through the
leaves is a good example of Nature's protective colouring. Thus the
black hide of the _sambhur_ stag blends easily with the dark shadows of
the denser forest and makes them very hard to see.

One does not often meet the dangerous beasts of the jungle by day.
Tigers and panthers, though frequent enough, generally move only by
night. Yet I often saw on the tree-trunks long scratches where these
animals had cleaned and sharpened their claws, just as the domestic cat
does on the legs of chairs and tables. They keep out of the way of
elephants; and so I sometimes must have passed some great feline, whose
fresh tracks I had just observed, sheltering in the undergrowth and
watching us as we went by. I have seen high up on the stems and branches
other scratches which showed where a bear had climbed in search of
fruit. These animals, the dreaded large Himalayan variety, usually dwell
in the hills and descend into the forest by night, so that they are
rarely met with by daylight. The natives regard them with terror; for,
if stumbled upon accidentally by some woodcutter, they will probably
attack him and smash his skull with a crushing blow of a paw. In our
stretch of jungle I only came across one rhinoceros and a herd of six
bison, which, being protected by the rules of the forest department, we
could not shoot. Once my elephant put up a stray bison calf which looked
at us with mild curiosity until my orderly climbed down and tried to
catch it. It trotted off out of his reach and stopped to look back at
him. We drove it for a mile before us, hoping to shepherd it into camp
and capture it: but we lost it in thick jungle. Wild elephants I
occasionally came across, and had a couple of unpleasant adventures with
them.

The fascination of a day's sport in the heart of the great forest is
beyond words. Even if nothing falls to one's rifle the pleasure of
roaming through the woodland is intense. Of the world nothing seems to
exist farther than the eye can see down the short vistas of soft green
light between the giant trees. Lulled by the swaying motion of the
elephant--not unpleasant when used to it--one's senses are nevertheless
keenly on the alert; for every stride may disclose some strange denizen
of the jungle either to be sought after or guarded against. And the
beauty of it all. The fern-carpeted glades, the drooping trails of
bright-coloured orchids, the tangled shadows of the dense undergrowth,
the glimpses of never-ending woodland between the great boles. And
always the hush, the intense silence of this enchanted forest.

The generous jungle provides everything that savage man needs. The
profusely growing bamboo will make his house or bridge the streams for
him. Its delicate young shoots can be eaten. Its bark gives excellent
lashing. Slit longitudinally it will serve as an aqueduct and convey the
water from the mountain torrents to his door. Cut into lengths it makes
cups and bottles for him. Should he need a cooking-pot, a length of
bamboo cut off below a knot can be filled with water and placed on the
fire; and the water will be boiled and food cooked long before the green
wood is much charred. For food the forest offers deer, pigs, and fowl.
There are several varieties of edible tubers. The unopened flowers of
the _simal_ tree are eaten as vegetables; while its seed makes a good
nourishing food for cattle, and the cotton of its burst-open pods is
used for stuffing pillows. The _pua_, a shrub with hairy shoots and dark
grey bark gives the fibre which can be woven into cloth or made into
fishing-nets, twine and net-bags. There is a creeper, the bark of which,
bruised and thrown into a stream, stupefies the fish and brings them
floating to the surface, where they can be easily caught. The _pani bel_
gives man water to drink. And, if he is ill, another creeper makes an
excellent febrifuge, while the gum of the _udal_ tree is used as a
purgative, and fomentations of the leaves of a shrub called _madar_ are
excellent for sprains and bruises. Food, drink, clothing, houses,
household utensils, medicine; what more does savage and simple man
require?

The jungle was called upon to provide me with an abode; for camping in
tents in the forest was a very unsafe proceeding, owing to the wild
elephants which might rush over the tents at night or, from sheer
curiosity, pull them down and stand on them to the detriment of the
occupants. So I got Bhuttia coolies to build a bamboo hut for me up in
the trees. Twenty-two feet from the ground they constructed a platform
supported by the tree-trunks and branches; and on this they erected a
cosy three-roomed dwelling with walls of split bamboo and roof thatched
with grass. It was reached by ladders. Although it shook to the tread of
anyone walking about in it, it was very strong. Split bamboo partitions
divided it off into the three apartments, sitting, bed and bathroom. It
was quite a romantic dwelling, such as a boy steeped in the lore of
Robinson Crusoe or Jules Verne would have loved. I named it Forest Lodge
and regarded it with pride. I thought it safe from the destructive
tendencies of wild elephants; for it was supported entirely by the
neighbouring trees, with the exception of one long bamboo pole helping
to hold up the roof. But once when it was left empty some mischievous
elephant discovered it. How it entered into his thick skull to do it I
do not know; but he dragged on the bamboo pole until he brought the
whole in ruins about his ears. However, I had it built up again, this
time with an open lower story surrounded by a bamboo wall to be used as
a dining-room. On its apparently frail flooring of split bamboo I once
entertained eight planters who had ridden over to see Forest Lodge the
Second and who, with my junior officer, myself, and three servants, made
a total of thirteen persons standing on the floor at the same time.
When shooting or when in camp in the forest with my detachment, for I
often brought my sepoys down to teach them jungle lore and practise them
in bush warfare, I always occupied it. It was never again dismantled by
elephants; though a similar but smaller building close by, occupied by
my servants, was several times destroyed by them.

[Illustration: FOREST LODGE THE FIRST.]

[Illustration: FOREST LODGE THE SECOND.]

The fact was that its position invited attack. It stood near a path,
much frequented by elephants, leading to a salt lick in the hills a few
hundred yards away. This was in a curious amphitheatre in the foothills
where landslips had left exposed precipitous slopes of a curious white
earth impregnated with some chemical salts, probably soda or natron, of
which wild animals are extremely fond. Bison, elephants, and deer of all
sorts used to come here at night to eat this earth; and tigers prowled
around it in search of prey. Native _shikarees_ (hunters) erected
_machâns_ or platforms over it to pot the deer at their ease. This
amphitheatre was almost a complete circle, save for one narrow chasm
which must have been cut by the force of water. It was a winding gully,
in places scarcely broad enough to allow the passage of an elephant with
a pad on its back. I wondered what happened when two tuskers met in the
narrow path. Its perpendicular sides were formed of the same white clay;
but at their bases were seams of coal, black and shining where freshly
exposed. When I saw them I thought that I had made a valuable discovery
of mineral wealth. But when I broke off lumps of the coal and placed
them on my camp fire I found that they would not burn; and I learned
that there is coal in these hills which is a thousand years too young
and, so, valueless. Thus faded my dream of the boundless wealth the
jungle was to give me.

Forest Lodge was a constant source of interest and wonderment to all the
monkeys in the neighbourhood. They used to gather in the tree-tops
around and hold conferences to discuss it. Perched on the branches
mothers with small babies clinging to them, sedate old men and frivolous
youngsters scratched themselves meditatively and chattered and argued as
to what manner of strange ape I was who had thus invaded their realm.
When restless young monkeys wearied of the endless discussion and
started to frivol, the elder ones seemed to rebuke their levity, and
when this failed to have the desired effect would spring with bared
teeth on the irreverent youth to chastise them; and the meeting then
broke up in disorder.

When my detachment was encamped around Forest Lodge the scene at night,
as I looked down from my windows, was truly Rembrandtesque. Their fires
glowed in the trees, lighting up the dark faces of the sepoys and
revealing with weird effect the huge forms of our transport elephants
restlessly swaying at their pickets, ears flapping and trunks swinging
as the big beasts incessantly shifted their weight from foot to foot.
Around the bivouac was built a zareba of cut thorny bushes; and the
guards mounted with ball cartridge in their pouches, not merely because
it is the custom of the Service, but to repel any prowling dangerous
beasts that might be tempted to visit the camp by night; for within
fifty yards of a sentry I had a shot at a bear; and a tiger killed a
_sambhur_ not a hundred yards from the zareba. And once I sat at the
window of my tree-dwelling listening to a tiger prowling around for a
long time, uttering short snorting roars but never approaching near
enough to give me a shot at him.

The voices of the men in the camp sounded loud through the silent forest
and must have astonished the wild animals making their way to the salt
lick close by, for at night all the jungle is awake. The beasts of prey
wander from sunset to sunrise in search of a meal; and the deer must be
on the alert against them. Only in the hot hours of the day dare they
repose in security and lie down to sleep in the shade of the
undergrowth. Even then they start at every sound, and the snapping of a
twig brings them to their feet; for to the harmless animals life in the
jungle is one constant menace. The birds and the monkeys in the trees
alone can devote the dark hours to slumber; there is no rest at night
for anything that dwells on the ground.

Now gradually the sepoys' voices die away and the flickering fires burn
low. The forest is hushed in silence, broken only by the eerie cry of
the great owl or the distant crash of a tree knocked down by a wild
elephant.



CHAPTER VI

ROGUES OF THE FOREST

    The lord of the forest--Wild elephants in India--_Kheddah_
        operations in the Terai--How rogues are made--Rogues
        attack villages--Highway robbers--Assault on a railway
        station--A police convoy--A poacher's death--Chasing an
        officer--My first encounter with a rogue--Stopping a
        charge--Difficulty of killing an elephant--The law on
        rogue-shooting--A Government gazette--A tame elephant
        shot by the Maharajah of Cooch Behar--Executing an
        elephant--A chance shot--A planter's escape--Attack on
        a tame elephant--The _mahout's_ peril--Jhansi's
        wounds--Changes among the officers in Buxa--A Gurkha's
        terrible death--The beginner's luck--Indian and Malayan
        _sambhur_--A shot out of season--A fruitless
        search--Jhansi's flight--A scout attacked by a
        bear--Advertising for a truant--The agony
        column--Runaway elephants--A fatal fraud--Jhansi's
        return.


What animal can dispute with the elephant the proud title of lord of the
forest? All give way to him as he stalks unchallenged through the
woodland. The vaunted tiger shrinks aside from his path; and only the
harmless beasts regard him without dismay, for he is merciful as he is
strong. And the shield of the British Government is raised to protect
him from man; for the laws of its forest department ordain that he must
not be slain.

The stretches of jungle along the foot of the Himalayas harbour herds of
wild elephants, which, thus saved from the sportsman's rifle, increase
and multiply. These useful and usually harmless animals are far from
being exterminated in India. Free to wander unscathed in Government
forests, their numbers are not diminishing. The continuity of the Terai
saves them from capture; for the ordinary _kheddah_ operations, which
consist of hemming a herd into a certain patch of jungle and driving it
into a stockade of stout timbers is useless in forests where the animals
can wander on in shelter indefinitely. This method is costly; for it
requires the services of a trained staff of hunters and large numbers of
coolies, and may take months. It was once tried near Buxa and, after a
great expenditure of money, labour and time, did not result in the
capture of one elephant. So the Government has adopted here another
system. It lets out the _kheddah_ rights to certain rajahs and big
_Zemindars_ (landholders) who furnish parties of hunters and tame
elephants to go into the jungle and pursue the herds. Once on the trail
of one they follow it persistently and keep it constantly on the move.
When a calf elephant becomes exhausted and falls behind the others, the
men fire on the mother and drive her off or kill her, surround the
youngster and secure it by slipping ropes on its legs. It is then
fastened between tame elephants and led off, a prisoner.

This method is responsible for the existence of a number of dangerous
"rogue" elephants in the jungles near Buxa; for the worried herds break
up and some of the males take to a solitary life. And of all the perils
of the forest the rogue is the worst. The tiger or the panther rarely
attacks man; and when it does, it is only for food. The bear, when
unmolested, is generally harmless. But the vicious rogue seems to kill
for the mere lust of murder. Occasionally a tusker, not belonging to a
harried herd, develops a liking to a lonely existence and strays away
from the others of his kind. Probably because he is an old bachelor and
deprived of the softening influence of the female sex, he becomes surly
and dangerous. He may take to wandering into cultivation at night and
feeding on the crops, as wild elephants often do. The villagers
naturally object to this, light fires around their fields, and turn out
with torches, horns and drums to scare the intruders off. The herds are
generally easily stampeded; but sometimes the surly old tusker, enraged
at having his meal of succulent grain disturbed, charges the peasants
and perhaps kills one or two of them. This not only destroys in him the
wild animal's natural dread of man, but seems to give him a taste for
bloodshed quite at variance with the elephant's accustomed gentleness of
disposition.

The tales told me when I first went to Buxa of the ferocity and lust of
cruelty of rogues seemed incredible. I heard of them deliberately
entering villages on tea gardens, breaking through the frail structures
of bamboo and tearing down hut after hut until they reached the houses
of the _bunniahs_, or tradesmen who dealt in grain and food-stuffs. Then
they feasted royally on the contents of the shops. Roads cut through the
forest lead from the railway line to the gardens or from village to
village; and along these come trains of bullock carts loaded with grain.
Wild elephants used to lie in wait in the jungle until these were
passing, then charge out on them, kill the drivers and bullocks and loot
the grain.

While I was at Buxa two cases occurred of such attacks on carts close
to Rajabhatkawa Station. In one the drivers got away safely; but a woman
with them tripped and fell to the ground. The elephant overtook her,
deliberately put his foot on her head and crushed her to death. In the
other case the natives all escaped; but the rogue killed several of the
bullocks, broke up the carts and hurled one on to the rails, where it
lay until removed by the railway company officials who actually
prosecuted the owner for obstructing the line. The station at
Rajabhatkawa was attacked on one occasion. A tusker elephant suddenly
appeared on the metals. The staff rushed into the building and locked
themselves in. An engine happened to be standing in the station and the
driver blew the whistle loudly to scare the animal off. The sound only
infuriated the elephant; but, probably not liking the appearance of the
engine, he ignored it, attacked the platform and tried to root it up. In
doing so he broke off one of his tusks and, screaming with pain, rushed
off into the jungle. I think that this was a brute with which I had a
fight afterwards.

The rogues did not always grasp the fact that every bullock cart passing
through the forest was not necessarily loaded with grain. On one
occasion a convoy of convicts loaded with iron fetters was being taken
to Alipur Duar in carts, escorted by armed native police. Suddenly from
the jungle through which they were passing rushed out a wild elephant
which charged the procession furiously. Drivers, police, prisoners,
leapt from the carts and fled in terror. The wretched convicts, hampered
by their leg-irons, stumbled, tripped and fell frequently. But
fortunately for them the rogue was too busily engaged in chasing the
frightened bullocks, killing them and smashing up the carts in a
fruitless search for grain, to pay any attention to the men; and they
all escaped.

A vicious elephant's method of slaughtering its human prey is
particularly horrible. Our nearest planter neighbour, Tyson of
Hathipota, was a man who knew the Terai well, having lived in various
parts of the Duars, and had had much experience in big-game shooting. He
told me of a terrible case which he had seen when on a visit to a forest
officer in the Western Duars jungles. Into his host's solitary bungalow
one day rushed two terrified forest guards to tell him of an awful
spectacle which they had just witnessed. They had been lying hidden
watching a well-known native poacher fishing in a preserved river. He
was on the opposite bank and the stream at that part was unfordable.
While they were discussing a plan to capture him, they saw a wild
elephant appear out of the jungle behind the poacher and stealthily
approach him. To their horror the brute suddenly rushed on the
unsuspecting man, knocked him down, trampled on him and then, placing
one foot on his thighs, wound its trunk round his body, seized him in
its mouth and literally tore him to pieces. The story seemed too
horrible to be true; but the forest officer and Tyson visited the spot
and found the corpse of the luckless poacher crushed and mutilated as
the eyewitnesses to the tragedy had narrated. The elephant's footprints
were clearly visible. I could hardly credit the story until a similar
case came to my own notice.

Another instance of unprovoked attack was related to me by Captain
Denham White, Indian Medical Service, who had formerly been doctor to
the Buxa detachment. An elephant had been reported to be committing
havoc in the forest in the vicinity; and the then commanding officer and
Denham White endeavoured to find and shoot him. They searched the jungle
for a week in vain. Then White vowed that the animal was a phantom
elephant and refused to accompany the commandant on the eighth day of
the hunt. Taking his orderly with him, he went fishing in a river which
flowed through the forest. The water in it was low; and the greater part
of the bed was dry and covered with loose, rounded boulders which had
been swept down from the hills during the Rains. White was busily
engaged with his rod and line when he heard the orderly shout. Turning,
he saw to his horror a large tusker elephant descending the steep bank
and coming straight towards them. It was the missing rogue. The two men
ran for their lives. The elephant pursued them, but, slipping and
stumbling over the loose boulders, was unable to move quickly. Denham
White, and his orderly gained the opposite bank and reached a road along
a fire line and got away. It was fortunate for them that they had a good
start and were close to this road; for in the jungle they would
inevitably have been overtaken and killed.

A good runner may outpace an elephant on level ground for a short
sprint. But in thick jungle a man has a poor chance. Undergrowth and
creepers that bar his progress will not hinder an elephant, which can
burst through them easily. He cannot escape up a tree; for the large
ones in the forest are devoid of branches for many feet from the ground,
and any tree slender enough for him to grasp and climb could be easily
knocked down by the elephant. But I am not sure that the animal would
have sufficient intelligence to do so in order to reach the man.

I was not long in Buxa before making the acquaintance of a rogue. About
three weeks after my arrival I was out in the forest on Khartoum,
accompanied by her _mahout_, Bechan, and a _shikaree_ or native hunter.
Early in the day I shot a _sambhur_ stag. The two men slipped off the
elephant to _hallal_ it; and I followed to photograph the dead beast
with a hand-camera. The _mahout_ was holding up the head in position for
me, when we heard a sudden crashing in the jungle behind us. Bechan
dropped the head in evident alarm and said:

"Sahib, that is a wild elephant. I believe it has been following us; for
I heard it behind us as we came along."

Hardly had he spoken, when the head of an elephant appeared above the
undergrowth. It was a male with a splendid pair of long curved tusks.
The moment it caught sight of us it stopped. New to the jungle, I was
under the impression that all wild elephants were inoffensive creatures.
So I was rejoiced at this opportunity of photographing one, for such
pictures are very rare; and, camera in hand, I started towards it. But
the moment Khartoum saw the intruder, she stampeded, followed by her
_mahout_. The _shikaree_ yelled:

"It's a mad elephant. Shoot, Sahib, shoot, and save our lives!" And he
bolted.

The newcomer still stood motionless, looking at me; and I smiled at my
men's alarm. Still I thought it advisable to put the camera down and
take up my rifle. It was unloaded; so I slipped in a couple of solid
bullets instead of the "soft-nosed" ones used for animals less hard
to pierce than elephants or bison. But I had no intention of firing; for
the forest regulations impose penalties up to six months' imprisonment
or a fine of five hundred rupees for killing an elephant. I looked
regretfully at the fine tusks; they would have been a splendid trophy.
Still smoking my pipe I walked towards the animal which had not moved
but was regarding me with a fixed stare. I halted and, taking off my big
sun-helmet, waved it in the air and shouted:

"Shoo! you brute. Be off!"

[Illustration: "THE MAHOUT WAS HOLDING UP THE HEAD."]

My voice seemed to enrage the elephant. Up went its head, it curled its
trunk, uttered a slight squeal and charged at me. I dropped on one knee
and aimed at its forehead. With the fear of the forest department before
my eyes, I hesitated to press the trigger until the huge bulk seemed
almost towering over me. Then I fired. As if struck by a thunderbolt the
elephant stopped dead in its furious rush and sank on its knees only
fifteen paces from me. But even then I did not realise what an escape I
had had. My first thought, as I picked up my pipe and stood erect was:
"How can I hide the body, so that the forest officer will never know of
my crime?"

So dense was the undergrowth that I could not see the prostrate animal
in it. Rifle-butt resting on the ground, I pulled at my pipe
perplexedly. I wondered how I could explain my act to the forest
authorities. I knew, of course, that I had not to fear imprisonment; but
a fine seemed certain. And a worse penalty might be inflicted, the
cancellation of my shooting-licence. And I shuddered at the thought of
two years in Buxa Duar if I were not allowed to solace my solitude by
sport. It never occurred to me that the fact that I would have been
killed if I had not fired would be accepted as a sufficient excuse for
breaking the Draconic laws of Government.

Suddenly the elephant rose up, turned and dashed away blindly into the
forest. My bullet had only stunned it. Bursting through the tangled
undergrowth, snapping tough creepers like thread, trampling down small
trees and smashing off thick branches, it rushed off mad with pain and
terror. Long after I had lost sight of it I could hear its noisy
progress through the jungle. I was intensely relieved at its recovery
and departure, and did not realise that it was fortunate for me that it
did not renew the attack.

I inspected the spot where it had fallen. The ground was ploughed up by
its toes where it had been suddenly stopped in its charge; and the
undergrowth was crushed flat from the weight of its body. There was a
fair amount of blood on the leaves and grass around. I measured the
distance to the spot where I had knelt. It was exactly fifteen paces; so
I had not fired a moment too soon. While I stood disconsolate the
_shikaree_ returned. He explained that after the shot he had listened
for my dying shrieks and, not hearing them, concluded that I had come
off victorious in the encounter. He endeavoured in vain to convince me
that I had been right to fire. Shortly afterwards Bechan returned with
the still terrified Khartoum; and he agreed with the other man. It
occurred to me that the elephant might have fallen again further on; so
I thought it advisable to follow him and if I found him dying, put him
out of pain. But Bechan and the _shikaree_ absolutely refused to go with
me; so I started off on foot. But in fifty yards I realised that I
would certainly lose myself in the jungle, so I was obliged to return
ignominiously to them.

Next day, however, Bechan's courage was restored; and he took me again
to the spot. We had no difficulty in picking out the tusker's trail. A
broad, almost straight track led away for hundreds of yards. The
undergrowth was trampled down, small trees broken off and the ground
covered with branches snapped off by the animal's body in its blind
haste. At one place the beast had stopped and kicked up some earth to
plaster on its wound, as elephants always do. We followed the trail for
nearly three miles and then lost it where it mingled with innumerable
old tracks of other elephants.

When I knew more about these animals I was not surprised that my shot
had not killed the rogue. The front of an elephant's skull is enormously
thick and the brain is very small. A bullet in the head not reaching the
brain will never kill the brute on the spot, and is not necessarily
fatal. Sanderson, the great authority on elephant-shooting narrates many
such cases and says:

     "It will be evident, on an examination of the skull, that if
     the brain be missed by a shot no harm will be done to the
     animal, as there are no other vital organs, such as large
     blood-vessels etc., situated in the head. It thus happens that,
     in head shots, if the elephant is not dropped on the spot he is
     very rarely bagged at all. A shot that goes through his skull
     into his neck without touching his brain may kill him, but it
     will take time. I have never recovered any elephant that has
     left the spot with a head shot. The blood-trail
     for a few yards is generally very thick; but it often ceases as
     suddenly as it is at first copious. Elephants are sometimes
     floored by the concussion of a shot, if the ball passes very
     close to the brain; large balls frequently effect this. No time
     should be lost in finishing a floored elephant, or he will
     certainly make his escape. Many cases have occurred of
     elephants which have been regarded as dead suddenly recovering
     themselves and making off."

The position of the head held high in charging protects the one deadly
spot in the forehead; and, to quote Sanderson again:

     "To reach the brain of a charging elephant from in front the
     bullet must pass through about three feet of curled trunk,
     flesh and bone. It is thus occasionally impossible to kill an
     elephant if the head be held very high."

I could have finished off the tusker at my ease as he lay on the ground,
had it not been for my loyal obedience to the regulations. On my return
to Buxa I sent a telegram, followed by an official letter of explanation
and apology, to the forest officer. His reply filled me with annoyance
when I learned that my scruples had been uncalled for and that I could
have slain the brute, and probably would have been allowed to keep the
tusks. His letter said:
                                                        "RAJABHATKAWA,
                                                           "14-1-09.
"MY DEAR CASSERLY,--Yours of 11-1-09 _re_ elephant. You were undoubtedly
justified in shooting at it; and I must congratulate you on a very
narrow escape. In defence of self or property or cultivation you may
shoot at any elephant but as far as I read the Act, which is somewhat
vague, you must not pursue the elephant further unless it is a
'proclaimed' rogue; that is, proclaimed by Government. There are a
number of solitary male rogue elephants about that are always dangerous
and should be shot at on sight, especially if you have an elephant with
you. If you can tell me the approximate height of this elephant and if a
single or double tusker and any distinguishing peculiarities, I will
write to the deputy commissioner and get it proclaimed. We had a man
killed in one of our forest villages at Mendabari recently; and our
_babus_ were held up the other day by a rogue. But this animal has one
tusk broken off short. A double tusker killed one of our sawyers near
here and was proclaimed and a reward of fifty rupees and the tusks
offered. Possibly this was your elephant.

                                                 "Yours etc., etc."

Rogue elephants, like man-eating tigers, are honoured with a notice in
Government gazettes. Shortly afterwards I received a copy of such a
gazette, which read:

"A reward of fifty rupees is offered for the destruction of each of the
rogue elephants described below:

     (1). One single-tusker height 9' 10". This animal killed a man
     on 2nd January, 1909, and frequents the Borojhar Forest and
     western portion of the Buxa reserve and does considerable
     damage to crops in the adjoining villages.

     (2). One double-tusker with large tusks. Height 9' 10". This
     animal charged Captain Casserly and his elephant on the 30th
     Mile line of the Buxa reserve and was only turned by a shot at
     close quarters."

Not long afterwards, when on a visit to the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, I
was taken by his second son, Prince Jitendra, to inspect the Peelkhana.
There I saw an example of how easily elephants recover from terrible
wounds. Securely chained to a tree at a distance from the other animals
was a large tusker which, while the Maharajah had been having a beat for
tiger a few weeks before, had suddenly gone mad and attacked the other
elephants. Prince Rajendra, the present Maharajah,[3] had ridden up
close to it and fired two shots at it from his heavy cordite rifle. One
bullet struck it in the head, the other in the shoulder. Yet here it was
feeding in apparently the best of health. Below the right eye was the
scar of an almost healed wound; while in the shoulder a hole was still
visible but nearly filled up. And five years before, when suffering from
a similar attack of madness, it had been shot by the Maharajah with his
·500 rifle, and had completely recovered in a very short time from the
wounds then received.

In the days of a previous commanding officer of Buxa a tame elephant had
been condemned to death on account of old age and infirmity and was
handed over to the detachment to be shot. A squad of sepoys with ·303
Lee-Enfield rifles was drawn up five paces in front of it and fired a
volley at its forehead. But the elephant only winced at the blows and
stood its ground. Then the men drew off to one side and aimed at its
heart. A volley here killed it. The British officer had the head skinned
and found that the first bullets had only penetrated a very short way
into the skull, some of them being flattened against the bone.

On the other hand cases have occurred of elephants succumbing easily to
chance shots from small-bore rifles. On a tea garden not far from Buxa a
rogue had been destroying the crops in the cultivation. A young planter
sat up in a _machân_[4] in a tree near the fields to watch for it. He
was armed with a ·303 carbine. He fell asleep and suddenly woke up to
find the elephant passing right underneath him. Without taking aim he
fired blindly into the dark mass below his _machân_. The elephant rushed
off. The planter remained on his perch until daylight, and, descending,
met his manager and told him what he had done. The latter was an
experienced sportsman and inveighed forcibly at the useless cruelty of
firing at an elephant with such a small bullet, which could only wound
and infuriate the animal. While he was speaking a coolie ran up to
inform that the elephant was lying dead a few hundred yards in the
fields. The bullet, entering the back from above, had been deflected by
bones and had taken an erratic course through the body, seeming to have
pierced every vital organ in it in turn.

I heard of a case in Assam where a planter, carrying a ·303 rifle, was
walking along a road when he was suddenly charged by a wild elephant. He
fired at its mouth. The animal turned and ran away. As it did so the
planter fired again and hit it under the tail. The elephant staggered on
a short distance and then fell dead. One of my sepoys, when on guard at
Santrabari, fired at a wild elephant which was attacking our tame ones
in the stables. The man used his Lee-Enfield rifle and scarcely waited
to take aim.

Yet the animal, a _muckna_ or tuskerless male, dropped dead within a few
yards.

Our tame elephants were taken into the forest every day to graze. One
morning Jhansi was out in charge of her _mahout_ about two miles from
Santrabari, when a single-tusker rogue suddenly charged out of the
jungle at her. The terrified _mahout_ flung himself off her neck and
crept away through the undergrowth. The rogue hurled himself against
Jhansi and knocked her down by the force of his attack. He drove his one
tusk deep into her back and drew off to gather impetus for a fresh
charge. Jhansi scrambled to her feet and bolted. The brute pursued her,
prodding viciously at her hind quarters; but being a fast mover, she
outstripped him and got back to Santrabari. Her vicious assailant
followed her for a short distance and then returned to search the
undergrowth for the _mahout_ but, luckily for the latter, without
finding him. Jhansi was brought up to the fort for me to doctor. I found
a round punctured wound several inches deep in her back; and on her rump
were several smaller holes and cuts made by the rogue elephants. She was
an excellent patient and stood the cleaning and disinfecting of her
wounds admirably.

This unprovoked attack made it imperative that I should try to put an
end to the rogue's career; for, if he remained in our neighbourhood, the
_mahouts_ would be afraid to take their animals out to graze. So I
instituted a hunt for him. Creagh had been transferred to Gyantse in
Tibet, his place being taken by a junior captain of the regiment named
Balderston. A young Irish lieutenant in the Indian Medical Service was
now our doctor, as Smith had gone to another corps. As it was during the
rainy season when the Terai Jungle is filled with the deadliest malarial
fever, it was impossible to camp in the forest. But I came down from the
hills every day and searched far and wide for the outlaw and soon found
terrible traces of his presence. The body of a Gurkha, killed by him,
was discovered on a path through the jungle. The man had been proceeding
along it on foot when he had been met and attacked by the rogue. His
head and body had been crushed flat and stamped into the ground, the
legs torn off and hurled twenty yards away. The elephant had evidently
placed his foot on the body, taken the legs in his mouth and torn the
poor wretch to pieces. The sight made me long to meet the brute and put
an end to his vicious career. But though we searched the jungle day
after day, we never met him.

However, during the hunt, our doctor, who was new to big-game shooting,
had the usual beginner's luck and secured the record _sambhur_ head for
the district. The _sambhur_ in these jungles belong to the Malayan
species which, probably owing to the dense forest they inhabit, have
much shorter though thicker horns than the so-called Indian _sambhur_
found in other parts of the Peninsula. The stags are generally darker,
the old ones almost black or slate-coloured; and their tails are more
bushy. While the record Indian head is fifty and an eighth inches,
Lydekker gives the longest Malayan antlers as thirty and an eighth
inches; though an officer formerly in Buxa shot one with horns
thirty-three inches in length.

As killing deer is prohibited in Government jungles during the hot
weather and Rains, that being the close season, I had warned Balderston
and the doctor not to fire at any we met with. And besides this, I did
not want to run the risk of alarming the rogue for which we were
hunting. But one day we came suddenly upon a large _sambhur_ stag. It
was the first specimen of big game that the doctor, new to India, had
ever seen. He became greatly excited and raised his rifle. Balderston,
behind whom he was seated on Dundora, warned him not to fire; but,
misunderstanding in his excitement, he pulled the trigger. The bullet
struck the _sambhur_ in the foreleg; and the beast went off limping.
Shooting a stag in the close season is a dire offence in the sportsman's
eye; and Balderston and I abused the unfortunate doctor roundly.
However, as it would have been sheer cruelty to allow a wounded animal
to get away, I ordered our _mahouts_ to pursue. We came up to the stag
in about half an hour; and I shot him through the heart. On measuring
the horns we discovered them to be thirty-three inches long, which
equalled the record Malay _sambhur_ I have mentioned.

About three weeks after we gave up the search for the rogue and were
satisfied that he had left our jungles, our three elephants were taken
out to graze in the forest by the coolies who assist the _mahouts_. It
was the duty of these men to remain with their charges; but, as it
happened to be pay-day in Buxa, they shackled the elephants' forelegs
with chains and left them to feed, while they themselves climbed up to
the fort for their salaries. On their return, several hours later, they
found Khartoum and Dundora browsing placidly on the trees; but Jhansi
had disappeared. She had contrived to slip her shackles, which lay on
the ground. The _mahouts_, searching for her, came on the track of a
herd of wild elephants, which had passed close to our tame ones. It was
conjectured that Jhansi, remembering her recent unpleasant adventure
with the rogue, had become alarmed at the sight of them, got rid of her
chain and fled away in an opposite direction. But, unlike the previous
occasion, she did not return to Santrabari. At the time I happened to be
on leave in Darjeeling; so Captain Balderston took our trained company
scouts to look for her. Each man carried his rifle and ball cartridge to
protect himself if necessary. It was well that they did; for on the
second day of their search one of them was wantonly attacked by a large
bear. A bullet from the sepoy's rifle taught it that it had not a
helpless woodcutter to deal with; and, howling with pain, it ran off.

On my return I borrowed elephants from the forest officer and started
out on a systematic hunt for the truant. As in the army an officer
generally has to pay for any article of Government property lost while
in his charge, I was afraid that I might be called upon to replace
Jhansi. The cost of a female elephant runs into hundreds of pounds; so I
did not relish the prospect. I telegraphed to the brigade headquarters
announcing Jhansi's loss; and when the reply came I opened it in fear
and trembling. It only referred me to a certain paragraph in the Army
Regulations for India. I consulted it at once, and to my relief found
that it merely directed me to advertise the loss of a Government
elephant in a newspaper. Not knowing which journal Jhansi was in the
habit of perusing, and wondering if I was supposed to word the
announcement in the phrasing of the agony column, "Come back to your
sorrowing friends and all will be forgiven," I eventually tried the
columns of a Calcutta daily. But it did not bring the truant back. As
month after month went by, I lost hope of ever seeing her again.
Whenever I heard that a _kheddah_ party had captured an elephant which
evidently had once been tame I sent off Jhansi's _mahout_ to inspect the
prisoner.

It often happens that animals which have been in captivity for some time
escape and take to the jungle again. If caught they are soon discovered
to have been domesticated; and _mahouts_ of lost elephants are sent to
view them, as their former charges will always recognise and obey them.
I heard of a case of attempted fraud, with a fatal ending, in this
connection. A _mahout_ falsely claimed an elephant as his and mounted
it. The animal, enraged at being handled by a stranger, dragged him off
her neck and stamped him to death before the horrified spectators could
intervene.

Eight months after Jhansi's disappearance I was informed by the
_mahouts_ that she had suddenly come out of the jungle and approached
the Peelkhana. She stood at a safe distance watching her former
comrades. When the men went towards her to secure her, she fled into the
jungle. I ordered the _mahouts_ to leave food in her stall and not to
attempt to interfere with her unless she came right into the stables.
Next day she made her appearance at feeding-time. The men took no notice
of her, placed the usual meal of rice and leaves before Dundora and
Khartoum and deposited her allowance in her "standing." Jhansi marched
boldly in and began to eat it; and the men crept in behind her and
slipped the iron shackles on her legs. She showed no resentment and
continued feeding unconcernedly, and afterwards she gave no trouble, did
her usual work, and seemed to feel no regret at the loss of her
freedom.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] He died in 1913, since this was written.

[4] A platform erected in a tree at a height above the ground.



CHAPTER VII

A FIGHT WITH AN ELEPHANT

    We sight a rogue--A sudden onslaught--A wild elephant's
        attack--Shooting under difficulties--Stopping a
        rush--Repeated attacks--An invulnerable foe--Darkness
        stops the pursuit--A council of war--Picking up the
        trail--A _muckna_--A female elephant--Photographing a
        lady--A good sitter--A stampede--A gallant
        Rajput--Attacking on foot--A hazardous feat--A narrow
        escape--Final charge--A bivouac in the forest--Dangers
        of the night--A long chase--Planter
        hospitality--Another stampede--A career of
        crime--Eternal hope--A king-cobra--Abandoning the
        pursuit--An unrepentant villain--In the moment of
        danger.

Khartoum stepped along at her usual deliberate pace through the jungle,
occasionally raising her trunk to sweep the leaves off a branch and cram
them into her mouth, or plucking a tuft of long grass to brush away the
troublesome flies. On her neck the _mahout_ swayed to the motion, while
I sat nursing my heavy ·470 cordite rifle and talking to my orderly,
Draj Khan, seated behind me on the pad. He carried a ·303 carbine. We
were passing through a patch of thin forest bare of undergrowth, when
Bechan pulled up suddenly and whispered:

"_Jungli hathi!_ (A wild elephant)."

About sixty yards ahead a large tusker was standing apparently half
asleep under the trees, its right side towards us. I wondered if, since
it was alone, I could consider it an outlaw which it would be
justifiable to shoot. The probabilities were, as there were no signs of
a herd in the vicinity, that it was a rogue. While I was mentally
debating the question I slipped a couple of solid cartridges into my
rifle. As I did so the elephant turned its head slowly and I saw that it
had only one tusk.

"_Sahib! Sahib! wuh budmash hai!_ (It is the rogue!") whispered Bechan
excitedly.

At that moment it caught sight of us. Without hesitation, it turned and
charged straight at us. There was no doubt now of its being a rogue; and
probably it was Jhansi's assailant and the murderer of the Gurkha. I
wished to wait until it was near enough for me to make sure of a fatal
head-shot; but Khartoum became alarmed and tried to bolt. The _mahout_
did his best to stop her.

"Shoot, Sahib, shoot! My elephant will not stand," he cried, beating her
savagely with the iron _ankus_.

