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Title: The Diary of a Hunter from the Punjab to the Karakorum Mountains
Author: Irby, Augustus Henry
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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    Transcriber's Note:

    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
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DIARY OF A HUNTER.



                                  THE
                           DIARY OF A HUNTER
                                  FROM
                               THE PUNJAB
                                 TO THE
                          KARAKORUM MOUNTAINS.


                                LONDON:
                 LONGMAN, GREEN, LONGMAN, AND ROBERTS;

                                NORWICH:
                       HENRY W. STACY, HAYMARKET.


                             M.DCCC.LXIII.



                                NORWICH:
                       PRINTED BY HENRY W. STACY,
                               HAYMARKET.



PREFACE.


It is hoped that the circumstances under which this volume appears
may be considered such as to excuse its imperfections. It is--with
some omissions and completions of sentences but with hardly a verbal
alteration--the copy of a journal, not written with a view to
publication but simply as a private record, kept up from time to time
as opportunity offered in the midst of the scenes which it describes.
The hand that wrote it is now in the grave. And it is solely in
compliance with the wishes of many relatives and friends who were
anxious to obtain such a memorial of one whom they loved, that it is
now committed to the press by a brother.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER.                                                         PAGE.

     I.  PREPARATIONS AND EQUIPMENTS                                   1

    II. TO SIRINUGGUR                                                  7

   III. SIRINUGGUR--TO THE WURDWAN                                    28

    IV. SHIKAR IN THE WURDWAN                                         48

     V. DITTO                                                         67

    VI. DITTO                                                         89

   VII. SOOROO PASS TO LADÂK                                         109

  VIII. LADÂK                                                        135

    IX. LEH                                                          157

     X. TO THE SHAYAK                                                176

    XI. TO THE KARAKORUM                                             196

   XII. SUGHEIT                                                      225

  XIII. THE YÂK                                                      249

   XIV. THE RETURN                                                   264

    XV. LEH AND LADÂK                                                285

   XVI. THE BARA SING                                                302

  XVII. CASHMERE                                                     324


[Illustration: Browne. Lith. Norwich.]



CHAPTER I.

PREPARATIONS AND EQUIPMENTS.


                                                  POSSIANAH, PIR PANJAL,

                                                     29th _April_, 1860.

An attempt at a Diary, with the intention of recording my adventures
and experiences in an excursion contemplated in Cashmere and adjacent
countries--that of Ladâk being a principal object--during six months'
leave from my duties at Amritsir.

Several times in former days have I resolved to keep a journal, or jot
down briefly the incidents and experiences of each passing day. But as
often, after the lapse of a few days, have I failed to persist in the
undertaking: whether from infirmity of purpose, or idleness, or from an
utter contempt of the 'small beer' I had to chronicle, I do not myself
know; and whether I shall be more successful in this present effort
remains to be seen. Primary indications are not promising, as I have
now been 'en route' from Amritsir, from the 16th to the 29th, thirteen
days, and have excused myself, on one ground or other, from making a
commencement until now.

To be in order, I must note my preparatory arrangements, detail my
supplies--their quality and quantity--the number and office of my
attendants--the extent of my stud, and the amount and nature of my
sporting equipments; especially this latter, as the chase, or, as it
is called in India, 'shikar,' is with me a sort of mania, and all that
appertains thereto is to me of very great importance. Therefore, as a
guide for myself, or to advise others on some subsequent and similar
occasion, I must minutely specify my shooting apparatus and fishing
appointments, and, in the course of my diary, especially take note of
efficiences and deficiences in this respect, as occasion may demand.

To commence with the most important part of my travelling
establishment,--the servants,--there was, First in consideration,
the khansamah, who unites the duties of caterer, cook, and director
general of the ways and means. Secondly, the sirdar or bearer,--the
individual who, in this land of the minutest division of labour, looks
after the clothes, bedding, &c., and assists in dressing and washing.
He was a new hand, hired for the occasion, as my regular sirdar had to
remain behind in charge of my property. Thirdly, the bheestie, who,
in addition to his ordinary duties of fetching water, undertook to
assist in cooking, washing up dishes, &c., for the consideration of
three rupees additional wages, which I thought preferable to hiring a
mussulchee, as the fewer attendants one has on the road to Ladâk the
better, considering that for some marches all provisions and food have
to be carried for the whole party. Fourthly, the classee, in whose
charge were the tents and their belongings, &c.--his duty to accompany
and pitch them. Fifthly and sixthly, two syces, grooms, in whose charge
were my two ponies: one of which was a stout animal from Yarkand,
a famous animal for mountain travelling: the other a good-looking,
good sort of pony from Cabul, which I bought at hazard, taking him
according to description in an advertisement, and he seems likely to
justify fully the account given of him.

In addition to these attendants, I agreed, after consultation with my
excellent friends, the missionaries of Amritsir, to attach to my party
a native Catechist, who by birth claims to be a Cashmiri. He has been,
however, brought up and educated in the Punjab; where, when serving as
a khitmudgur or sirdar, he became a convert to Christianity, and has
for some years been in the employment of the Amritsir Mission. He has
been in Cashmere and Ladâk, and understands the language of the former
country. The object of his accompanying me is to circulate the Gospel
in Bibles, Testaments, and tracts, which I received for that purpose
from the missionaries, having myself first suggested the possibility
of my being able to promote the spread and knowledge of the Christian
Faith and Hope, by means of these books, in the heathen lands to
which I was going,--intending to distribute them personally should
opportunities offer. But the co-operation of the Catechist was a sudden
after-thought of one of my good friends, the missionaries; which, as it
only had birth two days before I started, was rather embarrassing to
mature and act upon. But after the project had almost lapsed, owing to
some misunderstanding resulting from the excited and unsettled state
of mind of Suleiman, the Catechist, consequent on so sudden a summons
to start, with little or no preparation, on such an arduous journey,
leaving, too, a wife and family--she in a delicate state--it was
finally arranged that Suleiman should accompany me at my charges.

My retinue was again unexpectedly increased by engaging a Cashmiri who
presented himself to me as I was returning home from breakfast at mess.
He shewed me a certificate of character, stating him to be an useful
servant, capable of any personal attendance required by a traveller
and hunter. He had the strong recommendation, too, of an intimate
acquaintance with the country of Ladâk, and the routes north and east
of Cashmere, together with the sporting localities, the haunts of the
yâk (wild cattle), and the kyang (wild horse); so thinking him an
acquisition I closed with him at twelve rupees per month, and directed
him to proceed to the rendezvous at Bhimber.

Having thus enumerated my personal attendants, I must now mention my
coolies, Cashmiries, twenty of whom I engaged at five rupees a month to
convey my baggage to Sirinuggur, the capital of Cashmere.

My stores, and all articles that could be so disposed, were packed
in long baskets, called kheltas, which the Cashmiries hoist on their
backs, strapping them to their shoulders: and with them they carry a
stout crutch about two feet high, on the cross-piece of which they rest
their load when pausing on the road, and taking breath in ascending
mountains--an excellent mode of relief as it does not cause them to
shift or put down their load. They only straighten their backs, so that
the khelta rests on the crutch; and when refreshed again bend to their
burden and trudge on, often--too often for the early arrival of one's
baggage--repeating this process.

This mode of hiring coolies answers admirably. They are returning
to their homes in Cashmere from Amritsir, to which grand emporium
for Cashmere goods they had brought loads of merchandise in the
commencement of the cold season, and it is to them, of course, a piece
of good luck getting return loads. They all appeared strong, sturdy,
well-limbed men, and got away with my traps, my servants and horses
in company, the whole under charge of my khansamah, Abdoolah, on the
evening of the 8th April.

I must not forget, in my catalogue of live stock, two little dogs, of
no particular merit, but dear to me as affectionate companions after
their kind.

I had made ample provision for my creature comforts, having been told
by an experienced traveller, and having gleaned from books of travel,
that the Ladâk country is sterile in the extreme, and consequently
possesses little of what constitutes by habit the necessaries of an
European.

I took 4 tins of bacon, 1 case of maccaroni, 1 ditto vermicelli, 2
ditto biscuits, 1 tin of cheese, 3 pots of jam, 7 bottles of pickles,
24 lbs. of tea in 3 tins, and 3 lbs. for immediate use, two 8-lb. boxes
of China sugar, and some 5 or 6 lbs. I had by me, 3 bottles essence
of coffee, 7 lbs. raw ditto, 2 bottles fish sauce, 4 various ditto, 3
bottles lime juice, 2 vinegar, 2 oil, 6 lbs. candles, besides which
Clarke's patent lamp, and lots of candles, 6 bottles brandy, 12 sherry,
12 beer, to which I added, carrying with me, 6 bottles of hock and 6
claret--some of a batch arriving the day I left, which, having ordered
expressly for the mess myself, I was anxious to taste. I took, by way
of medicines, 12 drams of quinine, a box of Peake's pills, one phial
chloridyne, some Holloway's ointment and sticking-plaister, with some
odds and ends I do not remember. This was my stock.

Of fire arms, I took a double rifle by Blissett, 10 bore--one heavy
double Enfield, ditto--one rifle, military pattern, by Whitworth--one
double-barrelled Westley Richards for shot; 8 lbs. powder, good supply
of bullets, shot No 3 and 6, caps, wads, &c.

These guns were taken from their cases and placed in a woollen case,
then in a leathern case respectively, this being, I think, the most
convenient way of carrying them, four of my servants having charge,
each of one. Two Colt's revolvers and ammunition, shikar knife and
belts, knives for skinning, four boxes arsenical paste, from Peake and
Allen, cleaning rods, bullet moulds, and all the paraphernalia of a
sportsman.

Of fishing-tackle, a large salmon-rod, a common trout-rod, a gaff, two
large winches, one small; stout plaited silk line, and hair for the
small rod, a variety of flies, and a good supply of spinning tackle
and hooks, on which, from past success, I principally depended. Being
without good spinning gear, I had some hooks, or rather the spinning
contrivance to which they were fitted, made by a 'maistry' in Amritsir,
after a model I had given him; and very well he succeeded. The system
of hooks was devised and fitted by a young brother officer, an ardent
devotee of the gentle craft, and clever at all kinds of fishing gear.

Having the year previous killed some good fish in a fine stream 'en
route' to Cashmere, I anticipated some sport this time.

My tents were, the one a small two-poled shikar tent made very light,
about 12 ft. long by 7, which for the present trip I had covered so as
to resemble, in some degree, what is called a Swiss cottage tent; the
other was a small thing, just big enough to put a bed in, and carried
altogether by one coolie: the bigger one takes four. I had also a
folding wooden bed, and lots of bed clothes, &c.

I have now enumerated all I recollect of my equipment, a good stock of
suitable clothes being understood.



CHAPTER II.

TO SIRINUGGUR.


I had hoped to have received intelligence of the Commander-in-Chief's
sanction of my application for leave ere the 15th. I only heard from
the Assistant Adjutant General at Lahore that it had been forwarded:
so, being in command at Amritsir, I gave myself leave in anticipation,
and, having some days previously arranged my 'palki dâk,' I entered it
about 4.30 P.M. on Monday the 16th, and making up my mind for
a grilling, it being extremely hot, off I started amid the farewell
salaams of my deserted retainers. The heat was very great, but the
prospect before me of, ere many days, plunging into the eternal snows
rendered endurance easy.

I reached the Sealkote bungalow about twelve next day: bathed,
breakfasted, made another meal at 4 P.M., after which I again jogged on
along the dusty road, keeping down my disgust and refreshing my weary
spirits, by conjuring up visions of snowy regions, and glorious sport
as before. And thus I arrived at Goojerat, after crossing the Chenab at
5 A.M. on the morning of the 18th.

Here I halted, breakfasted, and dined. Pursuing my hot and dusty
route at 4.30 P.M., I arrived at Bhimber about twelve midnight,
received good accounts of my belongings from Abdoolah, was almost
devoured by my two little pets, found Suleiman had arrived, but no
tidings of the Cashmiri, Jamhal Khan. I turned into bed in my tent,
feeling a delightful sensation at being really out of the scorching
plains of the Punjab; though I could hardly be said to be so, for the
following day,--

Thursday, 19th April, the heat was excessive, thermometer in the
day 96°, and at 9 P.M. in my tent, 90°. This day was employed
in arranging loads, and selecting such articles as I needed on the
road. Jamhal Khan joined, and made salaam. Suleiman went into Bhimber,
a large straggling town, and endeavoured to create a desire for the
knowledge of the Gospel. He encountered opposition, and found none
willing to receive books.

20th April. I made a good start before day had well dawned. It was a
miserable day's march, having a river to be crossed about ten times,
the bed of which, and indeed the road itself, is composed of boulders
and stones innumerable. There is also a steep ascent to climb, which is
no easy job, the path up it being merely indented in the naked rock by
continual footsteps. I may as well remark here, that this road is the
whole way abominable, nothing being ever done to improve it, although
there is a large amount of traffic along it with the Punjab; and the
Maharajah, with his usual avarice, takes good care to have heavy dues
levied on all imports and exports--bad luck to him, for a horrid screw!
The track is nothing more than a watercourse, and up and down the steep
hills is really dangerous.

The path this day leads over the said hill, on which is a station
of the rajah's in a narrow pass, where are officials to examine
passengers and take toll. The path thence descends roughly and
irregularly to a small valley, in which is the halting place, the
'baraduri' being a repaired portion of one of the old 'serais,' built,
I believe, by the Emperor Akbar. Many of them still exist, as also
remnants of bridges, also the work of that mighty potentate.

This place is called Saidabad, and though, perhaps, as hot as the
Punjab, being very confined, the pines and firs, the variety of
foliage, green crops, and verdant grassy slopes, with hills around
you, and mountains in the distance, tend much to lessen the sense
of heat. There are officials and sepoys here, and supplies in
moderation--tattoos, perhaps, coolies, fowls, &c. to be had.

21st April. I made a good start for Nowshera, sending on a coolie with
a basket containing breakfast.

The first part of the road is rough and difficult, lying by the stream,
interrupted by rocks; but it now opens into a pretty narrow valley,
from which you ascend a stiff steep hill of rock, but well wooded, and,
at this season, clothed with varieties of flowering shrubs and plants,
dog-roses abounding, by which the air was pleasantly perfumed. On the
summit of the hill is an old piece of solid masonry, now inhabited by
an old couple who supply excellent milk and eggs to wayfarers.

There is a beautiful and very extensive view from this eminence of a
fertile valley in which, on a small hill, is situate Nowshera, its
white buildings conspicuous. But the object of interest is the snowy
ridge of the Panjal range, and interposing itself midway, so as to
exclude from sight all but the upper ridges of the Pir Panjal, lies the
Rattan Panjal, its upper crests partially and thinly covered with snow.
The whole scene is charming as viewed at early morning, ere the dews,
ascending in misty vapours--in themselves beautifying the landscape by
their varied and many-tinted effects--are dissipated by the sun.

At the foot of the hill the path proceeds through ups and downs of a
more or less stony character, until you descend into the valley of the
Tooey, a fine rapid brawling stream, in some places one hundred yards
wide, but averaging perhaps fifty: possessing some deep still pools,
at the turbulent entrances to which an angler would wager good fish
would be found, were there any in these waters. Nor would he be far
wrong. There are fish, and huge ones, too, in those promising pools.
Nor are they quite insensible to the wiles of the crafty angler, who
may with moderate skill enjoy good sport along this river. But here, as
elsewhere, fish have their moods and whims, their times and seasons, so
that some practice and observation are requisite.

You cross this river, and some two hundred yards on the 'baraduri' is
situated in the middle of a densely-planted garden. Not liking its
appearance--thinking it would, at least, be prolific of insects and of
fever--I went on through the town of Nowshera, and, descending again to
the river, encamped under a 'tope' of mulberry trees, in a long grassy
plain, lying between a range of hills of moderate height and the river.
There is little to notice in Nowshera, a long street with the ordinary
bazaar shops, and, on the right-hand, a castellated gateway, leading
into an old serai, one of the series of Akbar, I suppose.

I tried fishing in the evening at a splendid looking pool, very
deep, in which the rushing waters bury themselves, as it were, for
a time, pausing ere they again pursue their onward troubled course.
This pool lies under a precipitous cliff, just beneath the town; it
is of considerable extent, and of unknown depth, and in its dark
recesses lurk mahseer of monstrous bulk, I am told. My fortunes
were at their worst this evening, as far as catching a dish of fish
went. I tried spinning, having been provided with most tempting
minnow-like bait by some small boys, eager for 'backsheesh': and I
tried 'atta' in a sticky lump on a large-sized salmon-hook--a bait
of reputed irresistibility--but without effect. Numbers of fish,
small and some evidently of goodly size, to set one longing, rose and
actually floundered on the surface; but not a run could I get. A heavy
thunderstorm, bursting in the distance, was rapidly approaching, which
was, perhaps, the unlucky evil influence: so, tired of trying to get
anything out of the water, I took a header in, and enjoyed a most
refreshing and cooling swim.

22nd April. Sunday. Halted and passed the Sabbath in repose.

23rd April. To Chungir-ke-Serai--a long and tedious march, the path
leading over rocks which hedge in the river, on turning an angle of
which I overtook Abdoolah, who had preceded me with the breakfast
things, standing gazing back in my direction. I told him it was not yet
time for breakfast, supposing that to be his meaning, when he pointed
upwards, and, suspended from the projecting limb of a tree, some little
way up the hill shutting in the river, hung the still-mouldering body
of a man, his lower limbs still in his clothes, the ghastly face
denuded of flesh, yet with a matted felt of hair straggling here and
there over the glistening bones, grinning horribly down upon us.

This wretch, it appeared, had in the most treacherous, barbarous, and
cowardly manner murdered an old man and child, close to the spot where
he expiated his crime. Being a sort of rural policeman in the employ of
the Maharajah, he was armed with a sword, which, of course, excited no
suspicion in his victims, whom he joined on the road as they journeyed
from Nowshera, and ascertaining that they possessed a few rupees'
worth of property, the miserable caitiff, yielding to the suggestions
of the Tempter, cut them down, and threw their bodies into the river.
Suspicions followed their disappearance: other circumstances pointed to
this man, who was arrested, and confessing his guilt was executed where
the bloody deed was committed.

I left this gloomy spot full of reflections of the most depressing
nature: but with that rapidly revolving mental process, which so
soon exchanges our train of thought, I was soon almost as though the
repulsive object had not been met with.

I soon afterwards arrived at a pool, where I proposed stopping to
breakfast, and also to fish, having in this pool, when passing last
year, whilst occupying a seat on a rock overhanging it, observed some
monstrous great fish basking; for it was a scorching hot day, and the
sun at high meridian at the time.

I tried the 'atta' bait--merely paste made very adhesive--but without
more than one or two nibbles which came to nothing: so knocked off and
comforted the inner man. While so employed, came by a 'gent' riding,
whom I saluted. I knew him to be in my rear, proceeding to join the
Trig. survey party which was before me some days: asked him to dinner,
and he accepted.

Arrived at Chungir-ke-Serai, an old Akbar serai, on the top of a
hill overhanging the river--a fine view of the snowy range--the
features of the country rough, but picturesque. I tried fishing again
without success: enjoyed a cool swim: returned and had to wait about
three-quarters of an hour for my guest, although he was close at hand,
and I sent to him two or three times. But, lo! he at length appeared,
got up rather considerably, quite abashing me, who was sitting in
a flannel shirt and corresponding nethers. We had a pleasant chat
together. He informed me that he had never been out of India, was born
in the country, and educated at Landour, whence he was appointed direct
to the Survey department. I do not know his name.

24th April. Rijaori. I made an early start as usual, and had a rough
scrambling march of it. The road following the trend of the river,
here and there crosses steep stony hills, where the track is only a
watercourse. We crossed the river just below Rijaori. This passage is
at times very difficult and dangerous, and never very pleasant, as
there is a great body of water, and strong current at all times, but
after the rains a roaring flood.

The camp-ground of Rijaori is very pretty, in a garden, one of much
note, there being remains of aqueducts and fountains, a summer-house
on an eminence overlooking the river, and the town on the other side.
In the garden are some magnificent plane trees, called 'chunar' in
Cashmere, affording good and pleasant protection from the sun.

I found a young officer of the 24th encamped here, and asked him and my
former guest to dinner.

I prepared my tackle, and was provided with small fish by youngsters
who remembered me the year before, and started to fish, full of
expectation, at 4.30 P.M.--the sun broiling. I tried the nearest
pool under the temple, where last year a mighty fish had got
off, breaking my line and robbing me of my best spinning tackle--no
run, nothing stirring. I went down to another fine pool, where two
streams blend their waters, situated under a lofty hill, steep and
well-wooded down to the precipitous rocky bank of the river--a lovely
piece of water; had an offer or two, and hooked and landed an impudent
little brat of 2-lb. weight; then had some little sport with a nice
little chap of 5-lb. or so, when, having disturbed the pool, I went
lower and fished two or three likely spots, without moving anything.

So I struggled back over the bothering boulders to my pet pool, where I
strove long and ineffectually, and was actually on the point of leaving
off, when--Whirr, whirr, whirr, whirr went the reel, the rod bent
double, the line smoked again, and the still waters of the pool rose
in swells, as the sogdollager I had hold of darted violently down the
stream. Fifty yards were out in no time, when I butted him strongly,
and turned him, only then getting an idea of his weight, and joyfully
exclaimed he was a twenty-pounder. The young officer of the 24th was
with me; he and the native attendants were greatly excited.

I was conscious of having work cut out for me, and intensely eager
to secure the prize I knew to be at stake. The struggle was long and
stout. At one time the fish turning up stream, made direct for the
bank where 24th stood, about forty yards from me. A brawling cascade
separated us, and I was over knees in water in another noisy rapid, so
did not hear his remarks, but noticed his gesticulations, and judged
from them, he was astonished at the monster I had hold of.

Well, after a rare game of pully-hauly, my scaly enemy took the bottom,
and I could not move him. 'Oh! what a weight he must be,' thought I;
'hold on good tackle!' I shook the bait, so as to make his jaws rattle
and his teeth ache, when at last he moved with a vengeance, making
a violent effort, up and down and all sides, to break away. Then he
shewed his massive golden side--glorious sight! I hauled him towards
a round hand-net a handy lad held ready in the water--no gaff with
me--but too soon yet. Away he sped, bending the rod alarmingly, and
making the winch talk loudly. I turned him again, and repeated the
attempt to net him--away he rushed again. I then humoured him, and
tired him with the rod and short line, until he was bagged, the lad
going up to his middle, and when in the net he could not lift him out
himself.

He was a regular monster in size, but beautiful to behold--a truly
handsome fish, of lustrous golden hues. He was carried off in triumph,
suspended from my mountain staff across the shoulders of two well-sized
youths, who could but just keep his tail off the ground.

Great was the admiration in camp, and many and various the guesses at
his weight. 24th and I each had a 24-lb. weighing hook: putting both
together, a weight of 48 lb. was required to bring both indicators
flush, which my captive did; so we rated him as a fifty-pounder.

I must not dismiss this sporting incident without recording the
excellent qualities of this fish when brought to table. He had hung
all night, disembowelled: in the morning was not scaled, but skinned,
and being cut in lateral scallops was simply fried, and without any
exaggeration was delicious, only inferior to a good salmon. It was
firm and rich, of a brown colour, flaked with curd, and though I was
prepared with anchovy sauce, that was scouted. I never myself eat any
mahseer, or other Indian river fish, anything like it.

My two guests chatted away at dinner, a glass or two of ale being
highly appropriate on the occasion of this huge success. We parted at
nine, early hours being essential, they intending to proceed onwards at
dawn, I to stop and try my luck again.

25th April. Rijaori. I tried the upper pool above the town, a beautiful
and most promising-looking pool: but, after trying every persuasive
and seducing attitude, failed to move an admirer, and being chilled
returned to camp and breakfast, when I regaled upon the morsel I have
above described.

I passed the day reading, and anxious for the shades of evening to
permit my further attempts on the fishes, but to cut short this
evening's proceeding need only say that I fastened to another leviathan
in the same pool, after many indecisive offers had been made; but, woe
is me! he at once, after feeling himself fast and trying rod and line,
bored straight down, and cutting my bottom-line over a stone got clear
off with my set of spinning tackle. Let me draw a veil over my misery,
nor again awake memory to the bitterness of my disappointment.

26th April. To Thanna. The road still running in company with the
river, the courses only being reversed. This day's march was much
pleasanter than any previous one, there being but little up and down
comparatively, and the pathway in many places lying under shady wooded
slopes, its sides fringed with numbers of sweet-smelling shrubs.

The approach to Thanna presents a lovely view of the Rattan Panjal
range in front; and on the left-hand is a well-wooded range of hills,
beneath which are undulating slopes, whereon is a good deal of
cultivation which is in some parts carried in terraces to the tops of
the hills. There is an old fort-like building, formerly the habitation
of some ruffian of a rajah, I presume. The camp was pitched close to a
small village on the road to the Rattan Pir. At this place Suleiman had
an attentive audience of some ten or twelve respectable natives, who
listened to his account of our religion with pleasure, and were glad to
accept some Gospels and tracts, never having, they said, obtained any
accurate idea before of what the Christian Faith consisted.

I have omitted to note the effect produced by Suleiman at the different
stations, so will retrace my steps for that purpose.

At Rijaori, the first day, he was not only repulsed, but threatened. On
the second day, however, he had listeners, and distributed some books.

At Nowshera, favourable results--being listened to calmly and
attentively, some enquiries and discussions entered into, and some
Gospels and tracts received. There was here a teacher in a school, who
had been educated in the mission school of Lahore, and he it was whose
influence operated favourably. He took some books for his school.

I forgot to mention an occurrence at Bhimber. I had noticed in the
day a man lying near the 'baraduri,' who was apparently suffering,
and continually uttered cries and moans from the same spot. I called
Suleiman, and with a light proceeded to make enquiries; when it
appeared that this unfortunate man had fallen from a mulberry tree
close by, and had disabled himself so much that he could not proceed on
his way home to Cashmere. So there he was left to shift for himself,
dependent on the charity of passers by, wholly unable to raise himself
from the ground. I sent for the havildar of the guard, and giving
the disabled man five rupees, which I understood to be ample for the
purpose, ordered him to be removed to a house, to be cared for, and
sent to his home when recovered.

Thinking this a good opportunity, I called the attention of some thirty
people, who were looking on, to the fact that the Christian religion
thus enjoined its professors to obey their Lord's commands, and that
the religion of Jesus Christ was love. Not being sufficiently fluent
myself, I requested Suleiman to use this living text, and he addressed
the assemblage, who seemed much impressed, and expressed their entire
concurrence in the sentiments and principles uttered. But this is often
the case without any further consequences.

27th April. From Thanna across the Rattin Pir pass to Byramgullah.

This is a stiff pull, but not precipitous. The path winds about, taking
advantage of the slopes of the mountain to gain the summit gradually.
There is a faquir's establishment on the top, and the view on either
side is very fine. That looking down over the plain past Rijaori and
Nowshera--over the several wave-like lines of inferior hills into the
plains of the Punjab of limitless extent, lost only in vapour and
distance--is grand from its great extent, and beautiful in its varied
features as in its colouring.

The other side presents the masses of the Pir Panjal, covered with
snow. This range is of bold massive proportions, and affords the
traveller a truly sublime picture of mountain scenery.

The descent to Byramgullah is steep and rugged, and altogether
wearisome. But, when accomplished, one is amply compensated for one's
toils. The road from the foot of the mountain crosses a bridge over
a picturesque torrent, clear and rapid, rushing in roaring cascades
below. There is here every component part of a beautiful landscape,
but space. The valley is confined, there being but just room for the
river and a small bit of level on an elevated bank. This is shut in
by lofty hills, some entirely clothed with a rich mantle of foliage,
others having intervals of grassy slopes. But the whole is singularly
beautiful.

There is a fort on an isolated hill, of curious structure, only capable
of defence against bows and arrows, I should think; but it is a
picturesque object, of a Swiss character as to architectural appearance.

28th April. Along the bed of the torrent to Possianah, crossing some
thirty-five bridges (so called), very awkward for riding, but, on the
whole, an easy march, the scenery of a romantic character.

Possianah is a singularly built village, on the precipitous side of a
mountain which is the vis-a-vis of the redoubtable Pir Panjal; which
here, lifting his snowy summit to the clouds, frowns down upon you in
all his majesty and grandeur, looking by no means affable to approach,
and promising an arduous struggle to get the better of.

The village is at this time more miserable than ever, its ordinary
inhabitants having deserted it to escape the rigours of the winter;
there remained or had returned only two or three. Many houses, being
most inappropriately built with flat roofs, had fallen in, and
altogether the place had anything but a cheerful aspect.

Here, however, I must pass two days, the 29th being Sunday. So I
had the hovel, used as a baraduri, cleaned out, and there ensconced
myself and traps, and had nothing whatever to complain of,--the most
magnificent scenery around me, a delightful climate (the wind, perhaps,
a little too chill here), and no scarcity of creature comforts.

29th April. Sunday. I halted at Possianah. When at Byramgullah, I heard
the Pir was not passable for tattoos, so left mine there to await
orders, intending to leave them to come on in a few days, when the road
would probably be open. But from a near reconnoitre of the mountain as
to snow, and from information acquired, I determined to run the risk,
and sent for my ponies.

As I was at breakfast a saheb was announced, and a stout party made
his appearance, a M. Olive, a French merchant in the shawl trade, who
passes the winter season at Amritsir, returning to Cashmere, when the
passes open, for business.

The Maharajah does not permit Europeans to reside in the valley
during the winter; perhaps, from jealousy of their becoming permanent
residents, and finally annexing the country; perhaps, because the
winter is the time for collecting his revenue, when, it is said, the
most infamous oppression is practised, and complaints are rife and loud.

I had seen the new comer, but was not acquainted with him, and could
do no less than invite him to share my homely fare, and after some
polite demur he fell to. He spoke no English, and my French had been
lying 'perdue' a couple of years or so; but I assayed to converse, and
eking out my French with Hindostani managed to keep up the conversation
without difficulty. The stout gent had been carried all the way from
Amritsir in a jan-pan--a sort of covered chair on poles--which four or
six men at a time carry on their shoulders. How he could ever get up
the Pir Panjal, I could not imagine.

Another traveller had also arrived--one, by the bye, I should have
previously noted as having arrived at Rijaori the day I halted
there--an artillery Vet, who had been suffering from some affection of
the head, and irritability of nerves. He dined with me at Rijaori, and
highly approved the mahseer, which he pronounced equal to salmon, but
far inferior in my opinion.

In the course of the day I found the unfortunate Vet had sent his pony
round by the Poonah pass from Baramoolah, and he lamented having done
so, groaning over the prospect of the morrow's arduous exertions.
I, therefore, placed mine at his disposal, as I prefer footing it,
especially when the path is difficult.

30th April. From Possianah to Dupchin. The road from Possianah descends
to the torrent roaring at a considerable depth below, from which the
ascent recommences, so that you have to descend from a considerable
elevation, perhaps a quarter of the height of the Pir, and then
again ascend on the other side; which loss of way is provoking. From
Possianah to the foot of the Pir is, I imagine, two miles, the latter
part of the road very rough and stony.

I started on this occasion without any refreshment, such as tea,
thinking I should better husband my breath, and work my lungs more
easily: and I think the idea a success, as I ascended with much more
ease and comfort than on the former occasion, when I primed myself
with tea, hard eggs, &c. It is, undoubtedly, a tremendous pull; and
one meets with a provoking deception as to distance. For when about a
quarter of the height has been ascended, the first flight, as it were,
up to the snow drift, the traveller looking above him, puffing and
panting with his violent efforts, sees above him what appears to be the
summit close at hand, which is but the top of the lower ridge, from
which runs a somewhat level path on the slope to the snow drift--an
enormous mass of snow, some half-mile long, and, I suppose, from one
to two hundred yards broad, and, I fancy, from fifty to a hundred
feet deep, filling a gorge of the mountain which commences quite at
the summit. Over this mass we struggled, a violent icy blast in our
faces, to a point where the path turns off to the left, and climbs
upwards by zigzags to the more gradual slope under the summit. Here I
overtook a woman carrying a boy of, perhaps, five years old, who, poor
little creature, was crying bitterly from cold, his teeth chattering,
and presenting a forlorn appearance. The woman was sitting down
disconsolate, unable to proceed. I tried to persuade her to put the lad
down, and lead him, to restore circulation, but she did not adopt my
suggestion; so, leaving a man to help them on, I continued my ascent,
and finally reached the top.

The height is, I believe, some 10,000 feet above the sea. The view,
looking back, is magnificent--an endless succession of wave-like lines
of hills terminating, as they gradually recede, in the hot vapours of
the Punjab.

It was pleasant to look down the steep and rugged path we had won our
way up, there beholding others still toiling and struggling upwards,
the coolies with their loads in a long-drawn straggling line, here
coming into view, and quickly disappearing behind some projection or
in some bend of the road, but constantly to be seen resting on their
crutches. I watched my ponies with some anxiety. They had been stripped
in order to give them every freedom of limb, and several coolies had
been told off to assist them. They were more than half-way up when I
saw them: it was just at a difficult point, where the snow was deep and
soft, and the path hung on the side of the mountain. The old Yarkandi
broke through the snow, and was plunging and struggling violently, but
after three or four desperate efforts got out of trouble. The other
avoided this place. I find the former from his very caution apt to go
off the good path, and get himself into difficulties. When the snow
gives, he goes down on his knees and so hobbles on.

I did not wait longer, but strode away over the snowy plains, which
descend in a very gentle incline to the Alliahabad Serai. The sensation
was delightful after the troublesome ascent, and I enjoyed the change
of play of muscles amazingly, as did my two little dogs to whom the
snow was a novelty. They kept frisking and bounding about, rushing off
to a distance, then occasionally taking a roll.

The landscape, as a winter scene, was perfect,--one glittering field
of snow, lofty hills on either side also covered with snow, the sun
shining cheerily, and the difficult entrance to the valley achieved.
But after a time my eyes ached from the glare, and I was glad when
a mile or two of descent brought us to patches of brown hillside.
There were two very awkward watercourses to cross, the banks high,
precipitous, and covered with snow, giving every chance of a tumble.

I got well over, and found the serai, where I had intended to halt,
in such a state from snow, melted and unmelted, and the only place
for camping in a similar condition that, shrinking from its chill
uninviting aspect, I determined to push on; so after my usual breakfast
of cold tea and hard eggs I again sped on my way--and a toilsome way
it was. The sun was now very hot, and the path running over ridges and
down gorges of rock on the slopes of the mountain, and encumbered with
snow, in enormous drifts in some of the ravines, made this additional
eight miles (I think it was) a formidable addition to the ascent of the
Panjal.

I forgot to mention that on the top of the Pir is a faquir's hut, where
last year we were supplied with the most delicious draught of milk
we had ever tasted. But the faquir had not yet ventured to face the
inclement climate, so no milk this time.

There is also a small watch tower of an octagonal form, of which there
are several to be seen, here and there, along the route. This forms a
very conspicuous object, being so distinctly seen at Possianah as to
deceive one as to the distance; and I fancy that an European accustomed
to the denser atmosphere of the mountain regions in that quarter of
the globe would be astonished at the atmospheric effects here. Rarely,
except in case of a thunderstorm, and in the rainy season which lasts
about two months, is there any vapour to impede the vision, which roams
over snowy peaks of various chains of mountains far on the other side
of Cashmere.

The beauties of this scenery, in its magnificence and colossal
proportions, its illimitable extent and brilliancy of colouring, is
far beyond any description. All around you nature exhibits herself in
her most attractive forms, presenting almost every variety of shape
and colour, mountain and valley, rock and dell, forests of noble pines
and individual giants waving their monstrous arms overhead as you
pursue your path, with foaming torrents dashing at the bottom of the
precipices below you, gushing rills of purest water trickling from
the hills on whose slopes you move, and from the path to the torrent
below you stretch undulating grassy slopes, here steep, there gently
inclining, occasionally intercepted by a rough ravine through which
tumbles a torrent, and the whole surface gay with many flowers which
the while perfume the air--the 'tout ensemble' is such as to send the
observant traveller, however much his limbs may be taxed, exhilarated
and rejoicing on his way. It is a new existence to any one coming from
the depressing monotony of the interminable plains of the Punjab.

I had a long time to wait at Dupchin before any of my followers
arrived; so I took a snooze under a pine tree adjoining a fine stream,
at which I had slaked my thirst. The whole of my effects did not arrive
until about five o'clock. There was no village, no house here, it being
simply used as a camp ground, for which it offered some facilities--a
level surface, wood and water in abundance--food we had brought with us.

The night was bitterly cold, but my servants managed tolerably, four
or five sleeping in my smaller tent, as many as it would hold. Others
and the coolies coiling themselves up in their warm blankets under a
pine-clad bank, screening them from the wind, by the help of rousing
fires of dry pine wood kept up through the night, if not perfectly
comfortable, did not suffer: for they did not grumble--a good sign.

1st May. To Shupyim. The first part of the road is rough and difficult,
through a pine forest. You then cross the river by a bridge, the
scenery charming; emerge from the forest, and enter upon level grass
lands. We halted at Heerpoor for breakfast, a small village where
supplies are to be got: there is an old serai, one small room only
habitable, but good ground for camping.

The road from Heerpoor to Shupyim is good, over level grassy elevated
land, park-like scenery on either hand, the valley of Cashmere widening
before you, and a glorious display of mountains beyond it.

One may consider oneself fairly in the valley here, having left the
mountains behind; there remain only slight elevations between Shupyim
and Sirinuggur.

2nd May. I followed the path to Sirinuggur which, although one of the
principal roads to the capital, was but a bridle path, in some places
difficult to find, and leading over rivers and streams, some of which,
being without bridges, are awkward to cross.

We halted at a village called Serai, from there being the remains of
one there. Ramoo is the usual station, but it does not divide the
distance so equally, being too near Shupyim.

We had some difficulty in obtaining supplies, Jamhal Khan being
compelled to resort to harsh measures, such as kicking and so forth, to
bring the village official to a sense of his duties, and the importance
of a 'burra saheb.' This discipline was that best adapted to his rude
perceptions: and after some vociferations, and making as though he
would apply to me, who cruelly stopped the address with threats of
further coercive measures, he roused himself, and set to work with
activity to get what was required.

M. Olive came up: he had intended going right on to Sirinuggur,
expecting horses out to meet him, with his city man of business. The
latter did appear, and informed him that the ponies were sent the other
road, it being understood he would enter the valley of Baramoolah. M.
O. decided to remain, and readily accepted my invitation 'a gouter:'
when with some biscuits and potted bloaters, washed down by a bottle of
excellent hock, we contrived to open the sources of our eloquence, and
sat out regardless of the sun which, though the air was pleasant and
fresh, had a powerful tanning effect, as my face indicated on retiring
to my tent. Previous to thus taking 'tiffin,' I proposed to M. Olive
that we should unite our provisions and dine together, as I had some
claret on which I wished to have his judgment pronounced. He readily
assented, remarking that his khansamah should have orders to combine
culinary operations with mine.

I strolled out, and went in the direction of Sirinuggur, looking to
obtain a view of that city, but could only discern its site, indicated
by the fort of Hari-Parbut, conspicuous on a solitary hill, and by the
poplar trees, forming avenues round the city.

I returned and sat down to dinner with M. Olive, who, by the bye,
added nothing to the repast, apologising as he had intended dining
at Sirinuggur. However, I had abundance, and the claret was greatly
admired, and fully appreciated, M. Olive declaring it to be 'une
veritable acquisition': it had, however, considerable body, so we did
not drink more than half the bottle--sufficient again to engage us in
uninterrupted conversation.

M. Olive became quite eloquent, and getting on some pet topics
connected with France and her glories, Louis Nap. and his genius
and policy, he launched out and discussed these matters with great
intelligence. He is a very agreeable companion, having all the
politeness of manner of the well-educated Frenchman, and being a man of
sense and observation I found all he enlarged upon, and his views and
opinions, interesting and instructive.



CHAPTER III.

SIRINUGGUR--TO THE WURDWAN.


3rd May. To the city of Sirinuggur--the immediate object and
termination of the first part of my journey. The road was indifferent
and uninteresting, running through a low level country with
undulations, more or less elevated, and watercourses.

We passed some splendid chunar trees, and occasional stretches of
verdant turf; and on either side, adjoining the road, were growing
large patches of lilies, blue and white, scenting the air with the
most delicate perfume. About a mile from the city one enters an
avenue of poplars, leading on to a bridge crossing the river Jhelum
which flows through the midst of the city; and from this bridge one
obtains a general idea of the city itself. The impression is far from
favourable, the houses appearing mean and in a state of ruin and
neglect, the population squalid and dirty. Nor does a more intimate
acquaintance remove this impression. The site of the city is beautiful,
the surrounding scenery all that could be wished, but man, in himself
and his works, has disfigured and defiled as lovely a spot as could be
anywhere selected in the universe.

I was conducted to a small house on the Jhelum, called Colonel
Browne's house, from his frequently residing there. It is kept for
the senior officer arriving, and I happen at this time to be that
important individual. There was no noticeable difference between
this and the eight or nine small residences on either side. They are
paltry buildings, only calculated for roughing it 'en garçon.' They
are, however, pleasantly situated on the right bank of the Jhelum, at
considerable intervals, shady groves in rear, and well removed from the
smells and sounds of the city and its multitude.

I was waited upon by the Maharajah's Vakeel, the Baboo, Mohur Chunder,
a most intelligent, active, and obliging official, affording every
information and every assistance possible in one's affairs. He is the
'factotum' as regards Europeans, being, I believe, retained on account
of his tact in giving them satisfaction, and keeping things 'serene'
between them and the residents. He provided me with a boat, partly
thatched, and six men, to pull about and do the lions, the river being
the highway.

I had written to the Baboo to engage two shikarries whom I named, and
he had despatched a 'purwanah' for their attendance, but had not yet
heard of them. This I did not regret, as I wished to look about me a
bit before starting upon any fresh excursion.

In the afternoon I took boat, and descended the river, passing amid
the city under some half-dozen bridges of, I think, four arches
each, if arches they may be called, for the tops are flat. The piers
are constructed of large rough timbers in the log, placed in layers
transversely, and the roadway is formed of longitudinal and transverse
timbers its whole length. The 'tetes-de-pont' are nearly all of wood,
with a rough stone pediment.

The Jhelum is very deep, and the stream strong, the water not clear.
The city is, undoubtedly, interesting as viewed in this manner, and
the buildings decidedly picturesque from the very irregularity of
their dilapidations. They are built principally of timber, roofs
slightly aslant covered with earth, on which is generally grass or
other vegetation. Some buildings are of brick and wood; a few of stone,
brick, and wood, the stone forming the foundation, and many of them
bearing distinct signs of having been portions of other buildings of a
by-gone age.

The banks of the river are high and steep, built up in some places
by stone facings. Houses with balconies projecting are supported by
wooden props sloping to the wall, and there resting in what appears
a very precarious manner--just stayed on an irregular ledge of the
stone facing at hazard, and any interstice to make up the measurement
filled in with chips. There are a few houses of more pretension and
better finish, exhibiting more taste and elegance in their decoration
in carved wood. These belong to wealthy merchants, and they have some
nondescript sort of glazed windows; but the houses generally have only
lattices.

There are no buildings especially to notice, except the Rajah's
residence, or fort, as they call it, a long, rambling string of
buildings on the left bank, connected with which is the most
conspicuous object in the city, a new Hindoo temple, with a gilt
pyramido-conical cupola. This is new and glaring, and, therefore, quite
out of harmony with the mass of buildings around it. There are also two
or three old wooden 'musjeds,' constructed when the professors of Islam
were in the ascendant, now in a state of rapid decay, as appears to be
the race and religion they represent.

We pulled down beyond the city to the new houses building by the
Maharajah for Europeans, an out of the way place, though affording a
fine view of the fort of Hari-Parbut and the mountain ranges looking
N.E., but too remote from the bazaar to suit most visitors.

I returned up the river, and enjoyed the trip much. The banks of the
river and the houses overhanging are prettily diversified by trees,
here and there. One sees some odd wooden buildings floating and
attached to the shore, used for purposes of cleanliness, washing, &c.;
yet is the city abominably dirty, beyond anything I ever saw.

4th May. I took my boat, and, on the representation of Jamhal Khan, gun
and shot for wild fowl, and was pulled rapidly down stream. We turned
up a canal, and passing under some beautiful trees, the air fresh and
pure, lending a charm to everything, we entered a sort of sluice gate
by which the waters of the Dal have exit, passing through this channel
to the Jhelum.

In this Dal are the far-famed floating gardens, in which vegetables are
cultivated. There are also beautiful isles forming groves and gardens,
which in the palmy days of the Mahomedan conquerors were places of
constant resort for the indulgence of luxury and pleasure, and still
attract numerous parties of pleasure, European, of course, and native,
the latter adopting quite the pic-nic style. The floating gardens are
formed of the weeds dragged up from the bottom, with which the lake is
covered, with the exception of large open spaces under the mountains
to whose sides sloping downwards it carries its waters. This lake is
partly artificial, as it is pent in by embankments with sluice gates,
the system of which, however, I am unacquainted with. This piece of
water is of great extent, and is one of the most important features of
the neighbouring scenery.

I returned to the same outlet by a circuitous route among the weed
islands and gardens: and when seated at breakfast in my upper-storied
room, from which a beautifully diversified prospect was visible, I
quite revelled in the delightful sensations of the delicious climate
and surrounding loveliness of scenery.

I called upon the Government Agent, a resident--an anomalous
appointment. The individual holding it is a civilian, and his duties
are to maintain amiable relations between English visitors and
the inhabitants, adjust any disputes, and check irregularities; a
duty--from the peculiar position which gives no direct authority over
officers--calling for much tact and judgment. Had a long conversation
with the present incumbent, Mr. Forde.

I cruised down the river in the evening, and saw some decidedly pretty
faces among the young girls washing or drawing water at the river side:
but none appear to exhibit themselves but those of mature years and the
very young. Probably the Hindoos adopt the custom of the Mahomedans
in this respect. It is a mixed population, and it is reasonable to
imagine such a fashion to prevail. I was disposed to reject the
generally pronounced opinion that there is much female beauty among
the Cashmiries, but I now consider it extremely probable there is. The
features are of quite a distinct type from the Hindoos of the plains,
as is the complexion which is a clear rich olive-brown--eyes dark and
fine--mouths rather large, but teeth even and white. The hair, also,
appears to be finer in fibre than that of the people of Hindostan. It
is generally worn as far as I could see, in a number of small plaits,
divided from the centre of the forehead, and falling regularly all
round the head, their extremities being lengthened by some artificial
hair or wool, which continues the plait. The centre plaits resting on
the middle of the back are longest, and extend to the swell: all the
points are worked into a sort of finishing plait, from the centre of
which depends a large tassel. The effect, were the hair but clean,
would, I think, be charming. Of the figures I can say nothing, as they
are enveloped in a hideous, shapeless, woollen smock, of no pretension
to form or fashion. This appears to be the only article of dress the
lower classes wear, and I have seen no other. I have been much struck
with the decidedly Jewish caste of countenance repeatedly exhibited.
Some faces, I have noticed, would be positively affirmed to belong to
that remarkable race, if in Europe.

Another observation I made was, that the expression was quite
different from other Asiatic races I am acquainted with, there being
an open, frank, and agreeable intelligent look about the Cashmiries
quite European, and such as you would expect to meet with only in a
highly-civilized people. I should like to unravel the mystery of their
origin, but that is lost in the mists of early traditions, not to be
relied on: and their country has undergone so many changes of rulers,
that the original race, though perhaps still retaining much of its own
characteristics, has imbibed those of the races commingling with them.

5th May. I walked through the city to the Jumma Musjed, the principal
place of Mahomedan worship, now much dilapidated and rapidly yielding
to the desolating inroads of time, without any attempt, apparently,
to check or repair its ravages. A complete panorama of the city is
presented to the visitor from the top of the 'musjed.' The city,
unworthy of the name, is only an irregular collection of wooden
hovels, extending over some two hundred acres, its form undefined.
The surrounding country is picturesque, presenting a pleasing variety
of mountain and water, but deficient in timber. The beauty of the
valley consists in what is really out of the valley, in the glorious
range of mountains forming it, with their never-ending variety of form
and colour. The valley is a dead flat, with uplands also level which,
in their remarkable resemblance to shores, with other corresponding
features, have given rise to the theory entertained by scientific men,
that the valley was once a lake. And there is a tradition generally
prevalent and confidently believed by the Cashmiries, that their valley
was a lake, and they have legends as numerous as the Irish about
it: and connected with every fountain and spring, and almost every
remarkable natural feature in the country, is some wondrous fable of
goblin, sprite, or fairy.

The fort of Hari-Parbut overlooking the city is a fine object, and
should form a part of every sketch of Sirinuggur and its environs.
The famous Takt-i-Suleiman also claims especial notice. This is a
very ancient Hindoo temple, crowning a hill of considerable height
which bounds the eastern side of the Dal lake. I ascended to the Takt
this afternoon, and enjoyed a beautiful and extensive panoramic view
around, too lovely and varied for description. The ascent was steep,
and the sun warm, but the air when on the summit, fresh and pure, soon
refreshed me. I descended on the Jhelum side of the hill, and made for
the boat which was to meet me, and so returned.

6th May. Sunday. I took a walk round the Jhelum side of the
Takt-i-Suleiman to the Dal lake; and then made my way back by its shore.

It appears to me advisable that both a chaplain and a surgeon should
be provided by Government during the leave season in Sirinuggur, as so
large a number of officers resort there.

Suleiman has not succeeded in hiring a place in the city, as I had
directed him; but has been stirring himself, and was waited upon here
by some Affghans, who wished to possess the Scriptures, of which they
had heard.

7th May. I took boat, and went down the river, and selected a place
to sketch--the sun very hot, and the boat constantly in motion. One
of the boatmen caught a fish; it was handsome in form and colour,
bearing a resemblance to a trout, but without spots. I had him for
breakfast--very bony, and not particularly good in flavour.

I determined to make a start somewhere; heard nothing of my shikarries
expected, so directed another to attend. I went down river, and got
out to visit a shoemaker's shop, who was making some leather socks
for me to wear with grass sandals, the best things for climbing
slippery hills. They require socks to be divided to admit the great toe
separately, as the bands of the sandal pass between that toe and the
others; and as the grass thong is apt to chafe one unaccustomed to it,
the protection of a leather over a thick worsted sock is desirable.

8th May. I employed the day in dividing my stock of stores, preparing
clothes, &c.: had an interview with a shikarry, Subhan, who shewed good
certificates from officers who had employed him. He recommended me to
go to the Wurdwan, and I decided to do so.

Phuttoo, and another shikarry who was with me last year, arrived; so
all goes well. I agreed with Jamhal Khan, who is unfit for mountain
work from asthma, to give him his discharge. I take with me Abdoolah,
Ali Bucks, the 'bheestie,' and assistant scullion, and Buddoo,
'classee,' who is likewise personal attendant. The bearer and Suleiman
remain behind with my effects, as do my ponies and 'syces'; also little
Fan, who is about to increase the canine race, and needs quiet and
nursing.

I have engaged two large boats, which convey me and my staff and
baggage as far as Islamabad, which will take two days to reach by
their mode of progression--one man tracking, hauling the boat with a
tow-rope, another steering with a paddle. But I am told they keep it up
day and night.

I made all arrangements with the invaluable Baboo, with reference to my
servants and effects. I propose remaining in the Wurdwan valley above
a month, and having my things sent on to meet me on the Ladâk road,
to which I propose making my way by an outlet from the Wurdwan. The
Wurdwan is reputed to be the best locality for shikar in Cashmere. Ibex
are plentiful, bears also, and in the autumn, 'bara sing.'

I went down river, and sent to the shoemaker, who was reported to have
gone up to my place: had a pleasant row, and took a farewell view of
the beauties of the landscape: had everything packed and ready for an
early start in the morning.

9th May. Embarked myself and belongings--servants, shikarries, and
baggage in separate boat. My folding bed had just room for it under the
thatch. The boats are long, narrow for their length, and flat-bottomed;
they are floored, and, barring the necessity of constantly stooping,
not incommodious.

We got off at last, after the usual delays, and made slowly up the
stream, propelled by one-man power, a heavy prospect: but everything
charming around, so I went in for pictorial enjoyment. After half an
hour of this tedious confinement, I jumped ashore, and took my way by
the river side, making short cuts at some of the bends and turns which
are numerous; for, after toiling around them some six hours, we were
within a quarter of a mile of the Takt-i-Suleiman, as the crow flies,
though no doubt we had navigated twelve or fourteen miles. This did not
look encouraging.

Having made good headway, I sat under a noble 'chunar' tree, awaiting
the arrival of the boats, when I breakfasted, and embarked, and we
pursued our watery way. Again I went ashore, and walked through the
country until stopped by a creek, and, the sun being very hot, then
took shelter under my thatch, and so on until dusk, when I halted or
anchored for dinner, turned in about nine, and roused at daybreak,--

10th May. I went ashore, and walked from half-past five to half-past
seven, and having cut off some tremendous 'detours,' as I thought, I
sat down to await the boats. Nine o'clock, and no boats--saw two men
hurrying: a sepoy, of whom two of the Maharajah's attend me, to assist
in procuring supplies, &c., as is usual in this country, and Buddoo
came up, and informed me that I had followed the wrong river. Here was
a business. I ascertained the direction of the right one, got a boat,
and crossing the deceptive stream, made across country to the boats,
which we hit upon without difficulty; and without further adventure
or mishap, but in dull and prosperous monotony, we punted our
way to Islamabad, where we arrived about 4 P.M., and after some
delay, procuring coolies, I was safely lodged in the 'baraduri' which
Willis and I occupied last autumn.

Everything the same, but now familiar and less interesting; I think
some of the larger fishes have been taken out of the tank--my old
acquaintance the kotwal officiously civil as usual--the vizier, my
friend Ahmet Shah, the kardar, absent in the neighbourhood. I made all
arrangements to go on towards the Wurdwan in the morning, and sent on
a sepoy to arrange for coolies and supplies--which have to be carried
with us--at Shanguz, the village we are to halt at to-morrow.

May 11th. I got well away early, and had a pleasant march over a level
grassy tract of country, crossing a deep watercourse now and then, and,
passing through a very pretty village, stopped in a delightful spot
under some giant chunars on a bank overhanging a rivulet, a village
close at hand. Then, having breakfasted, I came on here to Shanguz,
also a prettily situated village, with its stream, its irregular garden
plats, grassy slopes, and noble chunar trees: under one of which leafy
monsters, my humble tent, a little thing just containing my bed, is
pitched.

Ahmet Shah and the kotwal came all the way from Islamabad, the former
to pay his respects and make his acknowledgments for a turban I sent
him from the Punjab, as a recognition of his great civility and
attention last year. He brought me a beautiful cock pheasant alive,
one of the Meynahl: he had been caught about a month, so I hope he may
live. I should like to take some of these birds home and naturalize
them; they would be highly prized. They may be called a link between
the pea-fowl and the pheasant. They have a delicate top knot, and their
colour is the most brilliant deep blue, rifle-green, and bronze, of
glossy and metallic sheen. The tail is plain buff; there he falls off
in plumage. He is much larger than the English bird. He is to be put in
a cage, and kept for me till I return to the Punjab.

There is a thunder-storm, and rain now falling--a bore for my retinue,
who have but a leafy canopy over them: but they have lots of covering.
I purchased my three servants each a warm Cashmere blanket yesterday,
four rupees each, rather a heavy pull as I had, previous to leaving
Amritsir, given each of them a warm suit. But, poor chaps, they will
have to rough it in the Wurdwan snows, so some additional warm wrapper
is necessary.

I am snug in my little canvas nutshell, though without room to turn
round. I have now, to my surprise, brought up my diary to this date,
and feel as if I could stick to it. To-morrow is my birthday: what a
crowd of thoughts arise and connect themselves with it!

12th May. Nah-bugh. We arrived here at a quarter to nine, having in the
earlier portion of the journey passed through a beautiful country.

The path led along the slopes of some hills of moderate height,
well-wooded and, here and there, opening out into smooth lawns; the
woods were full of blossoms, a white clematis very plentiful and full
of flower. The trees and shrubs, in their character and distribution,
and indeed the whole scene, strongly resembled an extensive shrubbery
or wilderness, intended to look wild and natural, such as we see in
the domains of the wealthy in Old England. And to strengthen the
resemblance, the well-remembered voice of the cuckoo resounded over
hill and dale, and one remained perched on a tree near enough to be
distinctly observed. Other birds were singing lustily: among them the
blackbird's sweet melody was plainly distinguished. It is, I believe,
the same bird, and sings the same notes as the English bird. The
cuckoo, also, is precisely similar to our welcome spring visitor, and,
curious enough, the Cashmiries also call him 'cuckoo.'

How pleasant it was to traverse these lovely glades, lifting the eyes
from which, mountain ranges presented themselves, the more distant
rugged and bleak, and covered with snow, those nearer displaying their
many diverging slopes in multiplied ramifications, some open and
grassy, others with nearly all the ridges covered with pine forests,
with which other trees mingling agreeably contrasted their diverse
colours.

I must not forget to note that this my birth-day was ushered in by a
real May morning, much such in temperature as the finest and brightest
in England would be; and abundance of May, the thorn being in full
blossom, adorned and perfumed the way side. There was also white
clover, and a veritable bumble-bee, with the same portly person and
drab coloured behind as the common English one. The banks, also,
sported their violets, but, alas! without fragrance, and the wild
strawberry was peeping out of the bushes and grass all around. Who
could fail to exult in exuberance of spirits, thus surrounded by
nature's choicest beauties? Certainly not I. Rejoicing, and buoyant
with vigorous health, my mind undisturbed, having a long holiday before
me, and feeling within me the ability and taste, fresh and capable as
ever of old, to appreciate and enjoy the blessings of Providence so
amply vouchsafed me, I felt my whole being full to overflowing of joy,
admiration, gratitude, and praise. I gave myself up to reflections
suitable to the day--

--Was interrupted by the shikarries rushing into my tent, to apprise me
of the arrival of another saheb with shikarries and guns. They were in
great excitement, in consequence of the probability of the new comer
interfering with their plans for my shooting operations, by occupying
the localities they desired to hunt. I had, as usual, given notice
of my intention to rest here to-morrow, Sunday. The shikarries tried
to shake this resolve by pointing out the advantages to be gained by
pushing on, and getting first into the Wurdwan valley; but I was proof
against such arguments.

The dreaded stranger proved to be an officer of the 79th from Lahore,
on two months' leave. I asked him to dinner, and fortunately, in
addition to my usual stew, had a rice pudding, to which I added guava
jelly; a rich plumcake brought up the rear. These solids, with a glass
or two of very fair sherry, was quite a feast in these wild regions,
and my luxurious habits astonished my sporting companion; to whom, to
save my character, I revealed that it was my birthday, and repeated my
friend D----'s quaint apology for an unusual extravagance, "Sure, and
it isn't every day that Shamus kills a bullock."

My guest informed me that he had just missed two shots at bara sing
near the village, the coolies having given him information of four or
five of those animals having crossed their path. He intended going
further to day, but I believe has halted for the night. He told me
the spot in the Wurdwan he is making for, which my shikarries tell
me is out of our beat; so all is serene, except the weather--a heavy
thunder-shower, and more coming--the sky unsettled.

This is a charming bivouac, my camp by a village, on a level spot of
turf shaded by walnut trees. Below, in a cultivated valley, runs an
inconsiderable river, divided into many channels. The stream runs
towards the South, the valley of its formation disappearing in the
distance, as shut in gradually by a succession of hills, prolongations
of the spurs of the mountains. But a considerable extent of the valley
is visible, and forms a lovely landscape. I strolled out after dinner,
and remained gazing over its charms, till dusk warned me to return. I
then sat outside reading by the light of my lantern, an honest stable
utensil, broken in upon by a consultation with my shikarries, who are
in good spirits, and anticipate great sport.

An aspiration to heaven, a thought to home, and my birth-day, my
forty-second is ended. What may not happen ere I see another--should
such be the will of God!

