by Samuel White Baker
A JUNGLE TRIP.
ON November 16, 1851 I started from Kandy, accompanied by my brother, Lieutenant V. Baker,* (*Now Colonel Valentine Baler, late 10th Hussars.) then of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment. Having sent on our horses from Newera Ellia some days previous, as far as Matille, sixteen miles from Kandy, we drove there early in the morning, and breakfasted with F. Layard, Esq., who was then assistant government agent. It had rained without ceasing during twenty-four hours, and hoping that the weather might change, we waited at Matille till two o'clock P.M. The rain still poured in torrents, and giving up all ideas of fine weather, we started.
The horses were brought round, and old Jack knew as well as I did that he was starting for a trip, as the tether rope was wound round his neck, and the horse-cloth was under his saddle. The old horse was sleek and in fine condition for a journey, and, without further loss of time, we started for Dambool, a distance of thirty-one miles. Not wishing to be benighted, we cantered the whole way, and completed the distance in three hours and a half, as we arrived at Dambool at half-past five P.M.
I had started off Wallace and all the coolies from Newera Ellia about a week beforehand; and, having instructed him to leave a small box with a change of clothes at the Dambool rest-house, I now felt the benefit of the arrangement. The horsekeepers could not possibly arrive that night. We therefore cleaned and fed our own horses, and littered them down with a good bed of paddy straw; and, that being completed, we turned our attention to curry and rice.
The next morning at break of day we fed the horses. Old Jack was as fresh as a daisy. The morning was delightfully cloudy, but free from rain; and we cantered on to Innamalow, five miles from Dambool. Here we procured a guide to Minneria; and turning off from the main road into a narrow jungle path, we rode for twenty miles through dense jungle. Passing the rock of Sigiri, which was formerly used as a fort by the ancient inhabitants of the country, we gradually entered better jungle, and at length we emerged upon the beautiful plains of Minneria. I had ordered Wallace to pitch the encampment in the exact spot which I had frequently occupied some years ago. I therefore knew the rendezvous, and directed my course accordingly.
What a change had taken place! A continuous drought had reduced the lake from its original size of twenty-two miles in circumference to a mere pool of about four miles in circuit; this was all that remained of the noble sheet of water around which I had formerly enjoyed so much sport. From the rich bed of the dry lake sprang a fine silky grass of about two feet in height, forming a level plain of velvet green far as the eye could reach. The turf was firm and elastic; the four o'clock sun had laid aside the fiercest of his rays, and threw a gentle glow over the scene, which reminded me of an English midsummer evening. There is so little ground in Ceylon upon which a horse can gallop without the risks of holes, bogs, and rocks that we could not resist a canter upon such fine turf; and although the horses had made a long journey already, they seemed to enjoy a more rapid pace when they felt the inviting sward beneath their feet. Although every inch of this country had been familiar to me, I felt some difficulty in finding the way to the appointed spot, the scene was so changed by the disappearance of the water.
There were fresh elephants' tracks in many parts of the plain, and I was just anticipating good sport for the next day, when we suddenly heard an elephant trumpet in the open forest, which we were skirting. The next instant I saw eight elephants among the large trees which bordered the forest. For the moment I thought it was a herd, but I almost immediately noticed the constrained and unnatural positions in which they were standing. They were all tied to different trees by the legs, and upon approaching the spot, we found an encampment of Arabs and Moormen who had been noosing elephants for sale. We at once saw that the country was disturbed, as these people had been employed in catching elephants for some weeks.
After a ride of seven or eight miles along the plain, I discovered a thin blue line of smoke rising from the edge of a distant forest, and shortly after, I could distinguish forms moving on the plain in the same direction. Cantering towards the spot, we found our coolies and encampment. The tents were pitched under some noble trees, which effectually excluded every ray of sun. It was the exact spot upon which I had been accustomed to encamp some years ago. The servants had received orders when they started from Kandy, to have dinner prepared at five o'clock on the 17th of November; it was accordingly ready on our arrival.
Minneria was the appointed rendezvous from which this trip was to commence. Our party was to consist of the Honourable E. Stuart Wortley,* (* The present Lord Wharncliffe.)E. Palliser, Esq., Lieutenant V. Baker, S.W. Baker. My brother had unfortunately only fourteen days' leave from his regiment, and he and I had accordingly hurried on a day in advance of our party, they having still some preparations to complete in Kandy, and not being quite so well horsed for a quick journey.
Nothing could be more comfortable than our arrangements. Our followers and establishment consisted of four personal servants, an excellent cook, four horse-keepers, fifty coolies, and Wallace; in all, sixty people. The coolies were all picked men, who gave not the slightest trouble during the whole trip. We had two tents, one of which contained four beds and a general dressing-table; the other, which was my umbrella-shaped tent, was arranged as the diningroom, with table and chairs. With complete dinner and breakfast services for four persons, and abundance of table linen, we had everything that could be wished for. Although I can rough it if necessary, I do not pretend to prefer discomfort from choice. A little method and a trifling extra cost will make the jungle trip anything but uncomfortable. There was nothing wanting in our supplies. We had sherry, madeira, brandy and curacoa, biscuits, tea, sugar, coffee, hams, tongues, sauces, pickles, mustard, sardines en huile, tins of soups and preserved meats and vegetables, currant jelly for venison, maccaroni, vermicelli, flour, and a variety of other things that add to the comfort of the jungle, including last, but not least, a double supply of soap and candles. No one knows the misery should either of these fail--dirt and darkness is the necessary consequence.
There was a large stock of talipots* (*Large leaves from the talipot tree.) to form tents for the people and coverings for the horses in case of rain; in fact, there never was a trip more happily planned or more comfortably arranged, and there was certainly never such a battery assembled in Ceylon as we now mustered. Such guns deserve to be chronicled :--
Wortley . . 1 single barrel rifle . 3-ounce " . . 1 double " rifle . No. 12. " . . 2 double " guns . No. 12. Palliser . . 1 single " rifle . No. 8 (my old 2-ounce) " . . 1 double " rifle . No. 12. " . . 2 double " guns . No. 12. V. Baker . 3 double " " . No. 14. " . . 1 double " " . No. 12. " . . 1 single " rifle . No. 14. S. W. Baker . 1 single " rifle . 4-ounce. " . . 3 double " rifles No. 10. " . . 1 double " gun . No. 16. 18 guns.
These guns were all by the first makers, and we took possession of our hunting country with the confidence of a good bag, provided that game was abundant.
But how changed was this country since I had visited it in former years, not only in appearance but in the quantity of game!
On these plains, where in times past I had so often counted immense herds of wild buffaloes, not one was now to be seen. The deer were scared and in small herds, not exceeding seven or ten, proving how they had been thinned out by shooting. In fact, Minneria had become within the last four years a focus for most sportsmen, and the consequence was, that the country was spoiled; not by the individual shooting of visitors, but by the stupid practice of giving the natives large quantities of powder and ball as a present at the conclusion of a trip. They, of course, being thus supplied with ammunition, shot the deer and buffaloes without intermission, and drove them from the country by incessant harassing.
I saw immediately that we could not expect much sport in this disturbed part of the country, and we determined to waste no more time in this spot than would be necessary in procuring the elephant trackers from Doolana. We planned our campaign that evening at dinner.
Nov. 18.--At daybreak I started Wallace off to Doolana to bring my old acquaintance the Rhatamahatmeya and the Moormen trackers. I felt confident that I could prevail upon him to accompany us to the limits of his district; this was all-important to our chance of sport, as without him we could procure no assistance from the natives.
After breakfast we mounted our horses and rode to Cowdelle, eight miles, as I expected to find elephants in this open but secluded part of the country. There were very fresh tracks of a herd; and as we expected Wortley and Palliser on the following day, we would not disturb the country, but returned to Minneria and passed the afternoon in shooting snipe and crocodiles. The latter were in incredible numbers, as the whole population of this usually extensive lake was now condensed in the comparatively small extent of water before us. The fish of course were equally numerous, and we had an unlimited supply of 'lola' of three to four pounds weight at a penny each. Our gang of coolies feasted upon them in immense quantities, and kept a native fully employed in catching them. Our cook exerted his powers in producing some piquante dishes with these fish. Stewed with melted butter (ghee), with anchovy sauce, madeira, sliced onion and green chillies, this was a dish worthy of 'Soyer,' but they were excellent in all shapes, even if plain boiled or fried.
Nov. 19.--At about four P.M. I scanned the plain with my telescope, in expectation of the arrival of our companions, whom I discovered in the distance, and as they approached within hearing, we greeted them with a shout of welcome to show the direction of our encampment. We were a merry party that evening at dinner, and we determined to visit Cowdelle, and track up the herd that we had discovered, directly that the Moormen trackers should arrive from Doolana.
The worst of this country was the swarm of mosquitoes which fed upon us at night; it was impossible to sleep with the least degree of comfort, and we always hailed the arrival of morning with delight.
Nov. 20.-At dawn this morning, before daylight could be called complete, Palliser had happened to look out from the tent, and to his surprise he saw a rogue elephant just retreating to the jungle, at about two hundred yards distance. We loaded the guns and went after him in as short a time as possible, but he was too quick for us, and he had retreated to thick jungle before we were out. Wortley and I then strolled along the edge of the jungle, hoping to find him again in some of the numerous nooks which the plain formed by running up the forest. We had walked quietly along for about half a mile, when we crossed an abrupt rocky promontory, which stretched from the jungle into the lake like a ruined pier. On the other side, the lake formed a small bay, shaded by the forest, which was separated from the water's edge by a gentle slope of turf about fifty yards in width. This bay was a sheltered spot, and as we crossed the rocky promontory, the noise that we made over the loose stones in turning the corner, disturbed a herd of six deer, five of whom dashed into the jungle; the sixth stopped for a moment at the edge of the forest to take a parting look at us. He was the buck of the herd, and carried a noble pair of antlers; he was about a hundred and twenty yards from us, and I took a quick shot at him with one of the No. 10 rifles. The brushwood closed over him as he bounded into the jungle, but an ominous crack sounded back from the ball, which made me think he was hit. At this moment Palliser and V. Baker came running up, thinking that we had found the elephant.
