GERARD, THE LION HUNTER 73
A month later Aissa once more returned to the forest. She had barely had time to cut a few sticks when the lion emerged from behind some shrubs; no longer gracious and affectionate as at first, or melancholy as at their second meeting, but looking gloomy and almost threatening. Ai'ssa longed to turn and flee, but the lion's glance seemed to root her feet to the spot. He approached, and she felt that if she attempted to take a step she should certainly fall down.
' Look at my forehead,' said the lion sternly.
' Let my lord remember that it was only by his express orders that I struck him with my axe.'
' I do remember, and I thank you. That is not what I wish to discuss with you.'
' What does your lordship wash to discuss with me ? '
' I wish you to look at my wround.'
' I am looking.'
' How is it going on ? '
' Wonderfully well, my lord, it is nearly healed.'
' This proves, Aissa,' said the lion, ' that wounds given to the body are very different from those inflicted on the feelings. The former heal with time, but the latter never.'
This moral sentence was followed by a sharp cry and then complete silence.
Three days later Aissa's father, searching everywhere for his daughter, found her axe. But of Aissa herself there was no trace, nor was anything ever heard of her again.
The Arab had barely concluded the legend (said Gerard) when a well-known sound sent a thrill through us all. It was the roar of a lion, probably of the one I had been seeking the last eight or ten days. I sprang at my gun, Amida seized his, and we both hurried towards the spot from which the sound came. It seemed to be more than a mile off. We counted three roars ; then the lion ceased, and we marched on towards him.