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ADVENTURE IN THE EAST INDIES.
The royal Tiger of India differs from the common tiger in his superior size, and the extraordinary majesty of his appearance. His face is broader, his neck thicker and shorter, his limbs more brawny and strung with larger sinews, and his sides striped with brighter and more beautiful colours. There is a dignity in his port, and a pride in his demeanour, which have obtained for him the epithet of royal, and which, in the opinion of some, give him at least equal pretensions with the Lion to the title of King of Beasts. When foiled in an attempt to seize his prey, he never immediately renews the pursuit. On the contrary, he walks slowly and disdainfully away, as if too proud to expose himself to the shame of a second failure, or as if he had been unsuccessful only because he was indifferent to his prey.
Some years since, when I lived in the East Indies, I had an adventure with one of these terrible animals; and as there were some cir
cumstances attending it which my friends were pleased to think extraordinary, I am tempted to relate it. I was then residing in the populous city of Madras, and for the sake of studying the manners of the country, I mingled more than was usual with the natives, and succeeded, in many instances, in gaining their esteem and confidence.
One morning, just as I had risen, and was sitting in my virandah enjoying the fresh dewy air, so agreeable in that climate before sunrise, a Brahmin, with whom I had some acquaintance, came to me in great agitation, with his hand bound up, and the blood trickling through the bandages. He had hardly given me time to address him with the customary salutations of the east, when he told me that a royal Tiger had entered his house about the time of the morning twilight, and, as he was making his escape at the door, had rushed at him, and torn his hand. He had succeeded, however, in closing the door after him, which he had fastened as well as he was able, leaving the animal within. When the Brahmin had finished his relation, he looked at me very anxiously, and inquired of me, what I would advise should be done.
I had lived long enough in the country to know something of the dispositions of the tiger ; and
it seemed to me a perfect absurdity to believe that the living man whom I saw before me had ever been in the same room with one of these fierce creatures. I thought it more than probable, that it was one of the hyenas, which, in that part of the East Indies, often came prowling about the habitations in the night. One of them had been shot, a few nights previous, by a German of my acquaintance; and I had no doubt that this was another, transformed into a royal tiger by the same process of fear and obscurity which, in other countries, has been known to change a white horse into a spectre wrapt in its winding sheet. I could not, therefore, help rallying the Brahmin a little about his panic, while I assured him that I would soon give an account of the creature, whatever it might be.
I exchanged my morning-gown and slippers for a hunting coat and boots, and going out, I mentioned the subject to some of my friends in the British army then stationed at Madras, and found them nowise disinclined to the morning's sport of shooting an hyena. We armed ourselves with muskets, which we loaded carefully, and having picked the flints and seen that the bayonets and locks were in good condition, we set out, accompanied by two Malay servants, for the Brahmin's
dwelling. Our party, including the Malays, consisted of seven persons.
On arriving, we looked in at one of the small apertures guarded with bamboo lattice-work, which serve the natives for windows; and greatly to our surprise, we beheld, at the further end of the apartment, a tiger of the largest size, quietly reposing on the floor, with one huge fore-leg stretched out before him, and the other drawn up under his breast; his large eyes of a greenish yellow, winking softly and sleepily in the morning light that grew stronger every moment. One of the party proposed to fire at him from the window; this was overruled on account of its height, which did not permit us to take aim with effect. I observed, also, that our Malays shuddered as the proposition was mentioned ; nor do I believe that an individual of us all would have been willing to be found on the same level with the animal, in case he should break from the house. The Brahmin's habitation was built of red free-stone; it was a single story in height, with doors and lattices of bamboo. It was covered with long rods of the same plant, laid horizontally on the top of the walls, and thatched with a thick layer of the tough and durable leaves of the palmyra tree. This covering was both the roof of the house and the ceiling of the apartments, and to
We directed the Malays to make a hole in the 14 AN ADVENTURE IN THE EAST INDIES. this, after a short consultation, we ascended.
middle of the roof. They kneeled down, and pulling up the palmyra leaves, piled them on each side, until at length they came to the horizontal rafters of bamboo, several of which they took in their hands and shoved them out at one end of the roof. An opening was thus formed, through which we beheld the tiger, lying as we had seen him through the window; but it was evident that the noise we had made on the roof had excited his attention, for his head was raised, and the sleepy look of his eye was exchanged for a fierce and steady glare. We put our muskets into the opening, and taking aim as well as we were able, fired together. Instantly we heard the animal spring to his feet and begin rapidly to pace the apartment. The smoke with which the dwelling was now filled, and which came pouring out at every cranny, prevented us from taking a second aim, but each of us, as fast as he loaded his piece, discharged it through the aperture at random. Whether we had wounded the tiger or not, we were unable to judge; but it was very certain that he had become exceedingly enraged. We heard him rearing and plunging madly in the smoke, his huge tail occasionally striking the sides of the room, and his claws