78 GERARD, THE LION HUNTER
from the lion. The clearing might be forty-five paces round, consequently fifteen paces across.
I was alone, and had to choose my place. I took up a position at the very edge of the wood, so that the goat was between the lion and me—the goat was seven or eight paces from me, the lion about sixty.
Whilst I had been making my little inspection the lion had disappeared ; there was evidently no time to be lost in preparing to receive him, as he might fall upon me at any moment. An oak tree offered the support I always look for on these occasions. I cut off the small boughs which might have hindered my movements, and sat down with my back against the trunk. I was hardly seated before the signs of agitation shown by the goat told me plainly that something was going on close to us. The goat dragged at his cord with all his might towards me, but kept his eyes fixed on the opposite side.
I understood that the lion had taken a roundabout path to reach us, and was now approaching, following, as he did so, the fold of the ravine.
I was not mistaken. At the end of ten minutes I saw his huge head appear at the top of the ravine which had at first divided us, then his shoulders, and then his whole body. He walked slowly, not yet fully awake, and with his eyes half closed, for the lion is a great sleeper and very lazy.
Having reached the top he found himself about seven paces from the goat and fifteen from me. I remained settled where I was, and took aim at him right between the eyes. For a moment I felt tempted to pull the trigger, but the fascination of watching the superb creature and noting the movements and ways of my formidable antagonist kept me motionless. For some moments I enjoyed such an interview as few men can boast of. I felt I deserved it, for it was two years since I had been actually face to face with a lion, and this was one of the finest and largest I had ever seen. At the end of a few minutes he