13th May. Sunday. Nah-bugh. Rain continued to pour all day. I was
visited, however, by the lumbadar of Eish Mackahm whose acquaintance I
made last year, and the jolly, lusty-looking individual, hearing of my
arrival at Islamabad, had come three days' journey to see me, bringing
as a propitiatory 'nuzzur,' some of his cakes of bread, which I had
formerly commended, and two jars of delicious honey. My stout friend is
by no means loquacious, and is blind of one eye; but with the other he
steadily contemplated me, appearing to receive much inward satisfaction
therefrom.

He brought with him, and introduced, a renowned shikarry, a
fine-looking middle-aged man, who said he was desirous of an interview,
as he had heard so much of my character as a hunter. It is true that
in this country it needs but small exploits to win fame, so expansive
is rumour, the inhabitants delighting in tattle, and magnifying their
consequence by exalting the performances and success of the saheb
they attend in the chase. But I suspect my sporting visitor had other
views, more interested--perhaps, hoping for employment. I was really
pleased to see the 'lumbadar,' who was most civil and obliging last
year. He was detained by the continued rain, so I gave orders for
the due entertainment of himself and followers, who found suitable
accommodation in the village.

14th May. We moved on towards the Wurdwan, the path leading up the
Nah-bugh valley, which gradually narrowed, cultivation appearing
only at intervals, until it ceased altogether, as the valley became
transformed into a wild, rugged ravine, shut in by steep and lofty
hills, dotted with firs. We advanced to the foot of the pass, nearly to
the snow, and there encamped.

I went out in the afternoon to look for game, and ascended some steep
hills, very hard work; having traversed much ground without seeing
anything, I sat down, peering from an eminence, down on the slopes
below, like an eagle from his eyrie. One of the shikarries went a
little further on, and shortly gave notice of game in view: we rapidly
closed with him, and learned that a bear with two cubs were in the
adjoining ravine.

Away, in pursuit--we sighted the chase, who were moving quickly away,
here and there grubbing, routing, and feeding, as is the wont of
these creatures. Over very rough ground we climbed, and scrambled;
and descended to the bed of the ravine. The Bruin family, still going
ahead, were concealed by a projecting ledge of rock, to which we
hurried; and from the fall of stones down the hill on the other side
the rock, we knew that we were close on our game. We turned the angle,
and saw B. junior peeping. He did not see us; but a step or two further
and B. major's acute nasal perceptions indicated danger; so, giving
office to the young uns, off scuttled the trio at a good round pace
up the hill. There was no time to lose, so rapidly aiming at the old
bear, I struck her hard somewhere in the back; but, after stumbling and
uttering a fierce growl, she went on, but was again descried, when I
fired the second barrel ineffectually, then loaded and pursued up hill.
The chase was soon in view, labouring heavily. We got to the top of the
hill, and a few paces down the declivity was B. major alone, standing.
Hearing her pursuers, she shuffled on, when I fired and brought her
down, finishing her with another barrel.

Leaving men to take the skin, we went after the Meynahl pheasants, some
of which had been seen; and after trying in vain to get within shot of
these beautiful birds, we descended the hill, and when near the bottom,
the leading shikarry suddenly stopped, and directed me to prepare for
action. I, supposing a Meynahl pheasant to be the object, took the
double gun, but was told to change, and, following the direction of
the shikarry, saw the great ugly head of a large bear, protruding from
the bushes--only the head visible. I fired the single Whitworth, but
ineffectually. The animal was about fifty yards off only, and I found
the sight at two hundred yards, which accounted for the ball passing
over his head. He hastened rapidly out of danger. Then we returned to
camp.

15th May. Up and away, to mount the pass leading into the Wurdwan. It
was laborious climbing, but after some half-dozen pauses, I reached
the summit--glorious scenery all around, and a magnificent backward
and downward view into the valley of Cashmere, passing over which the
eye rested on the Pir Panjal range, which formed a fitting background
to so splendid a picture. There was an extensive tract of snow to
traverse, leading with a slight downward slope into the Wurdwan, which
soon was partly indicated, rather than revealed, by the system of snowy
mountains.

I had two shots with the Whitworth at a small animal, the natives
call 'drin,' which I suppose from its habits to be the marmot. It is
of a dark red-brown, burrows, sits on a stone close to its hole, and
chatters. The little animal was about one hundred and twenty yards
from me: the first bullet passed about an inch over it. It soon took
up the same position again, and the second missile struck the stone
close under it; so that the fragments must have struck him. He made a
precipitate dive, and we saw no more of him.

I halted to breakfast; then pushed on, the path a tolerable one,
following the windings of the hills on whose sides it hung--the scenery
wild, and romantic, and full of interest. We crossed many ravines and
snowdrifts. We met two coolies who had accompanied my late guest of
the 79th, returning: they informed the shikarries that the saheb had
not gone down the valley, but up to the ground that we had hoped to
secure. Wrath of shikarries excessive--unmeasured abuse heaped upon
conflicting party--all sorts of plans of retaliation suggested, and
appeals made to me to exercise the authority of my superior rank and
order the offender back. I took it all very quietly, and succeeded
not only in calming the angry men, but put them in good humour by
suggesting various problematical advantages to be derived from the
presence of the other party.

We came at length--and really at length, for it was a long stretch--in
view of the Wurdwan, the valley opening out many thousand feet
below, two or three small villages with their clustering hovels and
irregular patches of cultivation shewing themselves. A rapid stream,
of dimensions and volume claiming, perhaps, to be styled a river,
was brawling and fighting its way against innumerable obstacles and
impediments down the vale. A very steep winding path brought us down to
its banks, and instead of crossing over to the village of Ainshin, as
we should have done, had it not been already in possession of a hostile
party, we moved along the right bank upwards.

We went on some two or three miles to a village, where it was proposed
to camp, but received information here that the other saheb had taken
up position in a village just opposite,--indeed we saw his coolies
arrive there--and had gone up the mountain, where four or five shots
had been heard in rapid succession. Great jabber among the shikarries.

I thought over the matter, and did not like to submit to be jockeyed
and out-manoeuvred in such an underhand way; so, although we had
already completed a very long and toilsome march, and the baggage
must be far in the rear, I determined to make a forward movement, and
turning the enemy's flank, take up position in front of him, on his
line of march. The shikarries were full of glee at the idea of the
long faces of the contending ones, when they should find themselves
outwitted.

We procured half-a-dozen fresh hands from the village, sent them to
the rear to assist in bringing up the baggage, and then moved onwards;
and, having gained some three miles, crossed the river by an ingenious
bridge of some forty yards span, a considerable body of water of some
depth rushing below, and took post at the village of Ofith, across the
enemy's route, and securing possession of the Kuzuznai valley, whose
overhanging cliffs are famous for ibex. The village is situated in the
very mouth of the valley, the position, therefore, admirable.

Heavy rain coming on, I got to leeward of a big tree, and in the course
of two or three hours had the satisfaction of seeing my three personal
attendants coming up, along the left side of the river. They had passed
through the enemy's camp, their appearance producing consternation and
serious enquiries as to where their saheb was, and where he was going
to. The enquiring shikarry was informed that their saheb was not going
to be done, but they did not know where he would stop, most likely in
the best place. Expressions of astonishment at the length of our march,
and ill-concealed signs of disappointment and defeat, on the part of
shikarry, who threatened to give us the 'go-by' yet. Much merriment
at this recital among my forces. Notwithstanding the (I should think)
twenty-four miles rough march, I started off to hunt, information of
the habitat of bears in the vicinity having been given. There were only
about two hours of daylight before us; we recrossed the river, and two
'bara sing' were descried by the keen-sighted Subhan, feeding high up
on a hill side. Pursuit was resolved--up a snow drift in a ravine, then
up the steep side of the hill, crawling with hands and feet, literally
clinging to the side of the hill. We made observations near the crest
of this spur--the animals on the 'qui vive,' looking out, standing on
a superior ridge. We paused, while a practicable route was sought for:
then climbed onwards to more level ground, and saw the game, now three
in number on the opposite height, perhaps three hundred yards off, but
could not be sure, as there were boughs intervening. We tried for a
better position, but our prey, declining nearer intimacy, absconded,
and left us looking ruefully at each other, with a nasty descent before
us.

I got down safe, and on reaching camp found all my things safely
arrived, and dinner ready:--turned in, hopeful for the following day's
sport.



CHAPTER IV.

SHIKAR IN THE WURDWAN.


16th May. Off up the Wurdwan, not the Kuzuznai, the shikarries
reserving that.

We had a tremendous climb ere we even looked about for game, two hours,
I should think, of exhausting efforts. I wore grass sandals, or could
not have kept my footing. Subhan, the leader, the younger of my three
shikarries, with astonishing acuteness of vision, at last suddenly
dropped to game, and pointed out several bara sing feeding together.
They were in a spot most difficult of approach without discovery;
and these creatures at this season are wonderfully wary. There were
no sheltering timbers under which stealthily to steal upon our prey.
However, after consultation, leaving three attendants to remain behind
in concealment, we climbed upwards, hoping to find covering ground, but
had to stop, as we could not but discover ourselves. Here some of the
deer were seen to lie down, one only standing, and great hopes were
entertained of a successful stalk.

Two other deer came into view higher up the mountain. We remained
still, watching about an hour, when a backward movement, and then
further ascent was determined on. As we turned about on our sides to
move off, two does, that were close upon us in the rear, dashed off and
away down hill, but without any sensible effect upon our hopes. It was
a most arduous struggle up the hill side, slippery with hoar frost, and
fearfully steep. With extreme difficulty we reached a narrow ledge, on
which we all four could just cling, some one way, some another--a giddy
height--when, to our infinite disgust, we saw the three attendants
moving out below. All sorts of signs and gesticulations were made to
stay them, but on they blundered. I had yesterday pointed out to the
shikarries the folly of having these followers, as, forming with us a
long line when ascending or crossing a hill, _we_ no sooner pass out
of sight, than _they_ come into view; so that any animal getting a
glimpse of us, and regarding the spot from which we have passed, sees
the followers coming across the same place, and, of course, decamps. I
had tried to impress the importance of this simple fact upon them; but
they are so wedded to their own habits, and trust so entirely to luck,
rather than skill, in approaching game that, though acknowledging the
force of my observations, they did not act upon them.

At last this blundering train, looking upwards, saw our impatient
gestures, and, mistaking their meaning, only quickened their pace. At
length they did understand, and lay down.

We now descended, and crossed the face of the hill towards the deer. We
discerned them now afoot, leisurely moving upwards, and cropping the
fresh grass that came in their way. They were in a favourable place
to approach now: but we had to be cautious, and keep out of sight.
We moved with studied step, and reached the position from which we
expected to open fire--nothing visible: we thought the prey probably
behind some of the many inequalities of ground, peered everywhere, and
shifted position, till the whole ground was closely scanned; but no
game. They might have gently crossed the hill feeding: but no, they
were clean gone.

A misgiving now struck me, and, looking back, there were the abominable
coolies plodding contentedly on. They had moved, when we descended,
and came right out in sight of the deer which, of course, they had
completely scared away.

In this unsuccessful chase we crossed some fearful places, the most
difficult being sloping masses of snow overlaying precipices, yawning
for the unlucky wight whose feet might slip. I gave up the attempt
to cross these unaided, after one narrow escape, having slipped and
fallen, but fortunately recovered myself. The mode of crossing was
by digging holes in the snow for the foot to cling to, as we slowly
progressed. It was, without exaggeration, imminently hazardous, and I
must own to have been unnerved more than once.

I breakfasted, and lay down to wait until afternoon, when the animals,
having reposed in some inaccessible lair during the day, again come
forth, out into the grassy slopes, to feed.

Subhan, the ever quick-sighted, espied two bara sing far distant and
below us: the spy glass confirmed his vision. The plan of operations
decided upon, we made our approaches over easier ground, being now
lower down, yet some thousands of feet high, and gained a rising ground
overlooking the place in which the animals had been seen feeding. We
could not see them now, but saw a large stag high up above us, quite
out of hope. We remained long watching, and saw nothing, so descended
to move nearer, under the impression that the deer had gone lower down
the hollow; making for the edge of which, we became suddenly conscious
of the presence of our game, who had been all the time in front of our
late position, concealed by the rising ground. One, a fine doe, turned
round, pausing, and presenting a broadside, hurriedly I grasped a
rifle, put up a sight, and fired, only to miss. The affrighted animal,
giving a prodigious bound, hurried after the others up the hill,
pausing and turning, now and again, to gaze back upon their intruders.
I put the Whitworth up, once or twice, but forbore to fire.

This great disappointment resulted from a mistake on the part of Subhan
who, in his eagerness, did not exercise his usual cautious approach,
reconnoitring all around, but advanced direct on the point where he
thought to find the game. Following them, we came to a deep ravine,
forbidding further advance in that direction: the chasm, coming down
from the summit of the mountain, widening as it descended, defied, I
thought, any efforts of mine.

A violent shower of rain coming on, compelled us to seek shelter,
such as we could find. The shikarries, all three, tried to screen
themselves behind a large fir: I got capital shelter to leeward of a
fallen pine, whose massive roots, upturned with the earth about them,
afforded good covert. I was about twenty yards from the shikarries
who suddenly all jumped up, calling out to me, "Saheb, Saheb," and
rushed, terror stricken, each, gun in hand, to me for refuge, and
squatted down, cowering and exclaiming, "Balloo, Balloo,"--the bear,
the bear--pointing to the tree from which they had just bolted. I had
already ordered them to be quiet and give me a gun, all of which they
grasped, and, in their terror, made no effort to uncover; so that had
Bruin, who shewed his ugly countenance, come right on, straight at us,
he would have found us unprepared. But, catching a sight of my face, he
altered his course, and, sheering off, rushed by us some fifty yards
below. I hastily fired at him, but without effect.

He was a very large bear. It is quite unaccountable, this attack
of his. He was close on the shikarries, before they were aware of
him. He came up the hill on the top of which their tree grew: they
fled precipitately shouting, as I have said, their countenances
exhibiting the utmost terror. The brute, also, gave a fierce roar,
which certainly would lead one to think him bent on mischief. But
there are few instances of their being the aggressors, I believe: so
Bruin's intentions must ever remain a mystery. If, annoyed by the
storm, and finding human beings in his way as he rushed blindly on, he
instinctively held on his course, and uttered his angry threats, simply
to frighten them out of his path, which I think probable, he certainly
succeeded to a marvel: for I never saw fellows in a greater funk,
helplessly unnerved.

This ended the first day's hunt in the Wurdwan, when although we saw
plenty of game, and three shots were expended, we had the misfortune to
be unsuccessful.

17th May. Full of pleasing anticipations of success to-day from the
favourable reports of game being abundant.

We went up the Kuzuznai, a narrow valley with precipitous, inaccessible
cliffs on the right-hand, and grassy slopes of a steep pitch running
down from the mountains on the left, abundance of snow on either
hand. We met a native, whose replies, when interrogated as to game,
I judged from what I could gather to be rather discouraging. After
having advanced two or three miles from Ofith, we reached a small farm,
a couple of log houses--all the dwellings in this valley are of the
same description, rough log houses roofed with slabs of timber--a few
patches of ploughed land, but unlimited grazing. It was here thought
advisable to send back, and order up camp to be nearer the shooting,
which was done accordingly.

A bear was seen in a hollow on the left hand. We went after him, but
if there before, he was no where visible, when we had climbed up to
greet him; so we descended, and pursued our way up the narrow valley,
crossing repeatedly large masses of snow, much of which had accumulated
by downward drifts, and some by slips from the overhanging mountains.

It was in this very valley that, some few years ago, Dr. Rae and five
native attendants were overwhelmed and swept to destruction by an
avalanche; among the number was the brother of my shikarry, Phuttoo who
himself, with an officer of the 87th R.I.F., narrowly escaped perishing
also, by rushing forward as the great mass swept down with resistless
force--thus avoiding the fate of the less fortunate, whose bodies
remained buried under the superincumbent mass for many months, in spite
of great exertions made by large bodies of labourers to exhume them.

Whilst I am writing in my tent, thundering sounds of falling masses of
snow are audible now and then, and, looking out, I see the 'debris'
falling down the cliffs opposite. It is grand and imposing.

We wended on our toilsome way, struggling across snow, and gradually
ascending. Presently we descried a bear ahead, soon after another,
both feeding on the slopes. We endeavoured to get at them, but whether
they got wind of us, or what not, is matter for imagination, but we
only arrived to see each successively leisurely taking his way up the
mountain.

We had now come to the end of our beat in this direction, further
progress being forbidden by the snows: so we descended, and took
possession of a mass of rock, isolated in an extensive tract of snow,
filling the valley from side to side. Here we breakfasted.

Rain came on. I wrapped myself in my 'choga,' warm Cashmere over coat,
and lay down, falling into a disturbed and restless sleep, every now
and then waking from the rain on my face, rapidly getting wet through,
and this in the midst of snow. At length up got Subhan, who with the
others had been sitting closely wrapped up in their blankets over a
fire they had contrived to light, and proposed that I should remove
below the rock. I had previously asked him, if there was no better
place to put the guns than on the rock, and he had answered 'No'; so,
surprised at this proposal, I followed him, and found a comparatively
comfortable habitation formed by the projecting ledge of this massive
rock, in which, late in the season, lambs are sheltered. There, in
much hampered attitudes, the height being only three or four feet,
and the floor formed of large pieces of rock that had fallen down, I
endeavoured to make the best of things. A small fire, the space only
admitting of a very small one, was lighted, and thereat we tried to
warm our chilled limbs, and dry our dripping clothes. I had no idea
that I could endure so much smoke: I sat right in the middle of it,
there being no help for it. I chatted with the shikarries, who related
anecdotes of the sahebs with whom they had hunted before. After a
time they went to sleep, some sitting on the snow, others lying on
the pieces of stone. The rain poured. I should have been quite dry,
had I only come here at first: however, with an occasional shudder,
more, I believe, from the knowledge that my outer garment was wet,
and the extremely dismal effect of the combination of rain and snow
without--dense clouds, too, actually enfolding us at this elevation,
probably 15,000 feet--I bore up cheerily.

I was at length left to myself, the shikarries preferring the larger
fire outside, on the top of the rock, though exposed to wind and
rain, to the small amount of caloric derivable from my few embers.
I stirred up my fire occasionally, and sat, thinking and thinking,
guiding my thoughts to pleasant subjects and agreeable recollections
as much as possible, until I felt not only quite contented, but even
disinclined to move. Thus I passed the time from 10 A.M. till
5 P.M.

At that hour Subhan came to me, and said it had cleared up, and I
should be better above. I obeyed. The clouds were still heavy and
lowering, shifting up and down, breaking and allowing us occasional and
most welcome glimpses of the sun, or rather, sunshine. The effect was
striking and grand in the extreme. This rugged, wild gorge enveloped
in ever-shifting, varying vapours of different degrees of density--now
one peak visible, but to be obscured, and another to be ushered on the
scene--it appeared as if all above was commotion, silent commotion, the
clouds and mountain-summits playing at hide and seek.

We took a final warm at the fire: I threw off my overcoat, and,
shivering in my scanty shooting dress, started off over the tract of
snow campwards, the shikarries ever looking about for game.

We had advanced within a mile or two of the new site for the bivouac,
when Mooktoo, this time, who was in his usual place behind me,
exclaimed that animals were in sight. The spyglass was put in request,
and sure enough, said Subhan, there were some ten or twelve keyl (ibex)
disporting themselves on a distant mountain. It was long ere I caught
sight of them, looking at the wrong place. But at last I did see them
plainly: two were rearing up on their hind legs, fighting.

Well--we sat there hopelessly gazing, until the snow, on which we were
squatting, produced the natural effect, and, penetrating my frame,
set my teeth chattering: so on we went, but some way further we came
in sight of another flock of ibex, much nearer, though on the same
mountain. They were plainly visible to the naked eye, and with the
glass their horns and relative proportions were distinctly seen, and
commented upon.

This was an exciting sight. "Could nothing be done?" I asked anxiously.
"Nothing this evening," was the reply. So, on we trudged, I submitting
patiently to the fiat, and casting many a side glance upwards, causing
me many a trip and stumble in my rough path. As we came more under the
mountain on which the ibex were, a change of position on their part
effected a change in the minds of the shikarries who, calling a halt,
held a brief consultation together. Then, their eyes sparkling with
excitement, they uncovered the guns, and off we started.

I little thought, as I hastily followed the active Subhan, what work I
had cut out for me. The place the ibex were in did not appear high up,
nor did the ground appear very difficult from the distance; but when
I began to breast it, I found out my mistake, both as to incline and
altitude. I strove and struggled, scrambled and clawed my upward path,
until quite breathless and exhausted, and found I was but at the very
commencement of the ascent. Having gained breath, I went through the
same severe efforts, to find apparently the same prospects, but with
this terrible difference that, by my own exertions, I had now created a
precipice below me, fearful to look upon.

Subhan now suggested giving up the attempt: but a sort of infatuated
obstinacy seized me. As well as the heaving of my distressed lungs
permitted, I articulated, with an upward glance, 'Go on.' Indeed, I
felt at the time a sort of necessity to move upwards, in spite of all
difficulties, so appalling was the aspect of the descent now necessary;
so clinging to the surface, embracing, as it were, as much of the
mountain as I could clasp, and helping myself occasionally with my
spiked staff, I still struggled upwards, coming to bare smooth places
that I thought it impossible to climb over. At times, pausing at such
critical spots, I felt my head wavering, my courage waning, and my
nerves unstrung, my hold relaxing, my feet slipping, and then a sort of
frenzy seized me, and, summoning every energy I possessed, I recklessly
dashed on, on all fours, feeling that to hesitate for one moment, to
keep hand or foot a second on one spot, would inevitably plunge me into
the abyss below.

The shikarries, each carrying a gun in one hand, made their way with
extreme difficulty, and, I believe, not without trepidation. But they
possess a clutch, and a tenacity, and adhesion of toe, peculiar to this
variety of biped, which gives them firmness and confidence anywhere. It
was a very different thing for me.

At length, we gained the top of this spur of the mountain, which
actually offered no footing, the ridge being sharp, and the other side
not only precipitous, but hollowed out. Here lying, holding on tooth
and nail, we observed the ibex, which had taken the alarm, and were
rapidly moving away; and even had they remained, we could not have got
at them. So all our trouble, and the horrible ordeal of fear I had
undergone, were utterly thrown away.

"Had we not better remain up?" I asked Phuttoo, as the evening was
darkening apace. He shook his head, and said, it would never do: so
without more ado, I nerved myself for the trial, and got down by slow
degrees, wondering how I ever succeeded in getting up.

I felt thankful for my safe return, and rejoiced at the sight of
my tent, and a blazing fire before it, cheerfully lighting up the
surrounding gloom: changed my dress--and that reminds me, that I have
forgotten to note the presence in the herbage on these mountains of
a most disagreeable insect, a species of tick or bug: the vile thing
abounds, and seems to be ever on the look out for creatures passing
by, for we were quite tormented by them. I have picked off a dozen at
a time from my dress. They bite sharp, working their heads into your
flesh, and there hooking on with their forceps. I, with much trouble,
and no little smarting, detached three thus adhering to my person this
evening, and many candidates for the same honours were discovered
trespassing on my premises--a murrain on them!

I enjoyed my dinner amazingly, the fright I had been in having,
perhaps, stimulated my appetite. I realized the sensation, that to be
alive, with a good appetite, and a savoury stew for its gratification,
was vastly preferable to being a mangled mass of senseless humanity
at the foot of a precipice, with ever so many big horned ibex at
top. It was so late that I turned in very soon after dinner, and had
some apprehensions of a disagreeable night, perhaps visitations of
night-mare, repeating in my dreams the horrors of that terrible ascent,
and waking up with that horrid, indescribable feeling experienced
when one dreams one is precipitated from a great height, and whirling
downwards, awake to find it is all a dream.

However, I slept well, awaking occasionally, when I heard it raining
hard, and rejoiced, hoping it would continue, as I felt that a day's
rest would be beneficial, my feet having been considerably chafed by
all the scratching and clawing they had been put to.

18th May. I lay in bed later than usual, intentionally, not at once
obeying the call of the clamorous cock, or the blithely-singing birds,
who begin their concert in these parts ere day-light does appear. When,
however, day-light unmistakably forced its appearance under my tent,
I up and dressed in shooting trim, resolute to tackle the mountain,
however steep, and pursue the ibex anywhere and everywhere. Such was
the effect of a good night's rest: so, summoning the drowsy classee,
Buddoo, to throw open the closely folded entrance, I went outside, and
found there a most unpromising morning, the mountains frowning grimly
down, when occasionally visible through dense, chill-looking masses
of fog, snow all over the heights, damp, slop, and general discomfort
everywhere. Nature, however grand in features, looked uninviting and
repulsive.

I looked abroad, and shuddered at the prospect of breasting the hill
side. Phuttoo came shivering towards me, and, making his salaam, told
me we must not attempt the mountain in such weather. Quite satisfied
with asking him, if such was really his advice, and being answered
in the affirmative, I ordered Buddoo to close the tent, and pulled
the blankets over me, really congratulating myself on being prevented
fulfilling my desires and intentions.

19th May. The rain having fallen heavily during the night, the
atmosphere, at the early hour in which I rose and peeped out of my
tent, was laden with dense vapours which, heaving and swelling, moved
up and down the valley, now revealing, now concealing portions of
its bold features, and altogether creating a strikingly impressive
and interesting effect on the beautiful, though rugged, scenery.
The clouds of vapour, after an apparently internal struggle, would
transform themselves into transparent draperies of varied form and
strength of light--the rays of the rising sun struggling with the misty
impediments to the general diffusion of his genial beams, here and
there penetrating through them, then anon repulsed and excluded--when
the curtain, as it were, dropped over the scene, and chill gloom again
reigned around. The lower ranges of the mountains, which yesterday
were free from snow, were now shrouded in its white mantle, what was
rain below, falling as snow above; in consequence of which the ibex
haunts were pronounced quite impracticable for the present. So I
patiently awaited the favourable time, and rested quite satisfied in
gazing on and admiring the ever-changing, and always beautiful, natural
effects developing themselves around me, until breakfast; after which
the shikarries came, and shouldering the guns, the hour being now
propitious, we directed our steps for the mountain on which we had
lately discovered the ibex.

This time we ascended by the opposite side to the very summit of the
mountain, our path lying nearly the whole distance over a snow-drift
filling a ravine, down which, under the snow, rushed a roaring torrent,
appearing at intervals of the ascent, where from sudden vertical
descents it dashed down in foaming cascades, flashing, sparkling,
glittering in open day for a moment, again to go muttering and rumbling
under the super-incumbent masses of snow, again to gain partial
freedom, until undergoing various similar alternations it emerged into
the main torrent that, pursuing its troubled course down this small
valley, adds its tributary waters to the Wurdwan river.

Many fissures were crossed, disclosing the dark waters seething and
hurtling below; and the whole struggle to the heights above, although
perhaps not so arduous or dangerous as that of the previous day, was
yet full of peril, and called for a stout heart and firm nerves to
achieve. The most difficult and critical times were when, the course
of the torrent making a rapid and regular turn and deep fall, it was
necessary to leave the snow, ascend the bank, and make one's way along
the smooth, wet, precipitous escarpment overhanging the fearful depths
below, on which it would not do to look or think. A lesser evil was
the terrible, blinding glare, reflected by the intensely white snow
through which we ploughed. This, after a time, compelled me to close my
eyes, and go floundering on, the best way I could, with an occasional
squint to ascertain whether I was following my leader. At length we
accomplished the ascent, and glad I was to sit down, and recruit my
somewhat exhausted energies.

The shikarries, reconnoitring, discovered ibex far down, below us,
among the rifts and gorges into which the mountain, near its base, is
severed. They were near the spot where they were first descried. After
the usual consultation, the 'bunderbus' was determined, and a descent
towards the game commenced. We had to cross patches of snow at a
fearful degree of incline, and let ourselves down lying on our sides or
backs, scotching ourselves with heels or staves as best we might, until
we gained a shelf midway down, whence observations were again made,
and plans concocted. A halt was here made, as the animals were not in
sight, being, it was supposed, now taking their 'siesta' in some secure
retirement. A watch was kept; and at length a shikarry, holding up one
finger, indicated one animal having made his appearance, then two, then
three, until they numbered five--the very five fine-horned fellows
seen the other day, and so much coveted.

Again the stalk was resumed with all guile and subtlety: but, in spite
of every precaution, in such extremely difficult and dangerous ground
some sounds would arise--a stone loosened, rolling down &c.--though we
were well out of sight, nor on the same slope. We at last reached the
crest of a slope, on the other side of which were the ibex within easy
range, as was supposed. Cautiously, rifles ready, we slowly raised our
heads to sight the intended victims--higher and higher, this side and
that--but only a blank.

Deep sighs of disappointment were audible. Every height was
scrutinized, every hollow peered into, before the sad reality was fully
admitted, that our prey had escaped, and without leaving a clue to
their mode of exit. We sat disconsolate, and while wistfully gazing
about saw a string of nine ibex calmly pursuing their way, taking a
bite here and there on a mountain side opposite. Soon after, four
or five cross a ravine on the snow far up above us; which I believe
to have been the identical animals we were in search of, who had
completely outwitted us, and gained an inaccessible refuge without our
detecting them stealing away--so closely had we kept our concealment.

It was not the most satisfactory prospect having to return and descend,
every step risking life or limb. We had to reclimb the summit, and
again descend, the path full of peril as before. When halfway, two
young ibex were disturbed, and I ineffectually fired every barrel I
had, as they bounded away. The suddenness of their appearance, and the
nature of the ground giving me no footing, made my chances 'nil.'

I got back weary, and had unfortunately reproduced an old injury by my
slips and strenuous efforts to keep my footing, a large lump from some
overtaxed muscle having formed immediately behind my right knee, giving
no acute pain, but a sense of diminished strength, and a sensation that
it would become worse.

20th May. Sunday. After breakfast, a lad, one of the valley, who
accompanied us yesterday, found his way to me when unobserved by the
shikarries, and criticised their method of approaching game, of which
he disapproved. Having observed him to be active and intelligent, and
knowing that he had been hunting with officers, I talked with him, and
finally arranged for another attempt on the ibex, he leading and to
have the entire control and management of the arrangements. He was much
gratified. Anticipating jealousy, and, perhaps, obstruction on the part
of my shikarries, I assembled them, and put the matter in such a light
that they entered into the plan with perfect good humour.

21st May. Away under the auspices of the ambitious young Kamal to the
same mountain, to ascend by the same route. Ere reaching the base,
we observed three ibex on a snowy crest, I believe keeping watch and
ward. We had not ascended far, when Kamal, all ardour and vigilance,
leading the way, stopped suddenly, and announced ibex in sight, and
near at hand. We prepared to attack. Leaving one of our number at this
place, we set to work to climb, the ordinary difficulties being greatly
augmented by a quantity of hail lying on the surface, and by a frost
having made the grass, which had been wet with rain or melted snow,
terribly slippery.

As I toiled and struggled in agonies of partial suffocation from
my exertions up the steep, a bear was reported in sight. I did not
take notice of the ignoble beast, being then in hot chase of the
much-coveted ibex, but was suddenly startled by a fierce growl, and saw
Bruin rushing by, within a few yards. But I would not have fired in
the attitude I was in, had the rifle been in my hand. We shortly got
sight of an ibex on the look-out, on a prominent point affording a good
view around. We lay still some time: the ibex fed, then quietly walked
out of sight; when believing it was all as we could wish, we made what
speed we could up the mountain to the look-out place of the sentinel.
We could thence see nothing: so ascended higher, on to a place where
the game must be, had they not taken alarm and fled. Every probable
place was examined--but no occupants. At last we saw nine ibex on the
summit of an adjoining eminence, far out of reach, and they leisurely
making their retreat still further. Whether the beast of a bear had
given the alarm, we could not tell.

We descended, and took our former route. A small goat-like deer, called
a 'kustoora,' was seen. We stalked up to within eighty yards, the
animal up above and looking down. I changed my rifle for one carried
by Mooktoo, the right barrel of which he had loaded this morning,
so I thought it was sure to go off: the other had been loaded since
Saturday. I aimed steadily--the cap only exploded--the animal bounded
off, stopped, and gazed: I pulled the other trigger, when the powder
went off hissing, fizzing, and smoking like a squib, and the bullet
dropped about a yard from the muzzle. I suppose some snow had got into
it. This was a dreadful disappointment.

After breakfast we proceeded up among the snowy summits: we saw
nothing, lay down, and went to sleep. Then on again to another point,
and again stopped for observations: then we began to descend, pausing
here and there, but not a vestige of an ibex to be seen: all had
vanished, I scanned every possible spot with the glass, but saw none,
so gave up all hopes of ibex, and later in the day descended to look
for bears on the lower slopes.

Kamal, away on the left, made signs of game, an old and a young bear
down in a deep hollow. I got into position, and fired down, wounding
the old bear: fired all my remaining barrels as she made off: then
loaded, and off in pursuit--rugged ground, and two deep awkward
ravines to cross. At last we sighted the chase, slowly crawling
ahead, but a difficult ravine between us. We crossed it, and up the
hill to intercept Bruin, but paused on the brink of a precipitous and
impassable ravine. Subhan's keen eyes detected the bear pausing on a
ledge, partially concealed by a bush. She half-turned to look back on
her pursuers, when a ball struck her, and she toppled over, rolling
down the hill-side. We had to make a considerable detour to get to
her:--looked for others in vain, so returned to camp.

It is supposed by the shikarries that a pack of wild dogs, whose tracks
we found in the snow following on those of ibex, had driven those
animals away.

22nd May. A long march up the Wurdwan. We passed Busman on the
left-bank, crossed the river by a bridge at Goombrah--at which village
my sporting rival of the 79th had bivouacked--and moved along the
bank to a small village. We saw three bears feeding on a hill-side
across the river. It was decided to stop here, and try to get these
bears: so we halted. But Phuttoo failing to persuade the villagers to
rebuild a bridge which had been washed away, and being unable to cross
the river at any place nearer, we continued our route to our previous
destination, Shugkenuz.

The road lay along the bank of the river which had fallen in, so that
we experienced much difficulty in getting on, the steep inaccessible
hill precluding all chance of a route higher up: so, hanging on how we
might, we scrambled across the face of the landslip, the rapid river
rushing roaring below, and luckily without mishap reached and crossed a
bridge, and on to the village, which is prettily situated--the bivouac
charming.

A mountain path from Palgham enters the Wurdwan here, but is
impracticable now for all but mountaineers. We rested some hours; then
went off to beat up the quarters of the three bears we had seen from
the opposite side when on the march. We sighted our three acquaintances
high up on a rock; prepared to meet them on the slope we supposed they
would descend to; had a difficult, fatiguing climb. At last we gained
a ridge from which the game was visible, all three feeding, distance
about one hundred yards. I wished to wait for a chance of their coming
nearer; but Subhan urged me to fire at once, and the largest bear,
mother of the other two, I suppose, then looking up, I fired and hit
her somewhere in front. Great confusion and discomfiture ensued. I
fired and hit another, and discharged my other barrels as they slowly
retreated; but, not being able to pursue from the difficulty of the
ground, saw my wounded prey gradually disappear up the hill, just able
to crawl away.

I returned to camp, weary and lame. Regretting much wounding
poor brutes thus, to escape only to die in agonies, I made some
half-resolutions to give up shooting.

Leg very bad, but not worse, I went to bed lamenting my ill success.



CHAPTER V.

SHIKAR IN THE WURDWAN.


23rd May. Ere thoroughly awakened this morning, I enjoyed pleasing
fancies in a confused doze, under the influence of the soft notes of a
cuckoo perched on a tree immediately over my head, whence he sweetly
serenaded me, or rather treated me to a morning solo; which, though a
monotonous performance, touched many a sympathetic and vibrating chord
within, creating delicious harmonies, recalling old memories--the open
window, dewy mornings, fresh summer-perfumed air, the welcome ringing
of old Jonas' sharpening scythe, which operation has a remarkable charm
for me, I suppose as essentially characteristic of summer seasons, and
associated with the inhaled fragrance of new-mown hay, added to many
a mingled note of thrush, linnet, and blackbird and other feathered
songsters.

Often, on such mornings, did the dear old man, according to agreement,
lightly cast up gravel at my window to arouse me to be up and after
my night-lines. Oh, happy memories!--The scythe of time has now done
its work upon him, and gathered to the harvest one of the dearest
associates of my youthful days: but there is another youth to come, an
everlasting youth, to be enjoyed in an eternal spring--Oh! may we be
there reunited, this humble follower, and all to whom my heart tenderly
yearns!

I made up some accounts, and paid sundry monies, wrote instructions to
the Baboo, and despatched a messenger therewith, and, in the afternoon,
went forth to hunt. A bear was in sight high up on the mountain which
shelters the small cluster of huts constituting the village. He was
reported to be a continual visitor to the same green spot. The climb
was anything but inviting to a limping cripple; and the place looked so
bare and unapproachable, that I felt convinced we should not succeed,
and so assured the shikarries. But still we made the attempt, and,
after a very fatiguing hour's ascent, had the poor reward of seeing
the wary Bruin making off. But, uncertain as to the quarter whence the
suspected danger threatened, he paused on the hill opposite to us, and
we lay a long time hoping he would again descend to feed; which at last
we thought he really had done, and so cautiously crawled to a shooting
position. But Bruin had only concealed himself in order to unmask his
enemies, as it would appear; for he displayed his person in the same
place, and then sat partially concealed by boughs. At last, seeing no
probable change in our relative positions, I fired Whitworth, the bolt
passing close beneath his stomach, also the other rifle without effect,
the distance some three hundred yards. Bruin losing patience at this
repeated annoyance, quietly jogged off up hill, and disappeared over
the summit.

We descended much more rapidly than we came up. Getting upon a
snow drift, we ran and slid down merrily, and continued our hunt
along the base of a range; and Subhan and a villager, who had gone
to reconnoitre, declaring they saw a bear in a spot indicated, we
proceeded to make his acquaintance, and after much toil found no trace
of living creature, so concluded our informants to have mistaken a
stone for a bear, an error the keenest-sighted are liable to.

24th May. Away in another direction up the valley. We soon saw two
bears across the river moving ahead along the slope of the opposite
hill. We crossed the river by a natural bridge of snow. One of the
bears crossed the snow drift, up which we were pursuing our way to
intercept them, about one hundred and fifty yards ahead of us. We lay
still, screened by shrubs: followed on, and saw him grubbing among some
bushes. I cocked the rifle, at the click of which the cautious beast
became suspicious, and looked up, facing me. Thinking him about to
abscond, I fired--and away he rushed, disappeared in the bushes, and we
saw nothing more of him. I could not account for my failure: the shot
was a fair one.

After remaining some time on the look out without seeing any game, we
returned to camp to breakfast; and by the advice of the shikarries, and
in order to satisfy them, I discharged all my weapons at a mark, making
fair practice: but decided on reducing the charge of powder. I cheered
up the shikarries, saying we would now consign to oblivion our previous
failures, and make a fresh start.

In the afternoon, across the river, retracing the road we came by, we
ascended the hill, and all lay down, shikarries together in whispering
conversation.

Suddenly I became aware of the presence of a bear in the jungle some
distance off. He appeared contemplating an approach in our direction,
but, hesitating, turned into the jungle, apparently to seek an open
feeding ground just visible beyond, and where we expected him. Subhan
went forward to watch him, and soon beckoned us on. We overtook him,
and cautiously skirted a patch of jungle, prying into it; when Bruin,
suddenly emerging from behind a projecting bank, twigged us, and was
off as rapidly as his awkward gait permitted. He was noticed, however,
pausing some distance off in the jungle up the hill. Putting up a
sight, I fired, and down he came towards us, evidently hit we thought.
I fired again at a glimpse of him through a bush: after which he was
seen by the shikarries slowly trudging up the hill through the snow and
bushes, shaking his head from side to side, as though, at least, highly
disapproving our proceedings, if not actually a severe sufferer.

Two shikarries, confident he was hit, entered the bushes to track him.
Phuttoo and I remained: and presently we saw another bear a long way up
the ravine scoring the mountain on whose side we were. We signalled the
others to us, and then proceeded to stalk the new comer, who, however,
on our raising our heads to arrange for assault and battery, had wisely
disappeared; but in his place was a musk deer, 'kustoora,' which I
wounded. The poor creature scrambled off, one hind leg broken. Subhan
with a rifle pursued, and overtaking the chase fired both barrels at
some ten yards without effect. He then got above the deer, and kept it
down the hollow, the poor thing making astonishing efforts to escape;
which it would have done down the valley, but for an attendant there
stationed, who, being hailed, joined in the chase, and turned the
animal up towards me who, by the help of two mountain staves, was
descending rapidly to the scene of action, followed by Phuttoo.

At last the persecuted creature came within range, paused, and a
well-aimed Whitworth bolt rolled it lifeless down the hill, to the
great satisfaction of the shikarries who, shouting triumphantly, dashed
down to perform the necessary Mahomedan ceremony of cutting the throat
with an invocation to Allah, without which the flesh would be to them
unlawful; and they entertained a shrewd idea it would become their
perquisite, the rather as I had a sheep slaughtered that morning for my
own consumption.

Heavy rain overtook us; but this little success cheered us up, and the
prospect of a feast of flesh put the shikarries in high spirits.

25th May. Off in the direction taken the first evening, when I fired
with such ill success. We did not catch a glimpse of a bear now, though
on that occasion we saw five.

In the evening, we went up the valley, and having met a pedlar
merchant, and three coolies with his goods coming down we considered it
of no use going on, so returned. I had some talk with these people, the
ugliest imaginable. They had come from Ladâk, and described the road to
be at present all but impassable from depth of snow, and do not think
it will be safe for a month. We saw two bears far up a valley on the
left hand, as we neared camp, and resolved to seek them the following
morning.

26th May. We started as arranged, crossed the bridge, and as soon as
we obtained a view into the vale were gratified by the sight of two
bears quietly feeding, and in a favourable position. We made a long and
careful stalk to the spot, and looking about found our expected prey
had moved out of ken. We saw another bear higher up above us, but went
in search of our former acquaintances, giving them the preference.

After a time we spied them as yet free from suspicion; and got near
enough to the larger which, however, just as I had gained breath and
position to fire, got behind a bush which partially screened it: and
the other one, occupying an open spot, whence our every move was
conspicuous, I judged it best to wait a bit; and as the latter animal
was slowly approaching the former as it fed, I felt secure of one or
both, when, to my infinite disgust, the larger of the two suddenly
scuttled off, alarmed, as I believe, by the noise of the third bear
which was now nearing the others. However that may be, off it went. The
other, catching the alarm, turned and fled too, but stopped to look
about for the cause of alarm; so, taking advantage of this chance, I
levelled Whitworth, and rolled him over, a long shot. Up he got, and
hobbled off, his left shoulder apparently broken. I prepared to pursue;
but seeing No. 3, confused and frightened, had turned, and was making
off in our direction, I tried to intercept him, but he kept a long way
off. However, taking aim at about two hundred and fifty yards, I hit
him, and then pursued him, sending Subhan after the other with a rifle.

I had three shots at my retreating game, without any apparent effect,
and then returned towards camp. Subhan overtaking us, having been
equally unsuccessful, gloom and despondency pervaded the party. I
half try to dissuade myself from trying the chase again, and take to
sketching instead.

In the evening a bear was visible on another portion of the mountain
over the village, high up near the summit. It was proposed to try
and stalk him. Professing my confirmed opinion we could never get at
him, I, however, fell in with the wishes of the shikarries, and with
complete indifference as to the result toiled up the hill-side: and
with our best tactics and every effort to circumvent Bruin, he was
too many for us, and betook himself to a timely retreat, ere we had
approached within five hundred yards of him.

I enjoyed a magnificent prospect from the height we had reached, which
gave a beautiful view right down the Wurdwan, for I should think,
twenty or thirty miles; and the effects of the lengthening shadows of
declining day were extremely fine. How I wished I was an artist, to be
able to possess myself of that lovely scene.

I was amply repaid for the fatigues I had undergone, and became
perfectly reconciled to my ill luck, and felt quite content and
thankful for the blessings I enjoy so abundantly.

27th May. Sunday. At daybreak this morning, when in that state of
indecision so often felt at that hour, even by practical early risers
like myself, as to turning out forthwith to the raw and frosty air, or
indulging in the snug comforts of bed and blankets, Mooktoo intruded
his head into my canvas sanctum, and, with sparkling eyes, said there
was a bear on the hill side close by. I replied, "It matters not; I am
not going after him;" on which he retired. I shortly got up and went
out. Sure enough, there was Bruin, as if conscious of security, quietly
selecting his herbage on the hill opposite my tent. I could, by walking
down to the river's bank--he was on the other side--have got within
eighty yards of him, but allowed him the enjoyment of his Sabbath
privileges, and saw him, ere long, retire into the jungle.

28th May. Off betimes up the Palgham path, a heavy, steady pull,
principally over snow, which at this early hour was firm and afforded
tolerable footing, but after being subjected to the heat of the sun
becomes soft and treacherous, and very slippery.

We came across the tracks of ibex, with those of dogs in pursuit.
Several spots renowned for the former animals were closely reconnoitred,
but nothing was stirring.

As we ascended, the snow increased, and the chance of game became
less. We paused awhile in an open space among lofty mountains, clad in
their white wintry drapery, which here and there receding and opening
out, and in other parts cleft into deep and rugged ravines, looked the
"beau ideal" of an ibex ground. But still all was lifeless. It was an
admirable picture of a winter scene, in all its congealed desolation.

Here we turned, and, retracing our steps some distance, entered another
narrow valley, and sending Subhan ahead to observe the condition and
prospects of the new route as to snow, he returned, shaking his head
and saying there was no open ground in that direction. So nothing
remained to be done, but to return to the bivouac.

The snow had by this time become difficult to traverse, lying as the
path did on the steep slope of the mountain, at the bottom of which
foamed a rapid torrent, and though advancing with cautious and measured
steps suddenly my foot slipped, and down I went rapidly, sliding on
my side over the smooth surface to the depths below. But a projecting
fragment of rock, fallen from above, presented just enough irregularity
for me to clutch hold of as I reached it, which luckily I got firm hold
of; for Subhan, launching himself after me, came down with such an
impetus that, had I not been thus fortified, we should both of us have
been inevitably precipitated into the river beneath, which would in all
probability have put a finale to my excursion.

We picked ourselves up, and our way on, now with our staves forming
steps for my footing. I found the grass sandals here, in the slippery
soft snow, worse than ordinary boots, as they gave no hold such as the
raised heel does.

The shikarries, of course, though they slipped about, and fell too,
found no real difficulty in getting on. I have addressed myself to
discovering what can be the cause of such a marked difference, giving
them such very superior power of adherence to a smooth, slippery,
surface. The reason of this difference is, I believe, in the formation
and use of the toes. The feet are remarkably short, and spread out at
the toes like half a fan. These mountaineers have never cramped their
feet by the use of such distorting leathern bondage, as we torture
ourselves with; so that the toes, instead of being strained to a point,
are spread out, and every one of them becomes practically a finger,
affording clutch and support, which enables the possessors to move with
confidence on any inclined surface, however smooth and steep, when, if
they slip with one foot, they can easily recover themselves with the
other: while we, having rendered our toes useless but as a lever 'en
masse,' depend upon the ball of the foot for our hold, which gives,
indeed, ample support on smooth level ground, but is quite inadequate
for safe progress amid the dangerous paths that ibex hunting leads to.
The latter part of our way lay over a snow drift inclining rapidly,
down which we sped at a smart pace, digging in our heels, occasionally
getting too much way on, and having to make considerable exertions to
steer clear of danger. The exercise was exhilarating. Arrived in the
village, I was met by Abdoolah, khansamah who, much excited, declared
that thirteen animals, which he thought to be 'kustoora,' had just
passed along the path on the other side the river, and were now in
sight. We were much puzzled at this confident statement, and on
bringing the spyglass to bear found the visitors to be a pack of wild
dogs.

There the destructive rascals were, some standing, some reclining,
looking as though quite at home, and ready for anything. They were a
bright light-red, with sharp noses and pricked ears and long bushy
tails, almost the size, and somewhat resembling, a middle-sized red
Irish setter.

I moved towards them, but they were off immediately, though quite
leisurely. There was great consternation and uproar in the village
during the day. This troop of marauders, it would appear, crossed the
river over the snow, some three or four miles up, and slinking down had
audaciously attacked the cattle grazing within a few hundred yards of
my tent. They had bitten two severely, and dispersed the others: but,
being disturbed by the enraged peasants, had made off.

In the afternoon we went down the river after bears, of which I had
myself seen four yesterday, in my evening stroll, on the opposite
hill; and my servants reported two to have been feeding a long time
just opposite my tent, while I was away on my fruitless expedition. As
we wended our way towards a new bridge the villagers were putting up,
we saw two bears across the river. We had to wait some time for the
completion of the bridge: then crossed, and away up the hill, and had a
hard difficult climb to the spot where I shot the 'kustoora,' after the
bear that had led me there on that occasion: but the cunning fellow was
"up to snuff," and we only saw his hind parts as he retreated in the
distance. Much toil for nought. Descending to the river, Subhan, ever
keen and vigilant, descried a bear up the hill near by. All dropped.
The bear, unconscious of the neighbourhood of enemies, continued to
feed. I adjusted Whitworth with much care, and, firing, rolled Bruin
headlong down the hills where we despatched him. Leaving the 'melster'
to skin him, it being now late and raining hard, we went on to camp.

Soon after we got in, the night closed on us. We heard loud shouts
across the river from the 'melster,' to whom assistance was sent. He
had been terrified out of his senses by the sudden appearance of the
pack of wild dogs come to dispute the possession of the carcase with
him, or even to worry him--all one to them.

No wonder he sung out lustily. A fire soon gleamed there and the work
was safely accomplished. Great encouragement felt by the shikarries at
this small success.

29th May. We had determined to push far up the valley, so started
early. We saw an old and a young bear far up out of reach, and again
saw the pack of wild dogs, whose presence sufficiently accounts for the
small number of animals seen, and their extreme wariness. These brutes
have been all over the valley: we find their traces in every direction
we go.

The shikarries tell me they hunt most systematically, and in a manner
so well planned and carried out as to be nearly always successful. When
the presence and position of their prey is ascertained, they divide
into couples, and take up their several allotted positions so as to
cut off the animal pursued. Some run straight, relieving each other
alternately; and whether going up or down fresh relays are at hand, so
that the object they pursue has little chance of escape.

We reached the end of the valley, passing most likely spots for
game, but all blank. We stopped till 3 P.M.; then retraced our
steps, and when nearing camp a bear was perceived some way up the
mountain.

The stalk was arranged, and so successfully that we arrived within
one hundred and fifty yards of Bruin, unannounced by smell or sound.
I waited for breath; then, poising Whitworth, despatched the leaden
messenger, which created much confusion in poor Bruin's mind and
person. He rushed off: a ball from the Enfield smote him through the
snout, and another so bewildered him that he turned and crossed us: two
more missiles were discharged at him, but only shrinking he retreated
out of sight. Guns loaded, pursuit took place, and the chase was soon
seen, evidently in considerable difficulties, pausing at steep pitches
of the hill.

Up we pursued through the snow, puffing, gasping, slipping about,
but in the ardour of the chase heedless of danger. I got a position,
and was aiming as well as my rapidly-heaving lungs permitted, when
Phuttoo's staff escaping went rattling down the mountain, and the
bear catching the clatter moved on, making for a narrow pass. We,
too, pushed on, and, ascending the rock on one side of the pass with
difficulty, saw our game resting evidently sick, having made his way
across a ravine. He moved upwards, so, though breathless, panting, I
was obliged to fire--distance perhaps one hundred and sixty yards or
so: but Whitworth was true, and Bruin, struck in the back, retreated
downwards, when a well-directed Enfield ball prostrated him lifeless.

There was great rejoicing; for it had been a very exciting and arduous
chase, calling for energies and skill. The victim was sent rolling down
the mountain side to the bottom, where he was duly despoiled, and a
very fine, furry skin he wore.

The shikarries are now in great glee, and general congratulations, fun,
and good humour, have replaced long faces, sighs, and melancholy.

30th May. Off to the place where I was so unfortunate the other
morning, losing two wounded bears--a lovely, bright, frosty morning,
following a bitter cold night. Nature was all smile and sparkle, the
freshness of the air, and surrounding beauties of scenery, furnishing
an ample stock from which to draw abundant enjoyment without the
addition of other stimulus.

But, from the first height on which we stopped to examine the
surrounding ground a bear was espied in motion. He stopped in a grassy
hollow to feed; so, the mode of approach having been determined,
we ascended until in his immediate neighbourhood, and, it being
ascertained he was still on that spot, I took up position, and saluted
him with a missile from Whitworth. He flinched, and made off: but two
successive shots from the Enfield rolled him over stone dead. The first
shot had passed through his body. He was rolled down the hill-side to
be skinned; and, there leaving him, we continued our search for more
victims, but unsuccessfully, so returned to camp.

31st May. Before starting this morning I was informed by the sepoy
attending me, who with two coolies had been sent yesterday down the
valley to Busman to procure two sheep and other supplies for the
onward journey, that he had selected--I suppose, seized on--two sheep,
when the villagers collecting set upon him, abused and beat him and
the coolies, setting his authority as the Maharajah's servant and
my attendant at defiance. This outrage created intense indignation.
The shikarries were profuse in their abuse, and suggested all sorts
of retaliation. It being necessary that something should be done
to vindicate my dignity, and also to prevent a repetition of such
misconduct which, if permitted to go unpunished, would prevent
Europeans coming into the valley at all, I announced my intention of
sending in the sepoy, with coolies and skins, to carry my complaint
and make his own statement to the Vizier at Sirinuggur. This was to be
carried out after breakfast. The shikarries and other attendants were
pacified with this decision.

We then took the same direction as yesterday, and after a mile or two's
trudge spied a bear in an open place, difficult of approach. We made
a long circuit, and stalked up to his position with great caution and
patience, but found his place vacant, and no clue to his retreat.

We pursued our way, and discovered another hairy individual taking his
morning meal in a ravine. I got within fifty yards of him, and knelt,
awaiting a clear view of his person, now partially eclipsed by bushes.
His whole broadside being presented, I fired and over he rolled--got
up, made an approach to us, then disappeared up the hill-side. I had
not the least doubt he was shot right through behind the shoulder.
Subhan, after some little delay, went after him, but returned, not
finding blood on the track, which is by no means an incontestible
proof, as it is very difficult to detect blood in small quantities on
the bare dark soil, and the thickness and length of the woolly coat
of bears, at this season of the year, absorbs and staunches the blood
which, thus congealing, does not in many cases reach the ground, until
the wounded animal has gone some distance.

I returned disconsolate, and wrote an official report to Punnoo,
Vizier, of the misconduct of the Busman folk, recommending some check
to be administered to them. Whilst writing, my messenger, whom I had
despatched to Sirinuggur for lead, returned bringing that indispensable
article with him, of which I had now quite run out, having expended so
many bullets uselessly, firing all my barrels at wounded bears when
at long distances, for the chance of a 'nailer' being administered.
He brought me also letters and newspapers, a very seasonable supply;
for in this solitary mode of life these links, which connect one with
absent friends and keep one 'au fait' of passing occurrences, are
invaluable.

In the evening we went down valley and across the river after a bear on
the opposite hill. We were cut off from him, when in sight, by a deep
hollow which we could not cross without exposing ourselves, and the
brute was even now uneasy, looking up, and sticking up his ugly snout
in the air to catch any objectionable savour. We drew back, and made a
long detour, and arrived to find Bruin's place void.

We went on through some jungle, and suddenly started a bear to the
surprise of both parties. He scuttled off in their usual clumsy style,
and pulled up on the hill behind a large tree whose branches protected
him. With studious care I endeavoured to open his position, and at last
got sight of his forehand; he was from one hundred and fifty to two
hundred yards off. I rested the Enfield, and, taking steady aim, fired,
and evidently hit. He scrambled up the rocks, I firing my other barrels
at him, apparently striking him again, but not stopping him.

I sent Subhan after him, and then moved slowly on, much dejected at
such repeated failures, the more vexatious from the animals being badly
wounded. After some time we heard a shot, and congratulated ourselves
on Subhan's having retrieved the bear: but when he, after a long time,
rejoined us, we found that he had fired at a 'kustoora,' and had not
seen the bear.

Back to camp:--Subhan and Mooktoo remaining unusually late at the fire,
I went out, and they told me they had a proposal to make, viz. to leave
me and Phuttoo to cast bullets in the morning, while they tried to find
the wounded bear. I accepted readily this suggestion.

1st June. We converted all the lead into bullets before breakfast. I
was reading the papers, when Subhan popped his head into the tent, and
gave me the welcome intelligence, that they had brought back the skin
of the bear, having tracked him high up the hill, where he was found
under a rock, and he made a charge at them: they, however, killed
him. My shot had entered immediately behind the left shoulder, passed
through the body, and out behind the right shoulder. Yet he went off as
described; and would have been lost, as many others have been, had he
not been thus tracked up. It is wonderful what they carry away.

By advice of the shikarries I resolved to move to-morrow down to
Goombrah, now evacuated by t'other hunter, who is said to have killed
only two or three bears there, and not to have climbed the hills at
all; so, as ibex are said to be tolerably numerous among the mountain
summits, I may have a chance of getting a shot at those much-prized
animals--but I quite dread the work.

2nd June. I was informed by Phuttoo at an early hour, that it was
raining and cloudy, so countermanded the move for the present, hoping
that the day might clear.

At 1 P.M. the weather mended; the clouds broke, the sun appeared,
and we thought we were sure of a fine afternoon. I struck tent, packed
up and started all the things, remaining myself behind for an hour or
two, for the chance of a meeting with Bruin.

We were miserably deceived in the weather; black clouds rolled up,
thunder crashed overhead, and down descended the rain in torrents. We
waited some time under shelter for a lull; then set forth, soon to
experience a down-pour as heavy as ever. We trudged grimly through it.
Having crossed the river, we saw an old and two young bears on the
side we had left--soon after, another on the same side. We could not
retrace our steps in such weather--all the hunt washed out of us.

We arrived at our new bivouac, draggled and wet--found the tent
just up, but nothing yet in it--got under the eaves of a house, and
patiently abided the announcement of the tent being ready; then changed
clothes, had a roaring fire lit close to my tent, and made a hearty
dinner. The night bitterly cold.

3rd June. Sunday. The ground was white with snow, there having been a
considerable fall during the night.

I strolled up the narrow valley, which is similar to that of Kuzuznai,
leading from the Wurdwan in an easterly direction--a brawling stream
dashing down it, the mountains steep, and their lower portions covered
with pines on the southern side; more accessible, bare, and open, on
the north. I enjoyed a delightful stroll. The sunlit features of the
romantic scenery, bright and glowing, though wintry, harmonizing with
my feelings, suggested a happy train of meditation which accompanied me
back to my tent.

The afternoon was dismal and sloppy, rain continuing on and off till
night.

A noisy brawl was occasioned by my people having gone out to procure
a sheep, and having, after much trouble and search, succeeded in
discovering at a neighbouring hamlet the place where they had been
concealed, 'nolens volens,' brought off two fine ewes, the ostensible
proprietors following with a 'posse comitatus', clamorous and loudly
vociferating remonstrances, and indulging in their choicest abuse.

It certainly goes much against my grain to sanction any forcible
appropriation: but what to do? These Wurdwanites are the most
impracticable of savages. It is quite useless treating them with the
kindness, liberality, and consideration one practises to civilized
people. They neither understand nor appreciate it. They refuse to part
with their stock or produce, as it would appear, solely to enjoy the
unaccustomed luxury of asserting a right, and the privilege of giving
a refusal; which they think they may do with impunity in the case of
a saheb, but would crouch and fawn in the most abject servility, were
it one of the native officials. This is a noticeable trait in the
character of this rude people. I am, therefore, compelled to exercise
arbitrary authority over them, or I should not be able to procure
supplies. Their ungracious denials do not proceed from any wish to
retain their property in expectation of higher profit: for I, as do
others I understand, pay them nearly double the price the articles are
worth, or would realise if disposed of to native dealers in the usual
course of sale. So that one can only attribute their rejection of
liberal trading offers to churlish brutish perversity. The shikarries
affirm this to be the real state of the case, so I feel little
compunction in allowing things to take their course, always insisting
conscientiously on a liberal rate of payment being actually made.

