It is always thronged with pilgrims and commerce; with trains of bullock carts, caravans of camels and elephants, and thousands of pedestrians pass every milestone daily. Kipling describes them and the road in "Kim" in more graphic language than flows through my typewriter.
We all dismounted, and sent the horses to a considerable distance, lest they should by some noise disturb the elephants. We shortly heard a crackling in the jungle on our right, and Jali assured us that, as he had expected, the elephants were slowly advancing along the jungle on the bank of the river, and would pass exactly before us.
"We'll float along to-night," decided Tom, "and try again in the morning." It was about ten o'clock the next day, when Ned, who had relieved Tom on watch, uttered a cry: "What is it?" asked his chum, as he rushed forward. "Has anything happened?" "Lots!" cried Ned. "Look!" He pointed down below. Tom saw, crashing through the jungle, a big herd of elephants.
The despot was intoxicated with delight, and expecting his most sanguine wishes would be realized, made him the costliest presents, consisting of gold and jewels, and horses, and elephants, so that the besotted stranger thought himself the greatest personage in all the world. But his mother, when she heard these things, implored him to be cautious:
Some persons, however, place too much confidence in the weight of the metal, and forget that it is necessary to hold a powerful rifle as straight as the smallest gun. It is then very common during a chase of a herd to see the elephants falling tolerably well to the shots, but on a return for their tails, it is found that the stunned brutes have recovered and decamped.
Salutations to thee that ownest a bull for thy vehicle, to thee that proceedest riding on the foremost of elephants, to thee that art obtained with difficulty, to thee that art capable of going to places unapproachable by others.
"Those which he finds most necessary and useful to him will occupy the first rank; thus he will give the precedence among the lower animals to the dog and the horse; he will next concern himself with those which without being domesticated, nevertheless occupy the same country and climate as himself, as for example stags, hares, and all wild animals; nor will it be till after he has familiarised himself with all these that curiosity will lead him to inquire what inhabitants there may be in foreign climates, such as elephants, dromedaries, &c.
Its horn is worth $15, but Rajah Muda Yusuf, who desires to have a monopoly of them, says that there are horns with certain peculiar markings which can be sold to the Chinese for $500* each to be powdered and used as medicine. Wild elephants are abundant, but, like the rhinoceros, they ravage the deep recesses of the jungle.
Nowell determined to follow the latter, though it was the narrowest, made by only two or three elephants, or perhaps only one. We knew now that we were less likely to be discovered by the elephants, as they know of the approach of their enemies more by their scent than their sight, which is supposed to be rather short.
In this manner they proceeded, directed from time to time by Kurugsar, till they arrived at the uttermost limits of the kingdom, and entered a desert wilderness. Isfendiyár now asked what they would meet with, and the guide answered, "Two monstrous wolves are in this quarter, as large as elephants, and whose teeth are of immense length."