70 GERARD, THE LION HUNTER
' Good morning, my lord,' replied Aissa, rather nervously, as she thought of the past. ' Can I do anything for your lordship ? '
' You can do me a service.'
' What is it ? '
' Come near me.'
The girl drew near trembling inwardly.
' Here I am.'
' Good. Now lift up your axe.'
' Now strike me with it on the head.'
'But, my lord, you—you—can't mean-----'
' On the contrary, I do mean so.'
' But my lord-----'
' Really, my lord ? '
' Will you strike ? '
' Oh, yes, my lord,' said Aissa, more frightened Lhan ever. ' Hard or light ? '
' As hard as ever you can.'
' But I shall hurt you ! '
' What's that to you ? '
' And you really wish it ? '
' I really do.'
So the girl struck as she was bid, and the axe made a deep cut between the lion's eyes. It is ever since then that lions have that straight furrow in their faces which is particularly noticeable when they frown.
' Thank you, Aissa,' said the lion, and with three great bounds lie vanished into the depth of the forest.
' Dear me !' thought the girl, rather hurt at his disappearance ; ' I wonder why he never offered to see me home to-dav !'
Of course this second adventure of Ai'ssa's caused a great deal of excitement, but the most ingenious brain could make no guess as to what might be the intentions of this strange and mysterious lion.