The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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302
STORIES ABOUT LIONS
the habit of coming to drink at night, but begged him not to sacrifice himself to such fearful odds, and either to return to the camp, or to take some of the tribe with him. Gerard declining both suggestions, the sheik was obliged to leave, as night was at hand, and the lions might appear at any moment. First he came near the hunter, and spoke these words low: ' Listen, I have a counsel to give thee. Be on thy guard against the Lord of the Mighty Head; he will lead the way. If thy hour has come, he will kill thee, and the others will eat thee.' Coming still nearer the sheik whispered: ' He has stolen my best mare and ten oxen.' 'Who? who has stolen them?' asked Monsieur Gerard. ' He,' and the sheik pointed for further answer to the mountain. ' But name him, name the thief.' The answer was so low as to be barely audible: ' The Lord of the Mighty Head,' and with this ominous counsel the sheik departed, leaving Gerard to his vigil.
As the night advanced the moon appeared, and lit up the narrow ravine. Judging by its position in the heavens it might be eleven o'clock, when the tramp of many feet was heard approaching, and several luminous points of reddish light were seen glittering through the thicket. The lions were advancing in single file, and the lights were their gleaming eyes. Instead of five there were only three, and the leader, though of formidable dimensions, did not come up to the description of the Lord of the Mighty Head. All three stopped to gaze in wonder at the man who dared to put himself in their path. Gerard took aim at the shoulder of the leader and fired. A fearful roar announced that the shot had told, and the wounded lion began painfully dragging himself towards his assailant, while the other two slunk away into the wood. He had got to within three paces when a second shot sent him rolling down into the bed of the stream. Again he returned to the charge, but a third ball right in the eye laid him dead. It was a fine, large, young lion of three years, with formidable teeth and claws. As agreed
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