Bhide: Mistaken Identity
Hari: Skinny Dipping

Rajadhyaksha: Two Intrepid White Hunters

Vasant Rajadhyaksha
The Doon School, Batch of 1939

The English house masters, John Martyn, Thomas, Jack Gibson, Clough, Holdsworth, with Arthur Foot as the Head, set a tone which has stayed.  Here is a typical story, one of the many which are repeated and enjoyed when Old Boys foregather. 

Jack was hosting a black tie formal dinner with his fellow house master John Martyn and some friends.  News reached him at about 10 p.m. that a civet cat was sitting on the roof.  The civet cat today is an endangered species but was quite a serious menace to poultry in the mid-thirties.  So Jack immediately got his gun out and made John get his.  The two immaculately clad and well lit men then started a hunt for the cat which apparently had been seen taking refuse in a 150 foot long covered drain, the two ends of which opened into an open nullah.

The two intrepid white hunters hit on a masterly plan.  Jack said "John, joy keep watch at one end of the drain while I frighten the cat from the other by firing the gun.  As it runs away from my end you shoot it as it comes out at yours."

The execution of this strategy required both house masters to lie down flat on the ground so that they could get their guns into play.  Jack shouted "Ready John," and fired into his side of the drain.  Nothing happened.  No luck, yelled John, "now let me try and you shoot it."  John, however, neglected to fire into the side and fired along the line of trench.  There was a howl of agony from Jack who got his face peppered with small shot.

By this time half the school were watching this fascinating spectacle.  "John, you stupid fool," yelled Jack, "you are supposed to shoot the bloody cat, not me."  "Sorry Jack," shouted John "but I did not get hurt when you fired."  "That’s because I fired into the side," Jack shouted back.  "Let me show you what happens when I fire down the line.  May be this time we’ll get the blighter."  So he immediately fired his second barrel and an equally agonised yelp came from John who didn’t have the presence of kind to get out of the way.  "Bloody hell," yelled John, "you’ve shot my head off."

By this time the boys were rolling on the ground unable to contain their laughter and kept egging them on" your turn Mr. Gibson, sock him" and so on.  Fortunately both by now, the not so immaculate gentlemen and the cat were saved by the fact that the trench was slightly curved, so before the shots reached the other end, they had ricocheted a few times and they got away with some superficial cuts.

At this point, despite the encouragement from the boys from their House, both Masters decided to call it a day (or night) and retire for the evening.  Early next morning the civet cat was seen to slink out of the drain after a peaceful night in the trench.  Both Houses were told to forget they saw anything!

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