The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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GERARD, THE LION HUNTER             81
crouched down perfectly flat on the ground, then he crossed his paws in the front of him and pillowed his head upon them. His eye was fixed on me, and his glance never wavered from mine for an instant. He seemed to be wondering what this man could be doing in his kingdom without even recognising his royalty. Five minutes more passed. In the position he had taken up nothing would have been easier for me than to have killed him.
All of a sudden he rose, and began to be agitated, making a couple of steps forward, then one or two back­wards—to the right, to the left—and moving his tail like a young cat who is getting angry.
No doubt he could not understand this goat with its cord or this man who kept watching him, but his instinct told him there was some trap.
Meantime I sat quite still, the gun at my shoulder and my finger on the trigger, following every movement with my eye. One spring, and I should be between his claws. His anxiety increased every moment, and almost infected me. His tail lashed against his sides, his move­ments were more rapid and his eye kindled.
To hesitate longer would be suicidal. I seized the moment when he turned his left flank towards me, took a steady aim and fired.
The lion staggered on his legs and uttered a frightful roar, but did not fall.
I fired my second shot. Then, without looking, for I was sure I had hit him, I threw down my first gun and seized the second which was lying ready loaded beside me. When I turned round again the lion had disappeared. I remained motionless, fearing a surprise, and looking round on all sides for a hidden foe.
I heard the lion roar. He had fled into the bed of the ravine, and was hurrying back to his lair.
I waited a few minutes more, or perhaps they were only seconds, for one does not measure time accurately in such circumstances.
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