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Inglis, James / Sport and Work on the Nepaul Frontier Twelve Years Sporting Reminiscences of an Indigo Planter
Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team

[Illustration: _Frontispiece_. TIGER HUNTING. RETURN TO THE CAMP.]









[Note: Some words in this book have a macron over a vowel. A macron
is a punctuation mark ( - ) and is represented herein as [=a], [=e]
or [=o].]


I went home in 1875 for a few months, after some twelve years' residence
in India. What first suggested the writing of such a book as this, was
the amazing ignorance of ordinary Indian life betrayed by people at
home. The questions asked me about India, and our daily life there,
showed in many cases such an utter want of knowledge, that I thought,
surely there is room here for a chatty, familiar, unpretentious book
for friends at home, giving an account of our every-day life in India,
our labours and amusements, our toils and relaxations, and a few
pictures of our ordinary daily surroundings in the far, far East.

Such then is the design of my book. I want to picture to my readers
Planter Life in the Mofussil, or country districts of India; to tell
them of our hunting, shooting, fishing, and other amusements; to
describe our work, our play, and matter-of-fact incidents in our daily
life; to describe the natives as they appear to us in our intimate
every-day dealings with them; to illustrate their manners, customs,
dispositions, observances and sayings, so far as these bear on our own
social life.

I am no politician, no learned ethnologist, no sage theorist. I simply
try to describe what I have seen, and hope to enlist the attention and
interest of my readers, in my reminiscences of sport and labour, in the
villages and jungles on the far off frontier of Nepaul.

I have tried to express my meaning as far as possible without Anglo-Indian
and Hindustani words; where these have been used, as at times they could
not but be, I have given a synonymous word or phrase in English, so that
all my friends at home may know my meaning.

I know that my friends will be lenient to my faults, and even the
sternest critic, if he look for it, may find some pleasure and profit in
my pages.




Province of Behar.--Boundaries.--General description.--District of
Chumparun.--Mooteeharree.--The town and lake.--Native houses.--The
Planters' Club.--Legoulie.


My first charge.--How we get our lands.--Our home farm.--System of
farming.--Collection of rents.--The planter's duties.


How to get our crop.--The 'Dangurs.'--Farm servants and their duties.
--Kassee Rai.--Hoeing.--Ploughing.--'Oustennie.'--Coolies at Work.
--Sowing.--Difficulties the plant has to contend with.--Weeding.


Manufacture of Indigo.--Loading the vats.--Beating.--Boiling, straining,
and pressing.--Scene in the Factory.--Fluctuation of produce.--Chemistry
of Indigo.


Parewah factory.--A 'Bobbery Pack.'--Hunt through a village after
a cat.--The pariah dog of India.--Fate of 'Pincher.'--Rampore
hound.--Persian greyhound.--Caboolee dogs.--A jackal hunt.--Incidents
of the chase.


Fishing in India.--Hereditary trades.--The boatmen and fishermen of
India.--Their villages.--Nets.--Modes of fishing.--Curiosities relating
thereto.--Catching an alligator with a hook.--Exciting capture.
--Crocodiles.--Shooting an alligator.--Death of the man-eater.


Native superstitions.--Charming a bewitched woman.--Exorcising ghosts
from a field.--Witchcraft.--The witchfinder or 'Ojah,'--Influence of
fear.--Snake bites.--How to cure them.--How to discover a thief.--Ghosts
and their habits.--The 'Haddick' or native bone-setter.--Cruelty to
animals by natives.


Our annual race meet.--The arrivals.--The camps.--The 'ordinary,'--The
course.--'They're off.'--The race.--The steeple-chase.--Incidents of
the meet.--The ball.


Pig-sticking in India.--Varieties of boar.--Their size and height.
--Ingenious mode of capture by the natives.--The 'Batan' or buffalo
herd.--Pigs charging.--Their courage and ferocity.--Destruction of
game.--A close season for game.


Kuderent jungle.--Charged by a pig.--The biter bit.--'Mac' after the
big boar.--The horse for pig-sticking.--The line of beaters.--The boar
breaks.--'Away! Away!'--First spear.--Pig-sticking at Peeprah.--The
old 'lungra' or cripple.--A boar at bay.--Hurrah for pig-sticking!


The sal forests.--The jungle goddess.--The trees in the jungle.
--Appearance of the forests.--Birds.--Varieties of parrots.--A 'beat'
in the forest.--The 'shekarry.'--Mehrman Singh and his gun.--The Banturs,
a jungle tribe of wood-cutters.--Their habits.--A village feast.--We
beat for deer.--Habits of the spotted deer.--Waiting for the game.
--Mehrman Singh gets drunk.--Our bag.--Pea-fowl and their habits.--How
to shoot them.--Curious custom of the Nepaulese.--How Juggroo was
tricked, and his revenge.


