To have the opportunity of hunting a tiger - on an elephant too - which by a stroke of luck fell to me, is to experience the un-English character of India at its fullest. Almost everything else could be reproduced elsewhere - the palaces, the bazaars, the caravans, the mosques and temples with their worshippers - but not the jungle, the Himalayas, the vast swamps through which our elephants waded up to the Plimsoll, the almost too painful ecstasies of the pursuit of an eater of man.

The master of the chase, who has many tigers to his name, was Sir Harcourt Butler, whose hospitality is famous, so large and warm is it, and so minute, and it was because he was not satisfied that the ordinary diversions of the "Lucknow Week" were sufficient for his guests, that he impulsively arranged a day's swamp-deer shooting on the borders of Nepaul. The time was short, or of elephants there would have been seventy or more; as it was, we were apologised to (there were only about six of us) for the poverty of the supply, a mere five and twenty being obtainable. But to these eyes, which had never seen more than six elephants at once, and those in the captivity either of a zoo or a circus, a row of five and twenty was astounding. They were waiting for us on the plain, at a spot distant some score of miles by car, through improvised roads, from the station, whither an all-night railway journey had borne us. The name of the station, if I ever knew it, I have forgotten: there was no room in my heated brain for such trifles; but I have forgotten nothing else.

It was after an hour and a half's drive in the cool and spicy early morning air - between the fluttering rags on canes which told the drivers how to steer - that we came suddenly in sight of some distant tents and beside them an immense long dark inexplicable mass which through the haze seemed now and then to move. As we drew nearer, this mass was discerned to be a row of elephants assembled in line ready to salute the Governor. The effect was more impressive and more Eastern than anything I had seen. Grotesque too - for some had painted faces and gilded toes, and not a few surveyed me with an expression in which the comic spirit was too noticeable. Six or seven had howdahs, the rest blankets: those with howdahs being for the party and its leader, Bam Bahadur, a noted shikaree; and the others to carry provisions and bring back the spoil. On the neck of each sat an impassive mahout.

To one to whom the pen is mightier than the gun and whose half a century's bag contains only a few rabbits, a hedgehog and a moorhen, it is no inconsiderable ordeal to be handed a repeating rifle and some dozens of cartridges and be told that that is your elephant - the big one there, with the red ochre on its forehead. To be on an elephant in the jungle without the responsibilities of a lethal weapon would be sufficient thrill for one day: but to be expected also to deal out death was too much. In the company of others, however, one can do anything; and I gradually ascended to the top, not, as the accomplished hunters did, by placing a foot on the trunk and being swung heavenwards, but painfully, on a ladder; by my side being a very keen Indian youth, the son of a minor chieftain, who spoke English perfectly and was to instruct me in Nimrod's lore.

And so the procession started, and for a while discomfort set acutely in, for the movement of a howdah is short and jerky, and it takes some time both to adjust oneself to it and to lose the feeling that the elephant sooner or later - and probably sooner - must trip and fall. But the glory of the morning, the urgency of our progress, the novelty and sublimity of the means of transport, the strangeness of the scene, and my companion's speculations on the day's promise, overcame any personal want of ease and I forgot myself in the universal. Our destination was a series of marshes some six miles away, where the gonds - or swamp-deer - were usually found, and we were divided up, some elephants, of which mine was one, taking the left wing, with instructions on reaching a certain spot to wait there for the deer who would move off in that direction; others taking the right wing; and others beating up the middle.

We began with a trial of nervous stamina - for a river far down in its bed below us almost immediately occurred, and this had to be crossed. I abandoned all hope as the elephant descended the bank almost, as it seemed, perpendicularly, and plunged into the water with an enormous splash. But after he had squeeged through, extricating himself with a gigantic wrench, the ground was level for a long while, and there was time to look around and recollect one's fatalism. Far ahead in a blue mist were the Himalayas. All about were unending fields, with here and there white cattle grazing. Cranes stretched their necks above the grass; now and then a herd of blackbuck (which were below our hunting ambitions) scampered away; the sky was full of wild-duck and other water-fowl.