I do not know either the extent, or the amount of population, of this
valley: but the latter must be inconsiderable, as the soil, though
extremely fertile, is limited as regards facilities for cultivation.
The valley and its ramifications being narrow, with sides steeply
shelving, offer few and small level spots for raising grain: and the
whole surface is covered with rocks and stones, the 'debris' of the
impending mountains, shattered at periods by convulsions of nature;
and every winter greatly increases these impediments to husbandry,
when the accumulated snows, becoming detached, are precipitated into
the valleys, carrying with them countless stones which, gathering as
they descend, are scattered below in all directions. The small patches
of arable are, therefore, cleared with great labour, the stones being
collected in heaps: and some idea may be formed of their quantity by
the fact that spaces of only a yard in width, intervening between these
heaps, are ploughed and sown. The cultivated lands, viewed from the
heights above, may be likened to a piece of cloth on which a child,
having spilt ink, has amused itself by tracing it all over, in charming
varieties of lineal figures, with its fingers.

Barley is principally, if not altogether, the produce, and its farina,
with curds, the staple food of the people. Though agricultural
efforts are thus necessarily restricted, ample scope is given for the
depasturing of flocks and herds, the mountains up to a great height
being well covered with a rich earth yielding an abundant vegetation,
suitable in its varieties to all animals, and offering not a few edible
productions to man; such for example, as leeks, garlic, carrots, and
other roots, and several sorts of substitutes for greens, whose species
and names I am ignorant of, but which I daily devour.

The cattle are small, and by the laws of the ruler of these realms,
a Hindoo, are strictly forbidden to be killed. The penalty for
disobedience was, until recently, death; and many instances of its
fulfilment have been related to me, Mussulmen being the victims of
this iniquitous system. But since British influence has been brought
to bear upon the Prince of this territory, and a wholesome respect for
our government, and dread of its displeasure, established, "nous avons
changé toute cela." It is not now a life for a life, but the punishment
is the next in severity in the penal code.

Cattle are used for carriage, countless droves being employed in the
conveyance of salt, and every other article of merchandise between
Cashmere and the adjoining countries. As food the milk is eaten when
curdled, and some 'ghee' is made, but not for the market.

Sheep are plentiful and large flocks are brought into the valley to
depasture from Cashmere. Their fleece is their chief remunerating
property. A few goats are reared, and at every village I have met with
a score or so of ponies of an indifferent, leggy breed. Fowls are not
plentiful, and gardens appear nowhere.

The inhabitants are very low in the scale of civilization, but as they
have little acquaintance with things beyond their valley, they have
few wants or desires which it does not supply. Their existence is
patriarchal and simple. Either sex have but one style of garment, a
baggy, shapeless smock of warm woollen homespun, the produce of their
own flocks, and the work of their own hands.

Their houses, or hovels, are of wood, the sides of logs, the
interstices filled with clay, the roofs of split slabs. No care is
taken in their construction to fit them for protection from the extreme
rigours of the winter; so I conclude their inmates suffer much at that
season, as do their flocks and herds, as their unthrifty, apathetic
habits do not allow them to store up sufficient dry fodder to support
them, while the deep snows cover the ground. Dirt and filth abound
in the villages and their precincts; and the people are martyrs to
hydrophobia. The males are stout, hale, and well-looking: the females,
as far as my limited opportunities of observation permitted an opinion,
are haggard and ugly. They, poor creatures! as in all races where man's
nature is least refined, have the greater portion of the labours of
life to endure. The males give me the idea of being contented and
happy enough in their ignorance. They profess Mahomedanism, and in
each hamlet is a small musjed, with either a resident moulvie, or an
itinerant one, to officiate.

They complain much, as do all the Maharajah's subjects, of the heavy
imposts levied on them, and to this attribute their indifference to
bettering their condition, asserting that if they increased their
substance, they would be only the marks for the rapacity of the
government screws. This is, no doubt, in part true; but I think their
natural indisposition to exertion is now the main hindrance to industry
and enterprise. These poor peasants have to pay the Maharajah five
rupees per annum for every hundred head of sheep, cattle, &c., and
three rupees for every measure of ground computed to yield one maund
(eighty lbs) of grain. This latter burden they bitterly complain
of, as whatever the harvest the full amount is exacted: and when it
is considered that the intrinsic value of the maund of grain,--the
marketable price--is but one rupee, it does appear abominably rapacious
to extort three times the value, and whether the harvest fails or not.
Formerly, under a system but lately changed, the cultivators paid in
kind, equally dividing the produce, and with this they were, they say,
satisfied. At any rate, they now view its abrogation with regret.

As regards the sporting resources and capabilities of the Wurdwan, they
no longer exist, but in the traditions and memories of by-gone days.
These grounds have been now so constantly hunted, and the animals yet
surviving, so harassed and disturbed, that with the exception of a few
bears--ignoble game--there remains hardly an animal to reward the toil
of the hunter. After my present experience, I would not myself again,
nor would I recommend any other sportsman to try his chance in the
Wurdwan, unless in the autumn, when the stags bellow; there may be,
possibly, good sport then, but I should be disposed to try elsewhere.



CHAPTER VI.

SHIKAR IN THE WURDWAN


4th June. Up the valley, through some beautiful grassy bottoms along
the stream, most likely places for the resort of game. But we got over
some miles of ground, ere any glimpse of an animal was obtained: then
some ibex were seen up the mountain, which before long, scared by some
cause unknown, were seen in rapid career to the inaccessible summits.

We soon moved on: but in the gorge where the ibex were seen a bear was
descried, and the ground being favourable we gained his neighbourhood,
and a shot from the Enfield smote him in the shoulder. He made off, but
after receiving several more shots was brought rolling down.

We continued our course up the valley, still through most promising
coverts, far the prettiest shooting ground I had seen; we saw traces
of bara sing, and numerous of bears, and halted for the day in a clear
space, there to await the evening. Snow fell, and it became bitterly
cold. We took shelter under some firs, and after a time had a fire,
round which we squatted comfortably chatting.

In due time we moved back towards camp--saw a bear, and were about the
right place, when getting our wind he fled amain. Continuing our beat
carefully through the jungle, Subhan dropped to game, and, following
his indicator, I saw a dark coloured animal raise up its head. I said,
"it is a bullock": but no, it was a bear, an unusually large and dark
one, and when he looked up, with his ears pricked up, they looking like
short horns gave him the momentary appearance of some species of 'bos,'
such as the musk ox. But bear, and nothing else, was he.

We stalked, and raising our heads saw him immediately below us, not
half a dozen paces off, in a hollow. I aimed to take him between the
shoulders--off went the gun, and off went the bear, another shot
striking him; then he disappeared. I pursued with Phuttoo--lost all
traces, and turned, when we saw Subhan and Mooktoo in hot chase across
a snowdrift bridging the stream, on which we soon detected the bloody
tracks of the bear. Hopes were raised. The rocky, precipitous mountain
side was difficult to surmount, but I had faith in Subhan, especially
on a bloody trail.

Phuttoo and I, reconnoitring from below, espied the chase high up,
crossing the side of the hill at a slow walk. We hailed the pursuing
hunters, encouraging them in their efforts; saw them emerge, and enter
faithfully on the trail. Then we moved further on, and again I viewed
the chase higher up still, slowly making for a pine-clad crag where,
from its appearance, I judged he would pull up. Anxiety now became
extreme. The ground presented such difficulties, and I had lost sight
of the hunters, who I feared might have given up the chase in despair.
I sat in suspense, gazing upwards, and expressing hopes hardly
entertained to Phuttoo, when crack! went a rifle, the whereabouts
denoted by a small puff of smoke on the top of the crag mentioned. Now
all was serene. I felt sure of victory: when another shot, resounding
from a more distant spot, dimmed my bright hopes, and doubts again
assailed me--another shot, hopes again brightened--an exclamation
from an attendant behind, and the bear was seen clearly defined on
the snow, in a ravine leading down from the crag, evidently dropping.
Suddenly he rolled over, and simultaneously a shot rung out, and smoke
appeared from above him. He slid down the snow: the hunters came in
view following cautiously, and soon after we saw one discharge two
shots at the prostrate, but still formidable brute. Then huge stones
were cast at him, and he was pushed and hustled, till, getting way on,
he came rolling and sliding on the snow to the bottom of the ravine; to
which place we now made our way, and found our prey a monster for these
parts, by far the largest bear I have seen here.

He was riddled with bullets; my first shot had entered between the
shoulders, at the base of the neck, and came out at the belly: the
second struck him well in the middle of the shoulder. Yet he went off
as described, and was nearly lost, as many an one has been before. I
returned very "koosh"--the shikarries, too, proud of this capture, and
their share in it. The bear, they say, turned on them, and put them
to flight. They are great cowards these men, as, I believe, all the
Cashmiries are. Phuttoo, however, is an exception.

5th June. Again, up the valley some distance beyond yesterday's
beat--some most likely places for game. We saw some ibex in an
inaccessible place, and halted for the day.

At 2 P.M. we ascended, and gained a view of a fine stretch of
open grassy slope beyond our halting place, where the valley makes a
bend to the left. Here we stopped a couple of hours: nothing seen but a
bear out of reach. We descended, and wended our way down valley.

A bear was seen: we went after him, and disturbed two bara sing hinds
which were too knowing for us, so to our first attraction, whom we saw
disporting himself on the snow which he cantered across. We were after
him, when Subhan recoiled, saying there was another bear in the same
spot just quitted by the first.

True enough--so after him; and I was crawling to a position about one
hundred and twenty yards from him, when he twigged something wrong, and
looked up. He cocked his ears, when I cocked the rifle, and fearing
his flight I fired hurriedly, but hit him, I believe, well behind the
shoulder. He started, and staggered--then came straight for us. I
waited, prepared to give him second barrel. Passing a few paces above
us on the side of the hill, he gave an angry roar as he cast a passing
glance at us, and I gave him No. 2 somewhere in the ribs, whereat he
winced, but rolled on his course and vanished, Mooktoo on his tracks,
then the rest of us. But, sending Subhan to assist the former, Phuttoo
and I went after the first bear on our homeward route, but saw nothing
of him.

When a couple of miles or so from camp, a breathless villager met us,
and said there was a bara sing down by the river, not far from camp.
Much excited, he started off at a run. I made him walk, but talk, and
that loudly, he would; and when he suddenly pointed out the bara sing
in the valley below, he loudly proclaimed its presence. The animal was
evidently attentive and alarmed; so an attempt we made to approach it
was unsuccessful.

We made the bivouac; and from the prolonged absence of the two hunters
we entertained delusive hopes that they had secured the wounded bear.
But not so: they came in presently, having failed to get near the
brute, which had betaken itself to a steep craggy height. I regret this
loss much: he was a very large bear, of an unusually light colour, hair
very long.

6th June. Off in a direction towards my late bivouac, a sharp frost
and very cold. By the way, the frost was so severe on Monday, that the
water just poured out in a pewter cup to clean my teeth was frozen over
by the time I had washed my hands and face--pretty well for the 4th of
June.

I saw nothing at all; went nearly as far as the bridge, and then
returned to breakfast. Bear skins were laid out to dry--a sudden
thought striking me, I told Mooktoo I would give five rupees
'backsheesh' for the skin of the wounded bear, escaped yesterday. He
and Subhan have accordingly gone to try their luck, and I mean to go
with Phuttoo in the evening to look for the bara sing in the willow
bottom.

We went a short distance, but it did not put in an appearance this time
when wanted. The two hunters returned in the evening reporting the bear
to have gone miles away; but they had killed a female ibex, of which
feat they were very proud, and the camp and the village rejoiced in
the prospect of a feast of flesh; which, however, looked so uninviting
that I declined it, and my servants, Hindoo fashion, would not eat
it, because I would not; so the villagers had the more. I tipped the
shikarries one rupee each; but doubt much if they took up the trail of
the bear.

7th June. Remained in camp: resolved on an attempt on the ibex
to-morrow.

8th June. An early start, and a stiff job climbing the mountain, which
took us nearly two hours, and our toil was unrewarded by the sight of a
single ibex. The hunters carefully reconnoitred the whole neighbourhood
ineffectually.

Whilst at breakfast, they came and reported a bear in view, asleep
under a tree. I descended to the assault over difficult ground; and
Bruin, asleep with one eye open, was distrustful, and hearing the click
of my rifle, when cocking, made off. I fired three shots, all striking
him, and quite disabling him; two shikarries after him, who fired three
shots close by, and after some time I saw the wounded bear crawling
along, a considerable way off: after some time, three or four shots
more, then silence--again, a shot or two. Phuttoo and I remained on
the look out, wondering what the issue was; and thus for two hours, I
think, we waited, once getting a glimpse of the hunters far below us
in some jungle. They did, at length, return, bringing the bear's skin,
upon which some ten bullets were expended, and reporting that they had
wounded a female bara sing.

We remained up all day, though all hopes of ibex had been destroyed by
the noise of the repeated discharges: descended in the afternoon, and
going through some jungle I espied a deer, but could not get Subhan,
who was leading, to acknowledge my low signal which a brawling stream
close by drowned the sound of. I seized a rifle from Mooktoo, and
fired: the animal bounded out of sight. Subhan followed to see the
effect, and stopped, beckoning me on, so I knew the shot had told.
Hurrying to him, he pointed to the animal stretched on the ground,
and advised another shot which hitting the back, traversed the body,
coming out at the left shoulder. It was but a kustoora after all, but a
fine specimen, with long teeth protruding from the upper jaw.

9th June. Phuttoo and Mooktoo complaining of head aches, &c., Subhan
came at dawn to my tent, suggesting remaining in camp till evening. I
readily acquiesced, having had a hard day's work yesterday.

I started in the afternoon in a new direction; climbing the steep
fir-clad hill opposite the village, we reached the crest where we hoped
to meet with bara sing, but only saw their fresh tracks, so sat down to
watch.

Subhan ascended higher with the telescope, and returned after some
time reporting a bear as big as a bullock in sight, so we addressed
ourselves to approach him. Descending the hill-side, a splendid and
extensive grassy slope presented itself, along which we wended our way,
and after about a mile's walk came upon the bear, truly a very large
one, and justifying Subhan's comparison. I took my time to gain breath,
and as we were well placed as regards covert and wind did not hurry;
but, shifting position once or twice till satisfied, let drive Enfield,
upon which Bruin turned bewildered, and dashed down hill, partly in our
direction. I discharged the other barrel, also rifle, as he crossed a
snow drift filling the bottom of a ravine. He still held on, and was
commencing the ascent of the opposite hill, when I levelled Whitworth,
and down he came spinning, rolling over and over, to the snow, and then
slipping and sprawling down that, until he lay still, breathing his
last.

The whole party was triumphant: the shikarries got down to him: his
sides still heaved: the coolies came up, and, Subhan having by my order
cut the animal's throat to extinguish the remaining sparks of life,
they proceeded to take off the skin, and had opened it down the belly,
when, to their terror and my horror, the poor beast came to life again,
as it were, and with a violent movement uttered such a growl as sent
his tormenters flying in all directions. I put an end to him by a ball
in the head. This is another proof of their surprising tenacity of life.

He was truly a monstrous bear with huge limbs. This formidable beast,
it was stated, was the terror of the villagers, having devoured many
of their sheep, and put to flight some score of them, who with dogs,
&c. attempted his destruction. There was great rejoicing over his
destruction.

10th June. Sunday. Remained in camp as usual.

11th June. We moved camp this morning, as previously arranged to
Busman, the opposite side of the valley, and I pitched my tent in a
very picturesque spot, overlooking the village.

In the afternoon I went down valley, and killed a large doe bara sing,
which unfortunately was heavy with young. I much regretted this, but
the shikarries had no such scruples. They were delighted at possession
of so much meat, and set to work 'con amore' to break up the carcase,
a messenger being despatched to bring men from camp to carry in the
flesh. I did not feel at all elated at this success; but general
satisfaction pervaded my party.

One of the coolies, who accompanied the sepoy to Sirinuggur, arrived,
bringing nothing whatever with him. He said the sepoy would be detained
some days, until the Maharajah's arrival in the city, to whom he would
make his statement personally. The Baboo, too prudent would not trust
my letters to this coolie, by which I am much inconvenienced and vexed.
The Kardar of Palgham would not either trust him with the rice, &c.,
which had been ordered; and further said he could not supply it, as
there were five sahebs there to provide for. We, therefore, made
arrangements for a man to start early to-morrow to Shanguz, to procure
supplies there.

12th June. Up the valley leading to Bodicote in expectation of finding
ibex. We had a tremendous climb which, though very toilsome, was not
dangerous, but saw not a single ibex; we halted in a suitable spot to
wait until evening, in hopes of game appearing. There was a bear in
sight feeding below us, which, after some discussion, it was decided
ought to be left unmolested, for fear the report of the guns might
disturb ibex within hearing. Subhan went off to reconnoitre.

After breakfast I sat watching the bear which, having finished his
meal, came in our direction, and on to the snow in the ravine below
us, where, to my astonishment, he stretched himself out composedly
to snooze, apparently approving of cool applications to a distended
stomach. Subhan returned, and reported that he could see no ibex in any
direction, but had seen their tracks with those of dogs in pursuit; so,
auguring ill for our chance of those animals, we resolved to attack our
unconscious neighbour below, and descended for that purpose, but could
not get within a hundred yards of him; at which distance, aiming at his
head, I despatched an Enfield, which just missed him, and off he went
down the snow in the utmost amazement, and came nigh to breaking his
neck, but pulled up, ploughing deep into the snow with his long claws,
and sliding some distance--a most ridiculous object.

Having gained some three hundred yards thus, he stopped and looked all
round. We remained quite still, concealed by a rock. He then slowly
descended the rocks on our side, and, choosing a good site, there he
seated himself, looking anxiously from side to side. We waited, hoping
for an opportunity of quitting our position undiscovered: and so we
remained for half an hour at least, when Subhan, thinking we could
withdraw backwards out of sight, tried if it would do, and beckoning us
we stealthily followed, and, having gained a screen, turned and again
tried to renew our acquaintance with Bruin, who from the nature of the
ground could not now be seen.

We continued to descend the rocks towards his supposed position,
and had got close upon it without discovering him. Mooktoo, from
behind, made signals of seeing him, but Subhan and I could not catch
a glimpse of him, until we gained the projecting rock under which he
was sleeping, again thinking himself secure. The wind lifting his long
hair betrayed him. He was lying with his head towards us, not four
yards off, his head concealed by the rock, so I struck him between the
shoulders, when he dropped backwards, and away he rolled over and over,
in a most surprising manner. I saw him at one time high in mid air, as
he bounded from a projecting rock, as though he had been discharged
from a mortar: and he went rolling down the precipitous ravine for, I
should think, three quarters of a mile, much to the disgust of those
who had to descend and skin him,--a very fine large skin, with long
yellowish fur. We saw other bears as we descended in the evening, but
out of reach, so we got nothing more. It was a very hard day's work. We
had to cross a snowdrift over the river, in which was a large fissure,
which, however, only required nerve to cross safely.

13th June. Off to the place where I killed the doe bara sing. After
some time we saw a bear apparently in retreat up hill. Thinking it
useless pursuing, I turned towards camp; but Subhan pointed out the
bear stopping on the precise spot on which the bara sing had been cut
up, probably picking up the refuse. I resolved to try for him, so we
ascended, and, having gained our point, thought him clean gone, when I
saw something move in the bushes--again thought I was deceived, when
the shikarries twigged him in some bushes across the ravine--a long
shot. I struck him with an Enfield, evidently a severe wound, bringing
him down, and fired other guns at him, as after deceiving us, making
as though he were going to die on the spot, he went off in the jungle.
I sent the shikarries in pursuit, and ere long they appeared with
the dead bear, drawing him down the snow--a small brute riddled with
bullets.

On our way to camp we saw a fox with a splendid brush. I got within
some eighty yards of him, and levelled Whitworth, steadying him on a
rock--bang! and away went renard. Asking where the ball struck, the
shikarries said, high up above the fox. I thought this very odd, and
accused Phuttoo of putting in too much powder, who declared he had only
put in the regular charge. Meantime, the fox was running up and down,
and round and round, in an absurd manner, Mooktoo laughing at him, who
sung out he had dropped dead, and ran off to secure him. Phuttoo and
I, looking on, saw, as we thought, the animal betaking himself to the
hills at a good pace, and called out to Mooktoo to come back, saying
it was of no use. But on he went, not heeding us, and was soon seen
striking something, and then held up the dead fox, another having run
off, and deceived Phuttoo and me. The victim was shot right through
behind the shoulders.

14th June. A rainy morning, with every appearance of a continuance--so,
not unwillingly, I betook myself again to the comfortable warmth of my
blankets.

In the afternoon I went in the same direction as yesterday, and
seeing a bear high up on a hill, attempted to get at him--but in vain;
scrambled about the heights, but, seeing nothing more, gave up and
returned to bivouac.

15th June. Up ere dawn, a long day in prospect, it having been
determined to shift camp to a village on the opposite side of the
valley, and we hunters to climb a mountain, from which we should
descend to the bridge leading to our new quarters in the afternoon.

When rather more than half-way up a bear was descried, to which we
approached with due caution, but owing to the formation of the ground
could not get nearer than some hundred and fifty yards; so that I fired
at that distance, and struck him well in the middle of the shoulder.
Recoiling from the blow, he then made straight for our position, and
gained a rising ground just over us, when seeing us he paused, looking
very ugly, then turned, when trying my other barrel, it missed fire,
the cap being bad. We pursued and soon sighted the chase, in pursuit
of which Subhan and Mooktoo continued, Phuttoo and I looking on--the
mountain side, up which Bruin held his limping course, being spread out
plainly before us; and we had the unsatisfactory view of the abortive
efforts made to secure the wounded animal. The two hunters, not being
able to see the wounded bear as we did, made slow progress, expecting
to meet their foe at every step behind some rock; so Bruin, though
slowly dragging along, and occasionally pausing to look back, made two
paces to their one, and so disappeared over the crest of the mountain.
Whereupon, Phuttoo and I set off to climb up and rejoin the others.
And sharp work we had; but finally reached our two companions who, not
sighting the game, had given up the chase in despair.

We again set forward to gain a favourable spot to pass the day in,
where I proceeded to breakfast, the others retiring somewhere out of
sight. Rain and sleet driven by a furious wind now set in, with thunder
roaring majestically immediately above us. I screened myself as well
as I could under a fir tree, and passed the chill hours, some two or
three, reading.

A hind is seen coming forth to graze down below us; and the rain now
ceasing we descended in chase, but could not get near the wary creature
which, winding us, I imagine, from afar, was seen cantering smartly
away, ere we were within long shot of it.

On reaching camp we found the man, despatched on the 12th for
provisions, returned, having made a rapid journey. He had met
the sepoy who had been detained at Sirinuggur, and they had made
arrangements for the supplies required, now difficult to obtain from
some unexplained cause. They had, therefore, to be collected from
different villages, and the sepoy remained to convoy the bulk, Kamal,
a trusty quiet-mannered fellow, bringing three coolies laden with him,
also a complimentary note and presents from Ahmet Shah--some cherries
and cakes--and from my stout friend of Eish Mackahm some of his bread
cakes, before commended. By the way, he sent me a pair of gloves and
socks by the coolie last coming.

16th June. Much rain during the night, but a fair fresh morning which I
enjoyed much, reading. In the afternoon, forth to hunt.

Two hinds, young ones apparently, were seen descending the mountain.
We tried to intercept them; but a ravine divided us. Lying concealed,
we watched them gamboling beyond our savage hand's reach. They finally
ascended the hill, and gradually retired from our sight. A plan
was then formed to follow them, which took us up the mountain in a
direction to cut their route. A stiff and smart climb landed us on the
top; Subhan and Mooktoo went off to scout, Phuttoo and I lying in wait.

Two bears came in sight. Phuttoo and I, taking the rifles, moved
towards them. The others joined us, having seen nothing: but not having
yet examined the ground where the two deer must have passed, or might
yet be, I ordered it to be reconnoitred 'en route' after the bears,
and there was seen one deer lying down, its head and ridge of back
only shewing--distance about eighty yards. I paused for breath behind
a rise, the deer looking towards me; prepared rifle, and advanced a
little on my knees to get a firmer footing: the deer rose, and standing
erect presented its dun side full before me. Taking deadly aim I pulled
trigger, when--horror and disgust--the cap only exploded. Away bounded
the deer, and also the other--till now unseen, but lying still nearer
to us. I fired the other barrel as they gently moved up hill, but
ineffectually I believe. Away they went.

The guns had been kept all night in the covers which they were in
during yesterday's rain. I had directed the shikarries always to take
the leathern covers in the day time, and to put the woollen ones on
at night, and had for some time enforced compliance. But of late they
had departed from this rule. Finding the woollen covers more easily
disposed about their persons, they had carried them in the day, and
left them on at night. I think a strong impression was made upon them
by to-day's mishap, as thereby they lose a good supply of meat, which
is to them a great disappointment.

The two bears of course fled. And other game, both deer and bears, on
the side from which we had come up, seen while in the ascent, had also
vanished.

I determined to try another entire day on the same mountain on Monday,
and then to move forward by the Sooroo Pass towards Ladâk, supposing
the sepoy to arrive to-morrow. With him I expect a bullet mould for
the Whitworth, having sent in one of the smooth cylindrical bolts as
a pattern, the easiest of the two to manufacture, and which Phuttoo
and the others assure me can be easily made in the city; so I left
the matter in their hands. I did not bring a mould, thinking I had
bolts enough with me for that weapon, but had not calculated on the
astonishing vitality of the bears.

17th June. Sunday. A walk in the morning; and a delightful one it
proved. On returning, the long absent sepoy and some coolies were in
sight on the opposite side of the river, and in due time arrived with
letters, newspapers, supplies, &c.

18th June. We made a very early start to carry out a plan arranged on
Saturday night, to hunt a mountain on which we had seen bara sing.
But, from some whimsical notion or other, the shikarries had altered
their minds, and, passing by this spot, went on to where we stalked the
deer on Saturday, attended by such bad luck. They are queer fellows,
possessed of remarkably odd notions on hunting, quite at variance with
the true science of the chase. They trust so much to luck, to 'kizmet.'
I suppose, being Mahomedans, and hence fatalists, influences them on
these points. I cannot say there is any charm in the character of
these men, such as one might, perhaps, be disposed to attribute to the
hunters of the Cashmere mountains. They are too strongly imbued with
the duplicity and covetousness of their race, and they are deficient
in those characteristics one loves to ascribe to the mountaineer and
hunter--courage, truth, and candour. They do not ever like to exert
themselves over much, and have a great regard for the comforts of a
house, so that it is difficult to get them well away from the inhabited
districts. They are, moreover, constantly begging for something; and,
though one may give them double what they are entitled to, they will
scheme to dupe you into giving them more, quoting fabulous experiences
of the generosity and munificence of saheb so and so. Nor do I consider
them by any means good hunters, their talents being confined to a
knowledge of the country, and a quick sharp eye. They possess none
of that pertinacity and resource which enable hunters to find game
when scarce and wild, and to capture it with certainty when severely
wounded. They are but poor trackers, and quickly give up all efforts at
the pursuit of a wounded animal, if they think it may have gone far.
How often I have longed for one or two of my old Australian native
hunters! _They_ were the fellows to run a tangled trail through bush
or over bare rock, like hounds with the chase in view. Of my three
shikarries, Phuttoo, Mooktoo, and Subhan, the latter is far the best
and more attractive in character. He is young and willing, and is not
yet spoiled, not having hitherto acquired all the wiles and tricks of
such men as the other two, who are old allies, and work together for
their mutual advantage. It is a great drawback to my pleasure in this
excursion, not being able to repose confidence in these associates.

We went over a deal of ground, but arrived at the end of our beat
without seeing anything; then pulled up for the day. Just as I was
finishing breakfast, the hunters came, and informed me there was a
bear in sight. I got up and accompanied them a short way up hill.
Puffing and blowing, distended with tea and dough cakes, I made heavy
way, and, having ascertained the bear to be a long way off in rough
and difficult ground, I declined going after him, but sanctioned the
attempt on the part of Subhan and Mooktoo, Phuttoo and I taking up a
good position to see the fun. After a time we heard three shots in
rapid succession; then saw the bear coming towards us. He sheered
off, and went best pace up hill, evidently unscathed. Soon after, the
hunters appeared, Mooktoo as usual shirking the hard work, and Subhan
climbing the heights manfully, as though he intended to catch Bruin. At
last they rejoined us.

In the evening we retraced our steps, and at length saw an old and a
young bear far ahead of us. Having reached their whereabouts at dusk, I
doubted whether to go after them; but, Subhan catching sight of them,
I buckled to, and climbed the steep. We found our game, the young one
only being visible at first, right under us: then the old one was
detected also, and I fired down on her, aiming at and striking her
between the shoulders, knocking her over: then, aiming at the young
one, the gun did not go off, the cap, I fancy, having fallen off.
The old bear scrambled up close to us, uttering fierce growls; then
turned and made off. I fired two shots, one breaking a hind leg. Subhan
pursued. The young one, a queer looking little brute, sat eyeing us
from a height opposite, and I would not allow Mooktoo to fire at him.
We followed the chase, and found the bear had fallen down hill into the
jungle close by the river. It was too late and too dark to look for her
then, so we took the route to camp, all feeling sure of finding her
dead in the morning.

19th June. Off to retrieve the wounded bear. We got on its tracks,
there being much blood on the trail, and tracked through a bit of
jungle into some wet bushy ground, where the shikarries, no longer
finding blood to guide them, gave up the chase, and, without examining
the neighbouring bushes, turned back towards camp. Aware of the utter
uselessness, from former experience, of endeavouring to incline them to
continue the search, I went silently back.

20th June. We made an early start towards Shugkenuz. Mooktoo espied
two bears in the old place where three were seen on our first coming
this way, and on that evening I wounded two. We resolved to try for
them, and, continuing our route on towards the bridge, I discovered
another high up on our right. We started up, a long and tiresome climb
before us; when, getting near the place where we had seen the bear, we
found it had moved to the opposite side of the ravine. Our side was
very difficult to move on, having a very steep and smooth surface, but
bushes to screen us. The bear was wonderfully 'cute of hearing, turning
at every snap of a dry twig. I made sure it would be off, but advanced
with every caution to a spot where some slight noise was unavoidable,
and could not get nearer without being exposed to view. Here Bruin,
having looked up and reconnoitred repeatedly, moved upwards; then
across the ravine, heading towards us. Mooktoo, excited, declared it
to be coming towards us, so I took up as comfortable a position as I
could, and prepared rifle. Sure enough Bruin's head appeared over a
ridge, coming right for us. He halted, and scrutinized our locality,
then advanced and paused; when--crack!--and over and over it rolled
down the ravine.

It was a female. And the hunters account for its strange approach to
us, by its having from the sound imagined its male friend to be at
hand, which individual I had the honour to represent, so little to the
satisfaction of the expectant fair one.

Leaving Phuttoo and Kamal to take the spoils, we continued our way,
and, crossing the ridge, went in search of the bears first seen. Their
place was vacant: no signs of them. But Subhan, having gone ahead,
signalled us, and we found he had discovered a bear on the other
side the stream which tumbled down this valley. Its movements were
eccentric, and again ascribed to its being under the influence of the
tender passion. However that may be, the lone one came down to the edge
of the stream, there pausing awhile amid the bushes; when an Enfield
ball took effect on its shoulder, and ere it recovered its surprise
another followed. It was then discovered lying apparently dying under
some bushes. Mooktoo went in pursuit, and shortly fired two shots. I
then sent Subhan across to help, knowing Mr. Mooktoo to entertain the
utmost reverence for a wounded bear, always preserving a respectful
distance. Subhan crossed the stream, disappearing in the bushes, which
were seen much agitated, bending to and fro, here and there,--a rush
and the thwack of sticks being audible even above the roar of the
torrent. Then all was still. Next, Subhan appeared at my side; he had
settled the bear, with the result of which he was much pleased. It was
but a small animal, but a very vicious young female.

We proceeded on to Shugkenuz: in the evening visited the same spot, but
saw nothing.

21st June. I had determined yesterday to remain a day here, in order
to make complete arrangements for coolies and supplies, as no village
is met with between this and Sooroo; and we propose stopping to hunt
midway some days, there being good ground for ibex there. I also expect
the coolies back from Sirinuggur, a matter of consequence as lead is
again running short, those tough bears causing such a consumption of
that precious metal.

I started in the morning to hunt a valley across the river, and had
proceeded far up the valley, when I perceived the back of a bear
shewing above some high rank herbage up the hill-side. Up we went, and
came on our prey, and a shot, entering just behind the shoulder, sent
him rolling head over heels down hill: but I had to put a ball through
his head to finish him.

Mooktoo had not accompanied us, having been lame the last two days
from a boil. It is surprising how absurdly ignorant they are of the
simplest principles of curative measures and remedies. His were wet
gunpowder--because it was an European production, I imagine--and a
bandage of woollen stuff. All ready for a move on the morrow.



CHAPTER VII.

SOOROO PASS TO LADÂK.


22nd June. A march, and a long and fatiguing one to the northern
extremity of the Wurdwan valley proper, where it narrows to a mere
gorge, the mountains closing in and overhanging the pent up torrent,
frowning down in savage grandeur--the scenery very wild and striking.
We had to cross the river on the snow, and to move over extensive
snow drifts covering the steep slope of the bank: the very precarious
footing, and the torrent roaring below, made this part of the journey
exciting. I was troubled with a badly-fitting sandal which much impeded
my movements, and increased the danger of falling, at the same time
fatiguing me greatly. Subhan did what he could for me, but was unable
altogether to remedy the evil. The river made a sudden turn, coming
from due east at right angles into the valley, (which runs, I imagine,
pretty direct north and south) up which we continued our course, now
very rugged, and at length, to my relief and comfort, halted in a
small, irregular, up and down opening, by a large piece of rock which
afforded us some protection from the sun, now become excessively
hot after ten o'clock. A great but gradual change has taken place as
the season has advanced. The mornings and evenings are now cool, not
cold, and the days very hot, the sun so powerful as to render my small
shuldary tent quite an oven. I try to diminish the temperature by
putting my double blanket on the top; but still I suffer much, and find
a tree, where there is one at hand, better protection by far.

My followers were very long in appearing, and I felt some anxiety for
my servants' safety in so hazardous a path, but was gratified by the
simultaneous presence of all three, as I awoke from a troubled doze.
The coolies also arrived without accident of any sort.

I went in the afternoon up river to reconnoitre, and had the pleasure
of seeing some half-dozen ibex, venerable fellows, with long horns
and beards, but on the opposite side of the river, and in a place the
approach to which made me shudder to look at. But the attempt must be
made to-morrow.

One coolie arrived from Sirinuggur, bringing lead; the other, the
duly deputed one, remaining behind to see the Baboo, and deliver
his credentials, that individual being absent at some devotional
gathering of the pundits at some sacred shrine, most likely devising
roguery--therefore, no letters, papers, or bullet mould. Ibex had been
seen from camp.

23rd June. Off in pursuit of the ibex seen yesterday. We descended to
the river which we crossed on the snow, and up the opposite side,--ibex
seen above us.

We lay down to reconnoitre. Two ibex, male and female, were coming in
our direction from the heights in the rear. Their intention becoming
apparent to continue in our direction, we climbed up to intercept them,
and a rough scramble it was. After raising our hopes to the utmost,
they turned aside and disappeared. On again--crossing a remarkable
place of semicircular form, where the earth appeared to have parted
from the mountain, and slipped sheer down into the river, so that an
extensive indent of semicircular form remained, its surface loose and
smooth, with a harder gravelly ridge forming a ledge, from which it
descended sheer to the river. The mountains were of bare rock, rearing
sharp peaks of every form high into the heavens. In the further angle,
however, of this crescent of desolation, was a knoll covered with
gnarled dwarf birch trees and rough underwood. To this we directed our
course, and, when gained, it was as nice a spot as could be desired for
a hunter's watch stand.

In the course of the day several ibex were seen crossing the slope,
having been alarmed by the fall of some pieces of rock which, detached
from above, came rattling down near them. We watched them anxiously,
hoping they might come our way. But no: they chose the crags. A
bear and two 'wee' cubs also came seeking more secure quarters, and
evidently bound for our trees; but, winding us some five hundred yards
distant, the anxious dam turned about, after several long sniffs, and
went off in a different direction.

But one ibex, a buck, remained on the slope where he employed himself,
I believe, in licking salt, of which the shikarries tell me there is
much in the earth, and which attracts the ibex to this remarkable
spot in numbers. After watching his movements for a long time, and it
appearing pretty sure that he meant to remain there some time, Subhan
and I started on the forlorn hope of stalking him; a feat of great
difficulty, as, though the wind was in our favour, the quantity of
stones and detritus we had to pass over to get to him--there being in
fact no other footing--rendered it impossible to move without sending
some detached fragments from this huge loose mass rattling below. Then,
the difficulty of moving at all on this steep surface was great. We
took advantage of the stunted brushwood to screen our approach, moving
on only when the animal, ever looking around after a bite or two, put
down his head.

This tedious mode of advance under a broiling sun continued some time;
when the animal, being satiated, suddenly descended behind the low
ridge on the top of which he had hitherto held post. Then we pushed
on, Subhan too impetuous, the loose stones talking loudly. However, we
got to fifty yards of the spot, Subhan still going ahead, head down,
when I saw the horns, then the head, of the suspicious chase appear
above the ridge. Checking Subhan, down we lay, the forepart of our
bodies only screened by some dry twigs of brushwood. I took the rifle,
and, raising it, found the ramrod hanging out. Putting my hand to the
muzzle, I drew it in--the ibex now in full view, shewing his breast, a
fine mark. But from the attitude I was in, lying on my right side, with
nothing but loose stones to scratch at, I could not, for the life of
me, find means to poise the gun and take aim. Subhan lying in front of
me on his side, I tried to rest the gun on him, but could only bring
it to bear by pressing on the slope of his shoulder as he lay, which
afforded no rest. The animal's quick eye now detected the convulsive
twitchings of my limbs, and, giving a shrill whistle, he presented his
side at which I pulled trigger as he bounded away. A smack was heard,
which we hoped was the ball telling, and away we went, but saw the ibex
slowly bounding away. He paused at the foot of a rock, wagged his tail
rapidly, and vanished with a dive into a gulley.

Subhan, thinking him wounded, pursued. I had also great hopes from the
sound, notwithstanding the difficulty of my position; but, on examining
the ground whereon the animal stood, I found the spot where the ball
struck at his feet, the rifle having slipped down the slope of Subhan's
shoulder as I hastily pulled trigger on the startled animal. Subhan
returned, discomforted exceedingly. And, repining at the extreme ill
luck at being surprised in such an impracticable position, we rejoined
our equally disappointed comrades who had been eagerly following our
every movement through the telescope. We gained the ground on which the
fine old patriarchal long-beards had been seen yesterday--now, alas!
where? Far beyond our ken. We returned on our steps; had terrific hard
climbing up and down; and I arrived at the bivouac thoroughly done up,
with a pain in the back from straining up hill, which may necessitate
rest.

While lying waiting on the mountain side, I observed a spot on the
river below us, where from the contiguity of certain rocks dividing the
stream, it appeared feasible to throw a bridge over, plenty of wood
being within reach. But I observe that almost close to this spot the
pines and firs cease, and nothing but the dwarf birch appears; and a
mile or two further on even this wood ceases, and only bare rock is
visible. The shikarries promise to have a bridge made, which will then
afford us easy access to some good ibex grounds, now very difficult to
get to.

24th June. Sunday. I was very well inclined to enjoy the repose this
day brings with it: my back stiff, and an occasional sharp twinge in
the lumbar regions, painfully reminded me of my fruitless exertions
yesterday. I took a stroll in the afternoon. The shikarries and coolies
went to build the bridge.

25th June. I started off to the place where the bridge had been
commenced yesterday, but could not be completed owing to the quantity
of water, from the melted snows. It was to be finished this morning,
the coolies first bringing my things here. We saw some fine ibex on the
very crest of the mountain opposite, and resolved to try and get at
them in the evening.

The things arrived, and the coolies set to work at the bridge. I made
a hearty breakfast, and afterwards went to watch the operations. The
rough poles were now across, and the shikarries proposed starting
at once. I did not much relish the thoughts of the climb just after
breakfast, and the sun exceedingly warm, but acquiesced; so off we
went, and crossing this apology for a bridge over the furious torrent
was no easy matter. I had to collect my nerves for the attempt. The
poles were laid first from one bank to a large, high piece of rock,
and from that down to another much lower, and then from that to the
other bank: they were very crooked and loose, and moved about and
sprung under the pressure of the foot. But I crossed safely, and then
breasted the mountain. It was dreadful hard work. After many halts
we reached the upper regions, where we found it quite cold, a strong
sharp wind blowing. The shikarries went to scout, and returned with the
provoking information, that they had watched the ibex which had betaken
themselves to a distant and inaccessible portion of the mountain.

Something must be attempted after such an arduous ascent. I determined
not to go down without an effort at any rate, so proposed to sleep up
on the mountain, sending a coolie to bring some clothes and eatables.
This was decided on. Then, looking for a place to wait in till evening,
I descended a short way towards a tremendous ravine which cleft the
mountain from crest to base, running nearly in a direct line for a
couple of miles, its sides of bare rock, precipitous, and rugged.
Above this I lay down in no very agreeable state of mind at the
prospects before me.

About 3 P.M. I saw the identical five fine ibex emerge, and file
slowly across the opposite hill-side. I watched them eagerly
without a movement, lying on my back, till they disappeared over the
ridge. One was a splendid old fellow, with huge horns, and moved very
leisurely behind the others. How I longed to be within reach of him!
The shikarries, who had occupied other places to watch, soon joined
me, excited by the same sight. We were preparing to move, when two
more ibex were seen following in the track of the others. We had to
wait till they were out of sight: then, off we went, and had hard work
to cross the ravine, and ascend the opposite hill of slate and snow,
steeply scarped. We gained the crest, and found the ibex were down on
a level open slope, far out of reach, and hardly possible to approach.
Here was a disappointment. After a long consultation a plan was formed,
we hunters to make a 'detour,' and then the coolies to descend towards
the game, and let them be aware of his presence.

It being so arranged, up and away: and after further violent exertions
we reached the part of the mountain under which the ibex had been seen
feeding--most difficult ground, being very steep, and either of smooth
slate, or fragments affording no footing. We gained the top of the
ridge. Subhan unfortunately did not reconnoitre, but made a turn to the
left to gain a passage through the much-broken rock, when suddenly he
shrunk to the ground, as the horns and heads of two magnificent ibex
came into view, emerging from a narrow cleft and coming towards us.
They, of course, saw us. We were not thirty-five yards apart. Now, to
record what took place I can hardly undertake, nor do I exactly know
how it happened. The heads, and necks, and ridge of back, of the ibex
were alone visible, a piece of rock screening their bodies. No doubt,
I was discomposed and flurried by their unexpected appearance so near,
and under some unaccountable influence did not at once take aim, from
some undefined notion that they would offer a better mark immediately,
and for fear of frightening them by any movement. I was, moreover, in a
most uncomfortable squatting position on a steep slope. After a second
or two one moved forward, and, unfortunately, instead of the movement
bringing him better into view, it had the opposite effect, for the
ground dipped so that the animal was instantly out of sight; the other
moving on, I fired and missed. I was then obliged to rise up to see
him. He had not dashed off at the discharge, but moved on at a slow
pace, as though quite unconcerned. His whole side was presented as I
rose in much agitation to aim, and just as I raised the rifle he dashed
down hill, my bullet passing harmlessly over his back. I rushed after
him, risking neck or limbs, heedless of every thing but the chase, my
second gun in hand: sighted him--on again, when I was brought up by a
fearful precipice, a huge abrupt chasm severing the mountain: leaning
and peering over, I saw the two ibex below, but was so blown I vainly
tried to take aim, so, as the distance was great, gave it up.

I was still looking after the retreating game, when Subhan signalled
something exciting, and we found he had spied other four ibex in sight,
far off. We assayed to get at them. Our coolie was in sight, and the
ibex, taking fright, after a turn or two, made off in our direction,
but far away below us. Down we dashed in chase to cut them off. But,
ignorant of their point, we failed--with our utmost efforts, and after
many slips and escapes, arriving to see them, having crossed the lower
end of this chasm, canter off up the opposite hill-side. The shikarries
urged me to fire, so putting up sights, hopeless myself, I sent two or
three bullets very close to them--that was all.

It was no use to remain up now, so I decided to return to camp, a
long and difficult step. We saw coolies down below with the things,
descended to them, and found the long absent messenger from Sirinuggur
there.

He had letters, newspapers, and the bullet mould for me. This somewhat
allayed the unpleasant reflections I was a prey to, and broke in upon
my brooding over my mishap; and, on Subhan expressing an intention
to move camp onwards in the morning, I suggested that he and Mooktoo
should instead try and get at these ibex. They did not appear half
inclined for the job, I thought. And no wonder, considering the amount
of work we had done.

All the camp was out in evident expectation of our success, hoping
for meat. Long faces, when the result was known. My mishap did not
prevent my eating my dinner; but it was interrupted oft-times by
melancholy ejaculations, and sighs, and groans. I had confessed all to
the sympathising Abdoolah, and told him my heart was pained at losing
such fine ibex. My Hindostani was not equal to the requisite idiomatic
phraseology, I suppose; for, on my shortly retiring to my tent, he
followed me, and put his head into my tent. On enquiring what he
wanted, "he had come," he said, "to offer to rub my stomach to relieve
the pain I complained of." I know I said 'heart,' and not 'stomach.'
But this circumstance operated beneficially, and I retired to bed
thoroughly knocked up, but mentally serene.

26th June. I was disturbed at an early hour by a rumbling under
my bed: the two hunters were getting out the guns. "Mind you bring
back the big horned one," I said, and again relapsed into peaceful,
strength-restoring slumbers. When up, I set to work to cast bullets,
and found the mould for the Whitworth most ingeniously constructed, but
with a great deal more art than was actually necessary. The bolt was
not true, however, the base of the cylinder being larger than the upper
part; but I thought that this could be remedied by the use of the knife
and file, though at considerable expense of time and trouble. And so it
turned out.

There were letters from Punnoo, Vizier, assuring me the offending
villagers should be punished, and from the Baboo on matters of
business, and lots of newspapers which were most acceptable.

About 2 P.M. I saw Mooktoo returning alone. He immediately beckoned
me. I guessed his object, and called out to the coolies to bustle up
and be off to help the shikarries--that they would now find lots of
meat. There was a general stir and excitement in the bivouac, all
turning out to gaze upon the approaching Mooktoo, still a long way off
on the other side the river. He carried something evidently; and, on
one of the coolies reaching him, he threw down his load which we then
perceived to be the head of an ibex, with fine horns.

He shortly joined us, and proclaimed the welcome news of four fine
ibex being the result of their chase. All the coolies were despatched
to help Subhan who, in the course of three or four hours, made his
appearance with a long train of followers bearing heads and limbs.
There were great rejoicings at this great success, and the prospect
of a general feast of flesh. I looked mournfully on the unfortunate
victims, taking little pleasure in their destruction, as I had not
enjoyed the excitement of the chase which was, by the hunters'
accounts, a most arduous and perilous one. They had been long
traversing the mountains without a sign of game, and were returning,
when an ibex was viewed, and following him they had to climb terrific
crags; to do which they had even to take off their sandals, and,
slinging their guns, climb up on all fours. They became separated, and
were in much apprehension for each other's safety. But all turned out
most happily for their sport; for Subhan was surprised by a fine buck
coming out of a ravine, and presenting him a fair broadside. He knocked
him over; when another took his place. He then disposed of that one,
and others were thus turned down to Mooktoo who floored his brace, and
wounded another. Two or three fell down the precipitous crags, and were
consequently much knocked about, but the horns were luckily uninjured.
I decided to halt tomorrow to prepare the heads, &c.

27th June. All remained busy in camp, stretching skins, and preparing
heads. Rain fell during the day. In the afternoon, it having cleared
up, leaving Phuttoo working at the heads, the other two and I went off
on the chance of seeing something; but heavy rain again set in, and we
returned drenched to camp.

28th June. We struck camp, and set off to next ground. The morning was
heavy and cloudy, and it was an uninteresting march along the river
bed, here very shallow, and broken into many streams. The mountains,
on either hand, were steep and craggy, and their lower slopes, on the
southern side, clothed with underwood, dwarf birch, &c., but, on the
north side, covered with grass, not a tree or shrub to be seen there.
The slopes came right down to the river banks, affording hardly a spot,
here or there, on which to pitch a tent. The valley, running east and
west, is narrow and wild. We arrived at the camp ground, a rough
spot, completely covered with wild leeks or onions, like a cultivated
bed. Rain came on, and we hunters were in a poor plight--no shelter
whatever, and all the wood and herbage so wet we could not raise a
fire for an hour, though every dodge was resorted to: my feet, being
saturated, were miserably cold.

The tent and other things were late arriving: the rain turned to snow,
and it became bitterly cold; and in the afternoon the snow lay three or
four inches deep, even on the low ground.

29th June. I awoke after a bitter cold night, which much interfered
with my sleep and comfort. The snow still lay on the ground; but the
clouds breaking, giving an occasional gleam of sunshine, every thing
was put out to dry.

My dog Sara had been very busy yesterday working, scratching, and
digging, at a marmot's burrow. There are numbers of these quaint
creatures here constantly seen sitting upright, and uttering a shrill
whistle, like the sound of a dog whistle. He continued his operations
in the most indefatigable manner to-day; and, having nothing else to
do, all set to work to help him unearth the 'varmint'--no easy job, as
his earth was under a huge piece of rock. However, at last the poor
little beast was assailed in his citadel, and he fought viciously,
tooth and claw, but was finally secured by nooses passed over his hind
feet, and then dragged ignominiously out to the public gaze. Sara made
a rush on him, and tackled him, but not relishing his teeth withdrew
from the contest, and I put the poor thing out of further pain by two
or three blows on the head.

30th June. We moved on to new ground reported to be frequented by
ibex. Several parties, coming down this path, profess to have seen
them. Phuttoo, who has been ailing some days, I think from rheumatism,
remained to accompany the main body. We, of the light division, came
on ahead, and found the carcase of an ibex fresh killed, and partly
devoured by wild dogs. This is a terrible blow to our hopes, as in all
probability the ibex have been harassed and frightened away from this
place. From the camp ground nothing whatever can be seen in the way of
game, though the hills look very likely.

In the course of the day some excitement was created by Ali Bucks
asserting he saw an ibex. After enquiry and much useless reconnoitring,
it was decided to have been a marmot. Soon afterwards I was examining
the features of the mountains, and laying out plans for our route in
the afternoon with Mooktoo, when we both became aware of real ibex
being visible in the very spot I was pointing out as that we should
make for. The ibex were numerous, and some large horns among them. They
appeared to be excited by something, supposed to be a fight among them.
They soon disappeared. But the knowledge that they were actually on
the mountain was a great relief, as we feared those rascally dogs had
driven them away.

About 2 P.M. we prepared for the chase, and, moving up the valley,
reached the glacier from under and out of which the main Wurdwan river
flows. This enormous mass of ice and snow fills the upper end of the
valley, extending many miles right through the Sooroo Pass, the path
running over it. It was awkward work crossing the chasms and rents
in it; but it was our only means of getting to the other side of the
river. Rain set in, making our anticipated hard labour in ascending the
mountain still more formidable and disagreeable.

We paused at the base of the hill to reconnoitre with the glass, and
after some time had the satisfaction of seeing the ibex emerge from a
hollow, quietly feeding. We counted thirteen. Thus cheered, a plan of
attack was considered and fixed. We had as usual a tremendously heavy
pull up hill, crossing a place in a ravine much frequented by the ibex;
indeed, in smell and appearance like a place where sheep had been
folded. Everything tended to raise our hopes.

We worked steadily on, until we reached a good elevation, when Subhan
went ahead to scout, and returned with the pleasing intelligence that
the ibex were in sight, and undisturbed.

We mounted higher with great caution. Subhan, again scouting, made
signs to us--the game was lying down. On, again--excitement becoming
great, as we neared our intended prey. Subhan peeped over the crest
of the sharp rocky ridge, under shelter of which we were stealthily
advancing, and made unmistakable signs of something unexpected and
exciting. He beckoned me to bring a rifle; so I climbed to his look-out
place, and was gratified by the sight of a single ibex, a large buck,
with a magnificent pair of horns. Taking time for breath--the animal
evidently unconscious of danger--I fired, the ball apparently striking
the shoulder, and breaking the off leg. The animal--wonderful to
relate--hardly noticed the wound or the noise, and, to our infinite
astonishment, began to eat again. I fired another shot, again striking
the shoulder--the animal again shewing little signs of concern, but
shortly, with great deliberation, lay down. Not knowing what to make of
such strange conduct, I fired another shot, which effectually did the
business.

The guns being reloaded, we looked about, and saw a large flock of
ibex startled at the reports, but puzzled to know their meaning.
Following Subhan, I advanced to intercept them, and gained an eminence
overlooking their position which was in a grassy hollow. It was a
stirring sight. I suppose there were thirty or forty of them. And
leading the way was the master of the herd, a very large buck, with
splendid horns.

This one I singled out, but was some time ere I could adjust my rifle,
and get a steady aim, as he moved on, here and there, over the uneven
ground. I was lying down; but, as he was increasing his distance, there
was no time to lose, and I fired, the missile apparently striking him
well behind the shoulder. He started, and recoiled, and made off down
hill; and at the discharge a regular hurry-skurry took place among the
others who, crowding together, took downwards. Two shots brought down
one, and wounded others, and away they all went. I loaded and pursued;
but they had got across a huge ravine, and were about six hundred yards
off. I tried the Enfield; but the bullets struck close to them, and
that was all.

I loaded, and turned back to the victims, and found the first a very
old animal with only one tooth in his head, his horns very long, but
somewhat worn and dilapidated. He was as thin as could be. The other
was a young buck.

I now bethought me of the fine fellow I had taken such pains about,
and had wounded. We found his bloody trail, and sighted him a long
way off, slowly moving on up the mountain. I sent Subhan and a coolie
in pursuit, and returned with Mooktoo to skin the others. Heavy rain
descended, then snow, with loud peals of thunder over head. A coolie
descended the mountain to hail the encampment for assistance. We were
in sight of our tents, though miles away, far above them.

A shot was heard in the direction Subhan had taken; and, just as
the second animal was skinned, he returned, saying he had killed the
wounded ibex, but it was not the big one. This I could not understand,
being sure _that_ we saw was the identical leader of the herd.

We now descended, again crossed the glacier, and were welcomed in camp,
where universal glee prevailed at our success. Poor old Phuttoo was
much delighted, and chattering away gaily, calling to mind how he had
told me that some day I should have great sport with the ibex.

When the ibex that Subhan had finished was brought in--it was brought
in bodily--I exclaimed at once that it was not the one we had seen
retreating, not a doubt of it. Subhan declared it was wounded, however.
That is probable enough: but the animal we saw was the big buck, the
size and colour quite unmistakable--nothing like this little bit of a
creature. Subhan acknowledged that owing to the snow, rain, and dense
clouds, he could not follow the trail; and, seeing this wounded ibex
before him, thought that must be the one he was following, so finished
it, and came back.

This was very unsatisfactory, as I gave up a capital chance at the
main body to try for this big fellow. I told Subhan that I thought it
ought to be retrieved; so he and Mooktoo are going to try and find him
to-morrow. I distributed 'backsheesh,' and this being the Mahomedan
great day, the 'Eed,' I had in the morning given the shikarries a leg
of mutton, tea and sugar, &c.; and now they are singing away merrily.

1st July. Sunday. Much rain fell during the night. Subhan went off to
try and discover the wounded ibex.

Heavy rain set in, in the afternoon, and continued without intermission
until dark. It was very cold.

Subhan returned quite unsuccessful, the rain having obliterated the
tracks. I regret this loss much. It was such a splendid animal, the
pick of the herd.

2nd July. On turning out of my tent, dressed and ready to march, I
found that a hard frost had come on in the night, and much snow had
fallen on the mountains; in consequence of which the glacier was
declared to be too dangerous to attempt to cross, as the numerous rents
and fissures would be thinly coated over with frozen snow, rendering it
impossible to detect and avoid them. I submitted the more patiently to
this delay, as the swelling behind my knee was considerably enlarged by
my struggles over the slippery ground on Saturday; and I, somehow or
other, clung to the forlorn hope of there being a chance of retrieving
the lost ibex, if we remained here; that a flight of vultures,
buzzards, or crows might point out the carcase.

But no such good fortune appears to await me, as I have been scanning
the mountain side till almost blind, but no favourable augury in the
skies. The ibex must now be given up as irretrievable.

3rd July. Although rain had fallen, and at early dawn the weather was
very unsettled, the shikarries roused me up. I had made up my mind that
they would not think it advisable to move, so had composed myself to
another allowance of sleep; but was soon dressed, and on the march.

The glacier, which we now had to cross, has all the disagreeables
of that peculiarity without its redeeming features, its varied and
brilliant tints, such as are renowned in Alpine scenery. This was an
ugly, dull, dirty, stony mass of ice and snow filling up the gorge
in the chain of mountains, forming the pass through its ridge from
the Wurdwan to Sooroo. The ascent was not difficult, except from the
cumbering rocks and stones which, brought down from the heights,
the accumulation of centuries, lie in heaps and masses, huge and
unsightly, nothing picturesque about them. Even their colours are dull
and repulsive. And here and there is a yawning chasm, descending into
depths unknown, very hideous when looked into.

We had barely reached the general level, when a violent snow-storm
burst upon us. The heavens were black, the wind howled in furious
gusts, the weather and accompaniments enabling one to realise one's
fancies and ideas of a mountain pass in a storm. We battled manfully
against it, diverging here and there to avoid danger; and so toiling on
reached the most elevated part, the ascent gradual. Here we were free
from the rocks and stones, there being only the ice and snow, a layer
of fresh-fallen snow having re-carpeted the surface. We crossed many
a gaping fissure, and proved that the precaution of the shikarries in
not starting the other day was reasonable; for our guide, a Wurdwan
peasant, suddenly plunged down, but recovered himself. He had fallen
through a crust of drifted snow concealing one of those ugly rents
which stretch across from side to side of the gorge.

Our path led to the left. The snow-storm had subsided, and the sun was
now shining. The direct course of the pass, hitherto followed, appeared
to be obstructed by insurmountable obstacles in the shape of ice and
snow, ranged in tiers and ridges to a great height. The mountains, on
either side, had been throughout precipitous and extremely rugged--huge
crags without a vestige of vegetation. We had now to ascend, and
laborious work it was, the snow being soft, and the sun now hot; in
addition to which, one's power of breathing was much affected by the
extremely rarefied air at this great elevation. The summit gained,
the descent was tolerably easy to us more practised mountaineers; but
the glare of the snow was terrible. Mooktoo was attacked by severe
pains in the head, and lagged behind. I, after stopping to rest a few
minutes, and watching four ibex which shewed on the left, when I got
up, was almost blind. Luckily we had nearly passed over the snow, and I
recovered immediately on quitting it; and about two miles on we reached
our destined bivouac, when I was glad to breakfast.

We were now in a narrow valley with the usual mountain torrent, fed by
tributaries joining from other like valleys. The mountains were rugged
and almost bare, yielding only patches of brushwood here and there,
and some scanty herbage, but looked likely for ibex, were it not that
a number of tattoos had been brought here to pick up a hard-earned
subsistence. The sun now poured down its vertical rays upon us with
tremendous effect, and I took up a position alongside a piece of rock
to screen myself as well as I could. Of my party the three servants
first appeared. Long afterwards the coolies came straggling in; they
had a hard day's work.

I arranged to hunt in the morning, though predicting a total failure,
tattoos being in all directions.

