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A India Hunting Adventure - from Harper's

 

While travelling in India, an English officer once spent a night in a small village, the inhabitants of which were much alarmed by a large panther which lurked in the jungle just beyond their houses. They begged the officer to kill it before he proceeded on his journey. He succeeded in finding and wounding it the next morning, but before killing it, had a terrible struggle, which he describes as follows:

"Having warned the village shikaree to keep close behind me with the heavy spear he had in his hand, I began to follow the wounded panther; but had scarcely gone twenty-five yards, when one of the beaters, who was on high ground, beckoned to me, and pointed a little below him, and in front of me. There was the large panther sitting out unconcealed between two bushes a dozen yards before me. I could not, however, see his head; and whilst I was thus delayed, he came out with a roar, straight at me. I fired at his chest with a ball, and as he sprang upon me, the shot barrel was aimed at his head. In the next moment he seized my left arm, and the gun. Thus, not being able to use the gun as a club, I forced it into his mouth. He bit the stock through in one place, and whilst his upper fangs lacerated my arm and hand, the lower fangs went into the gun. His hind claws pierced my left thigh. He tried very hard to throw me over. In the mean while the shikaree had retreated some paces to the left. He now, instead of spearing the panther, shouted out, and struck him, using the spear as a club. In a moment the animal was upon him, stripping him of my shikar-bag, his turban, my revolving rifle, and the spear. The man passed by me, holding his wounded arm. The panther quietly crouched five paces in front of me, with all my despoiled property, stripped from the shikaree, around and under him. I retreated step by step, my face toward the foe, till I got to my horse, and to the beaters, who were all collected together some forty yards from the fight.

"I immediately loaded the gun with a charge of shot and a bullet, and taking my revolver pistol out of the holster, and sticking it into my belt, determined to carry on the affair to its issue, knowing how rarely men recover from such wounds as mine. I was bleeding profusely from large tooth wounds in the arm; the tendons of my left hand were torn open, and I had five claw wounds in the thigh. The poor shikaree's arm was somewhat clawed up, and if the panther was not killed, the superstition of the natives would go far to kill this man.

"I persuaded my horse-keeper to come with me, and taking the hog-spear he had in his hand, we went to the spot where lay the weapons stripped from the shikaree. A few yards beyond them crouched the huge panther again. I could not see his head very distinctly, but fired deliberately behind his shoulder. In one moment he was again upon me. I gave him the charge of shot, as I supposed, in his face, but had no time to take aim. In the next instant the panther got hold of my left foot in his teeth, and threw me on my back. I struck at him with the empty gun, and he seized the barrels in his mouth. This was his last effort. I sprang up, and seizing the spear from the horse-keeper, drove it through his side, and thus killed him."