A WOMAN OF BULIKA
I turned aside into an alley, and sought shelter in a small archway. In the mouth of it I stopped, and looked out at the moonlight which filled the alley. The same instant a woman came gliding in after me, turned, trembling, and looked out also. A few seconds passed ; then a huge leopard, its white skin dappled with many blots, darted across the archway. The woman pressed close to me, and my heart filled with pity. I put my arm round her.
' If the brute come here, I will lay hold of it,' I said, ' and you must run.'
' Thank you ! ' she murmured.
' Have you ever seen it before ? ' I asked.
I Several times,' she answered, still trembling. ' She is a pet of the princess's. You are a stranger, or you would know her ! '
'I am a stranger,' I answered. ' But is she, then, allowed to run loose ?'
She is kept in a cage, her mouth muzzled, and her feet in gloves of crocodile leather. Chained she is too; but she gets out often, and sucks the blood of any child she can lay hold of. Happily there are not many mothers in Bulika !'
Here she burst into tears.