The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter thirty-three. The Man Who Came to Catch Butterflies
caption: Colonel Betts comes to catch butterflies
medium: books
person: Betts/ Col.
date: 5.1945
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (231) There was nothing very much in the mail that day except a letter from a Colonel Betts, of "V" Force, who wanted to come and catch butterflies at Laisong and asked me if I could help him with the arrangements. I wrote him off a line to say I could, and then went on with reading the daily papers.
text: It was May of 1945. Namkia, I and fifteen ex-scouts had just come back from a jungle training-school, where we had worked as instructors for the last six months. For the first time in years I was at leisure. I'd written to Mr Mills to ask about fresh work. He had suggested the Daflas, up in the northern hills on the other side of the Brahmaputra Valley. There was no use in moving until the Rains were over, so I'd settled down again in the old camp to write up my Zemi notes.
text: On a soaking wet afternoon a fortnight later, almost the very day that the monsoon broke, Namkia came in to say that a Sahib was arriving.
text: It was, presumably, this peculiar Colonel. With the monsoon driving in as hard as it was, I hadn't thought he would come. I went rather dubiously out by the back door to have a look.
text: On the rise before the blank west wall of the house were, silhouetted against a grey and dripping sky, two lonely figures. One was a very long, lean, dampish Colonel, the other a small and sodden Gurkha orderly. They hailed us with relief. When we had brought them in and given them tea, the Colonel in the house, his man in the kitchen, I asked what their future plans might be.
text: The Colonel said he would like to stay a few days, as Laisong was magnificent butterfly-ground. Only a few weeks earlier, Perry, a keen Aurelian, had seen four rare 'Calinaga' on the spur itself, and, what is more, caught two. The camp had been enlarged and there was plenty of room, so I suggested he use the place as a base and let me know when he wanted picnic lunches, and with that, more or less, went back to my notes.
text: The Colonel, however, seemed curiously slow to start in the mornings. One would have imagined that an ardent collector with only ten days' leave and a field like Laisong would have been out in pursuit of 'Calinaga buddha buddha' and 'Stichopthalmia Howqa' from the moment the chill was off and his prey moving. But no - ten, eleven o'clock, and the Colonel would still be about. There was something, too, a little unusual in his manner. It wasn't - no, he was a very charming, amiable Colonel; but he did seem reluctant to go and hunt butterflies.