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MalabarMAnchor
Malabar Manual Vol 1 Chapter 1. The DISTRICT
William Logan!
SECTION F. Flora of Malabar.

(By Rhodes Morgan, F.Z.S., Member of the British OrnithologistsUnion,

District Forest Officer, Malabar.)

FORESTS AND TIMBER.


There being in Malabar great variations of climate, soil and rainfall, and the latter being nowhere less than fifty inches annually, we find a rich and varied flora, which is best classified as follows :


(1) The littoral zone—sea-level to 200 feet ; rainfall 70 to 133 inches.


(2) Zone of deciduous forest commencing some five miles or so from the base of the Western Ghats and in the south-eastern portion of the range extending sonic distance up to an elevation of l,500 feet ; rainfall (average) 130 inches.


(3) Tropical evergreen forest from 500 to 3,500 feet ; rainfall from 130 to 180 inches.


(4) Evergreen shola forest from 3,500 to 0,000 feet ; rainfall from 180 to 250 inches.


(5) Scrub shola forest from 6,000 feet upwards ; rainfall from 260 to 300 inches.


(6) Open grass, scrub and bamboo, mixed deciduous and evergreen forest (Wynad plateau), from 2,000 to 2,500 feet ; rainfall 60 to 90 inches.


(7) Heavy deciduous forest with teak zone 50 to 80 inches.


Perhaps the best way in which I can describe these various classes of forest will be by asking the reader to kindly follow me on a trip from, say, Calicut to the Mysore frontier.


Talipot Sago palm Picture attribution: Author Praveenp Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. We will first of all drive from the beach to Ellatur, where a boat is in waiting for us to take us to the foot of the ghat near Kuttiyadi. The road passes through a forest of Coco palms (Cocos nucifera), of which we notice several varieties.


Every here and there a giant Talipot (Corypha umbraculifera) with Palmyra (Borassus flabelliformis) and Sago palms (Caryota urens) are to be seen, generally near houses, whilst on the edges of paddy flats, groves of the graceful Areca (A. catechu) are cultivated for the sake of their astringent nuts. Mango (Mangifera Indica) and Jack (Artocarpus integrifolia) are abundant, and we see planted in the avenues, white Dammer (Valeria Indica), Poonga (or Oonga as it is here called) (Pongamia glabra), Banyans and Peepuls (Ficus Indica and religiosa), and in the compounds of houses, the Poinciana, covered with its gaudy blossom, and the beautiful Lagerstroemia reginae, which, later on, we will see in full blossom at the base of the ghats.

The graceful Indian Laburnum (Cassia fistula) with its pendulous racemes of golden flowers, and long dark brown legumes, next claims our attention.


Further on, we pass on our right, low laterite hills, on which the Cashew-nut tree (Anacardium occidentale) grows vigorously. We pick some of the bright gold and crimson peduncles of the fruit on which the curved ash-coloured nut is borne ; but though the former are juicy and sweet they leave an acrid fooling behind in the throat.


The Casuarina (C. equisetifolia) seems to thrive well also on these hills where the laterite does not actually outcrop on the surface but, where it does, it supports a scrubby growth of Lantana, Eugenias on which Eugenia bracteata, a small tree in Wynad of thirty to forty feet in height, and occasionally two feet in diameter, is here a ramous shrub of three or four feet in height at the most ; and two species of Euphorbia, of which E. nivulia grows to over twenty feet in height, and occasionally sandalwood (Santalum album) sown by birds from cultivated trees in the neighbourhood.



When we got to Ellatur we find numerous boats drawn up on the beach of the backwater ; our canoe is rather better than the others, being larger and cloanor, with a neat semi-circular awning of Corypha leaves. It has been cut out of a single log of Iyneo (Artocarpus hirsuta). Some of the large sea-going boats, made of this timber, are worth from five hundred to six hundred rupees each, and last for a great number of years.


Having crawled head foremost into our boat, the roof of which is so low that we can just sit up without knocking our heads against it, the boatman in the stern digs his bamboo polo into the un-savoury mud, and we are off. Our boat is manned by two men—-the one who poles and the man in the prow who rows with an antiquated oar made of a circular bit of wood snooped out like a spoon and lashed to a bit of bamboo split at the end, which forms the handle.


The backwater, or tidal creek up which we are going, is known as the Agala-pula and is very irregular in shape, sometimes broadening out to over two miles in width, anon narrowing, till you can throw a stone across. The banks are fringed with the everlasting cocoanut, and now and again, near houses, we see pretty clumps of dark green trees, principally jacks and mangoes, with Talipot and Sago palms and occasional gaunt stems of the silk-cotton tree (Bombax Malabaricum), from which the breeze floats clouds of silky-down that drop gently in the water and boat down with the receding tide.


At intervals we pass groves of trees sacred to snakes, where stone images of the cobra, plentifully smeared with castor-oil and red ochre, lean against the trees. Here the Frangipani (Plumeria acuminata) scents the air with its beautiful wax-like blossoms, whilst a host of pied hornbills (Hydrocissa coronata) gorge themselves on the golden fruit of the deadly Nux-vomica (Strychnos nux-vomica).


A scrubby growth of jungle fringes the oozy banks of the creek and thousands of little red crabs race in and out of their holes in the slime, each holding a monstrous ivory-white claw pugnaciously out, as if offering battle to all comers. This little creature is apparently all claw ; the one claw being disproportionately developed at the expense of the other. Growing in this fringe of jungle, the Cerbera odollam, claims our attention with its green fruit, looking for all the world like mangoes, but deadly poisonous ; and where the lagoon shallow's suddenly and forms marshes, a dense growth of Dillivaria (D. ilicifolia) forms a secure retreat for muggers (Crocodylus palustris) which lie stretched out on logs of drift wood or sand spits in the Dillivaria, lazily enjoying the hot sunshine with wide-open mouth.


Families of otters (Lutra nair) disport themselves in the bright blue wavelets, diving and chiming one another in play, or swimming ashore when they have been lucky enough to capture a fish to devour their finny prey secure from the greed of their comrades. Kingfishers of four species are abundant. The large stork-billed kingfisher (P. gurial) flying out of the clumps of trees that line the shore, as the boat comes into view, uttering his harsh cackle, whilst the pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) hovers over the stream with his eye keenly fixed on the small fry stemming the tide below.


