92 PUMAS AND JAGUARS
of the lakes. Here they feast—for a change, or when nothing else is to be had—on fish, eggs, and even turtles, which they scoop neatly out of their shells with a paw. Sometimes they inhabit the islands scattered about the great streams ; but when the rivers suddenly rise, and their homes are flooded, and no food is to be had, they swim on shore in search of it, and it is at these times the jaguar becomes unusually dangerous, for, as a rule, it never attacks man first. On one occasion, a half-starved jaguar hid itself in a church at Santa Fe, and as the priest entered to celebrate mass, it sprang out and gnawed the poor man, till there was hardly a scrap of him left to tell the tale. Then the murderer stole stealthily back to its hiding-place, with its appetite still keen, waiting till the second priest should come in and fall a victim, exactly as the first had done. And even two priests would not have made a meal for this hungry creature, but that fortunately the third priest, whose ears were quick, heard the sound of crunching through the open door, and stopped outside in time.
He rushed back and collected some men, but no one could be found rash or daring enough to advance into the church in order to shoot the monster. It was found that the only safe way to get at it was to go up on the roof of the church, and to lift off a part, so as to take aim from a safe distance.
When goaded by hunger, jaguars will eat tame cattle and horses; but they much prefer wild game, which they kill in the same way as the puma, by dislocating the neck. If they are disturbed during a meal they will hardly ever return to the half-eaten body, but begin a fresh hunt—and in the level pampas of Argentina and Patagonia, game is very plentiful and easily seen. In the southern parts of Brazil man-eating jaguars are not at all uncommon, and one will be heard (or seen) tracking a party during a whole day, stopping w^hen they stop,. and moving when they move.