So, as I could not get a shot at the head as the animal came through the
trees at us, I fired at its shoulder in the hope of laming it and
bringing it to a stand, so that I could finish it at close quarters. But
it did not seem to feel the bullet and never checked in its stride. I
was being favoured with a spectacle which it is not given to many
sportsmen in India to witness. Sanderson says of it that

"the wild elephant's attack is one of the noblest sights of the chase. A
grander animated object than a wild elephant in full charge can hardly
be imagined. The cocked ears and broad forehead present an immense
frontage; the head is held high with the trunk curled between the tusks
to be uncurled in the moment of attack; the massive forelegs come down
with the force and regularity of ponderous machinery; and the whole
figure is foreshortened, and appears to double in size with each
advancing stride. The wild elephant's onslaught is as dignified as it
seems overwhelming."

I confess that at the moment I was little disposed to admire the
spectacle. Khartoum plunged and swayed until I was nearly shot off her
back. If she stampeded our position would be extremely dangerous, for we
would probably be swept off her back by the branches and creepers; and
to be thrown to the ground in front of the pursuing rogue meant a
certain and awful death. Bechan, hammering furiously at Khartoum's thick
skull, yelled at me to fire; and my excited orderly kept urging me to
"kill the _budmash_." I fired again, and the tusker, checked in his
rush, swung off to one side. As he passed us among the trees, I gave him
a third bullet in the ribs at forty yards. The report of my rifle had an
almost instantaneously calming effect on Khartoum. She desisted from her
efforts to bolt; and when I ordered the _mahout_ to follow the fleeing
rogue, she obeyed him and moved off quietly. We came on him about a
quarter of a mile away in much denser jungle. He was standing sideways
to us; and I took a steady shot at his ear, which should have been
fatal. But instead of dropping to it, he swung round and charged us
again. I told my orderly to aim at his knee, while I fired at his
forehead. The two shots rang out together; but the apparently
invulnerable brute only turned and fled. He was, however, limping badly;
and I quickened his flight with another bullet. This time Khartoum had
stood like a rock. We urged her on after him and overtook him partially
concealed behind a stout tree-trunk. He seemed on the point of
collapsing on the ground. But the moment he caught sight of us he
charged again. My orderly and I aimed at the same spots as before and
fired together. But the brute bore a charmed life. He swung off and
dashed into thick jungle, but not before I could get another shot at
him. The undergrowth closed around him and hid him from our sight. We
followed at once on his track and found the bushes and grass splashed
with blood. Every moment I expected to come upon him lying dead or
dying. None of our shots had missed him; so he carried eight bullets
from my heavy rifle and two from Draj Khan's carbine. It seemed
impossible that he could live long. The trail was an easy one to follow
and we found no difficulty in distinguishing it from old tracks; for he
was evidently limping badly. One of his forelegs seemed to be useless;
and where he had passed across a dry river-bed we found the impressions
of three sound feet and the marks of the fourth trailing helplessly. But
for all that we did not overtake him until we had covered three miles.
We came upon him standing head towards us under a tree in thorny
undergrowth. We stopped Khartoum about thirty yards from him; and he
never moved as we took deliberate aim. We fired; and the shock of my
heavy bullet in the skull drove him back on his haunches in the
undergrowth. But again he recovered his footing and dashed away before
we could get in a second shot. I was absolutely amazed at his tenacity
of life and began to think that it was useless wasting lead on him; but
we forced our way through the thorns and followed until the sun sank
low in the sky. Then, marking a spot where the trail led across a broad
and empty river-bed, I gave the order to turn Khartoum's head towards
camp, resolved to take up the pursuit next day. I thought it highly
probable that we should find the animal dead; for he now had twelve
bullets in him.

At the time the detachment was inhabiting a stockaded post we had built
in the jungle; and the men were out practising bush warfare in the
forest every day. The spot where I first encountered the rogue was
hardly a mile from this post. It was imperative that I should find and
finally dispose of him, for I could not expose my sepoys to the danger
of an unexpected meeting with him while engaged in their work; and the
jungle would be absolutely unsafe while he was in the neighbourhood. He
was almost undoubtedly the elephant which had wounded Jhansi and killed
the Gurkha; and there were probably many more crimes to his account. His
first unprovoked attack on us, and the daring of his repeated charges
after being wounded, showed that he was a vicious and formidable brute;
and the forest would be uninhabitable until he had been slain or driven
far away.

When we reached camp that night I held a council of war with Captain
Balderston and our native officers. It was resolved that I should take
out with me next day one of our _subhedars_, a fine old Rajput named
Sohanpal Singh, and his orderly on a second elephant. We determined to
bring blankets and food with us, so that we could follow the trail for
days if necessary, bivouacking wherever night found us. I hoped that,
badly wounded as the animal was, the pursuit would not be a long one;
but I was prepared to carry it on for days, if necessary.

[Illustration: SUBHEDAR SOHANPAL SINGH.]

At daybreak we started out, Sohanpal Singh and his orderly on Dundora,
while Draj Khan and I led the way on Khartoum. The three were armed with
Government ·303 rifles, while I had my cordite rifle. Our blankets were
strapped on the pads, and our haversacks were filled with food. I
carried a loaf of bread and a tin of corned beef in mine; while my
Thermos flask was filled with limejuice and boiled water. Thus equipped,
we started out amidst the cheers of the sepoys, who had been deeply
interested in the account of the fights we had had on the previous day.
Our route lay by a jungle village called Rungamutti, two miles from our
stockade; and a couple of hours after we had passed it we picked up the
elephant's trail.

The jungle across the river-bed where we had stopped the pursuit was at
first fairly open; and I hoped that we should find our quarry in it. We
came on the spot where he had passed the night. The grass was pressed
down all around and was covered with blood. This was encouraging; and we
went on full of hope. Suddenly through the trees we caught sight of an
elephant standing sideways to us. The mahouts halted their animals and
we brought our rifles to the ready.

But Bechan whispered, "That is not the _budmash_, Sahib. See, it has no
tusks."

It was a _muckna_ or tuskerless male. These are generally timid beasts,
being constantly bullied in the herds by the males provided by Nature
with weapons of offence. As soon as this one caught sight of us it
bolted away through the jungle. We watched its headlong flight and then
continued on the trail. A mile or two further on the jungle had the
appearance of an English wood and the ground was carpeted with ferns. In
an open glade we saw another elephant. It was a female; and, although it
turned its head and looked at us, it did not evince any alarm. So I
determined to try to secure a photograph of it. I handed my rifle to
Draj Khan and took up my Kodak. The wild elephant stood still while I
opened and adjusted the camera and pressed the bulb. As soon as the
click of the shutter announced that the operation was over, she turned
and moved slowly off into the jungle, while I waved my hat to her and
expressed my thanks for her courtesy in waiting until I had taken her
portrait. Unfortunately I had been too far off to secure a really good
photograph, which was to be regretted, for such pictures are, naturally,
extremely rare.

After her departure we moved on again. The forest grew denser; and the
thick and entangled undergrowth delayed our progress; for, of course, a
tame elephant with a pad and men on her back cannot slip through it as
easily as an unencumbered wild one can do. So we were continually
obliged to make detours and could not follow the trail closely.

About eleven o'clock in the morning a sudden crash in the jungle a
hundred yards ahead of us startled our elephants. Before the _mahouts_
could stop them they swung round and stampeded. It was my first
experience of being bolted with; and it was decidedly unpleasant.
Dundora, which had been behind, was now leading, and dashed through the
trees, followed closely by Khartoum. As the noise had apparently been
caused by the rogue, I tried to turn round on the pad, ready to fire.
And doing so, while at the same time endeavouring to hold on and dodge
the boughs and creepers overhead, was no easy task. Over and over again
I was nearly swept off. Luckily the _mahouts_ soon got their elephants
in hand and stopped them. Then we cautiously advanced again, expecting
every moment that the rogue would charge out on us. But when we reached
the spot whence the noise had proceeded we found by the trail that he
had been lying down and, startled by our appearance, had risen and fled.
We urged our elephants forward. The chase was becoming exciting. We
followed as fast as we could go, hoping every minute to catch sight of
the quarry. The jungle was growing more difficult and we made slow
progress.

[Illustration: "WE SAW ANOTHER ELEPHANT."]

At last, after three hours, we heard him. He was concealed in a dense
thicket of thorny undergrowth. We skirted cautiously round it, hoping to
see him and get a shot. But, although we could hear him, he was
completely hidden. At length my native officer said:

"Sahib, why should we men be afraid of an animal? Let us attack him on
foot."

The plucky old man had, in his own country and armed only with a sword,
ridden at a tiger; but he did not realise that we were now facing a far
more dangerous foe. His proposal was madness. The jungle was almost
impenetrable, and we could not see five yards ahead in it. But before I
could dissuade him the gallant old Rajput slid from Dundora's back,
followed by his orderly, and walked towards the thicket. It was useless
to try and stop him; so, cursing his foolhardiness, I dropped to the
ground with Draj Khan. As I had the best rifle I pushed the others aside
and got in front. But I had to reckon with the devotion of the native
soldier for his British officer. They tried to prevent me from taking
the post of danger and pulled me back. We had a ridiculous struggle for
precedence, which was liable to be turned into a tragedy by the rogue's
appearance at any moment. With difficulty I had my own way; though I
certainly felt no desire to go first into what I knew was a mad
undertaking. But it was only when I tried to force my way into the
thicket that I fully realised our folly. The tangled vegetation was
composed of thickly interlaced thorny bushes; I can only compare it to
strong fishing-nets studded freely with hooks. Torn and bleeding from a
dozen scratches I tried to worm my way in. Then to my horror I heard the
rogue bursting through it at us. I was pinned down by the thorny
branches, bound around by pliant creepers, unable to stand upright or
even raise my rifle. I certainly thought that my last hour had come;
for, securely pinioned by the cruel vegetation, I was helpless. The men
behind me were in the same plight. But at that moment the _mahouts_
saved us. Realising our extreme danger, they bravely urged their
elephants into the thicket after us. The rogue at the sight of them
stopped dead. Though he was not five yards from me, I could not
distinguish him clearly, so dense was the undergrowth, but could only
make out portions of his body through the tangle. He retreated a few
paces, and we tried to scramble out. I could not turn; but shoving my
legs out backwards, I tore myself free from the vicious thorns and
retired face to the foe. My rifle was at full cock and I was afraid
that the triggers might be caught by the twigs, but I dared not lower
the hammers. Foot by foot I forced my way back slowly and painfully.
When I reached the edge of the thicket, my men, who had extricated
themselves, seized me and dragged me out. We looked at each other. I
don't know what colour I was; but my men were as nearly pale as it is
possible for a native to be. Even my brave old _subhedar's_ courage was
shaken. He had lost all desire to enter the thicket again, for the
danger had been really great. Had the rogue not stopped of his own
accord nothing could have saved me, and probably the others, from a most
unpleasant death. Of course I ought never to have attempted to enter the
undergrowth, as I had fully realised the foolhardiness of it; but I
could not allow my sepoys to believe that I was afraid. However,
everybody now had quite enough of the attack on foot and gladly mounted
the elephants. We did so one by one, the others standing with rifles
ready to repel an assault. We circled round the thicket cautiously,
hoping to find an easier line of approach. Suddenly our vicious
antagonist came charging through the dense undergrowth straight at
Khartoum. I halted her ten yards from the edge of the covert. I could
vaguely make out the rogue's vast bulk bursting through the tangle, and
raised my rifle. Half his body was clear of the jungle, the head thrown
up, the trunk curled and the single tusk pointed menacingly at me, when
I fired straight at his forehead. The force of the blow drove him back
on his haunches into the undergrowth; while the native officer and the
two orderlies poured a volley into his side, one of the men getting in a
second shot. I could not see him clearly enough to give him the other
barrel, and I expected to hear him collapse at last. But, inconceivable
as it seems, he recovered himself, swung about and bolted out of the
other side of the thicket. I could hardly believe it; but we heard him
plainly enough as he dashed off through the jungle. I began to think
that it really was useless to waste lead on him; but we followed. He was
lost to sight; but the trail was plain. I looked at my watch; it was two
o'clock in the afternoon. From that hour until night fell we kept up the
pursuit. Obliged to desist owing to the darkness, I determined to
bivouac in the forest. We were now too far from the camp to return to
it. So we made our way along a river-bed until, near the foot of the
hills, we found water in it. Then dismounting we let our elephants drink
and prepared for the night. As the tracks of wild animals abounded in
the sand near the edge of the water, for the stream disappeared into the
ground here and it was the last drinking-place for miles, I ordered
fires to be lit around us; for, in the dark, wild elephants attracted by
Dundora and Khartoum might rush over us, or a hungry tiger might be
unable to resist the temptation of an easy meal provided by sleeping
men. My companions ate the _chupatties_ or flour cakes they carried with
them; while I dined on my bread and preserved meat. Then, telling off
one of our number to keep watch in turn, we rolled ourselves in our
blankets and lay down to sleep. A chill wind blew down from the
mountains and the damp sand made a cold bed; but in a few minutes
everyone but the sentry and I was asleep. I heard our elephants chained
on the bank tearing the branches from the trees near them. A sudden
spurt of flame from the fires lit up their huge bodies, which were
vague and shadowy in the flickering light. I looked at the stars
overhead and the faint outline of the mountains towering over us, until
at last fatigue overpowered me and I slept.

At daybreak next morning we turned out. On going to wash in the stream
we found the "pugs"[5] of a panther in the sand about fifty yards from
our bivouac, while a couple of hundred yards farther away the huge
footprints of elephants were plainly visible; so our fires had probably
saved us from some unwelcome visitors. I had to make a frugal breakfast
on the heel of the loaf and the last fragments of tinned meat, washed
down by a drink from the stream. The blankets were rolled up and
strapped on the elephants' backs; and we started to pick up the trail.
We found it without difficulty and followed it all day. It led us
towards the south away from the hills. But we could not come up with the
rogue. Night found us in the vicinity of a tea garden, the manager of
which I had met once; so I determined to claim his hospitality. When we
reached his bungalow I learned that he had ridden over to a neighbouring
estate, but was expected back to dinner. His native overseers took
charge of my party and found them food and shelter. After a long wait in
the bungalow I yielded to the persuasions of the owner's servant and ate
the excellent dinner he provided for me; then I lay down in the
guest-room and fell asleep. At midnight I was awakened by the return of
my unwitting host, who, however, made me thoroughly welcome when he
discovered me. And next morning before I started off on the pursuit
again he loaded me with supplies.

To record the incidents of what proved a long, weary and fruitless chase
would fill a volume. For nine days more we followed the trail, never far
behind the rogue but never catching sight of him. He led us first into
the dense and tropical vegetation of the jungles around Rajabhatkawa,
where we forced our way through luxuriant tree-ferns, their undersides
studded thick with long curved thorns. On the second day we were passing
through tall elephant grass with waving plumes that nodded high over our
heads. We followed a path made by the passage of wild animals. The two
orderlies were on foot in front, picking up the trail, when we heard,
fifty yards ahead, the rogue crashing suddenly through the jungle. The
startled men turned and ran towards our elephants which, alarmed at the
sight of their terror, turned sharp and stampeded. Having been leading,
I now found myself looking down the muzzle of Sohanpal Singh's rifle as
he swung round ready to fire over Dundora's tail if the rogue chased us.
Luckily in the tall grass there was no danger of our being swept off the
pads; and the _mahouts_ soon stopped their animals and brought them
back. But when we got clear of the cover we found that it lined the bank
of a broad, empty river-bed across which our prey had escaped while our
elephants had been retreating. In the sand we found his unmistakable
track with the useless foreleg dragging helplessly over the ground. Had
our animals not bolted at the critical moment we would have reached the
river-bank in time to have a clear shot at him as he crossed in the
open. For the remainder of the chase we never got so close to him again.

Wherever night found us we bivouacked; unless a lucky chance brought us
near a tea garden, where I sought the planters' unfailing hospitality.
Men whose names I did not know welcomed me with the cordiality of old
friends and made me and my train comfortable for the night. I found that
I was known to most by reputation as the lunatic who had walked up to a
notorious rogue elephant with only a camera in his hand. All gladly
aided me in my venture; for I learned that the brute I was pursuing was
infamous throughout the district. Everyone had a tale to tell of him,
and never to his credit. On one garden he had entered the coolies'
village and, finding a native baby in his path, had picked it up in his
trunk and hurled it on to the roof of a hut. Alarmed by its cries the
parents had rushed out only to be met and trampled to death by the
murderous brute. On another garden the manager and a friend were
strolling in the dusk along a road within two hundred yards of the
bungalow. Smoking and chatting, they were all unconscious of the fact
that this rogue was stalking silently towards them intent on murder.
Suddenly the planter's terrier saw it and rushed barking at it.
Frightened as all elephants are of dogs, the animal turned off the road
and plunged in among the tea bushes; and it was only then that his
intended victims perceived him. My bullets were by no means the first
that he had received. He had been shot at and wounded over and over
again. One planter advised me, if I eventually succeeded in killing him,
to exploit his body as a lead mine.

Hope springs eternal in the sportsman's breast; and day after day I set
out at dawn cheered by the expectation that surely this day must bring
the chase to a successful conclusion. As we started at five or six
o'clock each morning and kept on the move until 6 p.m., we must have
covered altogether well over two hundred miles in the pursuit, as we
averaged a mile and a half in the hour. The rogue seemed to know that we
were on his track and changed his direction frequently. Strange were the
sights I saw and varied the wild jungles we traversed. Sometimes for
hours we pushed our way through brakes of tough cane. Sometimes we
passed for miles under huge trees in grassy land. Once in the forest
Khartoum stopped short so suddenly that I was nearly thrown off her pad.
As she backed away the _mahout_ pointed to a great snake twelve or
thirteen feet long wriggling away from almost under her forelegs. The
glimpses I got of it showed it to be the terrible king-cobra.

For the first four days of the chase we had found no droppings left by
the fleeing elephant. Then we came on some, small, hard and black with
coagulated blood. And only on the sixth day did we discover traces of
where he had begun to eat again. And one morning we passed a patch of
cultivation in the jungle and a peasant who told us that at daybreak he
had found a lame single-tusker elephant feeding on his crops. When the
sun rose it moved on again without discovering the man.

At last on the twelfth day since our first encounter I was obliged to
give up the chase. We found his trail leading across the wide and rapid
river, the Torsa, which pours down its flood from the mountains of
Bhutan. My men and animals were worn out by the unceasing pursuit.
Although the former suffered less than I did from the want of food, for
every village supplied their wants and I had to depend on the kind
charity of the planters, yet the irregular meals and the strain told on
them. They were not spurred on by the same eagerness to kill the rogue
as I. But greatly disappointed as I was at being unable to compass his
death, yet I thought that at least we had rid our jungles of his
dangerous presence; so, sadly and reluctantly, I yielded to my
followers' entreaties and turned our elephants' heads towards home.

We really had deserved better fortune. We had done our best to kill the
rogue, and nothing but the most astonishing fortune had saved him. One
bullet out of the many half an inch to one side or the other would have
given us the victory. And we had shot calmly and steadily. I was sure
that not one of our bullets had missed him, which of course was not
astonishing, as they had all been fired at the closest range. Yet I have
seen a man miss a fourteen-hand _sambhur_ at ten yards. But with this
elephant I knew that every shot had struck. I have never heard of so
long and continuous a pursuit of one animal as ours had been. But the
fact remained that with ten solid bullets from my heavy rifle, and seven
from the Lee-Enfields, the brute still lived to mock us, and to do
worse. For three weeks from the day when we ended the chase on the banks
of the Torsa the rogue was back again in our jungles and attacked the
tame elephants of an Indian Civil Servant near Buxa Road Station.
Needless to say, I was off again after him the moment I heard of this
fresh outrage. But all in vain. And a few months afterwards while I was
lying dangerously ill in Buxa the brute surprised a Bhuttia and his wife
in the jungle three miles from Santrabari and trampled the woman to
death; and, for aught I know, still carrying our bullets he yet lives
to terrorise the forest. May we meet again! And yet, when I think how
narrowly I escaped an agonising death under his terrible feet, I should
perhaps be thankful that the chances of our meeting are small; for
hundreds of miles of India now divide us.

It is fortunate that in sudden danger one has not time to think; for if,
in the nerve-trying moment when a man stands facing the onrush of a
charging elephant, a vivid imagination painted to his eyes the awful
fate in store for him should the bullet fail to strike home, the rifle
would drop from his shaking fingers. But though in anticipation the
heart beats quickly and the breath comes fast, yet when the instant of
danger comes the nerves turn to steel and the hand never falters. A
tiger is not always a formidable foe; and one generally meets him on
advantageous terms. But the wild elephant's charge must be met on ground
of his own choosing; and the odds are perhaps in his favour. Yet the man
who has once stopped him in his headlong rush will long to do battle
with his kind again; and the recollections of the peril escaped acts
only as a spur.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] Footprints.



CHAPTER VIII

IN TIGER LAND

The tiger in India--His reputation--Wounded tigers--Man-eaters--Game
killers and cattle thieves--A tiger's residence--Chance
meetings--Methods of tiger hunting--Beating with elephants--Sitting
up--A sportsman's patience--The charm of a night watch--A cautious
beast--A night over a kill--An unexpected visitor--A tantalising
tiger--A tiger at Asirgarh--A chance shot--Buffaloes as
trackers--Panthers--The wrong prey--A beat for tiger--The Colonel wounds
a tiger--A night march--An elusive quarry--A successful beat--A watery
grave--Skinning a tiger.


Would any book on India be complete without a tiger in it? Although he
is found in many other Asiatic countries--in China they shoot him in
caves, in Corea there is a whole militia raised to deal with him--yet in
the popular mind the tiger is particularly associated with Hindustan. No
distinguished visitor would consider himself properly entertained if one
were not provided for him to shoot. The young subaltern in England pines
for the day to come when he will be ordered to India and have his chance
to face the striped beast in his native jungle.

The usual conception of the tiger is an animal of infinite cunning,
cruelty and ferocity. Cunning he certainly is; but his reputation for
ferocity and courage is hardly deserved. He is really rather a harmless
and timid creature, of a decidedly shy and retiring disposition,
avoiding, rather than courting, notoriety. Sanderson, one of the
greatest authorities on sport in India, argues that the tiger is
actually a public benefactor, inasmuch as he kills off old and sick
cattle which, since the pious Hindu would not put them to death, would
otherwise linger on spreading disease among the herds. Natives, near
whose village a tiger takes up his residence, betray no fear of him and
go about their daily avocations in his vicinity as indifferently as if
he did not exist. I have seen women drawing water from a stream not a
hundred yards from the spot where half an hour later I drove a tiger
from his lair. For, except in rare cases, these animals prefer to give
man a wide berth, and, when stumbled upon accidentally, will usually
effect a rapid retreat if they can. Of course a wounded tiger followed
up is an exceedingly dangerous foe. Furious with pain, exhausted and in
agony, he will turn savagely on his pursuers; and then a quick eye and
steady rifle are needed to check him in his fierce charge. Even shot
through the heart he may retain sufficient vitality to reach and maul
his aggressor, then perhaps fall dead on his mangled victim without
killing him outright. But few men wounded by a tiger ever recover; for
the shock and the blood-poisoning set up by the unclean claws of the
carrion feeder are almost invariably fatal.

The man-eater is, fortunately, rare; for, having once learned how easy a
prey human beings prove, he is apt to devote himself too exclusively to
them; and the total of his victims soon mounts up into the hundreds. The
man-eater is made, not born. Sometimes it is an old beast no longer
agile enough to surprise the animals of the forest or even bring down a
stray cow, but still supple enough to spring upon some unwary
wood-cutter or villager. Natives believe that human flesh disagrees with
a tiger's digestion, and point in proof to the mangy state of most
man-eaters' hides. But the reason of this is that the animal is
generally old or sick. Sometimes, however, the tiger who takes to the
slaughter of human beings is a young and vigorous beast. He has probably
some time or other been disturbed over a kill or foiled in an attempt to
carry off cattle by some rashly courageous individual, and in anger or
the desperation of hunger has slain the intruder. Finding that after all
man is not a formidable enemy and quite palatable, he continues to prey
on him and in time almost devastates a whole district. He becomes a
public character and attracts more attention than he likes. Government
gazettes honour him with a notice proclaiming him. A price is set on his
head. White men come from all sides to hunt him down; and the
unfortunate animal knows no peace until a lucky bullet lays him low.
Scared natives regard him as an evil spirit and set up altars to him.
And yet it is extraordinary how indifferent the inhabitants of a
district ravaged by a man-eater become to his presence. I have seen a
postman jog-trotting along night after night on a road on which two men
had been killed and eaten by a tiger the week before. The man's
ridiculous little spear and bells would have been no protection against
the Striped Death springing on him out of the darkness; but he had his
living to make. His orders were to carry the mail-bag along that stretch
of road every night; so with true Oriental fatalism he jogged on,
seemingly indifferent to the chances of an unlucky meeting.

The man-eater being an exception, tigers may be classified as game
slayers and cattle killers. Those haunting a jungle where _sambhur_,
_cheetul_, pig and small antelopes abound take their toll of them. A
monkey is quite a delicate morsel, if they can catch an unwary _bunder_
on the ground or fetch him from a low bough by an unexpected spring.
Those that take up their residence in cultivated country usually prey on
the cattle grazing in the scrub jungle near the villages. A tiger
generally rules over a stretch of ground about five miles square and
keeps strictly within his own domain. Any intruder of his own sex is
speedily ejected. But it is a curious fact that when a tiger is shot,
another quickly appears and takes up his abode in the defunct animal's
dominions. A certain patch of jungle, a particular _nullah_, may be the
residence of a tiger which is known to be the only one for miles round.
But if he is killed his habitat is almost certain of another striped
tenant very soon.

The game slayer is not often seen, living as he does in the heart of the
jungle and prowling mostly by night. The cattle lifter levies
contributions from the villages in his district in turn, usually killing
a cow every two or three days. He takes up his residence for the time
being near the carcass in some shady spot close to water. He eats about
sixty or eighty pounds of beef at his first meal, goes to drink and lies
up during the day to digest his heavy meal, returning at night to feed
again. If any villager happens to blunder in on his privacy during his
siesta, he gives a low, warning growl which usually suffices to scare
the intruder off. The natives pay little heed to him and go about their
usual pursuits without heeding his proximity.

On my first introduction to the jungle--it was in the Central Provinces
years ago--I had a wholesome respect for tigers. When I learned that one
lived in the particular part of the forest where I went shooting, I used
to feel anything but comfortable as I wandered about in search of
_sambhur_. I marvelled at the unconcerned way in which even women and
children traversed this jungle from village to village. One day I
climbed down into a deep, narrow ravine in the hope of finding a stag
sheltering in it from the unpleasantly hot sun. Suddenly from a clump of
bushes above my head came a deep "Wough! wough!" like the bark of a
great dog; and a tiger crashed out of it and bounded up and over the
edge of the _nullah_. I swung my rifle round; but he was out of sight
before the butt touched my shoulder. My _shikaree_ (native hunter) cried
"Bagh! Bagh! (A tiger! a tiger!)" and rushed up past me after the
vanished animal. Rather unwillingly I clambered up too; and I was
decidedly relieved when, on emerging from the ravine, I found that the
ground was covered with grass six feet high, so that pursuit of the
tiger was hopeless. However, on calmly considering the matter
afterwards, I came to the conclusion that the beast was even more afraid
of me than I of him. So I devoted much time and attention to trying to
meet him again. Many a night did I sit up for him over a cow tied up as
a bait. Time after time I followed his footprints by day and tried to
walk him up near the carcass of some deer he had killed and half-eaten.
But never again did I see him.

A few months ago in the Kanera Forests I was wandering about one
afternoon, shot-gun in hand, in search of jungle fowl for the pot,
about half a mile from the Government _dâk_ bungalow--or rest-house--in
which I was staying. I was making my way along a narrow path. Just as I
reached a spot where it came out on a small clearing in the forest, I
heard some heavy animal forcing its way through the undergrowth about
forty yards to my left. I stepped out into the open and looked in the
direction from whence came the sound, which stopped as soon as I
appeared. I stood still for a couple of minutes. Suddenly a tiger, which
had evidently been watching me, gave a deep roar and crashed off through
the thick jungle. It was useless to try to follow him up even if I had
had a rifle instead of a shot-gun. The setting sun warned me that I must
hurry home; so I continued on my way. Two hundred yards further on the
path led down into a narrow _nullah_ with steep banks. Here I found the
fresh prints of the tiger's paws in the mud, the water just oozing into
them. Had I come along a few minutes earlier we would have met face to
face in the narrow way; and the chances were that, in his hurry to
escape, he would have charged me and knocked me down. And a blow from a
tiger's paw is not a caress to be courted. But the two incidents will
show that these animals are generally anxious to avoid men.

Native _shikarees_ frequently sit up over water for tigers; but European
sportsmen usually adopt one of the three following methods. The first
and most effective is to shoot them from elephants; but this does not
often fall to the lot of the average man. I was fortunate in having the
opportunity in Buxa. The second method is to mark down where the animal
is lying up after a kill and have him driven by a line of beaters to
the spot where the sportsman is concealed.

In the Central Provinces I went out one day with a friend who had
arranged such a beat for a tiger which had killed a cow tied up as a
bait for him near a village. After a ten miles' drive we reached this
village; and, having had an early start, we breakfasted under a tree on
a hillock just above a long _nullah_ which seamed the bare, brown fields
with a winding line of green. Below us the hundred and sixty coolies
collected as beaters squatted and smoked until the Sahibs were ready.
Just as we had finished our meal, a cow burst out of the jungle in the
_nullah_ and dashed in among the groups of men. They caught her and
became very excited over her. We could see them crowding round her,
talking volubly. Then the cow was led up to us; and we found that she
was bleeding from a wound in the throat. All down her flanks and rump
ran long scratches as if from the claws of a monster cat. This told us
plainly that the tiger we were in quest of was still in the _nullah_ and
that the cow had stumbled on him unawares. The tiger had evidently tried
to seize it but, gorged with his night's meal, missed the fatal
neck-breaking spring and, as the cow fled, struck out and clawed it
behind.

The coolies cried "Wah! wah! the _shaitan's_ (devil's) last day has
dawned. See how the cow has come straight to the Sahib's feet to show
her wounds and claim justice!" I am afraid the animal's bovine
intelligence was not equal to this, but, in terror, she was only making
for her village and safety.

We waited under our tree until the day was at its hottest, so that the
tiger, when driven, would be all the more reluctant to face the burning
sun in the open and would retreat along the _nullah_ in the shade; for
where the ravine forked off in two branches _machâns_, strong wooden
platforms, had been built for us up in the trees, one commanding each
branch. We took a short cut across the open in the terrific heat. The
pitiless sun beat down on us as we walked over the shadeless fields, and
seemed to boil the brains in our skulls. It was a relief to reach the
_nullah_ and the cool shelter of the trees in it. We climbed up into our
respective _machâns_, which were about a mile away from where the
beaters were to begin the drive. I could see my friend perched up in his
tree across the bank dividing his branch of the _nullah_ from mine. This
bank was covered with undergrowth from which sprang a line of trees. In
these a number of _langurs_--the big grey apes with black faces
surrounded by a fringe of white whisker, which gives them a comic
resemblance to aged negroes, a resemblance increased by their white
eyebrows--were playing. They came to look at us, leaping from bough to
bough, stooping and craning their necks to see us as we sat hidden by
the leafy screens around our _machâns_. Then, their curiosity satisfied,
they continued their play and swung through the branches away in the
direction of the beaters. For a couple of hours I sat drowsing in the
intense heat. The silence was profound. Suddenly loud cries, the
drumming of tom-toms, and the tapping of sticks against tree-trunks,
told me that the drive had begun. I looked to my rifle and sat ready.
The noise drew nearer; every nerve in my body was aquiver. Then in the
tree-tops pandemonium broke loose. The _langurs_ were coming back
towards us, leaping from branch to branch, shrieking, chattering with
rage at something moving along beneath them. It was evidently the tiger,
their foe as well as ours, which was trying to steal away silently
before the beaters. The apes seemed to know his design and to be
endeavouring to foil him. I really believe that they realised that our
presence boded no good to him; for several looked at me as much as to
say:

"Here he is. He is trying to escape. We won't let him creep off
unnoticed."

I had read of this extraordinary behaviour on the part of monkeys during
a beat in Captain Forsyth's interesting book, "The Highlands of Central
India"; but I could scarcely credit it. But now I saw these _langurs_
following the tiger's progress and shrieking abuse down at him. He
seemed to be coming straight for me; and my heart rejoiced. But suddenly
from the change of direction of the apes I saw that he had turned,
crossed the dividing bank, and was going down the other _nullah_. Then I
heard a deep short growl; and at the same moment my friend's rifle went
up to his shoulder and he fired. Mad with excitement and furious at
being unable to see what was happening, I did a very foolish thing. I
slipped down from my tree and dashed through the undergrowth to the
brink of the _nullah_. I saw the tiger rush across the narrow ravine and
spring up the opposite bank, which was higher than the one on which I
stood. Near the top his strength seemed to fail him. He clung on
desperately, unable to pull himself up. My friend fired again; and the
brute, struck in the foreleg, dropped back into the _nullah_. He rolled
over and over in agony, biting at his paws and tearing them with his
teeth. I fired at his shoulder. Even then he rolled about for a few
minutes; and then his head fell back, his frame stiffened and he lay
still.

The shot drew my friend's attention to me; for he had not noticed me on
the ground. He shouted angrily:

"Go back, you fool. Get up your tree. There is a second tiger in the
beat."

I well deserved his uncomplimentary epithet; for, had the first animal
sprung up the low bank on which I stood we would have met face to face.
I hurriedly scrambled up again and sat with my rifle ready, until I saw
first one man, then another and another, appear in the _nullah_; and
finally the whole line of beaters reached us. There had been a tigress
in the drive as well; but she had broken out to one side. She passed a
tree in which a man had been placed as a "stop"; but, although he flung
his _puggri_ in her face, she was not to be turned, and escaped out over
the fields. I climbed down again and cautiously approached the tiger,
keeping my rifle ready lest there might be some life in him still. I
have known a sportsman to walk up to an apparently dead tiger and pull
its tail, to be laid low the next moment by a blow from the animal's
paw. Some of our coolies threw stones at the body; and as these elicited
no response I walked up to the beast and found it dead. As the natives
try to steal the whiskers, which they believe to have a certain magical
power, I mounted guard until a litter had been made from cut branches to
convey the tiger to the village for skinning. Arrived there the local
flayers were set to work. The dead brute looked the embodiment of
strength; and I marvelled at the masses of muscle the knives disclosed
in the thick limbs. The first bullet had struck behind the shoulder; and
when the carcass was cut open we found a hole the size of a florin right
through the heart. Yet even with this wound the animal had been able to
dash across the _nullah_ and spring up the bank. It showed that a tiger
shot through the heart could reach and kill a man before falling dead
itself. The other wounds were in the foreleg and ribs. The natives did
not leave a scrap of flesh on the bones. For it and certain parts of the
tiger are supposed to endow anyone who eats them with courage and
vigour; and crowds of women came to carry off their husbands' share of
the meat. The fat--such layers of it, white and firm, on the well-fed
cattle thief--is boiled down for oil, which is considered a sovereign
remedy for rheumatism. The skin was pegged out, hair downwards, on the
ground and scraped clean, then covered with wood ashes. And the last
stage of the proceedings consisted in the beaters being assembled and
paid their wages--fourpence a man. Had the drive been unsuccessful, they
would have only received twopence each. It seems little reward for
disturbing a sleeping tiger; but the coolies were quite satisfied.

The cause of the _langurs_ rage was evident when a beater brought us the
half-eaten body of one of their number which he had found near the spot
where the tiger had been sleeping. My friend told me that he was able to
mark the brute's progress through the undergrowth by the movements of
the apes above him. The tiger had come out from the cover into the clear
bed of the _nullah_ with his head turned over his shoulder glaring up at
them in anger. And the deep growl I had heard was uttered against these
betrayers of his flight.

This is a fair example of the second method of tiger shooting. But
neither it nor the first are possible in very dense forest; and then
"sitting up" must be tried. This consists of tying up a cow near a
_nullah_ or patch of jungle in which the tiger is suspected or known to
be. If he kills and eats part of it, a _machân_ is built in a tree close
to the carcass and concealed by a tree of leafy branches. On this the
sportsman takes up his position in the afternoon and tries to shoot the
tiger when he returns to feed on the kill at dusk or later on moonlight
nights. Sometimes he is obliged to wait till dawn. This is the method
which least often proves effective. It is particularly tantalising and
demands the patience of a Job. From about 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. the hunter
must sit still in a cramped position. He scarcely dares to move his
limbs, must make no noise, cannot smoke; if he has brought food with him
he must consume it quietly. The dead cow, specially in the hot weather,
offends his nostrils with a terrible stench. And thus, sickened by the
awful odour, tormented by mosquitoes, he must sit through the night,
every sense on the alert. He dare not drowse, for he cannot tell at what
moment the quarry may appear. And the tiger is a cautious beast. If he
does return to the kill, he will generally prowl around for some time
before approaching it; and if he scents the waiting man in the tree
above or anything arouses his suspicions, he will melt away without a
sound into the darkness, leaving the hunter's vigil unrewarded.

