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air of the morning (it was not yet light), and followed the native guide. A smart walk of four or five miles across the mountain top brought them to a little village, or collection of huts clustered upon the edge of a steep bank, which formed one side of a very narrow and rocky valley. Here an Indian hubbub of no ordinary character was going on ; but as we approached, respect for the sahibs soon silenced it. All was now explained : a fierce and huge panther had for some time been the terror of the village ; sheep, goats, calves, and an occasional piccaninny, had been carried off by the remorseless brute. By accident the door of a goat-house, which contained about 18 goats, had been left open during the previous night, and the owner, hearing an uproar, rose to shut it, and only then discovered that he had also shut in the panther among his defenceless flock ; on making this discovery he lost no time in coming to demand the sahib's assistance. F. and K. held a council of war as to the best mode of action ; the goat-house was a round wall of rough stones about three feet high, from the top of which a thatched roof rose to a point in the centre, at about six feet in height above the wall. plate ; the rude building had no window, and only the one door, which was so low as only to be entered in a stooping or rather crawling position. At first it was resolved to throw open the door and shoot the brute as he bolted; but this plan was rejected for several reasons: the natives were crowding round on every side, the place was uneven and rocky, and if in his bolt they had the bad luck to miss him, there was a chance of not getting another shot at him, or, if they did, of hitting one of the natives, who would have run in all directions as soon as the panther appeared. At last, F., with more boldness than discretion, decided to try and shoot him from above ; the thatch, however, was too old and rotten to bear his weight, and so a charpoy," or frame of wood with cords interlaced across it (used as a bedstead), was procured and laid upon the thatch, and upon it mounted F. and an old grey-headed Shikaree of the village, more like a monkey than a man, whose charge it was to open a hole for F. to shoot through ; this he accomplished with so much good will, but unfortunately with so little adroitness, that in a second or two the already ragged thatch had a hole close to F.'s head, not only quite large enough to shoot through, but also large enough for the panther to make his escape. A sudden execration caused him to desist ; but in spite of the large holo, F. could discern nothing in the dark interior, but he distinctly heard the angry purring of the enraged savage, and the flapping of his tail against the ground, which is a sure prelude to a charge. F.'s thoughts were not altogther comfortable as he lay ou the thatch, the infuriated and invisible brute being within a short spring of him, and having, no doubt, a clear view of his head and shoulders against the rising light. All of a sudden the glare of the panther's eyes showed like two coals of fire ; to level between them was the work of an instant, but lying on his right side F. was forced to bring the gun to the left shoulder, and as his finger pressed the trigger he found that from habit he was closing the left eye ; rectifying, however, his mistake at once, the explosion followed, and the pest of the village fell dead with a brace of bullets in his brain. It was found that he had killed 11 of the goats, but had not eaten any part of them ; so that he seems to have slaughtered them from mere wantonness and the love of destruction. He measured over seven feet from the nose to the
tip of the tail, and was a very fine male specimen of his kind. It is needless to say that the two friends returned to breakfast well satisfied with their morning's work.
The immense plains which stretch from the foot of Mount Aboo are occasionally broken by low, detached, and rocky hills, covered with dense jungle, that clothes the country for many miles round : several rivers also meander through the expanse, fed either by periodical rains, or by unfailing springs from the mountain range. In this wild country, W and A -, two young officers, had determined to pause for a day or two during their journey from Aboo to Deesa, and endeavour to obtain some sport among the numerous feræ naturæ with which that district abounded. Our two sportsmen had no tent nor any great camp: equipage with them ; a covered bullock-cart formed their house and bed ; a couple of steady ponies (horses were useless in such a country) their cavallada ; and some three or four servants, with the two shikarees, their retinue. Free and happy is such a life! They hunted
they pleased, eat when they pleased, and slept when they pleased; and, above all, no bugle called them to the dull routine of morning parade. The time of the year was not favourable to woodland shooting ; for, after the rains, the grass and seeds grow to such a length as to render parts of the jungle impassable, and the foliage of the trees is so thick as to obstruct the view for any distance ; while water being plentiful in every direction, it is useless to attempt night-shooting at the animals coming to drink. The sport was therefore but indifferent; and on the second day, after a morning and forenoon spent in poking their noses into a number of dark tigerish-looking places without any satisfactory result, although much “sign” (as our transatlantic brethren term it) was observed, they halted for tiffin on the banks of a small shallow stream, with a canopy of magnificent wild fig trees spread over their heads. Whilst the servants were unpacking the scanty stock of provisions, one of the shikarees approached, and, having made his salaam, begged to inform the sahibs that if they so pleased he and his brother shikaree would provide them some fresh fish for their tiffin. As there were no implements generally used in that sport among the party, the two friends were curious to see how this was to be effected, and the required permission was at once given, with an “ All right, old fellow ! thank you, fire away!” The two shikarees, rolling up the sleeves of their upper garments, now entered the stream, the bottom of which was gravelly and hard ; and, drawing their swords, stood one a little above the other on different sides of the channel, the water reaching to about their knees. Three or four of the villagers, who had joined the party as guides, now entered the water higher up, and forming a line across the stream, commenced wading down towards the shikarees, the two outermost feeling with their feet under each bank as they proceeded. Shortly the frightened fish began to swim down past the shikarees, who, as they passed, dexterously, with a sweep of their sharp swords, severed them in two, seldom missing their aim; while the two halves of cach fish at once floated on the surface, and were thrown on the bank by a couple of men stationed in rear of the swordsmen. W. and A-, followed down the river in a state of the greatest excitement at the novel sport ; and were only prevented from jumping into the water to share it, by the fact of their nether limbs being closely encased in
