96 PUMAS AND JAGUARS
field, where fourteen pigs lay dead or dying, but nothing was to be seen of the jaguar. Where could he be ? was the question they asked each other, and the riddle was only guessed when one of the men, who was a Portuguese, picked up a bit of his skin. Whether he had been torn and eaten on the spot, or whether he had been carried off piecemeal to be enjoyed at home, was never known. Anyhow the men took one of the dead pigs back to the camp, and cooked it for supper.
Belt, the Naturalist, when travelling in Nicaragua, had some interesting encounters with jaguars, which might have ended badly for him. One day he had gone in search of some small birds that feed on foraging ants, and hearing their notes, he tied his mule to a tree, and went in search of them, as he was very anxious to obtain a specimen. He had only with him a gun loaded with very small shot, and holding this he pushed through the bushes to the thicket from which the birds' song came.
But birds are restless creatures, and these must have fluttered from tree to tree, so that Belt had wandered a good way from the path, and had reached a space where the brushwood was thin, and the trees large and tall, when he heard a sound between a cough and a growl from the bushes on his left. He thought it was a tapir, and ran quickly towards it, as he knew that, with such small shot, he would have to be very close before he fired. Then, just in front of him, the bushes swayed, and out came a huge jaguar, lashing its tail and roaring with anger.
It was not easy to tell what had excited it so, for it had not seen Belt, and there was no animal in sight; but it crossed the clearing twenty yards in front of Belt and dashed on. The Naturalist was quite unarmed, except for his one little gun, and knelt down to steady his aim, in case he might have to fire at close quarters. The slight rustling attracted the attention of the jaguar, who paused for a moment, and then turned round. It lowered its