Yet sitting up is not without its charm. While daylight lasts it is
interesting to watch the carrion feeders hastening to snatch a mouthful
of the feast Chance has provided for them, always on the alert lest the
rightful owner of the banquet should suddenly appear. High overhead a
dim speck is seen against the sky. It grows larger and clearer, sinks
down and, wheeling in great circles, reveals itself as a vulture.
Another and another follow and, gradually descending, perch on the trees
around. An impudent grey-headed crow pushes in before them and alights
close to the dead cow. Then hopping on to the carcass it cocks its head
impertinently at the less courageous vultures and begins to dig its beak
into the putrid flesh. The big birds flop heavily to the ground and with
much rustling of wings, shoving, hustling, angry squawks and vicious
pecks at each other, begin their meal. But up fly the birds as a couple
of jackals make their appearance and slink furtively to the kill. While
they feed they look around apprehensively and start at every sound. The
vultures flap over towards the dead cow again and demand their share of
the good things that Chance has provided. The jackals snarl and snap at
them, driving them off with short rushes. But suddenly they bolt
themselves, as a dozen fox-like little beasts with reddish skins, sharp
ears and handsome brushes trot up to the kill. These are the dreaded
wild dogs which decimate the game in the jungle. They hungrily tear at
the flesh, quarrelling and snapping at each other, ready to fly if the
tiger appears. If the carcass is near water a white-and-black,
long-legged bird is certain to be hovering about, crying plaintively and
incessantly: "Did he do it? Did he--did he--did he do it?" until the
exasperated watcher in the tree longs to shoot him. Then the sun sets,
the noises of the day sink into silence; but the jungle wakes.

In the forest below Buxa lived a very large tiger which vexed my soul
exceedingly. Generations of commanding officers had pursued him in vain;
and the task was handed down as a legacy from each to his successor for
years. Fired at once, and possibly wounded, over a live cow tied up as
bait, he was never to be tempted to approach another. Inspired to
compass his death by the impressions of his huge paws, which I often
found in the sand of river-beds, I had three cows tied up for weeks in
different _nullahs_. In the daytime a man whom I employed for the
purpose took them to graze and water and fastened them up again before
dark. At first I used to sit up in a tree over one or other of them
night after night without result. Then I resolved to wait until he had
killed one. It was equally fruitless. For, although his "pugs" or
footprints, were often to be traced coming up the _nullah_ and diverging
towards the cow tied up in it, they always showed that he had turned
abruptly and made off as soon as he discovered the nature of the bait.

At last one day news was brought to me that he had killed a _sambhur_
hind in the forest. As it was just at full moon, I gave orders that a
_machân_ should be built in a tree near the carcass. Leaving the fort
early in the afternoon I descended into the jungle and reached the spot
about 6 p.m. when there was still some daylight. I found that the
_sambhur_ had been killed in a _nullah_ a hundred yards off while
drinking, and had been dragged by the tiger over the top of an almost
perpendicular bank, up which I found it necessary to pull myself by my
hands, and then over a small and steep hill. As a full-grown hind
stands thirteen hands high and weighs five hundred pounds or more, this
gives one some idea of a tiger's strength. The jungle here consisted of
high trees with little undergrowth. As it was now the hot season when
most of the leaves are shed, I noticed with satisfaction that the ground
around below my _machân_ would be well lighted when the moon rose. My
orderly and two sturdy-limbed Bhuttia coolies were up in a tree over the
kill, tying an inverted _charpoy_, or native bed (which makes the best
and most comfortable _machân_) in a fork, and hanging leafy branches
around it to screen it from sight. I climbed up and tried to enter it.
It was awkwardly placed and overhung me. I succeeded in getting my chest
on the edge, when the rotten framework broke and nearly precipitated me
to the earth, thirty feet below. I managed to save myself and sat
astride a branch while one of the coolies cut a few bamboos from a clump
close by and repaired the damage. Then I got into the _machân_, laid a
packet of sandwiches and my Thermos flask beside me, loaded my rifle
and, sending my orderly and the Bhuttias away, settled myself for my
lonely vigil. I amused myself at first by watching the birds preparing
for the night. A troop of monkeys came to drink in the neighbouring
_nullah_ and passed overhead, leaping through the branches, hurling
themselves from tree to tree, chasing each other in play or pausing now
and then for a comfortable scratch. Mothers with tiny babies clinging
closely to them sprang across the voids and swung themselves by hand or
foot. A peacock sailed down majestically from the tree-tops to the water
and gave its weird cat-like cry. The heavy flapping of wings and an
eerie wail told of a big owl bestirring itself early. The harsh "honk"
of a _sambhur_ stag rang out; and the sharp bark of a _khakur_ sounded
at regular intervals. The sun sank lower and the twittering of the birds
faded into silence. The drone of the multitudinous insect-life,
unceasing in the day, yet only heard plainly at the hour when the louder
sounds of larger life are hushed, seemed to rise now with startling
distinctness. But even it died; and only the irritating hum of the
mosquitoes around my head was left to break the complete silence. The
air was still; and the sudden fall of a withered leaf seemed to echo
clearly through the hushed forest. There was yet daylight in the sky;
but a dusky gloom deepened under the trees. I lay down on the _charpoy_,
peering through my leafy screen at the dead hind. My rifle was uncocked
beside me, for I judged the hour too early for the tiger's visit; and I
stretched myself at full length to rest before it would be necessary to
sit upright with every sense alert for my long watch. Suddenly I was
roused by the sound of loud footfalls to my rear passing over the dry
leaves which crackled like tin to the tread. They came without
hesitation towards my tree; and I thought angrily that it could only be
one of my coolies returning to me contrary to orders. Without moving my
body I turned my head around at the risk of dislocating my neck,
intending to bid him in a loud whisper to go away. To my astonishment,
instead of a man, I made out in the gloom of the underwood a huge bulk
that I first took to be a baby elephant. Thirty yards away from my tree
it stopped; and I saw that it was a large Himalayan bear, which looked
immense to me after the smaller species of the Central Provinces.
Fearful of scaring it I lay still in my constrained position. It stood
motionless and seemed to be staring up at my _machân_. I hurriedly
debated the question whether I ought to take a shot at it and give up
all hope of the tiger, whom the sound would alarm, or let it go and wait
for the greater prize. I decided on the latter course and simply watched
it. Suddenly it turned and walked away as noisily as it had come. This
surprised me; for I had imagined that wild animals tried to move
silently through the forest. But the bear is indifferent to the other
jungle dwellers; he does not fear the ferocious beasts nor attack the
harmless ones.

As soon as it had gone I glanced at my watch which showed 6-40 p.m. I
sat up, cocked my rifle, and held it across my knees. The daylight died
away in the swift oncoming of the tropic night; but the full moon shone
overhead and cast the tangled pattern of leaves and branches on the
ground. For hours I sat, scarcely daring to change my position or move
my cramped limbs. Suddenly from the direction of the _nullah_ where the
deer had been killed came the tramping of some heavy animal over the dry
leaves towards me. The tiger at last! One touch of the hand to assure
myself that my rifle was cocked and I sat motionless, though the beating
of my heart sounded loud in my ears. Few sportsmen, after long hours of
waiting, can hear the approach of their quarry without a quickened
pulse. The brute walked straight towards the kill. In another second it
must emerge into the full glare of the moonlight. Stealthily I raised my
rifle to my shoulder. Alas! just as one step more would have brought it
out from under the black shadows of the trees, the tiger stopped. For
minutes that seemed hours it remained motionless. Then it moved back so
silently that only the sharp crackle of a dry twig farther away told me
that the animal had gone. What had aroused its suspicions I cannot tell.
Perhaps it had scented me up in the tree or detected the recent presence
of humans around its kill. Cursing its cunning, I uncocked my rifle and
stretched my cramped limbs. It was then half-past eleven. I was strongly
tempted to lie down and sleep; but I knew that the tiger _might_ return.
So I continued my watch. It is in the small hours that the vigil becomes
hardest. About half-past three in the morning I was nodding drowsily,
when again from the _nullah_ I heard the sound of the animal
approaching. His tread seemed even more assured than before; and I made
certain of getting him. But once more, just within the shadow, he
paused. I strained my ears but could detect no sound. Another few
minutes of anxious waiting; and then gradually, almost imperceptibly, he
withdrew. This was the climax. I showered maledictions on his head. I
had to wait until after six o'clock before one of my elephants came to
take me on a long day's shoot in the jungle. Before quitting the spot I
searched the ground and found the tiger's two trails leading up from the
_nullah_.

The sportsman who tries his luck in "sitting up" must be prepared for
many disappointments. He may watch night after night and never once see
his quarry. He may select an evening when the moon is full, only to find
clouds come up and obscure its light; and then, in the unforeseen
darkness, he may be tantalised by hearing the tiger come to feed on the
kill, may listen for an hour to the tearing of flesh and the crunching
of bones and be utterly unable to get a shot. The adjutant of my
regiment, Captain Hore, once paid us a visit at Buxa and went shooting
in our jungles. On his first day he came across the carcass of a
_sambhur_ killed the previous day by a tiger. So he had a canvas chair
tied up in a tree over it and climbed up to wait in it for the slayer to
return. Before daylight faded he saw some wild pigs come and feed on the
kill. But just as the moon rose they fled hurriedly; and he heard some
large animal moving in the jungle close by. It prowled cautiously around
in cover near the carcass for over two hours, but would not show itself.
Meantime heavy clouds drew across the sky, blotting out the moon and
shrouding the forest in impenetrable darkness. Suddenly Hore heard the
prowling tiger leave the cover at last. It sprang out on the carcass as
though the _sambhur_ were alive and tore and rent it furiously. The
sound of bones cracked to an accompaniment of snarls and growls came
clearly to the watcher above; but the darkness was opaque. At last, in
desperation, he fired in the direction of the noise but missed; and the
tiger bolted. And the next moment, as though the shot had been the
signal for the storm, a vivid flash of lightning rent the clouds, a
terrific peal of thunder sounded overhead, the sky seemed to open and
pour down sheets of rain. Hore's position was unenviable. The so-called
waterproof he had with him was wet through in a few minutes. He could
not put his rifle away from him, yet feared lest it should attract the
lightning. It was hopeless to descend and try to find his way through
the forest in the darkness. And so through the weary night, exposed to
all the fury of a tropical storm, he was obliged to sit shivering in
his chair, forty feet above the ground. And to add to his annoyance the
tiger, evidently confusing the flash and report of the shot with the
lightning and thunder, returned and fed on the kill again, while Hore on
his uncomfortable perch listened, powerless. And when at six o'clock in
the morning one of my elephants came to fetch him, it was a very sodden,
chilled, and miserable individual that climbed from the tree on to its
pad. But not disheartened he ordered the _mahout_, instead of returning
to Buxa, to take him for a wide sweep through the jungle in the hope of
shooting something to console him for the night's disappointment. The
storm had ceased. Within a mile he came upon a herd of six bison with a
splendid old bull among them. But the rules of the forest department
prohibit their being shot in Government jungle; and so the again baffled
sportsman was forced to let them go unscathed, while they stared at him
and his elephant for several minutes before they moved away.

Once during the rainy season at Asirgarh I was sitting up over the
carcass of a white cow in what should have been brilliant moonlight. But
heavy clouds gathered; and soon all I could see of the kill was a faint
whitish glimmer. Suddenly this was blotted out, and I heard a crunching
of bones and tearing of flesh. I could not see my sights, but I fired in
the direction of the sounds. A terrific howl followed by fiendish
shrieks and groans told me that I had hit a tiger. I heard him rush off
thirty or forty yards and throw himself on the ground, where he rolled
in agony, tearing up the earth and sending the stones rattling down into
a small _nullah_ beside which he lay. I hoped that I was listening to
his dying moans; but he got up again and the groaning and snarling died
away in the distance. There was a village a mile off; so, giving the
tiger time to get well away, I climbed down and made for it. It was a
nerve-trying walk in the darkness; for I feared every moment to stumble
on the wounded beast. However I reached shelter without encountering
him. I gave my _shikaree_ instructions to bid the cowherds of the
village be ready with their buffaloes at daybreak to track the tiger.
For these great black beasts are frequently used in this work. Their
instinct tells them that the tiger is the enemy of their race; and they
regard him with savage hatred. In a herd they do not fear him; for the
hungriest cattle thief will not dare to attack a number of them which
form round the calves and present to him an impenetrable front of
lowered heads and sharp horns. On their backs the small children of the
village who drive them to and from the grazing ground are safe. When a
sportsman employs them to track a wounded tiger, the herds take them to
a point where they can scent his trail. As soon as they have smelt it,
they paw up the earth and bellow with rage, then dash off in pursuit. If
they come on him lying up wounded and sore under a tree, they will
charge him if allowed to. And no tiger would dare to face their savage
onslaught; for little avails his strength and cunning against the fierce
rush of the infuriated beasts. If he is not too badly hurt, he will
invariably fly before their attack. If not, then must the sportsman
shoot quick and the herds exert all their authority to keep the
buffaloes back; for, if left to themselves, they will rush in on the
tiger, gore him and stamp him to death under their hoofs. And the skin
will be of little use as a trophy when they are allowed to work their
will on the battered carcass.

Having given my orders, I slept in the local police station on a
_charpoy_ lent me by the _havildar_, or sergeant, in charge. At daylight
my _shikaree_ woke me and I went out to find about twenty buffaloes
collected. They were driven out to the kill. The sight of the dead cow
enraged them. They bellowed and stamped, then snuffing up the trail set
off at a run across the fields like a pack of hounds. They soon tracked
the tiger into the jungle. They crashed through the undergrowth, now and
then at fault, but questing round until they picked up the trail again.
They followed it up for two or three miles and finally lost it in broken
and precipitous ground among the low hills. My _shikaree_ assured me
that it was useless to search further, as the tiger could not have been
badly wounded and was certain to have retreated to a great distance. To
my regret I let myself be persuaded; for, a few days after, the sight of
vultures gathering from all quarters led to the discovery of the tiger's
body not half a mile from where we had left off. But the carcass was
putrid and half-eaten, so the skin was useless.

But shooting on chance in the dark is not always productive of the
desired result. Once when sitting up on a cloudy night for a panther, I
discharged my rifle at some animal which I could hear, but could not
see, at the kill. A pandemonium of shrieks and yells told me that by
good luck my bullet had gone home. I waited for silence, and then,
having reloaded, climbed down and cautiously approached. But to my
disappointment, instead of the dead panther which I had hoped to find,
there lay the corpse of a loathsome hyena. On another occasion when
sitting up in the middle of a village for a daring leopard which used to
enter it at night and kill the cattle in their pens, I shot a mangy
pariah dog in the dark.

A panther is a much bolder animal than a tiger. He generally returns to
his kill earlier, often in broad daylight. I have seen one come out,
five minutes after my coolies had left, from some bushes in which he had
evidently been watching them. Even when shot at and missed or slightly
wounded they will return the same night to a kill. And sometimes one has
been known to discover the waiting sportsman in the _machân_ first and
spring up the tree to attack him unprovoked. So that sitting up for
these animals is not without its risks.

The method of shooting tiger from elephants undoubtedly gives the best
sport. Seventeen miles from Buxa Fort the great forest ends abruptly.
From its ragged edge, five miles above the town of Alipur Duar, the
cultivated plains stretch away to the south, seamed with _nullahs_ which
run from inside the jungle through the open fields. They are generally
deep and filled with low trees and scrub, and as they contain water form
ideal bases of operation for a tiger issuing from the forest to carry on
war against herds of cattle in the villages. The striped thief can lie
up within a few hundred yards of a farm and kill the cows when they come
to drink. If disturbed, he can retreat up the _nullah_ to the shelter of
the forest. Consequently the stretch of ground just outside the south
border of the Terai Jungle is full of tigers.

During a visit from our Colonel to Buxa for his annual inspection I
received an invitation from Mr Ainslie, the Subdivisional Officer of
Alipur Duar, to bring my elephants and join him in a beat for a cattle
thief which was lying up in a _nullah_ three or four miles from the
town. At that time I had only Khartoum and Dundora; as Jhansi had run
away to the forest after being attacked by a wild elephant and had been
missing for months. However, on our arrival, we found Ainslie had
collected seven; so that we had nine altogether. This number was not a
great one; but we hoped that it would suffice. Mrs Ainslie was to
accompany us; for she was a great sportswoman and had shot five tigers
herself, as well as various panthers, bears and bison. We started out in
the early morning, crossed the railway line, forded a river--which each
elephant carefully sounded with its trunk--and reached the _nullah_ in
which the tiger was reported to be lurking. It was broad and dry, filled
with scrub and low trees. Ainslie took the Colonel in his howdah; and
Mrs Ainslie shared mine. Taking up our positions on the bank we sent the
beater elephants half a mile further on to drive towards us. At a signal
from Ainslie the beat began. The elephants formed line across the
_nullah_ and advanced, forcing their way through the jungle. An
occasional squeal from one of them when the _mahout_ struck it on the
head for shirking a particularly thorny bit of scrub, the cries of the
men and the crashing of the huge beasts through the jungle as they
trampled down the undergrowth and broke off branches from the trees,
made din enough to scare anything. It soon proved too much for the
tiger's nerves. My _mahout_ had carelessly allowed his elephant to draw
back from the edge of the steep bank. I saw a sudden flash of yellow as
the tiger darted through the scrub along under the overhanging brink in
such a way that he was sheltered from my rifle. But I shouted a warning
to the others, who were posted farther down where the bank sloped less
steeply. The Colonel fired and wounded the beast, which dashed up the
bank and received a bullet from Ainslie before it was lost to sight in
the high grass on the level. The beater elephants emerged from the
_nullah_, surrounded it, and drove it in again. They endeavoured to send
it to us; but the tiger refused to face the guns a second time and broke
through their line, my orderly, Draj Khan, hurling a heavy stick at it
and hitting it as it flashed past his elephant. We tried for it again
lower down, several times, but without success.

While we were thus engaged it seemed strange to see the mail train pass
on the railway line not half a mile from us, driver, guard, and
passengers leaning out to look at us. Leaving the _nullah_ we ranged
through the long grass on the level and put up a number of wild pigs,
the Colonel shooting a fine old boar with long tusks as sharp as knives.

Having heard that a panther was supposed to be lying up in another
_nullah_ a couple of miles away, we took our elephants there and tried a
beat for it. This time the howdah bearers advanced along the bank in
line with the beaters, spaced across the _nullah_, which was fairly
open, with patches of scrub here and there in it. We were unsuccessful
in finding the panther but were afforded an excellent example of the
terror with which elephants regard tiny, harmless animals. Over some
bushes in front of me I caught a glimpse of a hare running through them
down into the _nullah_. Its course brought it right across the line of
beaters. Then these huge beasts, which had just faced a wounded tiger
unmoved, went mad at the sight of it. All trumpeted shrilly, some
planted their forefeet firmly and refused to advance, others turned and
stampeded, despite the heavy blows showered on them with the iron
_ankus_ by the enraged _mahouts_. I saw Ainslie and the Colonel, unable
to discover the cause of the disturbance, stand up in their howdah,
clutching their rifles and looking everywhere for the charging panther,
which they imagined must have scared the elephants.

One afternoon in Buxa I received a telegram from Ainslie telling me to
be with him early next morning as a tiger had killed in his
neighbourhood that day. As Alipur Duar was twenty-two miles away it
behoved me to start at once and march through the night. So, filling my
Thermos flask and putting a loaf of bread and a tin of preserved meat
into my haversack, I shouldered my rifle and walked down the three miles
of steep road to Santrabari. Here I found the _mahouts_ and ordered them
to get the two elephants ready, Jhansi still being a deserter. I bade
them put the howdah on Dundora's back, as she was the steadier with a
charging tiger. We started off at once; but before we reached the
railway station at Buxa Road, darkness had fallen. My elephant stepped
out briskly with the swaying stride that is particularly trying in a
howdah, the occupant of which is shaken about like a pea on a drum. I
kept slipping off the hard wooden seat; so I tried standing up, holding
on to the front rail. This was almost worse; for if I forgot for a
moment to brace myself up with stiffened arms I was thrown against the
side. So for twenty-two miles I had to keep changing my position
continually and found it tiring work. Through the forest we lumbered on
without stopping. The night was dark. Fortunately, the road ran along
beside the railway line clear of the trees, which would otherwise have
swept the howdah off Dundora's back. Once or twice a wild elephant
trumpeted in the jungle, much to the alarm of our tame ones; so I kept
my rifle loaded, ready to drive off any we might meet. When I felt
hungry I opened the tin of meat and, as we went along, made a frugal
dinner, having to use my fingers as knife and fork, washing the food
down with water from my flask. The long march was extremely fatiguing;
but by daylight we were clear of the forest. Arrived at the _dâk_
bungalow at Alipur Duar I found one of the officers of my regiment,
Major Burrard, who had come there on leave from headquarters at
Dibrugarh in Assam for a shoot. The Ainslies could not accompany us that
day, but had kindly lent us their four elephants. The kill was reported
to be in a _nullah_ about four miles away, close to the edge of the
forest. Burrard and I started for it at once. Our way lay over open bare
fields. Our elephants, as is their habit, persisted in tailing off in
single file, though a hundred could have marched abreast. Each kept
exactly in the footprints of the one in front of it. As we went along, I
noticed half a mile to our left a _nullah_ fringed with trees. In these,
or circling overhead, were a number of vultures. I remarked that every
now and then one would swoop down to the ground, only to rise again into
the air like a rocketting pheasant without alighting. They indicated
the presence of a dead animal; and I asked the _mahouts_ if our kill was
there. They answered that it was about a mile further on. I judged that
another cow must have been killed in this _nullah_; and from the fact
that the vultures did not dare to settle on it, I concluded that a tiger
must be in the immediate vicinity. So I directed my elephant towards the
spot. As we drew near I looked at the rows of bald-headed vultures,
those repulsive-looking scavengers of India, sitting on the branches.
Every few minutes one would fly down towards the ground and, without
settling, hurriedly shoot up again into the air. Cautiously approaching
the edge of the bank we found, as I expected, the carcass of a cow. We
skirted the bank but could not see the tiger, which was probably asleep
somewhere in the tangled scrub in the bottom of the _nullah_. So,
marking the spot for a visit next day, we went on our way. Arrived at
the place where the beat was to begin, we found another _nullah_ filled
with jungle, with bare, open ground stretching away on either side of
it. We took up our positions in it on our two howdah elephants and put
the beaters in farther down.

They came on the tiger lying asleep under a tree. He sprang up in alarm
and, instead of retreating along the _nullah_ towards us, rushed up the
bank and broke away over the open past a group of natives who had come
out from a farm close by to watch the hunt. As he was not fifty yards
from them, they were very scared. It must have been a fine sight to see
the big cat bounding across the bare plain until he reached and plunged
into a parallel _nullah_ a few hundred yards away. But we in the bottom
of our ravine saw or heard nothing of him until our beaters came up. We
searched the other _nullah_ for him in vain. He probably had not stopped
until he had reached the shelter of the forest.

That night, when dining with the Ainslies, our host told us of some
curious happenings in tiger hunts around Alipur Duar. A former
commandant was shooting one day on Dundora. Mrs Ainslie was in the
howdah with him. A tiger burst out of the jungle before the beat. The
officer fired and wounded it; but, hardly checking in its rush, it
dashed forward, being missed by another bullet, and sprang on to the
elephant's head. For a second it stood with its hind feet on Dundora's
skull, its forepaws on the front rail of the howdah. The officer dropped
his empty rifle and, seizing a second gun, shoved the muzzle against the
tiger's chest and fired. The brute fell back off the elephant, dead. The
whole incident had passed like a flash. The tiger had actually stood
right over the _mahout_ crouching on the neck; but the man, although he
found afterwards a long tear in the shoulder of his coat from the
animal's claw, was not touched. On another occasion a tiger was shot in
mid air as it sprang clean across a _nullah_, crumpled up and fell into
the stream at the bottom. When the sportsmen on their elephants reached
the edge of the bank, it was nowhere to be seen; and they concluded that
it must have escaped down the _nullah_. But a month afterwards a second
tiger was similarly shot in the middle of a spring and was seen from a
distance to fall into a stream in the _nullah_, try to struggle out of
the water and collapse beneath the surface. So the mystery of the first
one's disappearance was solved. It must have been lying under water at
the bottom of the _nullah_; but no one thought of looking for it there.

Next morning I came out on to the veranda of the _dâk_ bungalow and
surveyed with pride the six elephants drawn up in line before me. On the
neck of each sat the _mahout_, who raised his hand to his forehead in a
salaam. Then at the word of command the six trunks were lifted into the
air and the elephants trumpeted in salute. As I looked at them I
murmured inwardly: "This day a tiger must die!"

We were to look for the animal that had killed the cow I had found the
previous morning. So Burrard and I made an early start and proceeded to
the spot I had marked. The _nullah_ was narrow, S-shaped, with almost
perpendicular banks fifteen feet high. A stream of water filled it from
bank to bank. On either side of it was thick scrub jungle and elephant
grass eight feet high. I stationed Burrard at one end of the S and took
up my position at the other about a hundred yards from him. My elephant
was back a little from the _nullah_, along the far bank of which the
tall, stiff grass stood like a wall. The beaters started a quarter of a
mile from us and drove through the scrub on the other side of the
_nullah_. A tiger, as a rule, begins to move at the first sound of the
beat; so I stood up in my howdah with my rifle cocked. I may mention
that shooting from an elephant, even when it is standing, is not easy,
for the animal is never still. It continually shifts its weight from
foot to foot, flaps its ears, moves its head and beats its sides or
chest with its trunk to drive off the flies.

The line of beaters advanced through the scrub with their usual din.
Now and then, under the tangled undergrowth, I caught a glimpse of my
orderly or a _mahout_. They drew nearer and nothing broke out of the
jungle in front of them. My heart sank when I saw them not a hundred
yards from me. But at that moment a number of small birds flew up from
the tall grass and I heard the sound of some heavy animal forcing its
way through the tough stems. I held my rifle ready to cover the spot.
The next instant I saw the head and shoulders of a large tiger push out
through the grass on the very brink of the _nullah_. Though the tall
stalks on my side almost concealed my elephant, the tiger saw me at once
and crouched for a spring. Its savage face was plainly visible, the
fierce eyes fastened on me, the snarling lips drawn back over the white
fangs, the bristling whiskers, all forming a fiendish mask appalling in
its cruel expression. I threw up the rifle to my shoulder, took a quick
aim and fired. The tiger started convulsively, sprang erect for an
instant, then plunged head foremost into the _nullah_ with stiffened
forelegs close to the body, as a man diving holds his arms straight by
his sides and hurls himself into the water. I was too far back from the
bank to see down to the bottom of the _nullah_; but suddenly the tiger
sprang convulsively straight into my view and then fell back again. The
_mahout_, shrouded by the high grass, had seen nothing of all this. I
shouted at him to urge Dundora forward to the edge of the _nullah_. From
the brink I peered down into it; but, to my intense disappointment, no
prostrate body of a tiger met my eyes. The banks were sheer; and I could
look up and down the _nullah_ for a hundred yards. I could not believe
that the brute had escaped. I was convinced that I had not missed him,
that my bullet had struck where I aimed, right between the shoulders, as
he crouched for the spring. It should have been a fatal shot; but the
tiger had vanished.

Suddenly Ainslie's stories of the previous night recurred to me. I
glanced down the stream and saw, twenty yards from where we stood, a
discoloured patch in the dark water. I had the elephant brought opposite
it. I stared hard until I believed that I could make out the outlines of
a tiger below the surface and see the stripes on the body. I pointed it
out to the _mahout_. He gazed unbelievingly for a moment, then gave vent
to an excited shout. The beaters had meantime reached the opposite bank
and were calling across to ask if I had hit the tiger. When we told them
where it was they laughed incredulously. I ordered Bechan to dismount
from Khartoum's neck and enter the stream. With the air of one who does
a ridiculous thing to please a fretful child, he slid down the bank and
walked into the water. Suddenly he yelled in terror and sprang for the
dry land. He had put his bare foot on the tiger's body. The animal was
lying dead in three feet of water. The others urged Bechan to go in
again; and with some trepidation he did so. Reaching down he lifted up
the tail and held the tip up above the surface. The other _mahouts_ and
my orderly shouted with joy, for it meant largesse to them, and jumped
in after Bechan. They moved the body easily to the edge of the water but
could not lift it up the bank. We called some coolies from huts close
by; and it took twenty men to raise the carcass up to the level.

[Illustration: THE TIGER'S LYING IN STATE.]

[Illustration: THE TIGER'S LAST HOME.]

The tiger was a fine young male in splendid condition, and measured nine
and a half feet from nose to tip of tail. After photographing it, we
brought the elephants in turn up to it as it lay on the ground and
encouraged them to smell and strike it. This is done to show them that
the animal is not a foe to be dreaded. We all had to help in lifting the
limp body on to Khartoum's back; for a well-grown tiger weighs nearly
three hundred and fifty pounds. It was fastened on to the pad with
ropes; and we started back in triumphal procession to Alipur Duar, where
the beast was flayed and the flesh scrambled for by the women of the
neighbourhood, who gathered like vultures. The skin was pegged out on
the grass to dry, before being sent to a taxidermist to be dressed and
mounted to adorn my bungalow.



CHAPTER IX

A FOREST MARCH

    Reasons for showing the flag--Soldierless Bengal--Planning
        the march--Difficulties of transport--The first day's
        march--Sepoys in the jungle--The water-creeper--The
        commander loses his men--The bivouac at
        Rajabhatkawa--Alipur Duar--A small Indian
        Station--Long-delayed pay--The Sub-divisional
        Officer--A _dâk_ bungalow--The sub-judge--Brahmin
        pharisees--The _nautch_--A dusty march--Santals--A
        mission settlement--Crossing a river--Rafts--A bivouac
        in a tea garden--A dinner-party in an 80-lb.
        tent--Bears at night--A daring tiger--Chasing a tiger
        on elephants--In the forest again--A fickle river--A
        strange animal--The Maharajah of Cooch Behar's
        experiment--A scare and a disappointment--Across the
        Raidak--A woman killed by a bear--A planters'
        club--Hospitality in the jungle--The zareba--Impromptu
        sports--The Alarm Stakes--The raft
        race--Hathipota--Jainti.


There is a tale told of the Indian Army in the good old days when
soldiering in peace time was an easy life and very different to what it
has now become. The story runs that a general order was published to the
effect that "Officers are forbidden to drill the men from the verandas
of their bungalows." For it was said that, attired in pyjamas, they
lounged comfortably in long chairs and shouted out the words of command
to their companies drilling on the parade ground in front of the
bungalows. But those delightful days have gone for ever. Despite what
democratic orators say, the British Army has become a professional one;
and soldiering in it is a strenuous existence. In India only the Rains,
when outdoor work is almost impossible, give rest to the hard-worked
officer and man. Musketry, field firing, company training, both winter
and summer, keep them fully employed until battalion training leads up
to the culminating point of the year--the brigade or divisional
manoeuvres, or both. And then it begins all over again. And this, mark
you, in a tropical climate!

Up to the rank of Colonel every officer must pass difficult examinations
for promotion to each successive grade. And generals and colonels sit on
the benches of class-rooms in the Schools of Musketry, and in their own
commands lecture, or listen to other officers lecturing, on military
subjects.

In the good old days I could have sat in my bungalow in Buxa Duar and
watched my sepoys drilling in the narrow limits of our small parade
ground. But nowadays too high a standard of efficiency is required from
the troops for this method of commanding to pass muster. So, for the
first month after our arrival, we scrambled up and down the steep
mountains, scaled precipices and fought our way through thorny jungle
practising hill warfare. Then I determined to take the detachment
farther afield, where the men could have more varied ground to work over
and learn something of jungle life. So I mapped out a ten days' march,
under war conditions, through the forest below. We should go out as a
self-contained force, like the little columns that are sent against the
savage tribes along our North-East Frontier. We should carry our own
supplies with us, find our own transport, move by day and bivouac at
night exactly as we should do in an enemy's country. As the route
selected would emerge into open country for a couple of days, the men
would have a change from jungle work.

I was influenced in my decision to march through the surrounding;
country and "show the flag" by private representations made to me by
civil officers of the district. They pointed out the advisability of
letting the natives of the neighbourhood see soldiers, probably for the
first time in the lives of many of them. Asiatics have short memories;
and the inhabitants of the Bengals, who rarely see troops, are inclined
to forget that the British Army still exists. At that time sedition was
supposed to be spreading among them. For it is a curious fact that it
chiefly makes headway among the unwarlike races of India, probably for
the very reason that they have never learned in the field the respect
that the brave man feels for the still braver antagonist who has
conquered him. And British rule is more popular among the races that we
have only vanquished after a hard struggle than it is among those whose
ancestors never dared to meet us in battle. In all history the Bengali
never was, never could be, a fighting-man. He was the easy prey of every
invader; and, like the cowardly Corean, only the extreme suppleness of
his back saved him from extermination. If the British left India the
cities and rich lands of Bengal would be scrambled for by every warrior
race in India; and her sons would not venture to lift a hand to defend
themselves. But cowards are ingrates. Forgetful of all this the
so-called educated Bengali whispers of the day to come when the English
tyrants will be driven into the sea. He does not suggest that he and
his kind will do it themselves. The young Calcutta student, crammed with
undigested, ill-understood European knowledge, will talk treason glibly.
Insulting women, hurling bombs, assassinating in secret or, gun in hand,
plundering unarmed villagers even more timorous than himself, he is a
hero in his own eyes. But even in the wildest frenzy of his ill-balanced
brain he never pictures himself facing British troops in battle. The
cowardly agitator allots that task to the native soldiers when we shall
have succeeded in seducing them from their allegiance. But the sepoys,
recruited from races that hold only the warrior in honour, look on him
and his race as something more despicable than dogs. My
Rajputs--descendants of the gallant fighters who conquered half India,
who struggled through bloody centuries against the Mohammedan invaders,
whose women killed themselves when their lords had been slain and
preferred death to dishonour--my sepoys regarded the effeminate Bengalis
as unsexed beings.

The Duars abound in tea states; and each manager rules six or seven
hundred coolies by moral force. Several planters hinted to me that it
would be a good thing to let these coolies see the gleam of bayonets for
once, and realise that the white man has something more than the baton
of an occasional native policeman to rely on if need arise.

Thrown on our own resources as we were in Buxa, the question of
transporting the supplies and baggage of nearly two hundred men required
some thinking out. We had no funds at our disposal to hire coolies; and
all we could depend on was our three elephants. Ten days' food supply
for so many men weighs a good deal; and we had to carry with us as well
their bedding, cooking-pots, blank ammunition, pickaxes and shovels for
entrenching. It needed some careful arrangement to enable three
elephants to do the work of ten. I was obliged to send them out to form
depots of sacks of flour, grain, and other food-stuffs at places along
the route, and bring them back again to accompany us carrying the other
things we required with us. Each sepoy was limited to two blankets and a
change of clothing and boots rolled up in his _dhurri_ or strip of
carpet. Contrary to the usual custom on peace manoeuvres each man
carried a packet of ten rounds of ball cartridge in his pocket; for, had
any sudden call for our services come before we could communicate with
the magazine in our fort, we would have been of little use with only
blank ammunition for our rifles. And in the forest at night we might
require ball to protect ourselves against wild animals.

At last, our arrangements complete, we left forty men behind at Buxa to
guard the Station; and one morning in February saw us, a hundred and
sixty strong, marching through the jungle in the direction of
Rajabhatkawa. We moved with fixed bayonets and all the proper
precautions of a column passing through an enemy's country. Advanced,
rear and flank guards protected us on all sides. These detachments,
instead of being thrown out a mile or more from the main body, as they
would have been in open country, were not a hundred yards from it. And
even that was often too much in the dense jungle. Every man carried at
his belt a _kukri_, the Gurkha's heavy, curved knife, and used it to
hack his way through the tangle of creepers and undergrowth. The
progress was necessarily very slow, and we hardly advanced a mile an
hour. We marched by compass, no easy task in thick forest.

[Illustration: "MY SEPOYS DRILLING."]

[Illustration: BUGLERS AND NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS OF MY DETACHMENT.]

At the first fire line, as there was an open space, I halted and closed
the detachment to give them their first object-lesson in the jungle. To
my men, inhabitants of the sandy deserts of Rajputana or the cultivated
plains of the North-West Provinces, forest lore was unknown. And as all
the warfare the Assam Brigade, to which we belonged, would be called
upon to wage would be fought against savages in thick jungle, I lost no
chance of teaching our men all conditions of the bush. I now asked them
where, when the rivers were dry, would they look for water in the
forest. They mostly replied:

"We would dig for it, Sahib."

I told them that Nature had been too generous to call for such exertion
and had kindly provided water in the trees. They looked at me in
surprise and evidently thought that I meant to be facetious. I pointed
to a thick creeper swinging between the trees in front of me and
introduced them to the mysterious _pani bel_. A piece was cut off; and
the water flowed from it. That astonished them.

"_Wah! wah!_ but that is _jadu_ (magic)," they said to each other.
"Marvellous is the Sahib's knowledge. Like us he is new to the forest.
Then how could he know of such a wonderful thing?"

The water creeper grew freely all round. Permission given, they broke
ranks and rushed into the jungle, each resolved to handle the marvel for
himself. In a few minutes I was surrounded by scores of sepoys leaning
on their rifles with heads well thrown back to catch in their mouths the
water dropping from the cut pieces of creeper. The _pani bel_ was a
great success. They filled their haversacks with it, and all that day,
at every halt, pulled it out to taste and marvel at the magic plant.