The buck was standing upon some snow-white quartz rocks when I fired, and upon an examination of the spot frothy patches of blood showed that he was struck through the lungs. Men are bloodthirsty animals, for nothing can exceed the pleasure, after making a long shot, of finding the blood-track on the spot when the animal is gone. We soon tracked him up, and found him lying dead in the jungle within twenty yards of the spot. This buck was the first head of game we had bagged, with the exception of a young elk that I had shot on horseback during the ride from Dambool. We had plenty of snipe, and, what with fish, wildfowl, and venison, our breakfast began to assume an inviting character. After breakfast we shot a few couple of snipe upon the plain, and in the evening we formed two parties--Palliser and V. Baker, and Wortley and myself--and taking different directions, we scoured the country, agreeing to meet at the tent at dusk.
W. and I saw nothing beyond the fresh tracks of game which evidently came out only at night. We wandered about till evening, and then returned towards the tent. On the way I tried a long shot at a heron with a rifle; he was standing at about a hundred and fifty yards from us, and by great good luck I killed him.
On arrival at the tent we found P. and V. B., who had returned. They had been more fortunate in their line of country, having found two rogue elephants--one in thick jungle, which V. B. fired at and missed; and shortly after this shot they found another rogue on the plain not far from the tent. The sun was nearly setting, and shone well in the elephant's eyes; thus they were able to creep pretty close to him without being observed, and P. killed him by a good shot with a rifle, at about twenty-five yards. In my opinion this was the same elephant that had been seen near the tent early in the morning.
Wallace, with the Rhatamahatmeya and the trackers, had arrived, and we resolved to start for Cowdelle at daybreak on the following morning.
Nov. 21.--Having made our preparations over night for an early start, we were off at daybreak, carrying with us the cook with his utensils, and the canteen containing everything that could be required for breakfast. We were thus prepared for a long day's work, should it be necessary.
After a ride of about eight miles along a sandy path, bordered by dense jungle, we arrived at the open but marshy ground upon which we had seen the tracks of the herd a few days previous. Fresh elephant tracks had accompanied us the whole way along our path, and a herd was evidently somewhere in the vicinity, as the path was obstructed in many places by the branches of trees upon which they had been feeding during the night. The sandy ground was likewise printed with innumerable tracks of elk, deer, hogs and leopards. We halted under some wide-spreading trees, beneath which, a clear stream of water rippled over a bed of white pebbles, with banks of fine green sward. In this spot were unmistakable tracks of elephants, where they had been recently drinking. The country was park-like, but surrounded upon its borders with thick jungles; clumps of thorny bushes were scattered here and there, and an abundance of good grass land water ensured a large quantity of game. The elephants were evidently not far off, and of course were well secured in the thorny jungles
Wortley had never yet seen a wild elephant, and a dense jungle is by no means a desirable place for an introduction to this kind of game. It is a rule of mine never to follow elephants in such ground, where they generally have it all their own way; but, as there are exceptions to all rules, we determined to find them, after having taken so much trouble in making our arrangements.
We unsaddled, and ordered breakfast to be ready for our return beneath one of the most shady trees; having loaded, we started off upon the tracks. As I had expected, they led to a thick thorny jungle, and slowly and cautiously we followed the leading tracker. The jungle became worse and worse as we advanced, and had it not been for the path which the elephants had formed, we could not have moved an inch. The leaves of the bushes were wet with dew, and we were obliged to cover up all the gun-locks to prevent any of them missing fire. We crept for about a quarter of a mile upon this track, when the sudden snapping of a branch a hundred paces in advance plainly showed that we were up with the game.
This is the exciting moment in elephant-shooting, and every breath is held for a second intimation of the exact position of the herd. A deep, guttural sound, like the rolling of very distant thunder, is heard, accompanied by the rustling and cracking of the branches as they rub their tough sides against the trees. Our advance had been so stealthy that they were perfectly undisturbed. Silently and carefully we crept up, and in a few minutes I distinguished two immense heads exactly facing us at about ten paces distant. Three more indistinct forms loomed in the thick bushes just behind the leaders.
A quiet whisper to Wortley to take a cool shot at the left-hand elephant, in the exact centre of the forehead, and down went the two leaders! Wortley's and mine; quickly we ran into the herd, before they knew what had happened, and down went another to V Baker's shot. The smoke hung in such thick volumes that we could hardly see two yards before us, when straight into the cloud of smoke an elephant rushed towards us. V. Baker fired, but missed; and my left-hand barrel extinguished him. Running through the smoke with a spare rifle I killed the last elephant. They were all bagged--five elephants within thirty seconds from the first shot fired. Wortley had commenced well, having killed his first elephant with one shot.
We found breakfast ready on our return to the horses, and having disturbed this part of the country by the heavy volley at the herd, we returned to Minneria.
I was convinced that we could expect no sport in this neighbourhood; we therefore held a consultation as to our line of country.
Some years ago I had entered the north of the Veddah country from this point, and I now proposed that we should start upon a trip of discovery, and endeavour to penetrate from the north to the south of the Veddah country into the 'Park.' No person had ever shot over this route, and the wildness of the idea only increased the pleasure of the trip. We had not the least idea of the distance, but we knew the direction by a pocket compass.
There was but one objection to the plan, and this hinged upon the shortness of V. Baker's leave. He had only ten days unexpired, and it seemed rash, with so short a term, to plunge into an unknown country; however, he was determined to push on, as he trusted in the powers of an extraordinary pony that would do any distance on a push. This determination, however destroyed a portion of the trip, as we were obliged to pass quickly through a lovely sporting country, to arrive at a civilised, or rather an acknowledged, line of road by which he could return to Kandy. Had we, on the contrary, travelled easily through this country, we should have killed an extraordinary amount of game.
We agreed that our route should be this. We were to enter the Veddah country at the north and strike down to the south. I knew a bridle-path from Badulla to Batticaloa, which cut through the Veddah country from west to east; therefore we should meet it at right angles. From this point V. Baker was to bid adieu, and turn to the west and reach Badulla; from thence to Newera Ellia and to his regiment in Kandy. We were to continue our direction southward, which I knew would eventually bring us to the 'Park.'
Nov. 22.--We moved our encampment, accompanied by the headman and his followers; and after a ride of fourteen miles we arrived at the country of Hengiriwatdowane, a park-like spot of about twelve square miles, at which place we were led to expect great sport. The appearance of the ground was all that we could wish; numerous patches of jungle and single trees were dotted upon the surface of fine turf.
In the afternoon, after a cooling shower, we all separated, and started with our respective gun-bearers in different directions, with the understanding that no one was to fire a shot at any game but elephants. We were to meet in the evening and describe the different parts of the country, so that we should know how to proceed on the following day.
I came upon herds of deer in several places, but I of course did not fire, although they were within a certain shot. I saw no elephants.
Everyone saw plenty of deer, but V. Baker was the one lucky individual in meeting with elephants. He came upon a fine herd, but they winded him and escaped. There was evidently plenty of game, but V. B. having fired at the elephants, we knew that this part of the country was disturbed; we therefore had no hesitation in discharging all the guns and having them well cleaned for the next morning, when we proposed to move the tent a couple of miles farther off.
NOV. 23.--A most unfortunate day, proving the disadvantage of being ignorant of the ground. Although I knew the whole country by one route, from Minneria to the north of the Veddah country, we had now diverged from that route to visit this particular spot, which I had never before shot over. We passed on through beautiful open country interspersed with clumps of jungle, but without one large tree that would shade the tent.
A single-roofed tent exposed to the sun is perfectly unbearable, and we continued to push on in the hope of finding a tree of sufficient size to afford shelter.
Some miles were passed; fresh tracks of elephants and all kinds of game were very numerous, and the country was perfection for shooting.
At length the open plains became more contracted, and the patches of jungle larger and more frequent. By degrees the open ground ceased altogether, and we found ourselves in a narrow path of deep mud passing through impenetrable thorny jungle. Nevertheless our guide insisted upon pushing on to a place which he compared to that which we had unfortunately left behind us. Instead of going two miles, as we had originally intended, we had already ridden sixteen at the least, and still the headman persisted in pushing on. No coolies were up; the tents and baggage were far behind; we had nothing to eat; we had left the fine open country, which was full of game, miles behind us, and we were in a close jungle country, where a rifle was not worth a bodkin. It was too annoying. I voted for turning back to the lovely hunting-ground that we had deserted; but after a long consultation, we came to the conclusion that every day was of such importance to V. Baker that we could not afford to retrace a single step.
Thus all this beautiful country, abounding with every kind of game, was actually passed over without firing a single shot.
I killed a few couple of snipe in a neighbouring swamp to pass the time until the coolies arrived with the baggage; they were not up until four o'clock P.M., therefore the whole day was wasted, and we were obliged to sleep here.
Nov. 24--This being Sunday, the guns were at rest. The whole of this country was dense chenar jungle; we therefore pushed on, and, after a ride of fourteen miles, we arrived at the Rhatamahatmeya's residence at Doolana. He insisted upon our taking breakfast with him, and he accordingly commenced his preparations. Borrowing one of our hunting-knives, two of his men gave chase to a kid and cut its head off. Half an hour afterwards we were eating it in various forms, all of which were excellent.