The brilliant H. Smyrnensis is busy, excavating her nest on the sandy banks and cliffs that here and there rise above the level of the water, and her smaller cousin, the little Alcedo Bengalensis, seated on a twig just below is belabouring a minnow on the branch he is on, to be presently thrown up in the air and swallowed head foremost with much gusto. Bee-eaters too (Merops Swinhoii and viridis) are having a fine time of it, hawking the numerous insects hovering over the water, and diving with them into the holes in yonder sand hank, whore their clamorous young with gaping bills are waiting to be fed. Long lines of snowy egrots (Bubulcus Coromandus) come flying past us low over the water on their way to their roosting places lower down the river.


The sun is dipping now behind a heavy bank of clouds and darkness is speedily on us.


How beautifully phosphorescent the water is, what flashes of light there are, as frightened fish shoot like lightning through it, alarmed by the approach of the boat, and how the water sparkles again as it falls dripping like a shower of diamonds off the blade of the oar! We light a lantern and hang it over the boat and numbers of fish, attracted by it, come leaping into the boat. Most of them look like miniature “Bombay ducks” with long serrated beaks like the bill of a snipe. They have a nasty odour though, an ancient and fish-like smell, and so we throw thorn back again or hand them to the peon in the stern for his curry in the morning.


At midnight we are awakened, for we have reached the Payoli Lock, where a small fee has to be paid to the toll-keeper, and then on again. We are now in the Kuttiyadi river, for we crossed from the Agalapula through a canal, where the lock is, while we were asleep. How still everything is ! Now and again, however, there is a sullen plunge, as some mugger waddles off the bank and tumbles head foremost into the river or a great Nair fish (Lates calcarifer) leaps sportively out of the water. We turn in once more only to be awakened by our servant asking us whether we wish to have coffee as day has broken, and yet we have done twenty miles since leaving the lock ; but we have slept so soundly, it seems only an hour ago we went to sleep !


We land, gather a few dry sticks and have chota hazri, then once more on again.


NOTE added by VED: Chhota haazri or Chota hazri was a meal served in British-rule-linked households and barracks in the South Asian subcontinent, during the English colonial rule in around half of the subcontinent. This term is still in use in certain areas in the subcontinent, where English systems are followed. END OF NOTE


How the scenery has changed ! The mountains of the Western Ghats rise right before us clothed with forest from base to Summit. We have only a mile more to go, and this does not take us long. The boatman being paid his fare, and the usual inam which every Tiyan makes a point of clamouring for, we mount our horses which we sent on from Calicut, see our traps started, and follow them.


It has rained overnight, though we did not know it, and Nature is rejoicing ; a thousand brilliantly plumaged birds fly from branch to branch and chatter in the trees overhead. The ubiquitous cocoanut palms are on both sides; but we notice that many forest trees are growing amongst them, and that luxuriant pepper vines are trained up the stems of every tree ; the lovely Erythrina (I. Indica) with its scarlet blossoms being evidently a special favourite for this purpose.


Here are two elephants going to their day’s work. Poor beasts ! look at the frightful abscesses in their jaws ! the result of making them drag huge logs of timber with their teeth. Was over such barbarity heard of! Many of thorn lose their teeth, and to an elephant this is a far more serious matter than to us, for he cannot go to a dentist, poor beast, and have a fresh one put in. He cannot chew his food, nor digest it ; he loses condition, and dies. His pigheaded owner will not listen to reason ; when you suggest that he might use harness and adopt a more rational method of having his timbre dragged, his only reply is that it is the custom of the country (mamool) and that his father did it, etc.


Three miles after leaving Kuttiyadi we enter the forest. There, to our right, is a timber depot ; it belongs to the owner of this forest, and we dismount and have a look at it. There are logs of all sizes. Ebony (Diospyros ebenos), Irool (Xylia dolabriformis), Mutti (Terminalia tomentosa), Poomaraday (Terminalia dolabriformis), and a few logs of red (Acrocarpus fraxinifolius) and white Cedar (Cedrela toona).


All these will be floated down this little stream when it is in flood into the main stream at Kuttiyadi, and from there they will be rafted to Calicut. All the logs in this depot are in the round, the bark alone being peeled off. We leave the depot and a few yards further come on a large “Punam” clearing. What reckless and wanton damage has been done here! All the larger trees have been girdled and killed long ago, and every sapling has been pollarded.


The tender green of the blades of sprouting grain are very beautiful. There is the owner, a Malayar ; he is stooping to examine his dead falls, which he has set at intervals all round his field for hares, porcupines and such small deer, and see, he has just taken out a mouse-deer (Memimna Indica).


The forest now has grown denser ; everywhere we see the quaint stems of Cycas circinalis, which is spared for the sake of the nuts it boars. There is a bunch of them to our right, growing on the very apex of the tree ; they are green, and as large as a pigeon’s egg ; but. one or two are of a golden-yellow, and must be ripe.


These magnificent trees, under which we are passing, are Schleichera (S. trijuga), one of the handsomest trees I know. They bear bunches of round fruit, the size of a robin’s egg, with a few short spines. The seeds contain a large percentage of good oil, and the natives are much given to hacking off the branches to save themselves the trouble of gathering the fruit, and that is why that file specimen to our right looks so lopsided. At a distance, one might almost mistake this fine tree for an oak, and near Palghat the country is covered with them, the owners being fully alive to their value, having spared them when the rest of the forest fell before the axe.

Further on, lofty specimens of Hymenodiction (H. excelsum) tower above the smaller trees that surround them. The hark of this tree is so bitter that at one time it was believed, that it might contain similar alkaloids to the cinchona, but analysis soon dispelled this idea. That tree next the Hymenodiction is a Bignonia, and touching it is a fine specimen of the Alstonia (A. scholaris), belonging to the natural order Sapotaceae. There are other genera of this useful order, such as the Bassia (B. longifolia), but though common in the drier taluk of Palghat, it is not found here. But higher up a bit I will introduce you to the Isonandra (I. Wightiana).


We now pass over a wooden bridge spanning a mountain torrent, which rushes seething and foaming over a bed of solid gneiss which it has worn into innumerable pot-holes, into and round which, the water, clear as crystal, gurgles and bubbles. Just below the bridge is a pool the water of which is of a sapphire blue, so deep is it.


Crowds of little fish dart hither and thither, the lovely little Barilius Bakeri rising freely at the little flies and ants that are falling into the water shaken down by a troop of noisy, chattering, grey monkeys (Macacus radiatus), who are busy filling their pouches with some small yellow berries that are growing on a creeper-enveloped tree that overshadows the pool.


We now begin the ascent of the ghat and at first rise gradually. The undergrowth consists entirely of a species of Strobilanthes, in flower at present. Soon it will all be dead and afford food for the destructive forest fires that sweep through the forests at this elevation. The bamboos (B. arundinacea), too, have seeded, and the jungle fowl (Gallus sonneratii) are rejoicing exceedingly. There are several scratching under yonder dump. The old cock crowing defiance to another who, perched on a boulder in the middle of the stream, challenges him to battle, whilst his hens cackle their approval.


