Thus did this self-denying Nimrod debar himself the pleasure of being charged by a tiger, reserving it, in the kindest manner, for his guests, who but half appreciated the sacrifice he was making on their account, from their dread of themselves becoming a sacrifice to the tiger. And as they crouched behind their respective bushes they had time to brood over the appalling stories of hairbreadth escapes just recounted to them by the gallant captain, who had been particular in describing the requisites for the successful tiger-shot—the steady hand and steady nerve—admitting that these were not always efficacious, as the last tiger he had encountered had struck him on the leg, and his torn inexpressibles existed to this day to testify to it. The thoughts of this and sundry other escapes he had experienced made the blood run cold, as one imagined every rustle of the leaves to be a bristling tiger, preparing for his fatal spring.
Gradually the beaters approached nearer and nearer, and, as the circle became smaller, pea-fowl innumerable flew over our heads with a loud whirr, their brilliant plumage glancing in the sunshine like shot-silk. A few moments more, and I perceived stripes gliding rapidly behind a bush, and a shot from L—– made me suspect that our worst anticipations had been realised, and that we had really found a tiger—a suspicion which soon disappeared, however, as a grisly hyaena bounded away, having received a ball in his hind-quarters, which unfortunately did not prevent his retreat.
The beaters soon after appeared over the brow of the hill, and relieved us for the present from further apprehension of that charge which was to seal our fate, for the monarch of the Indian jungle had changed his location. We beat some more jungles, in the hope of finding other game, but only succeeded in bagging a deer. I had a long shot at a four-horned buck, but the smooth bore of my piece was not equal to the distance.
On our way home we came upon a cave, which, from marks in the neighbourhood, bore evident signs of containing a panther; we accordingly attempted to smoke him out by lighting quantities of straw at the mouth, but he was not to be forced out of his secure retreat, and preferred bearing an amount of smoke that would have stifled a German student.
On the following day we renewed our attempt to find a tiger, and were to a certain extent successful, as at one time we were within a few yards of him, and could see the bushes move, but he succeeded in breaking through the line of beaters; and some deer and a neelgye were all the game we could boast of, notwithstanding a perseverance and endurance of heat worthy of greater success.
The carnival at Indore—Extraordinary scene in the palace of the Holkar—A night at the caves of Ajunta—The caves of Ellora and fortress of Doulatabad—The merits of a palkee—Reflections on the journey from Agra to Bombay—Adieu to India.