« PreviousContinue »
DEATH OF A CROCODILE.
rushes. Here I could easily track him, as he slowly moved along, by the movement of the reeds. Giving the native the paddle, I now by threats induced him to keep the canoe over the very spot where the rushes were moving, and we slowly followed on the track while I kept watch in the bow of the canoe with a rifle. Suddenly the movement in the rushes ceased, and the canoe stopped accordingly. I leaned slightly over the side to look into the water, when up came a large air-bubble, and directly after an apparition in the shape of some fifteen pounds of putrid flesh. The stench was frightful, but I knew my friend must be very bad down below to disgorge so sweet a morsel. I therefore took the paddle and poked for him; the water being shallow I felt him immediately. Again the rushes moved; I felt the paddle twist as his scaly back glided under it, and a pair of gaping jaws appeared above the water, wide open within two feet of the canoe. The next moment his head appeared, and the two-ounce ball shattered his brain. He sunk to the bottom, the rushes moved slightly and were then still.
I now put the canoe ashore, and cutting a strong stick with a crook at one end, I again put
out to the spot and dragged for him. He was quite dead; and catching him under the fore-leg, I soon brought him gently to the surface of the water. I now made fast a line to his fore-leg, and we towed him slowly to the village, the canoe being level with the water's edge.
His weight in the water was a mere trifle, but on arrival at the village on the banks of the lake, the villagers turned out with great glee and fastened ropes to different parts of his body to drag him out. This operation employed about twenty men. The beast was about fourteen feet long; and he was no sooner on shore than the natives cut him to pieces with axes, and threw the sections into the lake to be devoured by his own species. This was a savage kind of revenge which appeared to afford them great satisfaction.
Taking a large canoe, I paddled along the shores of the lake with a short gun, and made a good bag of ducks and teal, and returned to breakfast. The fatness and flavour of the wild ducks in Ceylon is quite equal to the best in England.
EQUIPMENT FOR A HUNTING TRIP. — IN CHASE OF A HERD
THERE is one thing necessary to the enjoyment of sport in Ceylon, and without which no amount of game can afford thorough pleasure; this is personal comfort. Unlike a temperate climate, where mere attendance becomes a luxury, the pursuit of game in a tropical country is attended with immense fatigue and exhaustion. The intense heat of the sun, the dense and suffocating exhalations from swampy districts, the constant and irritating attacks from insects, all form drawbacks to sport that can only be lessened by excellent servants and by the most perfect arrangements for shelter and supplies. I have tried all methods of travelling, and I generally manage to combine good sport with every comfort and convenience.
A good tent, perfectly waterproof, and of so light a construction as to travel with only two
bearers, is absolutely indispensable. My tent is on the principle of an umbrella, fifteen feet in diameter, and will house three persons comfortably. A round table fits in two halves round the tent pole; three folding chairs have ample space; three beds can be arranged round the tent walls; the boxes of clothes, &c., stow under the beds; and a dressing-table and gun-rack complete the furniture.
Next in importance to the tent is a good canteen. Mine is made of japanned block tin, and contains in close-fitting compartments an entire dinner and breakfast service for three persons, including everything that can be required in an ordinary establishment. This is slung upon a
bamboo, carried by two coolies.
Clothes must always be packed in tin boxes, or the whole case will most likely be devoured by white ants. Cooking utensils must be carried in abundance, together with a lanthorn, an axe, a bill-hook, a tinder-box, matches, candles, oil, tea, coffee, sugar, biscuits, wine, brandy, sauces, &c., a few hams, some tins of preserved meats and soups, and a few bottles of curaçoa, a glass of which, in the early dawn after a cup of hot coffee and a biscuit, is a fine preparation for a day's work.
EQUIPMENT FOR A HUNTING TRIP.
I once tried the rough system of travelling, and started off with nothing but my guns, clothes, a box of biscuits, and a few bottles of brandy-no bed, no pillow, no tent or chairs or table, but, as my distressed servant said, "no nothing." This was many years ago, when the excitement of wild sports was sufficient to laugh at discomfort. I literally depended upon my gun for food, and my cooking utensils consisted of one saucepan and a gridiron, a "stew" and a "fry" being all that I looked forward to in the way of gourmandism. Sleeping on the bare ground in native huts, dining cross-legged upon mother earth with a large leaf as a substitute for a plate, a cocoa-nut shell for a glass, my hunting knife comprising all my cutlery, I thus passed through a large district of wild country, accompanied by B., and I never had more exciting sport.
It was on this occasion that I had a memorable hunt in the neighbourhood of Narlandé, within thirty miles of Kandy. It was our first day's stage, and, upon our arrival at about 2 P. M., we left our guns at the post-holder's hut, while we proceeded to the river to bathe.
We were hardly dressed before a native came running to tell us that several elephants were de