Of the hunting of the gond I should have something to say had not a diversion occurred which relegated that lively and elusive creature to an obscure place in the background. We had finished the beat, and most of us had emerged from the swamp to higher ground where an open space, or maidan, corresponding to a drive in an English preserve, but on the grand scale, divided it from the jungle - all our thoughts being set upon lunch - when suddenly across this open space passed a blur of yellow and black only a few yards from the nearest elephant. It was so unexpected and so quick that even the trained eyes of my companion were uncertain. "Did you see?" he asked me in a voice of hushed and wondering awe. "Could that have been a tiger?" I could not say, but I understood his excitement. For the tiger is the king of Indian carnivorae, the most desired of all game. Hunters date their lives by them: such and such a thing happened not on the anniversary of their wedding day; not when their boy went to Balliol; not when they received the K.C.I.E.; but in the year that they shot this or that man-eater.

That a tiger had really chanced upon us we soon ascertained. Also that it had been hit by the rifle on the first elephant and had disappeared into the jungle, which consisted hereabouts of a grass some twenty feet high, bleached by the sun.

A Council of War followed, and we were led by Bam Bahadur on a rounding- up manoeuvre. According to his judgment the tiger would remain just inside the cover, and our duty was therefore to make a wide detour and then advance in as solid a semicircle as possible upon him and force him again into the open, where the hunter who had inflicted the first wound was to remain stationed. Accordingly all the rest of us entered the jungle in single file, our elephants treading down the grass with their great irresistible feet or wrenching it away with their invincible trunks. It was now that the shikaree was feeling the elephant shortage. Had there been seventy-five instead of only twenty-five, he said, all would be well: he could then form a cordon such as no tiger might break through. For lack of these others, when the time came to turn and advance upon our prey he caused fires to be lighted here and there where the gaps were widest, so that we forged onwards not only to the accompaniment of the shrill cries of the mahouts and the noise of plunging and overwhelming elephants, but to the fierce roar and crackle of burning stalks.

And thus, after an hour in this bewildering tangle, with the universe filled with sound and strangeness, and the scent of wood smoke mingling with the heat of the air, and the lust of the chase in our veins, we drew to the spot where the animal was guessed to be hiding, and knew that the guess was true by the demeanour of the elephants. Real danger had suddenly entered into the adventure; and they showed it. A wounded tiger at bay can do desperate things, and some of the elephants now refused to budge forward any more, or complied only with terrified screams. Some of the unarmed mahouts were also reluctant, and shouted their fears. But the shikaree was inexorable. There the tiger was, and we must drive it out.

Closer and closer we drew, until every elephant's flank was pressing against its neighbour, the outside ones being each at the edge of the open space; in the middle of which was the twenty-fifth with its vigilant rider standing tense with his rifle to his shoulder. The noise was now deafening. Every one was uttering something, either to scare the tiger or to encourage the elephants or his neighbour or possibly himself; while now and then from the depths of the grass ahead of us came an outraged growl, with more than a suggestion of contempt in it for such unsportsmanship as could array twenty-five elephants, half a hundred men and a dozen rifles against one inoffensive wild beast.

And then suddenly the grass waved, there was a rustle and rush and a snarl of furious rage, and once again a blur of yellow and black crossed the open space. Six or more reports rang out, and to my dying day I shall remember, with mixed feelings, that one of these reports was the result of pressure on a trigger applied by a finger belonging to me. That the tiger was hit again - by other bullets than mine - was certain, but instead of falling it disappeared into the jungle on the other side of the maidan, and again we were destined to employ enclosing tactics. It was now intensely hot, but nobody minded; and we were an hour and a half late for lunch, but nobody minded: the chase was all! The phrase "out for blood" had taken on its literal primitive meaning.

The second rounding-up was less simple than the first, because the tiger had more choice of hiding places; but again our shikaree displayed his wonderful intuition, and in about an hour we had ringed the creature in. That this was to be the end was evident from the electrical purposefulness which animated the old hands. The experienced shots were carefully disposed, and my own peace of mind was not increased by the warning "If the tiger leaps on your elephant, don't shoot" - the point being that novices can be very wild with their rifles under such conditions. As the question "What shall I do instead?" was lost in the tumult, the latter stages of this momentous drama were seen by these eyes less steadily and less whole than I could have wished. But I saw the tiger spring, growling, at an elephant removed some four yards from mine, and I saw it driven back by a shot from one of the native hunters. And then when, after another period of anxious expectancy, it emerged again from the undergrowth, and sprang towards our host, I saw him put two bullets into it almost instantaneously; and the beautiful obstinate creature fell, never to rise again.