We had thus travelled over forty-four miles of country from Minneria without killing a single head of game. Had we remained a week in the district through which we had passed so rapidly, we must have had most excellent sport. All this was the effect of being hurried for time.
In the neighbourhood of Doolana I had killed many elephants some years ago, and I have no doubt we could have had good sport at this time; but V. Baker's leave was so fast expiring, and the natives' accounts of the distance through the Veddah country were so vague, that we had no choice except to push straight through as fast as we could travel, until we should arrive on the Batticaloa path.
We took leave of our friend the Rhatamahatmeya; he had provided us with good trackers, who were to accompany us through the Veddah country to the 'Park'; but I now began to have my doubts as to their knowledge of the ground. However, we started, and after skirting the Doolana tank for some distance, we rode five miles through fine forest, and then arrived on the banks of the Mahawelle river. The stream teas at this time very rapid, and was a quarter of a mile in width, rolling along between its steep banks through a forest of magnificent trees. Some hours were consumed in transporting the coolies and baggage across the river, as the canoe belonging to the village of Monampitya, on the opposite bank, would only hold four coolies and their loads at one voyage.
We swam the horses across, and attending carefully to the safety of the cook before any other individual, we breakfasted on the opposite bank, while the coolies were crossing the river.
After breakfast, a grave question arose, viz., which way were we to go? The trackers that the headman had given us, now confessed that they did not know an inch of the Veddah country, into which we had arrived by crossing the river, and they refused to go a step farther. Here, was a 'regular fix!' as the Americans would express it.
The village of Monampitya consists of about six small huts; and we now found that there was no other village within forty miles in the direction that we wished to steer. Not a soul could we obtain as a guide--no offer of reward would induce a man to start, as they declared that no one knew the country, and that the distance was so great that the people would be starved, as they could get nothing to eat. We looked hopelessly at the country before us. We had a compass, certainly, which might be useful enough on a desert or a prairie, but in a jungle country it was of little value.
Just as we were in the greatest despair, and we were gazing wistfully in the direction which the needle pointed out as the position of the 'Park,' now separated from us by an untravelled district of an unknown distance, we saw two figures with bows and arrows coming from the jungle. One of these creatures bolted back again into the bushes the moment he perceived us; the other one had a fish in his hand, of about four pounds weight, which he had shot with his bow and arrow; while he was hesitating whether he should run or stand still, we caught him.
Of all the ugly little devils I ever saw, he was superlative. He squinted terribly; his hair was greyish and matted with filth; he was certainly not more than four feet and a half high, and he carried a bow two feet longer than himself. He could speak no language but his own, which throughout the Veddah country is much the same, intermixed with so many words resembling Cingalese that a native can generally understand their meaning. By proper management, and some little presents of rice and tobacco, we got the animal into a good humour, and we gathered the following in formation.
He knew nothing of any place except the northern portion of the Veddah country. This was his world; but his knowledge of it was extremely limited, as he could not undertake to guide us farther than Oomanoo, a Veddah village, which he described as three days' journey from where we then stood. We made him point out the direction in which it lay. This he did, after looking for some moments at the sun; and, upon comparing the position with the compass, we were glad to see it at south-south-east, being pretty close to the course that we wished to steer. From Oomanoo, he said, we could procure another Veddah to guide us still farther; but he himself knew nothing more.
Now this was all satisfactory enough so far, but I had been completely wrong in my idea of the distance from Doolana to the 'Park.' We now heard of three days' journey to Oomanoo, which was certainly some where in the very centre of the Veddah country; and our quaint little guide had never even heard of the Batticaloa road. There was no doubt, therefore, that it was a long way from Oomanoo, which village might be any distance from us, as a Veddah's description of a day's journey might vary from ten to thirty miles.
I certainly looked forward to a short allowance of food both for ourselves and coolies. We had been hurrying through the country at such a rate that we had killed no deer; we had, therefore, been living upon our tins of preserved provisions, of which we had now only four remaining.
At the village of Monampitya there was no rice procurable, as the natives lived entirely upon korrakan* (*A small seed, which they make into hard, uneatable cakes.), at which our coolies turned up their noses when I advised them to lay in a stock before starting.
There was no time to be lost, and we determined to push on as fast as the coolies could follow, as they had only two days' provisions; we had precisely the same, and those could not be days of feasting. We were, in fact, like sailors going to sea with a ship only half-victualled; and, as we followed our little guide, and lost sight of the village behind us, I foresaw that our stomachs would suffer unless game was plentiful on the path.
We passed through beautiful open country for about eight miles, during which we saw several herds of deer; but we could not get a shot. At length we pitched the tent, at four o'clock P.M., at the foot of 'Gunner's Coin,' a solitary rocky mountain of about two thousand feet in height, which rises precipitously from the level country. We then divided into two parties--W. and P., and V. B. and I. We strolled off with our guns in different directions.
The country was perfectly level, being a succession of glades of fine low grass divided into a thousand natural paddocks by belts of jungle.
We were afraid to stroll more than a mile from the tent, lest we should lose our way; and we took a good survey of the most prominent points of the mountain, that we might know our direction by their position.
After an hour's walk, and just as the sun was setting, a sudden crash in a jungle a few yards from us brought the rifles upon full cock. The next moment out came an elephant's head, and I knocked him over by a front shot. He had held his head in such a peculiar position that a ball could not reach the brain, and he immediately re covered himself, and, wheeling suddenly round, he retreated into the jungle, through which we could not follow.
We continued to stroll on from glade to glade, expecting to find him; and, in about a quarter of an hour, we heard the trumpet of an elephant. Fully convinced that this was the wounded animal, we pushed on towards the spot; but, on turning a corner of the jungle, we came suddenly upon a herd of seven of the largest elephants that I ever saw together; they must have been all bulls. Unfortunately, they had our wind, and, being close to the edge of a thick thorny jungle, they disappeared like magic. We gave chase for a short distance, but were soon stopped by the thorns. We had no chance with them.
It was now dusk, and we therefore hastened towards the tent, seeing three herds of deer and one of hogs on our way; but it was too dark to get a shot. The deer were barking in every direction, and the country was evidently alive with game.
On arrival at the tent, we found that W. and P. had met with no better luck than ourselves. Two of. our tins of provisions were consumed at dinner, leaving us only two remaining. Not a moment was to be lost in pushing forward; and we determined upon a long march on the following day.
Nov. 25.--Sunrise saw us in the saddles. The coolies, with the tents and baggage, kept close up with the horses, being afraid to lag behind, as there was not a semblance of a path, and we depended entirely upon our small guide, who appeared to have an intimate knowledge of the whole country. The little Veddah trotted along through the winding glades; and we travelled for about five miles without a word being spoken by one of the party, as we were in hopes of coming upon deer. Unfortunately, we were travelling down wind; we accordingly did not see a single head of game, as they of course winded us long before we came in view.
We had ridden about eight miles, when we suddenly came upon the fresh tracks of elephants, and, immediately dismounting, we began to track up. The ground being very dry, and the grass short and parched, the tracks were very indistinct, and it was tedious work. We had followed for about half a mile through alternate glades and belts of jungle, when we suddenly spied a Veddah hiding behind a tree about sixty yards from us. The moment that he saw he was discovered, he set off at full speed, but two of our coolies, who acted as gunbearers, started after him. These fellows were splendid runners, and, after a fine course, they ran him down; but when caught, instead of expressing any fear, he seemed to think it a good joke. He was a rather short but stout-built fellow, and he was immediately recognised by our little guide, as one of the best hunters among the Northern Veddahs. He soon understood our object; and, putting down his bow and arrows and a little pipkin of sour curd (his sole provision on his hunting trip), he started at once upon the track.
Without any exception he was the best tracker I have ever seen: although the ground was as hard as a stone, and the footprints constantly invisible, he went like a hound upon a scent, at a pace that kept us in an occasional jog-trot. After half an hour's tracking, and doubling backward and forward in thick jungle, we came up with three elephants. V. B. killed one, and I killed another at the same moment. V. B. also fired at the third; but, instead of falling, he rushed towards us, and I killed him with my remaining barrel, Palliser joining in the shot. They were all killed in about three seconds. The remaining portion of the herd were at a distance, and we heard them crashing through the thick jungle. We followed them for about a mile, but they had evidently gone off to some other country. The jungle was very thick, and we had a long journey to accomplish; we therefore returned to the horses and rode on, our party being now increased by the Veddah tracker.
After having ridden about twenty miles, the last tight of which had been through alternate forest and jungle, we arrived at a small plain of rich grass of about a hundred acres: this was surrounded by forest. Unfortunately, the nights were not moonlight, or we could have killed a deer, as they came out in immense herds just at dusk. We luckily bagged a good supply of snipe, upon which we dined, and we reserved our tins. of meat for some more urgent occasion.
Nov. 26.--All vestiges of open country had long ceased. We now rode for seventeen miles through magnificent forest, containing the most stupendous banian trees that I have ever beheld. The ebony trees were also very numerous, and grew to an immense size. This forest was perfectly open. There was not a sign of either underwood or grass beneath the trees, and no track was discernible beyond the notches in the trees made at some former time by the Veddah's axe. In one part of this forest a rocky mountain appeared at some period to have burst into fragments; and for the distance of about a mile it formed the apparent ruins of a city of giants. Rocks as large as churches lay piled one upon the other. forming long dark alleys and caves that would have housed some hundreds of men.
The effect was perfectly fairylike, as the faint silver light of the sun, mellowed by the screen of tree tops, half-lighted up ,these silent caves. The giant stems of the trees sprang like tall columns from the foundations of the rocks that shadowed them with their dense foliage. Two or three families of 'Cyclops' would not have been out of place in this spot; they were just the class of people that one would expect to meet.