The booming note of the black languor (Presbytis jubatus) now resounds through the forest, and presently we see him, his wives and children bounding from branch to branch as they approach to have a nearer look at us. He is a truculent looking old fellow this patriarch, and as he balances himself on a branch and barks angrily at us, we cannot help noticing his enormously long and sharp canines with which he can rip up a dog as with a razor.


We again cross the stream, and here the gigantic size of the trees strikes us with wonder. There is a black Dammer (Canarium strictum) with a mass of resin, two feet long, that has poured out of a cut in the trunk, sticking to the bark, and here a noble Isonandra (I. Wightiana), which we hack with a shikar-knife, and a stream of milk oozes nut and flows down its mossy sides ; this rapidly hardens into a kind of gutta-percha, for which no doubt some use will hereafter he found. Close to the Isonandra is a curious little tree, Baccaurea sapida, its trunk covered with racemes of pinkish red flowers. Most of these have withered now, and the curious little angular rod fruit appear here and there.


In October when the cardamoms are ripe, the fruit will be the size of a duck’s egg, and will prove a pleasant treat to the lucky finder for the aril of the seed inside is sweet, sub-acid and pleasant, and very refreshing, tasting somewhat like a mangosteen.


Here are cardamoms (Elettaria cardamomum) too, but most of the flowers have set, and we only find one at the extreme end of a raceme white, with the throat striped and spotted with violet and purple.


Be careful, however, what you are about, for overhead is the terrible Laportea crenulata or devil’s nettle- -the petioles of the leaves are hispid, with poisonous hairs, the sting of which once felt will not be forgotten by you in a hurry - and yet another vegetable abomination in the shape of Mucuna pruriens, or cowhage. The pods of this nasty creeper are covered with a velvety armament of stinging hairs, so give them a wide berth, and do not pick the purple flower of that arum, it has a horrible smell.


We must now press on, for the sun is getting hot. We can sit down and have a sandwich higher up, where there is a stream of water, and a drink and smoke, and wait for our people to come up.


A turn in the road brings us to a coffee estate. The trees are from ten to fifteen feet high and covered with blossom. The air is scented with its sweet odour, just like jessamine.


Birds are numerous here. The pure white Tchitrea Paradasi or paradise fly- catcher is busy catching insects. The two long white tail feathers wave like ribbons behind him as he flies from tree to tree, whilst his sober chestnut-coloured spouse is busy with the cares of maternity. When they have reared their brood they will leave us, for they are migratory.


Hovering in front of yonder flower is the purple sun-bird (Cinnyris lotenia), gorgeous in a mantle of the darkest steel-blue that flashes in the sun, whilst his quivering wings boat the air as suspended in front of the flower, he quickly thrusts his tongue deep down into it- and extracts the nectar.


Another brilliant sun-bird (Cinnyris zeylanica) is also busy at the coffee blossom. His wings are dark maroon, breast golden yellow, and his head capped with metallic green, whilst his little throat is clothed with the most brilliant amethystine purple feathers imaginable. Down in the rocky stream below, the Malabar blue thrush (Myophonus Horsfieldii) is whistling gaily away. Soon, when the monsoon has burst, he will be busy with his wife in building a home for a future generation in some rooky cleft near a foaming torrent, inaccessible to mischievous monkeys and marauding snakes.


And still we must toil upwards, for we have not reached the stream yet. Here, a pretty little squirrel (Sciurus tristriatus) dashes across the road, and a still smaller one (S. sublineatus) looks sharply at us from the gnarled knot of a forest tree overhanging the road. These, however, are but pigmies of the race, for we presently see a splendid male of the Malabar squirrel (S. Malabaricus) racing up the trunk of a giant Dammer (Vateria Indica) as he rattles out his disapproval of us in no measured terms.


If you look up that buttress tree in front you will see a round hole, the edges of which look as if they had been recently cut out with a chisel and so they have, for inside Pteromys petaurista is no doubt at home, and if you will go down and rap on the trunk with a stone, he will come forth to interview the unwelcome visitor, and when he sees you, will spread his parachute and sail gracefully down the valley out of sight.


Perhaps, however, I am mistaken, and it is a smaller and rarer species of squirrel (Sciuropterus fusco capillus) that lives in that hole. What a multitude of noble and valuable trees are there here ! Look at that splendid iron wood (Mesua ferrea) and this tree, known on the coast as Irrupu (Cynometra ramiflora), rare up here, but commoner down below, a splendid timber, and that fine Jack (Artocarpus integrifolia), sixty feet to the first branch and over three feet in diameter ! You never saw a boll like that in a cultivated tree, and see what a splendid Poon spar (Calophyllum Angustifolium) that is! There are hundreds of others, but if I were to go on at this rate the whole of the space at my command would be taken up with the more description of these trees.


Are they not better described in Beddome’s magnificent “Flora Sylvatica”?


Here we are at last! This pure, cold mountain water is very refreshing. You need not be afraid to drink it, no malaria fiend lurks there.


What a vast extent of forest lies stretched before us! We can distinctly see the sea, and even the white sails of fishing craft coming homewards from the fishing grounds, laden with seer-fish and pomfret and many other kinds.


Who would imagine that the whole of that vast forest that stretches from near the base of the hills to the very sea consists mainly of cocoanut palms !


Look too, at the rivers and backwaters glittering amongst the groves of far off palms.

But here come our people, so we must press on. We have not far to go now, for we intend to spend the night at the head of the ghat, and to-morrow early we will come back to the toll-gate at the head of the ghat and go right up to the top of Balasore and explore the forests. And this is the toll-gate. The taluk boundary runs, you see, to the right and left up those conical forest-clad hills, and the next step we take brings us into Wynad.


We must descend now a little. That urticaceous plant in the ravine is a Boehmeria (B. Malabarica), and produces a splendid fibre. The string of yonder Coorcha’s bow is made of it. What plucky men these Coorchas are !


I know an old fellow who lives in these same forests ; he owned a little coffee garden some six miles from here, and one evening his nephew was busy weeding it when a tiger suddenly pounced on him and bore him away into the depths of the forest. The next morning a searching party was organised and the remains of the poor follow recovered. The Coorchas instantly surrounded the forest and beat the tiger out, when the old man drove an arrow through its heart as it hounded across the open grassy hill side to the next shola.


