68 GERARD, THE LION HUNTER
Aissa bent down her faca, and the lion lightly brushed her lips with his.
Then he made a gesture of farewell, and sat down to watch till she should have reached her father's house in safety.
On her way there Ai'ssa turned two or three times, and each time she saw the lion on the same spot. At length she reached the tent.
' Ah ! there you are !' cried her father ; ' I have been very uneasy.' The girl smiled. ' I was afraid you might have met with some unlucky adventure.' She smiled still more. ' But here you are, and I see I have been mistaken.'
' So you have, father,' said she: ' for, instead of an unlucky adventure, I have had a very lucky one.'
' And what was that ? ' asked he.
' I met a lion ! '
At these words, seldom as Arabs show their feelings, Aissa's father turned pale.
' A lion !' he cried, ' and he has not devoured you ? '
' On the contrary, he paid me many compliments on my beauty, offered to see me home, and escorted me back.'
The Arab thought his daughter must be taking leave of her senses. ' Impossible,' said he.
' How, impossible ? '
The father shook his head. ' Do you wish to make me believe that a lion is capable of such attentions ? '
Aissa smiled again. ' Do you wish to be convinced ? ' asked she.
' Yes; but how ? '
' Come to the door of the tent and you will see him, either seated where I left him, or returning to the forest.'
' Wait till I get my gun,' said the father rising.
' What do you want a gun for ? ' asked the girl proudly; ' are you not with me ?'
And drawing her father by his burnous, she led him