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CURIOUS EXPLOIT OF AN ELEPHANT. In India, this mighty animal is trained to perform some strange exploits in war and hunting. Mounted on his high back the hunters enter the jungles to turn out and shoot the tigers, and fierce contests sometimes take place, as you see in the picture. The curious exploit mentioned below is of a more pleasing character.
About ten years ago, a most terrific hurricane visited the southern provinces of our Indian empire. Sweeping over the plains on the eastern side of the Ghauts, it carried devastation on every side. Thousands of trees fell beneath its fury. Amongst the latter was a large mango tree in the mission compound at Palamcottah. This tree was blown over, but its roots, being broken on one side only, it was thought that, if it could be set upright, it might again live and grow. Accordingly, men were obtained to undertake this task, and all the top branches were cut off. Then forty or fifty coolies were employed two whole days in endeavouring to set it up; but it defied their unskilful though strenuous efforts.
At the end of the second day, there the tree lay, refusing to be moved by them.
A friend now suggested the desirableness of sending for “the great Tinnevelly elephant,” as it was called, which was kept at the large Tinnevelly pagoda. The idea seemed to be a good one, and so the great elephant was sent for. Well do I remember his coming into the compound, and the astonishing scene which followed.
His keeper, riding on his neck, brought him up to the house and inquired for what he was wanted. Being told what it was wished the elephant should do, he marched him off to the place where the tree was lying. On arriving there, still sitting on his neck, the driver pointed to the fallen tree, and leaning forward, as if to speak into his ear, told him in Tamil (the native language of the country) what he was to do. To this the elephant replied by elevating his trunk and uttering a short trumpet-like note. Then, going to the upper part of the tree, he coiled his trunk round one of the limbs and raised it so as to get his tusks beneath the principal branch, when, by a mighty effort, he elevated the tree so that it rested on his tusks and forehead together. Next, putting out his whole strength, he pushed it up as far as he could reach, and held it so for an instant; but finding it would not stay there, he withdrew his head and threw it down in apparent disgust. It was at once perceived that props were needed to support it when raised, and men were sent off to procure them. Whilst waiting their return, the elephant walked to the living fence which surrounded the compound on two sides, and broke off a large branch, as I supposed to eat the leaves; but no such thing. The flies were very numerous and troublesome; and so, taking the branch in his trunk he whisked it about, first on one side and then on the other, to keep off the troublesome insects.
The props having arrived, he returned to his work, and raised the tree as before. This time the supports were placed under it, consequently it stayed in its place, and he seemed satisfied. Having rested a minute, he returned to to the charge, and pushed the tree up further, when again the props were placed under it. Thus in three or four pushes he set it upright, and was then apparently so well pleased with his exploit, that it was necessary to restrain him, or he would have pushed it over on the other side.
Having thus performed his task, he was again taken round to the front of the house, where a cocoa-nut was brought for him; and he keenly eyed the man whilst he was chopping off the husk. The fruit was then thrown down to him; but before touching it, he made his salaam for it. This he did by putting the point of his trunk to his forehead, and bowing his head at the same time. Then taking up the nut, he dashed it against his forehead, and broke the shell. The kernel was speedily extracted by that very useful instrument, his trunk, and was quickly being ground between his enormous teeth, with evident satisfaction to his huge highness. He was next told to dance, which he immediately did, and went through the performance with a very good grace, to
the great amusement of all present, his enormous feet making deep indentations in the ground beneath. For this exhibition of his dexterity and skill, he was presented with a quarter of a rupee, (a coin about the size of a sixpence,) which was thrown on the ground for him. He at once made his salaam for the donation, and then, picking it up, handed it to his keeper; and having, at the bidding of the latter, made a parting salaam to each of the company present, he departed to his home.
At the time I witnessed the above, I was new to India and all things there. Being strange to me, tlie scene made a deep impression on my mind. But during the whole of my subsequent residence, I certainly never saw anything more surprising than the sagacity of that noble animal. In putting up the tree, he seemed to understand what was to be done, just as well as any human being present; and the exhibition of animal power, when he strained every muscle, was a splendid sight. Indeed I know not which was the more astonishing, the sagacity he exhibited, or the muscular power he displayed. Both were far beyond my previously conceived notions, and led me still further to admire the wonderful works of the Creator.
A CURIOUS INSTRUMENT. A GENTLEMAN, just returned from a journey to London, was surrounded by his children, eager, after the first salutations were over, to hear the news; and still more eager to see the contents of a small portmanteau, which were, one by one, carefully unfolded and displayed to view. After distributing amongst them a few small presents, the father took his seat again, saying that he must confess he had brought from town, for his own use, something far more curious and valuable than any of the little gifts they had received. It was, he said, too good to present to any of them; but he would, if they pleased, first give them a brief description of it, and then perhaps they might be allowed to inspect it.
The children were accordingly all attention, while the father thus proceeded :—" This small instrument displays the most perfect ingenuity of construction, and exquisite nicety and beauty of workmanship: from its extreme delicacy it is so liable to injury that a sort of light curtain, adorned with a beautiful fringe, is always provided, and so placed as to fall in a moment on the approach of the slightest danger. Its external appearance is always more or less beautiful; yet in this respect there is a great diversity in the different sorts; but the internal contrivance is the same in all them, and is so extremely curious, and its powers so truly astonishing, that no one who considers it can suppress his surprise and admiration. By a slight and momentary movement, which is easily effected by the person it belongs to, you can ascertain with considerable accuracy the size, colour, shape, weight, and value of any article whatever. A person possessed of one is thus saved from the necessity of asking a thousand questions, and trying a variety of troublesome experiments, which would otherwise be necessary; and such a slow and laborious process would, after all, not suc