Page:Picturesque Nepal.djvu/82

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40
THE PEOPLE

of at least 20,000 men, which is well equipped and regularly drilled.

There is one conflicting trait in the character of the Gurkhas which it is a little difficult to understand. It is usual to find, combined with the keen fighting disposition, a natural desire for athletics or any out-of-door sports requiring vigour and strength. In no sense is this observable in the Gurkha, except that he is passionately devoted to "Shikar," and the chase. But European games which have "caught on," so to speak, with such amazing rapidity in even the most distant parts of India, seem to have little attraction for the Nepalese. Katmandu boasts a magnificent maidan, which in almost any other part of the world would, on every occasion, be freely utilized for either indigenous or exotic athletics, but it is usually deserted, except during the times of parades. Probably the explanation may be found in this last fact, that the Gurkha is essentially a specialist. For these military manœuvres are frequent and serious, and indicate that in one grim sport at least the Gurkha excels—

"War, that mad game the world so loves to play."