W. H. Allen and Co., Limited,
Text on page 154
streaming down my face, and my teeth were clenched as in death. I recovered my pipe, and looked round for my boy. He was gone, and my calls received no answer. I would have signalled to him by firing, but the young absentee was in possession of both powder and shot, leaving me with only two charges to depend on in case of further emergencies. I was therefore compelled to proceed alone, coming to the conclusion that he had bolted on hearing the tiger roar, and had either made off to his own village or else succumbed to fear, or to something worse, the bare possibility of which I dared not contemplate.
Absolutely alone! Lost in a tropical forest, with night coming on apace, and no ammunition other than the two charges of small shot already in my gun. This was truly an enviable position, especially as the forest was known to be swarming with wild beasts, such as I had just encountered. I shouted once more for my boy, and plunged again into the thicket at haphazard, and in a state bordering on desperation. Anxiety and fear quickened my steps; my eyes seemed to penetrate further than usual, and my ears detected the faintest sound. I was startled by the snapping of a twig under foot, while the cry of a jungle bird terrified me. How I wished they were all defunct, or that I had never attempted to molest them in their hidden retreats.
In addition to my gun, I carried a stout branch, which I hurled at every suggestive clump likely to harbour any kind of animal. I realized to its full the couplet of the poeta
a As in the night imagining some fear ;
How easy is a bush supposed a bear
in my case a tiger. Hope was ebbing fast, so I scannedin my case a tiger. Hope was ebbing fast, so I scanned