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The amount of risk to Europeans is quite infinitesimal; when one remembers the very large number of English men and women engaged in Plague work, and the comparatively few attacked, one is greatly impressed by European immunity. In Bombay Presidency two English nurses lost their lives; one from the pneumonic type in Poona, contracted after bicycling on a hot day and then becoming chilled. A second in Bombay, who received the infection from a delirious patient spitting into her eye. As a rule, if a European takes the disease, the attack is of quite a mild type and recovery is the usual result.
The efforts to 'stamp out' the disease having been so comparatively unsuccessful, one is inclined to think more radical measures should be adopted. The suggestion to burn down insanitary areas and rebuild at Government expense may yet have to be seriously considered, as it seems likely to prove less expensive in the long run than keeping up large Plague organisations, against which the native fights openly and in secret.
Improved and compulsory sanitation of towns and villages, with wholesome water supply, are crying needs. Education among the native children on questions relating to hygiene is of great importance. An adequate and efficient staff of medical officers, with special qualifications for sanitary work ; notification of infectious diseases and certificate of cause of death, must in time come to be looked upon as necessary for the safety of the Indian Empire.
K. MARION HUNTER,
Late Plague Medical Officer, Poona.
AMONG THE ELEPHANTS
* Il faut souffrir pour arriver.' The great beast lives in the inaccessible places of the earth ; and something like a hundred miles by road, from the nearest port or railway station, must be traversed on horseback by day and by night in a cart. A ‘half cart? is best; in a whole cart the traveller is tossed from side to side till he is black and blue; but in the half cart he fills the whole of the half, and may even sleep a little. It is only another proof of the eternal truth of Hesiod's statement, that Half is better than the whole.'
A fool is he who feels not in his soul
If the nights spent on the way recall the Inferno, the days are those of Paradise when once the hills are reached, and the traveller rides through shady forest under a leafy canopy, only admitting the sunshine by infrequent shafts; every support of the lofty roof a tall pillar tree with a green Corinthian capital, festooned with vines and creeping plants, and the floor covered with an undergrowth of tree ferns, cycas, and flowering shrubs, or the graceful cardamom, whose smooth glistening oblong leaves wave tremulously in light breezes, which hardly stir the firmer foliage of the trees. Above, black monkeys leap joyously from tree to tree; Malabar squirrels jump about, the yellow fur of their stomachs and the red fur of their backs gleaming in the sunshine which catches the taller trees; wood pigeons flit through the sylvan aisles; jungle fowl cackle; woodpeckers tap the tree trunks, and cicadæ shrilly whistle; and yet the general effect is one of silence. In the morning hours one might well call these forests the mysterious temple of the dawn. Outside the evergreen forest every fold of the hillside contains a little wood, the source of a crystal stream, along the banks of which grow rhododendrons big as English oaks, tropical lilies, the beautiful blue thunbergia, the petræa, and many other gorgeous plants. The flowering trees forbid one to forget the tropics, while the gardenia, the violet, and many other familiar flowers, recall the bountiful isles of the West.
The first camp is on the banks of the Periar river, where the hillmen had built charming huts of bamboo, thatched with grass, the walls of which are made of the leaves of the elephant reed. Little verandahs surround the huts, and just below, across a patch of grass, the stream that washes the shores of the little island comes tumbling over rocks till it reaches the depths held up by a vast dam, which has turned the course of this river from its western way to the Arabian Sea, and has forced it all unwilling to irrigate the thirsty lands which lie between the Travancore frontier and the Bay of Bengal. To cross the lake takes half a day in the little launch; and while the trees are growing between three and four thousand feet above the sea level, the launch runs in and out between the tops of the trees composing the phantom forest, which still raises its withered head just above the waters, for the bed of the lake is a submerged forest. Here Mr. Edward Stonor joined me, and as he made his way through the tree tops, 'nota quæ sedes fuerat columbis,' if he saw no timid stags swimming in the overwhelming flood, he did at any rate see the herds, not of Proteus, but of the elephant, along the banks.
The first arrival in one of these hill camps is quite a novel experience. Transport is exceedingly difficult and expensive, but still on the whole one does not want for food or furniture. Buckets, for instance, are quite unnecessary. The divisions between the compartments of the female bamboo are severed, and a foot of water replenishes the filter, while a yard of bamboo of a bigger bore fills the bath. Of the same useful material beds, chairs, and tables are manufactured on the spot. In fine weather there is no more fascinating spot than this camp, and for fine weather it is worth offering 2,000 rupees to the local divinity, which a certain Government is fabled to have done on an occasion when rain would have seriously marred entertainments given in honour of an exalted guest.
