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A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

So this time they found a serow a somewhat scarce beast

I now began to realise that plunging about in snow, often over one's knees, and scrambling among the fallen tree-trunks and great rocks selected by the torrent to make its bed, was distinctly tiring work!

Presently we came to a bridge over the river. It consisted of a single log, and appeared extremely slender. The stream was not deep enough to drown a man, but, all the same, a slip, sending one into the foaming water among a particularly large and hard collection of boulders, seemed most undesirable, and I stepped across, like Agag, delicately, carefully balancing myself with a khudstick. The men came prancing over as if they were on a good high-road, the careless ease with which they made the passage bordering on impertinence! I reflected, however, that sheep, and such like beasts of humble brain, can stroll upon the brink of gruesome precipices without any fear of falling, and my self-respect returned.

After another half-hour of stiff scrambling I sat down to rest awhile, leaving the men to spy the neighbourhood. Of course they had to find something, so this time they found a "serow"--a somewhat scarce beast. I awaited the coming of the serow at various coigns of vantage where they said it was bound to pass, while the four men surrounded it from different directions. Finally, like the Levite, it passed by on the other side--at least I never saw it. The shikari afterwards informed me, in confidence, that it was, like the inexcusable baby in _Peter Simple_, "a very little one."

We now made the best of our way down the nullah, and when an apology for a path became apparent I rejoiced greatly, and followed it along its corkscrew course until the camp came suddenly into view as we topped a spur, which gave the path a final excuse for dragging me up a stiff two hundred feet, and then sending me down a knee-shaking descent, for no apparent reason but pure "cussedness."

Charlotte had got home just before me, having seen nothing to shoot at. She, too, seemed anxious for tea!

During the day Sabz Ali had been doing his level best to improve the position in our sleeping-tent. The camp-beds had stood at such an angle that it was almost impossible to avoid sliding gradually into the outer darkness, but S.A. had scraped out earth from the head, and filled up a terrace at the foot, in a way which gave us hope of sound sleep. Our things had been carefully stowed, too, and a sort of hole scooped for the bath. Luxury stared us in the face!

The sunset certainly was a little dull last night, but we were quite unprepared for the dreary aspect of Dame Nature to which we awoke this morning. It was raining very heavily, and a dense pall of mist hung low among the pines, giving an impression of melancholy durability.

There was obviously nothing to do but exist as cheerfully as might be until the weather improved. The wet had shrunk canvas and rope gear till the tent-guys were as taut as fiddle-strings; and as it did not seem to have occurred to any of the servants to attend to this, an immediate tour of the camp had to be undertaken, in "rubbers" and waterproofs, to slack off guys and inspect the drainage system, as we had no wish to have our earthen floor--already sufficiently cold and clammy--turned into an absolute swamp.

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