The leopard.--How to shoot him.--Gallant encounter with a wounded
one.--Encounter with a leopard in a Dak bungalow.--Pat shoots two
leopards.--Effects of the Express bullet.--The 'Sirwah Purrul,' or
annual festival of huntsmen.--The Hindoo ryot.--Rice-planting and
harvest.--Poverty of the ryot.--His apathy.--Village fires.--Want of


Description of a native village.--Village functionaries.--The barber.
--Bathing habits.--The village well.--The school.--The children.--The
village bazaar.--The landowner and his dwelling.--The 'Putwarrie' or
village accountant.--The blacksmith.--The 'Punchayiet' or village jury
system.--Our legal system in India.--Remarks on the administration of


A native village continued.--The watchman or 'chowkeydar.'--The temple.
--Brahmins.--Idols.--Religion.--Humility of the poorer classes.--Their
low condition.--Their apathy.--The police.--Their extortions and knavery.
--An instance of police rascality.--Corruption of native officials.--The
Hindoo unfit for self-government.


Jungle wild fruits.--Curious method of catching quail.--Quail nets.
--Quail caught in a blacksmith's shop.--Native wrestling.--The trainer.
--How they train for a match.--Rules of wrestling.--Grips.--A wrestling
match.--Incidents of the struggle.--Description of a match between a
Brahmin and a blacksmith.--Sparring for the grip.--The blacksmith has
it.--The struggle.--The Brahmin getting the worst of it.--Two to one
on the little 'un!--The Brahmin plays the waiting game, turns the tables
_and_ the blacksmith.--Remarks on wrestling.


Indigo seed growing.--Seed buying and buyers.--Tricks of sellers.--Tests
for good seed.--The threshing-floor.--Seed cleaning and packing.--Staff
of servants.--Despatching the bags by boat.--The 'Pooneah' or rent day.
--Purneah planters--their hospitality.--The rent day a great festival.
--Preparation.--Collection of rents.--Feast to retainers.--The reception
in the evening.--Tribute.--Old customs.--Improvisatores and bards.
--Nautches.--Dancing and music.--The dance of the Dangurs.--Jugglers
and itinerary showmen.--'Bara Roopes,' or actors and mimics.--Their
different styles of acting.


The Koosee jungles.--Ferries.--Jungle roads.--The rhinoceros.--We go
to visit a neighbour.--We lose our way and get belated.--We fall into
a quicksand.--No ferry boat.--Camping out on the sand.--Two tigers close
by.--We light a fire.--The boat at last arrives.--Crossing the stream.
--Set fire to the boatman's hut.--Swim the horses.--They are nearly
drowned.--We again lose our way in the jungle.--The towing path, and
how boats are towed up the river.--We at last reach the factory.--News
of rhinoceros in the morning.--Off we start, but arrive too late.--Death
of the rhinoceros.--His dimensions.--Description.--Habits.--Rhinoceros
in Nepaul.--The old 'Major Capt[=a]n.'--Description of Nepaulese scenery.
--Immigration of Nepaulese.--Their fondness for fish.--They eat it
putrid.--Exclusion of Europeans from Nepaul.--Resources of the country.
--Must sooner or later be opened up.--Influences at work to elevate
the people.--Planters and factories chief of these.--Character of the
planter.--Has claims to consideration from government.


The tiger.--His habitat.--Shooting on foot.--Modes of shooting.--A
tiger hunt on foot.--The scene of the hunt.--The beat.--Incidents of
the hunt.--Fireworks.--The tiger charges.--The elephant bolts.--The
tigress will not break.--We kill a half-grown cub.--Try again for
the tigress.--Unsuccessful.--Exaggerations in tiger stories.--My
authorities.--The brothers S.--Ferocity and structure of the
tiger.--His devastations.--His frame-work, teeth, &c.--A tiger at
bay.--His unsociable habits.--Fight between tiger and tigress.--Young
tigers.--Power and strength of the tiger.--Examples.--His cowardice.
--Charge of a wounded tiger.--Incidents connected with wounded tigers.
--A spined tiger.--Boldness of young tigers.--Cruelty.--Cunning.--Night
scenes in the jungle.--Tiger killed by a wild boar.--His cautious
habits.--General remarks.


