THE NUNDA, EATER OF PEOPLE 261
Suddenly, when they had almost reached the top, a slave who was on in front cried:
' Master! Master!' And the boy pushed on to where the slave stood, and the slave said:
' Cast your eyes down to the foot of the mountain.' And the boy looked, and his soul told him it was the Nunda.
And he crept down with his spear in his hand, and then he stopped and gazed below him.
' This must be the real Nunda,' thought he. ' My mother told me its ears were small, and this one's are small. She told me it was broad and not long, and this is broad and not long. She told me it had spots like a civet-cat, and this has spots like a civet-cat.'
Then he left the Nunda lying asleep at the foot of the mountain, and went back to his slaves.
' We will feast to-day,' he said; ' make cakes of batter, and bring water,' and they ate and drank. And when they had finished he bade them hide the rest of the food in the thicket, that if they slew the Nunda they might return and eat and sleep before going back to the town. And the slaves did as he bade them.
It was now afternoon, and the lad said : ' It is time we went after the Nunda.' And they went till they reached the bottom and came to a great forest which lay between them and the Nunda.
Here the lad stopped, and ordered every slave that wore two cloths to cast one away and tuck up the other between his legs. ' For,' said he, ' the wood is not a little one. Perhaps we may be caught by the thorns, or perhaps we may have to run before the Nunda, and the cloth might bind our legs, and cause us to fall before it.'
And they answered, ' Good, master,' and did as he bade them. Then they crawled on their hands and knees to where the Nunda lay asleep.
Noiselessly they crept along till they were quite close to it; then, at a sign from the boy, they threw their