Lives of a Bengal Tiger
IT WAS AS HE LAY in wait near a water-hole on an afternoon in his sixth year that Bagh made his great decision. His sire must get out or die. His mother, too, must move on to an adjoining range and keep her distance, for the rest of that season at least.
The thing should have been done long before. The hunting thereabouts was getting worse from day to day: the spring holes a bit lower, the grass drier and the leaves scarcer. It was mid-February, therefore high summer in the Indian jungle -time of drouth, famine, wild dogs and allied evils—and everywhere the game was drawing northward to survive. For a month now there had been scarcely hx)d enough in the district for Bagh himself. For the old folks, his parents, there was no more room in that part of India at all.
It should have been the other way around, of course. Bagh, the son, the newcomer, so to speak, should have removed himself, leaving his sire the rights of possession and privileges of priority. And so it would have been in ieopard or lion land. Bagh, however, was no ordinary son at all, any more than the tribe of royal Bengalis to which lie belonged were ordinary felines. They were fiercer, swifter and more terrible for their size than any others of the cat tribe, and Bagh, since the first month of his life, had shown himself to be larger, fiercer and grimmer than any young tiger the Sunderbund had known in many a great thirst, which was the way they reckoned time in those parts. When he had been five months old, for instance, Bagh had killed his sister in innocent play at the mouth of their lair. His mother had been absent at the time, and when his sire returned unexpectedly the latter slapped him down. Since then the sire had more than once wished he had finished off Bagh at the same time.
Having failed to do that little thing, here was the situation. This aftem it had been touched off, so to speak, when Bagh’s perfect stalk of a sambhur hind—the only sambhur left in that part of the world, too, it seemed—had been frustrated by another wary hunter stalking the same
meal. Hard upon the whistling snort that accompanied the dainty hind out of the picture and out of this story, both stalkers rose simultaneously from their grass coverts to peer; and thus we have them, father and son. facing each other at a distance of thirty feet.
THE ELDER TIGER had been quivering on the point of pursuing the hind, but at sight of his son he changed his mind. It was quite obvious that each beast had spoiled the other’s stalk—the most unforgivable crime in the animal world. Given this beginning, the domestic argument that had tong hung fire was precipitated on the spot; and a traveller, had one been unfortunate enough to be passing through that sweltering stretch of jungle, would have thought that at least half a dozen fiends were doing one another to death violently there among the labyrinths of tawny grass. For minutes, in fact, the yells, screams and squallings that arose were beyond any description whatsoever.
But that was nothing. The battle hadn’t even begun yet. They were simply circling slowly about, giving one another dirty looks and telling all about what had been banking up in their chests for months past; doing their utmost to frighten each other off with a good dose of Bengal bluff. Though possessed of a courage fierce as flame, neither beast was going to light tiil all other methods of gaining victory were exhausted, for the battling of full grown tigers is a frightful and awesome thing that ends in the death of one or both.
For four whole minutes they crouched, glaring at each other with ears fiat, eyes hell-pitted, necks arched as if straining against bearing reins—cast statues of ferocity. Times they thrust their heads downward and sidewise with
horrible cries, fangs clicking as if they champed at invisible Hies. One could see the glisten of washed ivory on their long sabre fangs. At last, as if it was timed by some invisible prompter, their two mailed right paws whizzed up in exact unison, flickered in air—also in exact unison, so that one could have felt the electric effluvia of exploding nerve force —and remained poised again. Three times they boxed air thus. They were timing each other for some weakness, some infinitesimal flaw in their guardian reflexes, and finding none; finding rather that they were utterly perfect fighting machines, so appallingly well matched that death must surely referee their clash. And be it known that when one speaks of timing in relation to the tiger it implies a speed that is at least a dimension beyond anything humans know—and most animals, too, the tiger being about the swiftest and most agile proposition that Nature has unloaded on the planet.