We moved on again in our original formation. Carrying my sporting rifle
I walked a few yards behind the advanced line of scouts. So dense was
the jungle that, out of all the hundred and sixty men around me, I could
only occasionally catch glimpses of three or four. Suddenly from a
hundred yards ahead I heard a large animal forcing its way through the
undergrowth. Fearing that it might be a wild elephant I pushed on in
front of the scouts, as my rifle would be more effective than theirs.
The animal retreated before me without my being able to see it; and I
followed, glancing over my shoulder now and then to sight the sepoys
behind and ensure that I was keeping the proper direction. But
neglecting this precaution for five minutes, I completely lost the whole
detachment. The beast I was pursuing had gone beyond hearing; so I
turned back to rejoin my men. But search as I might I could not find one
of them. It seemed absurd to lose in a few minutes a hundred and sixty
men spread out in a loose formation. But I had succeeded in doing it.

It was a ridiculous position for the commander who was supposed to be
instructing his soldiers in jungle training. But, fortunately, I already
knew the forest in the neighbourhood fairly well; and guiding myself by
the sun, I succeeded in getting ahead of my warriors and rejoining them
at the place on which they were marching by compass without any of them
realising that they had lost me. We halted for the night and bivouacked
close to Rajabhatkawa Station.

The next day's march brought us out clear of the forest. As we emerged
on the cultivated plains to the north of Alipur Duar, it seemed quite
strange to be on open ground again and able to swing along at four miles
an hour. The sepoy is a faster marcher than his British comrade and will
do his five miles in the hour on a road if wanted. In his own home he
thinks nothing of covering forty miles a day, shuffling along at the
native jog-trot that eats up the ground.

After Buxa Alipur Duar seemed almost a city, though it is not an
imposing town. The houses, when not made of mud or bamboo and thatched
with straw, are built of brick and roofed with corrugated iron. But it
boasts a jail, a hospital, a _dâk_ bungalow and a sub-treasury. And the
last was the cause of my including it in our itinerary; for the
detachment was in the throes of a financial crisis. None of the officers
or men had received their pay for December and January; and we had not
five rupees between us. But the long-delayed pay-cheque on this
sub-treasury had just reached me; and I was anxious to cash it at the
earliest opportunity. Unfortunately we arrived at Alipur Duar after
office hours and were forced to wait another day for our money, instead
of marching on next morning as I had intended.

The town had no amusement to offer us Britishers. The only Europeans who
resided in it were the Ainslies; and they were then absent; for
throughout the winter the district officials are out in camp, moving
from village to village in their districts, and administering the law
and carrying on the ground work of the Government of the land.

However, Alipur Duar boasted among its public buildings that useful
institution, a _dâk_ bungalow. In little Stations and dotted every ten
or fifteen miles along the highways of India, the _dâk_ bungalow is
there to shelter the European traveller whom Fate or his work leads far
from cities and railways. It is a humble, one-storied building, erected
by Government, and containing one two or three scantily furnished rooms.
It is in charge of a native attendant, who sometimes provides food for
the hungry traveller, though as a rule the latter has to bring his own
with him. Luckily India is the land of tinned food.

The Alipur bungalow boasted a _khansamah_, or butler, who was able to
furnish us with meals. We found already installed in it a native
sub-judge who had come from the headquarters of the district to try some
cases in Ainslie's absence. I got into conversation with him and found
him a cheery, pleasant little Bengali, a follower of the new reformed
_Brahmo Samaj_ faith and consequently free from the caste prejudices of
the orthodox Hindu, which do so much to keep him and the Englishman
apart. Finding that our new acquaintance had no scruples about eating
with Europeans, I invited him to share our dinner. He held very decided
opinions on what he termed the hypocrisy of the educated Brahmins who,
in public, profess to adhere strictly to the severest caste restrictions
in the matter of eating with others, particularly with Europeans.

"Sir, I am not possessed of patience to endure them," he said in his
quaint English. "In the town where I have the habit to reside, the
Brahmin lawyers and under-official strappers invite to the farewell
entertainment of a garden-party our much-to-be-regretted late
Deputy-Commissioner, when being about to depart from us. They request me
to pose as a host with them. I say to them: 'No; I am not willing. You
ask to Mr and Mrs----, an English gentleman and lady, to come partake of
your hospitality. But you put on a table in corner of tent cakes, tea
and other cheering refreshments and tell them to eat alone while you
turn your faces, lest to see them eat would break your caste. It is all
a bosh! I have seen many of you in strange places to eat of forbidden
food at the restaurants of railway stations where you sit cheek-by-jowl
with unknown Englishmen. And yet you cannot indulge in cake,
refreshment, etcetera, with the esteemed departing Deputy-Commissioner.
It is all a bosh!'"

He more than repaid our hospitality that night by his amusing remarks
and shrewd comments on Indian and European manners. He said that, never
having come in contact with military officers before, he had watched us
all that day and was astonished to see that we were on friendly terms
with our native subordinates, knew the names of all our men, and did not
treat them with disdainful hauteur, as alleged by the Bengali journals.
And I thought of an untravelled Englishman who had told me in a London
drawing-room that we British officers were in the habit of beating our
sepoys!

Next day we visited the court-house to watch our little friend
dispensing justice from the bench. We were amused to see how quickly he
disposed of long-winded native lawyers who, in a case involving a
matter of a few shillings, were prepared to deliver a speech in
high-flown English lasting five hours. He cut them very short with his
favourite phrase: "It is all a bosh!"

The pay having been disbursed that afternoon, our men asked me for leave
to engage a troop of dancers and enjoy a _nautch_, that entertainment
dear to the heart of the Indian but wearisome beyond measure to the
European spectator. It was held at night on the open ground behind the
_dâk_ bungalow. As is customary in native regiments we were invited to
witness it and, much against our will, went to it after dinner. The
sepoys squatting in a wide circle round the performers rose to their
feet; and the Indian officers welcomed us with the usual formalities.
After we had shaken hands with them they hung garlands of flowers round
our necks, thrust small bouquets on us and liberally besprinkled us with
scent. When we sat down small plates were offered us on which, wrapped
up in leaves, were various pungent and aromatic spices to chew. Then we
were given cigars, cigarettes, and whiskies-and-sodas--these a
concession to European tastes. The performance, interrupted by our
arrival, continued. Two fat women with well-oiled hair, jewelled
ornaments in their noses, gold bangles on their wrists and ankles, their
toes adorned with rings, swayed their fleshy bodies and shuffled a few
inches forward and back on their heels, singing the while in high
falsetto voices. Wrapped from throat to ankle in voluminous coloured
draperies as they were, the propriety of their costume was a reproach to
the scantily clad dancers of so-called Indian dances in the English
music-halls. The musicians squatted on the grass behind them, two men
producing weird and monotonous sounds from strangely shaped instruments,
while a third beat with his hands on a tom-tom, the native drum. And
this is the famous _nautch_ at which the Indian will gaze with rapture
all night. The flaring oil-lamps shone on the ring of eager dark faces
and eyes glistening with enjoyment, as the sepoys watched intently every
movement of the ungainly dancers. Fortunately we were not obliged to
remain long and soon took our leave of the native officers. Although we
were to march at seven o'clock in the morning I heard the monotonous
drumming and the shrill voices throughout the night; for the
entertainment did not end before five o'clock. And it was a hollow-eyed
detachment that tramped behind us on the dusty road that day. Our route
lay at an angle to our former course which had been due south; for now
we headed north-east towards the jungle and the hills again.

On the left hand lay the ragged fringe of the forest stretching east and
west beyond the limit of vision; and high above it towered the long
rampart of the mountains. Far away as we were we could see the white
specks of the Picquet Towers at Buxa. And back among the jagged peaks
rose up the snow-clad summit of a mountain in Bhutan, its gleaming crest
seeming to float like a cloud in air above the darker hills. Over the
level plain we spread out in fighting formation, one company forming an
advanced guard and driving back the skirmishing line of the other which
acted as the rear guard of a retreating enemy. And here and there the
peasants working in the fields, knowing nothing of the harmlessness of
blank cartridges, fled in terror at the sound of the firing.

We halted for our bivouac near a village in a mission settlement of
Santals, a wild tribe recently civilised by hard-working missionaries
and taught the dignity of labour and the joys of agriculture. We met the
clergyman and his wife who were in charge of the settlement and invited
them to dinner with us. They showed us a large iron church in the
village, the materials of which had been purchased by money willingly
subscribed by the Santals, who had erected the building with their own
hands. Our guests told us that their half-tamed flock, when they saw us
marching in, had deserted the village and fled into the jungle. They
explained to their wondering pastor that we were soldiers, and soldiers
were folk whose one object in life was to kill people--and who easier to
slay than the poor Santals? It took him hours to induce them to return
to their homes. But before night they had lost all fear and flocked
inquisitively round our bivouac.

Next day we marched through outlying patches of jungle, the advanced
guards of the great forest; and we hailed the trees as old friends.
After an attack by one company on the other in position on a low hill,
we found our way barred by an unfordable river. Along the banks lay logs
and trunks of trees swept down from the forest; so we turned to to make
rafts, binding the timber together with the men's putties and
_puggris_--for their head-gear is made of strips of cloth nine yards
long. On these rafts the few non-swimmers, the rifles, clothing and
accoutrements were placed; and the swimmers towed and pushed them
across the stream. With the same rude materials we made an excellent
flying bridge which, moved by the swift current, floated backwards and
forwards across the river on ropes made from the _puggris_ and putties.
The men revelled in the work. Stripped to their loin-cloths they sported
like dolphins in the clear, cold water flowing down from the melting
snows of the Himalayas.

Then we marched on again until I halted the column on the outskirts of a
tea garden and sent Creagh galloping to ask the manager's permission to
encamp on it and draw water for my men from the wells. While awaiting
his return, I stretched myself along a squared log of timber and,
despite my hard couch, fell asleep, awaking with a start to find
Khartoum standing over me staring at me with curiosity out of her little
eyes, as she flapped her big ears and brushed away the flies from her
sides with a branch. For a second I fancied I was in the forest under
the feet of a wild elephant; and I sprang up hastily. Then Creagh
returned with a cheery, hospitable Englishman, who invited me to
consider the tea garden my own. In a few minutes the fires were going,
the _bhistis_ fetching water from the wells, and the cooks rolling up
the balls of dough, deftly patting them out into thin cakes and
spreading them on the convex iron griddle over the flames. Sentries
posted and guards mounted, the rest of the men piled arms, took off
their accoutrements; and, while some hungrily watched the cooks, others
lay down on the ground and slept contentedly until food was ready. The
coolies gathered to see the novel sight of soldiers; and the inevitable
pariah dogs hung about the cooking places and quarrelled over the
scraps thrown to them. At every bivouac some of these four-footed
recruits joined us; and when we reached Buxa again I found that at least
a dozen nondescript curs had adopted the detachment and marched into the
fort with the air of veterans.

That night we invited the planter to dine with us. Our meal was laid in
my small 80-lb. tent; and, as this measured seven feet by seven feet
with a sloping roof, there was not much room for four of us and the
servants. Our guest told us of a daring daylight attack by a tiger that
morning. While some villagers were driving their cattle on a road which
passed along the edge of the tea garden, the animal had sprung out from
the jungle skirting it and tried to carry off a cow. The men, being
fairly numerous, rushed shouting at him and scared him away. When I
heard this I determined to beat up that tiger's quarters in the morning
and told the other officers of the detachment, who were delighted with
the idea. While discussing it after dinner we were startled by fiendish
growls and howls from the darkness outside; for a minute we were puzzled
by the awful noises and then recognised them as the sounds of two bears
fighting close by. Creagh, Smith and I seized our rifles; and, followed
by servants carrying lanterns as the night was very dark, we sallied
forth to find the disturbers of the peace. The noise came from a spot
about two hundred yards away. We reached a high bank below which was
thick scrub and long tiger grass. We climbed down it and formed line
with the servants close up behind us holding the lanterns over our heads
to throw the light in front. As we pushed our way with difficulty
through the scrub a bear gave a sudden growl five yards to our left. We
swung round and made for the spot; but the animal did not await our
approach. After searching for half an hour without result we gave up the
chase and returned to the camp. Next morning daylight showed us that we
had been down in a _nullah_, the ground on either side of it being quite
open. Had we known this at the time we could have divided our forces,
gone along both banks and probably got the bears as they scrambled up
out of the _nullah_.

At daybreak we started out with the elephants to look for the tiger. As
we possessed only one howdah, it was strapped on Khartoum's back and we
all three crowded into it; for the tall grass rose higher than the head
of a man sitting on an elephant's pad. Having thoroughly beaten the wide
strip of long grass we pushed on and came out on a very broad, empty
river-bed. This was the River Raidak, which formerly brought down an
immense volume of water from the hills only a few miles away. But a few
years before it had grown tired of its old road and suddenly changed its
course, flowing into the bed of a smaller stream parallel to it, which
became greatly enlarged and was now itself generally known as the
Raidak. This was the river we had crossed on rafts.

As our elephants passed over the wide strip of sand, a curious animal
broke out of the jungle a couple of hundred yards from us and bounded
away up the _nullah_. It was apparently a hornless deer with black back
and white belly and looked like a "black buck"; but as these inhabit
open plains and do not shed their horns we were puzzled as to its
identity. It halted and looked back at us, and then went off again in a
series of high leaps and bounds strangely like a black buck's motion.
Some months afterwards the Maharajah of Cooch Behar told me that several
years before he had turned loose a number of black buck and does into
the forest near the Raidak as an experiment, being curious to know what
effect life in dense jungle would have on these dwellers of the open
plains. Apparently the animal we had seen was descended from these and
for some reason of acclimatisation Nature had deprived their progeny of
horns. This should interest naturalists.

Our search for the tiger ended in a scare and a disappointment. First,
when passing through another patch of tall grass on our way back to
camp, one of the two pad elephants, Dundora, trumpeted shrilly and
charged some animal in the cover. Her alarm communicated itself to the
others, who squealed and tried to bolt. We thought that it was the tiger
and, with rifles at the ready, attempted to stand up in the swaying
howdah, which was no easy task as Khartoum was plunging violently. When
at last we got her near Dundora, the latter's _mahout_, viciously
belabouring her thick skull with the _ankus_, told us that the cause of
her fright was only a small pariah dog. We passed on into more open
jungle and to our joy saw a herd of wild buffaloes. As we were not in
Government forest these were fair game for the hunter; and we urged the
_mahout_ forward. The animals were grazing and did not see us.
Cautiously approaching up wind we got within range and were raising our
rifles, when an old cow lifted her head and we saw a bell hung round her
neck. We swore loudly. They were tame animals; but, as these are like
the wild species and we were deep in the jungle, our error was
pardonable. Half a mile further on we came on the huts of their owners.

Our course next day lay north-west; and I intended to recross the new
Raidak at a point near the hills at a ferry, close to which was a
club-house where the planters of the neighbourhood gathered once a week.
This was the day of their meeting; so I resolved to make our bivouac
there. The march lay through very dense jungle; but at last our advanced
guard came out on the bank of a wide river, a swift-racing torrent of
clear water that eddied and swirled over the pebbly bottom. On the
opposite side was the ferryman's hut, his boat drawn up near it. Behind,
in a clearing, stood a long wooden building which was evidently the
club-house. Our shouts brought Charon out of his abode; and he ferried
us over in driblets. As elephants are excellent swimmers ours made their
own way across.

In the jungle, not far from the club, I marked out the spot for our
bivouac around which I ordered a zareba to be constructed. As everything
was to be done under war conditions, scouts were thrown out on every
side. The rest of the detachment piled arms, drew their _kukris_ and
proceeded to clear the jungle. The small trees and undergrowth cut down
were dragged to form a belt, ten yards deep, of entanglement breast-high
around the camp. The stems of the trees and bushes were fastened to
pickets by creepers to prevent their being pulled away. Thorny branches
and a shrub which causes an intense irritation when touched were thrown
in among them; and the zareba thus constructed formed a formidable
obstacle. Then parties were told off to erect shelters of leafy boughs;
others made the cooking-places or dug latrines; and the _bhistis_ were
taken down under escort to the river to fill the goat-skin bags, or
_mussacks_, in which they carry water. Then guards and inlying pickets
were mounted and the scouts withdrawn. Bathing-parties went down with
their rifles, only half of the men in them being allowed into the river
at a time, while the others kept guard against sudden attack.

By this time the planters were beginning to assemble at the rough wooden
building which they proudly called their club. And certainly I believe
it saw more jollity and good-fellowship within its timber walls than one
would find in any of the palatial club-houses of Pall Mall. From gardens
lost in the forest for miles round they gathered. Some dashed up to the
opposite river-bank on their smart little ponies and kept the ferryman
busy. The host that day was our friend Tyson of Hathipota, which now lay
between us and Buxa Duar. He cordially invited us to eat our share of
the sumptuous cold lunch he had provided, and introduced us to the other
planters of the district, who welcomed us warmly.

During lunch one of our new friends told me that the ferryman, whom we
could see busy at his boat on the beach, had lost his wife under tragic
circumstances. The woman had gone across the river to a village a couple
of miles away to buy provisions. On her return she hailed him from the
opposite bank. As he was shoving his boat into the water he saw to his
horror a huge bear emerge from the jungle and steal silently up behind
the woman. At her husband's warning cry she turned; but before she could
move the animal rose on its hind legs and felled her with a blow from
its great paw. When the terrified man reached the bank, the bear had
disappeared and the woman lay dead with a fractured skull.

After lunch, the planters, most of whom were keen Volunteers, asked me
to let them inspect our fortified camp. They were much impressed by the
rapidity with which it had been placed in a state of defence and with
the ingenuity of our sepoys, who had already made comfortable little
huts. Then the senior among the planters told me that he was
commissioned by the others to express the gratitude of them all for
marching the detachment through their district. He emphasised the fact
that the sight of our armed men sweeping through the countryside would
have a good effect, not only on the thousands of unruly coolies on the
tea gardens around, but also on the lawless dwellers over the border on
the hills above us. He said that he and his friends had subscribed on
the spot a sum of six or seven pounds and asked my permission to offer
the money as prizes for sports to be held by our men that day. I thanked
them all heartily and drew up a programme.

The sepoys were delighted and flocked down to the open beach where the
sports took place. Of the two events which interested the planters most,
the first was called "The Alarm Race." Teams from each section lay
undressed and apparently sleeping on the ground beside their uniforms
and accoutrements. On a bugle sounding they sprang up, dressed, put on
their belts and bandoliers, rolled and strapped up their bedding, and
fell in ready to march off. We inspected them; and the team first ready
and properly dressed won the prize. The other event was very popular
among the spectators. Teams of men in full marching order were ferried
across the river and landed on the opposite bank. At a signal they
started to collect driftwood and build it into rafts, tying the logs
together with their _puggris_ and putties. Then some with long bamboo
poles took their places on each raft, while others of the team
undressed, placed their rifles, belts and clothing on the raft and,
springing into the water, swam alongside and helped to bring it across
to our bank. The current ran swiftly and the excited men made their
rafts swing round like teetotums. The first party to reach the spot
where I stood on the beach and form up properly dressed were the
winners.

After the sports some of us played tennis on the courts made in the
clearing. As the sun set, after a parting drink and hearty invitations
to visit their estates, our friends bade us good-bye and rode off.

On our next day's march our faces were set homewards. We passed several
tea gardens until we reached Hathipota, where the hospitable Tyson
welcomed us, and placed the resources of his estate at our men's
disposal and entertained the British officers in his bungalow. Parties
of our non-commissioned officers and men were taken over the factories
and withering sheds, and were as deeply interested as we were in the
ponderous machinery and clever contrivances. We left Hathipota next day.
Later on, we were to see it again under more tragic auspices, when we
were conveying a murderer to his doom.

Thence to the end of the ten days' march we worked through the forest
back towards home. We passed almost dryshod over a wide river at
Jainti, which during the Rains can only be crossed by a cradle running
on an iron cable from bank to bank. At Jainti ends the little railway by
which we had arrived. The next station to it was Buxa Road.

From Santrabari we climbed our hills again, sorry to have finished our
pleasant and instructive march. The men had learned much of jungle
conditions; and I had acquired a knowledge of the district which was to
stand me in good stead in days to come.



CHAPTER X

THROUGH FIRE AND WATER

    India in the hot weather--A land of torment--The
        drought--Forest fires--The cholera huts
        burned--Fighting the flames--Death of a sepoy--The bond
        between British officers and their men--The sepoy's
        funeral--A fortnight's vigil--Saving the Station--The
        hills ablaze--A sublime spectacle--The devastated
        forest--Fallen leaves on fire--Our elephants'
        peril--Saving the zareba--A beat for game in the
        jungle--Trying to catch a wild elephant--A moonlight
        ramble--We meet a bear--The burst of the Monsoons--A
        dull existence--Three hundred inches of rain--The
        monotony of thunderstorms--A changed
        world--Leeches--Monster hailstones--Surveyors caught in
        a storm--A break in the Rains--The revived
        jungle--Useless lightning-conductors--The Monsoon
        again--The loneliness of Buxa.


Through the long months of the Indian summer the cool Hills look down in
pity on the Plains steeped in the brooding heat, where the sun is an
offence and a torture, where the hot wind, like a blast of fiery air
from an opened furnace door, mocks with the thought of pleasant breezes
in a temperate land, where night brings only the breathless hours of
darkness when the parched earth gives out the heat it has stored by day,
and only dawn affords a momentary relief.

From early March to the end of June India is indeed turned into a place
of torment. In the crowded quarters of the cities millions of natives
swelter and endure with the dumb resignation of animals. Shut up in
darkened houses from morning to evening thousands of Englishwomen and
children suffer through the weary months. The fortunate ones fly to the
Hills; but Hill Stations are expensive and not for the poorer classes of
Europeans. And the white men of all ranks and professions must carry on
their work. His drill done, the British soldier lies on his cot under
the punkah of the barrack-room, thinks with regret of the cool land he
has left and forgets the misery of the unemployed in the rain and frosts
of England. And his officer, whose work takes him more frequently out
into the sun than the soldier, envies the lucky mortals who can obtain
leave and fly to Europe or the Hills. Through the hot night he tosses on
his bed placed under a punkah out in his garden and dozes fitfully until
the punkah coolie drops asleep and the faint wind of the overhead fan is
stilled. Then, bathed in perspiration, devoured by mosquitoes, he wakes;
and who can blame him if his language to the neglectful coolie, who can
sleep all day while his master works, is as hot as the climate?

From our little post on the face of the Himalayas we gazed to the south
over the lowlands, seen dimly through the heat haze, and pitied the
suffering millions in the India that stretched away from the foot of our
hills to the far-distant sea. Buxa is usually cool. The Monsoons which
sweep up from the equator and bring the welcome Rains towards the end of
June are here forestalled by other currents that deluge mountain and
forest with tropical showers as early as February. But for our sins in
our first year they failed us. And the heat crept up from its kingdom
in the Plains below and laughed at our boasts of the coolness of our
Hill Station. In March the only comfortable man in the detachment was a
prisoner whom I had sentenced for desertion to two months' confinement
in the one cell of the fort. For while we sweated on the hot parade
ground below, he gazed at us through the barred window of his cool,
stone-paved apartment beside the guard-room; and since I could find no
hard labour for his idle hands, he must have laughed as he watched us,
officers and men, toiling bare armed in the hot sun, digging earthworks
and erecting stockades on the knolls around. It seemed hard to believe
that only a few weeks before cheerful wood fires had burned in the
grates of our bungalows and after dinner we had pulled our chairs in
front of the comforting blaze and defied the cold with jorums of hot
punch.

But soon we had more than enough of other fires. The vast forests
stretching through Assam, Bhutan, the Terai and Nepal, were dry as
tinder owing to the unusual drought. From our eyrie in the hills we
looked down at night on the glow in the sky, east, south and west, that
told of jungles blazing around us. By day columns of smoke rose up in
the distance and spread until a black pall covered the landscape. The
hot wind brought the acrid smell of ashes and burning wood to us; and
soon the air was full of smuts. From Assam and Bhutan came the tale of
leagues of forest devoured by the flames. The dwellers in the pleasant
Hill Station of Darjeeling, seven thousand feet above the sea,
complained of the pall of smoke that veiled the mountains around them.
Day after day I gazed apprehensively on our happy hunting-grounds in
the forest below and feared to see them invaded by the conquering fires.
I pictured with dismay the game destroyed by the rushing flames or
driven far from us. And at last doubt became cruel certainty. Our
forests blazed. The legions of the victorious fire king swept through
the jungles we loved and denied them to us.

But at first we did not realise that danger threatened us, that our
small Station was itself imperilled. On a wooded spur below the fort
stood two long bamboo-walled buildings, intended as a segregation
hospital for cases of infectious disease. One afternoon news was brought
me that the forest fires had crept up to the base of the hill on which
they stood. I ran down to the fort and ordered out the whole detachment.
The men in whatever garb they were wearing at the moment turned out; and
we raced through the back gate and down a zigzag path cut on the face of
the precipice on the south side of the fort. Then we struggled up the
steep hill to the threatened buildings. Below us the forest blazed. The
flames were sweeping up the slopes towards us. The sight was a fine one;
but we had little leisure or inclination to admire it. Breaking branches
from the trees we fell upon the advancing enemy and endeavoured to beat
it back. The wind was against us. Sparks and burning embers flew past
and set alight to the hill-top behind us. It was curious to see how the
flames ran up the trees and, leaving the trunks unscathed, seized on the
masses of orchids on the boughs. Their leaves and stems blazed fiercely
as if filled with oil. Scorched by the heat, grimed with the flying
ashes and smuts, officers and men fought shoulder to shoulder against
the encroaching flames. In a long line we descended to meet them and
beat down the burning undergrowth. Suddenly a sharp gust of wind carried
a burst of fire against us. Smothered by the smoke, our clothes alight
from the red cinders, we were forced back. The flames lit up a patch of
tall grass, dry as tinder, which went up in a sheet of fire. We turned
and ran up to the summit. But one unfortunate sepoy stumbled and fell;
and the wave of flame swept over him. It passed him by and then died as
suddenly as it had risen. He stood up and staggered towards the
hill-top. The moment he was seen a dozen men rushed down over the
smouldering ground to help him. They carried him up to the crest and, as
he was badly burnt, took him to the hospital as soon as a litter could
be brought for him.

The flames began to circle round the base of the hill and threatened to
cut us off; so I was forced to abandon the position and order a retreat.
Hardly had we reached the zigzag path to the fort when the huts went up
in pillars of flame.

In the evening I visited my unfortunate sepoy. Though in pain, he was
conscious and able to speak to me; and I thought he would recover. But
during the night he collapsed suddenly and died. This was the first
death we had had in the detachment; and it cast a gloom over us all. The
sepoys regretted a comrade; while the loss of one of his men always
affects an officer. And in our isolated Station the death of one of our
small number was acutely felt.

There exists more sympathy between the British officers of an Indian
regiment and the sepoys than between the latter and the native officers.
Where the men imagine, not always without reason, that these last are
swayed by considerations of different race or caste, of favouritism
towards some and a dislike to others, of village and family feuds in
their homes--for the Indian officers are generally promoted from the
ranks--they know that the British officer is unaffected by such
influences. Consequently, the men have far more confidence in his
justice. When a sepoy is to be arraigned before a court martial for an
offence, he is allowed to choose whether he will be tried by British or
by Indian officers. In all my service I have known only one case in
which the man elected for the latter. And when he came before the court
and found it composed of native officers, he objected strongly and
declared that he wished to be tried by the Sahibs. When it was pointed
out to him that he had been given his choice of judges, he protested
that he had not understood, and that he had no wish to be tried by men
of his own nationality.

There is perhaps even a greater bond of union between the sepoys and the
white officers of a native regiment than between the soldiers and the
commissioned ranks in a British corps. In the first place the Indian
Army is a long-service one; and so officers and men remain longer
together. Many of my sepoys have watched me advance from subaltern to
captain, from captain to major; and youngsters I knew as recruits are
now native officers under me. Then the Indian soldier leans more on his
British officer. He comes to him with all his troubles about lawsuits
over land and his fields--for every man is a land-holder--and
confidently expects that his Sahib will fight for justice for him. Some
continental armies would be horrified to see the sepoy off parade
talking with friendly freedom to his British officer or playing hockey
with him on terms of perfect equality.

The flag of the fort was half-mast high, as the funeral-party marched
out to pay the last honours to their dead comrade. As the deceased sepoy
was a Rajput his body was carried down to Santrabari to be there placed
on a pile of wood and burned with all the ceremonies of his religion;
for, while Mohammedans are buried, Hindus are cremated.

But we had little leisure to brood over the dead man's fate. The
position of the fort and of the Station of Buxa was very precarious, now
that the fires had reached the hills. The former I safeguarded by
burning the grass on the isolated mound on which it stood. But our
bungalows, hemmed in by the jungle which grew to within a few yards of
them, were in constant danger. The diary of parades which I was obliged
to furnish every week to the brigade office in Shillong for the
information of the General bore for a fortnight the words "fighting
fires," instead of the usual entries of "company drill," "musketry,"
"field training," and the like. Day and night whenever the bugles rang
out the alarm, we had to turn out to fight the intruding flames. Once we
had to battle the whole day to save the forest officer's bungalow from
being burned. I well remember how, while we officers and men toiled in
the heat and smoke to beat back the fire, the Bengali clerks, whose
houses were also in danger, stood at a safe distance, weeping and
wringing their hands, but never attempting to help.

At night the burning forests below were a gorgeous though pitiable
sight. And when the fires, repelled from Buxa, swept past us upwards,
and the semicircle of hills around blazed to the summit of Sinchula one
night, the spectacle was sublime. In one spot, high overhead, the trees
had been felled and left lying on the ground after a half-hearted
attempt at cultivation by the Bhuttias. Here the long sparkling lines of
fire from the burning undergrowth were changed to pillars of flame, as
the huge, dry tree-trunks blazed fiercely up in the darkness.

But life was not pleasant in Buxa during those days. The atmosphere was
filled with smoke which veiled the sun. The heat was intense. So when
the danger had passed our Station, I took the detachment down into the
burned-out forest for a week's training in camp. The jungle was a sad
sight for a sportsman's eyes. The big trees stood scorched, their trunks
blackened and the branches charred where the masses of orchids that
clothed them had burned. Some of the hollow stems were still on fire
inside and sent out smoke among the tree-tops as from a steamer's
funnel. Dead trees, long supported by creepers, now lay smouldering on
the ground. The undergrowth which sheltered the game was gone. It was
strange to be able to see for a hundred yards or more between the
tree-trunks, where formerly ten paces was the limit of vision. The earth
was covered ankle-deep in ashes, which rose up in suffocating clouds at
every breath of hot wind. And above them was strewn a thick layer of
dead leaves; for the trees shed them in the hot weather. And these I
soon found constituted a fresh danger.

To my surprise I discovered that the little corner in the foot-hills
around Forest Lodge had been spared by the fire and my bamboo hut,
twenty-two feet up in the air among the branches, was intact. So I
halted the men and established the bivouac here. We had marched on ahead
of the baggage, which was loaded on the elephants. While these were
following us from Santrabari the masses of dry leaves underfoot caught
fire from some smouldering log; and a long line of flames swept down on
the terrified animals. Fortunately they were near a broad, dry
river-bed; and the scared _mahouts_ drove them into it for safety. A
mile away the crackling of the burning leaves aroused us to our new
danger. Breaking off branches, officers and men set to work to sweep the
leaves around the bivouac into heaps and leave the ground bare for a
couple of hundred yards on every side. By the morrow the fire had died
out, all the leaves having been consumed.

As we manoeuvred through the forest every day I was astonished to still
find traces of animal life in it. The destruction of the undergrowth and
creepers having left the jungle more open, I determined to try a beat
through it. On our last afternoon I sent all the men of the detachment a
mile away across a broad river-bed with orders to drive towards it in a
long line through the trees. On the near bank, which rose sheer to a
height of thirty-three feet above the sand, the British and native
officers, armed with rifles, took up their position. Lying flat on the
ground at the edge of the bank, we listened to the shouts of the men
coming nearer and nearer. The branches of the trees across the _nullah_
became violently agitated; and a large troop of monkeys swung through
them, leaped to the ground, and rushed over the sand on all fours. Then
a barking deer broke out about a hundred and fifty yards away, and I
fired at it. I was using a 470 cordite rifle; yet, struck just behind
the shoulder by a soft-nosed bullet, the little animal ran a furlong
before dropping dead. Nothing else followed it. Soon the men came into
view between the trees and halted below us. Draj Khan, who was managing
the line of beaters, was berating his comrades vehemently. He told me
that they had come across a large tusker elephant; and instead of
shepherding it gently towards the guns, a number of foolish young
sepoys, armed only with sticks, had rushed boldly at it with wild yells.
Luckily it did not attack them, but escaped out to one side of the beat.
At the other end of the line the men had come on a small herd of
_sambhur_, including two stags, and in their excitement had valiantly
charged them in the absurd hope of taking them alive. A _sambhur_ stag
with his sharp horns and the driving-power of his great weight behind
them is no mean foe; and it was just as well that the deer had fled from
the men and broke out through a gap in the line.

We tried a beat lower down the river, which resulted in the men putting
up a panther. But again some foolishly daring spirits rushed at it to
attack it with their sticks; and the animal got away at one end of the
beat. Draj Khan caught a young _sambhur_ fawn, a week old, and brought
it to me in his arms. This and the _khakur_ were our whole bag.

I was surprised to find that the burnt forest still sheltered so much
life. As the fires do not advance very rapidly the wild beasts can
generally keep ahead of them and escape. But I cannot understand how the
harmless animals support existence when all their fodder is destroyed.

One night when Creagh and I were sitting in the bivouac after dinner in
the dim light of a half moon, the idea occurred to me to take one of our
elephants and wander along the bed of a river a few hundred yards away,
in which, as there was still some water left, we might come upon wild
animals drinking. So we got our rifles, and a pad was strapped on
Khartoum's back. On her we passed out of the zareba surrounding the
camp, in which most of the men lay asleep on their _dhurries_ stretched
on the ground; for the native requires no softer bed and can repose
contentedly on paving stones. A couple of the Indian officers still sat
talking by a fire near the shelter of boughs erected for them by their
men. We answered the sentry's challenge and turned Khartoum down a path
from the bivouac to the water. It lay faintly white in the misty
moonlight which barely lit up the ground under the leafless trees. Not a
hundred yards from the camp the _mahout_ stopped Khartoum suddenly and
pointed to a black object which indistinctly blurred the path.

"A bear, Sahib," he whispered.

It was too dark to see my rifle-sights; but I rapidly tied my
handkerchief round the barrel and tried to aim at the shadowy outline of
the animal. Unluckily at that moment it moved off the path and entered
a patch of shadow under a tree which still kept its leaves. I fired both
barrels in quick succession without result and the bear scuttled away
among the trees. We tried to follow it but could not find it again.

When we reached the river-bed, down the middle of which a narrow stream
still ran, we wandered up it for a couple of miles in the misty light.
It was a curious sensation to be roaming noiselessly--for Khartoum's
feet made no sound on the soft sand--in the dead of night through the
silent jungle. Far away a _khakur's_ harsh bark rang out suddenly once
or twice, giving warning of the presence of some beast of prey; but
otherwise all was still. We disturbed a few deer drinking; and they
dashed away up the _nullah_ in alarm. But we saw no wild elephant or
tiger, such as I had hoped to come upon; and so we turned and made for
camp again.

On our return to Buxa the hills near us were bare and blackened; but
farther away the fires still blazed. The heat and the oppression of the
smoky atmosphere were still almost unendurable. But one night in the
first week of April I was awakened by a terrific peal of thunder right
overhead, which shook my bungalow and echoed and re-echoed among the
hills. Another followed, as the intense darkness was lit up by a
blinding lightning flash. And a dull moaning sound advancing from the
plains below and steadily increasing to a roar made me sit up in bed and
wonder what was about to happen. It drew near; and then a torrential
downpour of tropical rain beat down on the Station. My iron roof rattled
as if millions of pebbles were being flung on it. The noise was so
great that I lay awake for hours.

The storm raged all night; and when I rose for parade I looked out on a
changed world. The rain still descended in sheets. The parade ground was
a swamp. Down the _nullah_ beside my garden raced a tumbling torrent of
brown water flecked with white foam. Our rainy season had set in nearly
three months earlier than throughout the greater part of the Peninsula
of India. And now began the dullest time of our life in the outpost. In
the five months that followed nearly three hundred inches of rain fell
in Buxa. Work was at a standstill, save for physical drill in the men's
barrack-rooms and lectures to the non-commissioned officers. To walk
from my bungalow to the office in the fort every day was almost an
adventure. Wearing long rubber boots to the knee and wrapped in a
mackintosh I paddled across the swampy parade ground in drenching rain,
and even in the short distance was wet through. And at night I struggled
up the hill to dinner in the Mess along the steep road which was
converted into a mountain torrent a foot deep, fearing at every step to
find some snake, washed out of its hole in the ground, clinging
affectionately round my legs to stop its downward career. All night long
and most of the day storms swept down on us; and thunder growled and
grumbled among the hills. Dwellers in temperate lands can form no
conception of the awful grandeur of a tropical tempest, the fury of the
wind, the vivid lightning that spatters the sky and runs in chains and
linked patterns across its darkness, the awful sound of the crashing
thunder that seems to shake the world. But, terrifying at first, they
became actually wearisome from their frequency. When a thunderstorm has
raged about one's house for eighteen hours, circling round the hills and
returning again and again, one gets simply bored with it--there is no
other expression to describe the feeling.

