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sometimes raking the wall from the top to the bottom as he came heavily to the floor. The bamboo rafters, under our feet, were several times shaken and displaced, as the enormous animal sprang upwards against the wall, and once, when he struck the roof with more than usual force, our two Malays leaped down, and betook themselves to flight, nor could either threats or promises induce them to return. We even began, ourselves, to fear that he might break through the roof, or, what would be still more dangerous, bring down a part of it, with those whom it sustained, into the room below. We, therefore, removed to a neighbouring house, which, being a story higher, overlooked the dwelling where the tiger was confined, and the owner of which readily permitted us to occupy. From the top of this house our party continued to aim at the opening made by the Malays in the roof of the other, trusting that, as the animal was continually changing his place, some fortunate ball might yet give him his deathwound. More than an hour was spent in loading and discharging our pieces in this manner, without any other apparent effect than that of increasing the rage of the animal.
In the mean time the sun had risen, and the house-tops in the suburbs of Madras were tinged
with the crimson light. I well remember looking about me and beholding the flat roofs, for a considerable distance, thronged with the natives who stood to witness the combat. It seemed as if all the inmates of these habitations, both male and female, old and young, had gone up to their house-tops; and when I looked at their dark faces, their small but handsome figures, their flowing drapery, their motionless and eager attitudes, I could almost have thought them so many groups of statues placed on those elevated pedestals, were I not occasionally reminded of their being human by the sight of a father or mother anxiously directing the attention of their child to the house we occupied. In the meantime our party received a reinforcement; two or three Europeans and several natives, armed with muskets, joined us, and a brisker fire was opened upon the building in which the tiger was confined. It did not last long, for, on a sudden, we heard a terrible shriek, accompanied with a loud crash; the door of the building was thrown to the distance of several yards, and the tiger bounded forth at liberty. A few long leaps took him beyond the reach of our fire, and he was seen moving off towards the uninhabited country.
We immediately formed a party to pursue him. We were fifty in all, and well armed with
muskets, carbines, and lances. After having proceeded two or three miles, we suddenly lost track of the animal, and halted to recover it on a closer examination. We were arranged in a scattered file, along a path which followed the windings of a river close to its high and steep bank, and which was so narrow that two persons could not conveniently walk abreast. On one side of this path the ground, covered with low shrubs, descended more than twenty feet to the bed of the river, which was nearly dry; and on the other, a strip of rank tropical vegetation separated it from a luxuriant wood of acacias and trees of the palm kind, enclosed with a thick brush fence. Some of our party proceeded a few paces forward in the path, others returned a little way back, and all were intently occupied in the endeavour to discover some traces of the tiger's steps. I also lent what aid I was able to the examination, for having the misfortune to be exceedingly short-sighted, I could assist but little. I applied to my eye a glass, which I always carried about me in my waistcoat pocket, suspended to my neck by a narrow black ribbon, to remedy the defect of my vision. I first looked carefully along the skirt of the wood, and scanned, one by one, the openings among the
trees. I do not remember ever to have gazed on a more quiet scene than the one which presented itself to my sight, or one more fitted to banish all apprehensions of mischief. The strong vegetation between the path and the wood bore no impression of the heavy step of the tiger, the occasional patches of sand showed no print of his feet, nor did his eye glare at me from under the boughs. It was so peaceful and so beautiful a spot, that I should hardly have been surprised at hearing the innocent voices of children sporting in the recesses of the grove, or at seeing their sweet faces peeping at me from behind the shaggy trunks. The broad leaves of the fan-palm hung motionless in the blaze of the mounting sun; and the habitations of the bottle-nested sparrow, which depended from the ends of the boughs, and the festoons of the huge creeping plants which overran and bound together the whole summit of the wood, were not moved by a breath of air, Nothing was to be heard but the occasional chatter of a monkey at a distance, or the hoarse call of some bird peculiar to the country. I then turned and looked down the bed of the river, directing my eye gradually along its course as far as it could be followed. There was no sign of life to be discovered even there, except that just below me I saw, now and then, a lizard running
over the dry stones and disappearing under them. I became satisfied, for my own part, not only that the tiger was not near us, but that he had not even passed that way, and I was putting back my glass into its place, when I heard a rustling noise from the wood, which drew my attention to that quarter. I looked, and beheld the enormous animal in the air, in the very act of leaping upon me. The creature had cleared the brush-fence and the whole space between that and the path, by one of those immense leaps which the tiger is sometimes known to make,
with his mouth open, his eyes dilated, and his huge paws held before him a little apart from each other, was descending upon his victim with a force sufficient to crush a dozen men in pieces, and against which no weapon could be of any avail. He was already so near me that I had not time to spring from the spot where I stood. I had the certainty of death before me, and a crowd of horrible and agonizing images passed like lightning through my mind. I thought of lying half-devoured in the distant jungle to which the tiger should drag me, and the weeping faces of those whom I had left in a distant country, and whom I should never see again, came almost visibly before my eyes. I remember that along with these there was mingled the confused idea that I would not let