Abruptly as if he had been sitting on a mine, the old one came in. At the round, glittering head of his son he flew in a rearing liquid lift, for the sight of that insolent glare was more than his combustible temper could stand. But Bagh was not there when he arrived. He had simply blown aside like a dandelion seed caught in a sportive summer wind, shot backward, bounced high in air, clear up and over the pater’s head, landing a whistling, wicked slash on the other’s back in passing.
THEY LANDED together, still miraculously facing though they had changed places: shot backward in the same breath like spent shells, pivoted and slashed again simultaneously in mid-air, each landing a death blow in the place the other had just miraculously left ; bounced apart again and were abruptly still—crouched. Then, before a
man could have cried “Murder,” they were locked in a devil's clinch. They scarcely seemed to have moved, yet there they were in a tangle as if snapped together by bands of rubber—rolling, snarling, tearing and writhing in a choking whirligig of grass, fangs and fur.
Now for a fraction of a second Bagh showed on top, his sire’s hind claws rowelling his belly. Now he was under, tearing at the old one’s throat. Again on hind feet they rose, boxing and wrestling for a throat hold, utterly elemented. Altogether, it was the biggest thing in battles that had shocked the surrounding jungle in many a year.
Then all in a breath they had cleared themselves with that black art that cats alone possess, and were crouched again, still and moveless and ten feet apart.
All this had been in the nature of a try-out, and they had learned volumes from it. Certain facts now stood out in their subtle feline brains. First, it had become plain that what Bagh had over his sire in length, reach and resiliency, the old one made up for in seasoned craft and guile. They were matched—aye. matched to a hair. Too well matched by long odds. It would be a battle royal with death as a climax. And the reason they fought was to live. Wolves or weasels might have lost track of that, but never cats. They were fools in reason, but never in caution.
One more snarling, reeling tangle-—it was Bagh, himself, who forced it with psychological intent—and again they were crouched, flat and moveless as efligies in old gold and jet. The sire had four frightful gridirons along his side and belly and a shredded ear; the son had a cheek laid open and a crimson belly. A long minute passed, each beast so wary now that he made passes at the other’s slightest stir. Then the old tiger, without rising, took a long, slow step backward; then another.
He turned at last, the tinderlike tawny grass closed with the swish of a silk curtain behind his black-tipped tail and he was gone—driven from home, so to speak, by his piratical son.
Half an hour later and about a mile away, Bagh. following slowly but relentlessly on his father’s trail and lending speed to the latter’s flight, came unexpectedly upon his mother and dealt her out a disciplining, almost but not quite, as severe as his father’s. The thing was now done. He had come into man’s estate, stepped into a new life as lord paramount over all the wild hunters for five miles around, all in an hour.
There had been other times when the ofdinarv beast with the ordinary life would have died the death, and Bagh hadn’t. At least four of his allotted nine lives had been lived out in his youth. There was the time, for instance, when as a paltr, or part-grown cub, he had been ambushed by a great grass python, and but for the wile and courage of his mother would have died. Once he had been cornered by a buffalo herd and almost gored to death: long weals still marked his shoulders where the hair had grown in white.
Again a rifle bullet had grazed iis spine and he had fallen and lay stunned while hunters had almost trodden him as they beat the thickets. These and similar escapes were but part of that miraculous luck which followed Bagh through his growing years.
vS THE SWIFT Indian dusk descended over the grass jungle, Bagh, a very' wraith in the mists but more alive than he had been all day. patrolled his new kingdom, his onyx eyes glowing like night lamps in the marshalling
shadows. Overhead, the great Southern Cross had begun to gleam, while far down in the south. Canopus and the great red Antares flamed like lamps. Somewhere in the middle distance a langur ape wailed mournfully, and the dry daytime song of insects had given way to the persistent blood song of the mosquitoes—the multitude that hummed
It was a wonderful hour in that region; Bagh’s breakfast hour, so to speak, the beginning of his day, though in lean times he did part of his hunting in daylight. Always there was a subtle stirring at this time as the wild folk “changed guard” from day to night shift. Bagh was tired, sore and lacerated, and very hungry. He must eat. and quickly. But first, being a cat and a supercat. he must play.