It was wonderful to see the revivifying effect of the rain on the
parched ground. One could almost watch the grass grow. Where a few days
before was only bare earth, now the herbage stood feet high. All traces
of the devastating fires were washed away. On the hill-sides, fertilised
by the ashes, the undergrowth sprang up more luxuriantly than ever. But
it brought with it the greatest curse of the rainy season in the jungle.
Every twig, every leaf, every blade of grass, harboured leeches, thin
threads of black and yellow which waved one end in the air and seemed to
scent an approaching prey. Walk over the grass, brush past the bushes,
and a dozen of these pests fastened on you. Through the lace-holes of
one's boots, between the folds of putties, down one's collar they
insinuated themselves unnoticed; and you did not feel them until,
bloated with blood and swollen to an enormous size, they were
perceptible to the touch under the clothing. After a walk one was
obliged, on returning to the bungalow, to undress and was sure to find
several leeches fastened to one's body. I saw one sepoy with a leech
firmly fixed in his nostril. Another time I noticed a man's shirt sleeve
stained with blood from elbow to wrist, and, on examining the arm,
discovered that, unknown to the sepoy, two leeches were fastened on it
and had punctured veins.

Sometimes hailstorms alternated with the rain. I had heard stories of
the size of the hailstones in the Duars. Planters had assured me that
animals were often killed and the corrugated iron roofs of the factories
perforated by them. I declined to credit these assertions; although in
other parts of India I have seen hailstones an inch in diameter. But one
night in Buxa, while we were at dinner, a hailstorm rattled on the roof
of the bungalow; and I really believe that if this had not been made of
thick sheets of iron it would have been drilled through. My orderly
picked up one hailstone outside and brought it in to us. We passed it
from hand to hand; and then it occurred to me to measure it. It was a
rectangular block of clear ice containing as a core a round, whitish
hailstone of the usual size and shape; and, using the tape and compass,
we found it was two and a quarter inches long, one and a half broad, and
one inch thick. And this after it had lain for a few minutes on the
ground and had been handled by several persons. Next day a native survey
party, under the command of a European, arrived in Buxa on its way to
inspect the boundary marks along the Bhutan frontier, as these are
frequently moved back into our territory by the wily Bhutanese. The
Englishman in charge told me that he had been caught by the fringe of
this storm on the previous evening. He had only a few yards to run for
shelter but put up his umbrella as he did so. It was drilled through by
the hailstones as if they had been bullets. I heard afterwards of
several animals killed in the hills by this storm.

Shut up in our small Station by the relentless rain the days passed
wearily during the long wet months. Often in the afternoon the rain
ceased for a couple of hours; and we were able to get out for a little
exercise. So steep were the slopes, so rocky the soil, that in half an
hour after the cessation of the downpour the road and the parade ground
were comparatively dry. But we could not wander off them without the
risk of being attacked by scores of leeches.

In July came a break of nearly a week. I took advantage of it to descend
into the forest. Wonderful was the transformation there! No longer could
I complain that there was no shelter for game. The undergrowth was
higher and denser than ever. Save for an occasional blackened
tree-trunk, half hidden in the greenery, there was no trace of the
devastation wrought by the fires. The ashes had only served to fertilise
the ground, and the vegetation pushed more vigorously than ever. Orchids
again clothed the boughs. And, sporting in the unusual sunshine, myriads
of gorgeous tropical butterflies, scarlet and black, peacock-green, pale
blue, yellow, all the colours imaginable, rose up in clouds before my
elephant. The creepers again swinging from stem to stem writhed and
twisted in fantastic confusion. The rivers were in flood and rolled
their masses of brown, foam-flecked water to the south.

Despite the awful storms I saw no trace in the forest or the hills of
damage wrought by lightning. When we arrived in Buxa I had thought the
buildings well protected, as conductors ran down every chimney in
bungalow and barrack. But just before the Rains an engineer of the
Public Works Department had visited us to inspect them. To my alarm he
informed me that none of them were properly insulated, and that so far
from being a safeguard, they were a positive danger. Then, having
cheered me by saying that possibly in a year or two his Department would
put them to rights, he left. So when the thunderstorms broke over us I
used to wonder in pained resignation which building would be the first
struck. But we weathered them all successfully. Probably the hills
around saved us by attracting the electric fluid.

Our brief glimpse of fine weather was soon gone. Then the clouds rolled
up from the sea before the breath of the south-west Monsoons, the storms
again assailed us, and the floodgates of the sky were opened once more.
In England one complains of the dullness of a wet summer. Think of five
months' incessant rain in a small Station that never boasted more than
three European inhabitants, cut off from the world and thrown entirely
on their own resources! Smith had long since left us and we had no
doctor. In the middle of the Rains Creagh was ordered off to command the
Trade Agent's escort in Gyantse in Tibet; and I was left the only white
man in Buxa. Life was not gay. Even the relief of work was denied us;
and sport was impossible, for malaria and blackwater fever hold
possession of the jungles during the Monsoon. And even when the Rains
moderated in September, we were not allowed to shoot until the close
season ended in October. The wet season is not really over in India
until near the beginning of November; and in Buxa we sometimes had rain
in that month and in December.

But still we managed to survive the trial by fire and by water; and the
winter found us as ready for work and sport as ever.



CHAPTER XI

IN THE PALACE OF THE MAHARAJAH

    The Durbar--Outside the palace--The State elephants--The
        soldiery--The Durbar Hall--Officials and gentry of the
        State--The throne--Queen Victoria's banner--The hidden
        ladies--_Purdah nashin_--Arrival of the _Dewan_--The
        Maharajah's entry--The Sons' Salute--A chivalrous
        Indian custom--_Nuzzurs_--The Dewan's task--The
        Maharani--An Indian reformer--_Bramo Samaj_--Pretty
        princesses--An informal banquet--The _nautch_--A
        moonlight ride--The Maharajah--A soldier and a
        sportsman--Cooch Behar--The palace--A dinner-party--The
        heir's birthday celebrations--Schoolboys'
        sports--Indian amateur theatricals--An evening in the
        palace--A panther-drive--Exciting sport--Death of the
        panther--Partridge shooting on elephants--A stray
        rhinoceros--Prince Jit's luck--Friendly intercourse
        between Indians and Englishmen--An unjust complaint.


The long arcaded front of the Palace of Cooch Behar gleamed in the glow
of torches held by hundreds of white-clad natives. From the broad steps
of the entrance to the lofty dome above it was outlined with lamps
flickering in the night breeze. Before the great portals were ranged two
lines of elephants with the State silver howdahs and trappings of
heavily embroidered cloth of gold. Their broad faces streaked with white
paint in quaint designs, their tusks tipped with brass, the great beasts
looked like legendary monsters in the ruddy torchlight as they stood
swinging their trunks, flapping their ears, and shifting restlessly from
foot to foot. Up the lane between them came carriages and palankeens
bearing the officials and nobles of the State to do homage to their
Maharajah, who this night held his annual Durbar. The flight of broad
steps in front of the great doorway was crowded with swordsmen and
spearmen; while on the ground below were the uniformed State Band under
a European conductor, and a Guard of Honour of the red-coated Cooch
Behar Infantry with muzzle-loading muskets.

The large circular Durbar Hall running up to the high domed roof and
surrounded by a balustraded gallery seemed set for a stage scene. The
floor was covered with the seated forms of officials and gentry clothed
in white and wearing their jewels. On a dais under a golden canopy stood
an empty gilt throne, one arm fashioned into the shape of an elephant,
the other a tiger. Beside it was a large banner, the gift of the late
Queen Victoria, heavily embroidered in gold with the same animals, which
are the armorial bearings of the State. Behind the throne stood a number
of swordsmen and halberdiers. One portion of the gallery was shrouded by
latticed screens, from behind which came the rustle of draperies and the
murmur of female voices; for they hid Her Highness the Maharani, her
daughters, and the ladies of Cooch Behar--_purdah nashin_, that is,
"hidden behind the veil" and never to reveal their faces to any men but
their near kin. In another part of the gallery were a few British
officers and civilians gazing with interest on the brilliant spectacle
below. Through the great entrance could be seen the crowd outside, the
soldiery and the lines of restlessly swaying elephants. Through them up
the broad roadway came a palankeen borne on the shoulders of coolies
and surrounded by torch-bearers and swordsmen. A cheer went up from the
crowd; and all inside the hall rose as the palankeen stopped, and from
it emerged a frail old man, clothed in white and adorned with splendid
jewels which flashed in the ruddy glow of the torches and the clearer
light of the electric lamps. It was the _Dewan_, the Prime Minister of
the State. As he entered the Durbar Hall the mass of white-robed
officials swayed like a field of ripe grain in the wind, as all present
bowed to him. He took his place before the empty throne.

Then the assemblage bent lower and a murmured acclamation went up from
all as their Maharajah entered, followed by a procession of Indian
aides-de-camp in white uniforms with gold aigulettes, white spiked
helmets and trailing swords, similar to the summer dress of British
officers in India. His Highness was clothed in a beautiful native garb
of pale blue, with a _puggri_, or turban, of the same delicate hue with
a diamond-studded aigrette. From the broad gold belt around his waist
hung a jewelled scimitar. His breast glittered with orders and war
medals, for he had seen active service with the British Army. His jewels
flashed in coloured fire in the lamps.

With slow and stately step he passed through the great chamber and
seated himself on the golden throne; while silver trumpets pealed a
welcome and the State Band played the National Anthem of Cooch Behar.
Then came a silence and an expectant pause; and there entered four
gallant young figures, the Maharajah's sons. Foremost came the heir,
Prince Rajendra Narayen, in the scarlet tunic of the Westminster
Dragons, and his brother, Prince Jitendra, in the beautiful white, blue
and gold uniform of the Imperial Cadet Corps. Then followed Prince
Victor, a godson of the late Queen Victoria, in the same magnificent
dress, and the youngest son, Prince Hitendra, in a fine Indian costume
of cloth of gold. The four young men halted and fronted their royal
father. Then the heir apparent walked forward to the steps of the throne
and held out his sheathed sword horizontally before him in the splendid
Indian salute which means "I place my life and my sword in your hand."
His Highness bent forward and touched the hilt, the emblematic sign
meaning "I accept the gift and give you back your life." Prince Rajendra
let fall the sword to his side, brought his hand to his helmet in
military salute and took his place on the dais beside his father. Each
of the other sons came forward in turn, did homage likewise; and then
the four stood two and two on each side of the throne.

Never have I looked on a more picturesque ceremonial or magnificent
spectacle than this scene of the Durbar. It seemed too splendid, too
glowing with colour, to be real life. The brilliantly lit chamber, the
flashing of jewels and gold, the dense throng of white-clad officials,
the glittering weapons of the armed attendants; and then the four richly
apparelled princes pledging their fealty to their Sovereign and Sire in
the historic Oriental custom that has come down to us through the
storied ages of Indian chivalry. I could hardly realise that this
gorgeous pageant was not some magnificent stage scene.

The staff officers now came forward and offered their swords. Then the
_Dewan_, followed by the swarms of officials and nobles, advanced one by
one to the steps of the throne and presented their _muzzurs_, the
Indian offering of gold or silver coins, which His Highness "touched and
remitted," as the quaint phrase runs. Each, after salaaming profoundly
before the throne, retired backwards and brought his gift to an
official, who counted the amount of the offering, for next day the donor
would be dowered with a present of equal amount, a profitable
transaction as his own was returned to him.

An attendant brought forward a splendid embossed gold hookah two feet
high and placed it before the throne. The long snake-like gold tube and
mouthpiece were handed to the Maharajah, who smoked during the remainder
of the proceedings. For now a quaint ceremony began. The accounts of the
various parts and departments of the State were brought solemnly to the
_Dewan_, who sat on the floor surrounded by piles of account-books,
which he examined. When he had concluded his lengthy task the Durbar
came to an end. The assemblage rose and bowed low as the Maharajah,
attended by his sons and his aides-de-camp, passed in procession out of
the hall.

Half an hour later the few military and civilian guests assembled in the
beautiful State drawing-room, where we were joined by the Maharani and
her two pretty daughters attired in exceedingly artistic native costumes
and wearing delicately tinted _saris_ draped most becomingly over their
heads. Her Highness looked almost as youthful and lovely as on the day
when the Maharajah first saw her and lost his heart to her. For, unlike
most Indian marriages, theirs was a true love-match. She was a daughter
of the famous religious reformer, Mr Sen, the founder of the _Bramo
Samaj_ faith, which substitutes for the mythology and the seventy
thousand deities of the Hindu worship, a purer belief in one God. The
Maharani has the fair complexion of high-class Brahmin ladies, and an
individuality and a charm of her own that makes her hosts of friends.
The pretty young princesses seemed more to be masquerading in an
attractive fancy dress than wearing their national costume; for they had
been brought up by English governesses and educated in England, had
danced through the ball-rooms of London and Calcutta in the smartest
Parisian toilettes, and were as much at home in the Park or at a gala
night at the Opera as in their own country.

Owing to the Durbar, dinner was served at a late hour in the State
dining-room, a spacious apartment in white and gold. At one end hung
full-length portraits of our host and hostess in the gorgeous robes they
wore at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in the celebrations in
London. Table and sideboard shone with massive silver cups won at
race-meetings and shows by the horses of the Cooch Behar stable. Native
servants in scarlet and gold waited on the guests; but with all the
luxury of a banquet served on silver there was no formality about the
meal. The Maharajah and his sons had changed their magnificent attire
for a comfortable native dress; and listening to their conversation in
colloquial English on polo, shooting, and London theatrical gossip it
was hard to realise that an hour before they had been playing their
picturesque parts in such a stately Oriental pageant. All the family
generally used English as their speech. The boys had been educated at
Eton; and Victor, in addition, had done a course at an American
University.

After dinner we adjourned to the Durbar Hall again to witness from the
galleries a _nautch_; and real Indian dancing is a spectacle of which
the European soon has his fill. And somewhere about three o'clock in the
morning, fatigued with the monotonous chant and the lazily moving fat
figures of the _nautch_ girls, overpowered by the heated atmosphere
heavy with scent, I gladly hailed the suggestion of Prince Rajendra to
escape from it all and go for a mad rush in his motor-car through the
surrounding country in the brilliant moonlight. His brothers followed us
in their cars. _Nautches_ and motor-cars, the brilliant spectacle of the
Durbar and these Eton-bred Indian Princes; what a fantastic medley it
all seemed! And the swift sweep through the park in the cool morning air
back to an Indian palace and a guest-chamber fitted like the best
bedroom in a European _hôtel de luxe_. But when next day I left, in
response to an urgent message bidding me come to shoot a tiger near
Buxa, even the prospect of the sport scarcely reconciled me to quitting
the lavish hospitality of my hosts.

The Maharajah of that day is unfortunately no longer alive. The
descendant of a hill race, he had all the fighting spirit of his
ancestors who left their mountains to carve out a kingdom for themselves
among the unwarlike dwellers of the Bengal plains. He took part in the
Tirah Campaign with our troops, and held the rank of colonel in our
Indian Cavalry. A sportsman, he was regarded throughout India, that land
of sportsmen, as one of the best authorities in the world on big-game
shooting. He had not his equal in the art of managing a beat with
elephants; and it was a marvellous sight to see him working a long line
of them through thick jungle with the skill of a M.F.H. with his hounds
in covert. He was a splendid horseman. Excelling in all games, he
brought up his sons in the love of sport and athletics and made them
fine polo players, first-class cricketers and footballers and crack
shots. But, in addition, he was an extremely clever and well-read man
and a most interesting talker. He had been everywhere, seen everything,
and knew most of the interesting personalities of the day. His
hospitality was proverbial. In his residences in Calcutta and
Darjeeling, in his Palace of Cooch Behar, he kept open house. His
courtesy and charm of manner endeared him to all who knew him.

On my first visit to Cooch Behar in response to an invitation of His
Highness, Creagh and I were met at the railway station by Captain Denham
White, then temporarily acting civil surgeon of the State. He drove us
through the town which, though small, is well planned. The streets are
broad, well laid, and shaded with trees. In the centre of it lies a
large square tank or pond surrounded by roads bordered by public and
official buildings. Here afterwards I often saw the invalid permanent
civil surgeon, for whom Captain White was then acting, sitting in a
chair on the bank fishing, with a table beside him on which his servant
laid his tea. And undisturbed by the endless procession of bullock
carts, coolies, and natives of all ages, the old doctor sat and cast his
line, hooking some extraordinary large fish at times.

The poorer houses of the town were built on posts with bamboo walls and
thatched roofs, similar to the Filipino dwellings in Manila, cool and
airy and far healthier than the awful abodes of the lower classes in an
English city. Cooch Behar could boast a fine college, a good civil
hospital and quite a comfortable prison. I visited it once and found the
thieves, highway robbers, and murderers, anything but miserable despite
their chains, making soda water, grinding corn, cultivating vegetables
or eating better and more plentiful meals than they had ever got in
their own homes.

Beyond the town we drove through the open tree-shaded park to the
palace, a long two-storied building with arcaded verandas above and
below. It was shaped like a T laid on its side; and at the junction of
the two strokes was the portico leading to a large hall, off which
opened the great Durbar room surmounted by its lofty white dome. On the
left of the entrance, as one approached, were, on both stories, the long
series of guest-chambers. On the right along the lower veranda was the
State dining-room. Off the entrance hall to the right a broad staircase
led to the upper story. Its walls were crowded with trophies of sport
which had fallen to the Maharajah's rifle all over the world. Heads of
bison, Indian and Cape buffaloes, moose, wapiti, _sambhur_, cheetal and
roe deer from Germany--relics of many lands. To the right lay the State
drawing-room and the splendidly appointed billiard-room carpeted with
the skins of tigers. It occupied the front end of the short stroke of
the T, and so from its windows and doors gave a fine view over the park
on three sides, which made it a popular apartment for the afternoon tea
rendezvous with the ladies of the family and their European guests.
Behind, lay the private apartments of His Highness, the Maharani and her
daughters, from the flat roofs above which, reached by a small
staircase, one could see for many miles over the flat country beyond the
English-like park. From here the Maharani could look down unseen, for in
deference to the customs of her husband's subjects she and her daughters
were _purdah_ in the State outside the palace, and watch her sons
playing football with the Cooch Behar team in the annual association
tournament for a cup given by His Highness. The ground was situated in
the park close under the walls of the building.

At the time of this visit the Maharajah was the only member of the
family in Cooch Behar. He had issued invitations to a dinner-party in
our honour that evening, at which we met his staff and some of the
principal gentlemen of his State. He joined us at dinner himself; for,
being a follower of the _Bramo Samaj_ faith, he had no religious
prejudices that prevented him from eating with Europeans. I have hunted,
shot, played polo and pigsticked with Hindu Princes who yet could not
sit down at the same table with me when I dined at their palaces. At
most they entered the room when dinner was over and filled a glass of
wine to drink our Sovereign's health. But this meal in Cooch Behar was
enlivened for me by the interesting conversation of my host, whom I was
meeting for the first time. The State Band played outside the
dining-room. After dinner we adjourned to the billiard-room or made up a
bridge table. The Maharajah was practically the first Indian Prince to
adopt English customs and was a frequent visitor to England, where he
and his consort were great favourites of the late Queen Victoria. For
her and the then reigning monarch King Edward VII. he entertained the
warmest personal regard and admiration; and his loyalty to the British
rule was founded on his sincere conviction of the benefits it conferred
on India. I remember that during dinner that night he said to me:

"If ever, during my lifetime, the British quitted India, my departure
would precede theirs; for this would be no country to live in then.
Chaos, bloodshed and confusion would be its lot."

I drew him out on the subject of big-game shooting, of which few men
living knew more, and listened with interest to his tales of _shikar_.
Then the conversation ranged to art, the theatre, war, and politics; and
on each he could speak entertainingly. He was deeply interested in
developing the resources of his State and was anxious to introduce
scientific methods among his farmers. Among other plans he was anxious
to improve the quality of the native tobacco grown largely in the State,
and had got for the purpose the best species of American and Turkish
plants. His third son Victor, after finishing his course at an American
University, was sent to Cuba to inspect the plantations and factories,
and study the methods in use there.

On the following day my subaltern and I were obliged to set our faces
towards Buxa again; and it seemed like turning our backs on civilisation
when we left the luxury of Cooch Behar Palace behind us and wended our
way to our solitary little Station in the hills.

On another occasion I was present for the celebrations of the birthday
of the eldest son, Prince Rajendra, best known to his friends as
"Raji," who is now the Maharajah.[6] In the palace park the annual
sports of the Cooch Behar Boys' School were held. To a European new to
India the sight of the native youngsters competing in sprint, hurdle and
long-distance races and doing high and broad jumps like their
contemporaries in England would have seemed strange. But wherever the
Briton goes he takes his sports and games with him and imbues the race
he finds himself among with his own love of them. So Chinese lads play
cricket and football; and swarthy-bearded Indian sepoys rush round the
obstacle course in their regimental sports or play side by side with
their white officers on the hockey ground.

Among the marquees in the enclosure for the spectators who were watching
the schoolboys' competitions was one which was shrouded by _chikks_, or
bamboo latticed blinds which enabled the occupants to see all that was
passing outside and remain invisible themselves. It was intended for the
use of the Maharani and her daughters, who, as I have said, were
_purdah_ in their own State in deference to the prejudices of the Cooch
Beharis. This custom among the Hindus sprang up at the time of the
Mohammedan invasions, partly from imitation of their conquerors, but
probably more to shield their women from the licentious gaze of the
victorious Mussulmans, who would have had small scruple in seizing any
female whose Beauty attracted them.

The Maharani and the young princesses emerged heavily veiled from the
palace and entered a motor-car which was shrouded in white linen in such
a way as to hide them from sight. It took them through the park to the
sports enclosure, where servants held up white sheets to form a lane
through which the ladies could pass unseen to the seclusion of their
marquee.

Among the celebrations in honour of the day--how English customs are
seizing in the East!--was an amateur theatrical performance by the Young
Men's Club of Cooch Behar. After dinner, Prince Raji motored me into the
town to see it. The play was in Bengali, the plot being an episode in
the history of the State several hundred years ago and containing much
bloodshed and tragedy. It was excellently well staged and the acting was
capital. Being ignorant of the language I was dependent on my
companion's explanations. Like all Oriental plays it was of inordinate
length; and having witnessed six or seven acts I was quite ready to
depart without waiting for the end when my friend suggested it.

Once when staying at the palace I was fortunate in having an opportunity
of witnessing the Maharajah's skill in handling a line of elephants in a
beat. The previous night at dinner he told us that he had received
information of a "kill" by a panther near a village five miles away, and
that he had given orders for his elephants to be ready on the spot next
morning. The male guests present hailed the news with joy. We happened
to be a curiously assorted party in race and in costume round the table
that night. The Maharajah and his family wore Indian dress, as they
usually did in the palace; though elsewhere they invariably wore
European attire. Two Sikh nobles, officers of the Maharajah of Patiala's
Bodyguard, were in correct evening clothes but wore white _puggris_
round their heads, which concealed their long hair, which the Sikh is
forbidden by his religion to cut. They were tall, handsome men with the
good features of their race. As they spoke no English, we were obliged
to converse with them in Urdu. The Maharani was not well acquainted with
that language and so was forced to appeal to me to interpret for her
several times. The Indian aide-de-camp of His Highness wore white mess
dress; while a major in a British regiment and I were in the
conventional black and white.

After dinner we joined the ladies in the beautiful yellow and gold State
drawing-room. We found one of the pretty young princesses seated at the
piano, making a delightful picture in the charming Indian dress, the
gold-bordered _sari_ draped becomingly over her dark hair, her tiny bare
feet pressing the pedals as she played--how incongruous it seemed!--a
selection from a musical comedy; and, attracted by the melody of the
song then the rage in London, her brothers came in from the
billiard-room to join in the chorus.

Next morning my orderly woke me at 4-30 a.m. I hurriedly drank my tea
and got into shooting kit; for we were to start at five o'clock. When I
came out of my room on to the lower veranda I found some of our party
already assembled by the great entrance. The Maharajah was seated in his
motor-car with his youngest daughter, Princess Sudhira, beside him. To
my surprise she was attired in a very smartly cut coat and skirt and
wore a sun helmet; for, as she promptly informed me, she did not
consider herself old enough--she was only sixteen--to be bothered by
the restrictions of _purdah_ when it did not suit her. Her father shook
his head and smiled at the pretty rebel against Hindu customs.

Major F---- and I went with them in their car; while the Sikh officers
followed in another. We sped rapidly through the park and out along
rough country roads, by thatched cottages and grass huts, groves of
mango trees and dense thickets of bamboo. By the village wells dark-eyed
women, poising their water jars on their heads turned to stare at us as
we passed in a cloud of dust. From the hamlets tiny naked children
rushed out to gaze at the _shaitan ki gharri_--the "devil's car." We
soon reached the spot where the elephants were waiting for us beside the
road. On the backs of the splendid tuskers intended for the shooters
were howdahs fitted with gun rests and seats. Our elephants knelt down
for us to clamber up. The Maharajah, with the true spirit of
hospitality, left the sport to his guests and went off to take charge of
the line of beaters. Princess Sudhira, armed with a camera, shared his
howdah. The shooting elephants moved across the fields to a _nullah_
filled with small trees and scrub jungle, in which the panther was
reported to be hiding, and took up places in or on either bank of it.
The beaters made a long circuit and formed line across the _nullah_.
Then at a signal from the Maharajah they advanced towards us. As the
ground on either side consisted of open, ploughed fields devoid of cover
the panther would be forced to come along the ravine to the guns. The
loud cries of the _mahouts_, the trumpeting of the elephants, the
crashing of trampled jungle and the rending of boughs torn from the
trees made a pandemonium of noise. I was posted high up on a bank and
had a good general view of the scene. One of the Sikh nobles suddenly
raised his rifle and fired; and I saw the lithe form of the panther for
a few seconds as it dashed past his elephant and bounded like a great
cat along the _nullah_. I caught an occasional glimpse of it between the
patches of jungle but could not succeed in getting a shot. The Sikh's
bullet had wounded it; but for the time it had succeeded in making its
escape.

The Maharajah came up and rearranged the beat. Our howdah elephants were
sent along the banks; and we took up fresh positions farther on. Again
the line of beaters bore down on us. The panther clung obstinately to
the cover, not moving until the beaters were almost on it. Then it slunk
cautiously towards the guns and gave the other Sikh officer a chance to
wound it again. It turned and dashed against the line of beaters,
recoiling almost from under the elephants' feet. For the first time I
got a clear view of it but dared not fire lest I should hit anyone in
the line. The elephants trumpeted shrilly; and while some tried to
charge it and impale it on their tusks, others stampeded. All was
confusion; but the Maharajah's voice rang loud above the uproar and made
the excited _mahouts_ keep their animals in the alignment. The panther,
baffled in his attempt to break through, turned again and charged
towards us. I lost sight of it in the scrub; but both Sikhs fired, and I
saw it spring up the bank towards Major F---- who stopped it with a
bullet. I urged my _mahout_ forward and came on it rolling on the ground
howling in agony and tearing up the earth with sharp claws. It was
surrounded by the elephants of the other sportsmen and of the Maharajah.
Princess Sudhira calmly leant over the front of her howdah and
snapshotted it as it sprang up and tried to charge, only to be bowled
over by a final shot. With a last spasm the beautiful animal sank on the
ground and lay still, its yellow and black skin shining in the brilliant
sunlight. Several _mahouts_ climbed down and approached the body
cautiously, while we covered it with our rifles. But it was dead at
last; and they lifted it on to the pad of one of the "beater" elephants.

Then, exchanging our weapons for shot-guns we moved off in a long line
over the fields in search of partridges. Birds were plentiful. Covey
after covey flashed up from the grass under the elephants' feet. A
scattered fire opened along the line and the partridges dropped in
crumpled balls of feathers. How different it seemed from walking them up
over the stubble in the brisk air of an autumn morning in distant
England! The Maharajah was shooting now and we soon secured a good bag.
We reached the road, found the motor-cars waiting for us, and were
whirled back to the palace. Panther and partridges before
breakfast--what an attractive programme that would be for a
shooting-party in an English country-house!

Though formerly the haunt of every species of big game, Cooch Behar has
been so opened up for cultivation that it no longer affords cover for
the larger animals of the chase. But in recent years the Maharajah's
second son, Jitendra, had an unexpected bit of good fortune in _shikar_.
His father was absent in Assam organising a big shoot, and had taken
with him all his elephants except one. "Jit," then little more than a
schoolboy, was the only member of the family at the palace and was very
disgusted at being considered too young to be taken on the shoot. But
the Fates were good to him. One day an excited peasant repaired to the
palace with the information that a rhinoceros had appeared in a village
not five miles from the town. Jit was incredulous. Such a thing seemed
impossible; for a rhino had not been seen in Cooch Behar State for many
years. But the man stuck to his story. So the boy sent the solitary
elephant out to the spot, mounted his bicycle and rode to the village.
Here he found a crowd of peasants surrounding, at a respectful distance,
a small clump of bamboos in the middle of a large bare field in which
several cows were grazing. It seemed impossible that a rhinoceros, which
in India always inhabits dense jungle, could have come into such open
country. But the villagers declared the animal was there in the bamboos.
Jit, still half incredulous, mounted his elephant. Hardly had he done so
when a large rhinoceros burst out from the tiny patch of cover, and,
apparently objecting to the presence of the cows, charged furiously at
them. Up went their tails and off went the cows. Round and round the
field they raced, the young heifers leaping and frisking like black
buck, while the rhino lumbered heavily after them. The villagers
scattered and fled. The scene was so comical that Jit, standing like a
circus-master in the centre of the ring, could hardly stop laughing long
enough to lift his rifle and take aim. At last he fired; and the
rhinoceros checked, stumbled forward a few paces and collapsed in an
inert mass on the ground. Then the boy, fearful lest his father might
resent his having appropriated the best bit of sport that the State had
afforded for years, got on his bicycle and sped home to write a hurried
letter of explanation and apology, which had the effect of the
proverbial "soft answer."

The late Maharajah of Cooch Behar,[7] as I have said, was practically
the first Indian Prince to adopt English customs, and, with his family,
mixed freely in European society. By doing so he helped greatly the
cause of friendly intercourse between the two races and did much to
break down the great barrier between Briton and Indian. But, be it
remembered, that barrier is not of the white man's raising. Educated
Indians when in England, complain bitterly to sympathising audiences
that in their own land they are not admitted freely into Anglo-Indian
society. And the cry is taken up parrot-like and echoed in the British
Isles by people absolutely ignorant of Indian conditions. The educated
native, fresh from the boarding-houses of Bayswater, claims that he has
a right to be introduced to a white man's house, to his wife and
daughters. But he would hardly let a European see the face of _his_ wife
or permit him to enter anywhere but the fringe of his domicile. He has
all the Oriental's contempt for women, and yet demands to be freely
admitted to the society of English ladies, for whom in his heart he has
no respect. And we who live in the land know it. But until he
emancipates his own womenkind he cannot reasonably expect to be allowed
a familiar footing in an Englishman's home.

FOOTNOTES:

[6] He died in A.D. 1913, and was succeeded by his brother, Prince
Jitendra.

[7] He died in 1911; and his eldest son and successor, Rajendra, died in
1913. Prince Jitendra is now Maharajah.



CHAPTER XII

A MILITARY TRAGEDY

    In the Mess--A gloomy conversation--Murder in the army--A
        gallant officer--Running amuck on a rifle-range--"Was
        that a shot?"--The alarm--The native officer's
        report--The "fall in"--A dying man--A search round the
        fort--A narrow escape--The flight--Search parties--The
        inquiry into the crime--A fifty miles cordon--An
        unexpected visit--Havildar Ranjit Singh on the trail--A
        night march through the forest--A fearsome ride--The
        lost detachment--An early start--The ferry--The
        prisoner--A well-planned capture--The prisoner's
        story--The march to Hathipota--Return to the fort--A
        well-guarded captive--A weary wait--A journey to
        Calcutta--The escort--Excitement among the passengers
        on the steamer--American globe-trotters--the court
        martial--A callous criminal--Appeal to the
        Viceroy--Sentence of death--The execution.


A January night in Buxa. The last bugle call, "lights out," had sounded
in the fort at a quarter-past ten o'clock, and the silence of the
mountains hung over the little Station. In the Mess, Balderston and I
drew our chairs closer to the cheery wood fire, for the weather was
bitterly cold. The glass doors leading on to the veranda were closed.
The servants had retired for the night and we were alone, for our Irish
doctor was absent on leave. I cannot remember what gave our conversation
so gloomy a turn, but the talk ran on cases of murder in the army.

Where men trained to the use of arms and with weapons within reach are
found, there is always the danger of this crime, due to sudden anger or
long-smouldering resentment; and no army in the world is free from it.
And when a man has committed one murder, too often he is liable to "see
red" and run amuck, killing until he is killed himself. Consequently his
apprehension is fraught with much danger. Though I have rarely known a
case occur in an Indian regiment in which a British officer has been the
first victim, yet many have fallen in leading attempts to seize an
assassin. At night the sound of a shot in barracks sends a thrill
through all who hear it; for it generally means that some grim tragedy
has been accomplished. And it may only usher in a series of crimes and a
desperate search for an armed assassin in the darkness where death is
lurking; not a soldier's glorious ending on the battlefield, but a
pitiful fate at the hand of a comrade.

I had just related to my companion a happening which I had witnessed
some years before when, at a large rifle meeting and in the presence of
hundreds of men, a sepoy ran amuck and shot down a native officer and a
havildar or sergeant. A young British subaltern standing close by rushed
at him unarmed. The murderer cried:

"Do not come on, Sahib, I do not want to harm you."

But the officer still advanced. The sepoy, to frighten him, sent a
bullet close to him, then, failing to stop him, fired again and shot him
through the heart. Then, as we around were closing in on him, the
assassin placed the muzzle of his rifle to his head and blew his own
brains out, rather than be taken alive.

Scarcely had I recounted this incident when I thought I heard the sound
of a shot coming from the direction of the fort. I sprang from my chair
and ran out on to the veranda. The night was perfectly still. I listened
for a few minutes.

"What is the matter, major?" cried Balderston from the mess-room.

"Did you not hear a shot?" I asked.

"No," he replied.

I looked at my watch. It was a quarter-past eleven o'clock. Just then
from the parade ground came the short, harsh bark of a _khakur_. It was
like the noise I had heard; for I had noticed that, instead of the
sharp, clear ring of a rifle-shot, the sound had been a long-drawn-out
one. So, laughing at what seemed my nervous fear, I went in again and
closed the door. But before I could sit down a bugle rang out loudly in
the fort. It was sounding the "Alarm"; and it was followed by loud
shouts.

"Good God, Balderston, there has been a murder," I cried. "That _was_ a
shot I heard. Get your revolver, turn out your orderly with his rifle,
and follow me to the fort."

I sprang down the steps into the garden and raced down the steep road.
Across it lay a broad stream of light from the window of my bungalow;
and as I ran through it I thought that if anyone was lying in wait for
me with murderous intent, here was the place for him. As I neared the
parade ground I vaguely made out in the darkness two figures approaching
me. I called out in Hindustani:

"Who is there?"

No answer came. I shouted again but got no reply. This was suspicious;
but as I was unarmed the only thing to do was to close with them. I ran
up to them and found them to be two sepoys with rifles. To my relief
they said:

"We are men of the guard sent by the subhedar-major to you, Sahib.
Someone has fired a shot inside the fort."

I ran past them across the parade ground and at the gate was met by my
senior native officer who stopped me and said in a low tone:

"Sahib, Colour-Havildar Shaikh Bakur has been shot in his bed. The
sentry on the magazine, a young Mussulman named Farid Khan, has
disappeared with his rifle."

The news stunned me. Shaikh Bakur was one of my best non-commissioned
officers. And the murderer was still at large. The sentry's absence from
his post pointed to his being the assassin. In that case he had still
nine rounds of ball ammunition, and, if he wished to run amuck, held as
many lives in his hand. I eagerly questioned the subhedar-major; but he
could tell me no more.

The sepoys were falling in in front of the quarter guard and the company
orderlies were calling over the rolls by the light of lanterns to see if
any of the men were missing. I ordered them to extinguish the lamps,
which only served to give a target to the invisible assassin, and bade
the section commanders check their sections by memory. The sound of my
voice stilled the confusion; and only the low muttering of the havildars
and equally low responses of the sepoys were heard. Suddenly from a
barrack-room close by rang out shrieks and wailing groans.

"What is that noise, subhedar-major?" I asked.

"It is Shaikh Bakur, Sahib. He is not dead and is crying out in his
pain."

As at that moment Balderston arrived I ordered him to examine the rifles
of all in the detachment and see if a shot had been fired from any of
them. Then I went to the room from which the cries proceeded. The
high-roofed, stone-paved chamber was lighted only by a small lantern
that cast weird shadows on the ceiling and showed a group of men
standing around a bed at the far end. On it the wounded man was writhing
in agony, trying with frenzied strength to hurl himself on to the floor;
and it required the united efforts of two men to hold him on the cot. He
was a dreadful sight. From a bullet hole in his chest the blood welled
out at every motion of the body. His face was wet with sweat, the lips
drawn back showing the white teeth clenched in pain. His staring eyes
saw nothing; and he was delirious. Again and again his awful shrieks
rang out through the lofty room and then subsided into meaningless
mutterings. In the group by the bed stood an old native hospital
assistant, the very inefficient substitute for our absent doctor. He was
weeping copiously and seemed utterly helpless. I questioned him about
the wound.