leathern gaiters. Eight or ten large fish had been taken, and the chasse had wandered some two or three hundred yards from the spot where the sahibs had left their guns, when suddenly a shriek was heard from one of the men who searched the bank with their feet: he was seen to fall back in the water ; and a huge serpent, uncoiling himself from his cool lair, and raising his head above the surface, took his course down the centre of the stream, lashing the water into a foam; while the villagers fled in every direction. Not so the gallant shikarees : closing together as the monster approached, they cut at him vigorously, and severely wounded him. A terrible tussle now ensued : turning upon his assailants with open mouth, the snake attempted to seize one of them ; but was repelled by a shower of blows and several fresh wounds. He then once more sought safety in flight, but was pursued by his active enemies ; and, being disabled by a well-directed cut, that broke his spine, was dragged to land amid the shouts of all present. The sahibs had, indeed, charged into the river to help the shikarees ; but their guns being left behind, their knives were of little use in such a melée, and the victory belonged solely to the two swordsmen. The snake proved to be a very large rock snake (a species allied to the boa), and measured nearly fourteen feet in length ; while the thickest part of his body was as large as a stout man's thigh. W-- and A- made an attempt to preserve the skin ; but the numerous wounds, the heat and closeness of the weather, and the want of arsenical soap rendered their efforts unavailing.
(To be continued.)
LETTERS FROM MY UNCLE SCRIBBLE.
MY DEAR NEPHEW,The Oxbridge dons have prejudices on certain subjects--as who has not ?—which are more easily conceived than overcome.
No man parts with a prejudice readily-it's worse than a bad habit to get rid of, particularly when it has a show of reason, which it must be confessed theirs have. Theirs are in favour of quiet, order, and sobriety within the walls of St. Boniface, a moderately regular attendance at lectures and chapel, with a very gentlemanly disregard of praying whilst there. It must be allowed that they deal much with externals, but then it's the way of the world to do so ; and it is well that they should conform in some things to general opinion. They have a very decided objection to young gentlemen of a sporting turn of a special class, who exhibit themselves in innocent rivalry with the proctors of the university, with a bow-legged bull-dog with one eye, and a head like a cannon-ball with the erysipelas. I think this is scarcely to be wondered at, especially as we know that the sport does not end in a quiet walk with this warlike follower. These white-chokered and black-breeched professors have you
likewise a prejudice against bull-baiting, cock-fighting, tandem-driving, drag-following, and steeple-chasing, or the exhibition of a pink needlessly in the middle of the quadrangle. These are prejudices shared with the world in general. You have your prejudices, too ; and should be very lenient towards theirs. Why do you dislike your old schoolfellow Slocoach? Because he can't shoot. Here's a precious reason to give for treating a man to the cold shoulder! You don't like highlows and black cotton stockings, nor a second day's shirt, nor old women, nor a buggy with red wheels, nor a woodland country, nor about one thousand other things, all matters of opinion. So you see, my dear boy,
have a few prejudices too. But amongst the prejudices of the Oxbridge dons I omitted fox hunting, because I do not believe that they have any especial dislike for that. Of course everywhere some cantankerous old fogies are to be met with, who will set their faces against everything you youngsters delight inand very hard you think it. But before you begin condemning the whole batch, and sentencing them to temporal and eternal punishment, you should remember two things : First, the dislike to it is not general in Oxbridge amongst the authorities ; and, secondly, those who do oppose it strenuously find their best reasons for doing so in the circumstances of many of the professors of the noble science. A great number of you youngsters are impostors. Look round at your own companions : what do you know of them or their circumstances—who were their fathers and mothers, where they came from, and, I was going to add, where they go to? Nothing whatever. They are well dressed, moderately well looking, write good long-and-shorts, and have a splendid opinion of themselves. They belong to the cricket clubs, dining clubs, and boating clubs, where they eat, drink, and are more than merry, very frequently. They go out on horseback every fine day, but not on their own hacks: they hunt every saint's day, and any other time they can get excused lecture, or do not happen to have any, but not on their own hunters. They hack twenty-four miles to cover, and back again, when they dine at the “Mitre" on champagne and claret, and blow up the waiter, because he is the only person they ever think of paying. They have jewellery, books (which they do not read) with handsome bindings, pictures (which they do not understand) with handsome frames. They go to Ascot and Epsom, make a small book-generally a very bad one ; and had they lived in my young days would have spent the time while the horses were running, in a roulette booth, or at thimvle-and-pea. In fact, amongst those gay companions of yours, “fine feathers make fine birds”; and those good looks and well-cut trousers cover about as much heartlessness and want of principle as one commonly meets with on the 21st of June.