No one dared play with him in that neck of the jungle,
so he played a bit with himself. He stalked a huge grey sphinx moth just rising for its evening flight; plucked it out of the air as it swooped, patted it down lightly, released it, gambolled after it for a hundred feet like an overgrown kitten, caught it again, assured himself that he had it fast beyond peradventure of a doubt, then let it go out from under that great mailed paw of his, unhurt.
Next, he came upon the black panther. A mean and petty pirate was the panther, who was suffered to poach at odd times in and about the tigers’ domain. A smudge, half seen, half guessed in the darkness, the panther was lying in wait for sambhur deer when Bagh came silently u|x>n him. As it happened, the black one knew little or nothing about Bagh. He knew only that, next to Bagh’s sire, he was lord of killers thereabout, and that at that particular moment Bagh’s sire was far from there. That explained, perhaps, why he whirled and shot straight at Bagh, fieryeyed and hissing like any fury.
Just what happened then was hardly clear, I imagine, even to the combatants themselves; it was so fast and furious. But certain it was that there was a battle of sorts; a hissing, snarling Catherine wheel of mist and fur and grass, through which flashed greeny-yellow eyes and white fangs like light glinting on swords at play. It ended in less than two minutes with a very dead black panther. Then Bagh departed on the meat trail.
His pace was a loose, padding trot that hiked him over the ground much faster than it appeared to, because of the marvellous litheness and conformity of his muscles. Little of the usual feline slink of his kind was in evidence now; Bagh moved in the open and cared not who saw him. Very noble and puissant he looked in his father’s former rôle as he inspected his new preserve. It cannot be denied he was full of himself tonight, what of the happenings of the afternoon. Also hunger had begun to press so that he was hurried and a bit careless. Ujxrn these things, therefore, must be blamed the futility of his first stalk of the evening.
Abruptly he had sighted a family of mouse deer—tiny, hornless, deerlike creatures only twelve inches high—as they came out of the forest to drink. Instantly he had decided upon them for table fare. From the moment he saw them up to his final rush it was as if Bagh had never been. His stalking was a marvel of self-effacing humility. Even his eyes were shrouded instinctively lest their night lights give him away.
ARRIVED within what he considered the correct range.
V Bagh shot forward like a charge of buckshot and well nigh as fast, but the mouse deer had dissolved like pulls of blowm thistledown. He had given himself away before ever he sighted them by his self-absorption, and the wily, elf-like creatures, knowing their own powers of flight, had not considered him worth making a fuss over, at least until he
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showed he was out for a meal. They were versed in his ways according to their own lights. A quick rush and a finish, no long pursuit, was the way with tigers.
But nothing so infuriates a cat as to pull a bungle. Bagh, in a burst of temper, covered a hundred yards, his hind legs often crossing over ahead of his forefeet as he doubled up in mighty springs, gaining momentarily on one of the elusive sprites. Human eyes, by the way, could not have even made out the mouse deer at over twenty feet in the moonless dark.
The quarry swerved desperately and plunged into the protecting blackness of the deep bush. As if tied to him by strings, Bagh swept after ; then, when he was scarcely two body lengths behind and about to make the final spring, something happened. Some vast bulk stirred sharply amid the trees almost in his path. Something rose upward, sat upon its haunches like some ungainly, gigantic dog; the silhouette of it against the dimness titanic in its sheer impossibility. Without warning it charged, revealing itself by its steam-engine snorting as a malevolent bull rhinoceros.
