She pointed out to me, far away on the south-east horizon, the place where the river ran in its shallow channel when she first came to Nathpore. During her experience it had cut into and overspread more than twenty miles of country, turning fertile fields into arid wastes of sand; sweeping away factories, farms, and villages; and changing the whole face of the country from a fruitful landscape into a wilderness of sand and swamp.
My horse came up in the evening, and I rode over to Inamputte, leaving my kindly hostess in her solitude.
Exciting jungle scene.—The camp.—All quiet.—Advent of the cowherds. —A tiger close by.—Proceed to the spot.—Encounter between tigress and buffaloes.—Strange behaviour of the elephant.—Discovery and capture of four cubs.—Joyful return to camp.—Death of the tigress. —Night encounter with a leopard.—The haunts of the tiger and our shooting grounds.
One of the most exciting and deeply interesting scenes I ever witnessed in the jungles, was on the occasion I have referred to in a former chapter, when speaking of the number of young given by the tigress at a birth. It was in the month of March, at the village of Ryseree, in Bhaugulpore. I had been encamped in the midst of twenty-four beautiful tanks, the history and construction of which were lost in the mists of tradition. The villagers had a story that these tanks were the work of a mighty giant, Bheema, with whose aid and that of his brethren they had been excavated in a single night.
At all events, they were now covered with a wild tangle of water lilies and aquatic plants; well stocked with magnificent fish, and an occasional scaly monster of a saurian. They were the haunt of vast quantities of widgeon, teal, whistlers, mallard, ducks, snipe, curlew, blue fowl, and the usual varied habitues of an exceptionally good Indian lake. In the vicinity hares were numerous, and in the thick jungle bordering the tanks in places, and consisting mostly of nurkool and wild rose, hog-deer and wild pig were abundant. The dried-up bed of an old arm of the Koosee was quite close to my camp, and abounded in sandpiper, and golden, grey, goggle-eyed, and stilted plover, besides other game.
It was indeed a favourite camping spot, and the village was inhabited by a hardy, independent set of Gwallas, Koormees, and agriculturists, with whom I was a prime favourite.
I was sitting in my tent, going over some village accounts with the village putwarrie, and my gomasta. A posse of villagers were grouped under the grateful shade of a gnarled old mango tree, whose contorted limbs bore evidence to the violence of many a tufan, or tempest, which it had weathered. The usual confused clamour of tongues was rising from this group, and the sub; ect of debate was the eternal ‘pice.’ Behind the bank, and in rear of the tent, the cook and his mate were disembowelling a hapless moorghee, a fowl, whose decapitation had just been effected with a huge jagged old cavalry sword, of which my cook was not a little proud; and on the strength of which he adopted fierce military airs, and gave an extra turn to his well-oiled moustache when he went abroad for a holiday.