Late in the afternoon we arrived at the long-talked-of village of Oomanoo, about eighteen miles from our last encampment. It was a squalid, miserable place, of course, and nothing was obtainable. Our coolies had not tasted food since the preceding evening; but, by good luck, we met a travelling Moorman, who had just arrived at the village with a little rice to exchange with the Veddahs for dried venison. As the villagers did not happen to have any meat to barter, we purchased all the rice at an exorbitant price; but it was only sufficient for half a meal for each servant and coolie, when equally divided.
Fortunately, we killed four snipe and two doves these were added to our last two tins of provisions, which were 'hotch potch,' and stewed altogether. This made a good dinner. We had now nothing left but our biscuits and groceries. All our hams and preserved meats were gone, and we only had one meal on that day.
Nov. 27.--Our horses had eaten nothing but grass for many days; this, however, was excellent, and old Jack looked fat, and was as hardy as ever. We now discharged our Veddah guides, and took on others from Oomanoo. These men told us that we were only four miles from the Batticaloa road, and with great glee we started at break of day, determined to breakfast on arrival at the road.
The old adage of 'Many a slip `twixt the cup and the lip' was here fully exemplified. Four miles! We rode twenty-five miles without drawing the rein once! and at length we then did reach the road; that is to say, a narrow track of grass, which is the track to Batticaloa for which we had been steering during our journey. A native but in this wilderness rendered the place worthy of a name; it is therefore known upon the Government maps as 'Pyeley.'
From this place we were directed on to 'Curhellulai,' a village represented to us as a small London, abounding with every luxury. We obtained a guide and started, as they assured us it was only two miles distant.
After riding three miles through a country of open glades and thick jungle, the same guide who had at first told us it was two miles from 'Pyeley,' now said it was only 'three miles farther on.' We knew these fellows' ideas of distance too well to proceed any farther. We had quitted the Batticaloa track, and we immediately dismounted, unsaddled, and turned the horses loose upon the grass.
Having had only one meal the day before, and no breakfast this morning, we looked forward with impatience to the arrival of the coolies, although I confess I did not expect them, as they were too weak from want of food to travel far. They had only half a meal the day before, and nothing at all the day before that.
We had halted in a grassy glade surrounded by thick jungle. There were numerous fresh tracks of deer and elk, but the animals themselves would not show.
As evening approached, we collected a quantity of dead timber and lighted a good fire, before which we piled the rifles, three and three, about ten feet apart. Across these we laid a pole, and then piled branches from the ground to the pole in a horizontal position. This made a shed to protect us from the dew, and, with our saddles for pillows, we all lay down together and slept soundly till morning.
Nov. 28.--We woke hungry, and accordingly tightened our belts by two or three holes. V. Baker had to be in Kandy by the evening of the 30th, and he was now determined to push on. His pony had thrown all his shoes, and had eaten nothing but grass for many days.
I knew our position well, as I had been lost near this spot about two years ago. We were fifty-three miles from Badulla. Nevertheless, V. B. started off, and arrived in Badulla that evening. On the same pony he pushed on to Newera Ellia, thirty-six miles, the next day; and then taking a fresh horse, he rode into Kandy, forty-seven miles, arriving in good time on the evening of the 30th November.
Having parted with V. B., we saddled and mounted, and, following our guide through a forest-path, we arrived at Curhellulai after a ride of four miles. Nothing could exceed the wretchedness of this place, from which we had been led to expect so much. We could not even procure a grain of rice from the few small huts which composed the village. The headman, who himself looked half-starved, made some cakes of korrakan; but as they appeared to be composed of two parts of sand, one of dirt and one of grain, I preferred a prolonged abstinence to such filth. The abject poverty of the whole of this country is beyond description.
Our coolies arrived at eight A.M., faint and tired; they no longer turned up their noses at korrakan, as they did at Monampitya, but they filled themselves almost to bursting.
I started off V. B.'s coolies after him, also eight men whose loads had been consumed, and, with a diminished party, we started for Bibille, which the natives assured us was only nineteen miles from this spot. For once they were about correct in their ideas of distance. The beautiful 'Park' country commenced about four miles from Curhellulai, and, after a lovely ride through this scenery for sixteen miles, we arrived at the luxurious and pretty village of Bibille, which had so often been my quarters.
We had ridden a hundred and forty miles from Minneria, through a country abounding with game of all kinds, sixty miles of which had never been shot over, and yet the whole bag in this lovely country consisted of only three elephants. So much for hurrying through our ground. If we had remained for a week at the foot of the Gunner's Coin we could have obtained supplies of all kinds from Doolana, and we should have enjoyed excellent sport through the whole country. Our total bag was now wretchedly small, considering the quantity of ground that we had passed over. We had killed nine elephants and two deer. V. Baker had a miserable time of it, having only killed two elephants when he was obliged to return. The trip might, in fact, be said to commence from Bibille.
This is a very pretty, civilized village, in the midst of a wild country. It is the residence of a Rhatamahatmeya, and he and his family were well known to me. They were perfectly astonished when they heard by which route we had arrived, and upon hearing of our forty-eight hours of fasting, they lost no time in preparing dinner. We were now in a land of plenty, and we shortly fell to at a glorious dinner of fowls in various shapes, curries, good coffee, rice cakes. plantains, and sweet potatoes. After our recent abstinence and poor fare, it seemed a perfect banquet. Nov. 29.--The coolies did not arrive till early this morning; they were soon hard at work at curry and rice, and, after a few hours of rest, we packed up and started for a spot in the 'Park' (upon which I had often encamped) about ten miles from Bibille.
The horses had enjoyed their paddy as much as we had relished our change of diet, and the coolies were perfectly refreshed. I sent orders to Kotoboya (about twenty miles from Bibille) for several bullock-loads of paddy and rice to meet us at an appointed spot, and with a good supply of fowls and rice, &c., for the present, we arrived at our place of encampment at three P.M., after a delightful ride.
The grass was beautifully green; a few large trees shaded the tents, which were pitched near a stream, and the undulations of the ground, interspersed with clumps of trees and ornamented by rocky mountains, formed a most lovely scene. We sent a messenger to Nielgalla for Banda, and another to Dimbooldene for old Medima and the trackers, with orders to meet us at our present encampment. We then took our rifles and strolled out to get a deer. We shortly found a herd, and Wortley got a shot at about sixty yards, and killed a doe. We could have killed other deer shortly afterwards, but we did not wish to disturb the country by firing unnecessary shots, as we had observed fresh tracks of elephants.
We carried the deer to the tent, and rejoiced our coolies with the sight of venison; the doe was soon divided among them, one haunch only being reserved for our own use.
Nov. 30.--This, being Sunday, was a day of rest for man and beast after our recent wanderings, and we patiently awaited the arrival of Banda and the trackers. The guns were all in beautiful order, and stood arranged against a temporary rack, in readiness for the anticipated sport on the following day.
Banda and the trackers arrived in the afternoon. His accounts were very favourable as to the number of elephants, and we soon laid down a plan for beating the 'Park' in a systematic manner.
Upon this arrangement the duration of sport in this country materially depends. If the shooting is conducted thoughtlessly here and there, without reference to the localities, the whole 'Park' becomes alarmed at once, and the elephants quit the open country and retire to the dense chenar jungles.
I proposed that we should commence shooting at our present encampment, then beat towards the Cave, shoot over that country towards Pattapalaar, from thence to cross the river and make a circuit of the whole of that portion of the 'Park,' and finish off in the environs of Nielgalla.
Banda approved of this plan, as we should then be driving the borders of the `Park,' instead of commencing in the centre.
Dec. 1.--The scouts were sent out at daybreak. At two o'clock P.M. they returned: they had found elephants, but they were four miles from the tent, and two men had been left to watch them.
Upon questioning them as to their position, we discovered that they were in total ignorance of the number in the herd, as they had merely heard them roaring in the distance. They could not approach nearer, as a notoriously vicious rogue elephant was consorting with the herd. This elephant was well known to the natives from a peculiarity in having only one tusk, which was about eighteen inches long.
In November and December elephant-shooting requires more than ordinary caution at the 'Park,' as the rogue elephants, who are always bulls, are in the habit of attending upon the herds. The danger lies in their cunning. They are seldom seen in the herd itself, but they are generally within a few hundred paces; and just as the guns may have been discharged at the herd, the rogue will, perhaps, appear in full charge from his ambush. This is exquisitely dangerous, and is the manner in which I was caught near this spot in 1850.
Banda was very anxious that this rogue should be killed before we attacked the herd, and he begged me to give him a shoulder-shot with the four-ounce rifle, while Wortley and Palliser were to fire at his head! A shot through the shoulder with the heavy rifle would be certain death, although he might not drop immediately; but the object of the natives was simply to get him killed, on account of his mischievous habits.
We therefore agreed to make our first attack upon the rogue: if we should kill him on the spot, so much the better; if not, we knew that a four-ounce ball through his lungs would kill him eventually, and, at all events, he would not be in a humour to interrupt our pursuit of the herd, which we were to push for the moment we had put the rogue out of the way.
These arrangements being made, we started. After a ride of about four miles through beautiful country, we saw a man in the distance, who was beckoning to us. This was one of the watchers, who pointed to a jungle into which the elephant had that moment entered. From the extreme caution of the trackers, I could see that this rogue was worthy of his name.
The jungle into which he had entered was a long but narrow belt, about a hundred yards in width; it was tolerably good, but still it was so close that we could not see more than six paces in advance. I fully expected that he was lying in wait for us, and would charge when least expected. We therefore cautiously entered the jungle, and, sending Banda on in advance, with instructions to retreat upon the guns if charged, we followed him at about twenty paces distance.