All in the span of a split second the fleeing mouse deer dissolved into the thickets, while Bagh brought up all-standing with brakes on, in front of the rhino who had been transformed into a devastating avalanche on legs by the tiger taint on the breeze. Bagh sprang to the low branch of a tree to keep from being steam-rolled as the old bull, whose little eyes were myopic even by day, and by night were well nigh stone blind, went thundering over the spot on which he had stood, going by scent alone and holding to his path as if on invisible rails. Thus he would continue, Bagh knew, cutting wide circles roundabout and snorting like a locomotive until the cat scent had been entirely obliterated from his nostrils. Result: no more hunting there or thereabouts for many hours to come.
Literally on end with wrath and irritation, minus all dignity, grace and pride, Bagh descended to the ground and moved into the scenery in a series of liquid and incredible bounds as if fearful lest some watching eyes had witnessed his belittlement. A sickly overture indeed to his opening night as top tyrant of the district. But that was only the beginning of his trouble.
“TEN MINUTES later he missed another I perfect chance for a kill; being still too noisy, careless and full of lusty wrath for any game, not deaf, to linger in his vicinity. A wild sow and her young—wonderful eating and ordinarily easy to stalk—were rooting in a bamboo thicket fully forty yards from the safety of the deserted hyena’s den where they dwelt, when Bagh winded them in the dense cane. Before he had covered half the intervening distance they had scuttled one and all to safety, leaving Bagh to rasp his claws painfully and ineffectually on the den mouth, dried and hardened by years of weather to the consistency of concrete.
He quitted that place as he had quitted the rhino’s stamping ground. Leaving his kingliness behind him, he descended into the bed of a dried-up watercourse, presumably to let the tall reeds that grew there cover him and his disgruntlement, and barely missed treading upon a black cobra that lay in wait there. Anything but a cat would have stepped on it, but cats, it would almost appear, have brains as well as eyes in their feet.
He was by now very little the tyrant, Bagh the royal Bengal, and very much Bagh the overgrown cub that he had been a few short months before. Many things were rapidly being made plain to him. Primarily, that it was one thing to go hunting with one s parents, relaying game toward one’s ambush or chivvying brilliantly down wind, and quite another to do it all alone. Like-
wise, it was one thing to set up as a monarch, and another to maintain one’s royal and isolate pride. He who had never been really alone before must now be his own employer, so to speak, his own sentinel and champion, his own and only companion, or so it seemed. But not quite, at that.
It was now abruptly that Bagh began to take note of a strange, recurrent chorus above the high thin trumpet call of mosquitoes: “Whoo-oo, whoo-aah.”
The eerie wail came drifting to him on the lap of the breeze, as if lost souls were abroad in the jungle night. The cry ended in a tortured shriek, as of a woman in an extremity of terror. Followed hard upon this, a gurgling and retching as of someone in death throes; then another piercing shriek worse than the first, followed by peal upon peal of demoniacal, degraded, mirthless laughter, that seemed bandied and echoed from all the shadows round about. It was the voice of the rabble, the Bolshevists of those parts, the lí venas and their poor relations, the jackals, and it stopped Bagh in his stride, furling his black lips above his fangs in defiance. He knew what that meant. He was worse than alone now. His father’s followers had taken him over as the next best bet.
Not the sort of followers you have in mind. Hangers-on, rather, down-at-theheels carpetbaggers who made up a nightly escort to and from their master’s hunting with a view to scavenging. Most folk imagine that the lion is the only beast who rates such followers, but such is not the case. In India the royal Bengal is afflicted by the same favor. And in India, as in Africa, monarchs are supposed to provide for their faithful.
The chorus of ghoulish yells, whines, bowlings and bloodcurdling shrieks drew near and nearer, swelling till they stopped Bagh in the middle of a luxurious roll among the reeds. 11 was the call which hunters call the “pheat," and it informed him that his followers were wroth with him. The howls grew louder, horrible and more horrible, breaking out from many points at once. Leaping up, Bagh quit the spot in a series cf long elastic bounds, only to have a snort and a panicky shuffle among the reeds to his right impart the mocking message that he liad lost another chance at a perfect stalk which would have ended in a banquet of young water-buffalo - a splendid, wellmeated specimen of water-buffalo, too, he saw, as the meal plunged into the safety of the near-by river.
