82 GERARD, THE LION HUNTER
Then, hearing nothing, I rose cautiously and went to inspect the spot where the lion had received my two shots.
The goat was panting on the ground, terrified, but otherwise unhurt.
I soon realised that the lion had been hit by both my balls, and they had pierced him right through. Every hunter knows that an animal can go further with a wound right through the body than if the ball is lodged in its inside. I set off on the track. It was not difficult to follow.
As I supposed, he had regained his lair. At this moment I saw the heads of Amida, Amar Ben-Sarah, and Bilkassem appear at the top of the ravine. They approached with caution, not knowing whether I was dead or alive, and prepared to fire. When they saw7 me they shouted with joy and ran to join me. They wanted to start at once in pursuit of the lion, but I held them back ; for, in my opinion, the lion had been dangerously, probably mortally, wounded, but the heart had not been touched. He was still full of strength, and his last struggles would be terrible.
As we were discussing this, eight or ten more men, armed with guns, joined us. They had heard my two shots, and, like Amida, Bilkassem, and Amar Ben-Sarah, ran to see what had happened.
Their first cry was ' Let us follow him ! '
I assured them they would run great danger. But no ; ' Stay there,' said they, ' and we'll bring him to you dead.'
It was useless to repeat that the lion, in my opinion, was still very much alive indeed ; they insisted on entering the wood.
Finding that nothing would turn them from their project, I determined to go with them. But I took my precautions. I reloaded my favourite gun, gave one to Ben-Sarah and another to Amida, and, thus prepared, I entered the wood on the track of the lion.