Banda immediately untied his long hair, which fell to his hips, and divesting himself of all clothing except a cloth round his loins, he crept on in advance as stealthily as a cat. So noiselessly did he move that we presently saw him gliding back to us without a sound. He whispered that he had found the elephant, who was standing on the patina, a few yards beyond the jungle. We immediately advanced, and upon emerging from the jungle we saw him within thirty paces on our right, standing with his broadside exposed. Crack went the four-ounce through his shoulder, and the three-ounce and No. 8, with a similar good intention, into his head. Nevertheless he did not fall, but started off at a great pace, though stumbling nearly on his knees, his head and tail both hanging down, his trunk hanging listlessly upon the ground; and his ears, instead of being cocked, were pressed tightly back against his neck. He did not look much like a rogue at that moment, with upwards of half a pound of lead in his carcass. Still we could not get another shot at him before he reached a jungle about seventy paces distant; and here we stopped to load before we followed him, thinking that he was in dense chenar. This was a great mistake, for, on following him a minute later, we found the jungle was perfectly open, being merely a fringe of forest on the banks of a broad river; in crossing this we must have killed him had we not stopped to load.
On the sandy bed of this river we found the fresh tracks of several elephants, who had evidently, only just retreated, being disturbed by the shots fired; these were a portion of the herd; and the old rogue having got his quietus, we pushed on as fast as we could upon the tracks through fine open forest.
For about an hour we pressed on through forests, plains, rivers, and thick jungles alternately, till at length upon arriving on some rising ground, we heard the trumpet of an elephant.
It was fine country, but overgrown with lemon grass ten feet high. Clumps of trees were scattered here and there among numerous small dells. Exactly opposite lay several large masses of rock, shaded by a few trees, and on our left lay a small hollow of high lemon grass, bordered by jungle.
In this hollow we counted seven elephants: their heads and backs were just discernible above the grass, as we looked over them from some rising ground at about seventy yards distance. Three more elephants were among the rocks, browsing upon the long grass.
We now heard unmistakable sounds of a large number of elephants in the jungle below us, from which the seven elephants in the hollow had only just emerged, and we quietly waited for the appearance of the whole herd, this being their usual feeding-time.
One by one they majestically stalked from the jungle. We were speculating on the probable number of this large herd, when one of them suddenly winded us, and, with magical quickness, they all wheeled round and rushed back into the jungle.
Calling upon my little troop of gun-bearers to keep close up, away we dashed after them at full speed; down the steep hollow and through the high lemon grass, now trampled into lanes by the retreating elephants.
In one instant the jungle seemed alive; there were upwards of fifty elephants in the herd. The trumpets rang through the forest, the young trees and underwood crashed in all directions with an overpowering noise, as this mighty herd, bearing everything before it, crashed in one united troop through the jungle.
At the extreme end of the grassy hollow there was a snug corner formed by an angle in the jungle. A glade of fine short turf stretched for a small distance into the forest, and, as the herd seemed to be bearing down in this direction, Wortley and I posted off as hard as we could go, hoping to intercept them if they crossed the glade. We arrived there in a few moments, and taking our position on this fine level sward, about ten paces from the forest, we awaited the apparently irresistible storm that was bursting exactly upon us.
No pen, nor tongue can describe the magnificence of the scene; the tremendous roaring of the herd, mingled with the shrill screams of other elephants; the bursting stems of the broken trees; the rushing sound of the leafy branches as though a tempest were howling through them--all this concentrating with great rapidity upon the very spot upon which we were standing
This was an exciting moment, especially to nerves unaccustomed to the sport.
The whole edge of the forest was faced with a dense network of creepers; from the highest tree-tops to the ground they formed a leafy screen like a green curtain, which clothed the forest as ivy covers the walls of a house. Behind this opaque mass the great actors in the scene were at work, and the whole body would evidently in a few seconds burst through this leafy veil and be right upon us.
On they came, the forest trembling with the onset. The leafy curtain burst into tatters; the jungle ropes and snaky stems, tearing the branches from the treetops, were in a few moments heaped in a tangled and confused ruin. One dense mass of elephants' heads, in full career, presented themselves through the shattered barrier of creepers.
Running towards them with a loud holloa, they were suddenly checked by our unexpected apparition, but the confused mass of elephants made the shooting very difficult. Two elephants rushed out to cross the little nook within four yards of me, and I killed both by a right and left shot. Wallace immediately pushed a spare rifle into my hand, just as a large elephant, meaning mischief, came straight towards me, with ears cocked, from the now staggered body of the herd. I killed her with the front shot, both barrels having gone off at once, the heavy charge of powder in the right-hand barrel having started the trigger of the left barrel by the concussion. Round wheeled the herd, leaving their three leaders dead; and now the race began.
It was a splendid forest, and the elephants rushed off at about ten miles an hour, in such a compact troop that their sterns formed a living barrier, and not a head could be seen. At length, after a burst of about two hundred yards, the deep and dry bed of a torrent formed a trench about ten feet in width.
Not hesitating at this obstacle, down went the herd without missing a step; the banks crumbled and half-filled the trench as the leaders scrambled across, and the main body rushed after them at an extraordinary pace.
I killed a large elephant in the act of crossing; he rolled into the trench, but struggling to rise, I gave him the other barrel in the nape of the neck, which, breaking his spine, extinguished him. He made a noble bridge, and, jumping upon his carcass, we cleared the ravine, and again the chase continued, although the herd had now gained about thirty paces.
Upon a fine meadow of grass, about four feet high, the herd now rushed along in a compact mass extending in a broad line of massive hind-quarters over a surface of half an acre. This space formed a complete street in their wake, as they levelled everything before them; and the high grass stood up on either side like a wail.
Along this level road we ran at full speed, and by great exertions managed to keep within twenty yards of the game. Full a quarter of a mile was passed at this pace without a shot being fired. At length one elephant turned and faced about exactly in front of me. My three double-barrelled rifles were now all empty, and I was carrying the little No. 16 gun. I killed him with the right-hand barrel, but I lost ground by stopping to fire.
A jungle lay about two hundred yards in front of the herd, and they increased their speed to arrive at this place of refuge.
Giving the little gun, with one barrel still loaded, to Wallace, I took the four-ounce rifle in exchange, as I knew I could not close up with the herd before they reached the jungle, and a long shot would be my last chance. With this heavy gun (21 lbs.) I had hard work to keep my distance, which was about forty yards from the herd.
Palliser and Wortley were before me, and within twenty yards of the elephants. They neared the jungle; I therefore ran off to my left as fast as I could go, so as to ensure a side-shot. I was just in time to command their flank as the herd reached the jungle. A narrow river, with steep banks of twenty feet in height, bordered the edge, and I got a shot at a large elephant just as he arrived upon the brink of the chasm. He was fifty paces off, but I hit him in the temple with the four-ounce, and rolled him down the precipitous bank into the river. Here he lay groaning; so, taking the little gun, with one barrel still loaded, I extinguished him from the top of the bank.
Oh, for half-a-dozen loaded guns! I was now unloaded, and the fun began in real earnest. The herd pushed for a particular passage down the steep bank. It was like a rush at the door of the Opera; they jostled each other in a confused melee, and crossed the river with the greatest difficulty. By some bad luck Palliser and Wortley only killed one as the herd was crossing the river, but they immediately disappeared in pursuit, as the elephants, having effected their passage, retreated in thick jungle on the other side.
I was obliged to halt to load, which I did as quickly as possible. While I was ramming the balls down, I heard several shots fired in quick succession, and when loaded, I ran on with my gun-bearers towards the spot.
It was bad, thorny jungle, interspersed with numerous small glades of fine turf.
Upon arriving in one of these glades, about a quarter of a mile beyond the river, I saw a crowd of gun-bearers standing around some person lying upon the ground. Neither Palliser nor Wortley were to be seen, and for an instant a chill ran through me, as I felt convinced that some accident had happened. 'Where are masters?' I shouted to the crowd of men, and the next moment I was quite relieved by seeing only a coolie lying on the ground. On examining the man I found he was more frightened than hurt, although he was cut in several places and much bruised.
Upon giving a shout, Palliser and Wortley returned to the spot. They now explained the mystery. They were running on the fresh tracks in this glade, no elephants being then in sight, when they suddenly heard a rush in the jungle, and in another instant two elephants charged out upon them. Wortley and Palliser both fired, but without effect--the gun-bearers bolted,--an elephant knocked one man over, and tried to butt him against the ground; but two more shots from both Palliser and Wortley turned him; they were immediately obliged to run in their turn, as the other elephant charged, and just grazed Palliser with his trunk behind. Fortunately, they doubled short round, instead of continuing a straight course, and the elephants turned into the jungle. They followed them for some little distance, but the jungles were so bad that there was no chance, and they had returned when I had shouted.
The man who was hurt was obliged to be supported home. Two of the guns were lost, which the gun-bearers in their fright had thrown away. After a long search we found them lying in the high bushes.
We now returned along the line of hunt to cut off the elephants' tails. I had fired at six, all of which were bagged; these we accordingly found in their various positions. One of them was a very large female, with her udder full of milk. Being very thirsty, both Wortley and I took a long pull at this, to the evident disgust of the natives. It was very good, being exactly like cow's milk. This was the elephant that I had killed doubly by the left-hand barrel exploding by accident, and the two balls were only a few inches apart in the forehead.
There had been very bad luck with this herd; the only dead elephant, in addition to these six, was that which Wortley and Palliser had both fired at in the river, and another which Palliser had knocked down in the high grass when we had just commenced the attack--at which time he had separated from us to cut off the three elephants that we had just seen among the rocks.
On arrival at the spot where the elephants had first burst from the jungle, a heavy shower came down, and the locks of the guns were immediately covered each with a large leaf, and then tied up securely with a handkerchief. A large banian tree afforded us an imaginary shelter, but we were drenched to the skin in a few seconds. In the meantime, Palliser walked through the high lemon grass to look for his dead elephant.
