DIFFICULTY OF PROCURING ELEPHANTS 429
sleeping within the influence of the wind, which nightly rushes down from the elevated plateau to take the place of the exhausted air of the plains, through one of the numerous gorges abutting into the plains, through which almost invariably a river flows.
The great crying evil of Assam was the want of communications ; the country is subject to inundation, and to make roads fit for traffic all the year round very heavy embankments are required. Until Captain de Bourbel, Bengal Engineers, became superintending engineer, no regular system of road-making worthy of the name had been initiated. When I arriveda not at all willingly, as I did not wish to leave Burmaa he asked me to undertake a regular system of surveying various routes and taking levels, so as to have reliable data to go upon.
After considerable obstruction from Bengal I got my own way, and was allowed to purchase four good elephants, towards which I did not hesitate to contribute myself, so as to get really good reliable beasts, not only for burden but also for sport. It was impossible to force onea s way on these Goliaths through the vast prairies covered with long grass from 10 feet to 30 feet without disturbing much game, and it was also impossible to decide on the best line for embankments which would also suit hereafter for railroads without thoroughly exploring the country. So for the first two years I lived almost on elephant-back, and had explored the country from the Deopani river down to near Tara in the Garrow hills. I had also to construct a road to Dewangiri in Bhootan, and to lay out and partially construct a cart-road between Gowhatty and Shillong. I had also charge of the Public Works in the Cossyah and Jynteah hills, and also in the Tezpore district; so I had enough of out-door work to look after, which I flatter myself I did thoroughly ; but I was also expected to do most elaborate office work, for which I had neither time nor inclination, and in which no doubt I failed, and brought down on me the animosity of the accounts branch in Bengal. The two should be totally separate : no man can excel in both. If useless and minute accounts were required, they should have sent men to compile thema for the