The tiger's mode of attack.--The food he prefers.--Varieties of prey.
--Examples.--What he eats first.--How to tell the kill of a tiger.
--Appetite fierce.--Tiger choked by a bone.--Two varieties of tiger.
--The royal Bengal.--Description.--The hill tiger.--His description.
--The two compared.--Length of the tiger.--How to measure tigers.
--Measurements.--Comparison between male and female.--Number of
young at a birth.--The young cubs.--Mother teaching cubs to kill.
--Education and progress of the young tiger.--Wariness and cunning
of the tiger.--Hunting incidents shewing their powers of concealment.
--Tigers taking to water.--Examples.--Swimming powers.--Caught by
floods.--Story of the Soonderbund tigers.


No regular breeding season.--Beliefs and prejudices of the natives
about tigers.--Bravery of the 'gwalla,' or cowherd caste.--Claw-marks
on trees.--Fondness for particular localities.--Tiger in Mr. F.'s
howdah.--Springing powers of tigers.--Lying close in cover.--Incident.
--Tiger shot with No. 4 shot.--Man clawed by a tiger.--Knocked its eye
out with a sickle.--Same tiger subsequently shot in same place.--Tigers
easily killed.--Instances.--Effect of shells on tiger and buffalo.--Best
weapon and bullets for tiger.--Poisoning tigers denounced.--Natives
prone to exaggerate in giving news of tiger.--Anecdote.--Beating for
tiger.--Line of elephants.--Padding dead game.--Line of seventy-six
elephants.--Captain of the hunt.--Flags for signals in the line.
--'Naka,' or scout ahead.--Usual time for tiger shooting on the Koosee.
--Firing the jungle.--The line of fire at night.--Foolish to shoot at
moving jungle.--Never shoot down the line.--Motions of different animals
in the grass.


Howdahs and howdah-ropes.--Mussulman custom.--Killing animals for food.
--Mysterious appearance of natives when an animal is killed.--Fastening
dead tigers to the pad.--Present mode wants improving.--Incident
illustrative of this.--Dangerous to go close to wounded tigers.
--Examples.--Footprints of tigers.--Call of the tiger.--Natives and
their powers of description.--How to beat successfully for tiger.
--Description of a beat.--Disputes among the shooters.--Awarding
tigers.--Cutting open the tiger.--Native idea about the liver of the
tiger.--Signs of a tiger's presence in the jungle.--Vultures.--Do they
scent their quarry or view it?--A vulture carrion feast.


We start for a tiger hunt on the Nepaul frontier.--Indian scenery near
the border.--Lose our way.--Cold night.--The river by night.--Our boat
and boatmen.--Tigers calling on the bank.--An anxious moment.--Fire at
and wound the tigress.--Reach camp.--The Nepaulee's adventure with a
tiger.--The old Major.--His appearance and manners.--The pompous
Jemadar.--Nepaulese proverb.--Firing the jungle.--Start a tiger and
shoot him.--Another in front.--Appearance of the fires by night.--The
tiger escapes.--Too dark to follow up.--Coolie shot by mistake during
a former hunt.


We resume the beat.--The hog-deer.--Nepaulese villages.--Village
granaries.--Tiger in front.--A hit! a hit!--Following up the wounded
tiger.--Find him dead.--Tiffin in the village.--The Patair jungle.
--Search for tiger.--Gone away!--An elephant steeplechase in pursuit.
--Exciting chase.--The Morung jungle.--Magnificent scenery.--Skinning
the tiger.--Incidents of tiger hunting.


Camp of the Nepaulee chief.--Quicksands.--Elephants crossing rivers.
--Tiffin at the Nepaulee camp.--We beat the forest for tiger.--Shoot
a young tiger.--Red ants in the forest.--Bhowras or ground bees.--The
_ursus labialis_ or long-lipped bear.--Recross the stream.--Florican.
--Stag running the gauntlet of flame.--Our bag.--Start for factory.
--Remarks on elephants.--Precautions useful for protection from the
sun in tiger shooting.--The _puggree_.--Cattle breeding in India, and
wholesale deaths of cattle from disease.--Nathpore.--Ravages of the
river.--Mrs. Gray, an old resident in the jungles.--Description of
her surroundings.


Exciting jungle scene.--The camp.--All quiet.--Advent of the cow-herds.
--A tiger close by.--Proceed to the spot.--Encounter between tigress
and buffaloes.--Strange behaviour of the elephant.--Discovery and
capture of four cubs.--Joyful return to camp.--Death of the tigress.
--Night encounter with a leopard.--The haunts of the tiger and our
shooting grounds.