On arriving at the spot, instead of finding a dead elephant, he found him standing up, and only just recovered from the stunning effect of his wound.
The elephant charged him immediately; and Palliser, having the lock of his gun tied up, was perfectly defenceless, and he was obliged to run as hard as his long legs would carry him.
`Look out! look out! an elephant's coming! Look out!'
This we heard shouted as we were standing beneath the tree, and the next moment we saw Palliser's tall form of six feet four come flying through the high grass. Luckily the elephant lost him, and turned off in some other direction. If he had continued the chase, he would have made a fine diversion, as the locks were so tightly tied up that we could not have got a gun ready for some time. In a few minutes the shower cleared off, and on examining the place where the elephant had fallen, we found a large pool of clotted blood
We now rode homeward, but we had not gone a quarter of a mile before we heard an elephant roaring loudly in a jungle close to as. Thinking that it was the wounded brute who had just hunted Palliser, we immediately dismounted and approached the spot. The roaring continued until we were close to it, and we then saw a young elephant standing in the bed of a river, and he it was who was making all the noise, having been separated from the herd in the late melee. Wortley shot him, this making eight killed.
When within a mile of the tent, as we were riding along a path through a thick thorny jungle, an immense rogue elephant stalked across our road. I fired the four-ounce through his shoulder, to the great satisfaction of Banda and the natives, although we never had a chance of proving what the effect had been, as he was soon lost in the thick jungle. A short time after this we reached the tent, having had the perfection of sport in elephant-shooting, although luck had been against us in making a large bag.
Dec. 2.--The scouts having been sent out at daybreak, returned early, having found another herd of elephants. On our way to the spot, Palliser fired at a rogue, but without effect.
On arrival at the jungle in which the elephants were reported to be, we heard from the watchers that a rogue was located in the same jungle, in attendance upon the herd. This was now a regular thing to expect, and compelled us to be exceedingly cautious.
Just as we were stalking through the jungle on the track of the herd, we came upon the rogue himself. Wortley fired at him, but without effect, and unfortunately the shot frightened the herd, which was not a quarter of a mile distant, and the elephants retreated to a large tract of thick jungle country, where pursuit was impracticable. Our party was too large for shooting 'rogues' with any degree of success. These brutes, being always on the alert, require the most careful stalking. There is only one way to kill them with any certainty. Two persons, at most, to attack; each person to be accompanied by only one gunbearer, who should carry two spare guns. One good tracker should lead this party of five people in single file. With great caution and silence, being well to leeward of the elephants, he can thus generally be approached till within twelve paces, and he is then killed by one shot before he knows that danger is near. What with our gun-bearers, trackers, watchers and ourselves, we were a party of sixteen persons; it was therefore impossible to get near a rogue unperceived.
On the way to the tent I got a shot at a deer at full gallop on 'old Jack.' It was a doe, who bounded over the plain at a speed that soon out-distanced my horse, and I took a flying shot from the saddle with one of my No. 10 rifles. I did not get the deer, although she was badly wounded, as we followed the blood-tracks for some distance through thick jungle without success.
This was altogether a blank day; and having thoroughly disturbed this part of the 'Park,' we determined to up stick and move our quarters on the following day towards the 'Cave,' according to the plan that we had agreed upon for beating the country.
Dec. 3.--With the cook and the canteen in company we started at break of day, leaving the servants to pack up and bring the coolies and tents after us. By this arrangement we were sure of our breakfast wherever we went, and we were free from the noise of our followers, whose scent alone was enough to alarm miles of country down wind. We had our guns all loaded, and carried by our respective gun-bearers close to the horses, and, with Banda, old Medima, and a couple of trackers, we were ready for anything.
We had ridden about six miles when we suddenly came upon fresh elephant-tracks in a grassy hollow, surrounded by low rocky hills. We immediately sent the men off upon the tracks, while we waited upon a high plateau of rock for their return. They came back in about a quarter of an hour, having found the elephants within half a mile.
They were in high lemon grass, and upon arrival at the spot we could distinguish nothing, as the grass rose some feet above our heads. It was like shooting in the dark, and we ascended some rising ground to improve our position. Upon arrival on this spot we looked over an undulating sea of this grass, interspersed with rocky hills and small patches of forest. Across a valley we now distinguished the herd, much scattered, going off in all directions. They had winded us, and left us but a poor chance of catching them in such ground. Of course we lost no time in giving chase. The sun was intensely hot--not a breath of air was stirring, and the heat in the close, parched grass was overpowering. With the length of start that the elephants had got, we were obliged to follow at our best pace, which, over such tangled ground, was very fatiguing; fortunately, however, the elephants had not yet seen us, and they had accordingly halted now and then, instead of going straight off.
There were only four elephants together, and, by a great chance we came up with them just as they were entering a jungle. I got a shot at the last elephant and killed him, but the others put on more steam, and all separated, fairly beating us, as we were almost used up by the heat.
This was very bad luck, and we returned in despair of finding the scattered herd. We had proceeded some distance through the high grass, having just descended a steep, rocky hill, when we suddenly observed two elephants approaching along the side of the very hill that we had just left. Had we remained in the centre of the hill, we should have met them as they advanced. One was a large female, and the other was most probably her calf, being little more than half-grown.
It was a beautiful sight to see the caution with which they advanced, and we lay down to watch them without being seen. They were about 200 yards from us, and, as they slowly advanced along the steep hillside, they occasionally halted, and, with their trunks thrown up in the air, they endeavoured, but in vain, to discover the enemy that had so recently disturbed them. We had the wind all right, and we now crept softly up the hill, so as to meet them at right angles. The hillside was a mass of large rocks overgrown and concealed by the high lemon grass, and it was difficult to move without making a noise, or falling into the cavities between the rocks.
I happened to be at the head of our line, and, long before I expected the arrival of the elephants, I heard a rustling in the grass, and the next moment I saw the large female passing exactly opposite me, within five or six paces. I was on half-cock at the time, as the ground was dangerous to pass over with a gun on full cock, but I was just quick enough to knock her over before the high grass should conceal her at another step. She fell in a small chasm, nearly upsetting the young elephant, who was close behind her. Wortley killed him, while I took the last kick out of the old one by another shot, as she was still moving.
We had thus only killed three elephants out of the herd, and, without seeing more, we returned to the horses.
On finding them, we proceeded on our road towards the `Cave,' but had not ridden above two miles farther when we again came upon fresh tracks of elephants. Sending on our trackers like hounds upon their path, we sat down and breakfasted under a tree. We had hardly finished the last cup of coffee when the trackers returned, having found another herd. They were not more than half a mile distant, and they were reported to be in open forest. on the banks of a deep and broad river.
Our party was altogether too large for elephant shooting, as we never could get close up to them without being discovered. .As usual, they winded us before we got near them, but by quick running we overtook them just as they arrived on the banks of the river and took to water. Wortley knocked over one fellow just as he thought he was safe in running along the bottom of a deep gully; I floored his companion at the same moment, thus choking up the gully, and six elephants closely packed together forded the deep stream. The tops of their backs and heads were alone above water. I fired the four-ounce into the nape of one elephant's neck as the herd crossed, and he immediately turned over and lay foundered in the middle of the river, which was sixty or seventy yards across.
In the mean time Palliser and Wortley kept up a regular volley, but no effects could be observed until the herd reached and began to ascend the steep bank on the opposite side. I had reloaded the four-ounce, and the heavy battery now began to open a concert with the general volley, as the herd scrambled up the precipitous bank. Several elephants fell, but recovered themselves and disappeared. At length the volley ceased, and two were seen, one dead on the top of the bank, and the other still struggling in the shallow water at the foot. Once more a general battery opened; and he was extinguished. Five were killed; and if noise and smoke add to the fun, there was certainly plenty of it. Wortley and my man Wallace now swam across the river and cut off the elephants' tails.
We returned to the horses, and moved to the 'Cave,' meeting with no farther incidents that day.
Dec. 4--We saw nothing but deer the whole of the day, and they were so wild that we could not get a shot. It was therefore a blank.
Dec. 5--We started early, and for five miles we tracked a large herd of elephants through fine open country, until we were at length stopped by impenetrable jungle of immense extent, forming the confines of the 'Park' on this side. We therefore reluctantly left the tracks, and directed our course towards Pattapalaar, about twelve miles distant.
We had passed over a lovely country, and were within a mile of our proposed resting-place, when Banda, who happened to be a hundred yards in advance, came quickly back, saying that he saw a rogue elephant feeding on the patina not far from us. Wortley had gone in another direction with old Medima a few minutes previous to look for a deer; and Palliser and I resolved to stalk him carefully. We therefore left all the people behind, except two gun-bearers, each of whom carried one of my double-barrelled rifles. I carried my four-ounce, and Palliser took the two-ounce.
It was most difficult ground for stalking, being entirely open, on a spot which had been high lemon grass but recently burnt, the long reeds in many places still remaining.
We could not get nearer than fifty yards in such ground, and I accordingly tried a shot at his temple with the four-ounce. The long unburnt stalks of the lemon grass waving to and fro before the sights of my rifle so bothered me that I missed the fatal spot, and fired about two inches too high. Stumbling only for a moment from the blow, he rushed down hill towards a jungle, but at the same instant Palliser made a capital shot with the long two-ounce and knocked him over. I never saw an elephant fall with such a crash: they generally sink gently down; but this fellow was going at such speed down hill that he fairly pitched upon his head.