The hillmen must be born courtiers in spite of their independent way and speech, for while you associate with them you would never imagine that they look upon yourself and your presence as an unmitigated nuisance, though such is the fact. They differ very much in different localities ; though all agree in knowing a great deal about the wild animals, and in detesting the sport which brings the Englishmen to shoot them. If the sahib would kill females or the young for the table there would be some reason in his ridiculous proceedings. Tea and coffee, too, are most obnoxious shrubs, leading to the settlement of the sahibs in places which Providence intended for hillmen. Yet these men will well repay study. The natural occupation of one tribe is felling forests, and there are hillmen who in a wasteful way carry on an exceedingly casual cultivation. One of these announced the birth of a son and a little axeman in the following terms: "Last night the leaves of the forest trembled, and
the trees cried aloud, “Lo! now in the future thousands of us must lay low our heads!”: This is pretty well for a man who pretends he never can understand anything that he is wanted to do lest he should be wanted to do it. But, in fact, they are no fools, except when it suits them. Sometimes they become witnesses in boundary disputes of great importance, and are called upon to declare that a peak here and a valley there possess, or was reported to possess, a name, and that some one or other had or had not exercised certain rights. Then they rise to the occasion, and when approached in turn by the representatives of either side they ask a friend for guidance and say, 'If we do not know to which side the gentleman belongs, how can we tell what name to give the peak or how to fix the position of the valley ?'
Another tribe, the Kaders, descend giddy precipices at night, torch in hand, to smoke out the bees and take away their honey. A stout creeper is suspended over the abyss, and it is established law of the jungle, that no brother shall assist in holding it. But it is more interesting to see them run a ladder a hundred feet up the perpendicular stem of a tree, than to watch them disappearing over a precipice. Axe in hand the honey-picker makes a hole in the bark for a little peg, standing on which he inserts a second peg higher up, ties a long cane from one to the other, and by night-for the darkness gives confidence-he will ascend the tallest trees and bring down honey without any accident.
They have their goods in common, and a surviving brother inherits the wife and goods of the deceased. Hence the rule about the rope, but which of these two temptations is considered the more irresistible has never yet been revealed.
Then there is the patient cooly—the motive power of the East an admirable creature take him all in all. But he, too, hates the hills, and he has to be stayed with bribes, made apoplectic with pay, and tempted with all kinds of allowances before he will leave the hot and steamy plains for the upper Eden. He, too, wishes the sahib's shooting, the tea, and the coffee in the depths of the bottomless pit, and nothing but the infinite patience and kindliness of the European planter in India really enables him to furnish, for half of the tables in Britain, the cheering cup we drain at breakfast.
How much better the planter often knows the native than the bonourable member who makes speeches in the Legislative Council, and how untrue it is to represent him as an oppressor ! I who have known innumerable instances of kind treatment will here mention two, because they are amusing. An old woman and a young boy were treated by their employer's wife for months for a serious complaint, and finally completely recovered their health. They were then desired to resume work, when both plaintively asked whether was really possible that the sahib and his wife, after treating them like their own children for so long, could intend them to work like coolies again!
On another occasion an old woman asked her employer for 10 rupees, which she had vowed as an offering at the shrine of a neighbouring goddess whose festival was just then being celebrated. The next day she was seen picking weeds as usual, and when her master said, “Why! I thought you were going to make your offering,' she said, 'I made it over to another cooly who was going? But, asked the master, 'How do you know he will give it to the goddess ?'
Oh !' said she, I don't. All I know is, I vowed 10 rupees, and I paid 10 rupees; and if the goddess cannot look after the money herself, what can be expected from a poor old woman like me?'
the hundreds of millions of India the vast majority are more like the cooly than the smart lawyers, who pretend to represent them and their feelings in the Legislative Councils. The honourable gentlemen represent a microscopical minority, and see far less of the masses than the European, who, as a planter, a sportsman, or an official of the older school, mixes with the people, talks to them in their own languages, and recognises the stage of development which they have actually reached, and their real capacity for the absorption of the benefits of highly elaborate and scientific administration. Indeed, the busy lawyer of the towns sees nothing of the people.
I ventured to say so last year during the Budget debate in the Viceroy's Council, and though taken to task by Indian friends, whose opinions I respect and value, I will repeat the statement. The voice of the people does not thus penetrate into the Council Chamber.
Within a mile or two of the camp my guest shot an ibex the morning after his arrival, and next day Sir Henry Tichborne joined us and shot another. But our objective was the lordly elephant and the magnificent bison, for we had, all three, been granted, by the special favour of His Highness the Maharaja of Travancore, permission to shoot a tusker and a bison. This is a rare privilege. Few princes have elephants, and where they have, like the British Government, they make a rule of not giving permission to shoot them. I remember a certain British Resident once obtaining permission from a Raja to kill a tusker, whereupon the latter was approached by a private gentleman with a similar request, who, not obtaining his permit
, suggested that he might accompany the official and only finish off what the latter might fail to bring to bag, whereupon the Raja replied that he was quite content that any of his elephants which the Resident did not kill, should die a natural death.
So we left our sunny camp on the banks of the Perujar, and once more travelled down the lake, with no greater accident than the loss of my spoon, which, neglected of the fish, was caught by one of the submerged trees, and now glitters somewhere in the bosom of the