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apparently unconscious of what is passing around him—for his eyes are half closed, every muscle is relaxed, and his attitude is altogether one of dreamy, listless' idleness; but it is only the repose of the tiger in ambush: every faculty is on the full stretch ; not a sound falls unheeded on his watchful ear; and, from time to time, his breathing is checked and his wide nostrils distended, as if he depended as much on the sense of smell as on any other faculty, for obtaining that information of approaching danger so necessary to the safety of a wandering savage.
“A splendid specimen, by Jupiter !” muttered Mansfield, soliloquizing, as he carefully measured off a tape with which he had previously taken the dimensions of the bull. “I'wo full inches higher than any one I have ever met with—and I have seen a few, too; we must take a note of this. Let me see - what day?-aye, fifteenth MayWestern Jungle-genus Bos-variety Bos Gaurus-—rare animal-history very imperfectly known.-Mem. look him up in Cuvier--large male -height at the shoulder, six feet four-length from nose to insertion of tail, eleven feet-girth of fore-arm, two feet eight-girth of"
“ Abbah saw mee!*" exclaimed the Jaggardar, suddenly starting from his indolent position, and stretching forward his neck, as if listening attentively to some sound which was not audible to his companions.
“ Halloo, old fellow! what's in the wind now ?” cried Mansfield, throwing down his note-book, and grasping his rifle.
The Jaggardar returned no answer, but continued to listen attentively for a repetition of the cound which had at first arrested his attention; at length, having apparently satisfied himself as to its nature, and the quarter from whence it proceeded, he quietly relapsed into his listless attitude, merely uttering the word “ Reencht.”
“A bear!” cried Mansfield, hastily shoving his sketching materials into his pocket.
Come, Charles, my boy, we must have his hide before we go to breakfast, hot though it be. What say you?"
By all manner of means,” cried Charles, starting to his feet and shouldering his rifle; “never mind the heat; I'm up to anything after that brush with the Bison ; regularly savage; fit to wap my weight in wild cats, as the Yankees say; so hurrah! and at him. Of course our friend Kamah can ferret him out for us : I shall never presume to doubt his powers in that way again, after witnessing the masterly style in which he brought us up to the Bison."
“ You may see by the quiet expression of the old pagan's features that he has no doubt upon that head himself,” replied Mansfield; “ but I shall just ask him the question, that we may hear what answer he will make. Here, Jaggardar ; you heard a bear just now ?”
“ Ho, Sahib."
? “ If it is the Sahib's pleasure to do so; but, for my own part, I have no quarrel with the bear at present, for although he does steal a little honey, there is plenty in these woods for both of us."
“Oh! that is a very good excuse,” said Mansfield, winking to Charles: “ the Jaggardar talks like an old woman; he does not know where to find the bear, and wants to put us off by saying he has no quarrel with him.”
• An exclamation of surprise.
† A bear.
“Does the Sahib wish to laugh at the beard of old Kamah?” replied the savage, with an air of offended dignity. “Is the Jaggardar a dog that he should eat dirt, or is the Sahib a child, not to know that where the wild bee bangs her nest, there will the bear be found also ? Go, Sahib, and try to throw dust in the eyes of the topee wallahs*.” So saying, the Jaggardar turned on his heel, and walked off with a sullen dogged air.
“ So much for good example !” cried Charles, bursting into a triumphant laugh. "I do like to see people practise what they preach. Do you recollect your good advice to me? Mind you always treat him with the utmost respect ! Never interfere with him in following up a trail! And, above all things, avoid laughing at him!! Ha! ha! ha! Capital! I take it, my worthy preceptor has got himself into a scrape, and will find that the Jaggardar has turned the joke against him.”
“ Faith, you may say that,” replied Mansfield, with rather a blank look;
I have fairly set the old devil's bristles up, and it will be no easy matter to smooth them down again; however, I must try to coax the vermin into good humour, else, the chances are he will start off and leave us to find our way out of the jungle as we best can: in which case our stomachs are likely to be better acquainted with wild berries than hashed venison for the next two or three days, as I know to my cost. I lost myself in this forest once before, and have no fancy to repeat the experiment.”
So saying, Mansfield followed the sulky steps of the Jaggardar, in hopes of bringing him to reason, whilst Charles, whose inward man was beginning to wax somewhat importunate for food, and who, consequently, did not altogether relish the idea of a few days' ruralizing in the forest on such primitive fare is wild fruits and muddy water, watched the progress of the conference with no small degree of interest.