We spend the night very comfortably in the Koroth bungalow and make an early start for the great Balasore mountain, at the base of which our bungalow is : we will not go back to the toll-gate that would be too far out of our way.


We first toil through some abandoned coffee, with that curse of the country, lantana, growing in clumps here and there. It will soon overspread the whole face of the mountain now under coffee. We have passed this bit of planting now and enter a small patch of the original primeval forest. The ground is strewn with large, round prickly fruit (Cullenia excelsa) that look like green hedgehogs rolled up. We must clear out of this, or one may come down on our heads and that would be no joke, for they are very heavy and the spines three inches long. Bump ! hump ! how fast they are falling ! and no wonder for a tribe of Wanderoos (Innus silenus) or lion-tailed monkeys are feasting on the seeds.


Here is a fearful thicket of rattans (Calamus rotang). Take care of the streamers ; they are twelve or fourteen feet long, as thick as a pencil, and armed with rows of the most fearful recurved spines. If they catch you by the lip or ear you will remember it.


And this is the handsome Solanum robustum, with leaves three feet long and two feet broad, beautifully velvety ; but they and the stem are armed with spines. We will take home the handsome orange fruit ; they are as big as badminton balls, and covered with a thick coat of fine spines, When peeled, the fruit looks just like the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. We will have them made into a tart to-night for dinner, and I promise you, that they will taste nicer oven than the Brazil cherry (Physalis Peruviana) cooked that way.


There is a large solanum that Mr. Broughton got from Peru. It is exactly like this, but unarmed. You will see it growing in the Conservatory (Botanical Gardens) at Ootacamund if you go there. Is not this a lovely Thunbergia, with its racemes of pendant golden flowers ! There is another species too here, much handsomer, with the flowers streaked with orange- maroon. Both species flower in the cold weather, and it is very curious that this one should have flowered like this out of season.


Here is a monstrous tree, it is a fig (Ficus parasitica) ; a thousand aerial roots have descended to the ground in every direction so thickly that we can scarcely pass between them. Many have anastomosed with the main stem and with each other, forming quaint arches. The smaller roots produce a soft and silky fibre, very strong, used by the Coorchas for their bows, and known as colinar. They, however, prefer the manali nar (Boehmeria) I told you about.


It is very curious how little leaf mould there is in the ground. What has become of it ? Well, the termites have buried it. Turn over that rotten log and you will find millions of them hard at work, and see there is a splendid earth-snake under it, a very rare and handsome one, the rainbow snake it is called, for its whole body gleams with the most lovely iridescent hues—shades of purple and metallic blue.


We will put him into our death bottle ; and here is another treasure, the elephant beetle, the giant of his tribe, and, if you travel through the deciduous forests on the Mysore frontier after rain, you will find him busy carrying out the purpose for which he was created, rolling great balls of elephants’ droppings along the path and tumbling them into a hole he has dug with much trouble and patience.


Break one of these balls open and you will find a yellow egg, as big as the top of your little finger. Later on there will be a loathsome looking larva there, covered with parasites. This will form a toothsome morsel for the black sloth bear (Ursus labiatus) when he comes shuffling along and sniffs out the nest with his keen nose.


Up the trunk of that Dammer we see a thin black line. It is the covered gallery leading to a neat of the arboreal termite, suspended a hundred feet overhead. If it happened to fall now and strike one of us it would be certain death, for that nest weighs sixty pounds and is as hard as iron. There are over twenty different species of termes in this province alone, and in Burmah there is a monstrous one, half an inch in length, that marches along pathways at night and makes the natives jump when they happen to tread on them in the dark.


Do you see those holes in the ground at the base of that white-ant’s nest ? They have been made by the pangolin or scaly ant-eater (Manis pentadactyla) who is most probably rolled up inside last asleep after having demolished the inhabitants of the colony. We are still in the third zone or tropical evergreen forest, the most interesting of all. On that block of gneiss a thousand rock-plantains (Musa ornata) display their handsome leaves and curious bulbous looking stems, whilst the common wild plantain (M. Superba) grows in clumps in the ravine lower down.


We cut down a bunch of the tempting golden fruit. There is nought inside them however but a mass of hard black seeds, thinly covered with farinaceous pulp. Our attendant Coorcha munches steadily through them, finishing up with a handful of common figs (Ficus glomerata) which he has picked on our way up and which swarm with a multitude of little two-tailed flies.


This is a Gamboge tree (Garcinia morella) ; the yellow gum comes slowly out when we cut the bark, and the larger one just ahead is the wild nutmeg (Myristica laurifolia). There is another (M. Angustifolia) lower down, but it is not so common as this one. And that tree you are passing, with the clusters of pale green flowers growing out of the trunk, is a Polyalthia (P. coffeoides).


The bark is very fibrous and strong. And here is another of the same order Anonceae, quite a small tree with glabrous leaves ; it rejoices in the name of Goniothalamus (G. Wightii). It is rare here, but much commoner near Palghat in the Chenat Nayar forests.


We have to cut our way now through a dense undergrowth of the dwarf Screw-pine (Pandanus. sp. undescribed?) and then through a lot of Strobilanthes (S. paniculatus) which higher up forms the solo undergrowth in places. The number of species of Strobilanthes is very great and varies according to the elevation.


We are now out again in more coffee, wretched sticks with hardly a loaf on them. The hemileia vastatrix has destroyed them.


That large bird lying across is a hornbill (Dichoceros cavatus). Hornbills are breeding now and are very noisy. Who would believe any bird capable of uttering such horrible cries as that old male perched on the dead tree opposite? He roars like some wild beast, disgusted no doubt at having the trouble of feeding his mate, who is sitting comfortably on her large white eggs in the hole of some giant forest tree near. She is fat and jolly, for every ten minutes or so Mr. Hornbill comes flying up with some sweet and juicy fig or plum and pops it down her throat.


Lady Hornbills are kept in due subjection by their lords, who build them into their nests by plastering the mouth of the Hole up with clay and excrement, leaving a mere slit to food them through. There must be some reason for the males undertaking this self-imposed task ; possibly their spouses are a giddy lot, and require to be restrained from leaving their nests to flirt while their eggs get cold.


It is very sad to look round us from where we are and see the vast extent of forest that has been destroyed by the Mappillas all round for coffee. After toiling upwards for another hour, we again find ourselves in shola, but of a different character to that we have left behind us. The trees are not so lofty, the undergrowth is much denser, the species of Strobilanthes here is quite different to that last seen ; birds, too, are more abundant, and bees and insects keep up a continual hum in the blossoming trees overhead.


We are now in the fourth zone or evergreen shola.