Remarks on guns.--How to cure skins.--Different Recipes.--Conclusion.


Tiger Hunting--Return to the Camp
Coolie's Hut
Indigo Beating Vats
Indigo Beaters at work in the Vat
Indian Factory Peon
Indigo Planter's House
Pig Stickers
Carpenters and Blacksmiths at work
Hindoo Village Temples


Province of Behar.--Boundaries.--General description.--District of
Chumparun.--Mooteeharree.--The town and lake.--Native houses.--The
Planters' Club.--Legoulie.

Among the many beautiful and fertile provinces of India, none can, I
think, much excel that of Behar for richness of soil, diversity of
race, beauty of scenery, and the energy and intelligence of its
inhabitants. Stretching from the Nepaul hills to the far distant
plains of Gya, with the Gunduch, Bogmuttee and other noble streams
watering its rich bosom, and swelling with their tribute the stately
Ganges, it includes every variety of soil and climate; and its various
races, with their strange costumes, creeds, and customs, might afford
material to fill volumes.

The northern part of this splendid province follows the Nepaulese
boundary from the district of Goruchpore on the north, to that of
Purneah on the south. In the forests and jungles along this boundary
line live many strange tribes, whose customs, and even their names and
language, are all but unknown to the English public. Strange wild
animals dispute with these aborigines the possession of the gloomy
jungle solitudes. Great trees of wondrous dimensions and strange
foliage rear their stately heads to heaven, and are matted and
entwined together by creepers of huge size and tenacious hold.

To the south and east vast billows of golden grain roll in successive
undulations to the mighty Ganges, the sacred stream of the Hindoos.
Innumerable villages, nestling amid groves of plantains and feathery
rustling bamboos, send up their wreaths of pale grey smoke into the
still warm air. At frequent intervals the steely blue of some lovely
lake, where thousands of water-fowl disport themselves, reflects from
its polished surface the sheen of the noonday sun. Great masses of
mango wood shew a sombre outline at intervals, and here and there the
towering chimney of an indigo factory pierces the sky. Government
roads and embankments intersect the face of the country in all
directions, and vast sheets of the indigo plant refresh the eye with
their plains of living green, forming a grateful contrast to the hard,
dried, sun-baked surface of the stubble fields, where the rice crop
has rustled in the breezes of the past season. In one of the loveliest
and most fertile districts of this vast province, namely, Chumparun, I
began my experiences as an indigo planter.

Chumparun with its subdistrict of Bettiah, lies to the north of
Tirhoot, and is bounded all along its northern extent by the Nepaul
hills and forests. When I joined my appointment as assistant on one
of the large indigo concerns there, there were not more than about
thirty European residents altogether in the district. The chief town,
Mooteeharree, consisted of a long _bazaar_, or market street, beautifully
situated on the bank of a lovely lake, some two miles in length. From
the main street, with its quaint little shops sheltered from the sun
by makeshift verandahs of tattered sacking, weather-stained shingles,
or rotting bamboo mats, various little lanes and alleys diverged,
leading one into a collection of tumble-down and ruinous huts, set up
apparently by chance, and presenting the most incongruous appearance
that could possibly be conceived. One or two _pucca_ houses, that is,
houses of brick and masonry, shewed where some wealthy Bunneah
(trader) or usurious banker lived, but the majority of the houses were
of the usual mud and bamboo order. There is a small thatched hut where
the meals were cooked, and where the owner and his family could sleep
during the rains. Another smaller hut at right angles to this, gives
shelter to the family goat, or, if they are rich enough to keep one,
the cow. All round the villages in India there are generally large
patches of common, where the village cows have free rights of pasture;
and all who can, keep either a cow or a couple of goats, the milk from
which forms a welcome addition to their usual scanty fare. In this
second hut also is stored as much fuel, consisting of dried cow-dung,
straw, maize-stalks, leaves, etc., as can be collected; and a ragged
fence of bamboo or _rahur_[1] stalks encloses the two unprotected
sides, thus forming inside a small court, quadrangle, or square. This
court is the native's _sanctum sanctorum_. It is kept scrupulously
clean, being swept and garnished religiously every day. In this the
women prepare the rice for the day's consumption; here they cut up and
clean their vegetables, or their fish, when the adjacent lake has been
dragged by the village fishermen. Here the produce of their little
garden, capsicums, Indian corn, onions or potatoes--perchance turmeric,
ginger, or other roots or spices--are dried and made ready for storing
in the earthen sun-baked repository for the reception of such produce
appertaining to each household. Here the children play, and are washed
and tended. Here the maiden combs out her long black hair, or decorates
her bronzed visage with streaks of red paint down the nose, and a
little antimony on the eyelids, or myrtle juice on the finger and toe
nails. Here, too, the matron, or the withered old crone of a
grandmother, spins her cotton thread; or, in the old scriptural
hand-mill, grinds the corn for the family flour and meal; and the
father and the young men (when the sun is high and hot in the heavens)
take their noonday _siesta_, or, the day's labours over, cower round
the smoking dung fire of a cold winter night, and discuss the prices
ruling in the bazaar, the rise of rents, or the last village scandal.

