The ladies were interested; and another bird was shot, to enable them to see the operation of the saurians. The python was about ten feet long, and he must have been a meal for one of them. The cranes, herons, and storks were numerous; but the party decided to kill no more of them, for they held still, as though they were all ready to be shot; and there was no sport in such game.
The boat continued on its course for half an hour longer, and then came up to a sort of stockade, extending out into the water, and near it were a couple of bamboo huts. This wild region is sparsely peopled with Hindus, who are obliged to keep guard over themselves and their families all the time, and are occasionally the victims of the ferocious monsters of the jungle and of the water.
“What is that stockade for?” asked the commander, as soon as the steamer was moored to the shore.
“The Hindus are a cleanly people, as required by their religion,” replied Captain O’Flaherty in the hearing of all the party. “That stockade contains a big trough for washing their scanty clothing. It reaches into the water, so that they can fill their washtub without going out of it.”
“I don’t see why?” asked Mrs. Woolridge.
“If they went to the border of the stream to dip up water the crocodiles would pick them up as fast as they did so,” added the captain; and all the ladies shuddered, and wanted to get out of such a horrible place.
“But the hunters are to land here; and they will find all the heavy game they can dispose of, for there have been no hunters here yet this season to scare them off. You will find the biggest tigers of India here, gentlemen.”
The hunters went on shore, and as they passed down the gangway they saw a couple of the crocodiles in the water. Louis put a bullet into the eye of one, and Mr. Woolridge served the other in the same way; but all of them thought saurians were mean game. Near the huts they found two men, and Sir Modava had a talk with them, which no one else could understand; but he employed them to guide the party and show them their traps.
“The wife of one of these men was devoured by a crocodile a year ago, and the daughter of the other, a child of six, had been borne off by a tiger,” he explained, as they proceeded after the two men.
They soon came to the traps. The tigers were exceedingly numerous on all the islands formed by the cut-offs, and swam without difficulty from one to another. The first trap they saw was a broad trench, the bottom and sides armed with stakes of the hardest wood, sharpened to a wicked point. A roaring sound attracted the visitors to another of the same kind, in which a monstrous tiger was floundering about, trying to escape the points that pierced him. He was suffering fearfully; and Captain Ringgold shot him at once, though the Hindus were delighted by his torture.