4th July. A sharp frost during the night, and lots of ice in the
morning. I was only informed, when starting, that three coolies were
missing, supposed to have been obliged to remain on the glacier from
snow-blindness. I ascertained that they had provisions with them, and
assistance had gone. Buddoo, classee, and most of the coolies were more
or less blind from inflamed eyes.

We went up a valley westward, and before we had gone above four miles
found the tracks of numerous dogs--hateful sight--then those of ibex,
also numerous. I despaired of seeing any, but still pushed on to a
decided bend in the valley, whence a scout could obtain a view of the
whole ground. Here we stopped, and the country being reconnoitred
without a sign of animals we retraced our steps to camp. The shikarries
were much put out, as they had been confident of finding much game in
this spot, and had predicted great success. I was the sooner reconciled
to the disappointment from learning that the ibex of this region are a
short horned breed, as are those of Thibet and Ladâk generally, they
tell me.

I found Abdoolah doctoring all the bad eyes, and a most forlorn
spectacle the sufferers presented, their eyes smeared with some
ochre-coloured mixture, groping their way about as in the dark.

5th July. Up early, and off down the valley in an easterly direction,
the valley very narrow, the slopes running down sharp to the river. The
heights after a few miles, gradually receding, opened into a transverse
valley in which is situated Sooroo and its fort. A few hamlets are
scattered here and there on the lower and level slopes nearer the river.

The fort is a square with four small corner turrets. Some half-dozen
sepoys hold watch and ward there, I believe.

The sun was very powerful. It was a new atmosphere, country, and
people. The country--but that it is mountains, and mountains only,
except the divisions of the mountains which form the valleys--is bare
and uninteresting, the denizens thereof of small stout frame, and
strongly marked Tartar physiognomy--pukka Thibetans.

I paid off the Wurdwan coolies, and proceed to-morrow on the ordinary
'bunderbus' of coolies from stage to stage, except the five entertained
for the campaign.

[Illustration: Browne. Lith. Norwich.]

6th July. We were off soon after daylight, following so followers,
scaled the mountain, and so commanded the fortress below. Then, a few
musket shots being fired, the valiant Bhooties fled manfully.

Under the young trees on an island, gained by stepping stones, I
halted to breakfast. Pleased with the picturesque aspect, the cool
shade, and fresh moist air, I determined to rest till the sun's abated
heat rendered trudging less disagreeable. In the course of the day my
attendants passed on; and in due time we also toiled up the zigzag
path to the old fort, and travelling over a very stony valley, with a
patch of cultivation here and there, reached our quarters, a charming
spot for these barbarous regions, a considerable expanse of richly
cultivated land, the crops now forward and high.

The mountains here receding yield a large space for cultivation, of
which the inhabitants have availed themselves to the utmost, running
their fields and terraces high up the steep slopes, and by means
of conduits, ingeniously and laboriously constructed, contrive to
compel reluctant nature to bring forth abundant vegetation. The whole
landscape is dotted with fine willow trees of large growth, and lines
of them flourish thickly planted along the watercourses. And, greatly
adding to the beauty and charm of these attractive hamlets, are found a
profusion of wild roses, single-blossomed like our red dog-rose, but of
powerful perfume. These delicious shrubs line many of the channels for
irrigation, reminding one of many a village lane in a far distant land.

The houses of these rude people--rude only in their condition,
otherwise personally civil--are rough solid structures of stone,
flat-roofed, with a mere hole for a window which, like the door, is
closed by a wattled shutter. On the roof is stored the highly-valued,
hard-to-be-got supply of fuel, some few fagots, the clippings of the
willows, the only species of tree affording anything like timber, and
of which their entire stock of implements of husbandry and utensils are
formed. Well may they protect and cherish these invaluable trees. They
must have some stringent laws for their preservation, and rules for
their lopping and felling; the latter extreme measure, I believe, being
rarely resorted to, as the branches being lopped, and the very vitals,
as it were, of the trunk pared and scooped out, the frame, just the
cuticle, clings to life, and again does good service, recovering from
its hacking, and putting forth shoots, and putting on branches, times
unreckoned.

My tent was pitched on a patch of beautiful greensward, adjoining a
square stone building of some pretensions in these parts, a sort of
stronghold in days past, and uniting that character with that of a
store for grain in the present day, the Maharajah's dues in the various
produce being gathered in here from the neighbouring districts. There
was but one sepoy here, and a remarkably handsome pleasing-looking
young fellow he was.

If the aspect of the villages at this season is charming, that of
the inhabitants is, and must at all times be, repulsive. Their
features are hideous, excepting an occasional good open forehead, a
redeeming feature, giving a look of intelligence to otherwise brutish
countenances. Their want of attraction is increased by the state of
filth they wallow in. The men are clothed in a sort of loose tunic of
dark brown woollen, felt leggings wound round by garters, and felt
boots with leathern feet. These are large canoe-shaped things, having
no reference to the size or shape of the foot, but are wadded with old
shreds and woollen rags to make them fit. A close-fitting skullcap,
with an upturned rim, crowns their greasy heads. Then, the females--can
they be the fair sex, these hideous specimens of creation human?
They wear, also, a dark woollen tunic reaching to the knees, with
continuations of the same materials. As far as I have seen they have
no head covering, but wear their greasy hair in plaits and tresses,
and actually adorn their chevelure with the wild flowers, roses, &c.,
with all the vanity that might an European beauty. These ill-placed
ornaments are disposed over either temple. They also wear felt boots;
theirs, as the men's, being wide at top, and reaching above the ancle,
giving to both sexes a clumsiness about the feet, which adds to their
uncouth, ungraceful appearance. Both sexes wear a goat skin with the
hair on, as a cloak. They have some rude gewgaws by way of jewellery;
and where are the females found who have not? The Australian aboriginal
ladies, who may be quoted as in the most humble circumstances, wear
a white bone thrust through the cartilage of the nose-bones, shells,
or stones in their ears--and a dab of raw meat fat, by preference, in
their locks, and think it the 'ne plus ultra' of feminine adornment. It
remains only to note, that so valued and valuable are these creatures
here, that one individual is allotted to two or three husbands--one
wife to a family of brothers--which of itself sufficiently establishes
their utter barbarism.

A young official, a Cashmiri, the moonshi of the Sooroo kardar, had
come on with us to make the necessary arrangements for coolies and
tattoos. One of the latter had been provided for me to-day, but looked
such a woe-begone thing that I did not like to entrust it with my
person, somewhat too weighty for such a bit of a steed; so I trudged
it out. But, feeling considerable fatigue and soreness of foot from
the long rough journey, I assented to a tattoo being provided for the
morrow, and several were now paraded for choice, mostly mares with
foals beside them. By the bye, I must note that a mile from Sooroo we
had to cross a torrent--all torrents here--by one of those ingenious
and curious suspension bridges, doubtless the originals from which our
magnificent structures were conceived and framed, made of twigs of
willow woven into ropes, and the ropes into large cables. They are thus
constructed. A pier of stones is built up without mortar, on either
side, close to the water: within the pier are planted two upright stems
of trees about two feet apart, and a transverse one secured on the top,
over which the suspension cables are hauled and strained, and fastened
down by large stones piled on them: the footway is a plait of this
twig work about ten inches wide, suspended from the two side cables
by numerous connecting ropes of like manufacture, of about three feet
depth. One ascends the pile of stones, stooping low, creeps through
the two uprights, and with a hand on each side-cable performs a sort
of acrobatic 'pas' on the slack rope, swinging about uncomfortably.
However, I relished the novelty of the thing, this being the first of
these bridges I had come across. My little dog, Sara, did not relish
it at all, but, having assayed a step or two, retreated in a very
ridiculous, nervous manner, and was then ignominiously carried over,
enveloped in a cloth, on the sepoy's shoulders, whence he anxiously
watched the passage. And how he did skip and jump, when he was safe
over!

I must also remember to note that many birds of European kinds were met
with, some of which I had not found before, as magpies, and the pretty
little goldfinch. There are larks too, which are common enough, and
enliven these regions with their merry notes, warbling until quite dark
at evening, and again, ere coming day, cheering one with their quick
trilling chirp and song. The homely sparrow, too, was present, and
also the solemn old crow. A couple of the former quaint, pert, little
birds attended most familiarly at my dinner, coming fearlessly close to
the table to receive fragments, only temporarily routed by the sudden
desperate onslaughts of Sara at them, who pursued them with relentless
animosity, they just keeping beyond his reach, and again returning when
he, out of breath, was busily occupied with his bone. They were merely
birds attached to the village, quite at large, yet wonderfully tame,
and treating me as an old acquaintance, jumping to catch bits thrown to
them, their bright, little, black eyes glittering and rolling, as they
appeared as though they were saucily winking at me--the jolly old birds!

The name of this village was Sarkur, as near as I can define the sound.



CHAPTER VIII.

LADÂK.


7th July. Up at the earliest dawn, and off, with a string of tattoos
and foals following. I did not understand the meaning of this, but
ere the journey had well commenced discovered that the shikarries had
craftily schemed to save their shoe leather, and through the influence
of my 'purwanah' had persuaded the moonshi to press these animals into
our service. Poor Subhan, however, had as leader to march before me who
had resolved not to ride before breakfast at any rate.

The road was very fair, always accompanying the river, and leading
through hamlets such as have been already described, some of much
interest, with their narrow lanes of rose bushes which were one mass of
blossom, and delightfully fragrant. In one place, was a hedge of yellow
roses covered with blossoms which were, unlike the red, double and
well-formed, but of inferior perfume. The red rose hedge on one side,
and yellow on the other, had a pretty effect; and I imagine their being
thus placed to be purely accidental.

We tramped on manfully, Subhan and I, the other fellows riding with
the moonshi in the rear, for some three or four hours, when arriving
at a thriving village where we were to change coolies, not horses,
I stopped to breakfast, and on the arrival of attendants started
afresh about noon, it being cloudy and tolerably cool. I mounted the
moonshi's tattoo, a well-bred, nice looking mare; and oh! the bother of
regulating the stirrups, or trying to do so, for I had to ride, after
all, with one some eight or nine inches longer than the other; and such
a hard scrimpy, little bit of a saddle--I should have been better off,
had I walked the whole distance, long though it was, I believe.

Soon after leaving this village we passed through another, and left a
large cultivated valley on our right, entering upon a track of rocky
desolation.

From the base of the mountains to the river's brink was nothing but
heaps of stones, apparently water-worn stones, a very wilderness of
stones--ten thousand Londons might have been paved from them, and
they would not have been missed. The mountains, big, brown, and ugly,
towered behind them; the sun came out fiercely, the saddle pinched,
the stirrup leather galled, the little mare, weary, fumbled drearily
along through the loose stones, and I did not altogether feel as
though I liked it. However, I was charitable to the poor little nag,
and, barring an occasional impatient jerk of the bridle and a mild jog
of the heel, took no steps to urge her to greater exertions. So, on
we slowly wended our weary way, the country after a while improving,
and again presenting verdant stretches of cultivation with the usual
accompaniment of willow trees, and now, not unfrequently, poplars,
most of which, like Greenwich pensioners, had lost a limb or two, or
been otherwise maimed. Hedgerows of roses became more abundant, and
one or two small villages were lovely with them, and their rich crops
of grain--beans, peas, and lucerne, all in bloom--adding beauty and
fragrance to the scene. Bright sparkling water, too, in plenty trickled
across and down our path.

But, though I tried hard, I could not properly enjoy all these charms:
I was so weary and uncomfortable. Some five or six miles beyond where
I looked for our halting-place, Kargyl, we at length reached it--an
irregular basin, into which flows the river I have been following,
and another from the east, both united flowing out in a northerly
direction as a large rapid river. A square fort with corner turrets is
the principle feature, glaring with whitewash. The crops all around are
fresh and green, the whole surrounded by massive mountains of varied
form, but of one hue of sombre brown.

8th July. Sunday. A delightful fresh morning, which induced me to
take a stroll before breakfast, feeling now perfectly recovered
from yesterday's fatigues. I had pitched my tent in a small tope of
young poplars, in the midst of which some clear water, escaped from
a channel in the hill above, had found its way moistening the ground
and producing fine green turf, but leaving a dry sandy space for a
tent. Sand-flies were numerous and pertinacious. During the night I
was suddenly roused with a sensation of something in my hair; raising
my hand I clutched something of peculiar substance, but felt it had
legs. I threw it on one side shuddering, and was amused this morning
at seeing the object of my fright on the canvas over my head--a large,
fat, green caterpillar, with a pair of tweezers at his tail, with which
he held on.

My stroll led through the small fields hanging on the hill-side,
supported by rough stone walls in terraces, the crops rich and
beautifully green. My path was agreeably lined by rose bushes.
Many flowers and sweet scented herbs were also on either hand, and
some poplars and a fine mulberry tree or two were a great addition
to the general features of the landscape. I turned here or there,
following the windings, and ups and downs, of the borders of the
field, until I had gained an eminence overhanging the valley down
which the river rushed and foamed, fields lining its banks. It was
a very beautiful view, the lofty mountains exhibiting their massive
proportions well-defined at this early hour of the day, a haze in the
distance improving the effect. The air was cool, balmy, and delicious,
fragrant with the perfume of flowers. Long I gazed around, and much I
mused. There was much in the scene before me, and its fresh, sweet,
mild atmosphere, that reminded me strongly of other lands that I had
visited--Madeira, Malta, the Cape. There appeared to me a decided
blending of similarity with the two former, and also a trait or two
undefinable of the latter.

I was amused by the manoeuvres of a startled child, too small to
run away, who had been deserted by his companions, in alarm at my
approach. The 'wee' chap was squatted amid some tussocks, and clumps
of flag, the blue Iris, I think; and, as I advanced, he turned himself
round one, believing that he was effectually concealing himself from
the formidable monster approaching. But my sharp hunter's eye had at
once detected him, and without stopping, lest he might be too much
terrified, I spoke to him caressingly--at least, I tried to. This was
before I paused and mused, as above. When I returned, he was still
beside his fancied screen, but no longer performed his evolutions.
He gazed on me still with evident wonder and awe, though at the same
time somewhat reassured, so I did not approach too near. This slight
incident, somehow or other, had a pleasing influence on me, and sent me
back cheerful to camp.

The sky became overcast, and in the afternoon there was a violent wind,
and at last rain, so I kept my covering.

9th July. A very cloudy morning saw me under-weigh at 5 A.M.
We crossed the river by a good wooden bridge on rough stone piers,
situated just below my tent. Then, ascending the other side, and
mounting a stiffish hill, we found ourselves on a table land--open
undulating downs--closed in, of course, by mountains. These downs had
but a tinge of green, as from the sandy soil and want of water there
was but a very light, sparse herbage on them. The air was delicious,
cool, and fresh, the rain of yesterday having purified the atmosphere,
and brought out all the latent perfume of the plants around.

I tramped gaily on, chatting with Subhan, the other shikarries keeping
in the rear on tattoos. I had given no permission or authority for
engaging these ponies, and was rather puzzled to know how they were
provided. However, I said nothing, intending to ascertain in the
evening, as I had no notion of paying for ponies for these lazy scamps.
Knowing the parties, I suspected some underhand tricks.

The path for some miles led up a stream bordered by fields interspersed
with roses, a few houses here and there; then, leaving the village of
Pashgyam, it entered upon a barren ravine, running along the hill-side;
and so on, until we came upon more cultivation and a pretty village,
where in a charming spot under some willows, by a clear brawling brook,
I stopped for breakfast, having been on the march four hours.

My food was not altogether satisfactory; half my tea had oozed out
of the bottle; one egg was all yellow, instead of that colour being
confined to the yolk. This was pitched into the stream. Another with
a slight touch of the jaundice I devoured reluctantly, and repented
having done so afterwards. And from the condition of my dough cakes
I think Ali Bucks must be moulting, the black hairs are so numerous,
and being long they cannot be extracted. Small matters these to an old
campaigner. I got some good fresh milk, and the fine air was 'edibles.'
After a while, I noticed the arrival of a sepoy with a native who
remained discussing something with the shikarries, Mr. Phuttoo being
principal. This lasted some time, and they, perceiving that I noticed
what was going on, moved away. I called Subhan, and asked him what the
sepoy wanted, and what they discussed. Nothing at all, he assured me.
Shortly after, a Thibetan came rushing down to me, vociferating and
claiming protection; and it turned out that these rascally shikarries
had pressed his tattoos by some connivance of the moonshi at Kargyl. I
directed them to be given up at once, and turned away in disgust from
these lying knaves. It is no use saying any thing. They tell you that
it is the 'dustoor,' the custom of the country; and they all practise
oppression over each other, whenever they possibly can.

I forgot to record before, that the shikarries told me on the morning
I left the camp before reaching Sooroo, a place where they had assured
me we should have two or three days' good sport with ibex, that a man,
a friend of Subhan's, tending ponies pasturing there, had confided to
him the previous night, that the Sooroo kardar, hearing that a 'burra
saheb' was coming to 'shikar,' and apprehending that if he found sport
he would stop some days and would be troublesome to him for supplies,
had sent men with guns and dogs to hunt and scare away the game;
that they had killed one ibex, and only left the place the evening we
arrived. On first hearing this, I scouted the idea; it was so very
improbable. But Subhan and the others repeated the story with such
asseverations, and so many plausible corroborations, that I partly
believed them. On arriving at Sooroo these knaves assumed a high tone,
and frightened the poor old kardar who did not come near me for some
time; but having appeased the shikarries by a 'douceur,' as I suppose,
they told him I would receive him, and forgive him on apologising. Now
I believe the whole story to have been false from beginning to end,
and actually plotted and devised to extort something from the kardar.
Verily, in these parts, all men are liars.

We continued our route, and plodded on, the sun now hot, finally
arriving at our camping place, the village of Shazgool, a Buddhist
place, with the lama's house curiously built into the face of a
perpendicular rock looking down on the village, a shabby tumble-down
place, and some tombs or shrines tawdrily painted with clumsy devices
of hideous demons on them. These are paltry looking constructions, of
mud principally.

This was a small village of some nine or ten houses in a dilapidated
condition; but they are all apparently in like bad case, the
inhabitants miserably poor, judging from their appearance and
surrounding indications. But they seem to be stout, healthy, and
cheerful. The women, I fancy, do most of the work, as with all
barbarians. A large wicker basket seems to be a fixture on their backs,
and with this appendage they are seen busy in the fields, weeding,
putting every shred of herbage so gathered into the said basket which
by evening is filled, when they return, and the produce of their
industry serves for fodder for cow, sheep, or goat, every blade of
vegetation being of value in these barren regions, where nothing grows
but what is actually extorted from reluctant nature. How different from
the adjoining country of Cashmere, where, on the other hand, nature is
profuse in her gifts, covering mountain and valley with the richest
herbage, and yielding heavy crops of cereals to the merest scratches of
the plough. Both are wonderful countries: Cashmere, for its beauty and
fertility; Thibet, for its savage desolation and sterility. The natives
of each land, too, partake strongly of the relative characteristics of
their native land: the Cashmiries, famous for personal beauty,--the
Thibetans, as notorious for ugliness. Strange, though, they possess
some taste; for almost every individual of the numbers met travelling
yesterday and to-day had a bunch of yellow roses, or other bright
flowers stuck in his greasy cap.

10th July. On the march at 5 A.M.--the path as ever in these
mountainous regions running by a stream threading the narrow valley.
Here and there was a strip of green cultivation, with brown mountains,
mounts, huge hillocks, all barren, some craggy, others smoothly
rounded, heap on heap, pile on pile, here falling sloping back,
allowing the eye to range over many successive wave-like summits, there
rising up abruptly with crags, and clefts, and dark ravines, closing in
upon and overshadowing the narrow valley. I tried to find some mode of
description by which one might give a person verbally some tolerable
idea of the combined desolation and grandeur of these scenes; but all
in vain.

We had a long and fatiguing ascent, prior to which we passed through
the village of Waka, near which abutting on the path, is a sculptured
rock standing alone, representing a Hindoo deity. The figure is carved
on the face of the rock which is of granite, I think, the height
about thirty feet, and the workmanship the average of what one sees in
Hindostan. A small mud building closes in the lower extremities of this
idol, in which is a shrine; and I found within garlands, and signs of
recent worship, some few professors of Hindooism residing close by. The
natives call this idol, Mohir Chamba, and say it is of great antiquity;
but to me the chiselling appeared fresh and sharp. This, however, from
the hard quality of the stone would be the case for a length of time,
especially in this dry climate. There are few Hindoos now in Thibet,
Buddhism being the prevailing creed. Many mussulmans are scattered
among them.

Men are now met with wearing pig-tails, Chinese fashion. They have a
different cap, too--a long bag of black woollen stuff which is turned
over, covering the top and one side of the head. The Maltese, if I
recollect right, wear one precisely similar.

Finding no shelter from the sun after breakfast, having halted an
hour we continued our route, now downwards, until we descried one or
two willows in a hamlet; for which we made, and glad enough we were
to escape the sun's scorching rays, and rest ourselves. We moved on
again about two o'clock--much too soon; and, after two or three miles,
further grilling, we stopped at Karbo, our halt.

There are many Buddhist monuments here, rude tombs of mud and loose
stones. The principal feature is a thing like a great sugared cake,
perhaps intended to represent an urn: adjoining and connected with
this is a raised oblong, varying in length--some are ten feet, some
twenty, others fifty--built up of stones, about four feet high, the top
flattish, and covered all over with loose flat stones, all sculptured,
both in figures and letters. These tombs contain the bones of sainted
lamas, I believe. They are very inferior to the tombs and pagodas met
with in Burmah, some of which are beautiful specimens of architecture,
and extremely picturesque. All I have seen here as yet are mean and
paltry. These monuments are whitewashed, the wash remarkable for its
lustrous quality. I questioned Phuttoo as to the composition. He said
it was a substance dug out of the earth. I observed that it differed
much from that in use in India. He said, it was not 'chunani.' I
imagine it to be a kind of chalky pigment.

11th July. Away, with the dawn, though we had not so long a march in
prospect as those of the two previous days, which must have been over
twenty miles. But it is well to start early to enjoy the freshness of
morn, and avoid the excessive heat of the sun which I really think I
endure better than the shikarries. The scenery of to-day was similar to
that of yesterday, which is, I imagine, the type of the entire region,
unless the banks of the Indus present any variety: if so, it will only
be in the height and formation of the mountains. There was a gradual
ascent, with a sharp pitch at the end, to the summit of the hill on
which was a stone Buddhist monument, and in its shade I stopped to
breakfast. From this eminence the view was extensive and interesting,
the adjacent mountains possessing peculiar features, and being so
distributed as to afford good distances.

I stopped till the small building no longer protected me from the sun;
then, perforce, braved his potent rays, and pursued my route on to Lama
Yurru, our intended bivouac.

As we descended to the level of the valley, opening a bend I detected
some wild looking animals moving from among some cattle. Subhan, after
a while, declared them to be shâpu, wild sheep; so guns were got ready,
and with small prospect of success, the ground being level and bare,
we prepared to stalk them. The game, numbering some twenty-five head,
rufous coloured animals, of deer-like form and action, with two small
upright horns curving backwards, were gamboling, moving here and there;
nor did they become aware of dangerous neighbours, until we were about
a hundred yards from them, when they stood gazing for some seconds,
presenting a fair mark. But, alas! my lungs were heaving so that I
could not take aim, Subhan, in spite of my oft-repeated lectures and
warnings, hurrying on 'ventre a terre,' so that with the attitude
I was quite distressed, and only looked and longed at the inviting
target before me, entertaining a sort of hope that they would give me
time. But not so; a few seconds only to gaze, and away they cantered
in a string across us. Rising, I aimed at the line; the ball struck
true in direction but low, I think, the scared animals dashing aside
right and left. A thud, however, was heard, and we all thought that
one was hit; when looking some little distance beyond, there stood an
unfortunate bullock, one hind leg slightly raised from the ground, and
blood trickling down. There was only time for an exclamation or two as
we followed the herd now making for a hill, when they were on which I
fired my battery at them, the distance three or four hundred yards, the
balls striking right amongst them--wonderful how they all missed!

Now came full upon me the sense of my misfortune and ill luck. There
stood the hapless bullock patiently and silently enduring his wrongs,
his poor wounded leg still shrinking from the ground on which the
oozing blood was frothing. I was much annoyed and grieved at this
mishap. The poor wounded creature looked so melancholy in its patient,
silent attitude, and I feared the wound was mortal. The ball from
Whitworth, striking the ground, had doubtless glanced, and so struck
the wrong animal. I loudly deplored my ill luck: the shikarries
dumbfounded muttered together, attributing such a strange accident
to the undue influence of evil spirits; and we pursued our way down
the dusty path, until the green vale of Lama Yurru greeted our aching
eyes--a remarkable place, a stronghold of Buddhism, a monastery and
other dwellings of lamas being perched on the top of a singular ridge
of rocks of some hundred and fifty feet perpendicular, scooped and
hollowed out here and there, divided into buttresses over which were
laid the floors of these curious buildings which themselves appear well
constructed of sun-dried brick, of two or three stories in height--one
the principal mansion of four. Some have little balconies projecting;
all have windows, some good-sized and regularly placed, while a number
of small loopholes are scattered about the walls. These buildings slope
inwards from the base slightly, on the pyramid principle, as I believe
all the houses of this country do. Many monuments and tombs are here.
Long rows of them stretch along parallel with the path, looking just
like a line of huge chess pawns with square pedestals.

A considerable extent of terraced fields along the stream attest
the comfortable circumstances of this community. Clumps of yellow
and common roses are numerous; but sad havoc has been played with
the willows, the stump of many a fine tree recently felled being
conspicuous: but about half-a-dozen remain standing. I have not
ascertained for what purpose this unusual cutting has taken place:
perhaps, some new building or extensive repairs are in contemplation.
My tent is pitched on a nice bit of turf, a stream of clear water close
at hand, guided to turn a small mill which rumbles away beside me.

On reaching this place I threw myself down disconsolate beneath a shady
willow, the shikarries endeavouring to divert me from my gloomy mood
by anecdotes of accidents and mishaps of a far more melancholy colour
than mine;--how a shikarry had shot a man in his own field for a bear,
this very man having indicated that identical spot as the place the
bear would be found in, then by fate being led thither himself, and,
concealed by the high grain, there slain. Several similar instances
were narrated. Phuttoo, the most eloquent and storied of the trio,
winding up with an astounding accident that befell his father who,
when with Golab Sing and his army, in some unaccountable manner shot
a bear; the ball, passing clean through the bear, killed outright six
sepoys, all in a lump, and wounded a seventh in the arm. The Maharajah
conducted an inquest personally on this lamentable slaughter of his
warriors, and found the circumstances so marvellous, and Phuttoo
senior's 'kizmet' so wonderful in effecting such destruction with one
ball, that he over-looked the loss of his men, and presented him with
two hundred rupees, backsheesh;--a nice, veracious, little narrative
this. The other shikarries, of course, vouched for its accuracy.

On arrival I despatched a man to ascertain the nature of the wound
of the bullock, and to whom it belonged, in order to compensate the
owner. Resolved not to hunt to-morrow, needing some repose after these
long marches, I arranged to send out two villagers to scout. After
dinner the messenger returned, bringing intelligence of the wounded
beast which turned out to be a cow, less valuable in these parts than
a bullock; which latter, being used for carriage of merchandise, are
more highly prized. The wound he seemed to think not mortal. I differ:
a Whitworth bolt is no trifle, and the frothing blood a bad symptom.

All the natives of the place came to look at us, and visit the
shikarries, Phuttoo being known to some of them. One of the group
had in his waist-belt a double flageolet, or rather whistle, which I
requested him to play. He made an attempt or two, but failed except
to produce some unsatisfactory notes, excusing himself on the plea of
nervousness and alarm at performing before so great a dignitary. The
two pipes are in unison, I think.

I am going to remain here three or four days; certainly over Sunday,
whether sport is found or not, as I want my servants and things from
Sirinuggur to join me. My original plan was for them to meet me at
Kargyl; but the shikarries made such a bad bunderbus, dissuading me
from sending orders from Shugkenuz, as I proposed, that they could only
have started from Sirinuggur on the 6th, and we reached Kargyl on the
8th, to which place it is ordinarily eight days' march from the former
place. A longer delay is likely to take place owing to a deficiency
of coolies, as the messenger of a saheb 'en route' to Ladâk informed
us. He said, the Maharajah was sending his whole army to subdue the
Gylghit tribes who were in open revolt against his authority, and that
all available means of transport had been taken up to accompany the
force. He told me there were fears entertained that my baggage could
not be sent on at present. This would be unfortunate as I am out of
powder nearly, and should have to send in and wait the return of the
messenger ere proceeding further. But the Baboo would have written
in such an extremity: so I hope, four or five days hence, to welcome
my belongings. This messenger overtook us on the march from Kargyl:
he is in the employment of Lieut. Brinckman, 94th, who has gone into
Chan-than, beyond Ladâk, on a shooting expedition; where I had thought
of going but for the strong dissuasions of Phuttoo who represented
that country as a most sterile, dusty, and difficult region to
traverse, everything--even to grass--having to be carried, and the wild
yâk, the only object worth the trouble and risk, even if seen, which
was exceedingly doubtful, a most difficult creature to approach.

On these and other similar representations, I abandoned the idea,
limiting my travels eastward to Leh and its environs, where I propose
remaining a few days, giving Suleiman an opportunity of offering
his Scriptures, &c.; thence to make my way to Iskardo, returning to
Cashmere through the Tilyl valley, by which time the bara sing will be
in season.

12th July. I took a saunter along under the lamas' dwellings, then down
into the barley fields--very pleasant this leisurely stroll after my
three days' hard, broiling work. The two villagers, sent out at dawn
to scout, returned with the unsatisfactory information that they had
searched far and wide, but seen nothing. However, we did not place much
dependence on them.

In the evening, taking my glass, I went off myself in the direction
in which it was stated the game would be found, if anywhere. But not
a vestige of shikar could I discover. I saw Subhan go by on the same
errand, and returned to dinner. On coming back he reported a barren
country without a trace of game.

I had great doubt about trying to-morrow, but after some consultation
determined to convince myself on the question of game or no game; and,
if none should be found, to shift camp on Saturday across the Indus
to Kalsee, reported by the shikarries to be a nice village, with many
trees, and undoubted shikar in the neighbourhood; so that will be a
pleasanter locale in which to await my things, and it is but eight or
nine miles off.

The owner of the wounded cow came to report on the health of that
unfortunate quadruped which by his statement is alive, but in a bad
way, lying down and eating nothing. I fancy something definite will be
known to-morrow.

13th July. I started at dawn with not very pleasant anticipations of
my day's work, expecting very hard walking in a barren stony country,
with hardly a chance of sport. And so it turned out. We ascended hills,
and traversed table lands, and peered into gullies right and left, but
saw not a glimpse of game: so, after some three hours and a half of
this unsatisfactory toil, we descended to a stream on the road, hard by
where I shot the cow; there breakfasted, and returned to camp.

We again passed some of those curious Buddhist erections--long, oblong,
tomb-shaped piles. There were two about fifty yards long each, with
an interval of some thirty yards. The tops were slightly slanted from
the centre, and covered with the smooth, flat, water-worn stones,
except a few yards left to be filled in by them. These stones were all
inscribed with figures, or Thibetan characters; and I endeavoured to
ascertain from the two native attendants, through the interpretation
of the shikarries, the meaning of the inscriptions, and the object
with which they were so placed. But my gleanings were very scanty,
the shikarries having but a limited stock of Hindostani phrases,
not a general knowledge of the language, and only a few words of
Thibetan. But thus much I made out; that every stone was similar
in its inscription, bearing the words--as well as I can letter the
sounds--Mâni, Pâni, Pudma-hoo--which I understood to be one of the
titles of their divinity, and that these engraved stones were thus
presented as an oblation and offering acceptable to their god--being an
act of faith and devotion from which as a consequence prosperity is
looked for. More I could not discover, the shikarries being very obtuse
in apprehending an idea on such subjects. These are not tombs, then,
but rather altars.

On return I announced my intention to move to-morrow. The lumbadar
came to see me. He had just returned from Leh, had a decided Thibetan
face, and wore some ornaments, necklace, ear-rings &c., of red coral
and turquoise. These appear to be the fashionable jewels here, nearly
all--the poorest even, in rags and tatters--having a bit or two stuck
about them. He showed me a card written by poor Moorcroft who perished
so sadly in Bokhara, bearing date June 16th, 1822, stating that he
had presented a coral to the monastery, as a token of his visit.
This lumbadar was an interesting fellow, evidently very bashful and
sensitive, but quick in apprehension and intelligent.

The cow case came up for final adjudication, the animal in the same
condition; so after some discussion I gave the owner the full price of
the cow, as stated, _viz_: six Maharajah rupees--only five shillings
English--and, if it recovered, so much the better, he would be a lucky
fellow. So ends this sporting episode. It has not been without its good
results in establishing the European character for justice.

14th July. We got away at 5 A.M., and took the path onwards to
Kalsee. It threads a narrow gorge giving exit to the waters of a
torrent, the scenery grand and savage--towering cliffs, beetling crags,
shutting out the sky. The path was conducted in the most irregular
evolutions and zigzags, and occasionally running almost into the river;
so much so that I was reduced to mounting Subhan at two places to keep
dry. We crossed several well-constructed bridges, and came upon a much
larger stream, which we followed through its devious windings to the
Indus. In one place it rushed along a channel cut in the solid rock,
each side level and scarped as though by man, the depth being some
twelve feet, and the width about six.

At length this ravine, opening out a little, debouched upon the valley
of the Indus running at right angles to our course, and here a dirty,
shabby-looking river, of some twenty or thirty yards in width, in a
narrow and sterile valley, the mountains on either side shelving down
so close to the river as to leave little more than a few yards of
level on which was the path. We saw on the opposite side men working
at a hole, and on our own met others with gold-washing implements,--a
wooden, flat, boat-shaped affair, with a cane-work frame, and ladles of
gourd. I believe the yield is very scanty.

On, about a mile, to a bridge over the Indus, on this side of which
is a Buddhist shrine; on the Ladâk side is a small fort of sun-dried
brick, very insignificant--a three-pounder would knock it into
'smithereens' in half a dozen rounds. There are three or four sepoys
here. All goods are weighed here, and pay duty before crossing.

It was about half a mile further to Kalsee: and pleasant, indeed,
it was to see the green trees and fields. The place appeared quite
civilised after the savage country we had traversed. There were large
gardens and fields fenced in by stone walls, fruit trees thickly
interspersed amid the grain, principally standard peaches, the fruit
now at about half its size. The whole wore a charming aspect of
industry and improvement. Passing along the walls, we came under the
village which, built on the side of a rocky hill, overlooks its smiling
terraced fields and orchards, now beautifully green. The path now led
under some fine spreading walnuts, affording delicious shade, a most
grateful relief to my aching eyes, parched and bloodshot from the
burning glare of the barren rocky regions I have been crossing.

No level spot of sufficient space, devoid of grain, being available
for my tent, I resolved to purchase the crop under a walnut tree, so
ordered the attendance of the Zemindar, with whom the shikarries and
sepoy bargained, the price being fixed at a pukka rupee. While this was
going on, an alarming attack was made upon the intruders from above.
The proprietor's better half, having got tidings from some busy-body of
what was going on, descending took up a position above us, and began
to wag her tongue violently, as some of the dear creatures can do.
Not relishing this music, and fearing that, if she was not satisfied,
we should have a constant repetition of it, I offered an additional
half-rupee, explaining my reason for this excessive liberality. This
being interpreted to the Zemindar caused him and the bystanders much
merriment, for I fancy that I made a hit in attributing a voluble
tongue to this howling harridan. All was now serene, and I was
installed in my barley field under the fine walnut tree; and much did I
relish my homely meal, reposing under its pleasant shade.

We had some talk on the prospect of sport here. There are ibex and
shâpu a few miles off, but not in any numbers, and the ground very
difficult: the latter information I regard little, feeling now equal
to anything. I despatched a villager, professing to know the haunts
of the animals, to procure accurate information; and on Monday mean
to try my fortunes in the chase again. I fancy myself now inured to
disappointment and ill-luck.

My tree did not effectually protect me from the sun when declining from
its meridian height; so about 2 P.M. it was oppressively hot,
and continued so long after sunset. I had not calculated on so sudden
a change of temperature, and was really unwell from its effects.
Lama Yurru always afforded a cool refreshing breeze; and there is a
considerable difference in the altitude of the two places, which gives
that place the advantage of the cooling influence of the snows on the
neighbouring mountain heights, from which Kalsee is too distant to
benefit at this season.

I turned into my little oven of a tent, the heat very great, and
innumerable sandflies adding their torments to its discomforts.

15th July. Sunday. After a restless night I arose not feeling much
refreshed, but taking a stroll, and ascending a hill, the fresh
morning air and fine bold scenery gradually had its beneficial effect
on mind and body. I mounted some distance, expecting a prospect in
the direction we should proceed to-morrow, where, by the way, Subhan
and Mooktoo have gone on their own suggestion to look about and
make enquiries. I found the view intercepted by an elevation too
considerable to encounter as I felt, so sat down amid the boulders,
still having a splendid prospect up the Indus, not seeing much of
the river but the adjacent mountains which were more varied in form
and broken up than usual here; and the colouring was this morning
rich, and yet subdued and toned down under the effects of a delicious
haze, the soft morning light sobering the too glaring browns of these
naked rocks, leading them away from the foreground by imperceptible
variations of shade--here and there a suspicion of olive green--until
they were lost in the pervading blues and greys of distance. The tone
was soft and mellow yet cool. I was charmed; and my mind soon took that
devotional phase which such influences are so apt to produce.

I returned in mind serene and cheerful to camp. I had directed my
tent to be shifted a few feet, by which move it was in shade all day,
and consequently I felt the heat less. Indeed, I did not experience
any discomfort from it, as a strong breeze from northward was blowing,
rustling among the leaves overhead, and sweeping with pleasant music
over the green crops bending and waving to its pressure, which would
have imparted an idea, if not a reality, of coolness to one, had it
been actually hotter. The shikarries returned, reporting the ground
to be entirely devoid of even the tracks of game. They had extended
their search over an extensive range, and had interrogated some native
shikarries shooting partridges, but the result ever the same--nothing.
We agreed, therefore, to shift camp to-morrow some eight miles further
towards Leh, and there try our luck. This country, however, is so
barren and desolate that I despair of sport here.

After dinner the shikarries came for a chat. I was interested in their
account of the brothers Schlagentweit who were some time in Cashmere,
prosecuting their explorations in natural science. Subhan had been in
their employ for some months, collecting specimens for them; and his
account thereof, and his amazement at such, to him, worthless rubbish
being thus treasured and sent to Europe, was very droll. It escaped in
the course of his narrative, that these talented naturalists were, from
their mysterious experiments, more than suspected of connection with
the Evil One, and of practising sorceries, &c.

Subhan, trying to put on an air of unconcern and incredulity, evident
uncertainty and suspicion evincing themselves in his tone and manner,
described how these 'savans' mysteriously and with cautious secrecy dug
holes in a garden at night, covering them over, and leaving a candle
or lamp burning near, he and others being ordered to watch and see
that no one meddled. "Nobody," said Subhan, "was ever allowed to see
what was put into these holes, and, when questioned, the sahebs told
them the matter was beyond their comprehension," But, he added, it got
about, and was confidently asserted, that these strange operators had
purchased a slave to whom they administered doses of 'shrâb' (spirits)
till he was insensible: they then buried him in the ground, in order
to make a good specimen to add to their collection. The shikarries all
eyed me in that peculiar manner denoting a partial belief in a wonder,
with a certain sense of its improbability. I burst out laughing,
of course, at this extraordinary misconception of some scientific
experiments, and believe I removed this lurking suspicion of black
deeds on the part of the innocent philosophers from their deluded minds.

I understand that search is still being made after the effects of
the unfortunate one of these three, whose death in the wild regions
north-east of Simla is yet enveloped in obscurity. I heard just before
leaving the Punjab, that some tidings had been received, and there were
hopes of recovering the poor fellow's effects and papers, the latter of
which would, doubtless, prove valuable to science.

All arranged for a move to-morrow.



CHAPTER IX.

LEH.


16th July. We got off early as usual on such occasions: without
making any effort to start at a fixed time, we are always punctual
to 5 A.M. within a minute or two. It was a cloudy morning, such
as in any other country would indicate rain. Our route lay along
the Indus, the surrounding scenery mountainous and barren, with no
redeeming features, until we had completed some six miles, which
brought us to the considerable village of Noorla, looking nice and
flourishing with its green fields and abundant fruit trees, apple and
peach, scattered about. We passed through this village, and then turned
up a watercourse to the left--north-east--and a mile or two further
on arrived at the village of Tahmoos, exhibiting a long stretch of
corn fields along the stream, with numbers of apple and peach trees
generally interspersed, also some fine flourishing walnuts. Houses were
grouped here and there, some on the hill-sides on whose summits are
visible what appear to be remains of an extensive fort, but may only be
the appurtenances of the Buddhist monasteries and shrines which stand
out conspicuously amongst them.

The lamas are evidently strong in this neighbourhood. They, like
the monks of old in our native land, are to be found congregated
in the most fertile and richest spots in the country. The mode of
life and habits of these Buddhist recluses assimilate very much
also to those of the monks. They live in sloth and idleness on the
labours of an ignorant and superstitious population, in requital for
their maintenance and comfort performing such religious rites as
their formulary directs, and repeating prayers. But their principle
occupation, I am told, is blowing copper horns--from which I have
experience of their producing awful sounds--and drinking tea, which
they render a substantial article of food by mixing it with butter to
the consistency of batter. They wear a monastic dress of a dull red
colour. I saw one of the fraternity to-day--and a very ugly specimen he
was--pass by, two or three times, with a bright copper concern in his
hand about the size and shape of a cook's flour-dredging tin, to which
a string and tassel were attached which he kept twirling round as he
went. This was probably some devotional act.

We took up a narrow strip of ground shaded by walnut and peach
trees--not bad quarters--and here I breakfasted; which meal did not
pass over so pleasantly as usual. My milk brought with me was sour: it
was carried as usual in a soda-water bottle. I directed fresh to be
brought, and when it arrived it was very dirty, as is everything here.
Mooktoo and Subhan set to work to prepare it for my use, the process
as follows:--Subhan's turban was taken off and two end folds used as
a strainer, a portion being depressed into the neck of the soda-water
bottle; but as the milk did not run through freely Mooktoo expedited
its progress by stirring it up with his finger. This not answering
their expectations, the milk was strained into an utensil belonging to
them, and then poured into the bottle, Mooktoo's fist encircling the
neck answering the purpose of a funnel. All this was openly operated
before me, and the bottle, thus 'nicely' replenished, presented to
me with a satisfied smile of successful ingenuity. Well, it was as
good as usual. Believing that such modes of remedying difficulties
are constantly in use with our servants, I determined not to be
squeamish,--but must confess that my dog, Sara, had most of the milk.

This spot is surrounded by rocky mountains, huge, bare, and rugged.
Little prospect of shikar, I think: so I declined Subhan's suggestion
to go forth and try my luck to-morrow, not relishing the thoughts
of the tremendous exertions with so little hope to cheer me up, but
preferring that Subhan and Mooktoo should experimentalise alone, and on
their report I go or not. I expect nothing from their explorations.

17th July. I enjoyed a pleasant stroll before breakfast, descending to
the stream and following its course upwards some little distance, then
turning and passing through the verdant crops, so fresh and pleasant,
with their many willow trees and numerous rose-bushes scattered
about in the divisions or fences. The fields were full of people
industriously engaged weeding, &c., all of whom saluted me respectfully.

Mooktoo, pleading illness, had not accompanied Subhan in the
exploration; following whose direction in the afternoon I thought I
might meet him on return, but having gone two or three miles I returned
and found him at camp, he having come back by a different route. He
had seen neither animals nor their traces throughout the wide tract he
had examined.

There was no use remaining here, so I gave directions for moving on
to-morrow to Hemschi, a place reported to be good for shikar. But we
have information of a saheb being there, who has come from Simla by the
Roopschoo road.

After dinner Subhan and Mooktoo came to chat; and as we discussed the
demerits of this miserable country, Subhan hinted the advantage of
a trip to the Karakorum mountains on the road from Leh to Yarkand,
provided we could procure authentic information of the shikar being
as abundant there as travellers reported. A friend of Mooktoo, a
merchant whom he met in the Wurdwan, had recommended him to take
me there, assuring him that animals of several kinds were not only
very abundant but tame. I readily entertained this project; and we
remained considering and planning a long time, all three quite elated
by the glowing pictures of successful sport we conjured up. We set
down Phuttoo as too old and unsound for this arduous enterprise,
strengthening this disqualification by a strong suspicion we all held
of his bad luck, as, somehow or other, my failures always take place
when he is present, my successes during his absence--strong presumptive
evidence of his kizmet not being prosperous.

I turned in, excited by the visions of the mighty yâks I should
encounter in this field unexplored by European hunter.

18th July. A long, tedious ascent of some six or seven miles, and then
a moderate descent brought us to Hemschi, a straggling village in a
wilderness of stones covering a valley through which a stream wanders
to the Indus. The fields have been cleared with immense labour, and
are fenced in by the rounded stones simply placed one on the other to
the height of three feet. Just as we arrive at the cultivation, are
found surrounding a small rocky eminence a number of strange looking
trees of the fir species, which at first I conceived to be cedars, but
on a close examination in the evening believe them to be junipers of
unusual proportions and of an antiquity dating centuries back. These
are the first trees of the sort I have seen in the country, and there
are none others to be heard of. This would induce the belief that they
are not indigenous.

I fixed the site of my bivouac on a barren rocky hill, the best the
place afforded, and breakfasted beneath the shade of a spreading rose
bush, bearing an abundance of fine blossoms of a large, full, double
kind, but wanting in fragrance--still a most agreeable canopy.

My effects to day, as yesterday, were in part borne on the shoulders,
not delicate, of women, they always bearing their share of like
burdens, their share by far the largest. They appeared quite at home
at the labour, and seemed rather to like it, laughing and chatting
cheerfully--the hideous, good-humoured wretches. They, one and all,
here wear a remarkable coiffure:--a black leather or cloth flap or
lappet being worn under the hair so as to protect the ears, to this a
fringe is appended, and the frowzy locks in plaits are brought over
it in loops, and are tucked up behind, having much the appearance our
own dames might have, if after adjusting their chevelure they rubbed
their heads for a considerable time in the coal skuttle, and then were
dragged through a furze bush. Still there was a sort of resemblance
to the style. In every individual the hair is parted in the centre,
and over this central division is placed an ornament, a black band on
which are fastened pieces of turquoise, some very large--the biggest
often as large as a walnut--in front over the forehead, from which they
are continued in regular order to the nape of the neck, where further
observation is cut short by the goat skin cloak from beneath which a
tuft appears, which is to all appearance the tail appendage of the hair
and said band which, I fancy, are in some measure connected and twisted
together, hanging down the back, like that of the Cashmiries.

No prospect of sport here, the saheb we had heard of having, as we were
informed, unsuccessfully hunted the neighbourhood.

19th July. The early part of to-day's march was very trying and
fatiguing. The road, crossing two or three minor ranges of the system
of mountains, was nothing but climbing steep hills--again, after
descending, to repeat the same monotonous toil; all around barren and
desolate as usual. We passed two small cultivated patches, and reached
Leiker, a good-sized village with one or two quite imposing looking
houses, well-built of sun-dried brick, with rows of small windows.
Subhan reported this to be Bazgoo, the place we designed to halt at.
But after breakfast it was discovered to be Leiker, and Bazgoo some
distance on.

About half-past ten we again set out, and endured a dreadful scorching
over some arid sandy plains. A village, seen far in the distance,
seemed to fly from us. I supposed it to be Bazgoo, and was surprised
to find on reaching the top of a gentle rise a sudden deep declivity
descending into an extensive valley, and immediately below us a large
thriving village. This was Bazgoo. But we had to proceed, passing along
by houses and many Buddhist structures of more than ordinary size and
dignity, until gaining the end of the village we halted under a fine
large apple tree, offering the only shade in an uncultivated spot. We
were huddled up close together, which was not satisfactory, and led
to my having to enforce silence after enduring the annoyance of much
jabber passively, long after I had retired to bed.

20th July. We got away this morning at half-past four, having a long
and difficult march to accomplish. About four miles of level sandy
plain, passing some Buddhist monuments of very great length, some
three or four hundred yards long, the extremities finished by large
urnlike masses of masonry on step-formed pedestals, the sides of the
latter ornamented with figures in plaister--many of these structures
were met with during the day, all being covered with the sculptured
stones already described--to a large and flourishing village, that
seen from the distance yesterday, Mimah. We then ascended through a
ravine twisting and winding, ploughing our way through heavy sand and
grit--three-quarters of an hour's most tiresome labour--when, reaching
the top, a more open, level country presented itself; which gradually
widening opened out into extensive plains of barren sand gradually
dipping the Indus, and what looked like a swampy country in the
distance, with many snow-capped mountains filling in the background.

We passed a lama fort-like building perched on a hill in the middle of
cultivation, on the left, and a small village, on the right (Piang);
then descended to the very brink of the Indus which here, instead of
rushing violently between high precipitous banks, meanders in divided
waters through an expanse of flat meadows covered with grassy turf, a
small village dotting the surface here and there. An enormous bank,
of miles in length apparently, and one or two in breadth, slopes down
in one unbroken line from the mountains to the river's brink on the
other (the southern) side; producing a singular effect, looking like
an enormous mud bank solidified--brown, barren, and stony. Turning the
spur of a range coming right down to the river, an expanse of green
turf opens before one, a fort-like building on a high rock in front,
and an enclosed garden near it. For this I made, now rather knocked
up, my right foot being sore from chafing, causing me to limp heavily.
I forced open the door of the garden which only contained willows and
poplars, and, finding a tolerable house in the middle empty, took
possession of the same, well satisfied with such good shelter, and
anxious for refreshment after five hours' most fatiguing tramp.

I sent out to find some messenger to send in to Leh with orders to
the thanadar, Basti Ram, to send me a tattoo on which to complete
my journey in the afternoon. Coolies under the sepoy made their
appearance, and were ordered on, but exchanged at a village close
by--this was the third change to day--and, soon after, Subhan trotted
up with four tattoos which he had engaged for our party.

I remained under shelter till 4 P.M.; then mounted and took the
route to Leh; which place we soon sighted on crossing an elevation,
its remarkable fort, formerly the palace of the Rajahs of Ladâk,
standing out conspicuous, looking out from the top of a rocky hill
under which the city appears to repose.

There was now a dreary plain of gritty sand to be traversed which was
unspeakably tiresome, being four or five miles in extent, the sun
and glare cruelly strong. This passed, we reached rugged, irregular,
cultivated ground, where a good strong nag, of the Bokhara breed, I
fancy, sent by Basti Ram, met me; on which I was glad to mount, having
with difficulty urged the little mare I was on to a smart walk, she
constantly stopping to look after the safety of a small foal, following
whinnying behind.

Some way further on a 'posse' appeared, comprising the two sons of
Basti Ram in gay attire, with some sepoys in dirty ditto, waiting to
receive and welcome me to the city of Leh. We exchanged courteous
greeting; and I pursued my way thus escorted to the outskirts of the
city (so called), over an infamous path of stones, ditches, and drains,
running over the partitions of the fields, when I accorded 'congée' to
the gentlemen attending me, and, preceded by an official, made my way
to a garden, or enclosure, containing poplars and willow trees, where
I found my tent and belongings awaiting me, and was heartily glad of
a good wash, nor at all disinclined for dinner afterwards. This was
a very long day. I have now reached another prominent point in my
travels, where I must, perforce, remain some days, until my effects
from Sirinuggur arrive, of which I have no tidings.

Leh is certainly picturesque, but further than that I can say nothing
at present in its favour: but imagine it to be a dirty, insignificant
place, the fitting capital of a miserable country, and a low degraded
population. We shall see.

By the way, I must not omit that, in the narrow ravine on this side
Mimah, whose sandy depths caused us so much exertion to traverse, we
overtook a party of villagers proceeding with asses laden with firewood
to Leh. This being distant some fourteen miles was pretty strong
testimony to the nakedness of the environs of Leh. With this party was
one in ordinary attire as themselves, but of the clergy--in fact, a
lama; and in his hand he carried one of those bright copper affairs I
had noticed at Tahmoos. This article was in shape like a child's rattle
of large size, the upper or box portion revolving on its axis, the
handle. To the box was attached a string some two or three inches long,
with a tassel at the end. I now had a good opportunity of ascertaining
the use of this singular instrument; and the lama without more ado sat
down by the way, and commenced revolving the box, at the same time
rolling his eyes about, and mumbling uncouth sounds, stated to be
sentences of prayer and adoration, the number of which were calculated
by the revolutions of the instrument, indicated by the swinging tassel.

21st July. I arose vigorous and fresh, the night having been cool and
pleasant, and just loitered about this enclosure in which I find a
tent, horse, and dogs, and attendants of Major Tryon, 7th R.F., who,
they tell me, has been in these parts some twenty days, and is now
across the Indus shooting, having been away eight days.

About eleven o'clock a saheb rode into the enclosure with many
attendants. He turned out to be a Mr. Johnstone, of the Survey, at
work in this vicinity. I asked him up to my tent, where we had a long
chat; to me a great treat, as I have not seen an European since I left
Sirinuggur, now nearly ten weeks. I asked my new acquaintance to share
my humble fare at 6 P.M.

I was visited by a nephew of my friend Ahmet Shah of Islamabad, who is
in a similar position here to his uncle at that place, being kardar
of a large pergunnah, adding to this office the important duties of
government moonshi. This rencontre is fortunate as he can give me
reliable information of the Karakorum road and country, and also aid me
in my purchases and arrangements. As yet the caravan of merchants from
Yarkand has not arrived; but they are within five or six stages of Leh.
On their arrival he will make searching enquiries as to the chance of
success in those regions.

The shikarries, it strikes me, are not so keen now the time approaches
to carry out our project, as they were when it was only in embryo. I
notice a perceptible lengthening of visage and a melancholy tone in
discussing the question, which I attribute to rumours afloat of the
Yarkand road being frequented by robbers. It is certain that a merchant
of this place was, not long since, plundered of all his property
somewhere between here and Yarkand. But that they are afraid of my
reproaches, and aware of the uselessness of such a course, I verily
believe they would attempt to dissuade me from going now, and I must be
careful not to let them humbug me with false reports. I know them to be
capable of any amount of falsehoods, of any calibre. Phuttoo wears a
particularly suspicious sneaking look to-day, from which I surmise him
to be plotting some deceitful trick or other.

I strolled just outside the enclosure in the afternoon, and find Leh to
be situated within an arc, almost a complete circle, formed by rugged,
naked hills, spurs of a lofty range of mountains--running to all
appearance north and south, or thereabouts, in the rear of Leh--from
which these spurs stretch down to the Indus, embracing the plain of
Leh, leaving open the space debouching on the Indus, up which I came.
Leh itself is built upon a ridge which projects from the centre of this
arc some short distance into the plain, occupying its extremity--that
is, the large building before-mentioned does; but the town is placed on
the southern face of the ridge. With the exception of the comparatively
small extent of irrigated fields, all around is bare and desolate.
Looking from Leh across the Indus, is seen a tract of cultivation of
considerable extent, running up into a valley, clusters of houses here
and there giving it a cheerful, prosperous aspect. This, I am told, is
the village of the rightful owner of Ladâk, where he resides in humble
obscurity.

22nd July. Sunday. I find no place to walk to out of this enclosure,
all outside being either fields or rough barren ground with difficult
paths. The town looks uninviting, so I remained in my tent.

The jemadar, a civil, obliging, intelligent man, in the afternoon
informed me that Basti Ram, the thanadar, was waiting in his house,
prepared to pay me a visit, if I could receive him. I, of course,
assented; and ere long, preceded by a dirty band of soldiery, he made
his appearance, seated in a janpan, which being halted at the requisite
respectful distance, the old gentleman was assisted forward, and I
requested him to be seated on a 'rizai' which had been spread for him.
He is a pleasing-looking old man, of mild aspect, bodily infirm, but
with a voice still strong. We chatted a long time; and I hinted at the
Karakorum with regard to shikar, but he evidently disapproves of my
going in that direction, saying, that the road was bad, the country
barren, and no shikar, but that in the Chan-than and Roopschoo country
game abounded. He politely assured me of his desire to furnish me with
all I required, to any extent, in money, horses, or men.

I questioned him about the sad fate of the poor Schlagentweit
brother; and he gave me a long narrative, from which I gather that
the unfortunate traveller was plundered on the way to Yarkand; that
he reached that place, and thence proceeded on to the Kokand country,
where he rode into the presence of a chief, Walli Khan, who, feeling or
pretending to feel insulted, ordered his attendants to cut him down,
which was instantly done; and thus the unfortunate M. Schlagentweit
was murdered, and all his effects plundered. But these had been
previously seized, and probably he was then in search of justice, and
the restoration of his property. Walli Khan has since denied all
share in the death of the saheb; and as he is a powerful chief, with
a strong fortress on a steep hill, the thanadar said, "What can be
done?" Several men have been sent to try and recover the effects, and
procure unmistakable testimony to the circumstances of the murder; but
they state all the property to have been scattered here and there in
remote parts of Turkistan, and have discovered nothing further as to
the foul deed. I am in hopes of yet ascertaining more, when the Yarkand
merchants arrive, but it must be acquired through tact and judgment,
all enquiries being regarded suspiciously, as perhaps connected with
ulterior designs. After a satisfactory interview Basti Ram took leave,
the jemadar remaining behind, and giving some interesting particulars
of the country north of Leh, through part of which the road to Yarkand
runs. The district is called the Lobrah pergunnah; and the jemadar,
who once travelled there with a saheb, Dr. Thomson, declares it to
abound with game. It is a fertile country, he says, highly cultivated,
with abundance of everything. It is reached in three days; in three
more a place, called Gopoor, where are upland plains abounding with
wild animals; but the yâk is not there met with. Four or five days
further travelling in an uninhabited tract will bring one to grassy
plains, called Moorgaby: there are yâk, and kyang, and other animals. I
requested the jemadar to try and find a resident of Lobrah, who could
give me precise information as to the best shooting grounds. This he
promised to do.

23rd July. I sent the shikarries and Abdoolah into the town to try and
get good reliable information about the Lobrah country, roads, &c. They
still bring only vague reports; but all unite in describing the country
as possessing much game. There is an evident disinclination to supply
information of this part of the country; but through Ahmet Shah's
relative, and the jemadar, his friend and subordinate, I believe that I
shall succeed in extracting it.

A cloudy day, and a heavy thunderstorm across the Indus, which in time
found its way here, describing a semicircular sweep, and coming down
upon us with violent gusts of wind, making the poplars and willows bend
double. After a time there were heavy drops; then an undecided rain
keeping on and off, ever threatening to come down in torrents.

After dinner the jemadar came to report progress; but, further than
that the thanadar was willing to further my views in that direction,
he merely repeated what he had said before as to game in the Lobrah
country. But the bridge over a large river on the way having been
broken down, the thanadar had sent his son to have it repaired, and to
give orders for my reception, as also to get ready some men acquainted
with the haunts of game. So all goes well--if my things would but
arrive, of which as yet no tidings. A rainy evening keeping me in till
bed-time, I took refuge early in my blankets.

24th July. There was much rain during the night, and a cloudy morning
of which I took advantage to visit the town, with a view to select a
site for a sketch. The air was cool and fresh, and the roads cleansed
by the rain. There are some curious buildings in the town which is
very small--a mere village: but there is a good wide street in which
is the bazaar,--the shops, small dens in an uniform row on either
side. This street is about three hundred yards long, and opens into
the serai, a yard surrounded by other dens in which were some dirty
travellers. Through this we went, and, passing by the burial ground,
ascended a small isolated hill on the top of which is a nondescript
building. From the side of this hill is a good view of the town, with
the Rajah's residence towering over it; and higher again than that,
some way removed up the same ridge, is a lama monastery. Others are
on the side of the hill. The whole scene is extremely curious and
picturesque. I peeped into some of the little shops, and saw there, of
course, Manchester cottons of the most brilliant hues. But nearly every
shop was empty, this place being really but an 'entrepôt' affording
accommodation to the traffic between Yarkand, Cashmere, and the plains.
By all accounts Yarkand is a place of much importance, and a great
mart, merchants from all the surrounding regions meeting there for
trade and exchange of commodities.