"Sir, he has been shot through the body; and the bullet has come out
through the chest," he sobbed.

"Have you--can you do anything for him?" I said.

"Sir, it is hopeless. The man will die," he cried through his tears.

I shook him by the shoulders.

"Collect yourself, _babu-ji_," I said sternly. "Try to do something.
Can you not give him an opiate to relieve the pain?"

He wrung his hands in the abandonment of helpless despair.

"Sir, the case is hopeless. The man will die," he repeated mechanically.
I could scarcely hear him through the heart-rending shrieks of the dying
man, whose handsome bearded face was distorted, and his strong frame
convulsed in agony. I turned again to the weeping Brahmin hospital
assistant, useless, like so many of his race, in an emergency.

"Oh, for God's sake, drug him into insensibility and let him die in
peace," I cried.

But he only sobbed helplessly. As I turned to leave the death-bed, I
trod on an empty cartridge-case. I picked it up. It was the one from
which the fatal bullet had been fired. It showed that the murderer had
reloaded his rifle on the spot and intended that the killing should not
end there. I went out into the darkness again. The sepoys were standing
silently in the ranks; and the native officers were gathered in a group
around Balderston. As the rifle of every man in the detachment, except
the missing sentry, had been examined and found clean, it was evident
that Farid Khan was the murderer. He had been reprimanded that day, so I
learned, by Shaikh Bakur for having his accoutrements dirty on parade.
It was a small cause to take a man's life for. But now the first thing
to do was to try and find the assassin. This was no easy task on so dark
a night, for there was cover for him everywhere in the fort. No one
could tell in what corner he might be lurking, ready to shoot down the
search-party. Then the means of egress from the fort were easy. The
loopholed walls connecting the various barrack-rooms were low; and a man
could scale them at any point. As I hurriedly thought over the best
means of beginning the hunt, the piteous shrieks of the dying man rang
through the silent night and chilled our blood.

I took a couple of armed men with me and commenced to search the empty
buildings of the fort. One of the native officers came running to me and
called out:

"Sahib, the outer door of my room, which I left open, is now closed and
bolted from the inside. Farid Khan must be within."

I went to the room, which was in the same single-storied building as the
barrack-room in which the crime had been committed. I tried the door. It
was fastened at the bottom. Bidding the sepoys with me load their
rifles, I endeavoured to push the door in, sincerely hoping that if I
succeeded I would not be received by a bullet. The door resisted, then
gave way so suddenly that I fell inside head foremost. I sprang up
hurriedly with the uncomfortable feeling that at any moment I might have
the murderer's bayonet in me. I groped round the room in the darkness,
then lit a match and found the place empty. The door must have swung to
in the wind and the bolt fallen down and been caught in the socket.
Annoyed at having the scare for nothing I turned to walk out and found
myself confronted by the muzzles of my men's rifles, for they could not
see who was emerging from the dark interior. Having no desire to be shot
by mistake, I quickly let them know who I was. As I came out into the
open air, a voice cried:

"Sahib, Sahib! He has escaped. He has left the fort"; and a native
follower rushed up breathlessly to say that he had just been passed by a
flying figure which had climbed over the back gate.

Calling to my two sepoys to follow me, I ran to this gate and struggled
with the stiff bolts. With difficulty we dragged open the heavy iron
leaves which grated noisily on their hinges. Outside lay a strip of
grass dotted with trees and a few wooden sheds. It ran the length of the
back wall but was only forty yards wide, ending on the edge of the
precipice which fell sheer for three hundred feet. Down the steep face a
zigzag path was cut leading to the hill on which the segregation
hospital, burned in the forest fires, had stood. I searched around and
inside the sheds and moved cautiously over the grassy shelf, keeping
carefully away from the brink of the cliff. I was not carrying a weapon
myself; for the night was so dark that the murderer, if he stood
motionless, would see us first and could get in the first shot. If he
missed I preferred trying to close with him at once, and not engaging in
a duel with rifles with him. Should I succeed in grappling with him, the
bayonets of my two men would soon end the struggle.

Where the back wall terminated the side walls joined it at right angles;
and here our task became doubly dangerous, for they were built almost on
the edge of the precipice; and we had to move along in single file,
keeping one hand on the wall, for a false step meant a fall on to the
rocks far below. I groped cautiously along in the utter darkness,
feeling much more afraid of tumbling over the cliffs than I was of the
chance of meeting with the murderer. But, though I did not know it at
the time, we had already passed him; for he was standing motionless
behind one of the trees near the back wall, watching us as we went by,
ready to fire at us if we saw and tried to catch him.

Then, when we had gone by, he stole silently down the zigzag path and
climbed the opposite hill, intending to descend on the other side and
gain the mountain road leading down to Santrabari.

But when I had completely circled the outer walls I entered the fort by
the front gate and at once sent off a party of men under my old Rajput
Subhedar, Sohanpal Singh, to go down to Santrabari and hide in the
elephant stables. I gave them orders that, if the fugitive came by, they
were to cover him with their rifles, call on him to surrender and shoot
him down if he attempted to resist. The murderer, crouching on the hill
above, heard them passing on the road below him, and turned off in
another direction.

Having sent off another party along the mountain-track to Chunabatti, I
fell out the detachment and entered the orderly-room to hold an inquiry
into the case. The story of the crime was soon told. In the barrack-room
there were thirty-three beds, all occupied except the one exactly
opposite Shaikh Bakur's. This belonged to the missing sentry, Farid
Khan, who was on guard for the night. The men had been awakened by the
deafening report of a rifle fired in the room. Although, when they had
gone to sleep, the big wall-lanterns had been extinguished and the room
was in darkness, there was now a small lamp burning beside Farid Khan's
bed. By its light some of the sepoys saw a figure rush out through the
open door and heard the clatter of heavy nailed boots on the stone-paved
veranda outside. The colour-havildar had shrieked out: "I am shot! I am
shot!"

Suddenly the small lamp was extinguished; and the darkness increased the
confusion of the room. The men nearest Shaikh Bakur rushed to his
bedside, others called out to him to ask what was the matter; some cried
out for the lamps to be lit; and others, not realising what had
happened, shouted inquiries. At last a lantern was lighted and revealed
the unfortunate man writhing in agony on his bed. Meanwhile the sentry
on the quarter guard not fifty yards away, hearing the shot and the
consequent uproar, awoke the havildar in charge of the guard. He ordered
the bugler to sound the "alarm." The guard having fallen in, the _naik_
(or corporal) went to the magazine close by and found that the sentry
over it, whom he had visited fifteen minutes before, was missing from
his post. On the "alarm" being sounded, the sepoys rushed out of their
barrack-rooms with their rifles and accoutrements and fell in on parade.
Still the magazine sentry did not appear, and his absence aroused
suspicion. It was remembered that he was a young Mussulman called Farid
Khan whom I had checked on parade that morning for carelessness in drill
and who had been previously reprimanded by Shaikh Bakur for not having
his accoutrements clean.

I discovered that the small lamp, which had been burning when the shot
was fired and the murderer ran out of the room, had been put out by a
young sepoy who slept in the next cot to Farid Khan's, apparently to
help the assassin to escape in the darkness. This sepoy came from the
same district as the missing sentry and was his intimate friend. I made
him a prisoner.

There was nothing more to be done now until daylight, except to dispatch
telegrams to the police and to regimental and brigade headquarters. I
sent everyone off to bed and sat alone in the orderly-room by the light
of a solitary lamp, planning out measures to capture the murderer. The
cries from the barrack-room had ceased; for the poor havildar was dead,
and his body had been removed to the hospital. After the recent
confusion and bustle the stillness and silence seemed intense. I was
haunted by the vision of the murdered man's face and filled with a
bitter resentment against his slayer. The odds were greatly in favour of
the assassin's escape. In the wild country around us, the broken,
jungle-covered hills, the dense forest, a fugitive could hide himself
indefinitely, provided only that he could procure food. If he succeeded
in making his way to the main railway line the only chance of capturing
him lay in his returning to his own country, hundreds of miles away; and
I had telegraphed to the police of his village. The knowledge I had
acquired of the country about us in shooting and on the march stood me
now in good stead. The little railway from Buxa Road would be too
dangerous for him; but he might try to make his way on foot to the
junction of the main line at Gitaldaha; or a route through the forest
led to villages and tea gardens at Kalchini, whence he might eventually
reach another railway. But what I feared most was that he might commit
suicide somewhere in the mountains or in the jungle and his body be
never found, or cross the border to Bhutan, where he would probably be
murdered for his rifle. In either case we would always remain ignorant
of his fate. Then it would be believed that he had succeeded in
effecting his escape. Four or five years before, another murder had been
committed in the regiment and the assassin had never been captured. It
would be a fatal thing if this murderer also succeeded in avoiding
arrest; as it might encourage a repetition of the crime. The hours were
interminable. It seemed as if the daylight to help us in our search
would never come. My thoughts wandered to the fugitive. I pictured him
lying out in the jungle, trembling at every rustle in the undergrowth
that might herald the stealthy approach of a savage beast, realising now
that his life was forfeit and that henceforth every man's hand was
against him. I wondered if in the hours of silent watching in the
darkness he had begun to appreciate his deed and its consequences.

At last the wished-for dawn came. I sent out armed patrols in all
directions to follow up every track and to occupy every village and
hamlet in which the fugitive might try to obtain food. Other parties
went by train to Gitaldaha, one to remain there, the rest to go east and
west to the junctions of other railways. When these dispositions were
complete we had a net, fifty miles wide, around the district. These
patrols had orders to take the fugitive dead or alive. I instructed them
to shoot him down if he attempted to resist; for I did not want to lose
another of my men by his hand.

The day passed wearily. No news came in; and I chafed at the inaction.
At noon a sepoy rushed up to my bungalow to tell me that the men of the
quarter guard had heard two shots on a wooded hill about half a mile
from the fort. I doubled out with an armed party at once and searched
the jungle around, without result. To this day I have never found an
explanation of these shots, which had been distinctly heard by all the
sepoys left in the fort. Night fell without any intelligence reaching me
from any of the parties out. The native officers urged us to have a
guard placed over the Mess and my bungalow, lest the murderer should be
tempted to come back in the dark and shoot me; but I refused, as I
wished the men to get all the rest they could in view of the exertions
they might be called on to make. I slept little that night; for the
memory of the tragedy weighed heavily on me.

Next morning some of the patrols straggled in, exhausted and weary,
having found no trace of the fugitive. But in the afternoon Tyson of
Hathipota and an officer of the Royal Engineers named Marriott, who had
been staying with him in his bungalow, rode into Buxa; and from them I
got the first news of the murderer. For on their way from Hathipota they
had met one of our search-parties under a havildar, called Ranjit Singh,
who told them of the crime and said that he had been informed by
villagers at Jainti that a man carrying a rifle had been seen coming out
of the jungle early that morning and going east. Shortly afterwards one
of Ranjit Singh's patrol arrived and confirmed this. The havildar had
sent him back to report to me and tell me that the rest of the party
were continuing in pursuit. The news was electrifying. Although the
fugitive was going in the opposite direction to where his home lay, yet
he was heading towards a river down which he could get by boat to a main
railway line. It was imperative to bar his way. I gave orders for a
party to start by the first train to Gitaldaha, change to this main
line, and proceed to the point where it crossed the river. There they
were to detrain and search every boat coming down from the north. A
native officer was dispatched on Balderston's pony at once to overtake
Ranjit Singh and urge him on the trail. Then I ordered sixty Rajputs,
who being Hindus would not be in sympathy with the Mohammedan fugitive,
to prepare to start in half an hour and march through the forest to
Hathipota, where they were to halt for the night. I determined to take
command of this party myself. It was to be spread out into a cordon
miles long between the hills and the main railway line. As I had to send
telegrams warning the police in the direction in which the murderer was
moving and make other arrangements, I sent the party on ahead under a
native officer.

Our guests and Balderston volunteered for the pursuit. The latter
borrowed a small pony about twelve hands high from a _bunniah_, as he
had lent his own to the native officer. Mounting our horses we set off
down the steep mountain-road to Santrabari. When we reached the more
level ground we galloped the three miles to Buxa Road Station. I
expected to overtake my party before we reached this point, but to my
surprise found no signs of them. It turned out that they had taken a
short cut through the forest.

From the station a narrow track led through the jungle to Jainti. We
rode down it in single file. Night had now fallen, and under the trees
the darkness was intense. Marriott was leading and I was immediately
behind him; but I could not see even his horse. Our animals stumbled
over the fallen trees. Overhanging boughs, invisible to us, nearly swept
us from our saddles. A crash and an exclamation from the leader told us
that his horse had come to grief. Bruised by the fall, Marriott picked
himself up and remounted. And on we blundered in the utter darkness. But
there was a greater danger. We were passing through a part of the forest
much frequented at night by wild elephants. None of us were armed; and
the prospect of meeting with a rogue was not pleasant. Even if it did
not attack us it would certainly stampede our horses. And to be bolted
with in the thick forest in the dark would be a dangerous experience.
Imagination peopled the black jungle with lurking tigers ready to spring
out on us; and every sound seemed to herald the approach of a wild
elephant. A deer crashing through the undergrowth would have been
sufficient to scare our horses. To make matters worse Balderston's tiny
pony could not keep up with us. Every time it lagged behind and its
rider failed to answer our shouts, we were obliged to halt and wait for
them. I shall not readily forget the terrors of that night ride. We were
confronted by the constant risk of a fall over a prostrate tree-trunk or
of being knocked out of the saddle by a low branch, and by the likely
chance of encountering some dangerous wild beast. To keep up our spirits
and in the hope of scaring off the elephants, tigers and bears by the
far from melodious sounds, we sang choruses loudly in rather shaky
voices. The miles through the forest seemed interminable; and I felt
that I would sooner face a dozen armed murderers than ride them again.

At last we emerged on the bank of the river at Jainti, on the other side
of which was the road to Hathipota along which we had come on our return
from the ten days' march with the detachment. Our relief at being clear
of the forest was great. We splashed through the shallows and set off at
a gallop along the road. Suddenly my horse stumbled and fell in a hole,
throwing me over its head. I was badly shaken, but I climbed into the
saddle as the others, hearing the sound of the fall, pulled up and came
back to me. The hole had evidently been dug in the roadway by a wild
boar that night; as it had not been there when Tyson and Marriott came
by in the morning. We rode on again. When I expressed to Tyson,
cantering alongside, my relief at being out of the forest and safe from
the chance of a meeting with wild elephants, I was appalled at hearing
that the stretch of road we were then on was a regular thoroughfare for
these animals on their way from the hills to the jungle.

We reached Tyson's bungalow about ten o'clock and found that my men had
not arrived; and they did not march in until midnight. The native
officer in command had tried a short cut through the forest, following a
woodcutter's path which led the party into deep _nullahs_, up
precipitous banks, and through the densest jungle. The sepoys were
utterly exhausted by their toilsome march. The three elephants had
started out with them, carrying the men's blankets and rations, but had
fallen far behind. But when Tyson showed the party quarters for the
night in one of his sheds, no one waited for food or bedding but flung
himself on the floor and fell asleep at once.

Ranjit Singh's patrol had reached the village of Hathipota near the tea
garden on the previous night. The havildar had learned at Jainti that a
man in white dress and carrying a rifle had been seen coming from the
forest and crossing the river early on the morning after the murder.
Farid Khan, having been on guard, was clad in khaki uniform when he left
the fort. But the villagers told Ranjit Singh that this man had a bundle
rolled up in a military greatcoat. The havildar guessed that the
murderer had been wearing white undress under his uniform and had taken
off the latter during the night. So he crossed the river and found in
the dust of the road to Hathipota the footprints of a man wearing
ammunition boots. He followed them for some miles until they turned off
into the jungle, where he lost the trail. Thinking that Hathipota
Village was the nearest place where the fugitive could procure food, he
pushed on with his two men and hid close to it all night. As by morning
their quarry had not appeared, the patrol went on to the ferry over the
Raidak River near the planters' club, where the detachment had
bivouacked and held sports on the march. Ranjit Singh had brought with
him an armed policeman whom he had met at Jainti and who had been sent
out to search for the murderer. But this worthy had no desire to meet
him and declined to accompany our havildar any farther, alleging that he
was fatigued by the previous day's exertions and must stay to rest and
refresh himself in Hathipota. But scarcely had our patrol left the
village when the policeman, standing with a group of peasants, was
horrified by the sudden apparition of a man dressed in white and
carrying a rifle. It was Farid Khan. The guardian of the law, though he
had a rifle himself, was far too frightened to use it. Farid Khan walked
boldly up to him and asked him if any sepoys had visited the village.
The terrified policeman, anxious to get rid of him at all costs, told
him that a havildar with a party who were looking for him, had just
left. He even told him truthfully the direction they had taken. Farid
Khan at once disappeared into the jungle.

Meanwhile Ranjit Singh, having reached the river and learned from the
ferryman that the fugitive had not arrived there, warned the former not
to help the murderer across the stream if he came. Then the patrol
turned back to Hathipota. There they were informed of Farid Khan's
appearance in the village. They at once retraced their steps to the
ferry and found that the fugitive had come to it soon after they had
left. He had reached it by a jungle path. When the ferryman refused to
take him over the river Farid Khan raised his rifle and threatened to
shoot him; and the man was forced to take him across. Ranjit Singh and
his men at once followed.

No news of this had reached us. Next morning, as soon as there was light
enough to show the way, I marched my party off in a south-easterly
direction to reach a point from which we could spread out and form the
cordon. Marriott accompanied us, and Balderston was now mounted on a
good pony lent him by Tyson, who was obliged to remain behind. As the
little column swung along in the light of the rising sun, the
excitement of the chase was visible in the sepoys. Struck by their
silence, unusual when "marching at ease," I turned in the saddle to look
at them. Every man's face was set in a grim, stern look; and as they
strode on their eyes swept the country around with quick, keen glances
as if they expected to see the fugitive every moment. Absorbing as is
the chase of wild animals it is nothing to the excitement of a man-hunt.
I forgot that we were tracking a human being to his doom, and remembered
only that I had the blood of one of my best soldiers to avenge and that
I was pursuing a cowardly murderer. I had given orders to all that Farid
Khan, if overtaken and seen to be armed, was to be fired at on the spot;
for I was determined to give him as little chance as possible to kill
anyone else. Had I come upon him myself I would have shot him down
without compunction, and regretted only that my bullet saved him from
the gallows.

Some miles ahead of us lay a village which contained a police station. I
sent Balderston and Marriott galloping on ahead to give warning to the
havildar and constables in it, as they might not yet have heard of the
crime. The column tramped on in gloomy silence through fairly open
country, until we reached the new Raidak River and found our way barred
by the swift-flowing stream. However, at this point there was a ferry
consisting of a small dug-out canoe. I halted the detachment and was
superintending the embarkation of the first batch of men, when higher up
on the opposite bank two horsemen appeared. They were Marriott and
Balderston. They called out across the water something that I did not
hear. But the sepoys farther along on our side of the river did; and a
wild burst of cheering from them startled me. They seemed to have gone
mad. They threw their _puggris_ in the air and waved their rifles above
their heads yelling excitedly. Then a wild rush was made towards me.

"They've caught him, Sahib. Ranjit Singh has caught him," they cried, as
they crowded round me. Never in my service had I seen the usually stolid
sepoys so moved. Only then did I realise fully their bitter feeling of
personal hatred of the treacherous assassin who had slain a comrade, and
how keenly they had desired his capture.

Fording the stream the two officers approached me. Balderston waved his
helmet, his face aglow with excitement.

"They've got him, major! They've got the brute, thank God!" he cried.

A load seemed lifted off my heart; but a sudden fear gripped me.

"Are the others safe?" I asked. "Anyone shot?"

"No, no. They sprang on him before he could use his rifle," he replied,
as his pony scrambled up the bank. Swinging himself out of the saddle he
continued: "We met Ranjit Singh on the road bringing him along. They are
not far off. They tracked him to a village and overpowered him before he
could resist. He had his loaded rifle beside him."

That was the first happy moment I had experienced since the fatal night.
The murderer was in our hands; and my poor havildar's death would be
avenged.

We stood in silence beside the river, watching the opposite bank
intently. At last on it appeared a little group of figures, three in
khaki, a fourth in white. Again the cheering burst out from the sepoys
and continued as the canoe was sent across the stream to bring over the
prisoner and his captors. Farid Khan was in front, his hands bound
behind his back by a rope, the end of which was held by Havildar Ranjit
Singh, who carried a rifle. As they came down the sloping path to the
water's edge, it occurred to me that the prisoner, when in the cranky
boat, might endeavour to capsize it and drown himself. So I ordered two
or three of my best swimmers to strip and be ready to plunge into the
river. But Farid Khan stepped carefully into the canoe and seated
himself in the bottom of it and never moved until it reached our side.
He laughed amusedly when one of his escort, trying to spring ashore,
fell into the shallow water. As the canoe grounded the sepoys crowded
round it with menacing looks; and we officers had to drive them back.
Had we not been there they would have lynched him. Some cursed and
reviled him, while others applauded his captors. But coolly and
unconcernedly he stepped ashore with a cynical smile on his face. When
the havildar had marched him up in front of me he stood quietly at
attention. He was a young man twenty-one years old, with good features
and a slight, well-knit frame. He returned my gaze steadily and seemed
as little perturbed as though the offence he would have to answer for
were of the slightest nature. The havildar handed me a rifle.

"This was in the prisoner's possession when I arrested him," he said.

I examined the weapon. The barrel was fouled; and in the magazine were
eight cartridges.

I warned Farid Khan that anything he said might be used in evidence
against him, and then asked:

"Why did you run away from the fort?"

"Because, when I had shot the colour-havildar, it was the only thing to
do," he replied unconcernedly.

"You confess that you did shoot Shaikh Bakur?" I said.

"Yes, I did shoot him."

"Why?"

"Because he punished me and abused me that day. I knew that I would be
on guard that evening and would have cartridges for my rifle. So I
resolved to shoot him. At first I did not intend to do it in the night;
as it would cause a lot of trouble to the other sepoys of the
detachment, since they would be obliged to turn out and try to capture
me. But while I was on sentry I thought the matter over and reflected
that I might not have as good a chance to kill him in the morning as
when he was sleeping. So I determined to make sure of him and do it at
once."

He spoke calmly and without the least sign of remorse or apprehension.

"How did you do it?" I asked.

"As soon as the _naik_ (corporal) of the guard had visited my post at
eleven o'clock that night, I walked across to the barrack-room. I groped
my way to my cot, beside which was a small lamp. This I lighted. Then I
got my pipe, sat down on my bed and had a smoke. When I had finished it
I stood up and took my rifle, which I loaded. Shaikh Bakur was lying
asleep opposite me. I shot him and ran out of the room."

I tried to picture the scene with the callous youngster calmly smoking
as he watched his unconscious victim. I wondered if the sight of his
enemy's face had aroused his anger as he looked at it.

"How was Shaikh Bakur lying?" I questioned. "Was his face turned towards
you?"

"I don't know," he replied indifferently. "His head was covered up in
the bedclothes; and I could not see it."

The cold-blooded manner of the crime horrified me. The murderer had
coolly fired at a huddled mass of blankets. The listening sepoys around
us were awed into silence as he calmly related the details of his foul
deed.

"What did you do then?" I asked.

"I reloaded my rifle to shoot anyone who tried to stop me, thus putting
one cartridge in the chamber and leaving eight in the magazine. I ran
out of the room and stood outside near the building until the sepoys
began to come out. Then I went to the back gate. While I was climbing it
the bolt of the rifle dropped back and let the cartridge in the breach
fall out. So you will only find eight in the magazine. Soon I heard the
gate open and saw you come out with two men. I got behind a tree and
watched you pass within five yards of me."

"Why did not you shoot me?" I said.

"Oh, I had no desire to kill you, Sahib, as long as you did not discover
and try to capture me. If you had I would have shot you."

He spoke as coolly about killing me as if it were a most ordinary
matter. I was less indifferent, and felt thankful that I had not
blundered on him in the dark. I realised fully what a narrow escape I
had had.

"Why did you take your rifle with you when you went off?" I asked.

For the first time his indifferent manner vanished. A malevolent gleam
shone in his eyes.

"Because my greatest enemy still lived," he said. "The man I most wanted
to kill was the subhedar-major. I had gone to his room first that night
and tried to enter it. But, luckily for him, the door was bolted. So, as
I was determined to shoot someone, I went to the barrack-room and killed
Shaikh Bakur. But I took my rifle; for I resolved to escape, hide in the
jungle until the pursuit was over, then return at night and kill the
subhedar-major."

He announced his murderous intention with the utmost calmness. I thanked
God that we had been able to capture him; for if he had returned and
shot his native officer, he would then have run amuck and killed until
slain himself.

"How did you get away?" I said.

"After you had passed me, Sahib, I went down the zigzag path. I meant to
get on to the road to Santrabari, but heard the patrol passing down it
below me and knew that you had cut my retreat off that way. So I sat on
the hill until daylight and then made my way through the forest to
Jainti."

I asked him if he had any accomplices. He denied that he had; and, when
I refused to believe him, he said:

"Why should I tell a lie now? I know that my life is forfeit."

"Yes," I replied. "You'll hang for this."

"I don't care. My father has five other sons and can spare me. But my
one regret," he said, and again a baleful light shone in his eyes, "is
that my worst enemy still lives."

I turned away from him and interrogated Ranjit Singh about the capture.

When the havildar learned that the man he was pursuing had crossed the
river after he had been seen in Hathipota, he followed with the two men
of the patrol. On the other side they picked up his trail, which led to
another village. Near it they met some peasants and learned from them
that Farid Khan was in this village. Approaching cautiously they dodged
from hut to hut until they saw him sitting on the ground before a
_bunniah's_ shop, eating food which he had just bought. His rifle lay
beside him. They crept up behind him, for they were resolved to take him
alive, rushed on him suddenly and tumbled him over before he could seize
his weapon. As they held him down and bound him, he said:

"It was lucky for you, havildar, that I did not see you first. I had my
magazine full and would have shot you all."

After his capture he seemed resigned to his fate and scarcely spoke
again until he was brought before me. I praised Ranjit Singh and his
patrol warmly and then fell in my men. We marched back to Hathipota,
where we halted for the night. Next day we reached Buxa.

I was determined that our prisoner should not cheat the gallows by
escape or suicide. So night and day for the two months that elapsed
before he was brought to trial a guard was mounted over him in his
cell. All through those weary weeks of waiting his indifferent
demeanour never changed. I visited him every day. To my inquiries as to
whether he had any request to make, he always replied respectfully. But
he never acknowledged that he had had any accomplices in his crime; and
I was never able to bring his comrade Gulab Khan to trial.

At last the orders came to conduct Farid Khan to Calcutta to appear
before a general court martial. We marched out of the fort and down to
Buxa Road Railway Station with the prisoner in the centre of a guard of
six men with fixed bayonets. By one of his wrists he was handcuffed to a
burly Rajput over six feet high. These precautions were necessary, as
the journey would take a day and a night and necessitated many changes;
and I was determined to give Farid Khan no chance to escape. At
Gitaldaha we had to wait for some time for another train which brought
us in the early morning to the banks of the River Ganges. Across this we
were taken in a steamer, the passage occupying over an hour. Our
appearance excited much interest among the passengers on board, some of
whom were American tourists returning from a flying visit to Darjeeling.
My party, including the witnesses and the escort, was quite a large one;
and I heard one fair daughter of Uncle Sam remark:

"Wa'al, it takes a lot of soldiers to guard that one poor man."

One of her male companions, who addressed me as "Officer!" questioned me
as to the prisoner's crime, and seemed quite disappointed at learning
that it was only murder.

On the other side of the Ganges we entrained again and reached Calcutta
by noon. I handed over my prisoner to the care of a regiment quartered
in Fort William; and he was safely consigned to their guard-room cell.

On the bank of the broad River Hugli, which flows through the city of
Calcutta and up which the ships come from the sea, stands this large
fort, which dates back far into the days of the Honourable East India
Company. One face fronts the stream, the others look on the _maidan_, a
broad open space, tree-studded and seamed with roads, which lies between
the frowning, embrasured walls and the nearest houses. Within the wide
precincts of the fort, a city in a city, are found barracks, the
arsenal, houses for military and civil officers, a church, and the
official residence of the Commander-in-Chief, all separated by broad
squares and green lawns.

Here next day in the garrison library, a large recreation-room for
soldiers, Sepoy Farid Khan faced the court martial which was to try him
for his life. When I had given him his choice in Buxa of having either
British or Indian officers as his judges, he answered unhesitatingly:

"I want to be tried by Sahibs, of course."

And so, in accordance with his wish, nine British officers in white
full-dress summer uniform, swords at their sides and medals on their
breasts, sat in judgment on him at a long table. Behind them was a stage
on which military amateur actors strut their hour in the garrison
theatricals. The drop curtain was up, showing a pretty English country
scene. It seemed an incongruous setting for the grim drama of real life
which was now to be enacted.

Near the members of the court sat another officer, the deputy judge
advocate general, who was present to see that the trial was conducted in
accordance with the rules of military law, and to advise the court on
legal points. At a small table to one side Captain Balderston took his
place as prosecutor. Then the prisoner, his handcuffs removed, was
marched into the room by the guard of the regiment in whose cells he was
confined. He walked in with an erect and soldierly bearing and stood to
attention as the president of the court read out the charge to him and
called on him to plead. And to this charge of "Murder" he answered
composedly "I am guilty." But, since with this plea no evidence in his
defence or in extenuation of his crime could be given, the court, with
the extreme fairness of a military tribunal, advised him to withdraw it
and plead "Not Guilty." Then the native witnesses who testified to his
desertion of his post, his flight and capture, gave their evidence in
Hindustani. After them I repeated his confession of the crime to me. I
spoke in English, my evidence being translated to the prisoner by a
British officer who acted as interpreter. But I noticed that Farid Khan
did not seem to understand this officer, who spoke a purer and correcter
Urdu than did the prisoner himself.

I stated my belief to the court. The president, who spoke the
vernacular, asked Farid Khan if this were so.

"Yes, it is true. I cannot understand what that Sahib says," he replied;
"but I can understand my own major Sahib," pointing to me.

Then, with the court's permission, I repeated to him the evidence I had
given.

"Yes, that is all quite true," he said.

Then the president bade me ask the prisoner if he wished to question me
on my evidence. I did so.

"No, Sahib," he replied. "What you have said is correct. I only wish to
say that on that night I intended to kill the subhedar-major first. I
tried his door first but----"

I told him to be silent, as he was only committing himself deeper. Then
the court asked me what the prisoner had said and I answered that it was
something to his disadvantage; the president told me that in that case I
need not interpret his words.

The trial lasted two days and ended in a verdict of guilty. But in
accordance with military law it was not announced at the time, as the
whole of the proceedings of the court had to be first carefully
scrutinised at army headquarters; so that if any illegality had been
committed, or the verdict was not justified by the evidence, the case
could be quashed and a fresh trial ordered. But in due course the
decision of the court martial and the sentence of "Death by hanging"
were published. But long before this I had left Calcutta with my party
and returned to Buxa, Farid Khan remaining a prisoner in Fort William.
His father and a brother came across India from Rajputana to visit him;
and, probably acting on their advice, he appealed for mercy to the
Viceroy.

But his appeal was rejected. One night at eleven o'clock the adjutant of
the regiment which had him in charge was handed a telegram to that
effect and informing him that the prisoner was to be hanged next morning
at eight o'clock. The officer went at once to the condemned man's cell.
Farid Khan was asleep. The adjutant woke him up and said:

"You are to die to-morrow morning."

"Very well, Sahib," was the unconcerned reply; and the prisoner lay down
again and was asleep before the adjutant had quitted the cell.

I had feared that Farid Khan would be sent back to Buxa Duar, so that
the execution could be carried out in presence of his comrades. But the
last act of the tragedy took place in the courtyard of the civil jail in
Calcutta. Detachments of all the regiments, British and Indian, in that
city were formed up in front of the gallows.

When the condemned man was marched into the courtyard, the adjutant
asked if he had any last request to make.

"Yes, Sahib," he replied. "I want to know how many men you have told off
to bury me."

"Two," said the officer.

"That is not enough, Sahib; I should like eight."

"Very well, you will have them."

"Thank you, Sahib," replied the condemned man cheerfully. Then with a
firm step he mounted the scaffold. As the rope was adjusted round his
neck, he looked down at the adjutant and called out to him with a smile:

"Salaam, Sahib. Good-bye."

They were his last words.



CHAPTER XIII

IN AN INDIAN HILL STATION

    To Darjeeling--Railway journeys in India--Protection for
        solitary ladies--Reappearing rivers--Siliguri--At the
        foot of the Himalayas--A mountain railway--Through the
        jungle--Looping the loop--View of the
        Plains--Darjeeling--Civilisation seven thousand feet
        high--Varied types--View from the Chaurasta--White
        workers in India--Life in Hill
        Stations--Lieutenant-Governors--A "dull time" in
        Darjeeling--The bazaar--Types of hill
        races--Turquoises--Tiger-skins for tourists--The
        Amusement Club--The Everlasting
        Snows--Kinchinjunga--The bachelors' ball--A Government
        House ball--The marriage-market value of Indian
        civilians--Less demand for military
        men--Theatricals--Lebong Races--Picturesque
        race-goers--Ladies in India--Husband hunters--The empty
        life of an Englishwoman--The dangers of Hill
        Stations--A wife four months in the year--The hills
        _taboo_ for the subaltern--Back to Buxa.


Sixty or eighty miles west of Buxa Duar and seven thousand feet above
the sea is the pleasant Himalayan Hill Station of Darjeeling. Less than
a day's journey by rail from Calcutta, it attracts to it the fortunate
mortals who, in the summer months, can escape from the heat of that
crowded city and the Bengal plains and plunge into a whirl of gaieties
on the cool heights of the Pleasure Colony. To it I had my first change
from Buxa. About a year after my arrival I got fourteen days' leave to
Darjeeling in order to meet the officer of my regiment commanding our
detachment at Gantok in Sikkim, who was coming there to appear at one
of the many examinations that plague the soldier's soul. The month was
October, perhaps the unpleasantest time of the year in India, when the
Rains are almost ended and the heat is intensified by the dampness of
earth and atmosphere.

To reach my destination required a very round-about journey by rail.
First from Buxa Road to the junction at Gitaldaha, where I could get on
to the main line which took me to Siliguri at the foot of the mountains
again; thence up the toy Himalayan Railway which crawled in spirals and
zigzags up the face of the giant hills. The Indian first-class railway
carriage is very unlike an English one. It is divided into two
compartments, each entered by a door at the end and containing along
each side a broad, leather-covered couch, used as a seat by day, a bed
by night. Above each is a hanging bed, hooked up until it is required
for use. There is thus sleeping accommodation for four in the
compartment, off which is a lavatory, which on some lines contains a
bath, a luxury much needed on a long journey in India. In the hot
weather the carriages are fitted with electric fans, which only serve to
stir the heated air, and hardly cool the perspiring occupants. Every
traveller carries his roll of bedding, which his servant spreads down at
night and in the morning ties up and stows out of the way. Until
comparatively recently restaurant cars were unknown; and the trains
halted three times a day for half an hour to allow their passengers to
descend at stations where meals could be obtained. For long journeys,
and in India three or four days in a train is not unusual, the type of
carriage I have described is more comfortable than the corridor
carriages which are now being introduced. This change is greatly due to
the number of running-train thefts and the murder of a Eurasian girl;
for of course in the corridor system travellers are less isolated.
Recent occurrences have somewhat scared ladies travelling alone. To
reassure them the railway companies allow them to have their _ayahs_ or
native female servants to share the carriage, the window-shutters have
been provided with bolts, and the guards have instructions to lock the
doors of their compartments.

As my train rolled along through the level country I was surprised to
note the number of rivers we crossed. These were the streams which
vanish at the foot of the hills and reappear above ground farther south.
The country we passed through was typical of Bengal--level plains well
cultivated and dotted with clumps of bamboos, numerous villages and
prosperous-looking farms.

In the early morning we reached Siliguri where we had to change to the
Himalayan Railway. A crowd of sleepy passengers descended and entered
the refreshment-room in search of breakfast, while their servants
gathered their luggage together. Then we took our seats in the tiny open
carriages of the small train which climbs the steep slopes of the mighty
mountains. At first it plunged into forest between huge trees clothed
with orchids, walled in by dense undergrowth; for we were in the Terai
again. Then it wound among the jungle-clad foot-hills and climbed ever
higher, while the forest grew thinner and sparser. Anon it emerged on
the sides of the open bare mountains; and we looked down on the dark
belt of trees and the plains spread like a map below us. We could trace
for miles the winding course of the Tista, the wide river that flows
down through the hills from Sikkim. Here and there we passed by long
stretches of tea gardens. In one place the railway forms a complete
circle, looping the loop; so that, with a long train, the engine would
be crossing over a bridge while the last carriage was still under it.
Beside the line ran the mountain road, by which heavily laden coolies
toiled between the villages of rough wooden huts. At last the greatest
elevation was reached at the small station of Goom; and the train ran
down for a thousand feet and ended its journey in Darjeeling.

Mark Twain was enraptured by the beauties and marvels of engineering of
this Himalayan Railway. But to me it seemed far less wonderful and
lovely than the lines over the Rocky Mountains of his own country. I
have crossed them by the Denver and Rio Grande route, where in broad
Pullmans and big-windowed observation-cars we sat in comfort, and at an
elevation of ten thousand feet gazed at the snow-clad peaks towering
above us or, lower down in the deep gorges, strove to see the tops of
the sheer, two-thousand feet high walls of the Grand Canyon, painted in
brilliant colours by the lavish hand of Nature.