We arrived at our resting-place, and having erected the tents, we gave them up to Banda and the servants, while we took possession of a large 'amblam', or open building, massively built by the late Major Rodgers, which is about twenty-five feet square. This we arranged in a most comfortable manner, and here we determined to remain for some days, while we beat the whole country thoroughly.
Dec. 6.-We started at our usual early hour with Banda and the trackers, and after a walk of about a mile, we found fresh tracks and followed up. Crossing a small river upon the track, we entered a fine open forest, through which the herd had only just passed, and upon following them for about a quarter of a mile, we came to a barrier of dense chenar jungle, into which the elephants had retreated.
There was a rogue with this herd, and we were rather doubtful of his position. We stood in the open forest, within a few feet of the thick jungle, to the edge of which the elephants were so close that we could hear their deep breathing; and by stooping down we could distinguish the tips of their trunks and feet, although the animals themselves were invisible. We waited about half an hour in the hope that some of the elephants might again enter the open forest; at length two, neither of whom were above five feet high, came out and faced us. My dress of elastic green tights had become so browned by constant washing and exposure, that I matched exactly with the stem of a tree against which I was leaning, and one of the elephants kept advancing towards me until I could nearly touch him with my rifle; still he did not see me, and I did not wish to fire, as I should alarm the herd, which would then be lost for ever. Unfortunately, just at this moment, the other elephant saw Palliser, and the alarm was given. There was no help for it, and we were obliged to fire. Mine fell dead, but the other fell, and, recovering himself immediately, he escaped in the thick jungle.
This was bad luck, and we returned towards the 'amblam' to breakfast. On our way there we found that the 'rogue' had concealed himself in a piece of thick jungle, backed by hills of very high lemon grass. From this stronghold we tried to drive him, and posted ourselves in a fine position to receive him should he break cover; but he was too cunning to come out, and the beaters were too knowing to go in to drive such bad jungle; it was, therefore, a drawn game, and we were obliged to leave him.
When within a short distance of the 'amblam', a fine black partridge got up at about sixty yards. I was lucky enough to knock him over with a rifle, and still more fortunate in not injuring him much with the ball, which took his wing off close to his body. Half an hour afterwards he formed part of our breakfast.
During our meal a heavy shower of rain came down, and continued for about two hours.
In the afternoon we sallied out, determined to shoot at any large game that we might meet. We had lately confined our sport to elephants, as we did not wish to disturb the country by shooting at other game; but having fired in this neighbourhood during the morning, we were not very particular.
We walked through a lovely country for about five miles, seeing nothing whatever in the shape of game, not even a track, as all the old marks were washed out by the recent shower. At length we heard the barking of deer in the distance, and, upon going in that direction, we saw a fine herd of about thirty. They were standing in a beautiful meadow of about a hundred acres in extent, perfectly level, and interspersed with trees, giving it the appearance of an immense orchard rather thinly planted. One side of this plain was bounded by a rocky mountain, which rose precipitously from its base, the whole of which was covered with fine open forest.
We were just stalking towards the deer when we came upon a herd of wild buffaloes in a small hollow, within a close shot.
Palliser wanted a pair of horns, and he was just preparing for a shot, when we suddenly heard the trumpet of an elephant in the forest at the foot of the rocky mountains close to us.
Elephants, buffaloes, and deer were all within a hundred yards of each other: we almost expected to see Noah's ark on the top of the hill.
Of course the elephants claimed our immediate attention. It was Palliser's turn to lead the way; and upon entering the forest at the foot of the mountain, we found that the elephants were close to us. The forest was a perfect place for elephant-shooting. Large rocks were scattered here and there among the fine trees, free from underwood; these rocks formed alleys of various widths, and upon such ground an elephant had no chance.
There was a large rock the size of a small house lying within a few yards from the entrance of the forest. This rock was split in two pieces, forming a passage of two feet wide, but of several yards in length. As good luck would have it, an elephant stood exactly on the other side, and, Palliser leading the way, we advanced through this secure fort to the attack.
On arrival at the extreme end, Palliser fired two quick shots, and, taking a spare gun, he fired a third, before we could see what was going on, we being behind him in this narrow passage. Upon passing through we thought the fun was over. He had killed three elephants, and no more were to be seen anywhere.
Hardly had he reloaded, however, when we heard a tremendous rushing through the forest in the distance; and, upon quickly running to the spot, we came upon a whole herd of elephants, who were coming to meet us in full speed. Upon seeing us, however, they checked their speed for a moment, and Palliser and Wortley both fired, which immediately turned them. This was at rather too long a distance, and no elephants were killed.
A fine chase now commenced through the open forest, the herd rushing off pele mele. This pace soon took us out of it, and we burst upon an open plain of high lemon grass. Here I got a shot at an elephant, who separated from the main body, and I killed him.
The pace was now so great that the herd fairly distanced us in the tangled lemon grass, which, though play to them, was very fatiguing to us.
Upon reaching the top of some rising ground I noticed several elephants, at about a quarter of a mile distant upon my left in high grass, while the remaining portion of the herd (three elephants) were about two hundred yards ahead, and were stepping out at full speed straight before us.
Wortley had now had plenty of practice, and shot his elephants well. He and Palliser followed the three elephants, while I parted company and ran towards the other section of the herd, who were standing on some rising ground, and were making a great roaring.
On arriving within a hundred yards of them, I found I had caught a 'Tartar'. It is a very different thing creeping up to an unsuspecting herd and attacking them by surprise, to marching up upon sheer open ground to a hunted one with wounded elephants among them, who have regularly stood at bay. This was now the case. The ground was perfectly open, and the lemon grass was above my head: thus I could only see the exact position of the elephants every now and then, by standing upon the numerous little rocks that were scattered here and there. The elephants were standing upon some rising ground, from which they watched every movement as I approached. They continued to growl without a moment's intermission, being enraged not only from the noise of the firing, but on account of two calves which they had with them, and which I could not see in the high grass. There was a gentle rise in the ground within thirty paces of the spot upon which they stood; and to this place I directed my steps with great care, hiding in the high grass as I crept towards them.
During the whole of this time, guns were firing without intermission in the direction taken by Palliser and Wortley, thus keeping my game terribly on the qui vive. What they were firing so many shots at, I could not conceive.
At length I reached the rising ground. The moment that I was discovered by them, the two largest elephants came towards me, with their ears cocked and their trunks raised.
I waited for a second or two till they lowered their trunks, which they presently did; and taking a steady shot with one of my doubled-barrelled No. 10 rifles, I floored them both by a right and left. One, however, immediately recovered, and, with the blood streaming from his forehead, he turned and retreated with the remainder of the herd at great speed through the high grass.
The chase required great caution. However, they fortunately took to a part of the country where the grass was not higher than my shoulders, and I could thus see well over it. Through this, I managed to keep within fifty yards of the herd, and I carried the heavy four-ounce rifle, which I knew would give one of them a benefit if he turned to charge.
I was following the herd at this distance when they suddenly halted, and the wounded elephant turned quickly round, and charged with a right good intention. He carried his head thrown back in such a position that I could not get a fair shot, but, nevertheless, the four-ounce ball stopped him, and away he went again with the herd at full speed, the blood gushing in streams from the wound in his head.
My four-ounce is a splendid rifle for loading quickly, it being so thick in the metal that the deep groove catches the belt of the ball immediately. I was loaded in a few seconds, and again set off in pursuit; I saw the herd at about 200 yards distant; they had halted, and they had again faced about.
I had no sooner approached within sixty paces of them, than the wounded elephant gave a trumpet, and again rushed forward out of the herd. His head was so covered with blood, and was still thrown back in such a peculiar position, that I could not get a shot at the exact mark. Again the four-ounce crashed through his skull, and, staggered with the blow, he once more turned and retreated with the herd.
Loading quickly, I poured the powder down AD LIBITUN, and ran after the herd, who had made a circuit to arrive in the same forest in which we had first found them. A sharp run brought me up to them; but upon seeing me they immediately stopped, and, without a moment's pause, round came my old antagonist again, straight at me, with his head still raised in the same knowing position. The charge of powder was so great that it went off like a young fieldpiece, and the elephant fell upon his knees; but, again recovering himself, he turned and went off at such a pace that he left the herd behind, and in a few minutes I was within twenty yards of them; I would not fire, as I was determined to bag my wounded bird before I fired a single shot at another.
They now reached the forest, but, instead of retreating, the wounded elephant turned short round upon the very edge of the jungle and faced me; the remaining portion of the herd (consisting of two large elephants and two calves) had passed on into the cover.
This was certainly a plucky elephant; his whole face was a mass of blood, and he stood at the very spot where the herd had passed into the forest, as though he was determined to guard the entrance. I was now about twenty-five yards from him, when, gathering himself together for a decisive charge, he once more came on.
I was on the point of pulling the trigger, when he reeled, and fell without a shot, from sheer exhaustion; but recovering himself immediately, he again faced me, but did not move. This was a fatal pause. He forgot the secret of throwing his head back, and he now held it in the natural position, offering a splendid shot at about twenty yards. Once more the four-ounce buried itself in his skull, and he fell dead.
Palliser and Wortley came up just as I was endeavouring to track up the herd, which I had now lost sight of in the forest. Following upon their tracks, we soon came in view of them. Away we went as fast as we could run towards them, but I struck my shin against a fallen tree, which cut me to the bone, and pitched me upon my head. The next moment, however, we were up with the elephants: they were standing upon a slope of rock facing us, but regularly dumbfounded at their unremitting pursuit; they all rolled over to a volley as we came up, two of them being calves. Palliser killed the two biggest right and left, he being some paces in advance.
