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TIDINGS OF A ROGUE.
I had only just arrived at the village, and my horsekeeper had taken the horse to drink at the lake, when he suddenly came running back to say that a rogue elephant was bathing himself on the opposite shore, at about two miles' distance.
I immediately took my guns and went after him. My path lay along the top of the great dam, which formed a causeway covered with jungle. This causeway was about sixty feet in breadth, and two miles in length; the lake washed its base about twenty feet below the summit. The opposite shore was a fine plain bordered by open forest, and the lake spread into the grassy surface in wide and irregular bays.
I continued my course along the causeway at a fast walk, and on arriving at the extremity of the lake I noticed that the ancient dam continued for a much greater distance. This, together with the great height of the masonry from the level of the water, proved that the dimensions of the lake had formerly been of much greater extent.
Descending by the rugged stones which formed the dam wall, I reached the plain, and, keeping close to the water's edge, I rounded a large neck of land covered with trees, which projected for some distance into the lake. I knew, by the posi
tion of the elephant when I first saw him, that he was not far beyond this promontory, and I carefully advanced through the open forest, hoping that I might meet him there, on his exit from his bath. In this I was mistaken, for on passing through this little belt of trees I saw the elephant still in the lake, belly deep, about three hundred paces from me. He was full a hundred and twenty yards from the shore, and I was puzzled how to act. He was an immense brute, being a fine specimen of a tank " rogue." This class are generally the worst description of rogue elephants, who seldom move far from the lakes, but infest the shores of the tanks for many years. Being quite alone with the exception of two worthless gun-bearers, the plan of attack required some consideration.
The belt of trees in which I stood was the nearest piece of cover to the elephant, the main jungle being about a quarter of a mile from the shore of the lake. In the event of a retreat being necessary, this cover would therefore be my point. There was a large tamarind-tree growing alone upon the plain about a hundred and fifty paces from the water's edge, exactly in a line with the position of the elephant. The mud plastered to
APPROACHING A TANK ROGUE.
a great height upon the stem showed this to be his favourite rubbing-post after bathing.
Having determined upon my plan of attack, I took the guns from the gun-bearers and sent the men up the tree, as I knew they would run away in the event of danger, and would most probably take the guns with them in their flight. Having thus secured the guns, I placed the long twoounce against a large and conspicuous tree that grew upon the extreme edge of the forest, and I cautiously advanced over the open plain with my two remaining guns, one of which I deposited against the stem of the single tamarind-tree. had thus two points for a defensive retreat, should it be necessary.
I had experienced considerable difficulty in attaining my position at the tamarind-tree without being observed by the elephant; fortunately, I had both the wind and the sun favourable, the latter shining from my back full into the lake.
The elephant was standing with his back to the shore exactly in a line with me, and he was swinging his great head from side to side, and flapping his ears in the enjoyment of his bath. I left the tree with my four-ounce rifle, and, keeping in a direct line for his hind-quarters,
I walked towards him. The grass was soft and short; I could therefore approach without the slightest noise: the only danger in being discovered was in the chance that I might be seen as he swung his head continually on either side. This I avoided by altering my course as I saw his head in the act of coming round, and I soon stood on the edge of the lake exactly behind him, at about a hundred and twenty yards. He was a noble-looking fellow, every inch a rogue, his head almost white with numerous flesh-coloured spots. These give a savage and disgusting appearance to an elephant, and altogether he looked a formidable opponent. I had intended to shout on arriving at my present position, and then to wait for the front shot as he charged; but on looking back to the tamarind-tree, and my proposed course for retreat, the distance appeared so great, rendered still more difficult by a gradual ascent, that I felt it would be impossible to escape if my chance lay in running. I hardly knew what to do; I had evidently caught a "Tartar."
His head was perpetually swinging to and fro, and I was of course accordingly altering my position to avoid his eye. At one of these half-turns he flapped his right ear just as his head came
AN EXCITING MOMENT.
round, and I observed a perfectly white mark, the size of a saucer, behind the ear, in the exact spot for a fatal shot. I at once determined to try it even at this distance; at all events if it failed and he should charge, I had a fair start, and by getting the spare gun from the tamarind-tree I could make a defence at the cover.
His attention was completely absorbed in a luxurious repast upon a bed of the succulent lotus. He tore up bunches of the broad leaves and snaky stalks, and, washing them carefully with his trunk, he crushed the juicy stems, stuffing the tangled mass into his mouth as a savage would eat macaroni. Round swung his head once more, the ear flapped, the mark was exposed, but the ear again concealed it just as I had raised the rifle. This happened several times, but I waited patiently for a good chance, being prepared for a run the moment after firing.
Once more his head swung towards me; the sun shone full upon him; and I raised the rifle to be ready for him if he gave me the chance. His ear flapped forward just as his head was at a proper angle for a shot. The mark shone brightly along the sights of the rifle as I took a steady aim,