I visited Bella Shah, the principal merchant, who has a comfortable
house in the Eastern style--an intelligent-looking man. I had an
interesting conversation with him. By the way, had I not applied myself
to the study of Hindostani, how much I should have lost. He had been to
Yarkand, and described the country as most fertile, the town as a grand
place, rich and populous. He further told me that, eight days' journey
from Yarkand, on this side, large herds of yâk are met with, and that
the country generally abounds with game; that the road is not so very
difficult; wood scarce certainly in places, but always something,
sticks, weeds, or horsedung to be got for a fire large enough to cook
with. This is the information I was wanting; and my mind is now settled
to cross the Karakorum range, the pass over which, he assures me, is a
very easy one.

After a long and profitable visit I departed, the shikarries, who had
attended me, greatly elated at the news. I returned to breakfast very
'koosh,' my domestics listening with glistening eyes to Bella Shah's
'kubbur,' evidently sharing the pleasure I experienced. I was busy
writing after breakfast, preparing letters, and bringing up journal to
this point, when consciousness of some one near me caused me to look
up, and there stood Suleiman, Catechist. I was delighted to see him. He
had preceded my baggage, being mounted. He was well, and reported well
of my other people, animals and property. He had distributed nearly all
the books in Sirinuggur, both to Cashmiries and others: he had once
been all but involved in a serious disturbance, some bigoted mussulman,
with whom he was disputing, having denounced him as an enemy of the
faith, worthy of death. But a pundit, whose friendship he had happily
acquired, interfered, and peace was restored.

There was heavy rain in the afternoon; such a down-pour is very rare
here. My things did not arrive until five; my two tattoos in fair
condition, considering the journey and privations endured in such
a country. Little Fan, thin and amazed, did not recognise me: her
three pups are thriving. I received some letters, and lots of papers;
favourable reports of all my property from the sirdar.

About dinner time Bella Shah was announced, and with him a propitiatory
'nuzzur' of sugar candy and dried fruit. We had a long conversation, in
the course of which he confirmed the account given by Basti Ram of the
fate of poor Schlagentweit; and again gave me glowing accounts of the
abundance of yâk on the other side the Karakorum range. Most exciting
were his reminiscences. He laughed at the idea of danger from the
Yarkandies; who, he said, came constantly to hunt the yâk, taking the
flesh back to Yarkand for sale. He declared that, far from interfering
with me, if I offered them a rupee or so, they would shew me the best
grounds, and assist me in my hunting. He said that the Yarkand people
would never attack an European, though close to the town, or even in
the streets; but if he entered a house, then they would set upon him.

The shikarries, who were listening attentively to all that was said,
and occasionally joining in, became very merry at this welcome
intelligence; and after Bella Shah's departure were vehement in their
desire and determination to go over the Karakorum. Before leaving,
Bella Shah promised to find me a man well acquainted with the road, and
the places where the yâk are to be found; though he assures me there is
no difficulty about that, as they abound everywhere. We are all very
'koosh,' every thing promising auspiciously, and so much unexpected aid
offering in furtherance of my project.

25th July. I set to work casting bullets before breakfast. It is
strange, but these shikarries cannot be trusted to cast any but
ordinary spherical bullets. They are too indolent to learn anything,
and too careless to be depended upon. I had to dismiss Phuttoo from
even attending the ladle to clear away the dross, and install Buddoo in
his place, so negligent was he. I continued at this tedious work till
breakfast time, by which time I was quite baked, the fire blazing in
front of me, and the sun equally hot on my back. Buddoo and my bearer
continued the operation, and, to my relief and satisfaction, succeeded
capitally.

Suleiman and my servants being urgent for me to send off letters,
including theirs, I set to work and wrote for six hours at a stretch,
which, as I wrote with paper on knee, stooping over it, gave me a
headache; but I managed to finish nine letters in all, including one to
General Windham urgently soliciting a month's extension of leave, to
enable me to carry out my schemes comfortably. I continued very dizzy;
talked over arrangements, and decided to settle and pack up to-morrow,
and start the day following.

26th July. An awful night, never to be forgotten! Having read till I
was sleepy, I gave way to nature, glad enough to feel the inclination;
but awoke after an hour or two with a racking head-ache--terrible
agony--such as I remember to have experienced only twice before, and
then was driven nearly mad. I tried in vain to find alleviation, or
to court repose. Hours passed in agony indescribable; when, as a last
resource, hoping to obtain relief in sleep, I got up, and in the dark
helped myself to brandy and water. Had I had laudanum, I should have
swallowed it readily. This remedy seemed only to increase the malady;
but, after a time, its influence threw me into a slumber, and I awoke
at daylight--and how thankful to find on collecting myself that the
acute pains had subsided, and but an ordinary head-ache remained! I
had a cup of tea, and strolled about inspecting my property. Having
had everything unpacked for selection, I set aside as few things
as possible, wishing to avoid the necessity of many coolies in the
inhospitable deserts we should traverse.

I was looking at my tattoo, when two respectable-looking natives
approached, and divining their purpose I entered into conversation
with them. They were merchants from Kokand, now five years from their
native country, having been impeded in their trade and movements by the
late rebellion. They described their country as a delightful region,
abounding in the most delicious fruits, &c.

After breakfast I called Suleiman, and, taking with me some physic and
Holloway's ointment, went to see a servant of Major Tryon's, who, they
told me, had some days since run a nail into his hand, which had caused
him much suffering. We found the unfortunate man in a dreadful state--I
fear hopeless--the flesh having sloughed away, &c. We thoroughly
cleaned the sores, spread ointment on linen covering them, then bound
the arm up with a layer of cotton to prevent harsh contact, and placed
the limb in a sling. The poor suffering creature said he enjoyed great
relief, when all this was concluded. I left medicine and ointment with
Suleiman to continue the applications; he, good soul! evincing here
how thoroughly the religion of our Saviour has converted his heart;
for this man was a sweeper, an outcast, not to be approached without
defilement. Suleiman promised (and I fully confide in him) to take
every care of the miserable being, whose case I look upon as hopeless.
His master being absent shooting, I ordered him to be furnished with
anything necessary.

Bella Shah again came to visit me, and with him some friends, desirous
of a talk I presume, a considerable attendance around. He told me that
one man he was engaging to accompany me, when he heard that I was
going to shoot wild cattle, refused to go, being a Hindoo; but he had
engaged another, a man of even higher qualifications, both in point of
familiarity with the localities, and acquaintance with the language
required. His name is Abdool. He again assured me of meeting with the
yâk in numbers, and we parted promising ourselves an interview on my
return.

I had felt wrong in the head all day, but could discover no other
symptoms of sickness. All ready for a start in the morning.



CHAPTER X.

TO THE SHAYAK.


27th July. There was considerable delay occasioned by the coolies
coming late, and the jemadar not appearing. Neither did the expected
guide from Bella Shah appear; and the tattoo provided for me was such a
feeble animal that I scorned to bestride him. Having decided to leave
my own nags to be fresh for my return, I had been led to expect better
things by the jemadar, he having declared that the thanadar would
furnish me with horses like my own.

Without waiting for the jemadar, I gave the word to be off, not
disliking being compelled to resort to my usual means of locomotion, my
legs; and hardly had we left the enclosure than we were entangled in
fields, amid the partitions of which the path was lost. An unwilling
guide, in the person of a villager whom we appropriated 'sans
ceremonie,' conducted us out of the fields to a plain much-worn track,
when, concluding that our way was straight before us, I permitted him
to abscond. On we trudged, and had made some way, when shouts behind
us attracted our notice, and, stopping, we saw a man pursuing. He
was one I have omitted to mention as having been provided by the
jemadar as agreed, being competent to shew the shooting grounds in
the Lobrah district. He fully corroborated the jemadar's statement of
the quantities of game to be there met with, ibex, shâpu, and nâpu;
and he seemed delighted at the idea of taking service, enforcing upon
the shikarries the necessity of taking lots of powder, lead, and the
moulds. This looked well. He now overtook us, and told us we were in
the wrong path, and must cross a rough hill to get to the right one.

This done, we pursued our way, and had again to look back to ascertain
why we were assailed behind by shouts. It was my sepoy with a horse,
the one sent by the thanadar on the first day. Putting Mooktoo up,
I walked on. We stopped to examine some of the singular altar-like
buildings so numerous in this country, around the urnlike top of which
were piled a number of the horns of the wild sheep--why, is beyond
me; unless they were offerings of successful hunters. Here we were
again overtaken by a queer-looking individual who announced himself as
Abdool, the man engaged as guide by Bella Shah. He looks a likely chap;
quietly sent the other man, whose name is Tar-gness, to the rear, and
took upon himself the duties of guide.

A gradual, but rough and fatiguing, ascent brought us to our halting
place on the mountain-side, whence we were to climb the summit on
the morrow. It is a melancholy spot--only a few stones heaped on one
another, as a shelter for travellers or shepherds--distinguishing
it from the surrounding waste of rocks and stones. But there is a
beautiful clear stream at hand.

I was just at the end of my breakfast, when a stir took place, and,
looking about, a score or so of laden horses appeared descending from
a slope close by, headed by their owner, a Yarkand merchant, whom we
hastened to greet, and to overwhelm with questions. He was a jolly,
good-humoured old man, of a ruddy countenance, and readily entered at
large into conversation, detailing his journey, the obstacles met with,
&c. First of all, the yâk were met with in great herds two or three
days' journey beyond the Karakorum. Of this there was no doubt. But
there was a band of freebooters, some two hundred strong, somewhere on
the Yarkand road, lying in wait for merchants. He had evaded them; but
he did not know what had befallen other merchants who were to leave
Yarkand about the same time: of them he had heard nothing. He gave us
most valuable information of the road to follow, the places to halt at,
and certain spots where the yâk would certainly be found; in describing
which he mentioned one at the ziarat, or shrine, erected where the
marble and alabaster were quarried, with which Shah Jehan, and other
of the Mogul emperors, constructed the magnificent edifices, palatial
and sepulchral, which still adorn Delhi and Agra, to the astonishment
and admiration of all. This was news to me, as I had fancied that the
place whence this material had been procured was quite unknown. It is
an interesting spot to visit, let alone the yâk there frequenting. The
old gentleman told me he had some gold coins bearing the stamp, and
date corresponding, of Alexander the Great. These he had got at great
expense, and I understood him expressly for some saheb in the Punjab
where he is going.

I bought some felt nambas of him to serve as blankets for my servants
and shikarries, and for myself, paying 1. 8 rupees Cos. each, and two
rupees for a red one of superior fabrique, but damaged. I endeavoured
to deal with him for a couple of his ill-conditioned, raw-backed,
galled tattoos, intending to send them to Leh to pick up and gain
condition by my return, and take on my own with me. The unconscionable
old chap, on my pointing out two, asked two hundred rupees for one, and
three hundred for the other. I said, a deal was out of the question.
After a time I offered him one hundred rupees for the two, through
the shikarries. No; he wouldn't think of it. Well, his team went on,
he having to remain till my servants came, to be paid for the nambas.
Thinking how pleasant it would be to have my own hard-conditioned nags
with me--perchance, to pursue thereon some wounded yâks--I called
Subhan, and directed him to offer one hundred and fifty rupees for the
two; but the obstinate old man would not accept the offer. This was
an outside price for the animals, if in condition for work; so I made
no further attempt to persuade the reluctant proprietor to part with
his quads. He had long to wait for his rupees: but on the arrival of
my servants, having paid him, I offered him a rupee, 'backsheesh,' he
having given me some dried fruit. At this he demurred, and actually
needed remonstrance to make him accept. Then, with many polite salaams,
he went on his way.

My khansamah and the shikarries had blundered sadly about arrangements;
for, although they knew that there was no village, no supplies or wood
here, they had not taken care to ascertain that due provision had been
made for our necessities, trusting all to the jemadar without enquiring
at starting. Messengers had been despatched, but night approached
without their returning; and Abdoolah was warming me some food by the
scanty fire some horse-dung, chips, and bits of matting afforded, when
a portion of wood arrived, and in the course of an hour the other
things. The night was very cold, a violent hailstorm having burst upon
us in the afternoon.

28th July. We got off by 5 A.M., Phuttoo on the horse, and Mooktoo,
who complained of severe headache, on a tattoo ridden yesterday by
Abdoolah. The ascent of the mountain was most arduous, the natural
difficulties being much increased by the difficulty of respiration. All
suffered much from this. The mountain being extremely steep and rugged,
the path necessarily running into innumerable zigzags to render the
ascent at all practicable was cumbered with sharp stones, as was the
entire mountain-side. Indeed, this is the characteristic of the range.
From summit to base these mountains are thickly covered with fragments
crumbled from their massive bodies, which by the action of the weather,
intense frosts, &c. are splintered up and strewn with the débris, as
though the stone breakers had been busily at work all over the surface,
not leaving a square yard vacant. Many a time had I to pause for breath
ere the summit was reached; and we had some snow hard-frozen to cross,
covering the whole northern face of the mountain, at the base of which
was a small lake, formed by the melted snow filling a basin. The
descent was more abrupt than the ascent, but except that the snow was
hard and slippery, it was much easier to accomplish. Heavy rain set in
below, which was hail and sleet above. I was glad to be out of that.

We met a train of laden yâks, the property of my merchant friend of
yesterday, whose name, by the way, is Nassir Khan. A jolly, ruddy,
round-faced young man, quite plebeian-English in appearance, was in
charge of them; and, in reply to queries from Abdool and myself, he
assured us that the yâk and other game abounded where Nassir Khan had
told us. Joyfully commenting on the coincidence of testimony we jogged
on, and halted at a stone shed, where by a fire smoking was a Yarkandi,
left behind to tend two of Nassir Khan's disabled horses. This man
also gave us, and others who followed, similar glowing accounts of the
quantities of yâk met with near the Karakorum, himself getting quite
excited by the recollection of them.

The sun now shone out, and finding our destination, Karbong, still some
miles off, I determined to breakfast; after which I mounted the nag,
preceded by Abdool and Phuttoo, leaving poor Subhan, just come up and
quite knocked up, to repose, and Kamal to attend him. I rode slowly on,
the road execrable, and passed herds of yâk and flocks of sheep. The
sun came out, and seemed to take vengeance on us for having hitherto
escaped him; the rays, reflected from the white sandy soil and stones,
not only roasted, but blinded one. We passed a horrid idol, the head of
some deity, rudely moulded in clay, of hideous features painted red,
occupying a niche in one of those altar-buildings, the tops of which
were piled with wild sheeps-horns; and the bushy tails of the yâk were
waving thereon, suspended from poles. Some fresh flowers were deposited
in the niche before this ugly demon--a recent devotional offering.

At last we reached Karbong, a few scattered stone houses in irrigated
fields in a valley of stones, or rather on the slopes of the mountain,
the valley lying apparently further on, where huge mountains, rounded
and abrupt, not in a range, but individual masses, presented their
curved outlines rapidly inclining downwards to depths shut out from
view. I had hoped for a somewhat level country, but as yet it is, if
possible, more mountainous, and of huger masses than ever.

On arrival I took especial care of my horse, getting him lots of grain
and grass of which he stood much in need. I could find no shelter from
the sun, but a namba spread on sticks, which was better than nothing.
Subhan came in after some time, better after his repose: he could give
no intelligence of Mooktoo and the others. My three servants next came,
all right, Abdoolah telling me with a grin, that he had left Mooktoo
and the Cashmere coolies, five of them, on the top of the mountain,
blubbering. This afforded him much amusement. These Cashmiries are
certainly wretched cowardly creatures--no energy about them, once in
difficulties.

All came in towards evening, when Abdoolah quizzed them unmercifully.
Mooktoo complaining much, I determined to physic him, and gave him
three Peake's pills at night. Abdoolah, the hard-hearted, scouts the
idea of fever, asserting his ailment to be the result of eight days'
idleness and good living; and this is my opinion too. To-morrow being
Sunday offers an acceptable day of rest to all parties.

I sent off a messenger with an order written by the village gyalpo,
at the dictation of Phuttoo, assisted by Abdool, the guide, to the
thanadar's son, directing him to provide everything requisite in
tattoos, food, &c., for a month's excursion to the Karakorum. He is at
present two stages off, at Diskit. I desired the stock to be gathered
at Chanloong, five stages off, and the last village on our route. Here
I paid off and dismissed the Leh coolies who tendered their salaam,
apparently thankful for their payment and release.

I have now the satisfaction of having accomplished one of the greatest
difficulties in my way. Abdool says there is another awkward mountain
to cross at Sassar, but that the Karakorum pass is not difficult,
though long and tedious. We ought to reach the pass in twelve days now:
it generally occupies fifteen with laden animals to or from Leh.

29th July. Sunday. I allowed the day to open fully ere I turned out,
after having enjoyed a good night's rest. The mountains are truly grand
and majestic, as viewed from this spot; and during the changing effects
of a humid atmosphere they presented some magnificent pictures. Again I
longed to be able truly to depict them.

The three Peake's pills having had no effect on Mooktoo, I gave him
two more; nor did this additional motive power produce any result,
yet he says he feels much better. A messenger passed through, bearing
instructions from the thanadar to his son to take care that my wishes
were attended to, and no trouble given me--very civil, indeed, of the
old gentleman.

I have nothing particular to note of the day, but may remark how soon
a man left to himself, without the aids and influences of Christian
ministry and communion, becomes listless and indifferent in religious
observances, and neglects the appointed means for the strengthening and
refreshing of his soul. We need the stimulus of the example and offices
of others, and especially those of the Church, to keep us up to the
standard of vital Christianity.

30th July. I arose at earliest dawn, wishing, if possible, to reach the
next camp ere the sun should attain his full power. The path led down a
narrow valley, threading some ravines, and penetrating some remarkable
defiles, then passing over table lands, until we stood looking down
upon the river Shayak and its valley, which lies at right angles to
that down which we had come, the distance some six miles. The Shayak's
course here I judge to be N.W. A small hamlet with its green crops
greeted our sight from the eastern side; all else was bare rock and
barren slopes. I had hoped for better things.

We turned to the left, following the river's course, but high up on the
rocky mountain-side overhanging it, and, plunging down a deep gorge,
came upon Kalsar, our destination, placed as usual by a stream, and
looking cool and inviting with its fruit trees, and green crops, and
beautiful clear water. We were guided to a nice bit of ground in a
small orchard shaded by peach or apricot trees, very large, and one
fine walnut tree. I enjoyed the comfort of the foliage after the three
days without a tree, and sat down to breakfast enjoying the 'dolce far
niente' thoroughly after my exercise. We were three hours and a half on
the road without a halt; so I suppose, allowing for the ups and downs
which were continual, we must have come about ten miles.

31st July. The morning being cloudy, and my tent under the shade of the
walnut tree, I did not notice the first blush of dawn. We got off at a
quarter to five. A difficult climb immediately awaited me, the ascent
abrupt and the path deep in sand. Nevertheless I got on famously,
finding myself, both to-day and yesterday, in excellent working order,
and in good wind. I put Mooktoo, still ailing, on the horse. After
an hour's travelling over a plateau intersected with deep ravines we
descended to the bed of the Shayak, along which the path now led in a
direction due west. A level waste of sand had now to be crossed, its
width occupying the valley or river-bed, some three-quarters of a mile
in width here; its length interminable as the river, perhaps, which
here was a rapid turbid stream of forty or fifty yards in width, depth
unknown. On the other side was a village in a small spot of cultivation
recovered from the surrounding waste. There was a decided improvement
in the scenery, the mountains falling back as the valley extended,
giving good distances. Had the valley, or river-bed, been full of
water, when it would have had the appearance of an extensive lake, the
scene would have been magnificent. But the flat waste of sand destroyed
it.

We had to quit the sand, and ascend a steep, rugged spur of the
mountain, immediately under the foot of which the river rushed, making
a bend S.W. Then down again we went, and had to toil over a good
three miles of sand and shingle, our halting place always in view,
but seeming never attainable. We crossed a beautiful clear stream,
a bit more shingle, and then up a slope to the village of Diskit, a
straggling place on a stony plateau looking down on the valley, here
some mile and a half wide. Opposite is a valley partly revealed, down
which, from the northward, flows another stream, tributary to the
Shayak. Up that stream our route lies.

The gopal came to pay his respects, bringing some fruit--very small
apricots, about the size of a marble and insipid. I learned to my
sorrow that the river was impassable at present, and had been so
the last three days. The sun was very hot, and but little shade was
afforded by the ragged peach trees. The thanadar's son came to offer
his salaam, also bringing fruit--apricots, peaches, and nectarines, all
very small and unripe, also some cherries of the colour of greengage.
He assured me that the river was impracticable, but might possibly be
passable in three or four days. He made difficulties at first about
horses; but on Abdoolah speaking somewhat sharply and authoritatively,
quoting the thanadar's assurances, the young man gradually softened his
objections, and after a time promised that everything should be ready
for me, but pointed out that the state of the river was unfavourable,
as all communication with the villages on the other side was cut off.
He proposed that I should take shelter in a house which, however,
when inspected by Buddoo, was reported too dirty and offensive for my
occupation: so I turned into a small paddock instead, finding tolerable
shelter under a large peach-tree, the trunk of which, I should say,
was three feet in diameter. I could not remain in my tent, the heat was
so great; so I sat under the tree, where it was more endurable.

It had been agreed that I should inspect the river to-morrow morning
with the thanadar's son who promised to have four or five horses ready
this evening: but nothing further than reports of their being on the
way eventuated, and from this and other significant indications I am of
opinion that, under all the superficial demonstrations of anxiety to
assist me on my way, runs a strong reflux of concealed opposition. But,
if so, I think I can either turn it aside, or surmount it. This delay
is vexatious, as I have not a day to spare. I must try and recover
the day lost by a double march or two, which will be easy enough as I
purpose mounting all my attendants.

It was a beautiful sunset; such as I have not seen for a long time,
having been for the most part so closely shut in by mountains as
to have had no view whatever of the declining sun; and, moreover,
were there distances, there has been usually too little vapour for
effect. To-night good distances and a cloudy sky lent their aid to
the mountainous landscape. The huge rugged mountains, softened in
the subdued evening light, suffused with mellow glowing tints, were
certainly arrayed to the best advantage--their massive proportions and
gaunt nakedness toned down into pleasing harmonies of form and colour.
Long I sat gazing, admiring, and musing--long after all beauty of
external landscape had vanished, but enjoying mental visions of charms
surpassing even the reality, now faded into the past--when Buddoo broke
in upon my reveries with the lantern, and in obedience to the mandate I
was soon ensconced in my canvas nutshell, in which confined space I was
soon made very sensible of the true littleness of myself and my sphere.

1st August. A cloudy morning--which was welcomed as conveying an
increased chance of an early abatement of the floods: because, the
sun's powers being intercepted and diminished, the snows on the distant
lofty mountains, on the solvency of which the state of the river
depends, would be subject to a much reduced action of that consuming
orb.

Some wretched tats were sent by the than's son, for which I abused the
gopal who brought them; and perceiving it to be necessary to assume a
more commanding tone, when the above-mentioned official sent his salaam
by a sepoy, I returned him a sharp rebuke which operated favourably,
as the sepoy soon returned with explanations and assurances of every
effort being made to comply with my desires; that active trustworthy
men had been sent to ascertain the state of the river, and orders
for horses had been despatched in all directions. Notwithstanding, I
thought it advisable to adopt precautionary measures to ensure a true
report of the river's condition, so sent off the shikarries on the
tattoos to examine it thoroughly up and down; who after some hours
absence returned, and stated confidently that the water was going down
fast, and that the river would be easily forded to-morrow. They had
crossed many mullahs into which it was divided, and had gone through
much hard work. They were proud of their performances, exhibiting their
wet clothes, and helping each other to exaggerate their aquatic feats.
Much pleased with the information, I gave orders for the move on the
morrow at 10 A.M., considering that the water would be at its
lowest about 11.

The thanadar junior came to pay his respects, and received the news
of the river being passable without placing much reliance on it,
cautioning us to avoid risking the lives of any of the people. I had
a long talk with him. He appeared reconciled to the necessity of
forwarding my plans, and promised every assistance. He had with him a
brown spaniel, a good looking dog, which was given him, he said, by
Colonel Markham, whose promising career was so suddenly cut short, when
to human apprehension he appeared to be just at the attainment of a
soldier's highest ambition, having been called for from India, it is
supposed, to succeed to the command of our army before Sabastopol. He
travelled through this country from Kulu through Leh some seven years
ago--it must have been just before that summons to the Crimea--and then
made this present. I looked with much interest upon this relic of a man
whose fate was so remarkable.

Numerous coolies are in attendance, and all things arranged for the
morrow's enterprise.

2nd August. Notwithstanding my repeated directions fully explained
that we should not start early, the whole camp was astir earlier than
usual, everything packed, tats saddled and bridled, coolies ready,
and all waiting in expectation of the word, 'March.' This was at 6
A.M. I sat reading, and took no notice for some time, but did
at last call Abdoolah, and remind him of the hour fixed for departure,
and the reasons, as before given. Then the coolies were dismissed for a
time. Now ensued a loud and angry quarrel between Phuttoo and Mooktoo,
in the heat of which the former ass threatened the other with bringing
his influence with the Maharajah to bear, and having him put in prison;
upon which Mooktoo chaffed him with great effect. Phuttoo's conceit is
outrageous.

I started between eight and nine, and found the space to traverse to
the river much greater than I had imagined--quite three miles, perhaps
four--and for the most part over shingle. The river was here divided
into many streams, varying from fifty to a hundred yards in width,
the current being strong. I had formed no idea of the volume of water
from the glimpse of the river I had gained higher up. All the coolies
stripped. Four or five men with poles preceded us, sounding; then I
followed, and then came the shikarries mounted, with two men to each
tattoo, and, far behind, my servants also mounted, and the coolies. An
amusing scene took place with my little dog who had swam one or two
minor streams, and followed me into a larger, where the current was
very strong. A native tried to get hold of him, but the little fellow
growled and bit at him viciously, swimming away bravely. The man then
put his stick over him to draw him towards him: this he resisted,
and was completely submerged. After several unsuccessful attempts
the man succeeded in subduing and capturing the poor half-suffocated
Sara who made a gallant fight; but the man, the stick, and the water
combined were too much for him. The two former opponents bore marks of
his vigorous resistance. He then quietly submitted to be conveyed by
Subhan in front of him, following my every move with wistful eyes, and
trembling violently with excitement.

My little nag had never encountered such a flood, and was quite
bewildered by the glare and the rapid passage of the rushing waters;
and I had much ado to guide him, ever giving way to the current.
Abdool, the guide--not so on this occasion--preceded me, exhibiting in
his nude state a sad specimen of legs, spindle-shanks, which were ill
calculated for this arduous work: and the poor fellow was obliged to
stop in mid-stream, supporting himself with difficulty by his stick.
My horse, thus checked, turned aside and got into deep water, but I
recovered and held him together: then, passing Abdool, he stuck to the
shikarries who kept with their supporters all together. It was hard
work, and certainly not without danger, as a stumble would have sent
man and horse down the flood.

We thus fought our way on, crossing some score of these streams; in
one of which, the widest--I should think two hundred yards across--I
got into difficulties. By taking a lower course than the guide had
done, I bungled into a sand-bed--quicksand--but my little nag exerted
himself vigorously. The shikarries and others were vociferating loudly,
'kubber dar;' as if that was any good when we were in the thick of it.
We struggled to firmer ground, and then got to a high bank of shingle
with bushes on it. I had hoped that the main stream was crossed, but to
my vexation found the great difficulty still to be overcome. A mighty
flood swept by, which if we could get over, the passage was virtually
accomplished. But was it fordable?

We now saw a party, horse and foot, on the other side making their way
towards us. They, too, were brought up by the formidable volume of
turbid water rushing between us. We were within hail of each other, but
any words indistinguishable, and they were not to be induced by any
sign to tempt their fate by showing us the way over. Things now came
to a dead-lock. The river guide funking--and no wonder--moved here and
there, up and down, making as though he were desperately in earnest,
but ever recoiling from the main rush of the torrent. The servants
and coolies now arrived all safe, after some few narrow escapes, as
Abdoolah informed me--the Cashmiries, poor creatures! of whom there
were five, having to be held up in the water, even when without loads:
they lost their heads and legs immediately. What despicable poltroons
they are! I am confident that my three Punjabies would 'leather' the
three shikarries and five coolies combined; though of them Abdoolah
is the only one of true 'grit.' He is a first-rate fellow, rough and
ready, honest and plucky.

I followed the guide, going up the river, then descending on a bank
which divided the main current, the water flowing over it in diminished
strength. I was in great hopes we were about to triumph, as we now
neared the opposite party; but on reaching the tail of the bank we
found the two currents there united which, sweeping roaring through a
deep channel of a hundred yards wide, again effectually opposed us. I
could have pushed my horse through swimming; and perhaps the tats with
the shikarries might have got safe through, though very doubtful: but
the coolies and baggage, never. We, therefore, retraced our weary,
watery way, and again took downwards below the aforesaid bank, and got
into the main stream; but our bewildered guide again retreated.

He and others much amused me by their idea of sounding the depth--just
taking stones, and pitching them in, with the notion of judging the
depth by the splash and sound; and this in a roaring flood. I now
looked upon the passage to day as hopeless, for we had now tried up
and down a mile in length; but the goose of a guide still rushed
wildly about, entering the water where he could have no real intention
of going on: so I hailed Abdoolah from the depth in which I was
floundering to beat a retreat, and with Subhan, my only adherent,
turned backward--a most disagreeable alternative. I could not halt on
that bank in the middle of the waters, though apparently safe, as I
know the dangers and uncertainties of floods in mountain regions. And
to fight our way back, over ground it had cost such exertions to win,
was most disheartening.

Another party of horse and foot had joined mine on the bank, the young
relative of Ahmet Shah and attendants, who I forgot to mention came
to pay his respects to me, being at Diskit detained by the flood from
proceeding on to the Lobrah district of which he is kardar. He is a
most prepossessing young man in physiognomy and manner, and is going
to his district principally on my account, to aid my arrangements. It
was now half-past twelve; and the flood's might, augmented as usual at
this time of day by the melted snow, cut off our retreat, so I was the
more anxious for my party and effects to hasten their movements, and
saw with vexation that there they stuck, like Asiatics, irresolute on
the bank. But, seeing me resolutely fighting my way back, they at last
got under weigh, and, I am glad to say, all got back safe and sound,
men and baggage. The latter had narrow escapes; four coolies, becoming
bothered and frightened, lost their way in the middle of the current of
one of the biggest channels, and had to be rescued.

I settled down again in my former ground, giving directions for further
examination of the river to-morrow; but am resolved not to attempt the
passage again, till some one has actually crossed. The delay is very
vexatious, but I must endeavour to make up for it by expedition. If I
get my extension of leave, it will not matter in the least; but should
that be unattainable, I shall have to ride, night and day, through
Roopschoo and Kulu from Leh to save my distance. But I must get to
these Karakorum mountains, whatever may betide.

We saw numerous trees and pieces of timber remnants of the bridge once
spanning the river somewhere above this, which was carried away some
months since by the floods. The thanadar junior is here, I believe, to
reconstruct it; but that will be a most difficult job from the distance
the timber will have to be brought. There is stone enough and to spare;
but they are not architects good enough to make use of it. Yet their
houses are fairly put together of stone and sun-brick, but the stone
rough certainly. They could never form a durable arch, even if they
contrived tetes-de-pont, and piers. And now to wait as patiently as may
be the subsidence of the waters.

3rd August. Cloudy and showery. I was informed that men had been sent
to get information of the state of the river, and in the evening they
returned, stating there was little or no change since yesterday. There
was rain in the evening, and a heavy storm apparently bursting over the
mountains east of us.

4th August. Again a cloudy day. I sent off Phuttoo and Subhan with
the Lobrah man, Tar-gness, to get news of the river, and employed
the morning in writing. About 2 P.M. Subhan returned with the
welcome news of the waters having subsided, and Phuttoo and Tar-gness
having gone across to the other side to the village of Lanjoong, he
hastening back to give me the information: he said also, that he had
marked down some wild fowl in the watery meadows. I despatched my
letters carefully sewn up in a bit of sheepskin, being assured that
they would be safely delivered at Sirinuggur, under cover to the
Baboo; then took gun and shot, and went with Subhan after the ducks
which we soon found, and I knocked down one, and wounded another, but,
unfortunately, we could not get either. We tried all about, and saw
others, but could not get near them, so, after an hour and a half's
fruitless endeavours, returned in heavy rain.

5th August. Sunday. A cloudy morning. I took a ramble before breakfast,
and enjoyed it much, finding more beauty than I thought the place
possessed, but could not select a site that satisfied me for a sketch.
The scene is too extended for any view that would include the principal
features. There is a picturesque lama monastery high above the village
on the mountain; but the village itself is such a scattered, stony,
tumble-down place as to defy a definite representation. The valley,
looking either way, when lighted, is beautiful--the mountains of fine
and varied forms. The effects this morning were very striking, as the
fitful gleams of sunshine, struggling through the heavy clouds, threw
their shifting light here and there. Looking west, a considerable
expanse of rich cultivated plain occupies the valley; east, all is sand
and shingle.

I scrambled up the rock over the village, and thence contemplated the
scene below me, and did not omit to turn my grateful heart to the
adorable Creator of the beauties around me. I wandered leisurely among
the rough winding field-tracks; and so came back crossing the brawling
rivulet which dashes in several rocky channels through the village.
There was no news from over the river; but the gopal came to obtain his
dismissal, being ready to start. With many injunctions and oft-repeated
warnings from my various followers, by which the poor man, from his
perplexed visage, must have been sorely bothered, he withdrew about 11
A.M.

Tar-gness made his appearance, reporting the road to be 'chungy,' that
is, comfortable. Phuttoo remained, and I fancy, from observations I so
understood, is exercising an assumed authority to a great extent, as I
thought he would. I hope to get well across early to-morrow morning,
and then proceed on some six miles to a village called Chamseen. It
appears that the gopal of this village is the actual kardar of Lobrah,
and Ahmet Shah's relative the government moonshi.

After dinner I was talking with the shikarries about the roads and
which way we should return, and we discussed the possibility of a road,
marked in my map as leading from Kopalu to the Yarkand road, being
practicable. A native of Kopalu told us he believed there was a path,
but that it was a very difficult one, quite impracticable for horses;
but that it was only five or six days from the Karakorum to Kopalu.
This would suit me capitally, if we could but get sure information,
and make fitting arrangements. Then I should save fifteen days or so
of a dismal and uninteresting road. Abdool, guide, sitting with the
others, amused us all much by the vehemence with which he denounced
the project of this route, declaring it to be terrible, both from its
natural obstacles and supernatural; relating how two Bhooties were
mysteriously killed by evil spirits who overwhelmed them with sand
and stones. He further stated that 'shaitan' himself inhabited those
regions, and assailed travellers, tooth and nail: and, while spinning
this marvellous yarn, he illustrated it by action and gestures in a
truly ludicrous manner. He has a very comical 'phiz' at all times;
and when he takes off a large slouching felt hat he wears, leaving
his queer comical-shaped cranium (closely shaved) bare, and in
excitement indulges in involuntary grimace, he is a certain antidote to
melancholy. He is a valuable adherent, always busy at something; even
immediately after a long day's march he bustles about, and seems never
to think of rest or refreshment. How different from the lazy Cashmiries!

Orders were issued for an early start, as I wish to make up for lost
time, and, having crossed the river, to push on another stage.



CHAPTER XI.

TO THE KARAKORUM.


6th August. Away in good time, and high spirits at the prospect of
resuming my travels. I found the river very much altered as to its
channels, and reduced in volume; but still it was a work of time and
labour to cross over. The main channel was considerably enlarged, and I
should think some eight hundred yards in width, with here and there a
current of tremendous force; the average depth was not above the knees,
but in the rushes up to the middle. I got across without misadventure,
leaving servants and baggage to follow, and made for a village called
Thaga, over a sandy road: in one place the sand, by the action of wind
or water, was heaped up in successive ridges, like the sea in a stiff
breeze.

I found Phuttoo and the moonshi at this village: the former assured
me, with much volubility, that everything was ready at Panamik. The
servants and baggage having come up, we moved on to Chamseen, which is,
I should think, eight miles from Lanjoong, the path rough and stony. We
passed through one village and an agreeable stretch of cultivation,
the valley generally as barren as ever, and bivouacked in an orchard,
my tent being pitched under a fine spreading peach tree, the shade of
which was very enjoyable.

7th August. We quitted this pleasant bivouac before 5 A.M., and
travelled over a country in this narrow valley similar to that
crossed yesterday, a barren stony hollow, with a hamlet occasionally on
either side, where man's ingenuity and industry, invading this domain
of rock, has won a hard fought footing. My shikarries and servants are
now all on tattoos, and will be thus assisted all the way to the yâk
country. We saw two or three hares in the thorn thickets now met with.
This rugged valley runs, I think, almost N.W. Some lofty snow-capped
mountains close in the upward view.

We arrived at Panamik at half-past eight, the distance not more than
ten miles. It is a small village as to residences, but with a large
extent of rich cultivation, and a good number of fine fruit trees, and
also large willows. I took up my quarters under some peach trees, the
fruit abundant; not as we see it in our gardens in England, a solitary
specimen here and there on a wall, but depending in bunches numbering
some dozens together--small certainly, and nothing to be compared
in flavour. They are yet generally unripe. The kardar and moonshi
attended to report that all was prepared: I was, therefore, the more
vexed and disappointed, when in the middle of the day Abdoolah told me
that, owing to a mistake in the maund--the kardar having willfully,
as I believe, mistaken the amount which was ordered to be in 'cucha'
maunds--there would not be half enough flour provided for rations, and
that, as it had to be ground, another day's delay was unavoidable.
There was no help for it, so I submitted to stern necessity as
tranquilly as possible.

We had great work shoeing the thanadar's horse which I must take with
me in default of any other fit for my use. There was no professional
'nahlband' here, nor the usual implements of that operative; but
luckily 'a handy-man,' as they call a bungler at several trades in a
regiment, turned up--one accustomed to accompany kafilas to and from
Yarkand, and look after the horses. I was much taken with the man's
expression and manner, and became more interested in him, when Subhan
informed me that he was well acquainted with the localities the yâk
frequented, and, moreover, was willing to join my expedition--a most
valuable recruit, I think. He reminds me strongly of some acquaintance
or other, I cannot think who: his voice and way of speaking are
peculiar, slow and deliberate: he is the son of a Cashmiri by a Bhoot
mother, and I should fancy some twenty-five years old.

The kardar produced two sets of shoes, made in the neighbourhood, of
such inferior workmanship and bad metal that, taking one in my hands,
I broke it in two to the dismay of the kardar, who beat a retreat, and
after a time came back with a set of Yarkand shoes, as light as racing
plates, but of the best quality of iron, and a lot of nails to match.
Then the work began. A pair of pincers, a hammer, and, after much
research, a mortising chisel, were produced, and satisfied with these
rude tools my new man set to work with confidence, and, I may add,
skill. The old shoes were soon ripped off--there being no file to take
off the clench of the nails, I apprehended some damage to the hoof, but
all turned out well; then, the hoof being placed on a piece of timber,
the other leg hoisted up by the active, useful Abdool, the chisel was
applied, and the hoof, bereft of its superabundance, roughly rounded
to the form desired, the inner surface and the bridge, frog, and heel,
slightly pared with one of my pocket knives, and the shoe affixed in a
workman-like manner, the nails right well driven and firmly clenched.
Abdool's ingenuity in steadying the hind leg was admirable. He took the
long tail of the nag, and wound two turns round the pastern, so getting
a good purchase: he then held the leg out at full stretch, and another
help placed his shoulders against the other ham to control any attempt
at violence, and so the astonished animal was newly provided all round.

I ordered dinner at five punctually to enable me to stroll out and look
for a hare in the neighbouring thickets afterwards. At dinner Abdoolah
informed me that the rascal of a kardar was intending all sorts of
frauds and tricks in respect of the price of the rations and hire of
horses, having told him that he had established a tariff differing much
from that of Leh, and most exorbitant. As the principal town gives
the standard, I told Abdoolah that I would take measures to bring the
kardar to his senses, and directed the horses for selection and the
officials to be in attendance to-morrow at my breakfast hour. I thought
over my plans, and prepared my speeches, enriching my vocabulary from
my Hindostani Hand-book. I went out with Subhan, and killed one hare,
and wounded another, the only two we saw. On my return Mooktoo and
Subhan attended, and informed me that the moonshi had confided to them,
that the kardar had collected a wretched batch of incapable horses
for me, and that there were some good serviceable animals to be had,
if I insisted upon it. He could not speak out himself, he said, but
urged them to advise me to assume a high hand, as these people will do
nothing unless driven.

8th August. Taking my gun, Subhan, and Sara, I went to look at some
hot springs of which Abdoolah had told me, he having visited them
yesterday. They were about a mile off: our way lay through the thicket
where I shot the hare yesterday. We found the springs gurgling up
from under a limestone rock on the side of the mountain, and flowing
copiously down into the valley, lining its channel at first with a
white incrustation, then further on with a bright ochrous sediment. The
difference of atmosphere was very perceptible on approach, a hot steam
being generated around. The heat of the water, where bubbling out, was
very great; one could not suffer one's hand in it a second. The water
was limpid and tasteless; the earth for a considerable space around was
coated with a white efflorescence, slightly saline; the grass seemed
to thrive in the immediate vicinity. I fancy there was a good deal of
soda in the subsidence of the evaporation, but am too ignorant to offer
more than a conjecture thereon. The natives ascribe valuable medicinal
properties to this water, and, for the purpose of utilising it, have
put up a very rough little bathing shed close to the well.

I shot a hare returning, my dog Sara behaving with the most surprising
intelligence, considering that she has never been taught, nor has she
ever seen game before. Her spaniel blood here shows itself, though
sadly contaminated by mongrel admixture. On return I refreshed my mind
for the assault of the kardar.

Some time after breakfast I saw the horses being got together, my
attendants present, so betook myself to the place, and out of some
fifteen animals could only pass three, the others being miserable
creatures, wretchedly thin, and with terribly galled backs. The
kardar and retinue kept on the opposite side. Having commented on the
miserable condition of these animals offered for my use, I let out at
the unhappy kardar, alluding to my possessing the Maharajah's purwanah,
and the express orders of Basti Ram enjoining on all officials the
duty of supplying my wants, and specially, in this instance, good
horses, which, I said, I knew were to be had. Then, assuming wrathful
indignation, I observed that I had hitherto waited patiently, and
submitted with the utmost moderation to the kardar's trickery and
evasions, but that I must now adopt other measures, and I declared
that if a sufficient number of serviceable horses were not speedily
forthcoming, I would seize the kardar, and strap a load on his back,
and compel him to come with me. This braggadocio style was the thing.
Consternation fell upon kardar, his followers, and all the villagers
standing looking on. I remained scowling at them in truly mock heroic
style to allow of no hope of my relenting: then, seeing that orders
were given, and messengers hurried off in all directions, I retired
from the scene; and in the course of an hour or so a capital lot of
serviceable-looking nags were paraded, on inspecting which I told
the kardar that there was proof positive of the correctness of my
information. He, in a deprecating tone, assured me that these were the
property of merchants, and depasturing here. I must have them anyhow;
and the custom of the country, and the purwanahs I bear, entitle me
to them. And I cannot see any difference between a zemindar's and a
sandagur's horse, only that the latter is the richer of the two, and
can better remedy any inconvenience that he may be subjected to. But
I have positive information that these horses have been detained by
the government, until some transactions of a suspicious character,
smuggling or fraudulent, on the part of the owners (brothers) have been
cleared up, of which there seems no present prospect; so, meantime,
they may as well serve my turn. I shall have in all nineteen or twenty
horses and some twenty-four men in my expedition, for all of which,
biped and quadruped, I must carry food, making this a rather expensive
as well as arduous expedition.

Tar-gness has now, in addition to his matchlock, added a large, rough,
black-and-tan dog to his sporting equipment, which he avers to be no
end of a shikarry, and especially good at shâpu and nâpu. I am glad
to have him, if only as a watch at nights. I am now told that we must
advance four days' journey beyond the Karakorum range for the yâk.
I care not if to the gates of Yarkand, if I do but get my extension
of leave. I should rather like the fun of a 'chappar' there; but my
gunners are such horrid cowards.

The additional rations and some tattoos were promised this evening;
and Abdoolah reporting everything delivered, and the officials waiting
for my receipt and their congèe, I accordingly summoned them to the
presence, and the moonshi reading out all the articles supplied I put
them down verbatim, and gave him the receipt, settlement to be made
on my return; so I avoided all disputes as to price, and now relieved
the kardar from the sense of my displeasure, and we parted apparently
mutually gratified.

9th August. I roused my camp, and, after seeing preparations going on
for packing and loading, set off as usual ahead. The route was similar
to the former, but with more cultivation and grass meadows, and also
large patches of thorn thickets, about which we saw many hares, two or
three together. The last four miles to Chanloong were very barren and
sandy. We crossed a large stream which Abdool said flowed from Sassar,
a mountain we have to cross. We arrived at Chanloong at ten, the
distance some twelve miles. There was only one hut that I could see,
and an enclosure containing a number of willow trees, and some patches
of grain. I was very glad to shelter myself from the sun and glare, the
latter being excessive. My followers and luggage arrived all safe at 2
P.M.

A tremendous dust-storm assailed us in the afternoon, rushing up the
valley with prodigious violence, and filling the air with clouds of
sand and dust, obscuring everything, and particularly disagreeable. It
lulled about 5 P.M.

Just as I had finished dinner, Buddoo informed me that Tar-gness was
going to display his skill with his matchlock, firing at a mark; so I
joined the group of spectators. He set to work in a very methodical
manner, carefully loading the gun, and, having adjusted the match,
he put another man in a befitting attitude to do duty as rest; then,
placing the barrel on his shoulder, aimed and fired. The ball struck
very low: the mark was a piece of paper on a stone, about eighty yards
off. Poor Tar-gness was much chaffed by the shikarries and bystanders,
and all his implements examined and criticised with much ridicule. He
bore it all with the greatest good-humour, and proceeded to try his
luck a second time. His rest was too lively, and could be got into
position with difficulty. This time the ball struck only a foot below
the mark. Tar-gness was encouraged to try again. He now put in more
powder, loading more deliberately than ever, testing the amount of
charge by the finger measurement on the ramrod. And now, his looks
denoting determination and confidence, he posted his rest, aimed
carefully, and fired--when down came the mark. "Sha-bash!" was the
exclamation; and the triumphant marksman looked round with conscious
skill upon his quizzing tormentors of whom Abdool had been prominent,
taking a stick and imitating Tar-gness' motions to the great amusement
of the lookers-on, his queer little wizened face being irresistibly
comic. The sporting appointments were all home-made and very ingenious;
the bullet-mould of a black soft stone in two pieces, fastened by
wooden pegs; the bullet was an elongated sphere, crossed in its length
and breadth by thin raised bands, the spaces they left containing an
ornamental dot. This was Tar-gness' talisman--very curious.

I passed a disturbed night, noises in every direction around me; men
and horses passing to and fro all night; a dog barking in a desperate
manner; and a shrill cock, mistaking the moonlight and the unusual
movements for dawn, keeping up a horrid chanticleering.

10th August. I was glad of the first symptoms of dawn to rise and
rouse the camp. We had a tough job before us as I knew; but I had not
quite reckoned the full extent of it. The path now turned abruptly
from Chanloong to the right, out of the valley, over the eastern range
which, seen from our camp, did not look formidable, but was in fact
the stiffest climb I have had. It occupied us three hours, of which I
walked two, and then, seeing the summit still high above us, I mounted,
which was a great relief to me and to Abdool who was pulling on my
horse. The difference in the dispositions of the three shikarries was
here noticeable in their treatment of their ponies. Subhan got off, and
led his nearly half-way; the other two never once got off, but when
compelled to adjust their saddle-gear, or something of that kind. An
hour after we had started, the baggage animals were still to be seen
down below stationary in the enclosure--provoking sight.

The crest of the mountain was very grand; but the view from it, however
magnificent in its scenery, was by no means inviting to travellers.
We looked down a very steep descent of rugged and sandy slopes, into a
valley of utter sterility up which we had to make our way. Nor did near
approach improve it; for the heaps and masses of stones, through which
we had to scramble and pick our way, were strewed with the skeletons of
the unfortunate horses that had succumbed to the terrible difficulties
of the road. Numbers of them lay bleaching on either hand; sometimes
singly, and at others in dismal groups of four or five, making this
unattractive valley horrid with their ugliness.

We stopped on the bare stones to breakfast, there being nothing better
in prospect, a stream dashing by to the river flowing down the valley;
then, on through the same wilderness of stones. I cannot think how they
came there in the positions and proportions they exhibit. It appears as
though the sides of the mountains had been forced open, and torrents of
rock and stone vomited violently out, and hurled into the valley; or
that the mountain peaks had been riven and shattered by some tremendous
shocks of earthquake, and toppling down had spread their fragments all
around.

We crossed the river by a bridge, and arrived at twelve o'clock at a
shepherd's encampment, our halting place, close to a huge mass of ice
and snow, filling the end of the valley, miles in length. Some rough
loose stone enclosures constituted the abodes of men and cattle; of the
former some half-dozen presented themselves and salaam'd. The whole
place was redolent of the strong smell of goats. There appeared nothing
whatever in the vicinity to eat. All was wild desolation.

I took shelter under a huge stone, the shikarries putting up some
wrappers on sticks to form a screen; and but for the essence of
billy-goat, so pungent as to take one's breath away, I should have
done well enough. Hours passed, and there were no signs of my traps. I
became extremely anxious as the road was so bad, and at five o'clock
went off to reconnoitre alone, and took post on an elevation from
which, through my glass, I descried three horses on a green patch the
other side the river, some three or four miles off, but far above the
bridge. This I could not understand. After a time I saw three men, my
servants, mount these horses, and deliberately ride up along the river
the wrong side, on which the path was but a sheep track, and terminated
in the river at a point where it would be hazardous to attempt to ford.
A coolie appeared in sight on the right side, so I was comforted in
the belief that it was only my three servants that had gone astray. I
watched them anxiously. They rode down to the river, and there stopped
a long time; then into it, but kept in to their own bank. I became
quite nervous for them--quite painfully alarmed lest the poor fellows
should try to remedy their mistake by risking the passage. They were
far beyond sound or sign from me; so I made my way back to camp, and
sent off two Bhooties to render assistance.

I found the shepherds milking their goats, and suddenly bethought me of
a syllabub which, as I was hungry and should not in all probability get
my dinner for hours, would be a pleasant refreshment; so with a modicum
of brandy from the flask and a spoonful of sugar I concocted a pleasant
cheering beverage, vulgarly called 'doctor'--from its medicinal
properties, no doubt. I felt much comforted thereby; and when the
coolies arrived and told us that the servants had turned back to cross
the bridge, and that the animals and baggage had met with no mishap,
but were coming on, I felt I could wait most contentedly their arrival.
We lighted fires both as beacons and for warmth, and also to be ready
for cooking. It was now bitterly cold, and black dark. The coolies came
straggling in; then Abdoolah and Buddoo who reported that Ali Bucks had
got a fall and a ducking, but no harm done. At last all the baggage
came in, at 8.30, and I had a stew warmed up and dined.

I ordered every horse two seers of corn, and went after dinner to
see if it had been given. The grain had been issued, but most of
the rascally drivers had gone off to the Bhoot huts, and left their
disconsolate horses famishing. I kicked up a great row, and Abdoolah
and others rushed about frantically, lugging, hauling, and abusing,
until I saw each 'quad' munching his feed. Poor things! they have
hard times of it. These Bhooties have a most absurd idea which Abdool
revealed, he firmly believing in it, that in this country the horses
should never be allowed grass until sunset, or they swell up and die.
He would have starved my horse on this principle, but that I overruled
his stupid attempt; and the poor baggage cattle would have got nothing
till morning, after their great fatigues and long fast---another
idea--had I not interfered.

11th August. At the first inkling of dawn I halloo'd loudly for Buddoo:
they were all fast asleep, and, after I was ready to start, Abdoolah
and others were still ensconced in their blankets. It was a cold raw
morning, which made me anxious to be moving. The horses were all
astray, except mine, no one having had the sense to send for them.
Mooktoo came to me with a whine, saying that his horse had not eaten
half his corn: I took the opportunity of rebuking him for his selfish
want of consideration to the poor beast yesterday, attributing its
being amiss thereto.

I left the shikarries to await their horses, and went on with Abdool.
It was bitter cold, and I walked long ere the circulation was in
full play, and longed for the sun's now genial beams. The path was a
great improvement on yesterday's, and there was a good deal of grass
scattered about. The route lay due east. Ascending a stiff rocky hill,
an opening in the mountain peaks appeared, which I found to be the pass
of Sassar. I had decided last night to halt at the bottom of the pass,
by the advice of Abdool, and there to pass Sunday, enabling the poor
cattle to rest and pick up a bellyfull of grass which Abdool stated to
be plentiful there; but if it turned out that there was no grass, we
should cross the pass on Sunday morning to the next halt, where grass
was abundant, and wood also. We are carrying wood with us at present.

The valley, as we approached the pass, was blocked up by masses
of stones, in the midst of which were occasional pools of water.
Clambering over these rough heaps, we came in sight of the grand
obstruction to our progress, in an enormous glacier which completely
choked up the valley. Masses of snow lay in all directions, and several
pools of clear water; around which, and elsewhere, I was glad to see a
sufficiency of grass for the horses. I selected a spot for the camp,
and then the shikarries came up, and I found that Phuttoo and Mooktoo
had changed their horses, having knocked theirs up yesterday. I gave
them a bit of my mind, and forbade such tricks in future. The wind was
very cold, blowing off the masses of snow, but the sun excessively
hot--a most unpleasant contrast. This being a short march of about
eight miles, all the baggage came up in good time. Abdool had tied up
the shikarries' tats, and remonstrated at my orders to loose them: the
silly fellow would have kept all the animals fasting during the day.
No wonder so many perish under such cruel privations. Subhan is unwell,
complaining of headache--the effects of the sun and wind, no doubt. I
had the foot of my shuldary closed in with turf-clods to exclude the
biting blast, and prepared plenty of clothes to weather out the night.

12th August. Sunday. I had a very uneasy night of it, suffering from
indigestion, although I dined at five--hare stew too rich, perhaps--but
the principal disturbing cause was the difficulty of respiration, owing
to the extreme rarification of the air at this great height, many
thousands of feet. I waited in painful disquiet till the sun rose;
then turned out, the thermometer in my tent 33°. From the past night's
experience I was doubtful of my health, but after a wash and a cup of
tea found myself all right. Abdoolah told me they had all suffered from
shortness of breath as I had done; so, quite reassured, I went forth to
stroll.

We are in a basin formed by rugged mountains whose many gorges are
filled with immense masses of snow, in ridge and furrow, having the
appearance of mighty rivers suddenly congealed in all the irregularity
of their downward rush. In this basin are many stony hillocks; at
their bases clear pools. I wished to see how the poor horses fared,
and was much pleased to see them apparently enjoying their repose and
pasturage, many lying down, their stomachs proving by their rotundity
that they had made good use of their time. I sat down and watched
them, and was forcibly struck by the wisdom and mercy of the Sabbath
ordinance. Poor wearied beasts! your aching limbs and galled smarting
backs would now be causing you renewed tortures, but for that merciful
decree of the Divine Will. I enjoyed a grateful, peaceful sensation at
my heart in this recognition of the Almighty Creator's loving-kindness.

I came back to camp and enquired after Subhan, who emerged from the
shuldary, and reported himself somewhat better, but that Phuttoo
and Mooktoo were ill; the latter's whining voice was heard in
corroboration, complaining of the cold. These men are in every respect
as comfortable as my domestics, and have the advantage of being inured
to the rigours of a cold climate; whereas the others are denizens of
the sultry plains of the Punjab, and yet they do not complain; though
shivering, they are content and cheery, and, I believe, quite despise
these unmanly hunters.

I continued my stroll up the valley, and ascended a high hillock near
the glacier which presents a truly formidable aspect, its congealed
masses being broken into a multitude of conical peaks which look as
though they bid defiance to any attempt to scale them. Viewed from this
eminence, the icy scene around was grand in the extreme. I overlooked
the upper gorges of the highest mountains, all of which appeared to
converge towards a centre, their immense contents of snow and ice
radiating, as it were, and uniting, the distance blending them and
mysteriously concealing the vast and irregular spaces that really
separated them. The sun was warm and genial, the air sharp and fresh,
under which influences I felt simple existence delightful, and rejoiced
devoutly in being the creature of the Beneficent Creator of these
mighty works.

In the afternoon I walked to the foot of the glacier to examine the
path, and went over a considerable tract of snow, but could not
discover the track up the glacier, which must be very steep and
difficult. On my return the unhappy shikarries, who had remained all
day rolled up in their blankets, crawled to my tent and expressed their
shame at being 'hors-de-combat' without any apparent reason. They all
complained of severe headache, which I attribute to rheumatic pains
contracted from exposure to the bitter cold blasts here blowing. The
stupid fellows have left their tent-poles too high; so that the foot of
their shuldary allows a space of two feet open for the draft to rush
through, and as they sleep on the ground the effect must be striking.
I had advised them on this point, but Asiatic-like they would adopt no
precaution. I again pointed out to them this objectionable gap, and
cheered them up--the miserable beings!--telling them they would be all
right to-morrow, as we expected to meet game. I got them out of the
dumps, and gave them some sugar for their tea, and they retired, and
immediately docked their poles. It was intensely cold, so I retreated
early to the shelter of my canvas.

13th August. I got comfortably through the night under piles of
clothes, and roused up at dawn, the thermometer in my tent at freezing
point. The shikarries had allowed their tats, after being driven in,
to run off again, so I started with Abdool. We got well across the
snow to the foot of the glacier, where we found no regular path, but
had to scramble up a mass of stones and débris on one side of the ice,
almost perpendicular. I feared for the baggage animals. The road was
execrable; nothing but rugged masses of loose sharp-pointed stones.
Of course, riding was out of the question. One side of the pass--the
northern--was free from snow, but piled on high with these masses of
stone: the south side was filled with snow to the consistency of ice a
foot or so from the surface. I should calculate its extent to have been
some four or five miles, with an occasional break where was a basin
and a pool of green water. The route was most uneven, presenting a
succession of ups and downs all but impracticable from the stones. This
gorge was strewed with the skeletons of horses, of which we must have
passed a hundred or more. When I thought that we must have got over the
worst, I found the whole pass blocked up with a distinct glacier over
which we had to climb. But it was less difficult than it looked, the
surface being rough, and crumbling under the tread. There was about a
mile of this; and then a gradual descent to masses of stones similar
to those already passed, through which we scrambled and stumbled until
well down the pass, where the path appeared again, and I mounted.

As we rode down towards the camp, Tar-gness' dog, which was a little
ahead of us with Kamal who carried my breakfast, pursued a large
flock of shâpu, scattering them here and there: a large body of
them, however, stopped and recommenced feeding high up above us.
This looked promising for sport. I alighted at half-past nine, after
five hours' hard work. We found some stone screens, and, piled up by
one, a number of bags of 'charras,' there deposited by some merchant
whose horses had died. I am told that an immense quantity of valuable
merchandise is thus lying about on the Karakorum mountains, awaiting
the owners' leisure for removal. They say it is never robbed, which
says much for the honesty of the natives who pass to and fro; though I
suppose the fact is that none but merchants _do_ travel this road, and
they naturally respect each other's rights, and compassionate their
misfortunes.

The scenery was very grand. Immediately in front rose two enormous
mountains looking black like coal, composed of a slate-like stone; and
beyond them was a broken range of light sand-coloured mountains, seen
through the gorge dividing the former, where I believe our path runs.
Right and left of us lies a valley of the usual sterile appearance,
huge snow-capped mountains shutting it in. It lies, I think, north and
south.