But Darjeeling was unique in my experience; for I had visited no other
Himalayan Hill Station. A town on the mountain-tops, a town of pretty
villas, large hotels, clubs and churches, of big English shops with
plate-glass windows, of jumbled native bazaars thronged with thousands
of men and women of a dozen different hill races. Broad, well-kept roads
run along the ridges and up and down the steep hill-sides, lined with
lovely gardens, in which stand fascinating European houses like the
villas of Trouville and Deauville under the shade of giant orchid-clad
trees. English ladies in smart frocks go by in rickshaws or reclining in
chairs carried on the shoulders of strong coolies. Officers and
civilians on well-groomed ponies trot past groups of sturdy-limbed
Bhuttias or rosy-cheeked Lepcha women hung with turquoise and silver
ornaments. British soldiers in khaki stop to chat with small, cheery
Gurkha policemen by the roadside. Pig-tailed Sikkimese and Tibetan lamas
fingering their rosaries stare into the plate-glass windows of shops
that would not be out of place in Oxford Street and which display to the
bewildered heathen Paris fashions or the latest pattern of coloured
shirts and smart waistcoats.

The central point of Darjeeling is the cross roads at the Chaurasta.
Here on one side the ground rises a thousand feet or more to the summit
of Jalapahar, crowded with barracks and European bungalows. To the other
the hill-sides slope steeply away covered with tea gardens. Along the
ridge the road runs by a trim English Church in pretty grounds, the
straggling building of the Amusement Club with tennis courts terraced
one above the other, and on to the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal's
summer residence set in a lovely park. To the north the ground falls
sharply another thousand feet; and one looks down on the roofs of the
bungalows and British Infantry Barracks of Lebong, with its race-course
around the polo ground and the rifle-range, seeming like a toy station
set out far beneath. Below, the deep valley; and beyond it rises a
jumble of mountains on mountains in bewildering profusion. And at dawn
and evening above the clouds hangs high in air the long line of the
Everlasting Snows. Over it towers Kinchinjunga, twenty-eight thousand
feet high, with its jagged white peaks gleaming in the morning or
pink-flushed in the rosy light of sunset; forty miles away, yet so clear
and distinct that the beholder imagines he would be able to see a man on
it, if some climber could scale its untrodden heights.

The abrupt change from the sweltering heat of the Bengal plains, seven
thousand feet below, to the cool climate and refreshing breezes of
Darjeeling is marvellous. In less than twenty-four hours the English
dwellers in the hot and crowded city of Calcutta are borne to this gay
Hill Station, which must seem another world to them. In the brisk
mountain air the jaded visitors from the Plains revive and are filled
with renewed energy; and one and all plunge feverishly into social
gaieties. In India only in such places as this does one find the
Englishman unoccupied by work; for in the East there is no leisured
class of Europeans. Even the Viceroys and Governors are busy mortals,
and perhaps the hardest-worked individuals in the dominions they rule.
Every white man in India has his employment; for he is a soldier, a
civil servant, a judge, a lawyer, a railwayman or a merchant. Each has
his work and his place in the scheme of things. But in the Hills, save
for those at the military or civil headquarters, he is on leave, and has
come to enjoy a well-earned rest.

The life in an Indian Hill Station is unlike anything that we have in
England. Gaiety reigns supreme. Games, races, dances, theatricals, and
all such entertainments abound. To take Darjeeling as an example. In the
mornings and forenoons the roads are thronged with riders or with ladies
in chairs or rickshaws, going to pay calls or on their way to
luncheon-parties. In the afternoons on the polo ground of Lebong the
players on their agile little ponies jostle each other, or race after
the ball. The tennis courts in the grounds of the Amusement Club are
full. The skating rink inside the Club is thronged in the mornings, and
when dusk falls, the lamps are lighted and the tea-tables are set out
beside the polished floor. The nights are never dull; dinner-parties in
the bungalows, restaurants and hotels, dances and theatricals at the
Club, fill them.

In these Hill Stations the summer residents in the bungalows, the
visitors at the hotels or boarding-houses, though they come from places
in the Plains far apart, are of the same class in life and know each
other or of each other. For, except for the lawyers and merchants, the
names of all are set forth in either of the two great books of India,
the Civil Service or the Army List. And they are linked by the bond of a
similar profession. All are members of the Club and see each other there
every day. To all are sent invitations to each big festivity. The
Lieutenant-Governor of the province has his summer residence in its Hill
Station and gives a series of official entertainments to which are asked
all those who have written their names in the book which, guarded by
red-coat servitors, lies on a table in the veranda of Government House.
He is constrained by his position to give dances, dinners, and
garden-parties, regardless of his private inclinations. For he is a very
important personage, and lives in almost regal state. He has his
military aides-de-camp, his military or police guard; the Union Jack
flies from a flagstaff on his lawn as a sign of his dignity. He rules
over a province as big as England and is supreme in his dominions unless
the Viceroy chances to visit them. Think what a change it must be for
such a proconsul when he has to retire and takes up his abode in a
London suburb or a small country town, where he is unknown to fame, and
unhonoured!

Life is indeed gay in these Hill Stations. To them flock the ladies to
escape the burning heat of the Plains, leaving their poor husbands to
grill and earn their pay while their wives are enjoying themselves up in
the cool mountains. And the fair ones must be amused. So the bachelors,
who can more easily afford to take leave than the married men, are at
their service to ride, play tennis, dance and flirt with them.

The fortnight of my stay in Darjeeling was supposed to be quite a dull
time in the Station; for it preceded the holidays of the Poojahs, a
Hindu feast, when all the Government and mercantile offices in Bengal
are closed and the Englishmen thus set free flock up to the Hills. These
holidays lasted two weeks; and an elaborate programme of festivities was
prepared for them. Yet during the period of my stay I found that there
were to be three balls, four afternoon dances, two days' races and two
separate amateur theatricals. So it seemed to me a whirl of gaiety after
the hermit-like seclusion of Buxa Duar.

On the first afternoon I rickshawed down into the bazaar or native
quarter thronged with representatives of many hill races. Sturdy little
Gurkhas, pig-tailed Sikkimese, broad-shouldered Bhuttias, dusky Hindu
women and fair-complexioned, red-cheeked Lepcha girls jostled each other
in the narrow, hilly streets. In the open market-place were stalls of
vendors of cheap commodities; and harsh-featured old women sat behind
trays of rough-cut turquoises or smoothly polished imitations of the
blue stone dear to the hearts of the female hill dwellers. In the bazaar
many of the dingy native shops were filled with curios to attract the
white resident or globe-trotter. Tibetan prayer-wheels, lama
devil-dancers' masks, Chinese embroideries and roughly hammered brass
gods were heaped in confusion. Trays of cut turquoises and lumps of
matrix stood on the counters. The window of one shop was filled with
skins of tigers, bears, and panthers; a sight to move the sportsman to
wrath, for to him such things are trophies to be won in fair chase, not
articles to be exposed for sale to the American tourist. I noticed that
tiger-skins were ticketed at £20, the pelts of other animals at lower
prices. Beyond the market-place, on a knoll, stood the European
sanatorium, in which I was to find myself a patient months afterwards.

As I entered the Amusement Club at sunset, after my visit to the bazaar,
I was quite bewildered by the sight of so many white folk. Outside, the
tennis courts were emptying as the dusk fell. Inside the building the
rink was crowded with skaters. Along one side of it were set out scores
of tea-tables, around which sat ladies attired in the latest fashions.
The card-room was full. People were changing books in the Club library
or looking at the English illustrated papers and magazines in the
reading-room. And in the bar was gathered together a festive crowd of
men of many professions and callings, though the military predominated,
chatting and disposing of the "short drinks" beloved of the
Anglo-Indian. Here I met two subalterns of my regiment, one on leave,
the other on his way back to headquarters from Gyantse in the heart of
Tibet, where he had been commanding the escort to the British Trade
Agent. In that isolated spot, thirteen thousand feet above the sea, he
had lived for eighteen months, solacing his solitude by stalking the
wily ibex. Here, too, I came across the major of the Punjabi regiment
whom I had relieved nearly a year before at Buxa Duar. After a cheery
greeting he asked me pityingly how I managed to endure the loneliness of
my little outpost. When he heard that I liked the existence there
immensely he seemed to regard me as a half-demented individual. While I
was chatting with him there descended upon me emissaries of a frantic
amateur stage-manager who, having heard that I had had much experience
in theatricals, besought me to take the place of one of his actors who
had suddenly fallen ill, as the performance was to come off in two days'
time. The dress rehearsal of the piece, a well-known London comedy, was
just about to commence in the Club theatre. Having consented I was borne
off to it, a typed book placed in my hand and I dragged into the
dressing-room to be "made up." I was already caught in the grip of the
amusement machine.

Next morning I was up before the sun to see the gorgeous panorama of the
Everlasting Snows. As the day dawned the lower hills were shrouded in
clouds; but high above them rose the long line of snow-clad summits,
seeming to float in air, unreal, unsubstantial in their beauty; and
Kinchinjunga's white and jagged crest towered over them all and was the
first to flush with rose colour in the rays of the morning sun. Then a
veil was slowly drawn over the glorious picture, as the clouds soared
slowly up from the lower levels and hid the gorgeous vision from sight.

I spent the day paying calls, rehearsing my part in the theatricals, and
becoming acquainted with Darjeeling. I visited the beautiful Botanical
Gardens, picturesquely situated on a steep slope and giving a wide view
over the deep valleys below.

I found that the transition from the two thousand feet height of Buxa to
the seven thousand of Darjeeling was rather trying at first; as the
least exertion of walking and climbing soon left me breathless. In a few
days I was quite accustomed to the superior altitude.

That night the bachelors of the Station gave a large ball in the
Amusement Club. Their coat-of-arms--a bottle, slippers, and a pipe
crossed with a latch-key--was blazoned on the walls. Gay was the
revelry, which lasted well into the small hours; and I was glad that I
was on leave and no early parade could claim me in the morning.

On the following night came another ball given by the
Lieutenant-Governor in his official residence. Government House was
filled with the wearers of pretty frocks and varied uniforms; and in the
glamour of scarlet and blue mess-jackets the black-coated civilian was
for once at a discount. But, alas! for the mercenary nature of the fair
sex; if he belong to the Indian Civil Service he is preferred to the
soldier as a husband. For he is worth "£400 a year dead or alive"; for
his widow will get that amount as a pension. Whereas an ungrateful
country dowers a lieutenant's relict with £40 a year, a captain's with
£70, a major's £100 and a colonel's £120. So how can the red-coat
compete with him in the matrimonial stakes?

The illuminated grounds of Government House and the cunningly-devised
"kala juggas," as sitting-out places are termed in India, lured many of
the dancers from the ball-room. At supper that night I sat at a small
table with a merry little party consisting of the subaltern of my
regiment on leave, Prince Rajendra of Cooch Behar and his partner, a
pretty Armenian girl. And of the four of us two are now dead. The
subaltern died a few months after attaining to his captaincy. Prince
Rajendra soon succeeded his father as Maharajah, but only lived to enjoy
his dignities two short years.

Next night the Club theatre was filled with a kindly disposed and
enthusiastic audience to witness our performance of the comedy. As India
is rarely visited by professional companies, which only appear in the
large cities, it is mainly dependent on the efforts of its amateur
actors. But these often, through natural talent and much practice,
attain a degree of excellence that would not disgrace the London stage.
And few would gainsay this who saw the performances of "The Country
Girl" given by another troop of amateurs before the end of my stay. They
were under the direction of His Highness the Maharajah of Cooch Behar,
who had lavished money on the production. The scenery and dresses had
come from London; and the piece was magnificently staged. The singing,
acting, and even the dancing could not be surpassed by at least any
first-class touring company in England.

The Maharajah had a house in Darjeeling where his entertainments were
princely and his hospitality profuse. The ladies of his family were
absent in Simla; but his sons were with him. Prince Rajendra, as
befitted the heir apparent, had a separate house and an establishment of
his own. Here one night I was present at a merry supper-party, after
renewing my acquaintance and dining informally with the Maharajah.

Every day of my short stay seemed to have its particular gaiety. The
races at Lebong were a sporting and a fashionable event. Down the steep
hill roads from Darjeeling, a thousand feet above, poured the stream of
Europeans in rickshaws or on ponies and of natives afoot early in the
afternoon to the miniature race-course which is built on the cut-away
hill-top. There is scant room for any horse to bolt out of it; for a few
yards will bring it to the edge of the precipitous slopes around. In
fact, the "straight" for the run home is gained by finishing up the
Darjeeling road. Most of the events were for hill ponies, sturdy and
plucky little animals; and the jockeys were mainly natives. But the
excitement of the crowds of race-goers of many shades of colour, the
keenness of the plungers on the totalisator or with the few bookmakers,
and the gaiety of the pleasure-seekers, could not be exceeded at Ascot
or Epsom. The scene was an animated one. The enclosure was gay with the
colours of the English ladies' frocks, the bright hues of Parsee women's
_saris_, the white refreshment tents, and the uniforms of the military
bandsmen; while outside was the varied crowd of British Infantry
soldiers in red, gunners in blue, and natives of a score of different
races, each in their distinctive garb. And over it all towered the
heights of Darjeeling and Jalapahar; while on three sides lay the deep
valleys, beyond which stood the mountains that barred the way to Sikkim
and Tibet.

Such is life in a Hill Station. To a man not devoted to social
frivolities existence in them soon palls. He tires of the sameness of
tennis in the afternoons, the vapid conversation of the tea-tables, and
nights spent in the heated atmosphere of ball-rooms. But to the fair sex
it appeals strongly; and they gladly hail the approach of the hot
weather, which will free them from the monotony of small Stations in the
plains and send them flocking to Simla, Darjeeling, Missourie or Naini
Tal.

Who would not be an English woman in India?

As Gilbert says:

    "They are treasured as precious stones
    And for the self-same reason--for their scarcity."

But they are not inclined to recognise this, and are apt to attribute
the attentions paid them by the men to their own charms and not to the
paucity of their sex in the land. Consequently they are too liable to
become conceited and over-bearing and forgetful of the fact that
courtesy _is_ a ladylike quality. It is perhaps not to be wondered at
that their heads get turned. The plainest girl, who in England would
spend most of her time at a ball sitting with her chaperon, in India can
fill her programme thrice over. She, who in her country village sees no
men of her own class except the parson and the doctor, out here finds
herself among crowds of military officers and better-paid civilians who,
prudence whispers, are more eligible _partis_. But the day has passed
when any failure in the English marriage-market can be shipped off to
India, sure of securing a husband there. Frequent leave and fast
steamers have altered all that. When men can find themselves back in
England in a fortnight they are not so prone to wed plain-featured and
dowerless maidens, sent out in search of a spouse, as were their
predecessors in the old days when it took six months in a sailing ship
to reach London from Calcutta or Bombay. The attractive but penniless
girl in India has still a better chance of marrying than she would in
England; for she is thrown in daily companionship with a large number of
bachelors. But many a damsel who, dispatched by her parents with a
single ticket to distant relatives or mere acquaintances in the East,
thinks on first arrival that she has only to pick and choose among the
surplus men and give herself airs accordingly, is forced to write home
for her return fare and go back reluctantly to the unwelcome existence
of an old maid. To my mind there is something almost immoral in the
custom which prevails of girls going out to India as paying-guests in
the known, if unavowed, hope of securing a husband. But the practice
grows every year.

Yet the existence of a white woman in India is not all unalloyed
pleasure. Her lot may be cast in some small out-of-the-way Station,
where there is little society and less amusement. And even in larger
places her life is empty enough. In the morning, perhaps, she goes for a
ride and then has to shut herself up in her bungalow on account of the
heat, until in the cool of the afternoon she can drive out to play
tennis or golf and then go to the club, where she sits on the lawn and
talks scandal with her female friends or, possibly, flirts with her male
ones. She is not occupied with the cares of the household as is her less
fortunate sister in England. Her cook goes to the bazaar early in the
morning and then later appears before her to show her his account book
and take her orders for the day. And she has little else to do to fill
in the long, weary hours in the house from breakfast until tea-time. An
occasional caller may come to pay his or her visit; but otherwise the
time hangs heavy on her hands. Any accomplishments she may possess are
apt to be neglected. Her reading is generally confined to novels from
the Club library; and she seldom tries to improve her mind by more
strenuous studies. In a land where all the white men are workers, she is
idle. And so the English woman in the East is generally uninteresting.
The gossip and scandal of the Station are her chief topics. The wonders
of the country she lives in, the strange life of the peoples outside her
door, the greater questions of Empire, are a sealed book to her; and she
is generally as commonplace as her untravelled sisters in English
country towns. The clever Mrs Hauksbees that Kipling depicts are
rare--more's the pity, for Anglo-Indian society would be brighter if
there were more of her type.

The petty squabbles among the ladies of a small Station are pitiful.

The Anglo-Indian wife too often takes little interest in her husband's
work, and so cannot prove very companionable to him. And this probably
accounts for the extraordinary latitude he allows her in seeking the
society of some particular bachelor with whom she rides, drives and sits
in the Club every day, who becomes a standing feature in her life. The
_mènage à trois_ flourishes in India.

Hill stations have much to answer for in the frequency of domestic
trouble in Anglo-Indian society. In the old days before they existed,
and passages to England were long and costly, the wives stayed by their
husbands' side for weal or woe. What the latter could endure their
spouses were not afraid of. Now, at the first signs of the approach of
the hot weather, the married ladies, as well as the maidens, fly to the
Hills. In Darjeeling I met many who said they had not seen their
husbands for eight months--and yet I found them in October booking their
rooms in the hotels for the following March. Naturally this separation
does not tend to the continuance of conjugal love. And there is a still
greater danger. A married woman arriving from the Plains to take up her
residence in a hotel probably finds no other woman in it whom she has
known before. Among the guests there is sure to be a preponderance of
her own sex; and though many ladies may call on her, they will probably
be too much engrossed in their own concerns to give her much of their
society. She sits by herself at table at meals and spends most of her
time alone in her own room. Then some bachelor on leave, and staying
perhaps at the same hotel, makes her acquaintance. He finds her pleasant
and attractive, offers to join her in her solitary rides and walks,
comes in often to chat with her in her private sitting-room, takes her
to the many dances, and, as men are scarcer at them than in the
ball-rooms of the Plains, engages half her programme and escorts her
back to their hotel afterwards. Even from sheer loneliness she accepts
his attentions and allows him to drop into the acknowledged position of
her _cavaliere servente_. Two or three months of this daily, hourly
companionship and--well, another Hill scandal is caused.

The man who brings a pretty wife to India is brave; the one who sends
her away from him for six or eight months in the year is, to say the
least of it, unwise. It is not fair to her to expose her thus to
temptation. Far be it from me to assert that every Hill grass-widow
forgets her absent husband. But many do; and all the blame should not
rest on them.

The careful commanding officer of a regiment discourages his young
subalterns from taking leave to Hill Stations. He knows that in such
places mischief is too often found for idle hands. He urges them rather
to go shooting in the jungles or in Kashmir. And certainly this latter
is a better way for the youngster to spend his holiday than loafing
about a Hill Station.

Despite the novelty of the life in Darjeeling and its social gaieties I
did not repine when my time came to quit it; and my heart rejoiced as I
got out of the train at Buxa Road, mounted the elephant awaiting me, and
rode through the silent forest towards my lonely hills.



CHAPTER XIV

A JUNGLE FORT

    I decide on Fort Bower--Felling trees--A big
        python--Clearing the jungle--Laying out the
        post--Stockades and _Sungars_--The bastions--_Panjis_
        and _abattis_--The huts--Jungle materials--Ingenious
        craftsmen--The
        furniture--Sentry-posts--Alarm-signals--The
        _machicoulis_ gallery--Booby-traps--The
        water-lifter--The hospital--Chloroforming a
        monkey--Jungle dogs--An extraordinary shot--An unlucky
        deer--A meeting with a panther--The alarm--Sohanpal
        Singh and the tiger--Turning out to the rescue--The
        General's arrival--Closed gates--The inspection--The
        "Bower" and the "'Ump"--Flares and bombs--The General's
        praise--Night firing--A Christmas camp.


The month of November in Buxa brought the end of the Rains and the
beginning of the cold weather. Once more we could descend into the
jungles below, for work or sport, without risking the deadly Terai
fever. Our open-air military training, which had to be laid aside during
the long, weary months of the Monsoon, was resumed.

The warfare which the Assam Brigade would be called upon to wage would
generally be against the savage jungle dwellers along the north-east
borders. Consequently the training of the troops composing it demanded
much practice in forest country; for, in the jungle, wide extensions and
thin lines suitable to troops attacking in the open would be replaced by
close formations, and the bayonet more often used than the bullet.
Timber barriers would be substituted for earthworks, and the axe for the
spade. In a jungle campaign, as the fighting column moved forward,
stockaded posts would be established on the line of communication, in
which convoys of supplies going to the front or of wounded or prisoners
sent back to the rear could halt for the night under the protection of
the permanent garrisons.

When General Bower announced his intention of coming to hold his annual
inspection of our detachment at the end of November, I determined to
build such a stockaded post in the forest below Buxa Duar for him to
see, and as useful instruction for my men. Consequently, three weeks
before his arrival, I moved the double company down into the jungle.
While Captain Balderston and I took up our abode in Forest Lodge, the
sepoys bivouacked a few hundred yards away on a high bluff over a broad
river-bed now almost dry. Here I proposed building our forest fort.

Our first task consisted in clearing away the undergrowth, now denser
than ever after the fires and Rains. With curved _kukris_ and straight
_dahs_ the sepoys fell to work on the thick scrub and tangle of thorny
bushes. Then came the harder labour of felling the trees for the
stockades--and the tools that contractors supply the Government with are
not of the best quality. The forest rang to the stroke of axes and the
shouts of the sepoys who, delighted at the change from their ordinary
routine, vied with each other in bringing the trees crashing to the
ground. As I watched them one day I saw a sudden commotion among a
group. The men scattered, then closed in again; and vicious blows at
the ground, mingled with cries of "_samp!_", told me that they had
disturbed a snake. Then on poles bending under its weight they brought
me the body of a beautifully marked python nearly ten and a half feet
long. Though not poisonous, such a beast would be a formidable
antagonist. With the driving-power of its weight and muscle, its head
could strike with the force of a battering ram; and a man's body,
crushed in its folds, would soon be a shapeless pulp. I kept its skin as
a companion to the king-cobra we had killed in Buxa.

The plan I had decided on for the fort was a square, each side fifty
yards long. For instructional purposes I varied the design of the faces.
That on the river-bank was to be a _sungar_--a loopholed wall, seven
feet high and three feet thick, of large boulders from the _nullah_
below. The east side opposite it was to be a loopholed stockade of
single timbers two feet thick and fourteen feet above the ground. Each
of the other two faces was to be a "double stockade" of shorter trees,
that is, each two timber walls four feet apart, the space between them
being filled with earth. At opposite corners were bastions, or towers,
eighteen feet high, projecting out, and thus each giving a flanking fire
along two faces of the fort. They were arranged for three tiers of fire,
one row of loopholes three feet from the ground for men kneeling, one
four and a half feet for others standing, the third above a gallery
running round inside the top. Below the galleries the bastions were
roofed in and formed barrack-rooms for the guards.

[Illustration: THE WALLED FACE OF FORT BOWER OVER THE RIVER.]

[Illustration: THE STOCKADE AND DITCH AT FORT BOWER.]

In front of the three stockaded sides of the fort a broad, V-shaped
ditch was dug, five feet deep. On the fourth face the bank fell sheer
thirty or forty feet to the river; and built out over the _nullah_ on
tree-trunks laid horizontally, their butts buried in the ground, was a
gallery projecting from the stone wall. It was loopholed for men to
fire, not only on three sides, but also directly beneath them down into
the river-bed. Entrance to it was gained from a small door in the wall.
Close to it, and similarly projecting over the _nullah_, was a device
copied from the savage tribes of the frontier. This was a booby-trap, a
bamboo platform hinged and held up by thick, hawser-like creepers
fastened inside the wall. On it were piled rocks. A couple of blows with
an axe would cut through the supporting creepers; and the platform,
falling, would shower down an avalanche of huge stones on the heads of
enemies gathered close under the sheer bank, and safe from the rifles of
the defenders above. These traps are largely used by the Nagas, Mishmis,
and other wild races along the borders of Assam and Burma. They are
placed over steep and narrow mountain paths and discharged with
disastrous effect on foes toiling up to the assault. During the Abor War
they were frequently tried on General Bower who was too wary to be
caught by them. He always took the precaution of sending parties of
Gurkhas to scale the heights to search for and cut the booby-traps away
before his column passed under them.

As the shallow stream ran close to the bank we erected, behind the wall,
a dipping-pole and bucket to bring up water without danger from hostile
fire to the men fetching it.

Our stockades would have proved very unpleasant obstacles to surmount.
They had a forward rake to increase by the overhang the difficulty of
escalading them. And along their tops was fastened a tangle of cut and
sharp-pointed branches projecting well outwards, so that it was almost
impossible to climb over.

In attacking a stockade the assailants try to get close up to it, fire
in through the loopholes and hack it down with axes. To prevent this,
six-foot _panjis_--sharpened bamboo stakes, their pointed ends hardened
by fire--stuck thickly out from the face of our stockades. On the near
slope of the ditches lines of _panjis_ projected with their points at a
downward angle; while on the far side fences of sharpened bamboos were
planted. At the bottom of the ditches _chevaux de frise_ of long
_panjis_ were fixed.

These _panjis_ inflict ghastly injuries, and are more dangerous than
bayonets. An officer of my acquaintance, when leading an assault on a
stockade held by dacoits in Burma, ran against a _panji_ which
transfixed his thigh. He was eleven months in hospital before the wound
healed; and for many years afterwards he was lame.

For twenty yards beyond the ditches the ground was covered with a
five-feet-high entanglement of felled trees. Their butts were lashed to
stout pegs driven deep into the earth. Their thinner branches were
lopped off, the thicker ones cut and trimmed with sharp points towards
the front. In military parlance this is called an _abattis_.

Anyone endeavouring to rush the defences of our fort would have found it
a difficult feat, even if no bullets were showered on him from the
loopholes. He would first have to force his way through twenty yards of
entanglement, then climb a sharp-pointed fence, pass the _chevaux de
frise_ in the ditch, get by the downward-pointing _panjis_, evade the
six-foot stakes projecting from the face of the stockade, and climb over
the stockade itself through the overhead tangle of branches. And to do
it under a hot fire would be almost impossible. To attack such a post
successfully guns would be necessary--and a well-built double stockade
would withstand light artillery.

For our own use winding paths led through the _abattis_ to drawbridges
before the two gates. These latter were of bamboo, hinged at the top and
opening outwards and upwards, supported when open by high, forked poles.
In each was a small wicket constructed on the same principle and only
wide enough to admit one man at a time. Wickets and gates were stuck
thick with projecting _panjis_.

Trees in the interior of the post were left standing to give shade, as
were others growing in the line of the defences. And in the latter,
forty feet from the ground, were platforms reached by ladders and hidden
by the leafy branches. On them the sentries were stationed; and from
them, during a night attack, men could fire and hurl bombs down on the
assailants who would find it difficult to locate their position. From
these sentry posts stout cords of twisted _udal_ fibre led to kerosene
oil tins hung up in the quarters occupied by officers and section
commanders. In the tins stones were put, so that a pull on the cords
would rattle the tins throughout the post and arouse the defenders
without an approaching enemy being aware that the alarm had been given.

So much for the defences. As such a post would be constructed with a
view to long occupation the question of housing the garrison comfortably
remained. In the interior along each face two huts, each to hold a
section of twenty or twenty-five men, with huts for the native officers,
were built. The roofs were thickly thatched. The back and side walls
were made of two rows of bamboo a foot apart, with rammed earth between
them. The front walls were lightly made of bamboo and hinged at the top
to open outwards and upwards in an emergency, so that the whole section
could come out in line. For ordinary use a small door sufficed. Along
the back wall ran a sloping guard-bed, with a broad shelf underneath, on
which the sepoys' clothing could be laid. Overhead were pegs for their
rifles and accoutrements.

Along the cross-roads through the fort were built the storerooms,
hospital, and native followers' quarters. And on them were also the Mess
and huts for the British officers. These were quite comfortable little
cottages, the walls of split bamboo with the latticed windows and the
doors screened by blinds of cane strips. The floors and walls were
covered with two-inch mats of jungle grass.

The sepoys proved themselves wonderfully ingenious craftsmen and made
excellent furniture for our quarters. Out of the ever-useful bamboo they
constructed beds, chairs, tables, and writing-desks with drawers and
pigeon-holes. And like the fort and everything else in it, the jungle
provided the materials for all this furniture, in which not a nail was
used; for it was held together by lashings of bamboo bark or _udal_
fibre.

All this was not quickly done. The building of the defences and the
huts and the construction of a military bridge across the river took
every day of the three weeks before the General's arrival. Our working
hours were from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour's interval at noon for
food. But the sepoys revelled in their novel labours and looked on them
as a welcome change from the monotony of drill. So interested were they
that I often found them at work long after the bugle had sounded the
"dismiss" in the evening; and when I told them to knock off, they would
reply: "Oh, Sahib, we would like to finish this to-day."

[Illustration: THE GATE CLOSED, WITH WICKET OPEN AND DRAWBRIDGE LOWERED.]

[Illustration: CAPTAIN BALDERSTON INSIDE THE STOCKADE.]

Our comfortable and airy little hospital was rarely tenanted. Almost the
only patient our medical officer had was a pet monkey which required a
surgical operation. The native sub-assistant surgeon, who took the
proceedings very seriously, was called on to administer the anæsthetic.
Chloroform was poured on a wad of wool in a paper cone which, much to
the patient's annoyance, was pressed firmly against its muzzle. It
scratched and bit for quite a long time before sinking into
unconsciousness. And when, after the surgeon's knife had been swiftly
and dexterously plied, it came back to life again it looked a very sick
monkey indeed. Wrapped up in a towel with only its tiny puckered face
showing, it presented such a woebegone and comical appearance that the
onlookers were moved to unseemly mirth. But the little beast was too ill
to care, though usually it fiercely resented being laughed at.

We were too busy during these weeks to do any shooting. But a curious
bit of _shikar_ fell to my lot one day. While I was superintending the
building of the fort a sepoy who had been gathering stones for the wall
ran up to tell me that he had seen some curious little animals in the
_nullah_. Borrowing an ancient Martini rifle from a native officer, I
ran down to the river-bed and found several wild dogs playing on the
sand a few hundred yards away in front of a small island covered with
thick undergrowth. On seeing me they bolted. I took a hurried shot at
one and missed it, the bullet glancing off a rock behind which the dog
had disappeared. To my horror a low wailing cry issued from the bushes
on the island behind. Alarmed at the thought that I might have wounded
one of my sepoys, I ran to the spot. There to my astonishment I found a
barking deer standing up with half its face blown away. The unlucky
beast had been struck by my chance bullet. Its shrieks were piteous and
almost human, until we put it out of its pain.

Another day a sepoy cutting bamboos was disturbed by a herd of wild
elephants. He had the sense to remain motionless; and the animals passed
without seeing him.

One evening another man met a more dangerous beast. He had gone down at
dusk to bathe in the river just below the fort and came face to face
with a panther drinking. The man was unarmed; but fortunately for him
the brute only growled and trotted away.

One Sunday afternoon we had a serious alarm. No work being done on that
day two of the native officers, taking a few sepoys with them, had gone
out with shot-guns to look for jungle fowl. Splitting up into two
parties they separated and beat through the undergrowth a few hundred
yards away from the fort. Suddenly one of them came upon a tiger which
snarled viciously at them and retreated in a direction which would bring
him upon the other party. With this was Subhedar Sohanpal Singh, the
sturdy old Rajput who had been my companion in the long chase after the
rogue elephant.

A sepoy came running back to the fort with the news. Seizing a rifle, I
turned out a number of men with their arms and ammunition and hurried
off to the rescue. Reaching the spot where the tiger had been seen, we
searched the jungle for it and for Sohanpal Singh's party until dusk,
without result. We shouted the _subhedar's_ name loudly but got no
answer. When night fell we returned to the fort. I was in hopes that the
missing party had passed us in the jungle and got in safely. When I
found that it had not come back I began to be seriously alarmed. But I
reflected that it contained four men and that the tiger could hardly
have killed them all and not left one to bring back the news. The
missing men returned at ten o'clock. They had not actually seen the
tiger but had heard it growling close to them in the thick undergrowth.
As one of the sepoys had his rifle with him, Sohanpal Singh took it and
tried to get a shot at the animal. The beast retreated slowly before
him, growling all the time, but keeping in dense jungle where he could
not see it. In vain the _subhedar_ tried to get ahead and cut it off. He
and his party followed the tiger until night put an end to the
tantalising pursuit. Then, when they tried to retrace their steps, they
lost their way in the darkness and wandered blindly through the jungle
for hours until they struck the river.

On the day of General Bower's arrival I sent two elephants to bring him
and his staff officer with their baggage from Buxa Road Station.
Balderston and I awaited him in the fire line about four hundred yards
from our fort. When our visitors reached us they dismounted and shook
hands with us. After our greetings were over I said to the General:

"You told me last year, sir, to teach my men the art of making
themselves and their officers comfortable in the jungle. You have got to
test the result of my instruction practically now. You must live in a
jungle hut, sleep on a jungle bed, sit at jungle-made tables on
jungle-made chairs."

General Bower laughed. "Is the jungle supplying my food too?" he asked.

"Yes, sir; jungle fowl and venison. Captain Balderston wanted to give
you wild vegetables from the jungle as well. But I tried them myself
once; and as I don't want a bad report of my detachment, I dare not
offer them to you."

I led the way along a road which we had cut through the forest. Where it
emerged on the clearing around our post I stopped and said:

"There is the fort."

Our visitors looked about them in astonishment. For, at a distance of
two hundred yards, the stockades with the living trees in them behind
the tangle of _abattis_ could not be distinguished from the surrounding
jungle. In warfare this would be a great advantage, because it would
come as a surprise on an advancing enemy.

[Illustration: BRINGING HOME THE GENERAL'S DINNER.]

When we reached the _abattis_, we passed down the winding path through
it and stopped at the edge of the ditch. For, in order to give the
General a good idea of the strength of our defences, I had ordered
that the gates should be closed and the drawbridges raised. On a board
above the gateway were painted the words "Fort Bower," the name given by
the sepoys to the post in honour of our inspecting officer. Having
allowed our visitors time to be suitably impressed by the formidable
stockade and the grim-looking _panjis_ in the ditch, I called to the
sentry hidden forty feet above us in a tree:

"Open the gate!"

The invisible doorkeeper pulled a string to inform the guard in the
bastion. Then the heavy drawbridge fell across the ditch, the gate was
raised and held up in position by the supporting forked poles.

"That is very ingenious," said the General as he entered the fort.

The men's huts were first inspected; and then we proceeded to the
officer's quarters on the main street. We showed the General the cosy
little two-roomed cottage he was to occupy, and pointed out the name
painted on it, "The Bower."

"Captain Humphreys' quarters are next door," we told him. "They gave us
more trouble to find a title for. When we thought that the brigade
major, Major Hutchinson, was to accompany you, the name suggested
itself--we'd have called it 'The Hutch.' But when we heard that
Humphreys was coming instead we were puzzled--until the idea occurred to
us to name it 'The 'Ump.'"

The General seemed to appreciate the mild joke more than his staff
officer did. I pulled up the cane blind on the door of "The Bower" and
invited the General to enter and see his jungle abode.

"Here, sir, is your hat-rack," I said, showing a bamboo pole stuck in
the flooring, its top split open into several points held apart by a
cone of wood, thus providing a number of pegs. I drew his attention to
an ingeniously-made writing-table with pigeon-holes and drawers. Then we
passed into the inner room. Here a comfortable bed had been formed by
driving the ends of six forked sticks, arranged in a parallelogram, into
the earth. In the forks four light poles had been laid and fastened,
making the head, foot and sides of the bedstead. Then across from side
to side were tied split bamboos, which formed a bottom as elastic as
steel springs. On it was laid a grass mat, three inches thick, as a
mattress. The best bed ever turned out by Maple's could not have been
more comfortable. Against the walls stood a bamboo dressing-table and a
washstand. On the latter was an enamelled iron basin, the only article I
could not replace from the jungle. But above it hung a length of hollow
bamboo filled with water and pierced near the bottom by a hole now
plugged. I withdrew the plug; and the water poured down into the basin.

The General gazed around admiringly.

"These contrivances are very clever," he said; "and there is no doubt
that now your sepoys know how to make themselves and their officers very
comfortable with the help only of jungle materials. All this is very
ingenious and practical."

After lunch the General inspected the defences and asked to see the
sepoys man them. I led him up the ladder into the _machân_ or platform
occupied by the sentry in a tree over the river-bank. The men were all
shut up in their huts.

"Give the alarm," I said to the sentry.

He gathered in his hand the strings leading from the _machân_ to the
officers' and section-leaders' quarters and pulled them. Throughout the
fort we could faintly hear the stones rattling in the suspended tins.
Instantly the fronts of the huts were raised; and the men of each
section came silently out in line and went straight to the loopholes
they had been posted to.