We enter a dense growth of dwarf bamboo (Beesha Rheedii) and put up a barking deer (Cervulus aureus). Further on our Coorcha finds a bees' nest (Apis mellifica), and as there is a delightful purling brook close by we decide to have breakfast. How lovely these moss-grown rocks are, with lycopodiums and balsams growing all over them, and that funny frog (Hylarana. sp.) squatted amongst thorn, every now and then raises his voice and treats us to what he no doubt, considers music, a monotonous miming up the scale, which sounds like “Tune-tuk-tuck tuck, tuk, tuk.”



Here comes our Coorcha with the honey which he has cut of the hole of that Eugenia---a mass of golden combs, with the divine scent of the beautiful camellia-like flowers of the iron-wood (Mesua ferrea), for most of the honey now is collected from that flower. The Coorcha reserves for himself the larvae and pollen, which he devours with much gusto as we smoke our cheroots. Half an hour is all we have allowed ourselves for this pleasure, for the top of the mountain is yet far off and we must cut our way soon.


There is a family party of the spur-fowl (Pteroperdix spadiceus). How fussy the mother is about her little brood. She is hiding them in the dead leaves, and there they will instinctively crouch till we have passed them.


The slimy hole you see in this bit of swampy ground is a sambur (Rusa aristotelis) wallow, and last night, after rolling in the mud, a stag has rubbed his back against this rock and then sharpened his horns against yonder Garcinia (G. purpurea). Our wide-awake friend, the Coorcha, pockets a lot of the acid fruit of this tree, which are used by the natives as a substitute for tamarind.


The Eugenia family is well represented here, and there are more species than below, but I will reserve those for the list at the end. Symplocos too, of which we see several species, and cinnamons ; but most of these are supposed to be only varieties of the common kind (Cin. zeylonica).


And there is Eurya (E. Japonica) which is so like the tea shrub, and two species of Tetranthera which the Atlas larva delights to feed on, and Bischofia Javanica —the A. Luna silk-worm loves it. And here is Evodia triphylla with several gorgeous butterflies (Papilio Paris) hovering round it, and look at that chaste-looking Hestia (H. Jasonia) with her lace-like wings. I have just secured three beetles, a handsome green elater, a large rose beetle, one of the cetoniidae, and a line specimen of the horned beetle (Odontolabis Burmeisteri).


And the Coorcha has found a horrible scorpion, eight inches long, of a dark bluish green colour, which looks like a small lobster. He tells us a wonderful story of a snake which chased him here, and declares it had wattles like a cock on its head of a brilliant scarlet ! Most probably the snake was the mountain cobra (Ophiophagus elaps) which is given to be aggressive.


This Coorcha knows the boa well enough, for he once killed one eighteen feet long with an arrow, so he says. Snakes are numerous hereabouts, especially a greenish brown viper with a villainous looking head. I have nearly been bitten a hundred times ; but luckily this snake is so sluggish that it is a long time before he will make up his mind to retaliate.


After another, half hour’s work we reach the region of dwarf shola forest, or the fifth region, and here our troubles really commence. The undergrowth is very dense, and we have to cut every yard of our way. The ground, too, has become very broken. There are great stretches of boulders to be scrambled over, and we get badly stung by the common nettle (Girardinia heterophylla). The trees are principally dwarf Egenias and ilex (T. Wightiana) with a scrubby bamboo (Arundinacea Wightiana) only six or eight feet high. The species of Strobilanthes is very harsh too, and difficult to struggle through. Flying, from bush to bush we see small flocks of a rare laughing thrush (Trochaloptcrum Jerdoni), while the blue rock thrush (Petrocincla cyanea) sits looking at us from a boulder above.


A multitude of other birds, such as Zosterops palpebrosus, Hypsipetes Nilgiriensis, Dendrophila frontalis, etc., are busy scouring their food amongst the loaves and brunches of the trees and shrubs, whilst the common green mogalaima, seated on the topmost bough of the only tall tree near, utters his monotonous “koturr, koturr” the livelong day. Thousands of swiftlets (Collocalia unicolor) are hawking the insects about, and will probably roost to-night in the caves of the Bramagiris, where, at this time of the year, they brood in thousands. Their nests are not edible, however, like the Chinese ones, though they are made of the same substance, inspissated saliva mixed, in the case of those birds, with moss and feathers.


A Nilgiri kestrel (Cerchneis tinnunculus) is busy eating a mouse on a rock, and flies away with his prey as we approach.


At last we gain the peak and look round. There, away to the east, we see the great pools of the Cobbani where the mahseer loves to dwell. To our right lie the serrated peaks and ridges of the Western Ghats with patches here and there of coffee near their bases, and beyond again the Nilgiri plateau with great masses of black storm-clouds gathered menacingly over it, whilst from their dark depths vivid streaks of lightning dart forth forked tongues of flame, and the boom of distant thunder echoes from the rocky cliffs around.


Clouds are gathering, too, on our left over the Bramagiri and Dindamal hills, so wo will take the warning and hurry down again — not the way we came, but down the Terrioot face of the mountain. It is late by the time we reach the foot, and, mounting our horses posted for us there, we got back to the Koroth bungalow in time for a late dinner.


At midnight, the storm bursts, the rain pours in torrents, whilst the vivid and continuous flashes of lightning illuminate the country round. How the thunder peals and crashes over head, as report quickly follows report, until the whole is merged in one almost continuous series of detonations echoed back from the mountain above. In an hour, it is all over, a loud rumbling to the west denoting the course followed by the storm ; but the roar and rush of mountain torrents, careering madly down the steep slopes behind us carrying the surface soil away to the sea, continues for some time longer.



At day-break we are off, en route to Manantoddy, ten miles away. The air is fresh and cool, and a thousand birds rejoice ; here the exquisite scent of a lovely orchid fills the air with fragrance. It is the Dendrobium aurum. We pick a few of the delicate golden flowers and collect a host of others with which the trees are laden. In this hollow them is a great bed of wild ginger, and the trees are covered with festoons of Hoyas and handsome ferns, and there, on the bank, or some fine tree ferns (Alsophila glabra). Here the forest is principally deciduous, though many evergreen trees appear, such as Vateria Indica, Evolia triphylla, etc. The shrubby Wendlandia (W. notoniana) is abundant, and we may expect to find on it fine specimens of the larvae of the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas).


The whole of the country about here has been ruined by koomree cultivation, the land having been tuckled for raggi for years, until it refuses to grow anything now but a scrubby vegetation, consisting mainly of such trees as Evodias, Lagerstroemias, the Wodina (W. wodier), and Bignonias, with scattered trees of Careya arborea, surrounded by a heavy growth of brackens.