A kafila was announced; and in time there arrived a merchant from
Buduckshan. He had about twenty-five laden horses--small, well-formed,
compact animals. He pitched his tent, a gay, green, flimsy thing; but,
after some conversation with the shikarries, he struck it, and pursued
his way. And a horrible rough one he will find it, poor man! He has
never travelled this road before. I fear he must lose some of those
nice horses, although they are in marvellous good condition. He halted
ten days to refresh them at a place called Sugheit, where is abundance
of grass, and for which I am now making.

My servants and horses arrived all safe, after much difficulty and one
or two falls. I went with Subhan to look for game, and after a length
of time we found, in a deep nullah. I stalked carefully up the stony
hill, and was but just in time, as the herd of nâpu were on the alert,
and fled as I arrived. But I struck true, and saw one lag behind as
they darted down the steep. Blood shewed on the side, and it just
crossed the ravine, and dropped. I fired into the lot going up the
opposite side, and dropped another. We made our way to the prey, two
female nâpu, on which Subhan performed the 'hallal' duly; then, placing
a conspicuous mark by the carcases, we returned to camp, where our
success was a subject of much rejoicing, and sent for the meat.

Two merchants journeying to Yarkand had followed me closely, and joined
my camp. They came to see me while at dinner, and on my jokingly
proposing to accompany them into Yarkand they assured me I might do
it with perfect safety; they would answer for it with their lives. I
talked with them for some time, and felt quite elated at the idea of
visiting that famed city, hitherto hermetically closed to Europeans. I
was quite resolved to attempt the adventure, and what with the day's
sport, this exciting object, and a glass of sherry, I turned in quite
jolly.

When the two animals were brought in, the coolies petitioned for a halt
to mend their shoes, and Tar-gness, who had been out on the other side
after shikar, coming back with the news that he had seen some fine
large-horned nâpu, I consented to a day's halt, and ordered an early
start to hunt.

14th August. A bitter cold morning: and there was a stream to cross,
the stones of which were coated with ice, so that Subhan, the plucky
Subhan, who volunteered to carry me across, fell just on reaching the
other side. We had most difficult climbing up stony steeps: found a
herd of nâpu, male and female, but tried in vain to approach them, as
they first got our wind, and then sighted us; so we descended again
to breakfast near a rivulet. From this spot we descried the herd
crossing a ridge on the mountain, and the males, some ten, remained
behind and lay down. I gazed at them through the glass, and admired
their massive horns. After a time we determined to try and circumvent
them, and pursued our way along the stony slope of the mountain, low
down. But these 'cute creatures spied us, and, I believe, detected
our plot, which was to station ourselves in a ravine crossing their
probable line of retreat, when roused by Tar-gness who was to approach
them by a long detour down wind. I noticed that the suspicious animals
had already faced about in the direction of the new danger. I had
hardly any hopes of success, and told Subhan that I feared Tar-gness
would never go back far enough to drive them in our direction: but the
attempt must be made, and a terrible struggle we had up a ravine, the
surface of which was one mass of loose sharp stones, causing one to
slip back every step. After many a pause to take breath we reached the
requisite height, and I posted the shikarries--Subhan and the guns with
me commanding the passes, Phuttoo and Mooktoo guarding the two ends.
A bitter keen wind nearly blew Subhan and me off our perch, to which
we had climbed with difficulty. Here we waited perhaps two hours, and
then, neither hearing nor seeing anything, descended; which was not
effected without danger. Indeed, I was nearly coming to grief getting
up, as Subhan ahead of me detached a large stone which, by a convulsive
effort, I avoided: had it struck me, it must have hurled me down below,
when nothing less than a broken limb would have resulted.

We made our way down the stony ravine, Subhan and Mooktoo having their
sandals cut off their feet, and completing the day barefooted. We went
back by the river bank, the sand of which better suited the shoeless
pair, and on the way fell in with some ten pair of nâpu horns, some
very fine ones, the animals supposed to have perished in the snows.

It was a bitter cold night, snow and sleet driven by a furious blast
sweeping over the encampment. The poor coolies, how I pitied them! It
was lucky they had a good feast of flesh to keep them in heart.

15th August. To Moorgaby: a march of some twelve miles, rendered very
uncomfortable by having to cross the river which came up to my knees on
my horse, and was very rapid, nearly carrying the horse off his legs.
The shikarries' tattoos, with supporters, got through with difficulty.
The water was as cold as ice, and my extremities being saturated I
dismounted, and tried in vain to recover a pleasant warmth; so sat down
and wrung the water from my socks, and then got on better; but had soon
to remount as the path lay between the two huge black mountains, up a
narrow, savage gorge down which flowed a torrent. This we had to cross
continually. And as, each time, my wetting was renewed by the splashing
of my high-stepping nag, and it was freezing, I endured agonies of
cold, which quite blinded me to the magnificence of the savage grandeur
of the scenery. After two hours of this misery we turned abruptly from
the ravine, and ascended by a gulley to the hill-side, and, surmounting
a stiffish ascent, found a fine open valley before us.

I now thoroughly restored the circulation, and strode on vigorously. A
caravan came in sight; on arriving at which, composed of about twenty
horses, we pulled up, and I chatted some time with the proprietor,
and tried to deal for a horse. But the price did not suit. Some fifty
more laden horses came up; and I tried to bargain for some Thibet
boots for my followers. The first merchant was reasonable, but had no
stock for sale; the others were exorbitant, and the business concluded
by the former, after much altercation with his partners (I presume),
presenting me with two pair, saying he had received more kindness from
the 'saheb-logue' than he could ever repay. He is an Affghan. The
merchants accompanying my party are from Cabul, and also profess the
utmost regard and respect for the English. This liberal fellow gave us
most encouraging accounts of the abundance of game at Sugheit, and at
another place nearer, where he himself had killed a fine antelope which
intruded amongst and frightened his horses. There were numbers of kyang
there. This place is three or four stages off. My new acquaintance is
going to Lahore, where he promises to pay his respects to me, should he
have left Ladâk before my return.

We continued our march, much exhilarated by the reports of shikar; and
after some three or four miles of level ground, the valley narrowing
to a mere ravine, we halted in a sort of swamp affording a good bite
of grass. We found five or six pair of nâpu horns, but could perceive
no recent traces of those animals. The baggage arrived in good time,
except the sheep and goats which had to be carried across stream, a
work of much time and trouble. When they did arrive at night, one of
the poor goats appeared with a horn broken, and evidently suffering
much. The evening set in very cold. A storm driven by a furious blast
roared down the valley; but shortly expending itself, the swift-passing
clouds made way for the welcome sun whose departing beams were most
cheering.

After dinner, which I eat shivering with cold, and at which,
by-the-bye, figured a dish of rhubarb I had gathered on the hill-side,
of which there is abundance, I went to warm myself at the small fires
of my followers, where they were preparing their frugal fare; that
of the Bhooties consisting of simple hot water and bread. A large
copper vessel was on the fire round which they sat, and one ladled
out this mild liquor into the cups of the squatting group. These
cups are remarkable, being carved from a very handsome brown striped
satin-wood. They come from our hill-states. Each Bhoot carries one
which constitutes his entire stock of _crockery_. From this party I
turned to my kitchen fire, where cakes were in course of preparation.
I got a plate of tea, and returned to the Bhoot party, and, to their
infinite delight, produced the tea which, however, they intercepted as
I was pouring it into the vessel, reserving half for a future meal.
They greeted me with many 'johoos,' and eyes glistening with pleasure.
Poor creatures! a little kindness is excessively appreciated by them.

Now took place a very curious and important operation--the brewing
the real tea--not the 'make-believe,' as the Marchioness styled
the choice liquors she concocted for Dick Swiveller. The tea being
immersed, a ladle of ghee is put in, and four or five table-spoons
of salt added: then much stirring and mixing takes place, a curious
implement being used to froth the beverage, like what in the navy in
my younger days--perhaps, the very name now forgotten--was called a
'swizzle-stick' which, by rapid revolution between the hands, aerated
the grog in the tumbler, giving it a pleasant sparkling appearance and
freshness of flavour. Many a time I applied it in my first voyage from
England to Hobart Town, viâ Canada, instructed by the veteran purser,
Tucker; and a by no means contemptible beverage it made in tropical
latitudes at eight bells. Well, the tea well mixed, and frothed, and
repeatedly tasted, was ladled out to the anxious party, and much
relished; of whom some, opening their flour-sacks alongside of them,
concluded their meal by mixing up as much flour as would soak up the
tea, and form a paste which was kneaded with the fingers, and then
devoured with much relish. This is the ordinary mode of tea-drinking
among this people; but when a tea-fight is given, the compos is, of
course, entirely prepared in the one vessel, and served out, of the
consistency of strong gruel.

16th August. To Bursey: a long fatiguing march of about fifteen miles.
Our route now lay north, and led up the sandy bed of a much-divided
river. We ascended and descended two formidable heights, bulging out
from the mountains, which was very laborious work, the path being deep
in grit. About twelve o'clock, from the wide sandy channel we were
moving up some animals were discovered, which on examination turned out
to be shâpu. They looked as large as bara sing. I dismounted, and,
leaving the horses with the trusty Abdool, went in pursuit with every
prospect of success. We followed a nullah, screening us and leading
to the rear of the position; from this we cautiously emerged, but our
advanced scout, Subhan, in vain strained his eyes for a sight of our
game. We moved from place to place, and at last were compelled to
accept the unwelcome conviction that the quadrupeds had instinctively
outwitted the reasoning bipeds, and defeated their well-contrived
plot. And, indeed, we soon saw them far in the distance; so we made
straight for our horses, and resumed our weary way up the sandy
plain--excessively wearisome--every hundred yards crossing the stream,
or one of its innumerable offsets. My endurance was greatly taxed by
holding in front the fidgetty Sara whose feet, poor little fellow!
were very sore from the stones. We passed one or two places which we
thought would prove the halt, but the inexorable Abdool, his thin wiry
limbs apparently unsusceptible of fatigue, pointing ahead, still strode
on, helping himself over the streams with a staff, and grinning and
muttering something unintelligible when addressed, like a menagerie
baboon.

At length, we did halt on a bare expanse of shingle under a rock,
without a vestige of vegetation--a bad look-out for the cattle.
It was now about 3.30 P.M. The equestrian party arrived about
five; but the coolies, carrying the kheltas and provisions, were
far in the rear, nor did they come in till eight or nine. Luckily
I had some remnants of cold meat from my breakfast, on which, with
some fresh chupatties and tea, I dined as well as though I had been
at mess. I attended the Bhoot tea-party again, and watched their
operations, warming myself by their fire. I also had another confab
with the merchants about Yarkand, and the feasibility of an invasion
on my part: they are not so encouraging as they were. I saw each horse
provided with two seers of grain (wheat), and turned in. An exceedingly
sharp frost.

17th August. To Pulu: a long march of, I should think, little under
eighteen miles. There was a great improvement in the road, the first
part of which led up the wide sandy channel as yesterday: the running
waters were covered with ice, and the air was bitterly cold. The many
streams necessitated riding, the consequence being extreme suffering
from cold in hands and feet. After four or five miles, a tract less
intersected by streams allowed me to dismount, when I led off at a
sharp trot, but had hardly sped sixty paces, when I was summarily
checked by suffocation, my lungs heaving up and down violently, craving
for inflation, but deriving no relief from the thin atmosphere. I
fell leaning upon a large stone luckily at hand, and then underwent
something very like death. I asked myself, 'Is this death seizing me?'
The paroxysm did not--nor could it--last more than a few seconds, when
with many long-continued gasps I gradually felt my lungs in play again,
and will take good care not to put them out of gear again in a hurry.

We threaded some wild narrow ravines, only allowing the torrent which
cleft them passage; then we emerged into sunshine, a valley opening
out, and hills and peaks stooping down, until we found ourselves
ascending a smooth gradual elevation, from the top of which, rolling
away from our feet, was an immense, wavy, undulating table-land,
stretching away on all sides, bounded in the distance by much-broken
ranges of snow-clad mountains, but presenting no remarkable features.
This elevated plain being some 17,000 feet above the sea, its
excrescences did not, I imagine, protrude more than 1000 or 2000 feet
out of its surface. The utmost sterility imaginable held desolate sway
around. But the vast expanse spread out, after our long intercepted
vision, and the beautiful tints and varied forms of the distant
mountains, composed a magnificent landscape. Abdool, recognising some
familiar features, broke out into exclamations, hailing the objects
interesting him, and turning round to us with a glowing face--if such
an expression can be applied to such a mummy-like phiz--to notice the
impression made upon us. There is some enthusiasm in that scarecrow, I
do believe.

The track through this desert was lined by the bleached bones of
horses, strongly recalling the old route from Suez to Cairo, and,
here and there, large fragments of a skeleton form--portions of the
vertebræ, for instance--were propped up by stones to serve as landmarks
to the traveller. On mounting the crest of a rise, I noticed an object
in the path below, which looked like a huge animal, by the side of the
remains of a horse. It proved to be an enormous hyena: from its size
and appearance, I should think a rare species. After a short scrutiny
it leisurely cantered away, giving many a backward glance at the
unwelcome disturbers of its morning meal. From many tracks of these
animals on the path, I suppose them to be numerous here, following
the caravans, and revelling on the carcases of horses, victims to the
privations of the journey. This unclean beast was a fitting object to
complete the dismal 'ensemble' of this dreary waste.

Looming in the distance fronting us now appeared an approaching
caravan, undergoing those strange transitions of appearance, those
transformations under the mysterious effects of mirage, so common
in the atmosphere of the desert--now swelling out laterally, then
diminishing and towering aloft to most unnatural proportions, all
the time swayed and agitated by glimmering waves of chiaraoscura,
defying the eye in its attempt to define the forms immersed in this
ever-oscillating, quivering, atmospheric flood. Startled by this
alarming vision, a dozen or so of antelopes came trooping down, giving
our party a wide berth. And having now been some four hours on foot,
and there being appearance of water at hand, we determined to halt and
make an attempt on the antelope, pending the arrival of the far-behind
Kamal with the breakfast.

The leaders of the caravan came up, with some thirty horses, and we
exchanged courteous greetings, and received confirmatory intelligence
of the merits of Sugheit, both as a place of refreshment and shikar.
One of the sandagurs carried in front of him a large bundle of clothing
containing a child--a boy, I imagine--looking, poor little chap! pale
and sick with cold. It was an uninteresting, mealy-faced child, with a
very marked obliquity of vision, but I felt much compassion for him;
he wore such a look of patient suffering. They vanished in space:
and we, leaving Abdool in charge of the horses--what a desolate,
forlorn creature he looked thus forsaken!--set off on our excursion.
And far we wandered, but only on our return saw animals far in the
distance--perhaps of the herd before seen, or may be others--when we
turned our steps towards our living mark just visible, an undefined,
quivering heap.

The remainder of the caravan hove in sight, a seemingly long string of
horses, also exaggerated and palsied by the flickering medium through
which we looked on them. I sent off Subhan to bring Abdool and Co. to
a point we would make for, intersecting the road, and so saving us a
long round: we then continued our route towards the mountains, and on
arriving at their lower spurs connecting them with this table-land we
descended to an extensive valley, watered by a rapid and a wide, but
shallow, river. Some patches of grass were visible, on which were some
animals grazing here and there. The ground was too level and void of
covert to admit of much hope of stalking them; but I made the attempt
with Subhan, and in spite of every precaution of tactics experience
lent us--crawling a long distance on all fours, much to our personal
inconvenience--the wary creatures (antelope) kept out of reach of harm,
contenting themselves with keeping us at arm's length, as it were. Thus
baffled, we rejoined our party, and pursued our journey, I resolving
after these repeated discomfitures not to attempt again to approach
these knowing inhabitants of the desert, they being as wild as though
they had been hunted every day the last six months.

A gradual ascent crossing two shallow rivers brought us to Pulu, where
on a bare plain, under a spur projecting into it, and under its angle
abutting on the bed of a stream, are three rude huts; all around which
are closely strewed the bones of horses, of which I counted fifty
from one spot. A whole caravan must have perished here in the snow, I
should think. The baggage (equestrian) arrived about five, but there
was no hope of the coolies for hours. Abdoolah, however, had provided
against such a contingency, having with him a reserved portion of the
game killed the other day, and the canteen for cooking; so I fared
excellently well, the chops being exceedingly good and tender. I
ordered each horse two seers of grain, and one in the morning, this
being the second day without a bit of grass. The cold was excessive;
the huts a great comfort to my retinue.

We cross the mighty Karakorum range to-morrow--a great event. The
ascent is said to be easy, and the road good. Indeed, I believe the
great difficulties in our journey to have been surmounted at Bursey.
But the want of grass and fuel still attends us. The night was horridly
cold, the difficulty of breathing great. I heaped all the clothes on
I possessed; but the keen frosty wind would not be denied, and found
entrance through the chinks of my armour.



CHAPTER XII.

SUGHEIT.


18th August. The passage of the Karakorum mountains effected--and no
great feat either, as the heavier work had been already accomplished
'en route.' On turning out of my tent this morning, everything
congealable was frozen. I was informed that a horse was down very ill,
and went to see him; and there the poor creature lay in agony, a nice
creature in good condition, which I had noticed as one of my best.
There he lay struggling, the steam of the death-sweat exhaling on the
cold frosty air: his nostrils were full of blood. Alas! I could do
nothing for him. And even while I turned to move away, death seized
him, his teeth set, an universal shudder convulsed him, his legs were
stretched out stark and stiff, and with a hollow groan he expired.
Poor creature! it was a distressing sight. I attribute his death to
inflammation from the severe cold. This is the second casualty, as
I had to consent to the maimed goat being put out of its misery at
Bursey: its moans were shocking. The coolies made a good meal of the
poor thing. And so I added my contribution to the piles of bones at
this melancholy spot.

Some six miles of tolerable travelling, mostly along the watercourse,
brought us to the foot of the Karakorum, up which a portion of the
winding path was seen, nothing formidable about it. I breakfasted, and
then rode up the mountain, pausing every twenty paces or so to breathe
the nags. Here we passed our mercantile companions who had given us the
go-by, when at breakfast. A zyarat--a pile of stones with some rags
on sticks--was on the top of the pass. I thought it was Buddhist, and
rebuked Abdool for doing reverence to it, but was informed that it was
a Mahomedan pir. We descended into a level valley, watered by a stream
which Abdool states to be the source of the Yarkand river. Bones and
carcases of horses lay in all directions, the loads of many left beside
their bearer's remains. Huge bloated ravens flapped and croaked around.
Footprints of the hyena, too, were seen, which foul ugly beast had
skulked from the glare of day to some lone den in the rocks around.

I rode slowly on ahead of my party, pondering on subjects suggested
by the savage wildness of the scene, when I was quite startled by the
rushing sound of two monstrous ravens which, quarrelling for a morsel
of carrion, swooped down close by my head. I thought how, in darker
ages, this would have been regarded as an augury for good or evil. We
descended gradually, following the watercourse, the valley widening
to some two or three miles extent; at a bend in which, taking us to
the eastward, our course having been hitherto north, we saw some of
the wild horse (kyang)--two or three in the valley, others on the
hill-side, and some up a creek down which came a tributary stream.
Exciting as this sight was, nothing could be done. To attempt to stalk
such wild, sagacious creatures, with every natural condition in their
favour, was hopeless; so gazing in despair I rode on, and saw two large
antelopes equally unassailable. The valley narrowed to a gorge; then
opened out on to an extensive plain of shingle, miles broad and more
in length, intersected in all directions by streams which, if united,
must form a large river. We crossed over this plain to a grassy bank,
lying between it and the sandy hills which represent, as it were, the
projected roots of the mountains, stretching out far and irregularly
from the main body. The country is now evidently opening out, showing
wide expanses between the mountains, and giving hopes of better lands
to be soon reached.

Another caravan passed on its upward course, but some way from us. We
saw some startled antelope hastening from them, and went after them;
but after having toiled long, performing a circuitous course to reach
them, we viewed them where, from the direction of the wind and absence
of all covert could not approach. I sent Phuttoo to try to drive
them to us, but he failed entirely. We wandered about this shingly
plain, viewing other antelope equally unapproachable; then returned
to camp ground. None of my people had arrived. Nor did they till
5 P.M.; when I learned that another horse had knocked up, and
was apparently in a hopeless state, but the blood being extracted from
its nostrils, and its burden removed, it recovered and was being led on.

After night had closed in, I was sitting anxiously awaiting the arrival
of the coolies still behind, when I heard sounds of human voices in
distress, faint and distant. There were answering calls from camp. This
continued a long time. I then enquired if any one had been despatched
to direct the wanderers to our haven, and was told one had; but think
not till I spoke. A long time elapsed; and then the voices drew nearer,
and at nine o'clock all had come in safe, to my great relief. They had
naturally followed on the main track, from which we had turned off to
camp, and so they had strayed some miles beyond us.

I had given orders for an entertainment to be prepared for all hands
to-morrow, including our mercantile friends, to commemorate the passage
of the Karakorum, as also to freshen up my exhausted coolies, who have
had four consecutive hard days' work. The whole party look worn and
haggard. Much pleasure was evinced at the prospect of the morrow's
rest and refreshment. I got out additional clothes to sleep in, and,
having carefully scraped up the dirt and stones against my tent-foot to
exclude the piercing wind, hope to make out the night comfortably.

19th August. Sunday. I enjoyed a tolerable night's repose, thanks to
the precautions taken to render my shuldary proof against the icy
blasts coming down from the snowy summits around. I strolled out,
and selected as favourable a site as this wild offered, where to sit
and ruminate. My reflections were not altogether satisfactory, not
unmixed with growing apprehensions of disaster, from loss of cattle
extending to loss of men. I have reduced the coolies' loads to a mere
trifle; still they get on with difficulty. It is not the burden, but
the difficulty of respiration, that oppresses them. Another goat
was obliged to be killed on the road yesterday. The want of natural
nourishment is terrible: and the fact of this region not producing
sufficient herbage to support a goat may well define its inhospitable
sterility. The few wild animals existing must pick up a precarious
and meagre sustenance in and about the watercourses, where alone a
vegetation, coarse and scanty, may be found. The horse that knocked up
yesterday was led in at night, and having fed we hope to save him.

From these gloomy forebodings I turned me to the more cheerful subject
of to-day's festivity, and descended to carry out with Abdoolah the
designs already chalked out. I desired that all the mussulmans should
eat together, merchants, shikarries, domestics, and Bhooties--the
Hindoos separately--and the Buddhist Bhooties. About 12 P.M.,
Abdoolah reported that the banquet was spread, and going out I found
the party busily employed on an ample provision of well-cooked pillau,
helped into its resting-place by tea and coffee. All seemed much
pleased and thankful.

In the evening a large caravan of some eighty horses came in. The
principal man was a Cashmiri of Kishtewar, and being slightly
acquainted with one of his countrymen, the shikarries, he was most
accessible to all our queries, and most voluble in his replies. He had
not come by the Sugheit road; had seen numbers of antelope to-day. He
entered into a long history of the murder of the brother Schlagentweit,
which agrees in the main with that already known, but with the
important difference that the bulk of the victim's property, including
his papers, was with him when Walli Khan so brutally murdered him, and
is still in that ruffian's possession. A few things were previously
'looted' on the road, which were following in the rear of the ill-fated
traveller. I enquired as to the probability of obtaining the effects,
at least the papers of the unfortunate naturalist, and was told that
certainly, if I wrote authoritatively to the khaltai newab, or hakim,
who rules Yarkand, he would cause their restoration; though it must be
a work of time, as all sorts of evasions and falsehoods would be put
in practice to mislead me, and induce the belief that the effects were
beyond recovery.

Here is a matter for serious consideration. A great advantage to the
public may be obtained by my instrumentality, but can I, a servant
of the government, take upon myself the responsibility, wholly
unauthorised, of using my influence as belonging to the government, in
a direction altogether beyond my office and functions?

20th August. To Waad Jilgo: a pleasant march of some ten or eleven
miles, in my case agreeably diversified by good sport with antelope.
Our route lay down the extensive plain of shingle, the streams of
which were thickly coated with ice which jingled merrily under our
trampling feet. A smart pace was necessary to keep up the circulation,
so I strode on ahead of Abdool. The shikarries were detained, waiting
till their tats had finished their seer of corn. The poor animal that
knocked up on Saturday disappointed our hopes and expectations, after
all his improving symptoms dying in the course of the night. He was one
of the strongest of the lot, and in fair condition.

Many antelope were seen on either hand; but the ground presented no
facilities for stalking, so I did not check my course for them. After
about five miles' tramp, the shikarries came up. We now left the
shingly watercourse, ascending on to some uplands yielding, here and
there, a light sprinkling of grass, the blades few and far between,
but just tinting the spot where they grew. A fine buck antelope
suddenly stepped into view, as he surmounted a rise; gazed at us a
second or two, and leisurely took himself off. This was tantalising.
I dismounted, and with Subhan sought to circumvent him; but he had
put many a hundred yards between us. We again descended to a bed of
shingle of wide-stretching dimensions, on which moving objects were
indistinctly seen in the uncertain hazy light, at first thought to be
kyang, then decided to be antelope. Two peculiar features were now
observable in our direct route, lying close together, apparently rocks
which would be islets when the floods were out. For these we steered,
determining there to breakfast. As we alighted, a buck antelope sped
along far on the other side, coming down a shelving bank on to the
shingle, as though he were about to cross it. He was far away; but
Phuttoo handed me the Whitworth. I said, "Well, we have lots of bullets
and lead; how far off is he?" They said, "three hundred yards;" so,
putting the sight to three hundred, I rested the rifle against a
rock, and aimed high and forward. The ball was seen ricochetting far
beyond the buck, which had started, and then stood, head drooping.
"Mara, mara," exclaimed the shikarries in great excitement. And so it
appeared. The animal did not move: so, making arrangements, I advanced
on him, and, as I neared him, he lay down--evidence enough of his
being mortally wounded. Gaining his rear, I finished him; and a fine,
handsome animal he proved, in prime condition, a different species from
the black buck, the antelope of the plains; being of a rufous colour,
with a thick felt of fur, the winter coat, and fine tapering horns with
sharp points bending forwards, with regularly placed transverse bars
from the base to six inches from the tip in front, smoothing off to the
rear: there was a curious puffy lump at the nostrils.

Continuing our way, I observed something shewing above the level of
the gravelly plain, so checked my horse, and called the attention of
the shikarries, and asked if it were not the horns of an antelope.
They said, it was a stick. But, while thus conjecturing in an under
tone, the single object doubled, and proclaimed its character beyond
any further doubt. I dismounted, and prepared for action. The buck,
benefiting by our audible doubts, aware of danger, sprang up, and
moved away, but not rapidly; so, using Subhan's shoulder as a rest, I
levelled Whitworth, and with similar effect to the former shot, the
missile being seen skipping far away, and the animal stopping with
drooping head. He soon lay down, and on our approach rose and made off
at a laboured trot; when an Enfield bullet, striking him in the rear,
and traversing his body, stretched him lifeless.

We had ridden on some eight hundred yards, when another buck suddenly
rose, and stood bewildered, beholding us. Phuttoo fumbled so long with
the Whitworth ere handing it to me, that the buck had turned, and was
going off at a brisk pace, when I aimed and fired. "Mara, mara," was
again the exclamation. We thought he was another victim. But it was
only to this extent; his left horn was struck off close to his head, to
the intense discomfiture of the poor beast, which threw itself into all
sorts of contortions as it dashed away. We left the carcases in Kamal's
custody to be cleaned and brought to camp; where we shortly pulled up
in a bight of an indent, down which trickled a thread of clear water
which produced a patch of unhealthy-looking turf, and some scattered
blades of grass in the vicinity.

Subhan and I started after an antelope we had seen near by. He had
vanished. We saw others--but does, too wary to get near. We wandered
up and down; found tracks of kyang, and made for a gorge, where they
might harbour. There we spied a buck; and, as he appeared to have spied
us, retreated, and, creeping up the dry watercourse, surprised him
feeding on the bank, and rolled him over. Now we turned towards camp;
on reaching which I was informed that another horse had knocked up,
and been left on the road. It was a poor, lanky, diseased animal, but
had stood out well hitherto, although I had, from the first, predicted
its giving in. I sent two men to try and lead it in; but they could
not succeed, so I fear, though there is both grass and water close to
it, the poor creature is doomed. Just before dinner I climbed a hill
overhanging the bivouac, on which I found the head and horns of a yâk,
a truly massive head. This had probably been killed by a shikarry,
there being no other bones near. From this eminence I noticed antelope
in to-morrow's line of march, and anticipate sport. There is now great
frizzling and kabobbing of flesh.

21st August. I did not turn out very early, but, when I did, found that
the horses had not yet been driven in, the Bhooties continuing their
cooking. I took the Whitworth from Phuttoo, and, followed by Abdool and
nag, started off. We saw antelope on every side in numbers, but could
not get within five hundred yards, so wild were they. There were fine
grassy uplands for this barren country, _i.e._, sandy downs bearing a
greenish hue, caused by a blade of grass every square yard or so. But
it was extremely agreeable to see even this scanty herbage--a wonderful
relief to the aching eye. We could not get near the antelope; so,
after footing it some five miles, I took the path, as usual, in a wide
river-bed, and mounted. I rode on some five or six miles, and then,
finding water, halted for breakfast, when Phuttoo and Subhan came up
on foot, having tired of waiting for their tats. After an hour's rest,
leaving them till the nags arrived, I pursued my journey, and about 3
P.M., after a most wearisome five hours of foot's pace under
a burning sun and intense glare, pulled up in a dismal hollow under
the mountain leading to Sugheit. This spot, being soon in shade, was
bitterly cold, and it soon froze sharp. These rapid alternations of
heat and cold are very trying.

It was long before any of my people arrived. I then learned that four
horses were left behind, having strayed away--Moosa, Ali Bucks, and
Mooktoo remaining behind to bring them on. These came in during the
night, but several coolies did not arrive. I gave orders not to move
till after breakfast, having on enquiry been assured both by Moosa and
Abdool that it was but three hours to Sugheit, and I wished to get all
the people together.

22nd August. A bitterly cold morning, and the coolies still absent.
I was, notwithstanding, in good spirits from the near prospect of
reaching our shooting quarters, the far-famed oasis of Sugheit, rich in
grass and timber, and abounding in game, only three hours off; and I
cheered up my shivering followers with visions of unlimited quantities
of meat. The coolies came in at seven, looking only a little pinched.
We set off at 8.30, and had a steady, even pull for some three miles up
a hill, from the top of which we understood we were to gaze upon the
verdant charms of Sugheit; when, to our utter dismay we looked down
upon a long valley of complete nakedness, shut in by mountains equally
devoid of clothing. Moosa and Abdool endeavoured to explain that 'the
happy land' was not distant, pointing down the valley. But I now
thought it prudent to reduce my expectations, although I had received
such glowing descriptions, from so many, of the surpassing merits of
the fertile Sugheit.

We went some six dreary miles down this vale of disappointment, in
which, however, we saw some traces of yâk; and then we turned easterly
over another mile or so of barrenness, with an occasional patch of
grass by the stream. Then, coming to very rough, broken, rocky ground,
the stream became our road; and a very awkward one it was, full of
boulders, and the incline now very great. Grass began to form a regular
border on the bank, gradually widening until we descended into a narrow
valley, or rather gorge, and the grass filled the bottom. The stream
was fringed with willow-like bushes, which also grew here and there in
large patches. And this was the much-vaunted Sugheit. But it is not to
be wondered at, that the natives of this desolate region should imagine
this strip of fertility a perfect paradise, and magnify its beauties
and merits accordingly.

We passed a Yarkand merchant with a few horses, who stated that he had
seen a dozen or so of yâk in a spot known to Moosa. We had noticed
tracks of those animals, as also of shâpu, on first entering the
valley. We passed on through some fine rich herbage--a sort of lucerne
abundant--and finally dismounted at a spot where were two Yarkandies,
apparently known to Moosa and Abdool. Here we were to halt. These men
did not give a cheery account of our prospects, as they had seen no
game.

Thoroughly down-hearted at having come thus far to so little purpose,
I took my choga and namba, and lay me down moodily under a bush, and
went to sleep. When I awoke, Subhan and Moosa came and begged me not
give way to despondency. These Yarkandies, they said, had at first been
alarmed at the awful apparition of a saheb; but, having recovered, had
declared there were plenty of yâk in the neighbourhood; and one of
them, though now doing a mercantile turn, was a professional shikarry,
thoroughly acquainted with this country and the haunts of the yâk, and
as one of his mares had recently foaled, and he must be detained some
days, he would accompany the saheb, and shew him plenty of yâk for
a consideration. Ample 'backsheesh' was promised, and things looked
brighter. But the wretched aspect of the land, as compared with my
anticipations, still kept me down-hearted.

I took Subhan with me in the downward direction in which we were to
move to-morrow; but there was no improvement visible in the country.
This valley debouched upon another which crossed it at right angles,
its enclosing mountains as bald as ever. I announced my resolve to
prosecute my travels on to Yarkand, if we found no game, and questioned
the Yarkandi as to the reception I was likely to meet with, and whether
he would accompany me. He replied that, as Yarkand was ruled by the
khaltai padshah people, he could not answer for his accompanying me,
his present business would not permit it: he would shew me shikar, that
was all.

A 'bunderbus' was made to move camp into the transverse valley
to-morrow, to a place on the river affording grass and wood in plenty;
and in the afternoon the hunting party, equipped for two days'
excursion, were to start for the yâk grounds--the place where the
merchant and the Yarkandies said they had seen yâk three days back.

23rd August. I passed a pleasant night of undisturbed repose, the
air here being soft and mild compared with that we have recently
been subject to. After breakfast we moved off, and, passing down a
declivity of some three miles, crossed a fine clear stream into a sort
of wild meadow bottom, producing a good crop of grass and abundant
thick-growing bushes. It looked a nice place to camp. On the way
we found a yâk's head, and at this place other remains of the same
animal, a large bull, apparently victim to some shikarry. On arrival
of equipage, we selected clothing, bedding, and victuals; but on
mustering the party I found, to my astonishment, that the Yarkandi was
not coming, shuffling off his engagement under pretext of headache. I
do not know to what to attribute this breach of engagement.

Our party rode off, following the regular road; then turned into
a narrow defile up which ran a rocky track, occasionally used by
travellers. Old tracks of yâk were visible. Having made some three
miles, we dismounted and sent back our horses; fixed on our bivouac;
and, leaving Phuttoo and coolies to arrange it, climbed a hill-side to
reconnoitre. We looked over a table-land, and into a valley threaded by
a stream, but found only old tracks; those very numerous. We returned,
doubtful of our chances; but thought that, if our informants had not
deceived us, we must find game or fresh tracks on the morrow. I supped,
and turned into my bed, snugly occupying a space between some bushes,
the air fresh and cool, the night bright, recalling many an 'al fresco'
couch in Australia. I enjoyed it amazingly, awaking occasionally, and
fully appreciating my comfortable position--bright starlight, a young
declining moon, a fresh breeze rustling amid my protecting screen of
bushes, and plenty of warm bed-clothes; all but the leaves still as
silence; no voices of the night here, save an occasional dissonant
grunt from the direction of the sleeping attendants.

24th August. We were up at daybreak, and soon off; and made for a
grassy bottom by the stream, where Moosa made sure of a find. But
there were no fresh tracks: old innumerable. We followed up river, and
crossed over, Mooktoo carrying me; still only signs of distant date.
And so on; until I called a halt for breakfast and a consultation, all
now growing despondent. Poor Mooktoo was barefooted, Tar-gness having
carelessly lost one of his shoes which he was carrying across the
river. And it was no joke traversing this rough stony ground shoeless.
I resolved to penetrate some distance further, to a point giving a
long view up the valley. There I halted the party, and sent on Subhan
and Moosa to search for sign, and Tar-gness in another direction;
deciding, if they found fresh sign, to send for camp things. The two
former returned on the opposite side of the river, and beckoned me. I
rode Mooktoo across, noticing pleasure beaming on their faces. They
had discovered one fresh track of a well-grown male, and thought they
had found tracks of the lot seen by the merchant; so I sent back Kamal
for the traps, and after a bit started off on the trail. This we ran
some six miles; and as it did not lead to others, and a long distance
visible presented nothing, we pulled up in despair, and I announced my
opinion to be that it was useless to try further in that direction,
the yâk, which had the previous year crowded this locality, having
certainly found other feeding grounds. To this all assented; and it was
decided to move back, meet the coolies, then halt for the night, and
move on to standing camp in the morning; and thence make a fresh start
in the opposite direction, which will lead to the grounds where Nassir
Khan and his followers told us they saw yâk in hundreds. Moosa had
deferred leading us there, because, when tending horses two years back
in this valley, the yâk pastured here in herds, and fed mingling daily
with his horses. This the tracks abounding verified.

Back we went. And, no way discouraged by this failure, I trudged on
ahead, and selected a snug turfy retreat, amid thick overhanging
bushes, for our bivouac; and then discussed our prospects and projects
with my retainers. Yarkand, and the possibility of recovering poor
Schlagentweit's effects--his papers useless to the barbarians amongst
whom he fell a victim--a favourite every day topic of mine, was
renewed; and Subhan told me, to my surprise, that Moosa, my Panamik
recruit, had been employed together with his father by government
agents to obtain intelligence, and procure any effects possible of the
murdered saheb; that he had discovered the saheb's servant in Yarkand,
and got from him a boot and a book, which he had delivered to a Mr.
Leake in Kulu, who had rewarded him, and given him the black tattoo
now with us, and a certificate which was at Ladâk. He further stated,
that this servant had in his possession the saheb's head, which he
had sought for and found where he was slain, some months after the
event, he having been imprisoned, and only having escaped death by
turning mussulman. Much astonished at this unexpected revelation, only
now divulged, I sent for Moosa who distinctly affirmed the above to
be strictly true: he added minute particulars fully bearing out his
story. My interest in this sad affair was much augmented by this fresh
and important intelligence, and I questioned Moosa on the possibility
of my obtaining an interview with the ruler of Yarkand. Moosa now
confessed that he dare not venture, as had been decided, to procure
fresh supplies for my party, as the Affghan merchants now gone ahead
would have given information of a saheb having come to hunt at Sugheit,
and the destination of such supplies would be at once suspected.
Here was an additional argument for me to risk the adventure; so,
after much cross-questioning, I find that five days' journey from
Sugheit--the road rough, but grass at each halt--is an outpost, or
thanna, where are stationed five or six Chinese soldiers, whose duty
is to detain travellers, merchants, and others, sending information to
the authorities in Yarkand of any unusual arrival; and according to
the orders returned is the party permitted to proceed, or detained,
or repulsed. Moosa thinks that, if I give notice of my arrival, and
explain to the officials at this thanna my desire for a friendly
interview with the ruler of Yarkand, that functionary will accord it,
and will assist my enquiries after this servant and any effects of
the saheb to be had, and will also order supplies for my party to any
extent. The Yarkand people had nothing to do with the assassination of
poor Schlagentweit, so will the more readily co-operate, perhaps. I
fully determined to try and carry out this scheme.

I must allow the poor, galled, jaded horses some few days' rest and
refreshment, in the meanwhile hunting; then, selecting followers and
the best cattle, will move on Khylian, this outpost, giving entrance
to the Yarkand territories. It is a ticklish adventure, as we are at
war with China; but I trust to the ignorance of these singular people,
either not to know or to recognise this fact. Moosa and my whole
council seem much pleased with this resolution; and the more so, as
I tell them that, in all probability, if I succeed in recovering the
papers of the deceased, government will reward any native assistants
liberally; if not, I will myself. I talked this project over at length,
and retired, my mind full of it and its execution.

25th August. We had a long stiff pull up hill, of some five miles, ere
we descended to our former bivouac; then on, down the rough glen, till
we debouched on the valley where was our standing camp. Crossing some
level sand through which the path runs, Subhan gave a low peculiar
whistle, and pointed to fresh tracks of yâk, some four or five, and two
of them bulls. Much struck by the oddity of the animals we had taken
such trouble about having thus in my absence gone straight to my camp,
and cheered by the omen, I strode merrily on, and followed the tracks
right into our bivouac, expressing astonishment thereat, and laughing
over the consternation they must have created in the dead of night. But
Abdoolah at once dispelled our illusive thoughts by the information
that a Yarkandi had come in yesterday with four bullocks, tame yâks,
whose tracks had so excited us.

The newcomer was an old man with two servants, a gun, and a dog, and
was proceeding to the syarat of which Nassir Khan had spoken, whence
the stone of the Delhi musjed had been quarried; his object being to
possess himself of a supply of specimens of this holy stone which,
conveyed to Yarkand, was bought at a ridiculously high price by devout
mussulmans. It was also the old gentleman's intention to hunt yâk which
were there plentiful: but, finding a saheb in his path also after those
animals, he had most courteously expressed his intention to await my
return, accompany me, and aid me to his utmost in procuring sport,
which I should enjoy to my satisfaction. This quite compensated for the
mistake of the tracks, and, summoning the stranger to an audience, he
came and confirmed his good intents on my behalf. I stepped to his fire
close by, where was a large rough dog, useful in the chase of the yâk,
which he attacks, and so distracting his attention from the hunters
gives them the chance of getting a good shot. He had a long matchlock
with rifled barrel, and a forked rest attached. This, he said, was of
Russian manufacture, and cost only twenty-four rupees--£2. 8_s._ We
could not do it cheaper in Birmingham. He said it shot right well. I
sent him a leg of venison, an acceptable supply of meat; and in the
course of the day the good man appeared with a return present of a
pair of ornamented saddle-bags and a dish of flour. The bags being a
necessary part of his equipment, I declined them with thanks. He said,
were he but at home, he would have offered me something really worth
having. He is the lumbadar of his place, only some four days' journey,
whence he says he can supply my party with any supplies required. This
is well.

I retired to my tent, and was writing up journal, when Subhan appeared,
and to my enquiry as to his wants, he said, "The saheb's servant,
of whom we were talking last night, is here." Thinking that I must
have misunderstood him, I repeated his words interrogatively, "Here,
in camp?" "Yes; and awaiting an interview." I was amazed at this
extraordinary coincidence with my wishes and designs, as were all
my followers who had been made aware of my intention to proceed in
search of this very man. A feeling of awe seemed to hold them all in
silent expectation, from which they were released by exclaiming at my
wonderful 'kizmet.' I now took my chair outside, a circle of anxious
attendants sitting round; when the cause of all this excitement
appeared on the scene--a stout burly man, with a round red face and
grizzled beard, wearing a red cloth skull-cap, fringed with black
curly wool. He was agitated at the meeting, and enquired if I was a
countryman of his late master's. He spoke no Hindostani, only Persian
and Toorki; so the interpretation necessary was tedious--Moosa first
interpreting into Cashmiri, then one of the Cashmiries into indifferent
Hindostani, which Abdoolah helped me to understand. The gist of the
narrative was as follows.

This man, a native of Bokhara, was travelling from Delhi to Yarkand
with merchandise, being a regular trader, when in Kulu he fell in with
M. Schlagentweit who entered into some agreement with him, by which
they became apparently connected in some speculation in furs--ermine
I imagine--as M. Schlagentweit gave Murad an acknowledgment for three
hundred skins, value six hundred tillahs, which was dated July 3rd,
1857, and written at that place: a concluding paragraph states that
the amount was to be paid on arrival at Kokand, or, in case of the
writer's death, by the government treasury at Kangra. This bond is
somewhat obscure, as it makes some reference in favour of the reverend
missionaries of Lahoul, which I could not make out. This is probably
owing to the writer using a foreign language. The party arrived at this
place, Sugheit, M. Schlagentweit having many attendants and several
horses with him; and from this place he despatched his khansamah to
Leh with his journal and letters, and, while asleep at night, his
property was plundered, and his servants ran away, and deserted.
M. Schlagentweit, it would appear, had determined to personate the
character of a merchant, and had with him much valuable cloth, and
some forty horses. Over this business transaction a complete mystery
hangs. The probability seems that M. Schlagentweit, fully aware of the
difficulty of travelling through a country reputed so barbarous and
hostile to Europeans as Yarkand, adopted the disguise of a merchant:
but the bond in question shows some transaction ostensibly undertaken
on account of Government.

The robbery was effected with such dexterity, it would appear, that
it was only discovered in the morning, and then reported by Murad to
M. Schlagentweit who ordered him to search out which way the robbers'
tracks led. They pointed to Kargalik, a district of Yarkand. The
robbery was committed in the ravine where I encamped on Thursday
night. M. Schlagentweit, Murad, and a Yarkand servant, by name Mahomed
Dahomey, and a Bhooti, proceeded onwards on the Yarkand road. Arriving
in Kargalik, they found the whole country in anarchy, one Walli Khan,
with a considerable force of some fanatical tribes, being arrayed
in hostility against the Yarkand authorities who, in that city and
elsewhere, had shut themselves up. This news troubled M. Schlagentweit,
and he hesitated how to act. But Mahomed Dahomey informed him that
Walli Khan was a native of Kokand, which country was under the British
government, and therefore there could be nothing to apprehend from
him; on the contrary, he ought to apply to him for assistance. M.
Schlagentweit was persuaded to write to Walli Khan, reporting the
robbery of his property, and its having been tracked into Kargalik--the
thieves had taken off eleven of the best horses with their loads.
This letter was entrusted to Murad who preceded M. Schlagentweit, and
despatched to Walli Khan; who causing search to be made, the goods were
found exposed for sale, and the whole restored to M. Schlagentweit
to whom Walli Khan sent most courteous messages and invitations to
visit him. He was then in Andejan. Mahomed Dahomey tried to persuade
M. Schlagentweit to go to Walli Khan, but he expressed his desire to
go straight on to Kokand, saying, "My road lies here: why should I
go out of my way to see Walli Khan, into the midst of fighting?" But
by some fatality he did yield to this man's persuasions, and arrived
at Walli Khan's quarter's; where, his arrival being reported, that
villain ordered his boxes and packages to be opened and examined. The
keys were taken from the khansamah, a Cashmiri, and everything looked
at; and a report being made to Walli Khan, he ordered that the saheb
should pay duty upon them. Mahomed Dahomey went into the presence of
Walli Khan--no one else of M. Schlagentweit's attendants--and spoke
two or three words to him. M. Schlagentweit expostulated at the
demand made upon him, saying, "he was on his road to Kokand, and this
exaction was unjust," or expressions of like character. At this time
the horses setting-to fighting, M. Schlagentweit directed Murad to go
and quiet them. He did so, and on his coming back M. Schlagentweit was
lying murdered by his property. Murad, the Cashmere khansamah, and the
Bhooti, were imprisoned. The Cashmiri was released after some few days'
confinement, and went in guise of a faquir to Cabul. The Bhootie was
killed: and Murad, after some three months' lying in irons, embraced
Mahomedanism, being a Jew, and was then released. For six months Walli
Khan held possession of the country, but the cities and the forts held
out against him; when, a strong Chinese force being despatched to the
aid of their beleaguered countrymen, Walli Khan's force broke up and
dispersed. He himself is now in prison under authority of the ruler of
Kokand. Murad's brother was resident in Yarkand, and now befriended
him. He now made search for the remains of his late employer, and found
the head, which had been severed from the body, near the place where
the murder was perpetrated. Though much decayed, he identified it by a
remarkably prominent foretooth; the other portions it was impossible
to recognise, as some hundreds of men had been slain in battle on
that ground. He made search for property, and bought a horse, an
instrument, and a book, that had been the saheb's, and was now on his
way, accompanied by his brother to Kangra, where he hoped to find the
brothers of his deceased master, and deliver these relics to them. The
head of the unfortunate gentleman is wrapped up in wool, and sewn up in
a bag, with a view to avoid unpleasant scrutiny, looking like a pillow.

The narrative is here given in a much more connected form than that
in which I received it, having asked many explanatory questions. When
Murad described the horrid deed, or rather his finding his master
murdered, he burst into tears, sobbing violently. Phuttoo and Subhan,
in deep sympathy, wept aloud, and all the listeners were much affected.
From the difficulty of understanding the expressions, the narrative
fell with less force upon me.

There is much in Murad's statement which one would wish clearer. Why
has he so long delayed communicating with the friends of the deceased?
Merchants have gone to and fro, and enquiries have been made by
government, but now three years have elapsed he turns up with a bond
worth 3,600 rupees, and otherwise in good circumstances. His brother's
aid may account for this, certainly. I hate to suspect any one. Bella
Shah and the thanadar, Basti Ram, stated the Bokhara servant to have
been an accomplice to the theft and murder. However, I have taken the
man's statement for truth, and lest he should meet with molestation
at Ladâk, or elsewhere, on his journey down, have offered him my
protection, giving him clearly to understand that he is perfectly free
to pursue his journey and objects, if he chooses. He expresses himself
most anxious to stay with me; saying, he feels sure that Basti Ram
would seize the relics, and send them to the British government on his
own account. Not improbable. Murad, therefore, leaves the party of
merchants with whom he has hitherto travelled--and they number some two
or three hundred horses, I am told--and joins my party to-morrow.

After dinner I went out to a fire lit for me, it being excessively
cold, a bitter wind still blowing, the concluding blast of a storm
which has covered the adjoining mountains with snow. My principal
retainers gathered round, and talked over the story of Murad, and
canvassed its merits. Many doubts were expressed as to his veracity and
complete innocence. I now sent for the Yarkandi, thinking it advisable
to lose no time in sending for additional supplies, as some twelve days
must elapse ere their arrival. The old man came, and took up a berth
among the others, and negociations went on rapidly. He entered into
our views with alacrity, and promised to procure the flour and corn we
required, some rice, and a quantity of fruit, apples, grapes, apricots,
and melons, as a present for me. He said, this stock should be laden
on horses which I might purchase, if I pleased. He was to receive six
rupees in advance, for which I went to my tent, and on my rejoining the
group he had withdrawn to give directions to one of his servants to
start on this business in the morning. Everything now seemed to work
smoothly, and promise success.

26th August. Sunday. I slept well, and waited to gain a glimpse of
sunshine under the tent ere turning out. There had been a sharp frost
during the night, and it was a beautiful, clear, fresh morning. I sat
in my chair idly sunning myself, when a sense of the sanctity of the
day, and an imperative impulse to express it, took hold of me; and I
made my way through the thick bushes to the river, where its divided
waters poured noisily over many boulders, and, selecting a stone for a
seat, gave myself up to devotion.

Coming back to camp, I was met by Abdoolah who told me that the old
man, who had promised to do so much, now declared that he dared not
venture to send for any supplies for me, lest the Yarkand authorities,
hearing of it, might wreak their vengeance upon him. He had come to
this conclusion on consulting his servants. This was most unexpected.
Food for man and beast must be had; so, enquiring of Moosa the
distance to this man's residence, I resolved to fulfil my hunting
plans, then to return, bringing the patriarch with me 'nolens volens,'
and, so accompanied, proceed to his village, and there obtain supplies
by force, if needs must: the constraint put upon the old man would
secure him from harm. I then bethought me of ascertaining what stock
should remain, and found by my account that there should be twenty
days' rations for men, but very little for horses. Thus there would
be enough for ten days shikar, and ten days to Panamik, and then corn
might be procured from some kafila. I now directed an order to be
written to the gopal of Panamik to send out a horse-load of flour and
corn to the foot of Sassar, on this side; which note was despatched
to the merchants just starting for delivery, and I hope we shall have
enough without adopting my scheme of violence and rapine.

Murad joined my party with his brother and three horses, and, to my
dismay, has brought with him neither atta nor corn. I have directed
him to obtain stock from some of the passing travellers who are yet
expected in numbers--crowds of hajis now proceeding to Mecca, their
pious pilgrimage having been checked these last three years by the
mutinies, perhaps. This he promises to do. He brought a German book,
a volume of scientific geography, having no owner's name in it, but
being purchased, he said, in the bazaar of Andejan, doubtless poor
Schlagentweit's property. He brought the pillow containing the head,
and was proceeding to open it, but I desired him to desist.

The bunderbus is complete for a move to-morrow, the old Yarkandi
expressing the utmost willingness to shew me the hunting grounds. I
take provisions for four days, and look for sport ere my return; until
when, I must leave this my diary.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE YÂK.


27th August. Under the guidance of the old Yarkandi's servant who bore
the long rifle, with only my bedding and three days' provision, we
started on our hunting excursion up the valley. We had but about five
miles to go, then bivouacked amid the brushwood opposite a deep gorge
running far back into the mountains, where we were to try our luck
after the yâk. I had expected to commence operations this afternoon,
but the Yarkand hunter objected, on the just ground of the wind
blowing up the ravines in the day time, and down them early in the
morning, therefore advising a very early start. I dined at five, and
at sunset went to the fire, where, summoning the Yarkandi and Moosa to
interpret, we questioned him as to the nature of the ground we were to
go over to-morrow, the habits of the kutass, as he calls the yâk, and
the prospects of sport. He said, the place was not far, and the yâk
plentiful, and that we were sure of finding them, as he had never yet
failed to do in this spot; he had been hunting here some three months
back, and with two other men had killed nine, three of them close by
us. This intelligence set us quite cock-a-hoop.

28th August. We were all afoot ere dawn, and off up the mountain.
Having gained some distance, we came upon tracks which in the dull
light we pronounced recent, and continued our toilsome ascent, cheered
by the discovery. A bitter sharp wind came off the snows, cutting one's
face like a knife, and here, as in all this region, respiration was
most difficult. The Yarkandi, to my surprise, suffered more than any
of us from this inconvenience, stopping every ten or a dozen paces
for relief. We reached the grassy slopes under the snows, where yâk
were wont to be invariably found; but, one after the other, they were
anxiously reconnoitred, and found blank. As the light had increased, I
carefully examined the tracks, and felt sure they were many days old.
The Cashmiries were quite at fault here; they are truly indifferent
hunters. We now ascended a steep sharp ridge which gained us admission
to a lot of ravines, in which the Yarkandi made sure of a find; but
these we traversed with like ill success, and then, having stopped
an hour for refreshment, went on to a third favourite haunt, equally
empty, and the signs of the same date. While resting on a ridge, we saw
a kyang crossing a hill-side behind us: he looked like a large donkey,
with a disproportionately large head. The wind being adverse, we could
not attempt to do anything with him. The traps and attendants had been
ordered up the main valley to the entrance of another gorge, for which
we now directed our steps; and, after a tiresome descent, and a long
tramp over a shelving flat of some six miles, we reached our camp, much
beat, and our anticipations greatly reduced: yet the Yarkandi persisted
in the most confident assurances of success, and said we must
inevitably find to-morrow. I turned in, in a snug bower which Buddoo
had constructed for me in the bushes.

29th August. We were off again, ere the first blush of dawn, and,
entering a wide ravine, held our course up it. Numerous tracks of yâk
were seen, but none fresh. After two hours' gradual ascent came the
pinch, a steep slope up the mountain, on which, to our joy, we met with
fresh tracks, unmistakably fresh, and our spirits rose accordingly.
Our path lay up a wide ravine, penetrating into the mountain-side, and
giving entrance to a wide basin-like indent, on the level bottom of
which were extensive patches of grass, on which were plainly visible
recent signs of yâk. We crossed a steep rocky ridge, abutting into
the basin, and shutting one re-entering angle from view, but, to our
infinite chagrin, all was void as before--signs fresh and plentiful.
Here we halted for breakfast.

It was now proposed to ascend one side enclosing this basin, and,
resting on the summit, examine the adjoining ravines, and wait the
probable appearance of yâk, from out some retreat or other, to feed
on the grass below us. We climbed accordingly, and found a yâk path
leading over the ridge, and fresh signs of their passage. Here we
lay down some couple of hours. Looking about, I saw a ravine towards
which I felt sure the yâk had gone, from the converging tendency of
their footprints, and communicated my ideas to Phuttoo who made an
examination, and confirmed my suspicions; and we decided that we
would explore that spot after a while. Shortly after came Subhan, all
excitement and pleasure; he had from a high point, commanding the said
ravine, therein distinctly made out the objects of our search. Now all
was bustle and preparation. Subhan described the animals to be so
situated that there appeared no reasonable doubt of complete success;
and I only thought of how many I should knock over, and told Subhan
he must scrutinise the herd, and discover the position of a huge bull
whose enormous footprints had been the object of our admiration. We
held much sanguine talk of this kind, as we descended towards the prey
in expectation. But, alas! it turned out that the game was far away up
the ravine, some three miles; that the wind blew strongly straight on
them; and there was but the one direct path up to them--no side-slip
by which to turn their flanks. But yet, there they were; and, scanning
them through my glass, I counted, big and little, sixty-three. There
being apparently nothing else for it, we advanced, hoping from the
favourable direction in which the clouds moved there might be also
a favourable current of wind further up the ravine: so we made the
attempt to stalk these wary animals whose power of scent, their
principal security, it is said is wonderfully acute and far-reaching.
And so we found it. We approached right well, as far as concealment
from sight went; but the brutes winded us, and gradually drew away.
This leisurely retreat deceived the shikarries who pressed me to
pursue, in spite of my repeated assurances that it would be utterly
futile. Having hunted the bison in the west of India, I was up to this
seeming apathy to our approach.

Subhan, as always, eagerly leading, kept on the advance, until we
suddenly viewed the whole herd, closely packed together, moving slowly
forward, out of shot. The shikarries would have it that they were not
alarmed; so we made an onward move again to gain a rise, whence they
hoped my battery might open with effect, though at a long range, on
so dense a mass. We gained the stony height, but found the herd again
scattered, some still retiring in the distance, others lying down,
some feeding at some six hundred yards off, but with a smooth slope
separating us, which offered no chance of getting at them. Here we lay
behind stones, watching, admiring, and longing. From hence I saw the
huge old bull of the enormous foot-prints, carrying a very heavy pair
of horns, slowly and, as I thought, feebly descending behind a rise:
others, fine fellows, lay down on the rise. We waited long, hoping
against hope; till at last evening, growing apace, and the frosty
air admonished us that we must make up our minds what to do. I had
no covering but the suit I wore, and nothing to eat, so that passing
the night here on guard was out of the question. Subhan proposed
a dash at the enemy for a chance shot--so like him! I proposed to
withdraw quietly, and seek the foe next day; so the decision was left
to Moosa who directed the retreat. Back we went; and now a terrible
long trudge awaited us, and it was long after dark ere the straggling
party following Subhan and self had come in, some quite sick, Mooktoo
and the Yarkandi 'hors-de-combat,' and all thoroughly fatigued. I,
therefore, proposed to remain in camp to-morrow, and send back for
more provisions, on arrival of which in the afternoon we would shift
quarters, moving up the mountain near to the place the yâk were left in.