In the middle of the town, and surrounded by a spacious fenced-in
compound, which sloped gently to the lake, stood the Planters' Club, a
large low roofed bungalow, with a roomy wide verandah in front. Here
we met, when business or pleasure brought us to 'the Station.' Here
were held our annual balls, or an occasional public dinner party. To
the north of the Club stood a long range of barrack-looking buildings,
which were the opium godowns, where the opium was collected and stored
during the season. Facing this again, and at the extremity of the
lake, was the district jail, where all the rascals of the surrounding
country were confined; its high walls tipped at intervals by a red
puggree and flashing bayonet wherever a jail sepoy kept his 'lonely
watch.' Near it, sheltered in a grove of shady trees, were the court
houses, where the collector and magistrate daily dispensed justice, or
where the native _moonsiff_ disentangled knotty points of law. Here,
too, came the sessions judge once a month or so, to try criminal cases
and mete out justice to the law-breakers.

We had thus a small European element in our 'Station,' consisting of
our magistrate and collector, whose large and handsome house was built
on the banks of another and yet lovelier lake, which joined the town
lake by a narrow stream or strait at its southern end, an opium agent,
a district superintendent of police, and last but not least, a doctor.
These formed the official population of our little 'Station.' There
was also a nice little church, but no resident pastor, and behind the
town lay a quiet churchyard, rich in the dust of many a pioneer, who,
far from home and friends, had here been gathered to his silent rest.

About twelve miles to the north, and near the Nepaul boundary, was the
small military station of Legoulie. Here there was always a native
cavalry regiment, the officers of which were frequent and welcome
guests at the factories in the district, and were always glad to see
their indigo friends at their mess in cantonments. At Rettiah, still
further to the north, was a rich rajah's palace, where a resident
European manager dwelt, and had for his sole society an assistant
magistrate who transacted the executive and judicial work of the
subdistrict. These, with some twenty-five or thirty indigo managers
and assistants, composed the whole European population of Chumparun.

Never was there a more united community. We were all like brothers.
Each knew all the rest. The assistants frequently visited each other,
and the managers were kind and considerate to their subordinates.
Hunting parties were common, cricket and hockey matches were frequent,
and in the cold weather, which is our slackest season, fun, frolic,
and sport was the order of the day. We had an annual race meet, when
all the crack horses of the district met in keen rivalry to test their
pace and endurance. During this high carnival, we lived for the most
part under canvass, and had friends from far and near to share our
hospitality. In a future chapter I must describe our racing meet.

[1] The _rahur_ is a kind of pea, growing not unlike our English broom
in appearance; it is sown with the maize crop during the rains,
and garnered in the cold weather. It produces a small pea, which
is largely used by the natives, and forms the nutritive article of
diet known as _dhall_.


My first charge.--How we get our lands.--Our home farm.--System of
farming.--Collection of rents.--The planter's duties.

My first charge was a small outwork of the large factory Seeraha. It
was called Puttihee. There was no bungalow; that is, there was no
regular house for the assistant, but a little one-roomed hut, built on
the top of the indigo vats, served me for a residence. It had neither
doors nor windows, and the rain used to beat through the room, while
the eaves were inhabited by countless swarms of bats, who, in the
evening flashed backwards and forwards in ghostly rapid flight, and
were a most intolerable nuisance. To give some idea of the duties of
an indigo assistant, I must explain the system on which we get our
lands, and how we grow our crop.

Water of course being a _sine qua non_, the first object in selecting
a site for a factory is, to have water in plenty contiguous to the
proposed buildings. Consequently Puttihee was built on the banks of a
very pretty lake, shaped like a horseshoe, and covered with water
lilies and broad-leaved green aquatic plants. The lake was kept by the
native proprietor as a fish preserve, and literally teemed with fish
of all sorts, shapes, and sizes. I had not been long at Puttihee
before I had erected a staging, leading out into deep water, and many
a happy hour I have spent there with my three or four rods out,
pulling in the finny inhabitants.