"That is the best device I have seen yet," said General Bower. "The
whole camp can be simultaneously aroused at once without any noise being
heard by an approaching enemy, who would remain in ignorance of the fact
that the defenders were on the alert. Consequently they would come on
confidently in fancied security until they exposed themselves to a
sudden fire at close range."

Climbing down from the _machân_ he inspected the booby trap. At a
signal, men inside the wall cut the creepers supporting the outer end of
the bamboo platform which fell on its hinges and sent an avalanche of
rocks into the _nullah_ below.

As soon as it was dark we went out on to the gallery projecting over the
river-bed. From it cords led to bombs buried in the sand and piled
around with stones. They were made of bamboos filled with powder and
fitted with a rifle cartridge so arranged that, on pulling the cord, a
rock fell on a nail which struck the cartridge-cap and exploded the
bomb.

We fired these off one after another. The explosions hurled the stones
in all directions with terrific force. Captain Balderston had devised an
arrangement similar to the old Roman catapults for throwing
hand-grenades over a hundred yards. He gave us an exhibition of this. On
the sand of the river-bed bonfires had been piled to be set on fire by
flares ignited by men tripping against cords laid along the ground.
These were now worked; and the flames rose high and lit up the _nullah_
clearly, so that anyone in it was plainly visible from the fort.

Our dinner that night in the thatched bamboo hut dignified by the title
of "Officers' Mess" was quite a festive affair. Our forest fare was much
appreciated by our visitors; for it comprised _sambhur_ soup, roast
jungle fowls and the delicate venison of a barking deer. But the river
was not called upon to supply the liquor for our feast. General Bower
was as full of good stories as ever; and long after the sepoys had
turned in for the night their slumbers must have been disturbed by the
hearty laughter of their Sahibs in the Mess.

The next two days were occupied in doing manoeuvres through the jungle.

At the conclusion of the inspection General Bower ordered me to form up
the detachment and made a little speech to the men. He praised all ranks
for their keenness and efficiency and complimented them on the ingenuity
displayed in the construction of the fort.

"You have made its defences so strong," he said, "that without artillery
it would be almost impossible for an assault on it to be successful. I
am very pleased with what you have done and at hearing from your Major
Sahib how well and how willingly you have worked. I shall give this
detachment a very good report."

The Indians, like other races, love their meed of praise; and at the
General's words the sepoys' faces beamed. Contrary to strict ideas of
discipline Subhedar Sohanpal Singh, standing in front of his company,
turned to his men and cried:

"Three cheers for the General Sahib!"

And as General Bower, having said good-bye to us and mounted his
elephant, disappeared in the jungle on his way to the railway station,
the hearty cheers of the sepoys followed him.

For the remainder of our stay in Buxa Duar Fort Bower served to
accommodate officers and men whenever we went down into the forest for
military training. On one occasion we had some useful practice in
night-firing from it. In the cleared space around it and in the
river-bed targets were placed to represent an attacking army. A hundred
yards from the defences bonfires, to be lit by flares ignited by cords
leading into the fort, were arranged. When darkness fell these were set
alight. The leaping flames showed up the targets, at which the sepoys
fired through the loopholes of stockade and wall with very good results.
At the time I had an American Cavalry officer on a visit to me. This was
his first experience of the Indian Army at work; and he was very much
impressed by it.

At Christmas, Balderston and I invited friends to come to us for a
shooting camp. Fort Bower served us as a residence; and from it we
sallied out every morning into the forest on our elephants. On Christmas
Day we added to our usual fare of jungle fowl and venison a plum pudding
and mince-pies sent out from England, brewed punch, and in the heart of
the jungle, thousands of miles from home, kept the feast in the good old
fashion.



CHAPTER XV

FAREWELL TO THE HILLS

    The Proclamation Parade--An unsteady charger--"Three cheers
        for the King-Emperor!"--The Indian Army's loyalty--King
        George and the sepoys--A land held by the sword--An
        American Cavalry officer's visit--Hospitality of
        American officers--Killing by kindness--The brotherhood
        of soldiers--The bond between American and British
        troops sealed by blood--U.S. officers' opinion of us--A
        roaring tiger--Prince Jitendra Narayen--His visit to
        Buxa--An intoxicated monkey--Projected visits--A road
        report--A sketch fourteen feet long--The
        start--Jalpaiguri--A planters' dinner-party--Crossing
        the Tista River--A quicksand--A narrow
        escape--Map-making in the army--In the China War of
        1860--Officers' sketches used for the Canton Railway
        survey--The country south of the hills--A sepoy's
        explanation of Kinchinjunga--A native officer's theory
        of the cause of earthquakes--Types on the road--After
        the day's work--A man-eater--A brave postman--Human
        beings killed by wild animals and snakes in
        India--Crocodiles--Shooting a monster--Crocodiles on
        land--Crossing the Torsa--Value of small
        detachments--The maligned military officer--A life of
        examinations--The man-killing elephant again--Death of
        a Bhuttia woman--Ordered home--A last good-bye to a
        comrade--Captain Balderston's death--A last view of the
        hills.


When our Christmas shoot ended I returned to Buxa with our guests in
time to hold the Proclamation Parade; for on 1st January, 1877, Queen
Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India, and on this date every year
the event is celebrated in military Stations throughout our Eastern
Empire by a parade of troops in garrison. Even in our little outpost
we did not forget to honour the day.

[Illustration: "I WAS MOUNTED ON A COUNTRYBRED PONY."]

[Illustration: "AN ELEPHANT LOADED WITH MY STORES AND BAGGAGE."]

On the drill ground a flagstaff had been erected, from which flew the
Union Jack. The two companies of the detachment, officers and men in
their full-dress uniform of scarlet and blue, were drawn up in line
facing it. Captain Balderston rode a pony recently purchased from a
planter, which strongly objected to soldiers and refused to go near the
troops. No persuasions of its rider could induce it to approach the
line; and when Balderston called the men to attention on my arrival and
the rifles were brought smartly to the "slope," his disobedient charger
swung round and bolted with him off the parade ground, jumping a ditch
and nearly ending both their careers in a deep _nullah_. I was mounted
on a country-bred pony which I had brought from Darjeeling and trained
to troops. Deprived of the assistance of my second in command I started
the parade. After the royal salute had been given, the men fired the
_feu de joie_, when the rifles are discharged one by one along the front
rank from right to left and back again in the opposite direction down
the rear rank. Then taking off my helmet I gave the command "Three
cheers for the King Emperor!"; and the hills re-echoed the shouts of the
sepoys. A useless ceremony this, to the Little Englander; yet one
fraught with deep meaning and stirring the heart to the core; for at
that moment throughout the Indian Empire from the Himalayas to Colombo,
from Aden to Mandalay, the cheers of His Majesty's soldiers, white and
black, were ringing in loyal chorus.

Fifty years ago, in the dark days of the Mutiny, the revolted sepoy
regiments faced their erstwhile comrades in battle; but the guilt of
that black crime has long ago been purged in blood and obliterated by
faithful service; and to-day the Kaiser-i-Hind has no more loyal
soldiers than the men of his Indian Army. Until a few years ago the
Sovereign was only a name to the warrior races that fill its ranks. But
King George by his visits to India has made them realise his existence.
He has given his Indian subjects what Orientals always desire, the
knowledge that they have a living monarch. And by so doing he has
changed the vague loyalty of the sepoys into a real and affectionate
attachment to the person of their ruler. The native troops whom he
reviewed, who lined the streets or formed his Guards of Honour in
Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta, rejoice to have actually seen their
"_Badshah_" (Emperor) and proudly boast of it to others who have not
been so fortunate. Only we officers of the Indian Army can fully realise
how much this means, how wise were the councils that dictated his visits
to India.

For, despite the politician and the civil servant, we hold the land, as
we won it, by the sword. No concessions to the clamour of the _babus_ of
Bengal will retain the loyalty of this country. It rests on the weapons
and in the hearts of the gallant warrior races that aided us to conquer
India and help us to retain it. Would that the Englishman in England
could realise the fact!

Shortly after the departure of our guests who had come for the Christmas
shoot, I received a long-expected visit from an American officer,
Captain Brees, 1st United States Cavalry. Years before, in China, Japan,
and California I had foregathered with a cheery Irish subaltern of his
regiment, Lieutenant Coghlan, who had won his commission in the fierce
fighting in Luzon. And when Captain Brees, their corps being then in the
Philippine Islands, arranged to visit India on his way home on leave to
his native country, Lieutenant Coghlan guaranteed him a warm welcome
from me. For I felt that I owed a debt of gratitude to every officer of
the American Army for the kindly hospitality I had received from them in
the United States--from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Before I landed in
San Francisco, Coghlan, then stationed in Los Angeles and unable to come
to meet me, had written to friends of his in regiments quartered in the
Army Post in the Presidio, the Golden City's splendid park, and asked
them to welcome me in his stead. As soon as I arrived not only they, but
a score of other officers of the garrison, had made their way through
the ruins of the city not long before devastated by earthquake and fire
to give me that welcome to their country. They offered me all the
hospitality of their camp and clubs. A Cavalry regiment on the point of
departing for their summer training in the famous Yosemite Valley
extended a cordial invitation to accompany them and promised me a horse,
a tent, and rations. The Field Battery offered to mount me whenever I
liked to march out with them. I was asked to every military
entertainment; and at every regimental dance my hosts saw that I had my
programme full.

One night at a magnificent entertainment at the Fairmont Hotel in
celebration of the first anniversary of the earthquake and San
Francisco's phoenix-like rising again from the flames, a civilian asked
me if I belonged to the Indian Army. On my replying in the affirmative
he begged to be allowed to introduce me to two friends of his present
that night, American officers on leave from another Station, as they
were anxious to meet an officer of my Service. As I shook hands with
them, one said:

"We've been looking for a fellow in the Indian Army."

"Which one?" I asked.

"Anyone. It doesn't matter who. We want to kill him," was the alarming
reply.

"Good Heaven! why?" I queried apprehensively, backing away from him.

"Say, don't be afraid," he answered, laughingly. "We only mean to kill
him with kindness. The fact is that we have just been on leave through
India and Burma; and your fellows were so good to us everywhere we went
that we have been looking for any stray officer of your army to give us
an opportunity of returning their hospitality."

"That's so," said his companion. "Now, what can we do for you? Dine you,
wine you, or lend you money?"

And when I told them that the unbounded kindness of their comrades in
San Francisco had left me nothing to desire, they were very
disappointed.

Between the soldiers of every nationality there is a bond of
brotherhood; and never have I found it so strong as between American
officers and ours in the too few occasions on which they have met.

"Blood is thicker than water"; and in the China War of 1900 Uncle Sam's
troops and the British seemed to form one army. Side by side they fought
in the grim combats around Tientsin. On the day when the city was
stormed, when the pouches of the gallant 9th United States Infantry
were empty, their brave colonel, Liscum, and a score of men killed, and
four officers and seventy-two men wounded out of total of two hundred
Americans engaged, a British officer, Ollivant, was killed in trying to
replenish their ammunition, another, Major Pereira, was wounded in
trying to bring in their injured, and Lieutenant Phillimore and his
bluejackets of H.M.S. _Barfleur_ helped them to hold their ground, and
brought back their wounded.

In less strenuous days in North China after the fighting, our American
friends there told us that they found us very different to their
preconceived ideas of the English officer, whom they had pictured as a
languidly haughty individual, inseparable from his eyeglass, and
prefacing every remark by "I say, by Jove!" They frankly admitted that
they had come prepared to dislike us, but had found us on acquaintance
not such bad fellows after all.

Similarly Captain Brees confessed to me that he had been obliged to
reconstruct all his preconceived ideas of British military men as soon
as he had met them. Before his departure from Manila I had sent him
letters of introduction to many of our officers in Hong Kong, Singapore,
Colombo and Calcutta. He told me that on arriving in Hong Kong he had
hesitated to avail himself of them but, hardening his heart, had at last
dispatched them to the addresses.

"I can tell you, major," he said, "that, with the ideas I had of what
your fellows would be like, I was considerably surprised when several of
them swooped down upon me in my hotel and insisted on my transferring
myself and my baggage at once to their quarters, where they entertained
me royally for the rest of my stay in Hong Kong. The same in Singapore.
And when my ship reached Calcutta, two British officers came on board as
soon as the anchor dropped, took me ashore, and gave me a bully time
there. I tell you that after this you can just inform any of your army
friends that, if they visit America, their address is '1st United States
Cavalry.' And don't you forget it!"

"Jimmy" Brees was one of the most charming men I have ever known; and
everywhere he went in India he made a most favourable impression on all
our officers who met him. In Buxa we could not offer him any social
gaieties; but we made him free of the jungle, taught him to ride on and
shoot from elephants, and did the little we could to entertain him.

Once, after a long day in the forest on Khartoum's back, we climbed up
into Forest Lodge to dine and sleep. Exhausted by his tiring experience,
Brees had just fallen asleep and I was preparing to follow his example,
when I heard a tiger roaring in the jungle close to my lofty
tree-dwelling, and apparently approaching us. I was delighted to give my
guest the opportunity of at least hearing a tiger and possibly shooting
it in the moonlight if it came close enough. So I sprang out of bed,
seized my rifle and, posting myself at the window, called out over my
shoulder:

"Wake up, Jimmy, wake up! There is a tiger close by."

"Eh? What?" came the sleepy reply.

"Get up, man, get up!" I whispered excitedly. "I tell you there's a
tiger near us. It may come close enough to give us a shot at it."

But the fatigues of the day had been too much for him. A loud snore was
his only answer; and although the tiger roamed around the house for half
an hour, uttering its peculiar snorting roar, it never woke him.
However, he lost nothing but the noise; for, though I sat eagerly
expectant by the window for a long time, the brute never came within
range.

My next visitor was Prince Jitendra Narayen, now through the death of
his eldest brother Maharajah of Cooch Behar. Before Darjeeling came into
existence as a Hill Station the rulers of his State possessed a house in
Buxa Duar, to which they used to come in the summer to avoid the heat of
the Plains. But this was before the day of the present generation of the
family, none of whom, except the then Maharajah, had ever visited Buxa.
So Prince "Jit" was glad of an opportunity of seeing our small Station,
and spent several days with me. As he belonged to the Imperial Service
Cadet Corps he was keenly interested in military matters, and passed
much time in watching our detachment at work. Like his father, he was an
ardent sportsman and good shot; and, used to the more open country south
of the forest, he enjoyed wandering on one of our elephants through our
dense jungle in search of _sambhur_. His cheery manner made him popular
with everyone in Buxa--except our pet monkey. For that little beast,
having a severe cold, was given whisky-and-milk one day, and, imbibing
too freely, became absolutely drunk. Its antics as it reeled about the
mess-room were extremely comical and made us all roar with laughter. It
seemed to pardon its owners' want of good manners but resented Prince
Jitendra's mirth as an impertinence in a stranger. Swaying drunkenly as
it tried to stand on its hind legs, it chattered and shrieked with rage
at him and endeavoured to stagger across the room to bite him, falling
down and rolling helplessly on the floor on its way. And next morning it
was plain to see that it suffered from a bad headache. But when Jit
entered the Mess at breakfast-time and condoled with it on its evident
pain, it flew at him and attacked him savagely.

When my guest returned to Cooch Behar I accompanied him. At the Palace
his account of the beauties of Buxa Duar made the ladies of the family
eager to see the place; and it was arranged that Her Highness the
Maharani and her two daughters, the Princess Pretiva and Sudhira, should
pay us a visit in our outpost. The Maharajah's four sons were also to
come at another time, bringing all the elephants belonging to the State,
to join me in making a systematic search for a rogue which was
committing havoc in the forest near Buxa. But the Maharajah's illness,
which necessitated his going to Europe for medical treatment and which
resulted in his lamented death the following year, deprived me of the
pleasure of these visits.

Shortly after Prince Jitendra's departure an order from the brigadier to
report on and sketch eighty-four miles of road and country across
Eastern Bengal afforded me an opportunity of seeing something of this
province south of the Terai Jungle. The task was no light one. The
military sketch was to be executed on a scale of two inches to a mile;
so that I had to make a map fourteen feet long! It was to begin more
than twenty miles west of Jalpaiguri, a town on the railway to Siliguri
and Darjeeling, the route running parallel to the mountains and thirty
or forty miles south of them, and ended at Alipur Duar.

As the ground to be traversed contained no towns where I could purchase
supplies, I had to make my own arrangements for food as well as
transport. I might find an empty _dâk_ bungalow here and there; but it
behoved me to carry a tent with me. So, dispatching my pony and an
elephant loaded with my baggage and stores to march across country and
meet me at Jalpaiguri, I went by train to this station, reaching it of
course several days before my animals could arrive. There I borrowed an
elephant from the police officer, bought some tinned provisions and
flour, and set out west along the twenty-four miles of road to the spot
where I was to begin my sketch. I was fortunate in finding _dâk_
bungalows on it every ten or twelve miles in which to shelter at night.
At the first of these I was informed by the native in charge of it that
on a tank--as ponds and lakes are called in India--about six miles away
I would find hundreds of duck. So I shouldered my gun and set out across
the fields. I discovered the tank and from a distance saw that the water
was dotted with birds. Cautiously stalking them, with glowing
anticipations of wild duck for dinner, I reached the bank to find that
they were coots and "divers." Not even a snipe rewarded me for my long
walk; and I returned to the _dâk_ bungalow to give my misinformant my
candid and unflattering opinion of him.

Next day I reached the spot where my sketch was to begin. My
starting-point was near another _dâk_ bungalow, perched on a little hill
overlooking a broad river flowing through thin jungle and
well-cultivated fields. Here I turned my face towards Jalpaiguri and
commenced my task. Cavalry sketching-case in hand I walked along the
road through open and uninteresting country, counting my paces as
measurement and filling in the meagre details of the country on either
hand on my map. I completed the mapping of the twenty-four miles in two
days.

Arrived at Jalpaiguri I had to wait there a day for my elephant and
pony, which were accompanied by my butler and a sepoy orderly, as well
as the _mahout_ and a _syce_; so that with Draj Khan, who was already
with me, I had quite a following. Jalpaiguri is built on the west bank
of the broad Tista River, which flows from Sikkim through the Himalayas
to the plains of Bengal. The civil Station contains the usual
Anglo-Indian community of such a town, the deputy commissioner, a judge,
a settlement officer, a Public Works Department engineer, a police
officer and a few more Europeans. There are no troops there. The
engineer who had visited me at Buxa, which was in his charge, kindly
offered me the shelter of his bungalow; and I was hospitably entertained
by everyone in the Station. I came in for a very merry dinner-party
given at the club by a number of planters of the neighbourhood to two
members of their community who were leaving India for England. Near
midnight we escorted the guests to the railway station and considerably
delayed the mail train by our lengthy good-byes and parting libations.
In vain the stationmaster, the guard, and the engine-driver in turn
stormed, argued, and pleaded with the two departing planters to take
their seats and let the train start. Sleepy and irate English passengers
put their heads out of the carriage windows and cursed the causes of
the delay. One of our party had to be stopped by main force from pouring
a whisky-and-soda into the interior mechanism of what he declared to be
"a poor thirsty engine that nobody thought of offering a drink to." The
native stationmaster, torn between his dread of official reprimand for
delaying the mail and his fear of displeasing the Sahibs of his town,
almost wept as he implored the party to end their farewells and let the
train depart.

My transport having arrived that night I continued on my way next
morning. I had to cross the Tista, which here, though the banks were
more than a mile or a mile and a half apart, was at that season shrunk
to a stream half a mile in breadth flowing between wide stretches of
sand, over which I rode on my pony to reach the ferryboat. This was a
broad, flat-bottomed craft, loaded with natives, cattle, bullocks and a
cart which carried the baggage and camp equipment of a civil official
going out to tour his district. The cart was festooned with wicker
crates containing hens and ducks destined to supply "master's dinner in
jungle," as the servant in charge informed me. With sail, oar and pole
the ferry-boat made its way across the stream, until it reached a wide
stretch of sand lying between the water and the bank. My pony, after
much urging, jumped out; and I mounted. I had ridden four or five
hundred yards when the animal stopped suddenly and its legs began to
sink. To my horror I found that we were in a quicksand. The pony plunged
and struggled wildly. I slipped from the saddle to ease it of my weight
and sank at once up to my knees. Visions of a horrible death engulfed in
the yielding mass of sand flashed across me as I struggled against the
invisible monster that seemed to clutch me and drag me down. Luckily
the pony got its forefeet on to firmer ground and fought its way out of
the quicksand, pulling me out with it by the reins to which I clung. It
stood terrified and quivering while I tried to soothe it. Fifty yards
away was a group of natives who had been watching the incident
phlegmatically and had made no move to come to our help. When I was safe
they called out to me.

"That is a very dangerous place, Sahib. A cow was swallowed up there the
other day."

Having told them forcibly what I thought of them for not warning me in
time, I cautiously led my pony forward to the firm earth bank, which I
was delighted to reach after the treacherous sand. Here the road to
Alipur Duar began again. I swung myself into the saddle and continued my
sketch on horseback, thus covering the ground much more quickly than on
the first days. I was able to get my measurements by having previously
counted the number of paces my pony took to cover a distance of a
hundred yards at a trot.

In the old days knowledge of map-making was, in the army, confined to
the Royal Engineers. A late inspector-general of fortifications, General
Sir Richard Harrison, R.E., told me that in the China War of 1860 only
two officers, he and Captain, afterwards Lord, Wolseley, in the
Anglo-Indian Army there could make a military sketch, and very few
others were able to understand it when made. Nowadays every officer can
map any country and during the drill season is called upon to furnish at
least one sketch. The civil engineers brought out in 1905-6 to Hong Kong
to survey the route of the railway to Canton told me that in the
British Hinterland they made no maps, and contented themselves with such
annual military sketches of the country done by officers of the
garrison. And these they found accurate enough for railway laying. The
task that I was now engaged on, which was for the purpose of revising
the military route-book of Eastern Bengal, was set me as part of my
ordinary work; I being the nearest available officer.

The country through which my road lay for the next sixty miles was open,
level, and well-cultivated, dotted with groves of feathery bamboos and
the typical, compact, thatched villages and farm-buildings of Bengal. As
usual, in India, the fields were not divided by hedges or any obstacles.
Even at that season of the year the country-side looked green, in
striking contrast to other parts of the land then when the hot weather
was drawing near. And always along and parallel to my route lay the wall
of the mountains thirty or forty miles away, rising abruptly from the
plains in a confused jumble of rugged hills overtopping each other until
they culminated in the long white crest of Kinchinjunga, which now and
then at sunset or dawn towered over them all above the clouds and seemed
to float detached in the sky.

At the first _dâk_ bungalow which sheltered me after leaving Jalpaiguri
we had a splendid view of this magnificent mountain; and I overheard my
orderly, Draj Khan, who had been with me in Darjeeling and had seen it
from there, explaining to the Rajput sepoy with us that it was composed
entirely of ice. The latter, a man from the sandy deserts of Bikanir,
never having seen snow or more ice than a small lump in some native
liquor-dealer's shop in the bazaar, refused to believe Draj's statement
and appealed to me. I found it no easy task to explain the mystery of
the Everlasting Snows to the intellect of this more or less untutored
savage; and I fear that he understood me even less than he did Draj
Khan's explanation. Natural physical phenomena that we accept as
articles of belief we find not so easy to make clear to the minds of
uneducated people. The Pathan subhedar-major of my regiment rejected my
account of the causes of earthquakes in favour of his own theory that
they arise from the movements of a dragon slumbering in the centre of
the earth and occasionally shaking itself or turning round in its sleep.

I found my journey day by day along the road interesting from the many
types of natives whom I passed. Brown-skinned peasants, many clad simply
in a cotton cloth wound round the waist and between the legs, and
_puggris_ tied loosely about their heads, saluted me respectfully as I
rode by. Native women, nose-ringed and glass-braceletted, modestly drew
their _saris_ over their dark faces to hide their problematical beauty
from my profane gaze. Naked little brown urchins with them stopped to
gaze, finger in mouth, at the Sahib and scampered off in simulated fear
when I waved my hand to them, but halted at a safe distance to wave back
laughingly. Bearded Mohammedans uttered a "Salaam Aleikoum"[8] and
grinned with pleasure at the correct reply "Aleikoum salaam."[9] Groups
of lean-shanked jungle-dwellers shuffled by, the men unencumbered, the
ragged women laden with cooking-pots, babies, and other possessions.
Once or twice I passed a tall, stately Pathan, long-haired and
hook-nosed, clad in baggy trousers, gold-laced velvet waistcoat and
voluminous turban. These gave me a cheery salutation, with no trace of
servility; for the Pathan is of a haughty race and thinks himself any
man's equal. These individuals had wandered far from their homes among
the mountains beyond the North-West Frontier to make small fortunes as
usurers among the simple peasants of Bengal. Small boys herding cattle
drove their black buffaloes to one side of the road to let me pass,
fearlessly beating with shrill cries the savage-looking animals which
seemed inclined to charge my pony. Heavy carts, their wheels solid discs
of wood, drawn by stolid white bullocks, lumbered noisily along, the
drivers twisting the _byles'_ tails to accelerate their speed. Although
I was in so-called disaffected Eastern Bengal I met with no rudeness or
black looks; for the sedition carefully fostered among the
feather-headed young Bengali students has not affected the simple
cultivators of the soil, who still respect the white man and look
confidently to the Sahibs for justice. Even well-fed _babus_ on the road
stopped and closed their umbrellas, a native sign of respect, and were
always ready to answer my questions or enter into a chat.

Every day after completing ten or twelve miles of my sketch I halted at
a _dâk_ bungalow or pitched my tent. My servants and elephant had
usually arrived before me; and I found my breakfast of biscuit, tinned
meat and tea, occasionally supplemented by eggs from the nearest
village, awaiting me. My orderly, scouting on ahead on my bicycle, had
sought for information of sport; and, if the prospects of it were good,
I took my gun or rifle and went out in search of something to shoot.
But in such well-cultivated country there was very little game.

At one village near which I halted for the night I heard that a
man-eating tiger was lurking in the neighbourhood. It had killed two
natives on the road within the week. Of course I went out to look for
it, but with scant hope of finding it, as I could only stay a day in the
place. Mounting my elephant I started after breakfast and beat through
all the small patches of jungle for miles round and along the banks of a
small stream flowing by the village. But, though I hunted until after
dusk, I found no traces of it, and returned disappointed to the _dâk_
bungalow.

As I sat smoking after dinner out in the compound under the stars I
heard the tinkle of bells coming along the road and drawing nearer and
nearer. Then past the gate of the enclosure around the bungalow a native
postman shuffled by at a dog-trot, his spear and bells over his
shoulder. I stopped him and asked him if he had heard of the tiger.

The little old man, bent almost double under the weight of his mail-bag,
wiped his brow, as he answered:

"Yes, Protector of the Poor, the _shaitan_ (devil) killed two men of
this village on this very road by which I come each night."

"Are you not afraid of meeting him?" I asked.

"That is in the hands of God, Sahib. I must earn my pay by carrying the
_dâk_ (mail) along that road every day."

"But why come by night?"

"The _dâk_ only reaches my post office after nightfall, and must be sent
on at once. _Hukm hai._ It is the order." And with a farewell salaam he
trotted off into the darkness and danger of the night; and the tinkle of
the bells died away down the fatal road.

Next morning I moved on, deeply regretting that I could not afford the
time to remain and make a systematic search for the man-eater. It was
tantalising to be in its hunting-ground and yet be unable to stay longer
and devote myself to its destruction. To shoot an ordinary tiger is not
much of an achievement; but to circumvent and kill a murderous beast,
grown daring and wily in the slaughter of human beings, is something to
be proud of, and a good and useful deed. The hunter must pit his brains
against its cunning and risk his life freely; for the man-eater is acute
beyond all others and has lost the wild animals' usual dread of man. It
is fortunate that such are rare; for last year tigers killed eight
hundred and eighty-five persons in India, one being credited with
forty-one deaths. Other wild beasts were far behind in the grim count.
Wolves killed two hundred and fifty-five; while panthers slew two
hundred and sixty-one human beings. But these figures fall far short of
the havoc caused by venomous reptiles. In 1911 over twenty-five thousand
persons died from snake-bite; in 1912, twenty-one thousand four hundred
and sixty-one deaths were recorded from the same cause. But it must be
remembered that in villages far from police investigations and coroners'
inquests, snake-bite is a very convenient explanation of a sudden and
violent death.

As I rode along day by day busy with my sketch I had not time to feel
lonely; though, with the exception of my brief stay in Jalpaiguri, I had
not exchanged a word with one of my own colour for over a week. But in
India one grows accustomed to that. Soldiers, planters, forest and civil
officers are used to being cut off from their kind; and on detachment I
have passed months without seeing another European. The evenings, when
the day's work is done, are the hardest to bear; and now in this long
and solitary ride, when I sat in my tent or a _dâk_ bungalow after
dinner by the flickering light of a hurricane lantern I did occasionally
wish for a white man to talk to.

My road, running parallel to the hills, crossed many rivers flowing from
them. Most of these were, at that season of the year, easily fordable;
though in some the water was up to my pony's girths. Warned by my
experience at the Tista, I kept a sharp look-out for quicksands. At one
broad stream villagers bade me beware of crocodiles; and fording a river
in which these brutes lurk is not a pleasant task.

The crocodiles of India are divided into two species. The _ghavial_, or
fish eater, attains a length of eighteen feet and is reputed not to
attack human beings. Yet with their long, narrow snouts studded with a
serrated row of sharp teeth they look much more formidable than the
man-eating, blunt-nosed _muggers_. The latter are similar to the
alligators of the New World and the crocodiles of Africa, though they do
not reach the length of the latter. The largest I have known was an old
veteran twelve and a half feet long, which I shot in the Jumna near its
confluence with the Ganges at Allahabad. The latter river is full of
_muggers_; but the former is reputed locally to contain only _ghavials_.
My crocodile may have been a stray. From a boat in which I was drifting
down stream I saw it, looking like an immense log, lying on the bank;
for these brutes are in the habit of coming ashore to sun themselves
during the heat of the day. They are not easy to shoot, as at the least
sign of danger they are prone to dive into the river. Even if wounded
they are hard to secure; for they nearly always lie at the water's edge,
so that the least movement takes them into the stream and, if they die
below the surface, their bodies do not float for some time.

Having spotted the crocodile in question from a distance I landed on the
opposite bank and, cautiously stalking it, managed to get within two
hundred yards without its being alarmed. I was armed with a ·303 carbine
and, aiming at its neck, luckily paralysed it by my first shot with a
bullet in the spine. To make sure of it I fired several more rounds at
it, then, hailing my boat, crossed over to where it lay. It feebly
snapped its huge jaws at me as I approached, but was unable to move
otherwise; and a final bullet laid it out. It was an old and immensely
powerful brute, broad out of all proportion to its length. Its thick
hide studded with bosses was like armour-plate, and over its back
impenetrable to bullets. Its teeth were large and blunted and its nails
long and thick.

At the sound of my shots a number of natives had run out from a village
close by. When they saw the _mugger_ lying dead, they streamed down to
the bank and to my surprise swarmed round me, hung garlands about my
neck and lauded me to the skies. I learned from them that the dead
monster had closed a ford from their village to one on the other side
of the river for two years, had carried off several women bathing or
drawing water (this was a minor offence to the native, women being cheap
in India); but, worse still, had killed several of their sacred and
valuable cows. Hence my ovation. The brute was so large and heavy that
it took fourteen villagers to drag and push it up an inclined plane of
planks into my big native sailing-boat. We brought it down the river to
the Lines of my regiment, which were built close to the bank. There we
landed it and cut it open. In its stomach were seven metal anklets or
armlets of different sizes, ornaments such as are worn by native women
and girls, and--a horrible sight!--the entire body of a child about a
year old. It was in the process of being digested; and, when exposed to
the air, the flesh fell away from the bones. The stench was
unforgettable.

The rivers of Bengal are full of these unpleasant saurians. And
crocodiles do not always confine themselves to the water; for they are
reputed to have an undesirable habit of wandering across country by
night from stream to stream and, if these are far apart, hiding by day
in any convenient tank. I have seen a large one in quite a small pond
which was rapidly drying up and would contain no water in a week. A
friend of mine in the Civil Service told me that once, riding into a
village in his district in Eastern Bengal, he found it in a state of
commotion and the whole population gathered in front of the local post
office but keeping a respectful distance from the building; for on the
steps of it was a crocodile about six feet long, snapping fiercely at
anyone who approached it. It must have been overtaken by daylight when
passing through the village on its way from water to water. My friend
shot it, to the intense relief of the besieged postal officials inside
the building.

A crocodile would certainly be an unpleasant animal to meet on the land
in the dark. However, I forded all the streams I came to without mishap.
When I reached the Torsa, a broad and rapid river, across which, some
thirty miles to the north, I had driven the man-killing rogue elephant
months before, I found it unfordable. A large ferry-boat was plying
across it; and in company with two carts and their bullocks and drivers,
a wandering Pathan, several peasants and a gipsy family, I embarked on
it. We had an adventurous voyage. Heavy squalls sweeping down from the
mountains churned up the dark surface of the river and drove our
shallow, top-heavy craft back. The few boatmen, striving with paddles
and poles, to propel it against the wind, were helpless. I seized a long
bamboo and tried to aid them. The Pathan followed my example, while the
other natives on board sat watching our efforts apathetically. This
infuriated him; and he fell upon them with kicks and cuffs until they
rose, took up other bamboos and helped to pole the boat across. But such
was the strength of the gale that it took us two hours to force a
passage against it; and once or twice we were nearly capsized.

Another couple of days or so brought me to the end of my task. When I
saw the tin-roofed buildings of Alipur Duar rise before me on the road,
I struck spurs to my pony and finished my sketch at a gallop. And the
next day saw me back in Buxa Duar, glad to be among the friendly hills
again, for the charm of the mountains was upon me. And on them I hoped
to spend another year; but the gods willed otherwise.

Such outposts as ours may not be as good for the training of the rank
and file as service in large garrisons. But for the individual officer
there is no better way of developing his power of initiative and
teaching him to rely on himself than the command of these small
detachments. And in these jungle outposts the sport to be found is an
additional advantage. Save only active service what better education can
he have than the pursuit of big game, when every sense is trained to be
on the alert, and quick decision becomes a second nature? An eye for
country, readiness of resource, generalship and courage is needed in
this "image of war." The time he spends in the jungles is not wasted.

The British military officer is a much-maligned individual. It seems an
article of faith among civilians in England to believe that he leads a
life of luxury, is ignorant of the science of his profession, and leaves
the training and instruction of his men to be done by the sergeants. As
to luxury--see him in his plainly furnished one room in barracks in the
British Isles or his rat-infested Indian bungalow for which he pays an
exorbitant rent! Examinations all through his service up to the rank of
colonel; examinations for promotion to each grade, signalling, transport
and musketry classes, each with its final examination, examinations in
Indian and other foreign languages keep his brain from rusting for want
of exercise. I have had to pass nine professional, and three obligatory
language examinations myself during my service; and there are many who
have passed more. That there is no army in the world that has as many
officers qualified as interpreters in foreign tongues as ours was well
exemplified in North China during the Boxer War of 1900. And as for
leaving his work to be done by the non-commissioned ranks, only a person
absolutely ignorant of our army to-day would venture to make that
assertion. Who created the auxiliary armies throughout the Empire, who
made the Indian, the Egyptian, the West and the East African Armies? Not
the drill-instructor, not Sergeant What's-his-name, but the British
officer!

Little did I think as I rode into Buxa, after making my sketch, that my
time among my beloved mountains was drawing to a close. One day, not
long afterwards, when out tiger-shooting I was taken suddenly ill and
was barely able to remain in the howdah long enough to fire my rifle and
bag the tiger. Hardly capable of sitting in the saddle I made my way on
my pony back to my Station, there to lie on a sick-bed for over a month.
And I raged at my helplessness when news was brought me during that time
that the man-killing elephant I had fought with was back in our forests
again. Within a few miles of us he surprised a Bhuttia woodcutter and
his wife encamped in the jungle. He came upon them at dawn. They fled
before him; but he overtook the woman, struck her down, and crushed her
into a shapeless mass under his feet. When I heard of it I longed to be
well enough to go out to meet him again. But the Fates forbade it.

Thanks to the devoted care of our Indian doctor, Captain Sarkar, I.M.S.,
I recovered sufficiently to be sent to England on sick leave, much
against my will, for I had no desire to quit Buxa. But four sturdy
_kahars_ (bearers) carried me in a litter down the steep road from our
little outpost through the forest to the train. Beside me walked Captain
Balderston wishing me farewell and a speedy return to health. I little
knew that I was never to see him again, as he shook my hand for the last
time. Four months afterwards his sorrowing sepoys laid my cheery little
comrade to rest in his grave in the deserted cemetery of Buxa. He died
there all alone.

As the train bore me out of the forest and through the green plains of
Eastern Bengal, I raised myself from my couch in the railway carriage
and with sadness in my heart looked back to where the white Picquet
Towers shone out on the purple background of the fast-receding hills.

FOOTNOTES:

[8] "Peace be with you!"

[9] "With you be peace!"

    THE NORTHUMBERLAND PRESS, THORNTON STREET, NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE



       *       *       *       *       *


Transcript Notes


1. This book uses both "country-side" and "countryside"

2. This book uses both "ferry-boat" and "ferryboat"

3. This book uses both "foothills" and "foot-hills"

4. This book uses both "goat-skin" and "goatskin"

5. This book uses both "head-gear" and "headgear"

6. This book uses both "woodcutter" and "wood-cutter"





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