There is an old avenue bordering the road, planted up with Vateria Indica, Ficus benghalensis, Artocarpus integrifolia, etc. Between the patches of jungle are open grassy downs with herds of buffaloes and small black cattle grazing on them. These latter are not to be trusted, as they are often vicious and charge desperately, as I have experienced to my cost. Most of the animals have wooden bells on, and their loud and monotonous rattling is more curious than pleasant.

We pass numerous Mappilla houses on the road, each with its little coffee-garden shaded by jack trees, up the stems of which Dioscoreas have been trained for the sake of their tuberous roots.


As we approach Manantoddy, the lantana becomes more abundant, till finally it seems to have taken entire possession of the country, affording a secure asylum to numerous panthers (Felis pardus) which prey on the village dogs, calves, etc.


We ride through the Manantoddy bazaar, a dirty and disreputable place, and finally reach our destination at nine o’clock, quite ready for breakfast, which discussed, we walk down to the Forest office, a small building on the top of a hill, prettily situated. Here we find an experimental garden, in which Ceara rubber (Manihot Glaziovii), mahogany (Chloroxylon Swietenia), cocoa (Theobroma cacao), the rain tree (Pithecellobium saman), sappan (Caesalpinia sappan), and a host of Australian eucalypti, acacias, and exotic trees and palms are growing vigorously ; and then on to the new building for the Forest officer, of which nothing is to be seen but the foundations, after which we mount our horses and are off again to Begur, the headquarters of the Koodrakote forest, where forest operations are in full swing.


After riding about, two miles, we enter the reserve, a huge signboard with the words “Imperial Forest Reserve, Koodrakote” informing us of this fact. This board has been nailed to a fine young tree of the Nauclea species, covered with its curious flowers just like olive-green badminton balls.


The Nauclea is growing in a swamp in a dense brake of screw-pine (Pandanus odoratissimus) with scattered trees of the common willow (Salix tetrasperma). Just above us, overhanging the road we have come, is a huge solitary tree loaded with the nests of the cliff bee (Apis dorsula), so, for heaven’s sake, do not smoke, or the irascible little wretches will be down upon us, in which case we are certain to have a bad time of it, even if we escape with our lives! Here is a bridge with a notice that you are to walk over it. One of my mahouts lately, in the dark, took his elephant across it, so I do not think we need pay much attention to the notice.


The forest improves, and we presently leave the Oliot police station behind us and reach the village of Sunnuthgoody. Here we turn off, the road to the right going on to Mysore. We will go that way to-morrow.


The forest we are now riding through is very valuable. It belongs to the seventh zone, and is first-class deciduous forest with teak. Yesterday, if you remember, we rode through the sixth zone, or open grass scrub and bamboos with mixed deciduous and evergreen forest. The principal timber here is Mutty (T. tomentosa), or Kurra-maradoe as it is called in Canarose. See how abundant it is, and what grand logs it can produce. Seventy and eighty foot long, and as straight as an arrow !


If we could but got an extensive sale for it at remunerative rates, what a mine of wealth those grand forests would become. But we cannot sell it now. Natives do not value it here, though it is a magnificent timber, very strong and tough. White-ants, however, destroy it, and that is why it is not valued ; besides it is given to warping and dry rot ! However, when a railway affords cheap carriage and saw-mills are at work, we may hope to make a fair profit out of it yet.


Look at those magnificent logs ! They are Hone (Pterocarpus marsupium), the next best timber we have to teak. The merchant who has bought them has got his money’s worth, for they have been so well and truly squared, and are so sound, that there will be little or no wastage in sawing them up. This mark in the corner of the log has been made by the Bet Kurumbar who squared it. What does this heirogiyphie mean ? It is only Kala’s mark. He has no T-square, no tape, no foot-rule, chisel or hammer — nothing hut his axe, and this is what it is like :




He has squared the log entirely by his eye. In the centre of the log we find stamped with a stool die,



which means that the number of the log is 276, that it is 30 foot long, and its mean quarter girth is 19¼ inches and total cubical contents 77-2-4. The /83 denotes the year in which it was felled. (W.F) stands for Wynad forests and the (s) shows that it has been sold. The K.J. in the right-hand corner are the initials of the purchaser. The hole in the comer is for the drag-chain to pass through.


The logs in the next depot you see are all blackwood (Dalbergia latifolia). They are for the coast market, and will be shipped by the purchasers at Tellicherry for the Bombay and Karachi markets. We are close to Begur now, for on our left the forest is a gorgeous sea of flame : the Poinciana (P. regia) is in flower. The whole of this side of the road was once a splendid shoot of coffee, but the manager was foolish enough to plant this tree for shade, and, being a surface-feeder, its roots quickly starved the coffee out. We leave the road now and turn sharply to the right, and ride through the estate. There are a few jack trees hero and there, but our elephants have stripped the leaves and branches off them and they do not look happy. Those two large sheds you see below us are the elephant houses, but the elephants have not returned yet from their work.


We will have tiffin now and then write some letters, after which we will go down to the stream close by and see if we can got a tow carp for dinner. This is the forest hut ; it is built entirely of teak and shingled. It was nicely matted inside at one time, but I had the mats all pulled off the walls, as rats took up their quarters between and snakes followed them.


Here is old Khazi. He is a great fisherman and has turned up in the nick of time. “How is the water, Khazi ?” “Excellent, sahib.”

“And the fish, are there lots of them ?”

“Your lordship will have good sport ; they are well on the feed.”

“Well, we will take the rods and come at once.”

“Here are the leaves, master.”


We carefully tie on a Vallisneria leaf to our hook, so that it is quite concealed, and wading into the head of the run, lot our line, with six feet of the finest drawn gut at the end, float gently down the current. Just as the loaf passes the roots of yonder willow, sixty feet away, there is a swirl, and a plunge, and a sudden tug at the line, and our reel screams a merry tune. He is six pounds, if an ounce! Gently now, for he is trying hard to fray the gut against that snag. Now he makes a rush for that fallen tree in the water. Once under that, and he is gone. Oh! run Kala, run! Wade in and free the line ; it has twisted round that bamboo twig. Be careful! He is off ! No, thank goodness, no ; he is on still. Now for the net. They have left it behind : how disgusting, Khazi ! help me to land this fish. Out with him now !


