GERARD, THE LION HUNTER 65
The only weapon she had was the little axe which she used in her wood-cutting ; but if she had been armed with a gun, a pistol and a dagger as well, she would have been far too frightened to use them—so majestic, proud and powerful was this lion. Her limbs trembled under her, and she would have screamed aloud for help, but her voice died in her throat. She felt sure the lion was going to make signs to her to follow him, so that he might devour her at his ease, in some favourite spot, for lions are not only greedy but dainty.
' I am quite willing to admit that, my dear Gerard,' broke in Dumas; ' but I did not quite understand one remark you made.' 'Which?'
' You said she was sure the lion was going to make signs to her to follow him? ' 'Yes. Well?'
' Ask Amida whether, when a lion meets an Arab, he takes the trouble to carry him off? '
Amida shook his head, and raised his eyes in a way which clearly implied: ' Ah, indeed ! he's not such a fool as that.'
Dumas pressed for further particulars, and was told what he did not know before, that lions have magic powers. A lion has only to gaze for a few moments at a man, and he completely fascinates him, and the man has to follow the lion wherever he pleases. This rjoint settled, Gerard went on :
The girl then paused, trembling, and expecting a sign from the lion to follow him, when, to her great surprise, she saw him approach, gently, smiling, after his fashion, and bowing in a polite manner.
She crossed her hands on her breast and said : ' What does my lord desire of his humble servant ? '
The lion replied quite clearly, ' Anyone as lovely as you are, Aissa, is a queen, not a servant.'
Aissa stared in astonishment at this answer, delighted