BAGH DECAMPED into the scenery then with a burst of speed that left his lugubrious consort a mile to the rear. And it was then at last that he made his kill—one of a pair of sambhur hinds, pictures of grace incarnate, which happened to break out of the river bush in hot flight from someone or something else, their big liquid eyes too fixed in horror to rearward to note the strii>ed death streaking in from the side. True, Bagh took a bit of time over the actual killing of the sleek doe—twice as long as j his sire’s single efficient wrench would have ! needed but there lay the banquet at last, j properly dressed for eating. He was a proud monarch in that minute, as he mounted his forepaws ujxm the carcass, his barred tail lashing like a live snake. His first solo tribute.
Then for a wonderful minute or so he quaffed deeply at the neck of the kill. He was just starting on some solider fare when his head went up on the column of his fine strong neck in wrath. They were back again, that procession of twin greenish lamps that seemed to float, bodyless, just above the grass tops, gleaming and fading but continually recruited, forming a ring, the span of which was drawn by the compass of his power. Oh. yes, they were still with him. those followers, as low trickles of laughter apprised him. They had followed hard upon his heels. Most certainly they would not desert him now. No nice crowd in any sense, but businesslike and reflecting his importance.
Sharp-nosed, prick-eared, energetic heads rose momentarily above the grass, regarding
him with the villainous, leery, sneery grins of the jackal kind, here and there a hated hyena face among them, favoring him with demoniacal regard, then sinking from sight again—waiting, waiting, and laughing madly as they waited. It needed but a pair of black, round-eared heads in the background, shifting like mist wreaths at the jungle edge, to make the audience complete. A pair of wild dogs, the nomadic terrors of all India.
It was near dawn now, and the time for feeding for such as these grew short. Moreover. the late moon would soon have topped the bank of thunder clouds to the east. The ring of ghouls drew closer, weaving in and out among themselves, mouthing, gasping and chortling. They were mad with that hunger with which those who feed on carrion are afflicted. Like the thirst that follows war or pestilence. Bagh crouched down, moaning horribly and quietly to himself as he worried the kill. Waiting for dead meat, were they? Well, they’d have it, if they came within the magic circle of his strike.
His tactics, like those of all cats, consisted of pretending that he did not see those skulking shadows at all and would not notice them if he could. Then came the chance, and Bagh, for the second time that night, combusted. His charge carried him clean through the pack where it was thickest like a cannon shot through a crowd. Once and twice he struck whistling, full-armed blows and at the first a jackal died, and at the second a hyena went howling into the night with half his cheek and a piece of his shoulder ripped off. Before he could whirl again, the rest of the crowd had fallen over backward or sidewise and disappeared as completely as if they had never been at all.
BAGH CAME to a stop in the dense blackness, a little disconcerted at the completeness of the rout. The victory had been so easily won, the night so suddenly still. But, Jehoshapat ! what was that? He whirled and covered the twenty yards back to the carcass in two seconds fiat and struck again—tvheep, wheep— in the middle of a cluster of wraiths that swarmed verminlike over the carcass. They flew apart like parts of an exploding shell, rolling out and between his very paws and savage gaping fangs, almost turning somersaults in passage, and each with a triangular gobbet of warm, dripping meat in its jaws, which they bolted as they ducked. It was a lasting wonder they did not choke to death on the spot.
Bagh charged on furiously, wholly demented again, spitting, spinning, bounding in all directions at once, it seemed, but missing the skulkers one and all. Only to come hissing back again, his pads thudding on the dry grass as the opposite side of the circle swept forward in a concerted rush, to rip more meat and vanish. It was a white light on the ways of scavengers and the meaning of “followers” in the wild.
