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A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

The beaters redoubled their shouts


A large and inquisitive company of apes came up from the wood to take stock of us, and I sat for a long time watching them as they played about quite close to me, feeding, chattering, and quarrelling, entirely unconcerned by the presence of their human spectator.

_Friday, October 6_.--All Tuesday was spent in honking bear in the lower woods which stretch far towards the Pohru. The high hills which rise above, covered with jungle, are said to be too large to work, and I can well believe it! For the first drive I was posted on a steep bank overlooking a most lovely little hollow, where the shafts of sunlight fell athwart the grey trunks and heavy green masses of the pines, lighting up the yellow leaves of the sumachs till they glowed like gold, and casting a flickering network of strong lights and shadows among the tangled mazes of undergrowth. A happy family of magpies, grey-blue above, with barred tails and yellow beaks, flitted about in restless quest, their constant cries being the only sound which broke the peaceful stillness, until the faint and distant sound of shouts and tom-toms showed that the first act of the farce had begun.

Towards the end of the third beat, while I was drowsily digesting tiffin, and, truly, not far from napping, I was electrified by the report of a rifle, followed by yells and a second shot! The beaters redoubled their shouts, and the tom-tommers seemed like to burst their drums.

My shikari, writhing with extreme excitement, hissed, "Baloo, sahib, baloo!" and began aimlessly running to and fro, apparently hoping to meet the bear somewhere. It was truly gay for a few minutes, but as nothing further occurred, and the beaters grew very hoarse with their prodigious efforts, I hurried on to Walter's post to learn what had happened.

A bear had suddenly come out of the cover some 40 yards off, and stood to look. The Colonel missed it, whereupon it dashed forward, passing within a few yards of him, and he missed it again. It departed at top speed across some open ground behind him, and gained the great woods which stretch away to the Kaj-nag, and never shall we see that bear again! The Colonel was much disgusted, and if language--hot, strong, and plenty of it--could have slain that bear, he would have dropped dead in his tracks.

The beaters brought up a wonderful tale of how another bear, badly wounded in the leg, had charged through their lines and gone back. They stuck to their story, and either a second bear actually existed or they are colossal liars. I incline to the latter theory.

We had wasted all our luck. No more bears came to look at us, and so, late in the afternoon, we sought the rest-house and consolation from Jane and Hesketh, who had arrived from Drogmulla.

I had occasion to deplore the bad manners of the rats at Harwan, but their conduct was exemplary compared with that of the rats of Rainawari! I had been writing my journal, according to my custom, before going to sleep, and hardly had "lights out" been sounded than a rat went off with my candle, literally from below my very nose. Then, from the inadequately partitioned chamber where the invalid vainly sought repose, came sounds of strife--boots and curses flying--followed by an extraordinary scraping and scuffling. A large rat, having fallen into the big tin bath, was making bids for freedom by ineffectually leaping up the slippery sides. At last he contrived to get out, and peace reigned until we managed to get to sleep.


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