Having got water and a site, the next thing is to get land on which to
grow your crop. By purchase, by getting a long lease, or otherwise,
you become possessed of several hundred acres of the land immediately
surrounding the factory. Of course some factories will have more and
some less as circumstances happen. This land, however, is peculiarly
factory property. It is in fact a sort of home farm, and goes by the
name of _Zeraat_. It is ploughed by factory bullocks, worked by
factory coolies, and is altogether apart and separate from the
ordinary lands held by the ryots and worked by them. (A ryot means a
cultivator.) In most factories the Zeraats are farmed in the most
thorough manner. Many now use the light Howard's plough, and apply
quantities of manure.

The fields extend in vast unbroken plains all round the factory. The
land is worked and pulverised, and reploughed, and harrowed, and
cleaned, till not a lump the size of a pigeon's egg is to be seen. If
necessary, it is carefully weeded several times before the crop is
sown, and in fact, a fine clean stretch of Zeraat in Tirhoot or
Chumparun, will compare most favourably with any field in the highest
farming districts of England or Scotland. The ploughing and other farm
labour is done by bullocks. A staff of these, varying of course with
the amount of land under cultivation, is kept at each factory. For
their support a certain amount of sugar-cane is planted, and in the
cold weather carrots are sown, and _gennara_, a kind of millet, and

Both maize and gennara have broad green leaves, and long juicy
succulent stalks. They grow to a good height, and when cut up and
mixed with chopped straw and carrots, form a most excellent feed for
cattle. Besides the bullocks, each factory keeps up a staff of
generally excellent horses, for the use of the assistant or manager,
on which he rides over his cultivation, and looks generally after the
farm. Some of the native subordinates also have ponies, or Cabool
horses, or country-breds; and for the feed of these animals some few
acres of oats are sown every cold season. In most factories too, when
any particular bit of the Zeraats gets exhausted by the constant
repetition of indigo cropping, a rest is given it, by taking a crop of
oil seeds or oats off the land. The oil seeds usually sown are mustard
or rape. The oil is useful in the factory for oiling the screws or the
machinery, and for other purposes.

The factory roads through the Zeraats are kept in most perfect order;
many of them are metalled. The ditches are cleaned once a year. All
thistles and weeds by the sides of the roads and ditches, are
ruthlessly cut down. The edges of all the fields are neatly trimmed
and cut. Useless trees and clumps of jungle are cut down; and in fact
the Zeraats round a factory shew a perfect picture of orderly thrift,
careful management, and neat, scientific, and elaborate farming.

Having got the Zeraats, the next thing is to extend the cultivation

The land in India is not, as with us at home, parcelled out into large
farms. There are wealthy proprietors, rajahs, baboos, and so on, who
hold vast tracts of land, either by grant, or purchase, or hereditary
succession; but the tenants are literally the children of the soil.
Wherever a village nestles among its plantain or mango groves, the
land is parcelled out among the villagers. A large proprietor does not
reckon up his farms as a landlord at home would do, but he counts his
villages. In a village with a thousand acres belonging to it, there
might be 100 or even 200 tenants farming the land. Each petty villager
would have his acre or half acre, or four, or five, or ten, or twenty
acres, as the case might be. He holds this by a 'tenant right,' and
cannot be dispossessed as long as he pays his rent regularly. He can
sell his tenant right, and the purchaser on paying the rent, becomes
the _bona fide_ possessor of the land to all intents and purposes.

If the average rent of the village lands was, let me say, one rupee
eight annas an acre, the rent roll of the 1000 acres would be 1500
rupees. Out of this the government land revenue comes. Certain
deductions have to be made--some ryots may be defaulters. The village
temple, or the village Brahmin, may have to get something, the
road-cess has to be paid, and so on. Taking everything into account,
you arrive at a pretty fair view of what the rental is. If the
proprietor of the village wants a loan of money, or if you offer to
pay him the rent by half-yearly or quarterly instalments, you taking
all the risk of collecting in turn from each ryot individually, he is
often only too glad to accept your offer, and giving you a lease of
the village for whatever term may be agreed on, you step in as
virtually the landlord, and the ryots have to pay their rents to you.

In many cases by careful management, by remeasuring lands, settling
doubtful boundaries, and generally working up the estate, you can much
increase the rental, and actually make a profit on your bargain with
the landlord. This department of indigo work is called Zemindaree.
Having, then, got the village in lease, you summon in all your tenants;
shew them their rent accounts, arrange with them for the punctual
payment of them, and get them to agree to cultivate a certain
percentage of their land in indigo for you.