The Jaggardar was at first implacable; but Mansfield had luckily great influence over him, and, after a long palaver, at length succeeded in pacifying him. A hearty pull out of the brandy flask, which Mausfield always carried in his pocket, but only to be used in cases of emergency, completely restored old Kamah to good humour. Ilis harsh features gradually relaxed into a broad grin as he felt the generous liquor warm his heart, and, extending his bony hand to Mansfield, with an important and somewhat patronizing air, said-
There is peace between us-upon my eyes be it ; the bear shall be made to eat the Sahib's bullets."
Peace being thus happily restored, no time was lost in proceeding to business. The Jazgardar led the way, as usual, advancing directly into the thickest part of the jungle, and occasionally breaking a small branch from the trees which he passed, to serve as landmarks in guiding him back to the spot where they had killed the bison.
“ Dekho, Sahib!” exclaimed Kamah, with a broad grin, as they emerged from a thicket of bamboo and came upon an open space in the forest, in the centre of which stood a teak tree of gigantic proportions. “ That is the sort of bait to catch bears : thc Sahib will know it when he sees it again," and the old villain chuckled mightily at his own wit, as-he pointed to the topmost branches, from whence depended huge
* Literally, Men who wear bats-Europeans.
semicircular masses of honeycomb several feet in depth, which looked as if it must have required the united labour of many successive generations of bees to have constructed them.
“There,” said Mansfield, pointing to the stem of the tree, the bark of which, as high as the branches, was much scratched and torn as if by the claws of some animal; “ there are Master Bruin's marks pretty distinctly visible, and, from the number of them, I should guess he is tolerably punctual in his visits to the Jaggardar's bee-hives."
“ Sawmee,” whispered the Jaggardar, creeping close up to Mansfield and touching him on the shoulder ; " dekho, Sahib,” and he pointed eagerly towards the top of the tree. Mansfield followed with his eye the direction indicated; and there, in the midst of a dense mass of foliage, a small patch of black fur was faintly visible.
“That's our friend, by all that 's beautiful!” cried he, rubbing his hands. Here, Charley, my boy! do you take the first shot, and let us see how cleverly you can knock the old fellow off his perch.".
“ Where is he? asked Charles, looking up, and shading his eyes with his hand. “I can see nothing."
“ There, among that thick mass of leaves at the very top of the tree : do you not observe a small black spot?”
Aye, aye; now I have it.” Charles raised his rifle slowly and fired. The bear remained motionless, and the sharp rattle of the bullet as it crashed through the branches left no doubt that it had niissed its object.
“ Below him," said Mansfield, with great composure, at the same time raising his rifle and firing quickly. This shot was answered by a sudden growl and a convulsive start on the part of the bear, but he still remained motionless, and showed no symptoms of being wounded.
“ Another miss!” cried Charles, in great glee. “ I've still a chance to draw first blood, after all; hurra!"
By the beard of the Prophet, I believe you are right," said Mansfield, regarding his rifle with a look of astonishment, such as a keeper might be expected to bestow on a favourite pointer who had suddenly taken a fancy to runnivg in to birds, instead of dropping at shot. “ And yet I can hardly believe that Clincher would make such an egregious mistake either. I bad full six square inches of black fur to fire at, and the
range is not above seventy yards. Well, never mind; better luck next time: but, in the mean time, we must get right under the tree to have a view of him, for I see he has shifted his position. That shot was too near to be pleasant, whether it hit him or not. Ha! what's this?” continued Mansfield, as he looked upwards from the root of the tree, and felt a large warm drop fall upon his forehead. “Blood, as I live! and plenty of it, too. See, it comes pattering down amongst the dry leaves like rain. I thought Clincher would hardly play me such a trick as to miss at that distance."
As he said this, a rustling was heard in the branches overhead, and the bear sliding from the branch on which he was perched, began slowly and cautiously to descend the tree, turning his head from side to side, showing his teeth in a threatening manner, and growling fiercely at his assailants. Charles raised his piece, and was about to fire.
“ Hold,” cried Mansfield, as he busied himself in reloading the barrel of his rifle which had been discharged ; “ fair play, fair play:
don't take an ungentlemanlike advantage of poor Bruin ; he is a gallant fellow to think of showing fight against such odds, and it is but common civility to let him reach the ground before we proceed to further hostilities. You shall have the first round with him if you only keep quiet and let him get down."
Charles lowered his rifle, and stood watching the clumsy progress of the bear with great interest. The poor brute had evidently received a severe wound, and moved with great pain and difficulty. Faster and faster pattered the large drops, forming a crimson pool at the foot of the tree. The growl of defiance was changed to a faint moaning cry, half stified by the blood which now bubbled copiously from his distended jaws; the faintness of death was upon him; he no longer attempted to descend, but clasping his fore-paws firmly round a projecting branch, held on with convulsive energy.
“ It's all over with him," said Mansfield ; "give the poor brute another shot, and put him out of pain."