30th August. Moosa returned about 4 P.M.; and as soon as the
fasting hunters had cooked some bread, we started for our new quarters
which we reached at dusk. We were yet a long way from the yâk ravine,
but at any rate two hours nearer. There were no bushes here for
shelter, so I selected a hollow trench-like place for my couch, Subhan
digging up the ground to soften it; and, on arrival of the traps, I was
not long ere I sought the protection of my blankets, first fortifying
the inner man with a little well-diluted eau-de-vie, there being
no fire, no tea. I rose up once or twice, and looked around on the
imposing mountain scenery which the moon lit up with her softly bright
clear beams; and again dived into the woolly comforts of my blankets.
But ere the night was half spent, a change came over it. I awoke
feeling that something unusual was taking place, and lo! the surface of
the earth was sheeted with snow, and I was fast disappearing under its
fleecy mantle. I luckily had a long felt namba which extended beyond
my pillow, covering my head, and I drew the blankets over and round my
shoulders, and quite closed myself in. The snow drifting pressed upon
me, and kept me warm. But I got too hot from the confinement of my
breath, and was forced to stir myself, and open a hole for ventilation;
when unluckily moving the namba over my pillow, down came an avalanche
of cold snow about my shoulders. Clearing this away as well as I could,
I made a hole on one side at which to place my mouth, and once more
resigned myself to await events--not, perhaps, thoroughly comfortable,
yet enjoying the novelty of the situation. I gave many an anxious
thought to my poor attendants whose voices reached me occasionally.
Perceiving dawn approaching, through my peep-hole,

August 31st, I at once disencumbered myself of namba and snow, and
proceeded to survey the surrounding scene. Everything was buried. My
followers looked miserable enough, poor fellows! but there was no real
suffering. All was soon recovered, and in marching trim, and we set
off for our hunting ground. It was very bad travelling, the natural
difficulties being much increased by the melting snow. The wind blew
downwards, and we augured favourably of our day's chances. But hardly
had we gained the long ravine, where we hoped to find the game, than
the wind shifting blew directly upwards. We halted some time hoping
for a favourable change, as the clouds, as on the previous day, were
sailing towards us rapidly. But we waited in vain: so, there being
nothing in sight, we went on upwards, and reached a point whence
a general view being obtained revealed bare grounds only. Here we
breakfasted in a storm of sleet; and then we spread ourselves out to
search for tracks, which appeared to take downwards some two or three
miles, then across the high ridge westward; in which direction Moosa
and the Yarkandi said there was no knowing were to find the animals. We
continued looking for tracks, hoping that some of the yâk might have
separated, and gone to the place we searched the other day. For this we
pointed, and I had given orders to climb the high ridge intervening,
when the wind suddenly shifted, coming down upon us violently with a
fall of sleet, and from a quarter that would have given the yâk, if
any, our wind. I then said it was useless going on, and the shikarries,
dreading the fatigue, cheerfully assented; but there being a yâk's head
and horns on the other side, poor Tar-gness, much against his will, was
directed to make his way over, and bring the same to camp, we ourselves
turning at once in that direction. We reached our bivouac, having
passed, in an angle of the torrent's bed, under a precipitous cliff, a
number of nâpu horns, none of which animals we have seen.

I ordered the traps to be packed and taken below, intending to go into
standing camp to-morrow. Snow had long since disappeared, save on
the mountain summits, and the descent was tolerably easy. Soon after
our arrival came Tar-gness in great excitement, having seen no less
than thirteen yâk, of sizes, in the basin we had intended visiting,
when that untoward change of wind made us give up our intention,
and return. A consultation decided that Abdoolah should go in for
provisions tomorrow, and bring out the shikarries' ponies, and we
ourselves resolved to start at 3 A.M. for the yâk.

By the way, I have omitted to mention that Kamal was sent on Thursday
with orders that, if on reaching camp he found they had not been able
to procure supplies from passing travellers, he was to make the best of
his way, with a Bhooti, to Chanloong, and there having got three mds
darra, and two mds atta, to bring the same on tattoos with all despatch
to meet us; so that with this, and that previously written for, we
ought to manage well.

We chatted long at the fire, hoping that our luck was at last turning.
I told the shikarries that to-morrow was the first of September, and
explained to them our game laws in respect thereof; and I myself
really, amid all my disappointments, had a sort of superstitious
feeling that this sporting date would be signalised by the slaughter of
yâk. Impressing upon the shikarries the necessity of as early a start
as possible, not later than 3 A.M., I turned in, and, awaking
once or twice, examined my watch by the bright moonlight; the first
time it was 12--then, 2--then, 2.30, when I roused myself,

1st September, And was up, and dressed before 3. The moon was
beautifully bright, and full, or almost so; our path, therefore, opened
plainly before us. It was, however, very cold, and freezing sharp; and
the way was long, and the ascent laborious. On reaching the base of
the steep slope, leading direct to the basin, we stopped some time;
then, slowly struggling upwards, pausing every fifty paces, we gained
the upland, the light now becoming dawn well opened. Nothing met our
view on attaining the general level of the basin. But there were many
dips and hollows: cautiously advancing, we examined them, and they
were all empty. Tar-gness was sent up the ridge, and had gained such
an elevation as I thought would discover every nook; and, saying so to
Subhan, I proposed to move on to the spot where the head and horns,
before mentioned, lay. As we moved on, Tar-gness broke into violent
gesticulations, and came springing down; and, when we could get an
intelligible reply from him, informed us that he had discovered two yâk
moving up a hollow near us. Now all was excitement and preparation;
guns were uncased, and the shikarries only to the front. The wind
was right, and everything seemed such as to ensure success; when,
as we stole forward, we saw a yâk on the hill-side over the hollow;
another, and another, came in view, moving upwards, cropping a blade
of grass here and there, and looking about them. I fully believe they
were systematically reconnoitring, having acquired some suspicions.
They turned, and three of them lay down on the hill-side. Here was
a predicament. We could not stir without certain discovery; so we
squatted as patiently as we might. It was bitterly cold, the ground
covered with hoar frost. We waited and watched, and watched and waited,
when all but one impracticable animal moved down into the hollow. This
one, in the most elevated position, commanding a view of the whole
plateau, remained watchful, and, I believe, uneasy, every now and then
giving an impatient flourish of its bushy tail. All we had yet seen
were females. What was to be done? I proposed to station myself in the
line of their probable retreat, and send men round to give them the
wind. Subhan disapproved, and the other two seemed to have no idea of
their own on the subject, trusting all to luck, to 'kizmet,' not even
venturing an opinion.

Well, we waited some hours in this icy locality, not being able to
stir for cloaks or breakfast. Looking up from a doze, into which
all had fallen under the sun's genial influence, I saw yâk moving
upwards--one, two, three--then off bounded our persevering sentry,
cantering off, whisking her tail, and leading the way over the ridge.
Then out came others in succession, to the number of twenty-five,
old and young, a fine bull in rear, and took their way up the ridge,
disappearing over its crest. This was the ridge running into, and
dividing, this plateau; so, as there was a nice grassy flat on the
other side, we were charmed with the move, and our improved prospects.
Away we went, making the best of our way over the stones, and crossed
the spur of the hill, instead of the crest--fatal error of our leader,
Subhan--and, gaining the reverse, to our surprise saw nothing. The
herd had vanished. We moved along the hill-side, and found the tracks
leading into the bight of the bay, as it were; and there, sure
enough, was our chase. But the wind was now blowing direct to them,
and our wary, active, suspicious foe already indicating alarm, and
mischievously elevating her tail. There were only about twelve in
view; the others must, therefore, be concealed by the ground, and be
somewhere nearer, below us; so we pushed on and down, no concealment
possible from the first lot, now much agitated.

Now we opened the others, among them a fine bull. We were some four
hundred yards off, and above the animals, but their alarm was so
evident that Subhan advised me to fire at the bull; but the brute kept
his stern to me. However, waiting, my rifle resting on a stone, he
turned, disturbed by the agitated flurry going on around him. I fired,
and evidently hit. He thundered down the slope, passing from view, and
then coming out of a nullah, his left fore-leg apparently broken, and,
by his puffing and roaring, his lungs injured. "He's hit, he's hit, all
right," were the exclamations. The herd, with tails aloft, scampered
about, and finally halted nigh together, bull and all, some five or
six hundred yards off, and I discharged my whole battery at the group,
certainly striking one, if not more. Then, away they all careered,
the big bull hanging behind, and labouring heavily. They gained the
opposite hill-side, and seemed undecided how to act, which way to turn,
and broke into two parties, one pausing, the other making backwards
along the hill-side to gain the place they had originally come from.

The guns being reloaded, Subhan proposed a chase--he to cut off the lot
on the hill-side, we to advance on the other. Away we went best pace,
but that very bad. Our lot soon followed the other, the wounded bull
limping, and labouring heavily in rear. I sung out to Mooktoo to run
and intercept him; but there was no 'go' in Mooktoo. After running a
dozen yards, he was as done up as the bull.

Subhan was now seen on our right, gaining a position cutting the
path of the retreating foe. He struggles on--the first batch pass
him, some two hundred yards off. On, then, comes the second--they
go by--and we shout to him to await the bull, lumbering behind. He
drops to a position. On comes the huge brute, and bang! bang! go both
barrels, only accelerating his flight though he flourishes his tail
frantically. Phuttoo and I now make for a point to cut him off, which
he divining leaves the herd, and slowly goes straight up the hill,
now and again stopping and looking back on his pursuers, his roaring
lungs audible a mile off at least. Subhan slowly follows--Oh! how he
crawls! I shout to him to follow on, _close_. Mooktoo seems shirking
the work, stopping at the foot of the hill. I yell at him, calling him
no shikarry, a soor, &c., and, in a frantic state, urge them on. The
bull, ever gaining ground upwards, at last disappears over the ridge.
Subhan, having gained but half-way, there stops, and halloos Phuttoo
down below, and a short conversation takes place. Mooktoo, of course,
stops and joins in. I vociferate, and abuse them all. Subhan is asking
Phuttoo to send a man with food after him. Now they crawled on, seeming
to make no progress, and constantly pausing; and, full half an hour
after the bull, Subhan went over the ridge on his tracks--Mooktoo in
another half-hour. Phuttoo and I sat down. He said, they must secure
the brute, there could be no doubt of it. Having known them fail so
often in pursuit of mortally wounded animals, I had my doubts. Phuttoo
was sanguine.

Now came up Tar-gness and the coolie with breakfast; the former,
remarking on the roaring breath of the bull, which he had heard a mile
off, said he was hit in the lungs, and must die. We despatched him
also in pursuit, and, when half-way up, he turned to tell us there
was a quantity of blood. We waited here till 4 P.M.; and then,
believing the hunters would return by another route, whether successful
or not, we moved down to camp. The Yarkandi had joined in the pursuit,
so we were satisfied on the score of their coming back the best road.
We gained the bivouac, and Abdool, soon after, hove in sight. He said,
they had as yet received no supplies whatever from passers by, and I
now learned that there were but some six seers of corn. I made up my
mind to go to the old Yarkandi's village, and there obtain supplies;
dined, and remained anxiously looking for the hunters. About six
o'clock the Yarkandi came in alone. The bull, he said, had escaped, and
the shikarries had stopped behind; he, being cold, had come in; they
were, no doubt, following. All our hopes were now at an end. The others
came in about seven, looking very woe-begone, Subhan declaring that
the bull had been only struck somewhere below the knee, and slightly
injured. He had followed him, I can't say how far, and he stopped every
now and then to eat grass, and moved away, when gained upon. Whether
true or false, it mattered little now. The chase was over, my chance of
a yâk ended. I felt, of course, much disappointed, and, sitting with
my melancholy group round the fire, discussed my plans of going into
the Yarkand territory for supplies. Moosa and the Yarkandi were called
into council, and the latter was delighted at the idea of shewing us
the way, if ordered, describing his land as one flowing with milk
and honey, corn and wine; so we considered the matter settled, and I
determined those to go, and the number of horses, as also the formation
of our depôt.

2nd September. Sunday. I allowed the sun to shed his first ruddy beams
abroad, ere emerging from my retreat, my coverings white and hard with
frost. Taking a stroll to look at my nag, I passed some swampy ground,
out of which silently sprung a snipe, a true snipe, and, settling
again, permitted a close inspection. His colour and markings were
duller than those of the English bird--like the Indian--and his bill
somewhat shorter. There were snippets also here, so I could compare
them. I also saw a couple of teal; these, with some hares and chakores,
are all the small game seen; except, by-the-bye, the gigantic chakore
which are in numbers on the mountains. One day I saw, I should think,
from one spot a dozen coveys, each numbering nine or ten birds, fly
over; they appear as large as a full grown hen.

3rd September. We returned to standing camp, and found all well. I
had the amount of flour and corn correctly ascertained, and found that
we had of the former ten days' supply, with economy, and five and
half mds. of the latter; quite enough for our wants, until we should
meet with the stock ordered out. I had no idea that we were so well
off in point of rations; and now came the necessity of again taking
into consideration the propriety of my contemplated expedition into an
enemy's country. The actual necessity no longer existed, and although
I would have given much to have carried out this plan, and obtained a
glimpse of the Yarkand territory, the question of right or wrong, after
mature deliberation, was given against it. There was the uncertainty
of the extension of leave, and the trip to and fro would extend over
twelve days. I should have no valid reason to urge for not returning
now. I had food for my party, and my horses were sufficiently in
condition to commence the return route, excepting two, which from bad
galls would not be well for a month or six weeks. I had, therefore, no
justification for the gratification of my curiosity, and accordingly
gave orders for the return march to-morrow morning, deciding to take
the route up the valley we had just come down, thinking that there
must be some good reason for so many caravans as we had observed
taking it, and our experience of the other left anything but pleasing
recollections.

All was now preparation. A caravan being reported at hand, I sent
Abdoolah and the shikarries to endeavour to coax the merchants out
of some atta and corn. They returned laughing, the newcomers having
fled on their appearance, leaving their property to its fate. They
were soon recalled, and their alarm dispelled. They are hajis all,
and journeying to Mecca. In the evening they sent a deputation to pay
their respects, bringing with them a dish of rice, and, with Moosa's
assistance, I conversed with them. They are quite in ignorance of the
nature of the countries through which they have to pass, and the length
of the journey; but they know that the greater part is under the rule
of the 'saheb-logue,' and, therefore, feel sure of good treatment,
and prefer this route, in consequence, to any other. The justice and
liberality of the 'saheb-logue,' they say, is proverbial in the most
distant provinces of Asia: they, as have others, expressed a desire
to see their countries in possession of the English. They requested
my sanction to their travelling in my company, and, of course, I
acquiesced. With regard to the supplies requested, they replied, that
they had only brought their own stock, but that we should be together,
and should I run out, then they would supply me. This was satisfactory.

In the evening I summoned the Yarkandi to receive 'backsheesh.' He had
toiled hard, and done his best, to obtain sport: he was delighted with
two Co.'s rupees, and made a profound salaam, with more grace in it
than I could have imagined him capable of. The Yarkandies I have seen
are very like Europeans, quite as fair, the climate considered, and
exhibiting great variety of feature and style. This man had the most
decided snub nose I ever saw, completing a good-humoured face.

All is prepared for the return to-morrow. What a distance I have come,
and through what a horrid country, only to meet with disappointment!
And the prospect of retracing my steps amid such dreary scenes is not
cheering. I have added to my geographical or topographical knowledge
at any rate, and shall be the first European, I believe, who has
penetrated thus far, and returned to tell it--should it please God to
spare me.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE RETURN.


4th September. There was a great to-do with the horses, which were
anything but disposed to resign the life of ease and good cheer
which they had recently been enjoying: they careered about in every
direction, Murad's being the most intractable. I left the Bhooties in
hot pursuit, and, starting ahead, breakfasted at our first bivouac, and
halted for the night at our second. While waiting the arrival of the
baggage, Subhan came and reported a 'jamwar' present. I supposed it
was an animal, of course; but it was a bird of the curlew kind, glossy
black. I took the Whitworth, and, retiring to about eighty yards,
squatted down, fired, and the bird subsided on its tracks, shot exactly
through the middle. Subhan rushed up, and performed 'hallal,' and
accepted the bird joyfully, as they had had no flesh for many days. The
things came up in good time, horses fresh and strong.

5th September. We continued our journey up the valley, the route
due east, for some ten miles, with occasional patches of grass and
bushes of considerable extent; then turned up a defile to the right
(southerly), which leads out of this valley, and gives us a passage
through the mountains to Waad Jilgo, where we meet and pursue our
former route. Neither Moosa nor Abdool have been this road, so all is
conjecture as to distance and quality. I believe it will prove a march
longer.

After ascending a couple of miles or so, we halted in a glen affording
grass, wood, and water, essentials for a camp not always forthcoming
in this desolate region. The baggage arrived in due time. I admired
two ghoonts of Murad's, and accepted his offer to ride one to-morrow.
Abdoolah telling us that a sandagur had told him the distance to Waad
Jilgo this way was but three marches, I determined to try and reach
there to-morrow. It will be a great thing, if we are able to get from
this place to another yielding grass, without a halt in a complete
desert as on the other road.

6th September. We have severe frosts every night now, and the mountains
are coated with snow from summit to base, from recent falls. This
looks like the beginning of winter here, and, if so, summer must be
short indeed, of but a few days' duration; and it is well I did not
fulfil my project of entering the Yarkand country, for twelve days
may make a serious difference in these mountain regions. The scenery
is magnificent in its canopy of snow which removes the unpleasant
impression created by the universal sterility, the pure mantle of snow
leaving ample scope to the imagination. All around was exceedingly
beautiful in the early doubtful lights.

I set off, attended as usual by the shikarries and one coolie with
breakfast, Abdool leading Murad's ghoont. A stiff climb at once awaited
us; then down into a narrow rocky ravine, up which we scrambled, and
became aware we were off the horse-track, having been misled by a yâk
path. Much delay took place ere we hit off the track. Then we had a
gradual ascent of some six miles over a barren stony tract, a nullah on
our left hand. The morning, hitherto sparkling and fresh, now became
overcast, and a violent storm of sleet assailed us. I know nothing
more miserable in travelling, than riding at a foot's pace, your horse
stumbling at every other step or so, and a chilling blast cutting you
to pieces, with its horrid accompaniment of stinging sleet and hail.
The wind, which had been behind, now veered round and blew direct in
our faces, as we descended into a desert plain of boundless extent.
My borrowed nag's pace was so far from agreeable that I dismounted,
and trudged doggedly on, head down. Gaining a little warmth, I got on
better as the storm abated; but that coming on again with increased
bitterness, I at last pulled up, and sat down with my back to it. After
a time, I again trudged on. How this 'maidan' seemed interminable! But
at length we came to a deep gorge with a stream running down it. It was
now about one o'clock; and, but for the idea I entertained that we must
be getting near Waad Jilgo, I had stopped here. Being far ahead of the
riding trio, I was forced to follow my own ideas, and pressed onwards.
Another interminable plain presenting itself, on, on I trudged, without
any seeming alteration in its extent, until half-past three, when the
shikarries overtook me with the ghoont, thinking I must be tired. I did
mount, and rode on some six miles. There was now a ridge of low hills
in front of us, and a range of higher ones immediately on our left. I
hoped we might find water at any rate on the other side, intending to
stop at the first place where was water. We had come a long distance,
and there was hardly a chance of the coolies coming up. Abdool, being
questioned, could give no information about the localities, nor could
we understand his gibberish.

We reached the hills in front, and looked into a low flat, where was
every appearance of a watercourse, for which we made, but found it
dry. A violent snow-storm now setting in, and, having no knowledge of
what was before us--all our people and things miles behind--I thought
it best to halt here. Bad as this choice was, there was something
in favour of it; a quantity of roots for fuel were at hand; so here
we dismounted, tied our horses together, and, collecting roots--we
had some sticks with us--with some little trouble we got up a smoky
dull fire, round which we sat shivering, our prospects for the night
decidedly comfortless.

The snow came thicker and thicker; there would be drink for man, if not
for beast. Murad and a haji arrived, and joined our group, and at dusk
the trusty Buddoo, with a horse carrying my bed, tent, &c., so I was
all right. I had also a cake and bacon remaining from my breakfast. My
tent erected, I turned into bed, the better to shield myself from the
severe cold. I could not eat.

Buddoo said that the other servants and baggage were far behind; so
the probability was, what with the night and snow, that they would
not be able to find the path or, therefore, camp. I had no fear for
them; they had everything but water with them. But I felt deep anxiety
for the poor coolies, with nothing but their loads; what would become
of them? I felt truly miserable. I told Buddoo, that he and my other
two servants, when they might arrive, should shelter themselves in my
tent, there being just room for them to huddle themselves up on the
floor, and the closer the better. Poor Buddoo was extremely thankful;
remarking that the snow descended thicker than ever, and the cold was
intense, he closed the entrance, and left me to my gloomy reflections.
Sleep was beyond my reach: fretting and restless, I lay listening to
outward sounds. Subhan brought the guns, and had no comfort to offer,
on my questioning him, but that those of the party here would not die,
as they had fire; for the others, the coolies, there was much danger.
As he talked, a loud whistle came down the wind, some of the party
approaching; and, ere long, I heard with delight the strong cheery
tones of Abdoolah who, soon arriving, was bustling here and there,
giving directions, and apparently making light of the difficulties that
beset us.

All with the horses had arrived safe; but of the coolies there were no
tidings. There was strong reason to hope, however, that they would find
shelter with the haji kafila, also on the road. The servants' shuldary
was with them, so I sent an invitation to the shikarries to put up in
mine; they, however, preferred a screen they had contrived, and a good
fire. My mind to a great extent relieved, I tried to sleep, but the
intense cold, in spite of all the clothes I could heap on, rendered my
rest troubled and broken.

7th September. I heard the people quite merry and laughing in the
morning. At the appearance of sunshine I turned out, and went to
the fire, where I found all in good humour, though recalling bitter
experiences of the past night. Snow, of course, lay thick all around.
No tidings of the coolies. Abdoolah busied himself melting snow in the
kettle to give me some tea (a tedious process, resulting in a smoky
slop, for which, however, I was thankful), accompanied by the cake of
yesterday. The poor horses stood coupled together, with heads drooping,
and teeth grinding. I had ordered them each two seers of corn at night,
and gave them one now. Some of them, by-the-bye, had augmented the
influences disturbing my night's rest, by coming close to my tent, and
grinding their hungry jaws, and uttering uncouth sounds, expressive of
distress and suffering, as though to reproach me as the author of them.
I did all I could for the poor things.

It was supposed that we were distant from Waad Jilgo some two coss; so
a move on was resolved, as water must be had, and the coolies might
follow on. The sepoy was despatched to see after them. Hoping to kill
an antelope or two, we hunters went on ahead, I as usual on foot. The
exhilarating influences of the fresh sharp air, the sparkling snow, and
surrounding, many-tinted, diverse-featured mountains and hills, soon
dispelled all my gloom, and I trudged cheerily along, enjoying many a
pleasant fancy and reflection. But we had short reckoned our distance.
It was at least ten miles to the first water and grass; not the spot
we had previously stopped at--a couple of miles short of that; but as
the grass was abundant, there was every inducement to rest here, which
we did. When the breakfast coolie arrived at twelve o'clock, I found
that Abdoolah had put me up nothing, and I was now extremely hungry,
having had very short allowance of late. The shikarries, however, soon
cooked me a couple of cakes, and, Abdoolah and baggage arriving soon
after, I started off with Subhan to try for antelope. We went a long
way round, and saw numbers, but could not get near one, and came back,
disappointed and weary.

As we approached camp we saw sheep and goats nearing, a good sign; and
I was told that the coolies were all right, except being hungry and
thirsty, and were coming on. They did not arrive, however, till dusk,
and then two were stated to have given in, and were remaining far
behind, helpless. With some trouble and personal superintendence, I
got off two Bhooties with a supply of water for them. The coolies had,
as was supposed, stopped at the haji camp, and so were as well off as
if they had reached ours, but that they assert that they could get no
food from the hajis, which, however, I do not believe.

8th September. The night was bitterly cold. I could not sleep;
experienced much oppression of chest, and could not contrive to keep my
feet warm, all I could do--three pair of worsted socks on, drawers and
trowsers, double blanket, felt namba, and flannel jacket and mackintosh
over that, on the foot of the bed. In the night I got flannel trowsers,
and wrapped my feet in them, but produced no warmth. The frost was
very sharp, the stream turned to ice. The sun, however, was bright
and cheery, and under its genial influence all were in good spirits.
After breakfast we hunters started in advance. We soon saw a herd of
antelope. But they also saw us, when we reached a low hill, behind
which they slowly retired. I went after them with Subhan, and opened
them about three hundred yards off. They soon increased that to four
hundred, when some five or six being grouped together, I took a shot
at them with Whitworth, and the bolt only just cleared their backs by
an inch or so. Off they scudded, and I fired the Enfield, both balls
seemingly falling right amidst them, but stopping none.

We crossed the plain where, on coming, we were so fortunate, bucks
jumping up under our very noses. Now we just caught a glimpse of some
in the distance, which were off at once. A piercing blast, blowing
off the snowy Karakorum, met us in the teeth, cutting us through and
through. I never felt anything like it. It seemed to enter my eyes, and
wither my brain. My nose and lips were in a terrible state. Moving on,
head down, I was aroused by Subhan's signal, and saw in front, in a
watercourse we were about to descend, five antelope apparently asleep.
I dismounted, and strove to get at them; but, the ground offering no
covert, no nullah, they soon saw us, and away they sped into space. I
now walked on, and descended into the wide interminable shingle plain,
stretching from the base of the Karakorum. On turning an angle, I saw
something move. It was a miserable horse left here to linger out its
last moments in agonies. Two days, I suppose, it must have lingered,
deserted by the unfeeling owner, a Bokhara man, who had passed us at
Sugheit. He must have suffered heavy loss, as we have already passed
eight or nine of his dead horses. The throats of the others had been
mercifully cut. I put this poor animal to rest with a bullet in his
brain.

Hence, on to our former bleak and dreary camp ground, the wind if
possible more keen as we neared its primary source. I was glad to
dismount, and wrap my head in a blanket, turning my back to this
inhospitable blast. Soon up came Buddoo, the trusty, ever-cheerful,
quiet Buddoo, and not very long after, the invaluable, energetic
Abdoolah; and all the coolies came in by dusk. I have resolved, in
consequence of our very limited quantity of rations, to make a short
march to-morrow, though Sunday, to a place in the middle of the
Karakorum gorge, where I hope to find a little sprinkling of grass, as
we saw many antelope there, on coming through. This will give us an
easy march over the pass to a spot beyond the wretched charnel-house,
where we camped last time, and lost our first horse--offering the
important advantage of a bite or two of grass, and, I think, fuel.
I ordered a sheep to be killed, intending to regale my servants and
shikarries with flesh, the better to enable them to stand the cold--an
addition to their simple farinaceous diet most acceptable. Resorting
to every possible precaution to promote warmth, I put on three flannel
shirts, one amazingly thick, drawers, flannel trowsers, flannel coat,
nightcap tied on by a voluminous merino neckcloth also encircling my
throat, and on my feet, my principal place of suffering, three pair
of woollen socks, then over all a woollen gun-cover, in which my feet
are inserted, then the long ends folded round and secured. Thus clad,
with double blanket, felt ditto, mackintosh, and warm choga enveloping
me, I may surely hope for enough of caloric for comfort and repose;
though that terrible wind is howling its menaces, and the frost set
in hard. I wish I was safe in the Lobrah valley. Well, well, a few
days--say seven--and we shall (please God) be at Chanloong; formerly,
how despicable a place! now, how ardently longed for!

9th September. Sunday. A very indifferent night; my feet numbed and
chill, in spite of all my manifold coverings; my lungs much oppressed,
and continually calling me to consciousness by a sense of impending
suffocation. On the sun's rays being distinctly recognised by the
growing transparency of my tent, I emerged from my many wrappers. The
outer atmosphere was intensely severe; ice everywhere it was possible;
and a wind that found its way to one's marrow. My tent had been well
secured at foot to exclude this assailant, as also, by-the-bye, the
poor goats, which, unhappy sufferers, made several efforts to repeat
their invasion of Friday night, when two of them established themselves
under my bed, driven to this bold intrusion by the severe cold, and
little Sara, as though in appreciation of their sufferings, and
compassionating them, offered no opposition. Nor should I have taken
measures to exclude them, poor things! but that they kept me awake by
their constant restlessness and unusual noises.

I attempted to be, and to look, cheerful--on the Mark Tapley principle.
My attendants looked very black and pinched. No wonder; there is some
difference between this temperature and that of their fervid plains.
At breakfast Abdoolah told me, that the party generally would prefer
halting here to-day, as they needed rest. The coolies wanted to mend
their boots, and promised to go through to the halt I had designed
to-morrow. He observed, too, that the flour was all but out, and as
the Yarkand kafila would come up to-day, we could indent upon them for
their promised contribution. I had no objection at all to remaining;
on the contrary, it would enable me to maintain my Sunday practice,
proposed to be interrupted only on necessity.

I passed the day within, reading and writing; received report of
the death of a horse, knocked up yesterday, one with a dreadful
sore back, which I had remarked, and predicted its certain death.
The Bhooties in attendance on the horses cannot be induced to look
after them, or attempt to remedy the effects of the saddle-galls,
by mending or altering, or applications of any sort. The loss will
be theirs and their employers', as I have explained to them, with
repeated injunctions to look after the animals; but all in vain. The
Yarkandies came up in the afternoon. Abdoolah went to beg, and only
succeeded in obtaining twenty-six seers of atta. I was angry with him
for having either deceived me as to the quantity of flour in hand, on
my making particular enquiries on Monday, or for having exceeded the
proportion of issues he had then told me was necessary daily, having
led me to expect that we had ten days' supply, when here on the sixth
we were consuming the last day's rations. He made some unintelligible
explanations of having omitted in his estimate some of the Bhooties
who had hitherto subsisted on their own provision; but all this should
have been correctly ascertained. I suspect that Abdoolah, in his
anxiety to prevent my prosecuting my intended inroad into the Yarkand
territory, rather exaggerated our resources, or under-reckoned our
wants knowingly--a very grave fault in our circumstances. But we have
the provisions, written and sent for, to hope and expect. Kamal is a
thoroughly trustworthy messenger, and will be probably fallen in with
at Bursey or Moorgaby.

The thermometer this morning at 7 A.M. was six degrees below
freezing in my tent.

10th September. While yet dark, poor shivering Buddoo came in to take
out bullock-trunk and chair for the coolies, now ready to start. Oh!
how cold the rush of external air! The tent again closed, I enjoyed
a sort of sense of comfort by comparison, and waited till the first
appearance of dawn; then speedily got ready, and, muffled up, moved
off. All the streams, though rapid, were frozen over thickly. I tramped
on as fast as the rough shingle and a pair of new ammunition-boots, of
great strength and corresponding hardness and stiffness, allowed me. A
gentle ascent of some eight miles, I think, had to be surmounted ere
we reached the actual pass of the Karakorum, and this up a valley or
river-way. Having gained partial warmth after two hours' walk, and my
boots chafing, I mounted, and took Sara before me. But, though the sun
was now illuming this valley, the frost did not yield, and my moustache
and beard were firmly united in a mass of icicles from my congealing
breath, so that it was inconvenient (to use no stronger term) to open
my mouth, as it needed the parting or extraction of some hairs to
effect. With every contrivance to wrap them up, and with two pair of
woollen gloves--one, certainly, all rents--my hands became so painful
I could no longer keep poor little Sara under my cloak before me, so
set him down; and, soon after, we made a turn to the left, opening the
pass, from the snowy peaks of which came rushing an icy blast that
quite curdled my blood. My eyes ached, my brain seemed congealed, and a
pain in my back and side, and every now and then a gasping for breath,
completed my misery. I was soon obliged to dismount, in spite of sore
feet, to endeavour to restore the circulation by walking as rapidly as
possible. But the difficulty of breathing was terrible. On I struggled,
until a bend to the right into a narrow ravine presented itself, whose
lofty banks gave some promise of shelter from this killing blast. For
this I hastened; and, finding a little nook in a bank, down I threw
myself, lifting my face to the sun, and so sought, and soon found,
partial relief.

The shikarries came up, and we were all, I should think, half an hour
before attempting a remark. Then, having thawed a little, we could find
an objurgation or two against the country and climate. My breakfast
bundle unfolded displayed milk frozen in bottle to a lump--tea, ditto.
This was enveloped in a thick blanket, and carried on a man's shoulder.
It was soon liquidized in the sun. I remained an hour or so basking:
then, the worst over, away and up over the pass, and down, down into
the valley beyond, where the temperature under the sun's increased
power was tolerable. We passed the former halting-place, Pulu, and,
after resting an hour, continued our course to Dupsang, where we chose
our camp on an extensive plain, with a scanty patch or two of grass.
The effects came up late, coolies later; but all got in. I determined
to start the coolies very early, and leave, myself and mounted party,
at 8.30, after breakfast, to give the horses more time to get a bite
of grass.

11th September. On turning out I found a very severe frost, as I had
expected from my experience within. Abdoolah proposed to give me an
omelet for breakfast, but produced chops instead, explaining that the
eggs were frozen into stones, and he had hard work to separate the meat.

We had to cross the elevated table-land, before described, now just
covered with a thin layer of snow. A bitter wind blew in our teeth,
putting all enjoyment of the scenery, or any pleasing train of
meditation, out of the question. All was silent endurance, grinning
discomfort. Yet I did give a glance, and sentiment or so of admiration,
to some magnificent forms of mountains in their pure and brilliant garb
of snow. But I was glad to be rid of their frozen features, and descend
into a narrow ravine, where, screened from the wind, and cheered by
the sun, my temperature and temper regained their customary tone.
Here we met a party conveying goods of Bella Shah's--dyed leather--to
Yarkand; and one of them was the unfortunate owner of the horses
with me, a merchant who had been long in prison at Leh, and recently
released. On gaining freedom, he, of course, looked for his horses,
and was very glad to hear that they had been engaged for me. He now
collected his clothes, and turned back with my party, much questioning
and answering going on between him and the shikarries; he had read my
first note to the kardar at Panamik for supplies, and had pointed out
to that individual the necessity of implicit compliance; had met Kamal
on the hill over Chanloong, now six days back. This was satisfactory.
We need now have no apprehensions, but of a day's scarcity--perhaps,
a half ration. We continued on, far beyond our original halt, and
finally pulled up on the shingle, near a small thread of a stream which
was lost in the shingle. When we previously ascended, this water-bed
was intersected in every direction by rapid streams: now water was
difficult to find. The traps arrived late, and I did not enter my tent
till dark. There was a perceptible difference in the atmosphere, though
still frosty.

12th September. I intended to start the whole party early, in order
to bring the horses to the grass at Moorgaby, as soon as possible,
but found them all astray, having wandered away in search of grass
during the night. I could not wait in the cold, so started, my horse at
hand following as usual. I strode away best pace, and passed coolies
and Murad's party, and was deep in thought, when a rattling of earth
aroused my attention, and looking up, there were some thirty nâpu close
by me, on the hill-side on my right hand, not above fifty yards off,
all of a heap. They were leisurely moving upwards, a capital shot. No
shikarry, no gun near, that wretched Mooktoo having lagged far behind.
Abdool coming on, driving my horse before him, I made frantic gestures
to him to stop; but, head down, eyes on the ground, not heeding, in
stupid absorption, on he came, nor could I gain his attention, till I
picked up a stone and threw it at his head. Then he ducked, and halted,
and began to talk. Mooktoo, awake to the circumstances, now came
running up, rifle in case; fumbled at that, then to cap--his fingers so
numbed, I suppose, he bungled sadly. The animals were now far up the
mountain. I got the rifle, and pulling trigger, no effects--the cap
bad. At last I got off both barrels, but the objects were too far off
for this weapon--a polygroove.

We arrived at a point where the path, quitting the river-bed, ascended
the rugged mountain-side to a great height, and re-descended. There
being now no water, I thought we might go straight on, but Abdool would
not hear of the horse going. He said, "man might go, but no horse
could;" so Mooktoo and I, followed by Lussoo, breakfast-bearer, entered
the defile which delighted us at first by its easy, accessible ingress.
We soon, however, learned to respect Abdool's opinion, at which and
his experience we had been scoffing. We found ourselves entangled in a
confusion of rocks which at last quite blocked up the passage. There
was nothing for it, then, but to retrace our steps, or climb the steep
on either side. I set to work at one point, Mooktoo at another. Making
slow progress, and slipping back often--for I had no staff to support
me, and my boots were ill fitted for climbing--I gained the ledge with
much exertion, and, after clambering along some hundred yards, found
I must re-descend into the bed of the torrent, all further progress
being cut off by a yawning precipice. Nerving myself for the attempt, I
succeeded in getting down, showers of loose stones accompanying me. I
could not pause for observation, but fixing my eyes on certain points
apparently firm I dashed at them, and off again before my weight had
detached them, leaving them to fall with awful resounding crashes
into the depths below. I got down all right, not a little pleased
and relieved thereat, and found the way now practicable. Looking up,
there were Mooktoo and Lussoo craning over the chasm. I hailed them
to try another place, and then went on, and heard stones and rocks
thundering down the steep. Reaching the point where Abdool and horse
should cross, they were not yet in sight, but soon appeared, and in due
time joined me. Half an hour had elapsed since I left the other two
in difficulties, and, becoming alarmed, I despatched Abdool to look
after them; who after ten minutes or so reappeared, abusing them and
Cashmiries in general as good for nothing. They were close at hand, and
came up, Subhan and Phuttoo also. They had to extricate Lussoo who,
terror-stricken, had stuck half-way down the steep.

Here I breakfasted, and then went on to Moorgaby. No Kamal: but an
encampment--some of the people, and horses, and goods of the Bokhara
man. Horses lay dead around; and a man was engaged in skinning and
cutting up one for meat. My people did not make their appearance till
six or seven hours after me.

13th September. A cold frosty morning. I stepped out smartly for a
couple of hours, and then mounted, and found the Bokhara man encamped,
who to enquiries said that he had lost six horses, and the others were
so feeble that he must leave his goods behind, and take them on to
Lobrah to recover their condition. I found the torrent, from wading
and crossing which so many times, when coming, I had suffered such
agonies of cold, now a narrow gentle stream, much to my satisfaction.
On nearing Sassar a man with a loaded ass appeared, who turned out to
be one of the party come with my supplies: the others were at Sassar.
Kamal remained at Panamik, footsore. We found the river at Sassar, so
formidable when last crossed, now easily forded in any place. Men,
donkeys, and loads there: others encamped with yâks designed for hire
by merchants whose horses might knock up.

Subhan rummaged out a sheepskin bag containing some dozen letters and
heaps of papers for me. I greedily seized and ran through the former.
Good news from home--all well, thank God! Excellent accounts of the
corps at Amritsir; no casualties from the date of my leaving to the
20th July. The Baboo, writing the 20th ult., makes no allusion to the
receipt of my packet from Leh, or from Diskit. This is perplexing and
serious. If my letters, application for extension of leave, &c., have
miscarried, I shall be in a considerable fix. He says, however, that he
had previously despatched these letters by a coolie who, after twelve
days' absence, returned, saying that he was taken ill on the road.
Perhaps, in his letter first sent he mentioned the receipt of those
packets, and forgot to note the same in his second. I hope so; but must
suffer suspense and anxiety till my arrival at Leh.

14th September. Up betimes for the arduous passage of the Sassar,
which I quite dreaded, so frightfully rough and fatiguing is it,
without a redeeming feature. The coolies had preceded us, so we had
no idea of meeting with shikar up the valley; but as I strode ahead,
Subhan signalled me, and I at once saw a large flock of nâpu feeding
in tranquillity on the steep hill-side on my right hand. They might
have been three hundred yards off. I took the Whitworth from Phuttoo,
and, followed by Subhan with the Enfield, moved gently up the hill,
straight for the animals, there being no other course. Luckily the
wind was down. I got to a big stone about a hundred and fifty yards
from the flock, scattered feeding a few yards apart, and was obliged
to wait some seconds for breath and composure. The animals were quite
unconscious of our neighbourhood. At last, taking the opportunity of
two coming together, one of which seemed to me the largest there, and
to have horns, I aimed. It was most difficult to aim surely and with
nicety, owing to the grey light of morning, the grey colour of the
animals, and that of the ground, rendering the object very indistinct.
Whispering this to Subhan, I let drive, and down rolled one of the
animals; when, to my infinite astonishment, off dashed little Sara at
speed, whose presence I was not aware of. He had, however, followed
silently my every movement. He flew straight at the wounded animal,
and seized it as it struggled. I called him to come back: but in vain.
So, taking the double rifle, I looked for another shot, and fired at
two passing nâpu, I believe without effect, but the ball seeming to go
through one.

And now ensued an exciting and ludicrous scene. The wounded nâpu, an
animal as large as a fallow doe, partially recovered the blow, and,
shaking off the worrying Sara violently, came with irregular bounds
rapidly down the hill, pursued frantically by the gallant little dog
close at its haunches. I raised the rifle. Subhan adjured me not to
fire, lest I should injure the dog. But fearing that the animal,
apparently yet vigorous, might escape, I aimed well forward, and over
it rolled. Sara was at its head immediately, and seized it by the ear,
when a desperate struggle took place. The animal bounded into the
air; but the tenacious little rascal kept his hold firm. Down they
came, the dog undermost, never relaxing but to get a better grip. And
thus the contest continued, until I got hold of the hind legs of the
violently-struggling creature, and Subhan the head. Then Sara, coming
to my aid, fixed his teeth in the haunch, and there held on, never
yielding till life was extinct. His excitement then subsided, and he
lay down panting, and looking as if really ashamed of his exploits.

Cheered by this incident, we pursued our way which was yet terribly
trying. However, the passage was in time accomplished, and after
reposing and refreshing for a couple of hours or so, during which time
Buddoo and tent passed us, and the other servants came up, we went on
and bivouacked on the hill above the Bhoot goatherds' encampment, a
spot producing a fair supply of grass. At Abdoolah's suggestion I had
engaged three of the yâks to relieve my tottering horses and carry the
baggage, the horses coming on unloaded, by which plan I hope to save
their lives.

We intend to go through to Chanloong to-morrow--a stiff journey, with
the tremendous mountain to get over, which, however, is not so bad from
this side. We are all elated at the near prospects of a better land
and a better climate than we have recently sojourned in. I hear a deal
of good-natured banter going on around, and feel very 'koosh' myself,
and have been congratulating everybody upon our having bid an eternal
farewell to the Karakorum and Sassar horrors.

The Bokhara man sent for some corn. He lost three horses yesterday. Two
or three of mine look as though they would not survive, poor wretches!
in spite of being freed from their burdens.

15th September. Still bitterly cold, my camp being close to enormous
glaciers, in addition to the snow on the mountains. I led off at
a round pace down to the shepherds' huts, and saw donkeys there
loaded, which turned out to be an additional supply convoyed by the
faithful Kamal who had been detained by a sore foot. I renewed the
well-remembered horrors of this vale of stones and bones, to the
latter of which there were now many additions. The air breathed on the
mountain-side was quite pestiferous from the many rotting carcases.

It was a terrible long drag up. Having reached the top, I ordered
a general dismount, or Phuttoo and Mooktoo would have assuredly
bestridden their poor jaded beasts all the way down. We stopped a
few minutes at a fine clear spring to refresh; and then on to the
willow groves of Chanloong. The descent occupied about an hour and a
half, best pace. How delightful and refreshing appeared the struggling
willows of this scrubby piece of cultivation! Selecting the most
umbrageous, I threw myself under it, and experienced such delicious
sensations as the privations I had recently undergone could alone have
procured me. Bees and insects in numbers were buzzing and humming
about, and the freshness of vivid vegetation was strongly perceptible
in the atmosphere. Excepting the valley of Sugheit, the air of which
was fine and agreeable, that I have been breathing and exposed to may
well be likened to a perpetual east wind, the rawest and most intense
experienced in March in England. I revelled in the pleasant change,
lying down in the shade, giving the reins to memory and imagination,
until gentle slumber stole over me.

My attendants, baggage, and cattle, except one horse, came in. The
absent animal was obliged to be deserted on the mountain summit. I
ordered a man with corn to be sent up to make a last effort to save
him. How delighted all the poor fellows were to get down!

I eat my dinner again 'al fresco,' and sat out as long as the light
enabled me to read, occasionally casting a glance over the scenery,
always grand though savage, and in the evening-subdued light endued
with softer beauties: then turned in anticipating a good night's rest.

16th September. I did enjoy an untroubled night of calm repose, such as
I have not experienced since I left Sugheit; no violent palpitations
and struggles for respiration, no biting wind penetrating my every
covering, and--oh! satisfaction indescribable--warm feet.

I rose early, the air cool and fresh, and just sauntered about among
the straggling bushes, feeling truly sensible, I trust, of the mercies
and blessings vouchsafed me. So far I had returned safe and sound. I
now look forward with pleasure to my return to my duties and usual
avocations. I passed a pleasant, cheerful day; and retired in suitable
mood again to enjoy a night of delicious, healthy sleep.



CHAPTER XV.

LEH AND LADÂK.


17th September. Everybody astir early. Even the coolies were anxious
for a start. Not their wont by any means: it has always been a hard
matter to rouse them up. But they, poor mortals! have their affections,
and are now looking forward to return to their homes and families.

Having seen many hares and partridges when coming this stage, I had
my gun and shot ready, wishing to give little Sara some diversion.
Arriving at fields and cultivation after six or seven miles of horrid
barren country, I dismounted, and flushed a snipe in some swampy
ground, whilst a hare was visible running off in the distance. I
thought Master Snipey a certain bag after the hare, so did not fire at
him, though an easy shot. The hare made off through a fence, and a teal
rising I knocked it over. Now I tried for the 'long-bill.' But whether
the report of the gun had awakened dormant hereditary suspicions--for
he could never have been shot at--I know not; but he proved himself
the most 'cute and wide-awake creature imaginable, and, after many
dodges, finally took flight. So I tried after the hare. No find. Then
I took down a stream, and shot a long-billed bird which, when sitting,
I thought must be a woodcock: but it was only some kind of plover, the
head and bill exactly like the woodcock's. I saw the 'long-bill.' There
was but this one, and again I sought his life. In vain: he was off long
ere I got near him. Then I tried a swamp; found nothing, and stopped to
breakfast. All the people and traps came up and passed. I felt resolved
to have that snipe. And, as he had gone off in the direction of the
spot first found in, I had no doubt of seeing him there, so went back.
There he was, quite conspicuous, feeding about, but still wide-awake,
and ever fluttering on out of shot; and at last, when my attentions
became too pressing, he took a long flight, but came back a long round,
and settled in some sedges. I was relentless, and resolved to compass
his death by treachery; so, taking advantage of a fence covering
my approach, I stole upon him. Reconnoitring carefully, I saw him
evidently on the 'qui vive,' and had to advance still some way to make
sure. I peeped again: he was not visible. Suspecting a 'ruse,' I went
on a little further, and looking over the hedge saw my fine fellow, his
head on one side, evidently listening. Without any compunction, I blew
out his brains then and there. Soon after, I shot a hare, and then,
turning towards the horses, a good long beat lying between, I fired at
four others ineffectually; a just punishment for the persecution and
murder of the solitary snipe.

I found my tent pitched at Panamik in the old spot; and in the
afternoon transacted a deal of business. The moonshi, Ahmet Shah's
relative, met me on the road. He and Abdoolah had come to some
understanding on prices and charges, and we got on very well. The
horse left on the hill died yesterday, making five in all out of the
seventeen taken from Panamik, which gives a fair idea of the nature
of the journey. The hire of each horse for the forty days, after due
deductions, is eight rupees, one anna. I was very glad to have the
matter settled, and attacked my stew with additional zest. Some turnips
and pumpkins obtained yesterday were a great treat after a month's
forced abstinence from all vegetables. No fruit to be got here. I push
on to-morrow beyond the corresponding stage when coming, and, as the
river is now low, shall probably avoid Diskit altogether.

18th September. A more than usually tiresome march, the glare from
the surrounding bare sandy ground excessively trying to the eyes.
The moonshi overtook and accompanied me, and on arrival at Lanjoong
procured me some melons and apples which, though indifferent of their
kind, were most acceptable. Here I discharged Tar-gness who appeared
delighted with his rate of wages, doing obeisance in a most servile
manner. The kardar arrived from Diskit, and I tipped him five rupees,
much to his satisfaction.

19th September. A long and most wearisome march, repeating all the
disagreeables of yesterday in a magnified degree, the road lying
through an interminable tract of shingle and deep sand by the river
side. I shot a hare at the village where we stopped to breakfast, and
disturbed a young brood of chakore there. The hen bird exposing herself
to certain destruction to draw off attention from her nestlings,
I forbore to injure her, respecting her maternal solicitude and
magnanimous self-devotion. We finally brought up at a small village on
the right bank, having passed by Diskit and Kalsar, and thus gaining
a position almost opposite the ravine leading down from Karbong. The
sheep arrived from Diskit looking well, all but the solitary survivor
of the Wurdwan lot which, whether from pining in strange company in an
uncongenial climate, or other cause unknown, is in very poor case.

20th September. After two or three miles of very deep sand, we
crossed the river where divided into several channels. Its waters
are diminished in depth and force, otherwise it is not fordable when
comprised in its main channel. We had now a rough path up a rugged
ravine, with some very steep pitches to ascend, and did not reach
Karbong until eleven, and had to wait for breakfast till twelve. The
owner of the horses of my expedition, who is accompanying me to Leh,
there to receive his money, came up and reported that five of the
coolies had bolted at our camp, and every male had disappeared from the
village, so that Abdoolah had adopted the only course left, and gone
back to another village with the sepoy to impress other coolies. This
mishap compelled me to give up all thoughts of going further to-day,
which will necessitate a double march to-morrow, including that horrid
mountain.

21st September. A very severe frost, and the cold intense on this
elevated plateau, surrounded by snow-covered mountains. I rose at the
first glimpse of dawn, and tramped fast and long before acquiring any
glow. After a heavy drag up hill for four hours I halted to breakfast
about a mile and a half from the foot of the ascent; which I then
accomplished, not without sundry slips and tumbles, the ice beneath the
snow being hard and slippery. The descent was steep and rugged, down a
horrid stony path running through corn fields now under the reapers'
hands, to the immediate precincts of Leh, passing under the rock and
its crowning palace; and thence turning across the fields we entered
the enclosure where was our camp, and were warmly welcomed by Suleiman
and domestics. The former was much relieved at our appearance, having
suffered, he said, much suspense from want of authentic information
regarding us, and flying rumours of misfortune.

Major Tryon had taken his unfortunate servant with him in a doolie. He
had lost some of his fingers which had dropped off, but was thought to
be getting better.

No letters or papers for me, nor any news of those transmitted hence
having reached the Baboo. I am thus in a fix, not knowing whether
I have leave or no, nor even if my application for leave was ever
received. I must hasten on to Cashmere, expecting to meet the Baboo's
explanations 'en route.'

The thanadar was very civil in messages, sending apples and a sheep,
bed and bedding too. Abdoolah arrived and reported things on the
way, yet far behind. Buddoo and bedding arrived, so I was well
provided for. I sat chatting by the fire some time, and then turned
into my large tent, quite a mansion, and read for an hour or so. One
small snooze--and then I was roused and kept awake for hours by an
inharmonious combination of sounds--people wandering about, coolies
arriving holloaing at each other, servants and followers all jabbering
away together, horses neighing, a jackass braying, yâks grunting, and
Sara and Fan rushing out of the tent and adding their shrill yelps to
the general outcry. I summoned patience, and dwelling on my safety and
comfort forbore to interrupt my retainers in the outpouring of their
mutual gossip on reunion; but lay and endured it all, hoping for a lull
in the storm, which at length arriving, I submitted joyfully to the
sweet bonds of sleep.

22nd September. A delightful fresh morning. I just sauntered about
around my tent, and ordered two sheep, rice, flour, and tea for the
entertainment of my establishment, to commemorate the safe return
of the expedition. Suleiman reports that he had distributed all the
Scriptures and tracts, but a few which he had kept in reserve in case
we should visit Kopalu. He had met with some attentive listeners, one
a Sikh from Lucknow, now resident in this country, who said his mind
was full and troubled after reading the Gospel, and wished he could
consult with a 'padre.' He is going to Kopalu, and Suleiman was going
to entrust him with some books for the Rajah of that place, a very
intelligent man, and one with whom Suleiman, in his former travels in
this country with Colonel Martin, had held communication and discourse,
of whom too he was hopeful. But we learn that the Rajah is now in
Sirinuggur attending the durbar, so we hope to meet him in person.

There is also an old man, a bunga, native of Feruckabad, who has
been here some years, and has married a native woman, by whom he has
three young children: he is earnest in his enquiries, and professes a
conviction of the truth of Christianity. He proposes to go under my
escort to the mission at Amritsir. But to remove and deport a family
of the Maharajah's subjects without full sanction would be going much
too far. And, then, how would my friends, the missionaries, approve
of my burdening them so heavily? After pondering over the subject,
I resolved, if the customs and laws of the land permitted, to run
all risks and encounter the trouble and expense, for the sake of the
children--nice, lively, dirty, naked, little wretches, always merry
and chattering. So I sent Abdoolah and the moonshi to enquire of the
thanadar about the matter, who replies that, when a foreigner marries
a native of the country, he ought not to quit without due authority
from the Maharajah. So I thought the utmost prudence necessary in such
a case. I was sorry to reject the poor man's petition, and, pitying
his disappointment, said I would endeavour to get a purwanah from the
Maharajah for his exit, should I have an interview with his highness.

Poor old Basti Ram is ailing, and obliged to be bled, so I have
announced my intention to pay him a visit.

23rd September. Sunday. A quiet morning. About breakfast time Bella
Shah, the moonshi, Murad, and other folk and attendants came to see me.
Murad, who looked remarkably down and conscious, excused himself from
going on with me, stating that his horses were lame, and, when this was
contradicted, he then declared that he owed Bella Shah money, which if
I paid he would go. Bella Shah had then taken leave. I declined it, and
told him he was at liberty to choose his own route, time, &c., and so
dismissed him.

24th September. I paid all wages and claims before breakfast, and
afterwards off to the town to Bella Shah's, and inspected some rugs,
and damask silks, and other goods. The silks were described as from
Russia, but had a stamp with the arms of England, lion and unicorn, on
them. If they are from England, a far less circuitous route might be
found for such merchandise. Questioning Bella Shah as to Murad's being
indebted to him, he said it was true; he had borrowed money at Yarkand
from his nephew to be repaid here, but that this should be no obstacle
to his accompanying me. I had thought much last night over Murad's
conduct, and the best course to take in regard to it, and had come to
the conclusion that it was my duty to take possession of the head of
the deceased gentleman, leaving the other things with Murad.

I now went to Basti Ram's, and was ushered into the old gentleman's
presence with due ceremony. He is feeble, but his eye is bright
and his voice strong. A large group of slovenly attendants and my
own suite were admitted to the presence. We had much chat about my
journey, and then brought Murad upon the 'tapis.' Basti Ram became
excited and energetic, declaring that he would force him along with me,
and send an escort with him: had he not come under my protection, he
would have been imprisoned immediately on his arrival, so strong were
the suspicions entertained against him: there were merchants of the
first respectability now in Leh aware of all the circumstances of M.
Schlagentweit's murder, who distinctly taxed Murad with connivance and
complicity in the treachery that betrayed him to Walli Khan. The old
man was quite roused as he dwelt on this topic. I now made up my mind,
and explained my wishes to Basti Ram that he should summons all the
credible persons from Yarkand, who were cognisant of any of the facts
of this wicked business, examine them, and duly and officially record
their depositions in Persian, attaching his sign manual thereto; and
that the same parties should also give evidence before me. To this he
readily assented, issuing the necessary orders on the spot. He told me
that there was a merchant, a man of importance, in the town, who was
actually present when M. Schlagentweit was killed. This arranged, I
took leave.

There was food for reflection in the information just received, and my
resolve thereupon at once taken I sent the jemadar, who followed me
from Basti Ram, to bring me the head from Murad, and then returned to
camp. After a while the jemadar arrived with Murad, the head, book, and
instrument. The head, taken from the box and unwrapped, exhibited a
skull complete with facial bones. Earth and dust adhered to it as when
it was exhumed. The upper front teeth were remarkably prominent, the
two centre ones large. The jemadar, who had been well acquainted with
the deceased, had no doubt of the identity. There was a deep cut in
the bone just above the nape of the neck. The few roots of hair on the
skull were black. I ordered these relics to be placed in my tent, and
Murad was made aware that he must accompany me. He only demurred at the
difficulties of feeding himself and horses on the road. But this was at
once overruled, as Basti Ram had engaged to settle all such matters,
or I would have done so. The witnesses are to be paraded before me
this evening, when something definite, one way or the other, may be
elicited. I have taken measures to have them interrogated separately,
and much ado I had to get this understood. Natives will follow their
own train of ideas, and pervert one's words in conformity thereto.

Murad and the witnesses having come, after fruitless efforts to conduct
an examination in any useful form--it being impossible to obtain
definite answers, and equally out of the question keeping a witness to
the point, and preventing interruptions from my attendants, all wanting
to have a say--I gave up the attempt in despair, and sent the whole
party off to the thanadar to be examined on their oaths.

Abdoolah returned from the inquisition with Murad and a paper
containing the summary of evidence taken on oath before the thanadar,
who sent me word that there was nothing whatever stated, which could
in any way incriminate Murad; his suspicions against him were now
entirely removed, and he believed his narrative to be substantially
true. This result gives me the greatest satisfaction. I congratulated
Murad upon it, and pointed out how necessary it was for his own sake
that the rumours to his prejudice should have been sifted and refuted.
He now holds up his head again, and is quite ready to accompany me, but
requires an advance of cash; so I gave him the sum he asked, twenty
rupees.

25th September. Bella Shah and his nephew and other people came to see
me, and we had a long and interesting conversation on the circumstances
connected with M. Schlagentweit's journey and death. Bella Shah's
relative says, that the Chinese authorities of Yarkand are not inimical
to the British, and would have treated M. Schlagentweit hospitably and
with honour. The borders of the country of Andejan are three days'
march from the city of Yarkand. This territory contains eleven large
cities, is a month's journey in width, and joins its frontiers to the
provinces of Russia, which country has recently erected and established
a military cantonment on its frontier, after some opposition and
fighting. Peace now prevails, and a large amount of trade is carried
on. Even British goods find their way by this route through Bokhara,
where only any duty is levied, and that light, computed at two and
a half per cent. I questioned Bella Shah as to why he, an eminent
merchant, did not introduce British manufacturers by the Ladâk route.
He replied, that the exactions were too heavy, and the difficulties of
the route caused heavy expenses. He did send calicoes and piece goods,
but sometimes found the market overstocked by consignments from Russia.
It was so at present: such goods were selling in Yarkand for half their
original value. It seems unfortunate that the Indian government did not
support Moorcroft in his schemes for opening up these vast regions to
British commercial enterprise. Russia has now established her influence
here, and makes a good thing of it.

I have been purchasing some warm articles of felt clothing for my fat
friend the lumbadar of Eish Mackahm; then took a warm farewell of Bella
Shah. Yesterday evening, when Murad returned from the thanadar, that
functionary sent with him a man denounced by Murad as having in his
possession property to the value of 1008 rupees of M. Schlagentweit's.
The man admitted to having been entrusted with goods to that amount
by M. Schlagentweit who had sent him on arrival at Khylian to a
neighbouring village to dispose of them. He followed M. Schlagentweit
on to Yarkand, thinking to find him there, and was himself made
prisoner. The goods, he said, were safe in the hands of other parties
in Yarkand. Mahomed Dahomey had sent a sepahu to him from the Andejan
country to give up this property, but he had refused to comply without
due authority. The thanadar sent me word that, if the man did not
give up the goods at my bidding, he would send him to Lahore to be
dealt with. I sent directions to the thanadar to act himself in the
matter, and take such steps as he deemed best to procure the property,
and transmit it to British authority. He sent to me this morning to
write him an order so to act. I have, therefore, given him an official
authority, as a British officer, in the absence of other legitimate
authority, to search for, and possess himself of, all or any effects or
papers of the deceased, and duly apprise the Punjab government when he
may succeed. This seemed to me the rational course to take.

26th September. Every one astir ere dawn amid a scene of bustle and
confusion. The shikarries and even all my servants, Abdoolah told me,
had resolved to indulge themselves with tattoos. Not the remotest
objection on my part, as I would only pay for Abdoolah's and the
moonshi's. I tipped jemadar, gopal, and the old bunga who was anxious
that I should not forget his name, in order to bring his case before
the Maharajah. Abdool, the whilom guide, appeared and undertook to lead
the way out of the labyrinth of paths, and then took his leave with
proper salaams. I believe the poor creature is really grateful for the
treatment he has received from me, a rare feeling among Asiatics.

We arrived without any adventure at Mimah, and camped in an enclosure.
The evening was delightfully fresh, even rather chill, rendering a
clear crackling fire pleasant to sit and think or chat over. My nights
now, unbroken by that terrible oppression of lungs experienced further
north, pass in tranquil and refreshing repose. If I do awake, it is but
to enjoy the realisation of my condition of health and security under
God's blessing and providence.