And Khazi deftly pushes his fingers in behind the gills and flings Barbus carnaticus, quivering and gleaming, on the pebbly shore, He is quite four pounds we find. But see what Khazi is up to. He has a dozen gourds, and is tying three feet of sago palm (Caryota urens) fibre on to the neck of each ; and now he whips on hooks, baits them with Ageratum leaves, and sets them floating down the stream. There goes the little fleet, and bob ! down goes the leading gourd. Now it is up again, and seems to have gone mad, for it jumps and leaps about, then dives and disappears in the most surprising manner. But old Khazi knows what is up, for he has run to the bottom of the pool, and, as the gourd passes him, seizes it, and lo ! there is a handsome three-pound barbus at the end of the line.


We go on fishing with varying success, and finally count up a bag of three brace of carp. Old Khazi has caught two, and has made besides a miscellaneous bag of mastacembelus —a fish that looks like a sharp-nosed eel—four young labeos, several cat fish (silurus), and a heap of the little Barilius Bakeri.


On our way back we call on old Lutchmi, a dear old elephant, at the shed, and treat her to some jaggery and see Mr. Sankara fed. He has been naughty of late and became “must” so he has had to do double work. Here are Chloe and Phyllis, who were captured in the Alambadi khedda in Coimbatore. Vixen has gone to Nilambur. These last three are, I believe, the only ones alive now out of all those those captured ! They are going down to the river now to bathe, after which they will be hobbled and turned loose to graze all night.


Do you notice the number of young trees here that have grown up everywhere in this abandoned coffee estate ? There are two teak seedlings twenty feet in height ; and these are all young blackwood trees, growing vigorously.


Before dinner we will send for old Kurumhar Kala and the forester, and give them orders to have two Kurumbars ready to go with us to the Soola Bulla forest, near the Coorg frontier, early to-morrow morning.


Daybreak sees us up, and we are in the forest after sunrise. We march steadily along the forest road for some distance and turn off, after crossing a large bridge, to inspect a depot. There are over seventy logs in this depot, all dead teak, for we have not felled living trees here for the last six years. The Kurumbars who have prepared those logs are waiting for the measurements to be checked, and this we do. A great deal of the timber you see is much cracked and flawed, but as long as we can make any profit out of it, it would be a great pity to let it get burnt up and destroyed.


Look at the pugs of this tiger ! what a monstrous size they are! He lives up on the Bramagiri plateau, and only occasionally comes down here when he is hard up for grub and has established a scare amongst the sambur up there. He is a grand old fellow, this tiger, and I once had a shot at him, but only wounded him slightly in the leg.



There are wild dogs (Cuon rutilans) crossing the road ahead, eight-nine-ten of them ! One stops and barks at us, with - his brush up in the air, and then jumps lightly over a log and disappears. They are remorseless beasts, these dogs, and kill numbers of deer, both sambur (Rusa aristotelis) and spotted deer (Axis maculatus). Sometimes they go about in enormous packs ; I have seen one of over sixty myself.


The wild dog has few enemies to keep it in check, and it is but rarely shot by sportsmen. I think, though, that a good many get killed in their encounters with dangerous game, such as boars and tigers. There are many instances on record of wild dogs having tree’d both tigers and panthers, and one, of their having killed and partly eaten a tiger at Bundipore on the Mysore frontier.


The forest we are now passing through has a dense undergrowth of Lceas and zingiberaceous plants, with a host of creepers trailing along the ground and twining up the trunks of the trees, in many instances distorting the tree, or even strangling it altogether. Many species of ficus arc, however, far worse in this respect, for there, in front of you, is a mighty rosewood tree (Dalbergia latifolia), the trunk of which has been almost completely hidden by a fig (F. parasitica), and so tightly has it been embraced that there is nothing to denote that the rosewood is oven alive but that miserable tuft of leaves showing overhead through the luxuriant foliage of its enemy.


We must keep a sharp look out now, for here are the fresh tracks of a solitary elephant, a rogue, no doubt, for he is constantly about here and is the terror of our Kurumbar axemen. I should not be at all surprised if we found him in company with Chloe and Phyllis, who were let loose to graze in this part of the forest last night.


What is Kala running back for ? He must have seen the tusker. No; there is a large sounder of pig (Sus Indica), he says, in a swamp. There they go, headed by a grim old boar, who is, grunting angrily and champing his tusks. We will let him pass as we are not armed.


Here we are at the big depot, and there is old Lutchmi in the swamp. She has evidently not smelt that rogue, or she would have come straight home again, for she does not like wild elephants, and is not given to flirting with rogues, like her giddy companions, Chloe and Phyllis.


Just look at the magnificent trees here ! And no wonder they are so fine,, for the soil is a deep rich loam, nearly black, and composed entirely of the rich surface-soil washed down from the low hills around by the monsoon rains. The rainfall is about eighty inches here annually.. There stands a magnificent teak surrounded by thousands of Mutty trees (Terminalia tomentosa), and Venghay (Pterocarpus marsupium), and Venteak (Lagerstroemia microcarpa), with here and there a noble rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia).



Here, just off the road, is a monstrous fig (Ficus mysorensis) that was blown down in the fearful monsoon gales of 1882. A famous tree it was, too, known amongst the Kurumbara as the great “Goni Barray”. Its branches bore twice a year a rich crop of wax and honey, for over a hundred colonies of the largo bee (Apis dorsata) have resorted for years to this mighty tree to rear their broods in fancied security.


We must return now, for we go to Bhawully this evening. The forest here swarms with birds. That handsome black bird flying across the path is the Bhimraj (Edolus paradisus), often tamed by Muhammadans for its song. It also possesses a strong power of mimicry, and, in captivity, will imitate the mowing of cats, crying of babies, and cackling of poultry in the most wonderful manner. In English it is known as the racquet-tailed drongo shrike, from the two elongated tail feathers, which are curled into the shape of a racquet at the end.


Seated on a twig is a male of the handsome Malabar trogon (Harpactes fasciatus), his rose-pink breast contrasting beautifully with the delicately-penciled black of his wings, flashing like a meteor across the path, flies the lovely bronze-wing dove (Chalcophaps Indica), the metallic green of his wings glittering like some jewel in the sunshine ; and on the tree in front are a host of flame birds (Pericrocotus flammeus), the cocks clad in orange-red and black and the hens in gold and dark grey.


The oriole (Oriolus kundoo) is here, too, resplendent in his gold and black livery, and the fairy blue-bird (Irena puella) with a back of the loveliest cobalt blue, the rest of his body a jetty black. Hodgson’s wood-pecker (Picus Hodgsoni) is investigating the trunk of yonder hoary tree and making the forest resound again with his loud rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat. The moment we catch his eye he slips round the trunk like lightning.


But how is it possible to describe the hundreds of species of birds that swarm in these forests, with the limited space at my command ? I must even content myself with a dry list of them at the end.