This percentage varies very considerably. In some places it is one
acre in five, in some one in twenty. It all depends on local
circumstances. You select the land, you give the seed, but the ryot
has to prepare the field for sowing, he has to plough, weed, and reap
the crop, and deliver it at the factory. For the indigo he gets so
much per acre, the price being as near as possible the average price
of an acre of ordinary produce: taking the average out-turn and prices
of, say, ten years. It used formerly to be much less, but the ryot
nowadays gets nearly double for his indigo what he got some ten or
fifteen years ago, and this, although prices have not risen for the
manufactured article, and the prices of labour, stores, machinery,
live stock, etc., have more than doubled. In some parts the ryot gets
paid so much per bundle of plants delivered at the vats, but generally
in Behar, at least in north Behar, he is paid so much per acre or
_Beegah_. I use the word acre as being more easily understood by
people at home than Beegah. The Beegah varies in different districts,
but is generally about two-thirds of an acre.

When his rent account, then, comes to be made out, the ryot gets
credit for the price of his indigo grown and delivered; and this very
often suffices, not only to clear his entire rent, but to leave a
margin in hard cash for him to take home. Before the beginning of the
indigo season, however, he comes into the factory and takes a cash
advance on account of the indigo to be grown. This is often a great
help to him, enabling him to get his seeds for his other lands,
perhaps ploughs, or to buy a cart, or clothes for the family, or to
replace a bullock that may have died; or to help to give a marriage
portion to a son or daughter that he wants to get married.

You will thus see that we have cultivation to look after in all the
villages round about the factory which we can get in lease. The ryot,
in return for his cash advance, agrees to cultivate so much indigo at
a certain price, for which he gets credit in his rent. Such, shortly,
is our indigo system. In some villages the ryot will estimate for us
without our having the lease at all, and without taking advances.
He grows the indigo as he would grow any other crop, as a pure
speculation. If he has a good crop, he can get the price in hard cash
from the factory, and a great deal is grown in this way in both
Purneah and Bhaugulpore. This is called _Kooskee_, as against the
system of advances, which is called _Tuccaree_.

The planter, then, has to be constantly over his villages, looking out
for good lands, giving up bad fields, and taking in new ones. He must
watch what crops grow best in certain places. He must see that he does
not take lands where water may lodge, and, on the other hand, avoid
those that do not retain their moisture. He must attend also to the
state of the other crops generally all over his cultivation, as the
punctual payment of rents depends largely on the state of the crops.
He must have his eyes open to everything going on, be able to tell the
probable rent-roll of every village for miles around, know whether the
ryots are lazy and discontented, or are industrious and hard-working.
Up in the early morning, before the hot blazing sun has climbed on
high, he is off on his trusty nag, through his Zeraats, with his
greyhounds and terriers panting behind him. As he nears a village, the
farm-servant in charge of that particular bit of cultivation, comes
out with a low salaam, to report progress, or complain that so-and-so
is not working up his field as he ought to do.

Over all the lands he goes, seeing where re-ploughing is necessary,
ordering harrowing here, weeding there, or rolling somewhere else. He
sees where the ditches need deepening, where the roads want levelling
or widening, where a new bridge will be necessary, where lands must be
thrown up and new ones taken in. He knows nearly all his ryots, and
has a kind word for every one he passes; asks after their crops, their
bullocks, or their land; rouses up the indolent; gives a cheerful nod
to the industrious; orders this one to be brought in to settle his
account, or that one to make greater haste with the preparation of his
land, that he may not lose his moisture. In fact, he has his hands
full till the mounting sun warns him to go back to breakfast. And so,
with a rattling burst after a jackal or fox, he gets back to his
bungalow to bathe, dress, and break his fast with fowl cutlets, and
curry and rice, washed down with a wholesome tumbler of Bass.


How to get our crop.--The 'Dangurs.'--Farm servants and their duties.
--Kassee Rai.--Hoeing.--Ploughing.--'Oustennie.'--Coolies at work.
--Sowing.--Difficulties the plant has to contend with.--Weeding.

Having now got our land, water, and buildings--which latter I will
describe further on--the next thing is to set to work to get our crop.
Manufacture being finished, and the crop all cut by the beginning or
middle of October, when the annual rains are over, it is of importance
to have the lands dug up as early as possible, that the rich moisture,
on which the successful cultivation of the crop mainly depends, may be
secured before the hot west winds and strong sun of early spring lick
it up.