27th September. We altered our course from that in coming, Subhan
recommending the road by Sassapool instead of Hemschi, the abatement of
the waters of the Indus now having rendered the lower road practicable.
No ways loath, mindful of the stony hilly demerits of the other, it
was so ruled. The road as far as Sassapool was very fair. Subhan
recommended a move on to Noorla, as it was yet early, about 9.30
A.M., and that place not distant. In this, however, he was much
mistaken. The path led along the banks of the Indus, up and down
precipitous rocks, rough, difficult, and most wearisome, the distance
such that we did not reach Noorla till 4 P.M. There was little
hope of the baggage coming up till night, and the Cashmere coolies
could hardly be expected at all. I determined to make the best of the
lots of walnuts to be had for the pelting, and some apples.

At dusk Ali Bucks came up with the disagreeable news of all the Bhoot
coolies, who were taken in relay at Sassapool, having bolted; that
a few things only were coming on, and that Abdoolah and the sepoy
were endeavouring to press other people. I soon had some chupatties
made, which with some cold meat formed an excellent dinner: I got some
Yarkand tea also which was quite flavourless, but being hot did well
enough. Buddoo and the large tent now came up, but no bed or bedding.
However, I contrived very well with part of the outer fly of the tent
and one or two nambas spread on the ground; and Abdoolah, the sturdy,
invincible Abdoolah, having arrived and reported things all on the way,
though far distant, describing the difficulties and struggles attending
the flight of the former coolies and the forcible enlistment of the
new lot, I rolled myself up, little Fan nestled close on one side, and
Sara stretched out under the covering on the other, and passed a fair
night, though often disturbed by the irregular arrival of the grumbling
coolies. The gopal of this place was reported to be drunk from 'bang,'
when we arrived, and was not only useless, but saucy and obstructive.
I sent him a threatening message, when the fumes were leaving his
faculties somewhat clearer, which had the desired effect of providing
for our wants.

28th September. Finding that everything had arrived during the night,
I determined to reach Lama Yurru to-day. I enjoyed a pleasant walk
at a good pace to Kalsee, to which place Kamal had been despatched
an hour ere dawn to direct a relay of coolies. It was here that I
purchased the crop of corn for my camp. On enquiring of the gopal, he
pointed to the produce remaining stuck up in the walnut tree. I amused
myself by the consternation with which he received my demand for the
restitution of a rupee in consideration of this harvest. My followers,
however, helped themselves liberally to walnuts on the strength of
it. The jemadar of the bridge fort, who had been uncommonly civil and
obliging when coming, advanced from his fortalice to salute me, and,
on my entering the doorway, presented a tray of apples, congratulating
me on my safe return. A Co. rupee 'backsheesh' called forth abundant
thanks, and I passed the wooden bridge over the Indus, and was soon
in that tremendous gorge leading up to Lama Yurru, the scenery truly
magnificent in its savage grandeur, the road full of precipitous ups
and downs, and running as a mere ledge over fearful depths and chasms.
My old nag, on which I was mounted, was a little nervous at these
slight shelves so projecting, some of which were formed on pieces
of timber let into the smooth side of the perpendicular cliff, and,
besides having an ominous leaning downwards, were very shaky and full
of holes. The old Yarkandi snorted with alarm, craned in front, and
dashed forward when urged, trying to jump the suspicious spots. But for
this pusillanimous conduct he sought to make amends by dashing at the
stairlike path up hill, and springing up at full gallop. I much enjoyed
the excitement of this hap-hazard ride. The weather was delightful, and
the surrounding scenery full of romantic charms.

We reached the halting-place, and things arrived in due time. I made
enquiries after the yâk I had wounded. The villagers interrogated
pretended ignorance, which naturally persuaded us that the animal had
recovered, and on the gopal arriving he at once told us that it was
so. My ponies' shoes requiring replacing, nailing, &c., I had sent off
for a smith who resided some six miles off. Night approached, but no
man of iron. Lamenting this as a serious mishap, the gopal volunteered
to do the job, and set to work, and in such a manner as to keep me
on tenter hooks, lest he should lame my nags; his hammer, a little
round-headed tool, falling with unsteady aim, driving the nail this way
and that. One only having been driven home, and another with difficulty
extracted, he relinquished the attempt until morning, daylight now
quite failing. Should I ever undertake a similar journey in such
barbarous regions, I will go provided with farrier's tools, shoes, and
nails, and do my own shoeing.

It was very cold here, snow falling on the mountains; and a bitter
cutting wind blowing with sharp frost reminds me of the Karakorum. But
I can find means here to repel the cold, which there no precaution
could effect.

29th September. Leaving the gopal at work at the horses, I marched
off, wishing to outstrip the coolies already started, as there was
some chance of seeing shâpu as on the former occasion. But many people
were passing to and fro, so that any animals were scared from the
neighbourhood of the path. It was a stiff pull up the mountain to the
pir, but I did not dislike the work, the lungs here playing freely;
then, down again by a long slope into a valley where the trusty Kamal
had provided a fire and fresh milk. Having breakfasted, I mounted
and had gone but a few paces, when a duck rose from the stream and
resettled. The gun was at hand, and the bird soon potted. On nearing
Karbo, our halting place, as I was descending to the stream watering
the valley, the shikarries signalled me and I was at once aware of a
number of teal in the ford just under us. I got the gun, and creeping
to a position to enfilade them delivered right and left as they rose,
stopping six of their number. As they appeared to settle some way down
stream, I followed along the bank, and again came upon them. Three fell
to one barrel, the other did not go off. But I had committed slaughter
enough.

Waterfowl are not numerous in this country, there being no 'jheels'
or feeding grounds for them apparently. But in Chan-than and
Roopschoo, where these qualifications are plentiful, they abound. In
Cashmere, at this season, they swarm in the lakes and rivers; snipe
also are numerous, and that splendid bird, the woodcock, not rare
in the jungles; so that, what with pheasants and partridges, the
shot-sportsman may find ample amusement. Should I obtain my extension,
I must try a day or two by way of experiment to see what there really
is to be got.

30th September. Sunday. An exceedingly sharp frost. I took a stroll,
morning and evening; the weather all that could be desired, and
scenery magnificent, though monotonous in colour. The remains of an
extensive fort crown the lofty height immediately over the village.
One is led to wonder under what condition of circumstances this small
valley could have been of sufficient importance to be worth such a
considerable defensive work. Many like ruins are met with in these
valleys, mostly perched on inaccessible rocks. The shikarries--not
reliable historians--tell me that the population generally inhabited
these strongholds, prior to the conquest of Lower Thibet by Golab Sing,
being subject to frequent inroads and depredations by roving bands of
freebooters. So, in fact, I suppose that the cultivators of every one
of these strips of valleys retired from their daily labours to the
security of these forts, their only residence.

I enjoyed my day's halt and repose, and took the opportunity of
pointing out to the shikarries and others assembled round the fire the
wisdom and beneficence of the Sabbath ordinance, well exemplified in
the enjoyment displayed by the coolies and horses in this respite from
their toils. I tried to describe a Sunday in England, with the general
stillness and tranquility prevailing, save the bells ringing out from
the many churches, and the troops of worshippers to be seen wending
their way in obedience to that cheerful mandate. My audience seemed to
approve much of such a rule and practice, but did not, I imagine, think
it applicable to themselves.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE BARA SING.


1st October. A fine, sharp, frosty morning. I got off at half-past
five, my usual time of starting now, as the sun's fierceness is much
abated at this season. The path followed the stream which was broken
into many rivulets. A brace of teal were espied, which I potted at one
shot. We had then a long hill to get up, and descending the other side
came to a village where Kamal had prepared a fire and fresh milk. He
goes on ahead for the purpose now every morning. We reached Shazgool
at mid-day. Looking about over the valley, I saw some birds, and when
viewing them through the glass found them to be chakore. I took the
gun, and went after them, but they were on the alert and off ere we got
well up to them. However, I knocked two over, right and left; but on
Subhan running to pick them up, one found strength enough to fly away,
and the other gave us a chase. At the report of the gun down came the
dogs from camp, and commenced hunting: they would both do well with
practice and teaching.

2nd October. To Kargyl: a long stage this, but midway very pleasant,
traversing a cultivated vale, and passing under a long grove of
trees whose shade was agreeable, although the air was fresh. Through
Pashgyam, and then over the bare uplands where the sun was oppressive
and the glare great, till we descended into the smiling valley of
Kargyl, with its many willows, fine brawling river, and unsightly
whitewashed fort. I noticed here, as several times previously 'en
route,' some curious cooking vessels from Iskardo. They are chiselled
out of solid stone, of various sizes, from half a gallon to two or
three, are no thicker than the ordinary earthenware pots, and, I am
told, stand the fire better. Although there must be much labour and
skill required in their manufacture, though left quite rough, the price
is but six annas or so, according to size. The colour of the stone is
grey. Another description of vessel of smaller size is carved from
stone at Iskardo, of a greenish-yellow colour, and soft in substance.
These are more for ornament than use, I believe. The former are highly
esteemed for ordinary purposes, and supply the place both of metal and
earthenware utensils in these parts.

3rd October. To Tazgan: a long and very rough march, the path hanging
on the mountain side over the torrent descending a narrow valley which
leads to the pass of Soonamurgh. Some patches of cultivation with
two or three huts here and there on either side--evident signs of
increased fertility of soil--are now discernible. Straggling bushes,
some stunted fir trees, and many deformed, limb-twisted junipers, dot
the sides of the mountains, which are broken into stupendous ranges of
magnificent forms, and shew bright tints in the watercourses seaming
their declivities, where rank grasses and thick-growing shrubs find
suitable soil and moisture. Other coarse herbage also gives a pleasant
hue of green, though now yellowing, to the general surface--all being a
prelude to the coming beauties of Cashmere.

The halting place is by a sort of warehouse for the deposit of the
Maharajah's merchandise in transit, who I find is the principal
merchant of his realms, speculating largely in all produce, and
exercising a monopoly of tea and pasham, chiefly imported from Las;
yet, not to be called a speculation, because he must always make
immense profits, as he pays no dues, fixes his own prices, and forces
sales on his unwilling but submissive subjects. Thus he always ensures
a winning game.

4th October. On turning out, I found that many coolies had deserted.
They were engaged to complete this day's march to Dras. I thought there
was something amiss last night, as the fellows kept up a jabbering
uproar long after I had turned in. Leaving the energetic Abdoolah and
the sepoy to extract other 'slavies' from the few houses straggling in
the neighbourhood--which must shelter a population of forty or fifty,
I imagine, exclusive of women and bairns--I stepped out quickly to
the tune of the crackling ice and crisp ground under me. The scenery
was similar to that of yesterday, except that more open levels were
met with, and the path much improved. The valley widened, admitting
a considerable extent of grassy undulations and flats as we neared
Dras--a large maidan, boasting a fort of the usual form, in good repair
and of unexceptionable whitewash. A large enclosure serves for camping.
A jemadar and some twelve sepoys are here. Enquiring about my last
letter forwarded, I learned to my vexation that it had only left Dras
three days; so I arranged to send in Kamal by tattoo dâk to Sirinuggur,
where he will probably arrive a day sooner than the so-called post, and
rejoin me the other side Soonamurgh. The traps arrived in good time,
coolies having been provided.

5th October. The people all astir unusually early, long before dawn.
I turned out by moonlight--a severe frost, and so fine and fresh--and
tramped away merrily over the frosty, ringing ground, and crossed many
an ice-bound stream; and after some eight miles or so, during which
I had left all my followers far behind, I reached a hamlet called
Pendras, and sending for the head man (mukadam) requested fresh milk
and firewood, shewing a 'jo' as the compensation, which I always
find assists my vocal appeals admirably, and invariably succeeds in
obtaining the trifles I require. After a bit, Mooktoo and others came
up; and then, on again. Ere long a signal from Subhan, close behind
me, brought to notice three fowl below us in the river, a duck and two
teal. I stole down upon them, and dropped the duck as it neared the
opposite bank, and the two teal with the other barrel. Further on I
spied half a dozen teal across the river. We rode down to cross at a
shallow, when a couple of ducks rose, and, having gone down stream,
returned and were passing high over head, when aiming well forward
I fired and down whirled the leader, falling into some bushes. On
reaching him I found Sara already in full possession. I thought the
teal seen were still undisturbed. Syces, Subhan, and moonshi came up
and reported them still visible from above; so, cautiously stealing to
the place, I found three remaining, and waiting till their dabbling
brought them together knocked them all over. Sara, at the discharge,
rushed into the stream, and dragged a struggling victim to shore.
'Sha-bash! Sara.'

We had a stiff pull up a hill abutting into the valley, at the base of
which two streams, issuing severally from deep narrow gorges, united;
and following up the course of that on our right hand, high up above
it, we wound along many a bend and turn. The mountains on our left were
now well clothed with birch woods stretching downwards. Rich heavy
growth of vegetation is now general from rocky summit to base, and the
watercourses are distinguishable by the bright emerald tint of their
grasses, diminishing in brilliancy outwardly, the colouring gradually
assuming a yellowish hue as it recedes from the water. The foliage,
generally, has now assumed a yellow hue from the effects of the severe
frosts; and some of the more sensitive shrubs already glow in the
deepest tints of orange, portions here and there showing like broad red
stripes down the mountain; so vivid is the colour, and the whole effect
of outline and detail is enchanting. Feasting my eyes on these lovely
scenes, I suddenly became aware of an unusual object on one of those
emerald slopes. A moment for the eye to dwell, and I was convinced,
and shouted, "Balloo, balloo." There was the first bear. He was far
away--high up on the other side the river.

Now descending a bit, we came to three stone huts at the foot of an
enormous glacier, whence issued a torrent from eastward. Our further
route lay up the prolongation of the valley we were ascending,
southward. But our day's march was terminated. The bear was on the
opposite mountain-side, straight across; and lying down I watched its
movements, not thinking it worth while to undergo the fatigue of an
attempt on him, from the open character of the ground, and the extreme
probability of his soon returning satiated to his lair. Still he
grubbed, and now and again ascending a rise to reconnoitre returned
to his repast. I dozed: woke up, and there he was still. And so the
parties remained till the arrival of Mooktoo who bore the spyglass.
Through this I now inspected the distant beast, and found it a very
large one. Very soon he moved off; and, after patiently following his
eccentric movements, I marked him down, behind a jutting rock high up
on the mountain. Summoning Phuttoo and Mooktoo, I made my own bunderbus
for the assault; rode Mooktoo across the river, and was obliged to
ascend the mountain by a gulley to windward of the bear's retreat, but
hoped, by getting above, to weather on him. It was hard work getting
up--the grass very slippery, and I had only common shoes on. We reached
right over the spot I thought Bruin occupied; closely examined the rock
I thought he harboured by; but of him we saw nothing. Nor could we get
a glimpse of him elsewhere; so, supposing he had withdrawn unobserved,
we prepared for our difficult descent, in which we were engaged,
Phuttoo assisting my sliding feet, when he uttered an exclamation,
and, following his eye, I saw the dust flying, as the bear, till now
in a fast snooze, scuttled off. Phuttoo handed me the Whitworth, and,
luckily, the brute turned round on a rise far above us to have a look
at the disturbers of his repose. That moment of curiosity was fatal;
as, taking advantage of the glimpse of him, I sent a bolt into his
neck, and staggered him. Growling savagely, he made his way some little
distance, and climbed on to a prominent piece of rock--a fine mark,
about a hundred and fifty yards off. Phuttoo, quickly loading, handed
me the rifle, and the discharge of its contents brought Bruin from
his lofty perch. Mooktoo, who was far above us, made for the spot,
and dragging the carcase from a cleft in which it had lodged, it came
spinning and rolling, over and over, on to a snowdrift in a ravine. I
hastened to inspect it--a fine large female, in full fur, and fat as
butter. I resolved to pack off all the traps, and wait till the skin
and fat were brought in, in the morning.

6th October. All the baggage off, and Mooktoo with two coolies gone for
the spoils, I sat by the fire two hours at least ere the skinning party
returned; then off immediately, and crossed several snowdrifts--the
valley narrow with a gradual, almost imperceptible ascent. We had
arrived at an extensive mass of snow over which ran the path, when
Subhan, as I was crossing it, pointed out some wild fowl on a frozen
pool below. They were far off, and rose wild. As they squattered over
the ice, I fired both barrels and dropped one bird, a duck; then
crossed the snow, and scrutinising the stream saw wild fowl in a bend
under some overhanging snow; crawled up and dropped five of them--a
duck, a widgeon, and three teal.

We continued our route, crossing over to the other side on an enormous
mass of snow filling the ravine--no longer a valley--and bridging the
torrent. A sharp climb up, then a gradual ascent, and we were on the
top of the pass, though not on the top of the mountain. A view of
transcendent magnificence and beauty opened upon us. Every conceivable
form and colour of loveliness in landscape seemed here united. The
mountains, opening out into valleys and dells clad in the richest
verdure, with foliage of infinite variety--only, perhaps, rather too
general a tint of yellow--stretched in ranges on either hand far away
back, giving beautiful distances with their infinite shades of blue.
Close at hand, their savage rugged crests, riven and split into all
imaginable forms of pinnacle and peak, here and there a snow-covered
mass more level separating them, frowned overhead. Lovely peeps
downward to the torrent glistening below were offered through the
vistas of the foliage. Indeed, all was seen from out a frame, and from
under a canopy, of bright foliage. While from below was wafted up a
delicious fresh fragrance of rich and abundant vegetation, giving an
idea of teeming fertility, but all of nature's wildest. I felt that had
I done nothing more in this long excursion than just bring myself to
this spot to feast upon these charms of nature, I had been amply repaid.

I had dismounted, and now descended, the way running down in short
sharp zigzags, the declivity on this side being of great length and
extremely steep. Pausing, now and again, on some prominence to gaze out
upon the glorious picture around, thus I went down my way rejoicing
into a fine grassy vale: then mounted and rode some ten miles along
it, with an occasional stretch of intervening pine woods to cross--the
mountains on either side glorious; those on the left more thickly
timbered. Luxuriating in such scenery--so widely different from that
recently quitted--I reached our halting place, a sweet spot, a level
turf close by a river, over which is thrown a rude but picturesque
bridge. A straggling hamlet being hard by, a few acres of cultivation,
irregular and unfenced, are spread around, the grain now in sheaves.
The valley has opened out into an expanse of downs; but lofty
mountains, mostly covered to their summits with vegetation or timber,
overlook and shut it in. One remarkable mountain, richly clad below,
but his hoary summit bare rock broken into countless pinnacles, stands
as a gaunt sentinel over the hamlet.

I was charmed with so delightful a spot for a bivouac, and determined
to halt to-morrow (Sunday), though I should have to send for
provisions, that is, flour. Subhan went off on his tat to visit a
shepherd on a neighbouring mountain, and obtain reliable information of
shikar. He returned after my dinner, the moonshi Suleiman with him,
who had taken a fancy to accompany him on foot. The shepherd declared
he had heard the bellowing of a stag for the last four or five nights,
and had seen several hinds with one enormous stag in their midst a
few days since; and that there was a pool with a well-trodden track
to it, where these animals passed constantly. Coming back Suleiman,
having started before Subhan, encountered a bear midway. It was now
dusk, and, being unarmed, he had fled amain. Subhan, just seeing him
from an eminence going at top speed, and disappearing in the distance,
could not imagine what possessed him. Poor Suleiman had evidently
exerted himself. He was streaming with perspiration--his long locks in
great disorder. He is too short and stout for continued speed without
disagreeable consequences. I had a little fun with him, which he
enjoyed too. The shepherd had promised to come to camp early in the
morning, and bring further intelligence of the voices of the night.

7th October. Sunday. The morning very cold, a sharp frost as usual. The
sun was well up, and the depths of the valley even smiling under his
genial beams ere I set out for a stroll towards the place indicated
as the shepherd's encampment. All around me replete with picturesque
charms--a perfect landscape--and the atmosphere clear and deliciously
invigorating, my mind could not divest itself of the thoughts and
speculations conjured up by the previous day's reports of the game
hereabouts, which the aspect of the surrounding scene was well
calculated to encourage. It seemed the very 'beau ideal' of a sporting
locality. I strolled on to the top of a hill overlooking a deep valley
covered with rich vegetation, and the woods standing thick around it.
This must be the haunt of the deer, I thought. An old deserted wooden
hut stood on the left hand, but I saw no trace of the shepherd's camp.

Retracing my steps I paused to admire one or two charming sites for a
sketch, bringing in my camp, the village, river, and bridge, with a
long perspective up the valley descended yesterday, and on the left
the huge hoary-headed mountain, conspicuous above its fellows, and
remarkable in its serrated ridge. What a picture it would have made!
But I have quite given up sketching, feeling how entirely incapable I
am of portraying such sublime magnificence--how inadequate would be my
most successful efforts to represent such scenes!

The shepherd had arrived. Indeed, I had met him, but took him for the
mukadam. He had not noticed the bellowing of the stag during the night,
but thought there was no doubt of his being still somewhere thereabout.
I arranged to move up to his place in the evening after dinner, simply
taking my bedding and food for the day following, and to give chase to
the stag on Monday.

In the middle of the day Subhan came, and said it would be well for
himself and Phuttoo to start at once for the ground, and make a
reconnaissance: to this I consented. After dinner I set out myself,
and met the shepherd on the way, who whispered something in a peculiar
manner to Mooktoo. On my enquiring what it was, he told me the bara
sing was dead, shot by Subhan. I was exceedingly annoyed: the act
was so altogether contrary to usage and orders. I was guided to the
place, not more than two miles from my camp, and there lay the stag,
a noble specimen with fine branching horns of great beauty, Subhan
looking guilty and agitated, Phuttoo also putting on a demure look of
doubtful expectation. Reprimanding my delinquent hunter, and much
vexed, I went back and took up my night's quarters at the old wooden
hut. From enquiry there appeared to be no chance of finding another
bara sing; but there were numbers of bears, so I resolved to try and
compass the destruction of some of those animals in the morning. As I
sat cogitating over the fire, a woodcock came flitting about, uttering
his peculiar grating croak. There was a plashy rivulet amid the rank
vegetation just below us, which was a likely haunt for this long-billed
visitor.

8th October. Though early astir, it was deemed useless to hunt before
the sun had sufficiently displayed his power to warm the valley, and
by melting the hoar frost rendered the herbage suitable for Bruin's
early repast. So I first had breakfast, and then took my way up a
narrow well-timbered valley in which the shepherd had, a few days
since, viewed sixteen bears. There were plenty of tracks now, but
only one bear seen far up on the hill-side. Having crossed much snow,
we ascended a steep tortuous gorge which brought us to another long
valley, where again signs of bears were abundant. After a considerable
pause I descried one far up the hill-side. We watched him till he
apparently retired to snooze. We then had to make a tremendous stiff
ascent, terminating in a wall-like rock, up the face of which we had to
pull ourselves by the bushes growing on the surface, hand over hand. At
last we got over the spot we expected to find Bruin in, but fancying
him gone began to talk, when a fierce growl answered us. I desired
Phuttoo to throw a stone into the thicket, which done, out bolted
Bruin, and growling savagely took up a grassy opening, leading straight
to us. He was half covered by the long grass. I took a snap shot, and
hit him hard, when, yelling out his extreme dissatisfaction, he made
off down hill as fast as he could scuttle, and escaped.

We now returned straight for camp, and saw nothing more. On
arrival I was informed that Captain Austen had passed and left two
newspapers--one containing my extension of leave, he said. I eagerly
enquired, "How much?" "A month," replied Abdoolah. I was all
exultation--alas! soon reduced by the gazette proving that I had got
but to the thirty-first instant. However, there was yet time, perhaps,
to kill a bara sing. There was a good locality ahead.

9th October. A very hard frost, and difficult to attain comfortable
warmth by the most rapid walking, till the sun helped one. Bold
romantic scenery, but a horrid road--I really think the worst four
miles yet encountered. We met Kamal with letters, papers, and fruit. I
sat down to read the former; Errington confirms gazette,--all well at
home, thank God!--two brothers in Switzerland.

The road improved as the valley widened. There was a good deal of
cultivated land, but only a hovel or two here and there, the peasants,
I believe, deserting this beautiful and fertile valley, in order to
avoid the constant impressment they are subject to as coolies here on
this highway to Iskardo and Ladâk. The walnut trees were very large and
abundant. Bear sign everywhere. We halted at a picturesque hamlet from
which every male, save an old infirm man, had fled to the jungle to
escape being pressed for Austen's baggage, a quantity of which was here
detained for lack of porters. This was a bad look out. I gave orders to
make liberal promises to my Dras coolies to keep them in good humour,
as I could not possibly discharge them. They remonstrated loudly; but
there was no alternative.

10th October. Some ten coolies with one horse and yâk levanted during
the night, and carried off Phuttoo's blanket; so he said. The silly
fellows had thus sacrificed four days' hire. What could be done? The
mukadam was found, and I got out of the way, leaving the energetic
Abdoolah and the unscrupulous shikarries to practise such measures as
they thought the case required.

I followed a charming path through woodlands skirting a river--the
Scind, I believe--to a small hamlet shaded by enormous, umbrageous
walnuts. This is but half a march; but from hence we start up the
mountains after the bara sing. It is a famous ground, and we have news
of the stags being in numbers bellowing there. A native of this place
confirmed the intelligence, telling us that he had a field high up the
hill, and being there at work four days ago he had heard the bellowing.
I engaged him as guide.

Abdoolah and Co. had managed to obtain coolies and tats to bring in
all the baggage, and from muttered conversation I fear that much
oppression was exercised. However, I did not enquire too strictly into
the case, but ordered liberal rewards. Arrangements were made to divide
the party. Phuttoo goes on with the baggage to Sirinuggur. I take my
bedding, canteen, a stew, &c., and Buddoo attends me. All the coolies
were shut up in a house at night and guarded--a necessary precaution,
but a most disagreeable one.

11th October. Up betimes, and parting directions given to Abdoolah to
mind and pay the coolies liberally.

I ordered the two dogs to be laid hold of, but poor Sara put on so
piteous an air of dejection, looking so disappointed and miserable
that I could not refuse his mute appeal, and he bounded frantically
to my side on the hint to come. We had a heavy climb of some three
miles up a well-wooded mountain, occasionally passing over open glades
richly cropped with rank grass, and so on to the lower crest, whence
slope very steep, smooth, grassy sides to a ravine, the other side of
which was a mountain equally steep, but covered as thickly as possible
with fir and other trees from crest to base. Just as we reached the
top our ears were saluted by the welcome bellow of a stag. I went a
little further ahead, and then went down the slope and heard two or
three more bellowing lustily. I had a good idea of the exact spot where
these angry challengers were, and longed to be at them, but the jungle
was said to be impracticable. One animal had evidently shifted his
quarters. Subhan now joined me; and, mentioning what I had observed, I
suggested a move towards the neighbourhood of the moving stag. He was
all for it, too.

We gained the spot that we desired, and were greeted by lusty roars
across a ravine, the voice issuing from the fir trees, now and again
repeated. So on, for a couple of hours, when a gentle doe was spied
amid the low bushes in the ravine. How stealthily and gently she moved
about, her ears pricked, and restlessly reconnoitring all around! After
a time she came a few yards up the slope, and, having paused under
a tree, again took to the bushes and disappeared. Soon the stag's
renewed bellowing betrayed him to be on the stir, seeking in agitation
his flighty mistress, and he was suddenly viewed high up on our side
the ravine, standing listening and looking for his lost mate. A rapid
consultation and withdrawing from sight; and we then crept crouching
to make a detour, and ascending the hill-side intercept our prey on a
line it was thought that he would take. All was now subdued excitement.
It was undoubtedly a bara sing of the largest size. We had some two
hundred yards further to toil up, when suddenly a loud bellow resounded
straight before us, proceeding from behind a clump of bushes crowning
a knoll on our left. To drop and handle Whitworth was instantaneous.
And hardly was I ready when Subhan whispered "there he comes", and
truly, heralded by his huge antlers, he topped the rise, and was at
once immersed in the bushes, his form too much concealed by boughs and
foliage to risk a shot. Soon he emerged, forcing his way, and came
on--verily, a royal beast! Once I aimed, but the inequality of the
ground removed him. Then he again presented himself, almost fronting
me. Now sped the deadly bolt, and over rolled this forest monarch;
then, throwing himself violently forward, he struggled down the steep
declivity, almost concealed in the high thick fern. Sara fearlessly
rushed upon the prostrate beast, and assailed him in the rear, jumping
about, and barking frantically, and now and again taking a bite at the
haunch. The animal was quite safe; but, lest he might go to the bottom
of the deep ravine, where his headlong struggles were leading him, I
scrambled after him, and delivered three other shots, the last behind
the neck, coming out at the mouth.

The butcher's work finished, we ascended towards our bivouac, taking
up a position whence an extensive view of the hill-side was obtained.
Other stags were still audible, and suddenly Mooktoo started, and
following his eye we saw a stag which had come over from behind us,
out of the fir jungle which covered that side of our ridge. He did not
see us, and passed downwards at a quick walk, in the direction we had
recently come from. Of course, we were soon rapidly pursuing. The hill
was steep, and I leading had just gained the top of the slope, when
I was aware of the presence of the stag which, having just caught a
glimpse of me, was standing erect, gazing at me. He had apparently just
turned on his tracks, and thus met us face to face. He had probably
been scared by the smell of blood. He was about two hundred yards
off, his chest towards me; but unfortunately I was now lying down,
completely blown, and my hand, in consequence, so unsteady that I would
not risk a shot, hoping that he might yet come on. But no: he turned,
and trotted up to the crest of the ridge to take covert. The case being
urgent, I rested the Whitworth on Subhan's shoulder, and aiming forward
and high struck him somewhere behind the shoulder, but high. He was
then on the sharp ridge, and apparently flinched, and fell to the shot.
We speeded up as fast as the steepness allowed, expecting to view the
animal; but he had dived down the precipitous bank into the jungle. We
were soon on his tracks, easily found and followed by the blood which
appeared to have been spurting out of the wound. We thought we were
sure of him; but daylight failing, and the blood diminishing, we came
to a fault, and, though hitting off the slot again, could not work it
out, so reluctantly gave it up, resolved to take up the pursuit in the
morning.

We climbed back, and made for our bivouac. It was now black dark, and
our fires were blazing away famously, lighting up the black masses of
firs in the midst of which was our camp. Dinner was soon ready. This
was a bright hour of a hunter's existence. The day had been successful,
and the morrow was full of hope and promise. The bivouac, with its
romance of situation, its glowing fires, crackling and flickering,
throwing a ruddy glare over all surrounding objects, and thereby
revealing the black recesses of the forest--bringing prominently out
the picturesque groups, the giant shadow of one or other of whom moving
athwart, in execution of some culinary work, was occasionally cast
across the scene--was in its way perfect. I adjourned to the fire, and
chatted and planned with the two hunters: then retired to my lair,
thinking in the words of the old song, "Oh! 'tis merry, 'tis merry, in
good greenwood."

Mooktoo is to track up to-morrow with the guide and coolies; Subhan and
I, Kamal attending, to look for fresh game. Subhan proposes going over
the summit of the mountain in the middle of the day.

12th October. I was accoutring myself as day broke, and the two parties
started together, our path being the same for some distance. We had not
gone far ere Subhan spied a stag far down below us, standing up. He
soon lay down, and there seemed a good chance of a successful stalk;
but Subhan, the impetuous Subhan, taking the lead, descended straight
down the steep slope towards the recumbent deer. I remonstrated
at this barefaced attempt on so wary an animal--the wind was also
unfavourable--but the wilful Subhan held on his course, sliding on his
back, as did I and Kamal. Soon the stag showed signs of uneasiness,
became restless, looked around him, then rose, and finally stept
gracefully and quietly from our view. When we reached his ground,
we found no clue to his retreat. Another was heard in the jungle,
bellowing loudly, his deep, hoarse notes and powerful lungs bespeaking
him a first-rate stag. I had noticed his voice yesterday in the same
spot. Others were answering him. Thinking we might ascertain the
precise spot he harboured in, and then stalk him through the jungle, we
advanced on him, and lay down to listen and watch: from which time he
kept mute. We remained thus about a couple of hours, and then returned
to bivouac to breakfast.

Mooktoo came back, also unsuccessful. He had followed the track right
down to the river at the foot of the mountain, where the thick shrubs
and matted underwood frustrated any further attempt. In this heavy
thicket, close to water, the stricken deer had doubtless taken refuge
to die. Oh! for an Australian native, or a good hound! But these
Cashmere hunters are wretched creatures on a trail.

I went down the slopes to listen. The stag before-noticed and others
were again bellowing. I sat reading till Subhan called me, the coolies
and whole party being on the way to the other place, and passing by
me. I called attention to the fact of the certainty of game here,
but Subhan said the place we were going to harboured more deer,
and presented greater facilities for stalking, being more open and
level, and the jungles so thin that if we heard a stag bellow we
should certainly be able to approach and shoot him--and so forth.
With great reluctance and serious misgivings I turned to leave this
favourite haunt of the bara sing, where there could be no doubt of
several harbouring, to proceed to one knew not what sort of place,
notwithstanding the anticipations of the sanguine Subhan.

We had a tremendous pull up the mountain, from the summit of which was
presented a magnificent panoramic view of the valley of Cashmere, of
which the eye could embrace the greater extent. Down immediately below
the spurs of this vast mountain lay smooth and glittering the Dal lake,
not a ripple disturbing its mirror-like surface, the reflections of the
small islands with their noble chunar trees only distinguishable from
the realities by the inverted position. Across the lake was the city--a
confusion of trees, water, and dimly seen buildings, shrouded in smoke
and haze. It being mid-day, a glare and a haze obscured the distant
features; through it, however, the opposite range of hills enclosing
the valley, with its countless sunny peaks, was plainly defined. It was
a glorious landscape. Nothing earthly, I should imagine, could surpass
it.

Having gazed my fill, I thought of the shooting qualities of the
new beat, and saw with disappointment that, though the slopes were
extensive, they were very steep, and the ravines, though admirably
adapted for coverts, were very rugged, precipitous, and inaccessible.
There were probably many deer there, and we might see them; but to get
at them, to cross from one slope to another, was out of the question.
Many places, where deer had couched in the rank grass, were passed
on the upper slopes, but still I felt a misgiving that we should do
nothing there.

We turned off the ridge to the left, to our camp ground which overhung
the valley we had come from. In the afternoon I went out to watch and
listen, and heard a stag bellow. We got opposite his position, a ravine
dividing us, when we were compelled to leave him as it was now dusk,
and returned to camp with the understanding that we would beat up his
quarters in the morning. I could hear the stags in the deep vale below,
and regretted having given them up.

The night was very chill, and the forest damp with its dead leaves and
decaying vegetation. But a rousing fire of dry fir spread a glow and
warmth around. It is a delightful thing, a bright, crackling fire on a
cold night in the forest. There are not many remaining for me to enjoy
now, as to-morrow closes my hunting season: the next day is Sunday, and
on Monday morning I must make tracks for Sirinuggur.

13th October. As previously agreed we were ready to start at earliest
dawn, and on reaching the ravine, where we heard the stag last night,
we stopped to listen. Ere long we were rewarded by the low bleat of a
doe, which was once or twice repeated. Then came answering the hoarse
cry of a stag. These animals would seem to be in some thick trees
opposite us, across the ravine. Subhan, after a while, proposed that
we should cross the head of the ravine to which we were close, and so
reach the ridge over it, and above the deer, leaving Kamal and the
guide who, when they saw us at a point determined, were to descend and
move down the ravine; when, it was hoped, the deer alarmed would cross
the ridge near us to enter another ravine. The plan was approved as the
only one we could here adopt.

We put it in force and gained the ridge, along which Subhan was
advancing, and passing a clear, open, grassy dell leading from the
ravine in which were the deer, when Mooktoo, greatly excited, signalled
the game: but at that very moment they became concealed by the fir
trees fringing the ridge over which they went, and we arrived in time
to see a fine stag and hind far below us in the bottom of the adjoining
ravine. We now descended some distance, hoping to catch a sight of the
deer--but in vain; and as it was, in all probability, useless to look
for game elsewhere at this hour we resolved to take up our quarters
here for the day, thus reserving the chance of the deer coming out to
feed in the evening. I, therefore, selected a seat in the rocks under
a bush--just space enough for me to sit in--and what with a fine fat
wild-duck for breakfast, and my newspapers afterwards, contrived to
pass the time without weariness.

About four o'clock we all roused ourselves to peer into the ravine,
and Mooktoo soon detected a stag coming from under some trees. He,
however, almost immediately passed from view downwards. Waiting
some time without another glimpse of him, we moved upwards with the
intention of trying to meet him, but found the sides of the hill so
steep, and the dry herbage so noisy, that we thought it quite useless
to proceed in that direction, so ascended to the top of the ridge, and
moved along that downwards. Mooktoo and I went ahead of the others,
and all took posts of observation. We two ere long saw a stag, in
all probability that just seen. It appeared as though he would cross
the ridge we were on far below us, so we hastened to intercept him.
The ridge was sharp and rough, hardly giving space for the foot; but
on we hastened, turning to the left as the ridge diverged at a right
angle; now down some precipitous steps of rock, and we were over the
dingle in which we had last observed the deer evidently making in this
direction. We could not examine our side thoroughly from its roughness
and extreme steepness. We could see nothing of the deer. Had he already
crossed over? If so, he must have greatly quickened his pace. We went
on a little, and then descended the slope a few yards to get a better
view of the depths extending below us. Here I sat down, intending to
await events, but Mooktoo urged me to go up again, and follow further
on the ridge. We did so; but nothing could be seen of the deer. So,
supposing he had in some manner given us the slip, we turned back, and
were crossing the place where we first expected to meet him in his
ascent, when little Sara, sniffing the air, all at once started off,
taking short jumps into the air, and barking. Mooktoo ran after the
dog, and in great excitement signalled the chase close at hand. The
little dog gave tongue. I ran forward--but nothing was in sight. I
paused for information, when from the bottom of the dell sounded the
belling of the deer--a peculiar note, expressive, I fancy, of alarm and
excitement. Only his head and back were visible above the high, thick
fern. I hesitated to fire. He moved on up the opposite side, and as he
paused, only showing his head and ridge of back, I fired. We thought
him struck, as he drooped, and did not come in view for some seconds,
when he was seen leisurely going off along the hill-side; but I believe
the dip of the ground deceived us. There vanished my last chance of
a bara sing. Sad, very sad, we wended our way back to camp, our last
day's sport ended so unluckily.



CHAPTER XVII.

CASHMERE.


14th October. Sunday. I did not stir from the bivouac till the
afternoon, passing the day reading, in pleasant enjoyment of my
sylvan retreat. The coolies returned about 2 P.M., bringing some
apples, pears, and grapes--a welcome supply, but the grapes small and
flavourless. In the afternoon I rambled some distance downwards to a
seat commanding, at the same time, the magnificent prospect of the
valley spread out below, and some ravines and dells on either hand
likely to contain bara sing. Here I sat long meditating--thinking over
the incidents of my excursion, and casting reflections forward on my
future route, and arrival below. Nothing was seen or heard. Retracing
my steps, it occurred to me from examination of the range of hills
I was traversing, that I might hunt the ravine tried yesterday, and
descend from thence, while the coolies and traps took the ordinary and
easier route. On proposing this, it was cordially welcomed by the two
hunters. Buddoo and coolies would make straight for Shalimah Bagh to
which a canal ran from the Dal lake. There he was to engage boats, and
await our arrival.

15th October. We got away with earliest dawn--again heard the bara
sing--again were they seen, and a shot all but obtained as they crossed
the ridge as before. The guide was now sent down to drive the other
ravine, and we kept along the ridge, and stopped in ambush a long time
without seeing anything. Then, giving up, we resumed our downward
course, and I had stopped to don another pair of grass sandals, when
Mooktoo, looking down into the ravine, signalled game. On joining him,
we saw a fine stag standing gazing at the guide who on the same level
was trying to turn him up to us. But the provoking animal, as though
quite up to the dodge and danger, preferred facing the guide and the
stones he hurled to breasting the hill, and diving down took back up
the bed of the river. This was the last episode of the chase of the
bara sing.

A steep and slippery descent, not accomplished without some half-dozen
tumbles, landed us in the bed of a ravine which crossed that we had
been hunting at right-angles, and with its brawling torrent debouched
on the open cultivated undulations lying over the Dal lake. A path
leading through two villages, as usual shaded by fine chunars, brought
us to the Shalimah Bagh, a monument of former magnificence and luxury,
now neglected and desolate. Some patchwork repairs have been made this
year to its buildings by the Maharajah, only enough to check ruin and
decay here and there, to which everything here seems rapidly hastening.
Following the now empty aqueduct, we reached the canal, and found two
boats awaiting us, into one of which I stepped, and gladly extended
myself on the soft namba spread for me. The passage from the Shalimah
Bagh to my former bungalow occupied about an hour and three-quarters.
The Jhelum was now some six or seven feet lower than before, and the
stream proportionably moderate. I found all my baggage stowed in the
bungalow, and ordered it to be ready for a start on the seventeenth,
intending to get off myself, if possible, on the eighteenth.

16th October. After breakfast I took boat, and went first to a shawl
merchant's, Mirza Mahomed Shah, and purchased articles for presents to
dear ones at home; then to a papier-machè shop. Coming back, I found
a card from Captain Tulloh, 21st P.N.I. He left to-day, I understood.
But as I was sitting shut up for the night, and reading, I heard sounds
as of an arrival, and voices as of a saheb, and sure enough there was
Tulloh come to claim shelter, as his jan-pan broke down shortly after
starting. We sat long chatting over our mutual excursions.

17th October. Both of us astir early. A merchant employed by Tulloh
had brought his own horse to take him to Ramoo, and on my mentioning
a difficulty in procuring money, he readily engaged to supply.
Tulloh off, I had a talk with the merchant, Samhed Shah, a most
respectable-looking and pleasant-mannered man. I agreed to go to his
shop after breakfast, and was aggravated into buying a scarf, caps,
and black choga--the latter not yet ready. All my baggage left this
morning; Murad and party also. Abdoolah and Buddoo only remain with
me. Suleiman informed me that the Rajah of Kopalu was here, and had
received the Testaments. He would like to see me, but feared the
jealousy of the Maharajah.

On my arrival I had been visited by an Affghan to whom I had before
given ten rupees. He was, by his own report and that of many
testimonials apparently genuine, of great service to our sick and
wounded at the time of the Affghan disaster, for which humanity he
had to flee his country on the withdrawal of the British troops, and
(strange to say) has never been adequately rewarded by our Government,
though his case has been brought forward and published. I promised to
represent the matter to Sir R. Montgomery, in hopes of something being
yet done for his benefit.

18th October. Samhed Shah not appearing by ten o'clock, I took boat
and went down the river, and sent a man to his shop from which came a
brother or partner and told me that the black choga would not be ready
for three or four hours. On representing the delay and uncertainty to
Abdoolah, he recommended putting off the start till to-morrow, and
fetching Shupyim in one march. I now took leave of my three shikarries
who had remained in order to escort me some miles out, but this further
delay was too much for them, naturally enough as they had been more
than five months absent from their families. I also took leave of the
Baboo whose services have been invaluable. He refused any pecuniary
reward, and I had difficulty in getting him to name any present from
below that would be acceptable to him. After some time I suggested a
revolver. This seemed to please him, so having two with my baggage, I
engaged to send him one of them, and so we shook hands and parted. He
has got a nag for me to take me to Ramoo, from the Maharajah's stud, he
says. And now I have parted, I think, on the most friendly terms with
my Cashmere allies and retainers.

At length came the long expected choga, just from the dyer's and
still moist, so it had to be hung up. And now this busy day draws to
a close, and to-morrow I quit this lovely country, so full of natural
charms, but through bad government with its vast resources so little
developed. Would that it might fall into the hands of the British,
without either usurpation or fraud such as we have been in the habit in
India of pleasantly designating political necessity!

19th October. As I was still within the outskirts of Sirinuggur, a man
halloaed to me to loose my dogs, little Sara and Fan, as there was
shikar before me, and, looking up, there was a fine fox with a splendid
brush scudding over the maidan, a great cur far behind him. My two
little animals made a dash for him, but he just then crossed a bank;
and they came back. I suppose the animal had escaped from trap or cage.

I arrived at Ramoo heartily tired of the native saddle, and was glad
to mount my own Cabulli. My saddle was like an armchair after the
other, and though the mid-day sun was hot I jogged on contentedly to
Shupyim, where all my baggage still waited. It was now three o'clock,
and I immediately directed all to move to Heerpoor, in order to reach
Alliahabad to-morrow, where I shall join them. The old kotwal, a most
obliging old fellow, welcomed me warmly, mindful of former backsheesh.
Buddoo and baggage not arriving till nine, he sent me his charpoy
and bedding, and placed his choga from his own shoulders on to mine,
notwithstanding my protestations against his so denuding himself. He
insisted, having plenty more, he said, at home. Abdoolah cooked me some
chops, so altogether I fared admirably, and was just turning in, when
Buddoo arrived. He had been detained by the delay and difficulty in
obtaining a change of coolies at Serai.

20th October. Up ere dawn, and everything made ready for a start,
the kotwal very busy, lending a helping hand. I gave him a long
certificate, of which testimonials he has hundreds, and takes much
pleasure in exhibiting them to any saheb who may have sufficient
patience and good temper to humour him. With a friendly farewell I
set off on foot, and enjoyed a delightful march to Heerpoor, where
I mounted Yarkandi who was full of spirits, and when in such a mood
is very absurd with his clumsy frisking. The weather was lovely and
scenery beautiful, admiring which and often dismounting from the very
rocky and steep nature of the ground, I reached Alliahabad. My servants
and coolies had been there some time. I ordered out my tent, but had
better have put up in the old serai, for the wind outside was biting.
The season, though, is much less advanced than last year, when the
ground was covered with snow, and the undergrowth in the forests dead
and prostrate as in mid-winter. Now the vegetation is only beginning to
yield to the remorseless gripe of Jack Frost, enough still remaining to
shelter a bear; though I saw none of those animals now, whereas last
year I spied three on the bare ground.

The wind was wondrous shrewd, and put me in mind of Karakorum. I gave
orders to halt here to-morrow, Sunday.

21st October. A severe frost, and bitter cold wind. I kept my tent,
and breakfasted within. Finding I had no less than forty coolies--just
fifteen more than I required in coming up, with my full supply of
liquors, stores, lead, shot, and books, &c.--in spite of Abdoolah's
reluctance, I ordered all the baggage together, and examined the
contents of the kheltas, when I found that I could with ease reduce the
number of loads to thirty-five. Such a lot of rubbish of Abdoolah's
stowed away; some in every khelta, I think. Excepting the above slight
disturbance, I passed a pleasant, cheerful day.

22nd October. Much fuss and bawling at a very untimely hour, yet the
baggage not off as early as intended. The coolies took such a time
to fit their loads to their fancies that I passed them all within a
mile of camp, and trudged steadily on for the Pir--a heavy, steady
pull of three miles or so. Thence I enjoyed the superb view--the
whole valley, through which my homeward route lies, being unrolled
in all its windings before me. And beautiful it looked, now just
lit up by the risen sun. A few minutes to take an impression, and
down I sped, the path--bad enough in itself--made more difficult
than usual by the number of tattoos and bullocks which appear at
this season to throng the narrow paths. It took me about an hour to
reach the bottom. I was surprised to find the huge snowdrift, which
I thought to be inconsumable--some always remaining to be renewed
each winter--entirely dissolved; the mass of earth and stones it had
collected alone remaining to mark its position. I scrambled from the
bed of the torrent up that horrid bit of road immediately above it, and
there was completely checked by a continuous string of some two hundred
laden bullocks. As it was very possible to be sent rolling down the
precipitous bank by a rude shock from their hard mass of salt, I pulled
up for half an hour, and then on to Possianah, where I was welcomed
by the man and woman who attend to the wants of wayfarers. Though I
carried my usual hunter's breakfast, I gratified the old importunate
couple by directing some chupatties and eggs to be prepared, and did
not fail to do justice to them. I gave the old fellow a pukka rupee,
for which liberal donation the pair pretended to offer up prayers on
my behalf. Alas! the hypocrites! When Abdoolah arrived, they claimed
payment of him for my refreshment, assuring him that such was my
order. But Abdoolah knew my ways better, and was not deceived, though
the man followed him a long distance, urging his claim. I walked the
whole distance to Byramgullah, and enjoyed the exercise amid such
lovely scenery. On the arrival of Abdoolah, and learning from him the
attempted fraud of the Possianah 'traiteur,' I ordered the kotwal to be
informed of it, that he might be fined and checked in such malpractices.

23rd October. On setting off I was accosted by the old delinquent of
Possianah, who, it seems, had been immediately on my report brought
with his wife to answer the charge. They were astonished and terrified
at the position into which they had brought themselves, and were
profuse in all sorts of asseverations of innocent intention. They
stated that my servants had been supplied after me, and for this
they demanded remuneration, considering my rupee as my individual
backsheesh, as indeed it was. If this were true, they had right on
their side, and it is very probable that such were the facts. But it is
impossible to arrive at the truth in such a case, the Hindoo servants
being as great adepts at lying as these people, especially where their
interests are at stake. I could not even rely upon Abdoolah in such
a case. I desired the kotwal to pardon them; but they are sure to be
forced to give up the rupee.

This disposed of, I continued my progress, and was attended by a
well-looking black-and-tan dog of the Ladâk breed, whose evident
familiarity with Europeans made me think him a stray dog of the Survey
department. He left me at the foot of the Rattan Panjal; up which steep
mountain I ascended, and pausing to take a mental photograph of the
splendid view presented from the top again pushed on, enjoying the
beautiful scenery, varied at each turn of the winding path. I think
nothing in the whole journey surpasses this. The forms of the hills
are so fine and diversified, and the foliage so rich and abundant. I
stopped by a bright gurgling stream in an enchanting spot. Reposing on
a thick, soft turf, and canopied by sweet-smelling shrubs, I awaited
the arrival of breakfast. In this locality, and on to Thanna, still
bloom some deliciously-fragrant creepers, yielding a perfume like
woodbine. With this exception, one misses the abounding fragrance
enjoyed early in the year--one of the greatest charms of the journey to
my mind.

I finished the remaining mile or two riding. There was a very
perceptible change of temperature here, which induced me on arrival of
my traps to effect a thorough change of costume. I was well remembered
and pestered by beggars--one, a blind man, with a fearful goitre: one
sees but few so afflicted in these mountain regions. My servants, to my
surprise, brought with them the Ladâk dog. He had followed them, and
was so pleased with my notice that, feeling sure I was not committing a
theft, but only securing a truant or wanderer, I ordered him to be tied
up, and to be enrolled on our strength for rations. Poor Sara is so
dreadfully jealous that he has gone and secluded himself in the tent,
and actually shed tears in his distress: he refused his dinner also,
till I took it into the tent for him, and coaxed him to eat it.

A row just took place between the Maharajah's moonshi, or tax-gatherer,
and some of my followers. I heard angry voices for some time, Suleiman
appearing to be much aggrieved and loud in indignation. After
repeatedly intimating his intention of appealing to me, he came and
reported the said moonshi to be exceedingly intrusive and impertinent,
insisting upon an examination of his bundles, and persevering therein
in spite of his remonstrances and those of Abdoolah, as well as
threats of my vengeance. This representation Abdoolah confirmed, and
assured me that no obstacle had been placed in the way of the moonshi
inspecting the goods of the numerous hangers-on of my party. So I
sallied forth, and calling to the moonshi ordered him to approach, and
he hesitating to obey, I sent my sepoys to bring him to me. He then
advanced amid a general bully-ragging. Suleiman accused him of abusing
him. Believing there had been loss of temper on both sides, I asked the
moonshi if he had any complaint to make, or if any of the strangers,
who had attached themselves to my company, had attempted to evade his
scrutiny. He replied, 'No:' so I cautioned him to execute his duties in
a more becoming manner, and not to interfere where he had no authority.
And so amid general clamour the party dispersed, the moonshi strutting
off with his myrmidons, with an air of immense importance and offended
dignity. Suleiman did not meet with any of the enquiries met with
when coming up. He was told they had dispersed here and there, in one
employment or other. The Ladâk dog, dubbed 'Bhoota,' has taken to his
new quarters by my tent, and commenced his duties as watch-dog, barking
in a fine rich base voice. Sara still in the dumps.

24th October. A pleasant march to Rijaori. Excepting a few stony
places, this is a tolerable path, much the best of the whole route.
Once again I reclined under those fine chunars--the last I shall see,
as they are the first when coming. The young fishermen were soon in
attendance with bait, and gave me a full account of the great success
of Bucksby White saheb (24th) who stopped here eight days, and caught
many fish, some very large, but nothing like mine. They dwelt forcibly
on his giving them five rupees, backsheesh--pukka rupees, too. I got
my tackle in order, but from the report of the low state of the river
and clearness of the water did not anticipate sport; still thought I
ought to try, so started off at four, and tried two favourite pools
which were so still and clear that I remained but a short time, judging
that all attempts would be vain to catch a big one, and I cared not for
a small one. So I wound up and returned, no ways disappointed, the sun
now setting and the effects charming.

I read to-day in a back number of the _Lahore Chronicle_ a letter
signed 'Traveller,' purporting to be a just representation of the
condition of the Cashmiries under the Maharajah's rule, which he
describes to be most satisfactory--the whole country highly cultivated,
inhabitants well off and contented, and signs of good government and
prosperity everywhere. A man of small powers of observation might
possibly be deceived to such an extent, however difficult, but when
this scribbler comes to draw comparisons between the Maharajah's and
the British government favourable to the former, especially in the
matter of the repair of roads--a process altogether unknown in the
Maharajah's dominions--one cannot help suspecting the writer to have
been tempted by a douceur; to have been engaged by the Maharajah
specially thus to misrepresent facts, and give a false colour to
realities in Cashmere, in order to mislead the public, and blind
distant enquirers as to the nature of the Maharajah's rule and the
condition of his people. I can imagine no other reason for such a
palpable perversion of truth than seeing objects through the golden
hues of the Maharajah's spectacles.

25th October. I got a considerable wetting crossing the river which
though now so low is full of irregularities, deep holes, and terrible
smooth round stones. It is certainly a very awkward ford at the best
of times. I discovered some duck in a deep pool, and dropped one
wounded. The two little dogs gave chase, little Fan first plunging
into the deep water at which the usually forward Sara hesitated. Away
they went, and there was a grand duck hunt. The bird, as the dogs
neared it, dived, and so crossed the width of the pool to my side, its
course discovered by the tell-tale bubbles, and there it took refuge
under the thick bushes fringing the bank. Now in plunged the sporting
syce, Ruttoo, and was immediately up to his neck. He peered under the
bushes as I made my way above, and we had gone their length without
retrieving the bird, when a violent hurry-scurry took place forward,
and the little dogs were full cry after their poor, quacking, hobbling
victim which was secured just as it regained the brink of the water.
There were a good many black partridges about here, and many fine
fish seen basking. The Yarkandi lost a shoe, and believing him to be
lame I dismounted, but think the cunning old fellow did it on purpose
to humbug me as I noticed that he went all right when I was off him.
Reaching the old Serai, I found a new baraduri erected on a fine
airy prominence over the river, a great convenience to travellers. A
havildar and six sepoys turned out in full fig to salute me, looking
very clean and smart. I had a long chat with the havildar, a very civil
fellow: he begged some powder as he is fond of shikar, and there are
pea-fowl, wild-duck, jungle-fowl, and partridge in the neighbouring
jungle.

26th October. The havildar provided me with a chuprassee who was to
shew me a different and better road than that I had come by. But,
excepting about a mile immediately on quitting the baraduri which lay
by the river-side, he took me by the old stony route, there being
no better, I presume. The skeleton of the murderer appeared to have
fallen from the ropes which had suspended it, relieving the public of
a most repulsive spectacle. I took up my old camp ground in preference
to going on to the baraduri, at which, however, I understand all
travellers stop and are satisfied.

27th October. In consequence of the increasing heat of the sun as we
neared the plains, I made an earlier start than usual. It was still
far from light as I crossed the river which, to my surprise, I was
able to do on stepping stones, so low is it from the absence of rain,
I suppose. As I was crossing, two duck flew by within easy shot, and
as they returned I got my gun ready, and dropped one which fell some
way off up stream. Reloading I went after it, and had almost given it
up, when Sara tracked it up, and a hunt took place in the water, the
two little dogs working well and securing the game. Mounting the hill I
hailed the old couple at top, and ordered some milk: the old woman came
forth with it, and we had a chat. These poor people were robbed of all
their little wealth not long before I came this way, and have recovered
nothing. The thief was one upon whom they had bestowed hospitality, a
sort of faquir who are one and all impostors, if not rogues. The old
lady, as though pleased with our colloquy, brought some ripe plantains,
evidently rarities in these regions.

Crossing another stream, a small flock of wild fowl flew over. I
dismounted, and got my gun, and as good luck would have it they came
back overhead, and firing both barrels one bird fell dead, a fine
grey widgeon. Then I jogged on to Saidabad. It is now very hot in the
middle of the day, so I put up in the baraduri, though there are many
objections--a number of hornets in the roof, and a noisy party of
natives in an adjoining part.

Halting here the next day (Sunday), I was off on Monday morning ere the
stars had disappeared, and surmounted the long and rugged ascent. The
descent was tiresome--long, stony, and steep--but I hastened on without
a pause till I emerged from the narrow ravine opening on to the level
cultivated lands, the commencement of the interminable plains of the
Punjab. I arrived in good time at Bhimber, and found to my satisfaction
a chowdree from Lahore stationed here to arrange dâks for officers
coming from Cashmere--a capital and considerate plan. My servants and
baggage arriving, I arranged things for the journey, keeping the head
with me; settled with servants and coolies, tipped sepoys, packed up
the revolver with a letter for the Baboo, and having dined on wild
duck, and taking an ample supply of 'vivers' for the road, entered my
dooly, and was borne off with the uncomfortable prospect of a tedious
and dusty two days' journey to Amritsir. And here I conclude my diary,
having succeeded far beyond my expectations in maintaining it in some
order and method.

       *       *       *       *       *

NOTE.--The skull, on being examined by medical men, was pronounced to be
that of an Asiatic.


                             END OF DIARY.



The sad task now remains of recording the death of the writer, which
took place at Meean Meer on the 23rd of August, 1861, under the
circumstances mentioned in the following extract from the _Lahore
Chronicle_:--

    "It is with deep grief that we announce the death last night
    from cholera of that admirable officer and most excellent man,
    AUGUSTUS HENRY IRBY, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding
    the 51st King's Own Light Infantry. In him the public service
    and society have lost one of its most honourable members, and
    the officers and men whom he commanded one they esteemed as a
    warm-hearted comrade and true friend. In all relations of life,
    Colonel IRBY had won the esteem of those with whom he
    had connection. He knew his duty thoroughly and did it; when his
    regiment moved out of the cantonments to escape, if possible, from
    the pestilence which has struck down more than one hundred and
    twenty of them, he remained with the sick, caught the contagion,
    and died at his post."


              HENRY W. STACY, PRINTER, HAYMARKET, NORWICH.



    Transcriber's notes:

    The following is a list of changes made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

    suggestion; so, leaving a man to help then on, I continued
    suggestion; so, leaving a man to help them on, I continued

    descended to the bed of the ravine, The Bruin family,
    descended to the bed of the ravine. The Bruin family,

    established, "nous avons changè toute cela." It is not
    established, "nous avons changé toute cela." It is not

    8th June. An early start, and a stiff job climbing the the mountain,
    8th June. An early start, and a stiff job climbing the mountain,

    and, Subhan having by my order cut the animals throat
    and, Subhan having by my order cut the animal's throat

    such a growl as sent his tormenters flying in all directions
    such a growl as sent his tormenters flying in all directions.

    a total failure, tattoos being in all directions,
    a total failure, tattoos being in all directions.

    ice in the morning, I was only informed, when starting,
    ice in the morning. I was only informed, when starting,

    loudy for Buddoo: they were all fast asleep, and, after
    loudly for Buddoo: they were all fast asleep, and, after

    the aid of their beleagured countrymen, Walli Khan's
    the aid of their beleaguered countrymen, Walli Khan's

    largely in all produce, and exercising a monoply of tea
    largely in all produce, and exercising a monopoly of tea





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