This was one of the best hunts that I have ever shared in. The chase had lasted for nearly an hour. There had been thirteen elephants originally in the herd, every one of which had been bagged by fair running. Wortley had fired uncommonly well, as he had killed the three elephants which he and Palliser had chased, one of which had given them a splendid run and had proved restive. The elephant took fifteen shots before she fell, and this accounted for the continual firing which I had heard during my chase of the other section. We had killed fourteen elephants during the day, and we returned to the 'amblam', having had as fine sport as Ceylon can afford.
December 7.--This, being Sunday, was passed in quiet; but a general cleaning of guns took place, to be ready for the morrow.
Dec. 8.--We went over many miles of ground without seeing a fresh track. We had evidently disturbed the country on this side of the river, and we returned towards the 'amblam', determined to cross the river after breakfast and try the opposite side.
When within a mile of the 'amblam' we heard deer barking, and, leaving all our gun-bearers and people behind, we carefully stalked to the spot. The ground was very favourable, and, having the wind, we reached an excellent position among some trees within sixty yards of the herd of deer, who were standing in a little glade. Wortley and I each killed a buck; Palliser wounded a doe, which we tracked for a great distance by the blood, but at length lost altogether.
After breakfast we crossed the large river which flows near the 'amblam', and then entered a part of the 'Park' that we had not yet beaten.
Keeping to our left, we entered a fine forest, and skirted the base of a range of rocky mountains. In this forest we saw deer and wild buffalo, but we would not fire a shot, as we had just discovered the fresh track of a rogue elephant. We were following upon this, when we heard a bear in some thick jungle. We tried to circumvent him, but in vain; Bruin was too quick for us, and we did not get a sight of him.
We were walking quietly along the dry bed of a little brook bordered by thick jungle upon either side, when we were suddenly roused by a tremendous crash through the jungle, which was evidently coming straight upon us.
We were in a most unfavourable position, but there was no time for any farther arrangement than bringing the rifle on full cock, before six elephants, including the 'rogue' whose tracks we were following, burst through the jungle straight at us.
Banda was nearly run over, but with wonderful agility he ran up some tangled creepers hanging from the trees, just as a spider would climb his web. He was just in time, as the back of one of the elephants grazed his feet as it passed below him.
In the meantime the guns were not idle. Wortley fired at the leading elephant, which had passed under Banda's feet, just as he was crossing the brook on our left. His shot did not produce any effect, but I killed him by a temple-shot as he was passing on. Palliser, who was on our right, killed two, and knocked down a third, who was about half-grown. This fellow got up again, and Wortley and Palliser, both firing at the same moment, extinguished him.
The herd had got themselves into a mess by rushing down upon our scent in this heedless manner, as four of them lay dead within a few paces of each other. The 'rogue', who knew how to take care of himself, escaped with only one companion. Upon these tracks we now followed without loss of time.
An hour was thus occupied. We tracked them through many glades and jungles, till we at length discovered in a thick chenar the fresh tracks of another herd, which the 'rogue' and his companion had evidently joined, as his immense footprint was very conspicuous among the numerous marks of the troop. Passing cautiously through a thick jungle, we at length emerged upon an extensive tract of high lemon grass. There was a small pool of water close to the edge of the jungle, which was surrounded with the fresh dung of elephants, and the muddy surface was still agitated by the recent visit of some of these thirsty giants.
Carefully ascending some slightly rising ground, and keeping close to the edge of the jungle, we peered over the high grass.
We were in the centre of the herd, who were much scattered. It was very late, being nearly dusk, but we counted six elephants here and there in the high grass within sixty paces of us, while the rustling in the jungle to our left, warned us, that a portion of the herd had not yet quitted this cover. We knew that the 'rogue' was somewhere close at hand, and after his recent defeat he would be doubly on the alert. Our plans therefore required the greatest vigilance.
There was no doubt as to the proper course to pursue, which was to wait patiently until the whole herd should have left the jungle and concentrated in the high grass; but the waning daylight did not permit of such a steady method of proceeding. I then proposed that we should choose our elephants, which were scattered in the high grass, and advance separately to the attack. Palliser voted that we should creep up to the elephants that were in the jungle close to us, instead of going into the high grass.
I did not much like this plan, as I knew that it would be much darker in the jungle than in the patina, and there was no light to spare. However, Palliser crept into the jungle, towards the spot where we heard the elephants crashing the bushes.
Instead of following behind him, I kept almost in a line, but a few feet on one side, otherwise I knew that should he fire, I should see nothing for the smoke of his shot. This precaution was not thrown away. The elephants were about fifty yards from the entrance to the jungle, and we were of course up to them in a few minutes. Palliser took a steady shot at a fine elephant about eight yards from him, and fired.
The only effect produced was a furious charge right into us!
Away went all the gun-bearers except Wallace as hard as they could run, completely panic-stricken. Palliser and Wortley jumped to one side to get clear of the smoke, which hung like a cloud before them; and having taken my position with the expectation of something of this kind, I had a fine clear forehead shot as the elephant came rushing on; and I dropped him dead.
The gun-bearers were in such a fright that they never stopped till they got out on the patina.
The herd had of course gone off at the alarm of the firing, and we got a glimpse of the old 'rogue' as he was taking to the jungle. Palliser fired an ineffectual shot at him at a long range, and the day closed. It was moonlight when we reached the 'amblam': the bag for that day being five elephants, and two bucks.
Dec. 9.--We had alarmed this part of the country; and after spending a whole morning in wandering over a large extent of ground without seeing a fresh track of an elephant, we determined to move on to Nielgalla, eight miles from the 'amblam.' We accordingly packed up, and started off our coolies by the direct path, while we made a long circuit by another route, in the hope of meeting with heavy game.
After riding about four miles, our path lay through a dense forest up the steep side of a hill. Over this was a narrow road, most difficult for a horse to ascend, on account of the large masses of rocks, which choked the path from the base to the summit. Leaving the horse-keepers with the horses to scramble up as they best could, we took our guns and went on in advance. We had nearly reached the summit of this pass, when we came suddenly upon some fragments of chewed leaves and branches, lying in the middle of the path. The saliva was still warm upon them, and the dung of an elephant lay in the road in a state which proved his close vicinity. There were no tracks, of course, as the path was nothing but a line of piled rocks, from which the forest had been lately cleared, and the elephants had just been disturbed by the clattering of the horses' hoofs in ascending the rugged pass.
Banda had run on in front about fifty yards before us, but we had no sooner arrived on the summit of the hill, than we saw him returning at a flying pace towards us, with an elephant chasing him in full speed.
It was an exciting scene while it lasted: with the activity of a deer, he sprang from rock to rock, while we of course ran to his assistance, and arrived close to the elephant just as Banda had reached a high block of stone, which furnished him an asylum. A shot from Palliser brought the elephant upon his knees, but, immediately recovering himself, he ran round a large rock. I ran round the other side, and killed him dead within four paces.
Upon descending the opposite side of the pass, we arrived in flat country, and on the left of the road we saw another elephant, a 'rogue', in high lemon grass. We tried to get a shot at him, but it was of no use; the grass was so high and thick, that after trying several experiments, we declined following him in such ground. We arrived at Nielgalla in the evening without farther sport: here we killed a few couple of snipe in the paddy-fields, which added to our dinner.
Dec. 10.--Having beaten several miles of country without seeing any signs of elephants, we came unexpectedly upon a herd of wild buffaloes; they were standing in beautiful open ground, interspersed with trees, about a hundred and ten paces from us. I gave Palliser my heavy rifle, as he was very anxious to get a pair of good horns, and with the pleasure of a spectator I watched the sport. He made a good shot with the four-ounce, and dropped the foremost buffalo; the herd galloped off but he broke the hind leg of another buffalo with one of the No. 10 rifles, and, after a chase of a couple of hundred yards, he came up with the wounded beast, who could not extricate himself from a deep gully of water, as he could not ascend the steep bank on three legs. A few more shots settled him.
We gave up all ideas of elephants for this day after so much firing; but, curious enough, just as we were mounting our horses, we heard the roar of an elephant in a jungle on the hillside about half a mile distant. There was no mistaking the sound, and we were soon at the spot. This jungle was very extensive, and the rocky bed of a mountain-torrent divided it into two portions; on the right hand was fine open forest, and on the left thorny chenar. The elephants were in the open forest, close to the edge of the torrent.
The herd winded us just as we were approaching up the steep ascent of the rocky stream, and they made a rush across the bed of the torrent to gain the thick jungle on the opposite bank. Banda immediately beckoned to me to come into the jungle with the intention of meeting the elephants as they entered, while Palliser was to command the narrow passage, in which there was only space for one person to shoot, without confusion.
In the mean time, Palliser knocked over three elephants as they crossed the stream, while we, on reaching the thick jungle, found it so dense that we could see nothing. Just as we were thinking of returning again to the spot that we had left, we heard a tremendous rush in the bush, coming straight towards us. In another instant I saw a mass of twisted and matted thorns crashing in a heap upon me. I had barely time to jump on one side, as the elephant nearly grazed me, and I fired both barrels into the tangled mass that he bore upon his head. I then bolted, and took up a good position at a few yards' distance. The shots in the head had so completely stunned the elephant that she could not move. She now stood in a piece of jungle so dense that we could not see her, and Palliser creeping up to her, while we stood ready to back him, fired three shots without the least effect. She did not even move, being senseless with the wound. One of my men then gave him my four-ounce rifle. A loud report from the old gun sounded the elephant's knell, and closed the sport for that trip.
We returned to Nielgalla, the whole of that day's bag belonging to Palliser--four elephants and two buffaloes. We packed up our traps, and early the next morning we started direct for Newera Ellia, having in three weeks from the day of our departure from Kandy bagged fifty elephants, five deer, and two buffaloes; of which, Wortley had killed to his bag, ten elephants and two deer; Palliser sixteen elephants and two buffaloes; V. Baker, up to the time of his leaving us, two elephants.