Sketches of Natural History of Ceylon eBook

J. Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 590 pages of information about Sketches of Natural History of Ceylon.

Mr. CRIPPS has related to me an instance in which a recently captured elephant was either rendered senseless from fear, or, as the native attendants asserted, feigned death in order to regain its freedom.  It was led from the corral as usual between two tame ones, and had already proceeded far towards its destination; when night closing in, and the torches being lighted, it refused to go on, and finally sank to the ground, apparently lifeless.  Mr. CRIPPS ordered the fastenings to be removed from its legs, and when all attempts to raise it had failed, so convinced was he that it was dead, that he ordered the ropes to be taken off and the carcase abandoned.  While this was being done he and a gentleman by whom he was accompanied leaned against the body to rest.  They had scarcely taken their departure and proceeded a few yards, when, to their astonishment, the elephant rose with the utmost alacrity, and fled towards the jungle, screaming at the top of its voice, its cries being audible long after it had disappeared in the shades of the forest.


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The following narratives have been taken down by a Singhalese gentleman, from the statements of the natives by whom they are recounted;—­and they are here inserted, in order to show the opinion prevalent amongst the people of Ceylon as to the habits and propensities of the rogue elephant.  The stories are given in words of my correspondent, who writes in English, as follows:—­

1.  “We,” said my informant, who was a native trader of Caltura, “were on our way to Badulla, by way of Ratnapoora and Balangodde, to barter our merchandize for coffee.  There were six in our party, myself, my brother-in-law, and four coolies, who carried on pingoes[1] our merchandize, which consisted of cloth and brass articles.  About 4 o’clock, P.M., we were close to Idalgasinna, and our coolies were rather unwilling to go further for fear of elephants, which they said were sure to be met with at that noted place, especially as there had been a slight drizzling of rain during the whole afternoon.  I was as much afraid of elephants as the coolies themselves; but I was anxious to proceed, and so, after a few words of encouragement addressed to them, and a prayer or two offered up to Saman dewiyo[2], we resumed our journey.  I also took the further precaution of hanging up a few leaves.[3] As the rain was coming down fast and thick, and I was anxious to get to our halting-place before night, we moved on at a rapid pace.  My brother-in-law was in the van of the party, I myself was in the rear, and the four coolies between us, all moving along on a rugged, rocky, and difficult path; as the road to Badulla till lately was on the sloping side of a hill, covered with jungle, pieces of projecting rock, and

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Sketches of Natural History of Ceylon from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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