Attached to every factory is a small settlement of labourers, belonging
to a tribe of aborigines called _Dangurs_. These originally, I believe,
came from Chota Nagpoor, which seems to have been their primal home.
They are a cheerful industrious race, have a distinct language of their
own, and only intermarry with each other. Long ago, when there were no
post carriages to the hills, and but few roads, the Dangurs were
largely employed as dale runners, or postmen. Some few of them settled
with their families on lands near the foot of the hills in Purneah, and
gradually others made their way northwards, until now there is scarcely
a factory in Behar that has not its Dangur tola, or village.

The men are tractable, merry-hearted, and faithful. The women betray
none of the exaggerated modesty which is characteristic of Hindoo women
generally. They never turn aside and hide their faces as you pass, but
look up to you with a merry smile on their countenances, and exchange
greetings with the utmost frankness. In a future chapter I may speak at
greater length of the Dangurs; at present it suffices to say, that they
form a sort of appanage to the factory, and are in fact treated as part
of the permanent staff.

Each Dangur when he marries, gets some grass and bamboos from the
factory to build a house, and a small plot of ground to serve as a
garden, for which he pays a very small rent, or in many instances
nothing at all. In return, he is always on the spot ready for any
factory work that may be going on, for which he has his daily wage.
Some factories pay by the month, but the general custom is to charge
for hoeing by piece-work, and during manufacture, when the work is
constant, there is paid a monthly wage.

In the close foggy mornings of October and November, long before the
sun is up, the Dangurs are hard at work in the Zeraats, turning up the
soil with their _kodalies_, (a kind of cutting hoe,) and you can often
hear their merry voices rising through the mist, as they crack jokes
with each other to enliven their work, or troll one of their quaint
native ditties.

They are presided over by a 'mate,' generally one of the oldest men and
first settlers in the village. If he has had a large family, his sons
look up to him, and his sons-in-law obey his orders with the utmost
fealty. The 'mate' settles all disputes, presents all grievances to the
_sahib_, and all orders are given through him.

The indigo stubble which has been left in the ground is perhaps about a
foot high, and as they cut it out, their wives and children come to
gather up the sticks for fuel, and this of course also helps to clean
the land. By eleven o'clock, when the sluggish mist has been dissipated
by the rays of the scorching sun, the day's labour is nearly concluded.
You will then see the swarthy Dangur, with his favourite child on his
shoulder, wending his way back to his hut, followed by his comely wife
carrying his hoe, and a tribe of little ones bringing up the rear, each
carrying bundles of the indigo stubble which the industrious father has
dug up during the early hours of morning.

In the afternoon out comes the _hengha_, which is simply a heavy flat
log of wood, with a V shaped cut or groove all along under its flat
surface. To each end of the hengha a pair of bullocks are yoked, and
two men standing on the log, and holding on by the bullocks' tails, it
is slowly dragged over the field wherever the hoeing has been going on.
The lumps and clods are caught in the groove on the under surface, and
dragged along and broken up and pulverized, and the whole surface of
the field thus gets harrowed down, and forms a homogeneous mass of
light friable soil, covering the weeds and dirt to let them rot,
exposing the least surface for the wind and heat to act on, and thus
keeping the moisture in the soil.

Now is a busy time for the planter. Up early in the cold raw fog, he is
over his Zeraats long before dawn, and round by his outlying villages
to see the ryots at work in their fields. To each eighty or a hundred
acres a man is attached called a _Tokedar_. His duty is to rouse out
the ryots, see the hoes and ploughs at work, get the weeding done, and
be responsible for the state of the cultivation generally. He will
probably have two villages under him. If the village with its lands be
very extensive, of course there will be a Tokedar for it alone, but
frequently a Tokedar may have two or more villages under his charge. In
the village, the head man--generally the most influential man in the
community--also acts with the Tokedar, helping him to get ploughs,
bullocks, and coolies when these are wanted; and under him, the village
_chowkeydar_, or watchman, sees that stray cattle do not get into the
fields, that the roads, bridges and fences are not damaged, and so on.
Over the Tokedars, again, are Zillahdars. A 'zillah' is a small
district. There may be eight or ten villages and three or four Tokedars
under a Zillahdar. The Zillahdar looks out for good lands to change for
bad ones, where this is necessary, and where no objection is made by
the farmer; sees that the Tokedars do their work properly; reports
rain, blight, locusts, and other visitations that might injure the
crop; watches all that goes on in his zillah, and makes his report to
the planter whenever anything of importance happens in his particular
part of the cultivation.

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Main -> Inglis, James -> Sport and Work on the Nepaul Frontier Twelve Years Sporting Reminiscences of an Indigo Planter