Siriska, 23 February 1893

Thick fog covered the whole valley when I stepped out of my tent. The rain had stopped but it was still dripping from the trees and everything swam in water. There was no chance of hunting a tiger as the fog in the morning prevented a potential confirmation of the tiger.

Towards 11 o’clock the fog finally began to sink, the top of the mountains became visible, the sky was smiling blue and the sun was glittering friendly so that the head shikari could organize a hunt with falcons and caracals which turned out not as well as intended. The falcons turned out to be clumsy and untrained as they didn’t want to catch many of the fling chicken. The caracals, meanwhile, ignored the hares and after a few leaps returned to their masters.

In the mean time, sambars and nilgais had been confirmed which the chief professional hunter asked me to hunt. To his great astonishment I offered the first ones to Wurmbrand, the latter ones to Kinsky who  had lain in bed with fever while we shot the frowned upon nilgais in Bhartpur. Kinsky bagged one nilgai after an extended hunt and wounded a second one while  Wurmbrand returned, unfortunately, without completing the task.

Together with the other gentlemen I undertook a large hunt of the whole valley in which we searched even the tiniest of ground elevation, all jungles and ridges and bagged in four hours 80 chicken and sand grouses. Prónay and I shot too a white-footed fox each (Vulpes leucopus); also a jackal became my prize under unusual circumstances. We heard loud barking and howling of jackals and saw while we were marching across a hill eight jackals in the valley which followed a rancid fay while creating a hell of concert, hunting and biting one another so that at any moment, some of them stumbled over the others. I called our line of drivers to halt and sneaked up on them as good as I could in a plain without cover. I only managed to come to within 400 paces.

Clam and Prónay noticed this, the latter one ran on foot in front of the jackals while Clam on a pony drove them towards me. The main pride changed direction unfortunately and escaped out of sight. Two jackals however appeared in plain flight followed by Clam 100 paces away from my position behind a boulder where I had taken cover with difficulty so that I managed to kill one jackal with a bullet.

We were still fully occupied with the hunt when a shikari reported that tigers had been sighted in the next mountains. Naturally all firing ceased in time. We galloped to the camp where our physician Dr. Bem experienced a tragic-comical event. He too had mounted a horse proudly. But this valiant deed ended soon thereafter with a touch of the earth. His horse had been mean enough to throw him into a thick hedge of cacti so that he returned to the tent covered in thorns. He sank down on the bed, a pitiful spectacle, lamenting a thorn had pierced his lung and a long illness which would put him into bed for a long time, Even death could catch him here far from home in the wilderness where no fair hand would close his breaking eye.

Deeply moved from those dark images and groaning the poor lay there. We were full of compassion but also smiling against our will as the sighs and laments escaped  the body in a true Bohemian-German accent. Finally one of the English colleagues extracted over twenty thorns out of the body of the brave rider who now, free and comforted, gasped with relief and did not want to have anything to do with illness and sickness but was in a good mood again soon. According to the principle that those that suffered the damage were bound to earn the mockery, his story was the main topic of the evening.

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 23.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays a comedy „Der Unterstaatssekretär“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents once more „Die Rantzau“.

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