Now you know the reason why the dons at St. Boniface do not encourage hunting ; why they do not openly proclaim it what they know it to be the most healthy, manly, gentlemanly, orthodox amusement, and natural recreation of an undergraduate, yet discovered. You surely do not mean to tell me that old Roots of Muddleliead College, or Tom Long of Unity, dislikes hunting in the abstract. No-no-no. But they know the world—at least, the Oxbridge world—better than you do. And so does your old uncle Scribble, my boy ; and it shall not be his fanlt if you are not kept in the straight path, and yet have a great deal of fun for your money. You may hunt, and you may hunt at Oxbridge, if you only have tact enough to do so properly ; and though somewhat more expensive there than in most places, you will find it still about the cheapest amusement in the world for a light weight, if you only set to work in the proper way.
You young gentlemen only see one side of the picture, the dons see both ; and very startling the other side is, when turned round : Birth and connections, respectable generally ; always a widow and five sisters. The
spes domûs at a public school-boiled mutton at one o'clock, at home. At college—the hunters, &c. ; and the mutton cold at home ; lots of chalks ; enlistment in a cavalry regiment ; the discharge ; a precarious subsistence ; late ordination ; a book on the Derby ; the pot boils over ; exit the spes domûs to a foreign chaplaincy of £50 per annum under an assumed name. This is the most favourable finish to the Oxbridge hunting, in nine cases out of ten. The back woods, or death in a sponging house, is not an uncommon result of the sportsmanship I have endeavoured to describe. Now none of these catastrophes need affect you. The Seribbles are a fine old family, and legitimate sportsmen ; as such they will be recognized. By careful management you may have as much hunting as is good for you, and yet be a gentleman and a scholar, if you will bear in mind your old uncle's advice.
First of all, ride your own horses. Half the men at Oxbridge are obliged to hire hacks because they never have had a horse, and their appearance at home with such a quadruped would inevitably produce a fit of apoplexy in the widow, and matricide is too strong for a youthful stomach. The system of hunting from Oxbridge on hired horses is a very expensive one. You may say fifteen miles to cover.
Two guineas your hunter, fifteen shillings your hack ; horse and groom out all night nine shillings more, perhaps two nights ; accidents, lameness, or even death. And when men never pay ready mouey, they are seldom screws ; twice a week only at this work makes a heavy bill at the end of three years, especially for men without a shilling. Even if you were justified in this extravagance, you may easily avoid it: buy your own horse or horses, and keep them, if you like, at livery; then you know your expense.
But you want to know how to buy? At eighteen no man must expect to go into the market with the experience of eight-and-forty. Your weight is the first consideration ; anything under twelve stone ought to ride something very nearly, if not quite, thoroughbred. Blood teils when all the bone in the world will be of no service. The old-fashioned hunter was of this sort : round-barrelled, short-legged, broad-chested, compact, fifteen-two ; very good for enclosed banked countries, and fifteen stone. The present style is different-clean-made, lengthy (especially in the hind-quarters), fine shouldered, not too broadehested, and not so closely ribbed up as most men would have it. Pace and extension are grand requisites. The midland counties, with their broad ditches, are the countries to teach them their business. Big legs below the knee are not of half the consequence that large arms and thighs are ; only let the legs be wiry, never mind the size. The price for a lightweight need not exceed £60, £70, or £80; for a heavy weight £200