Charles instantly fired: one deep groan was heard : slowly and reluctantly the gigantic fore-paws relaxed their
“ Stand from under,” shouted Mansfield, and next moment the enormous black mass descended to the earth with a velocity that made it rebound several feet, effectually extinguishing any spark of life which might have remained.
“A most inglorious victory," said Mansfield, returning his ramrod with an impatient jerk; “ but the skin is a good one, which is all that can be said in favour of our exploit. And now, methinks, we had best wend our way homewards, for we are full four miles from camp, and the heat is enough to fry one's brains into an omelette.”
“ To say nothing of the want of breakfast,” continued Charles, whose mouth watered at the very mention of an omelette; “I feel as empty as a kettle-drum, and hungry enough to eat the hind leg of a donkey without salt-allons, mon Capitaine."
“ Will the Sahib not kill another bear ?" asked the Jaggardar, with a knowing look, as the two sportsmen were about to move off.
“ To be sure we will,” exclaimed both the young men in a breath, “ if you will only find him for us.”
“ Kamah can find him," replied the savage, with a confident air; “ follow me.”
The Jaggardar spoke thus assuredly, from having remarked that the dead bear was a male, and knowing that, if he followed the trail backwards, there was little doubt that it would lead him to the hiding-place of the female and her cubs.
As good luck would have it, the trail led them in the direction of the camp, a circumstance which induced our two sportsmen to follow the rapid strides of their conductor with double alacrity. After pursuing a tortuous course, through an almost impenetrable jungle, for upwards of a mile, the trail suddenly ceased on the edge of a small muddy stream, the opposite bank of which rose to a considerable height, and was composed of huge splintered masses of rock piled one upon another in wild confusion.
“ We are not far from her now,” said Mansfield, cocking both barrels of his rifle, and throwing it across his arm ready to be used at a moment's notice, whilst old Kamah waded across the stream, and
hunted about, like a hound at fault, in hopes of finding a continuation of the trail amongst the bare rocks; but their hard surface afforded no vestige of foot-marks even to the experienced eye of the savage.
The indefatigable Kamah had climbed more than half way up the rocky bank, hunting with the eagerness of a terrier, and poking his nose into every crevice which afforded the slightest probability of concealing a bear, when, on turning the angle of a rock, he suddenly started back, and beckoned, with eager gestures, for Mansfield to come across. At this moment a terrific growl was heard ; the Jaggardar, casting a hasty glance over his shoulder, sprang, without hesitation, from the dizzy height into the bed of the stream, and ere he reached the water, the infuriated bear appeared upon the very ledge of rock which he had quitted, giving vent to her impotent rage in a prolonged roar, and glaring, with the malignant eye of a baffled fiend, on the intended victim who had so narrowly escaped her jaws.
Quick as thought, Mansfield discharged his unerring rifle, and the bear, rearing up to her full height, rolled headlong down the rocky steep, falling right over poor Kamah, who had not yet had time to scramble out of the water.
The Jaggardar had hardly uttered a yell of astonishment, when he found himself firmly clasped in the deadly embrace of the bear, and felt her hot breath blowing upon his cheek. Twisting his body round, with the agility of a wild cat, he avoided the first grasp which she made at his head; and knowing full well that he had nothing else for it, thrust his naked arm, without hesitation, between her extended jaws, seizing the root of her tongue, with the desperate gripe of a man who is determined that nothing but death shall force him to quit his hold. A deadly struggle now ensued; the two combatants-each equally savage in his own way-rolling over and over, and struggling, like two incarnate fiends, in the midst of the muddy stream, now crimsoned by the blood which flowed copiously from the wounded bear. And it was well for the Jaggardar that she had been wounded, else the contest would have been speedily ended. Mansfield stood for some time anxiously watching their movements; with his forefinger resting on the trigger of his rifle, in hopes that some lucky turn might give him an opportunity of firing into the bear: and more than once the weapon was raised to his shoulder; but so quick were their evolutions, that he did not dare to risk a shot. For an instant the shaggy hide of the bear appeared on the surface; and ere it could be well distinguished, its place was supplied by the dusky figure of the savage-his teeth firmly clenched every sinew in his wiry frame strained almost to cracking—and his blood-shot eyes starting from their sockets, in consequence of the dreadful pressure he endured.
“ This will never do," exclaimed Mansfield, hastily throwing down his rifle, and preparing to plunge in the water; but ere he could do so, the blade of old Kamal's hunting-knife was seen to flash brightly in the sun, and next moment he started to his feet, with a savage yell of triumph, flourishing the blood-stained weapon round his head, whilst the lifeless body of the bear floated slowly down the stream : he had just withdrawn it from her heart.
Koondah, (10 be continued.)