We have reached Begur now, and so we will mount our horses and be off to Bhawully. At Karticollam we branch off to the Mysore road, and, after going a short distance, pass the Padry Reserve signboard and a little further on reach the Bhawully bridge. We now dismount, and go down to the river and have a look at the colonies of bees (Apis dorsata) that have built under the arches of the bridge. It is a wonderful sight truly ! There are over a hundred hives : the bees are flying in millions across the bridge and we see nervous travellers passing the bridge at a run to avoid being stung.


Seated on a willow tree are about fifty or sixty birds— king-crows (Dicrurus macrocercus) and bee-eaters (Mcrops viridis and Swinhoii). Watch them, and you will see one or two leave their perches for a moment, fly rapidly through the arches of the bridge, snap up a bee, and retire to the forest on the opposite side to devour their prey at their leisure. This goes on continuously, and the numbers of bees devoured in this way must be something enormous.


Before returning to Manantoddy we will just take a run down to the pool in the Cubbani at Shanamangalam, and have a try for mahseer (Barbas mosal) and Carnatic carp (B. Carnaticus). There are some monsters in this great pool, and if we are fortunate enough to get a run, we must look to our tackle and see that it is in proper order.


Here is the pool, some four hundred yards long by one hundred yards broad, and from ten to seventeen foot deep ; a fine sheet of water. We will now unwind our reel, and dry the three hundred yards of strong cotton line it holds, in the sun for a quarter of an hour. We will also oil the winch, for it is a cheek winch invented by me, and see that it is in proper working order. Having done this, we will prepare our bait.


First and foremost we cut a bamboo rod, seven feet long, and put on a single gut-lino with a fine hair-hook ; next we deftly tie on a leaf-fly and then chuck in a handful of Valisneria leaf. See how the fish are rising : now is the time. Our fly falls gently in the very centre of a patch of floating Valisneria.


There is a swirl, and a tug, and, after a little play, we land a nice little Carnatic carp, nine inches long, just the right size. Our Kurumbars have meanwhile made a bamboo basket with a narrow mouth, and we put our bait into it and lower it into the water with a tuft of grass, to keep the fish from jumping out, shoved into its mouth.


In ten minutes we have half-a-dozen young carp, and it is now time to reel up our line. This finished, we examine the three trebles and coat the silk whipping with a little fly-wax. These trebles are the very largest and strongest made for mahseer fishing. We now cut a strong bamboo rod, twenty-five feet long, nice and pliable, and lash it firmly to a willow tree so that the point overhangs a deep, shady portion of the pool.


Next we take out a carp and with a needle stitch a double thread through his back, just in front of the dorsal fin. We then pass one of the hooks through the loop of thread thus formed, and tie our line to the tip of the bamboo rod, so that we can lower our bait at will from the bank ; at the same time we make our tie just strong enough to hook the mahseer when he seizes the bait.


We now drive the spike of our reel deep into the bank, and reel up the slack lino till the dorsal fin of the bait just shows above water. The bait is very vigorous, you see, for he dashes madly round in a circle, striving to escape. A screen must be made or the wily mahseer would never come near the place if he suspected that we were here.


We have another reel, and this we will work in a different way. We will first drive the spike into the ground and then pull out thirty yards of line. About a foot from the hooks, we tie a quartz pebble of a pound in weight, and then we bait the hooks with a lump of raggi dough as big as your two fists. We next gather the lino into a neat coil and fling our bait far out into the pool. When the bait and pebble have settled at the bottom, we gently pull in the slack line till we feel the weight of the stone, and then take a double turn of the line round a stake one foot long and as thick as your finger.


This stake we thrust deep into the sand, and then make the line from the reel to the stake taut. All is ready now, and there is nothing for it but patience. The sun is just setting, and it is the hour when mahsoor wake and begin to feed. Silence ! Not a word must be uttered, so we lie down behind our screen and lazily watch the green imperial pigeons (Carpophaga insignis) cooing and pinning their feathers on yonder bastard ebony tree (Diospyros embryopteris).


Swimming slowly down the pool, nothing visible but his bung-like eyes, goon a mugger (Crocodylus palustris) on the look out for grub. No chance of a mahsoor as long as that scaly monster is on the move!


Some Wodagur women are coming down the bank for water opposite us with their polished brass-pots gracefully poised on their heads. The mugger dives and is gone, the wood pigeons flutter from the ebony tree and swiftly wing their way down stream, a melancholy frog croaks dismally from yon slimy pool covered with ferruginous scum, and the hoot of the great eagle owl (Bubo Nipalensis) is echoed from the dark forest behind us.



The stars twinkle overhead, and soon all nature is hushed, the silence being now and again broken by the splash of some great fish. Hours pass and no sign. It is drowsy work, and soon the heavy breathing of our Kurumbar is the only sound heard. We begin to nod too, when splash ! whir-r-r-v-r ! whir-r-r-r-r-r-r-r !


There is a sound as if the father of all fish had taken a header out of the water, and our reel slugs merrily as yard after yard is reeled - out with the rapidity of lightning ! Gently now ! We seize the line with a strip of chamois leather; it is out through in an instant. Lower the line under water ! Let him travel. Do not attempt to stop him or the line will part. One hundred and fifty yards out and still he goes ! Ha ! His first rush is over, and now we will reel in hand over hand.


In comes the line ; a desperate tug. He is off again. Let him go. Nearly two hundred yards out, and suddenly the line stiffens. Heavens ! it will part. We feel the desperate tugs at the end of it, but not only will it not come in, but when we let it out, it slacks ! The fish has fouled it and has beat us. The raft! the raft! The Kurumbar lights a bamboo torch. I jump on the raft and my companion attends to the line.


We polo rapidly down, line in hand. The fish has fouled in the heavy water below. We shoot past and over the spot. A few tugs at the line and it is free. Hurrah ! the fish is still on ! Let out lino ! we cry as the fish forges ahead, nearly towing the raft. He has doubled and goes up stream, fouling the line again under the raft ; but we quickly free it, and now it tautens as he frantically dashes down again.


Line! line! more line! Ha! see his tail as the water boils under its strokes. His race is run now, and he nears the raff. The glare of the torch lights up his massive back, and, horror of horrors ! shows one hook alone slightly attached to the very tip of his under lip ! One more pull, hands are slipped behind his gills, and he is ours as he lays gasping on the raft. And now back to the hut, the Kurumbar frantic with joy. We land and weigh our prize, sixty-four and a half pounds, a splendid female. Enough for to-night. We get back to camp to sleep soundly till daybreak.

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