Quite some five minutes of that went on, and Bagh was fit for asylums, as they say. before it dawned upon his shallow cat brain that he stood to lose the entire kill unless he planted himself thereon and did some bolting on his own. He had just nicely started at that when the ring of footpads broke again quite suddenly of its own accord. Bagh could plainly see them, first one furtive ghost then another, melting into the shadows.
Then came the cause.
The faintest of faint rustles whispered in the dry grass; there was a microscopic snap, followed by a distinctly audible sound of purring. Bagh had drawn himself very erect and high on the shoulders of the kill, and was growling to himself. He stopped abruptly as a slim head and neck rose warily above the grass, a head that might have belonged to a leopard had it not boasted fine spidery black lines from ear to ear. To the head was added a body and to the body a tail, the striped, sinister and exquisitely graceful body of a tigress of obvious youth and accomplishment. It was right there that the thing happened which taught Bagh how all a fellow’s plans and pains can go for naught at the advent of the enigmatical female. A short five minutes before he would have slain any beast, even his parents, over
this kill of his, for instance, which was merely a kinglike and consistent state of mind. Came now unreason, on the heels of this sleek female of his clan.
Now, in the Sunderbund, where Bagh had lived all his short life, lady tigers were becoming rare creatures. Indeed, Bagh had never seen one, with the exception of his mother, until this psychological moment. Result: love came upon him so suddenly that reason fled. For it could not be denied that, directly he laid eyes upon her, he had fallen fiercely in love. And that, of course, was the beginning of still another life.
AS THE SLEEK, sinister creature saun/\tered up to thekill, purring superciliously as she came, Bagh simply drew aside to give her room. She was a young thing and superbly beautiful, and one gathered that she was in something of a panic for life to start happening to her. Obviously, she already knew where she stood with males in general. Bagh watched as she crouched and proceeded to feed upon the choicest portions of the carcass, himself purring like a great fool and quite forgetting his own griping hunger. The purrs of the two of them, in fact, filled the stilly night like the droning of tired saws.
Abruptly Bagh’s purring ceased. He had pivoted about and hurled himself into a grass clump in one dumb, death-dealing charge. He had seen what human eyes could never have made out—the top of a fiat, striped head twenty feet away—and smelled what few other nostrils could have scented up-wind—the odor of another tiger, a male. At the sudden and awful convulsion of savage, steel-hard todies as the brutes met, the female flicked the pair with a momentary phosphorescent glance, in her mien something horrible to contemplate—an exquisite thrill of tension, almost pleasure, in the knowledge that two furious knights were joined in battle for her favor; ready to die for her and doing it, too, with celerity. Through it all she never paused an instant at her feeding. This concession she made them, however—her head kept pole-true to the fighters as they circled about.
Bagh fought like a lambent flame. He multiplied himself; he became calamity personified. He was fighting for the female’s eyes to see, and he was quite demented.
Cat fights, fortunately, are never long; they couldn’t be in the nature of things. This one was even shorter than usual, but furious in proportion; the battle of the afternoon a mere boxing match compared with it. From the moment the pair met in air and fell together the struggle was wholly indescribable. For a full minute they were locked, half uprisen in a sort of rocking, reeling, rending waltz of death. Then they were four feet apart, ripping forth short, grunting coughs of fury from sidewiselifted lips.
No one could have told how they came to be locked the second time, unless it was Bagh himself. They scarcely seemed to have moved, yet there they were, writhing, ripping and snarling again, Bagh on the bottom. But he was really more terrible that way, on his back with his kicking, rowelling hind legs free, than when right way up; and this time his jaws were fastened to his opponent’s throat. At least two more of his allotted quota of lives had died the death, when at last they broke the clinch. The other tiger, an older, leaner beast, failed to come in again, for good reason. He got up, dug his razors into the sod for a fresh charge, then changed his mind, pivoted and departed.
I hirty feet away, he fell over on his side and lay there, feebly biting up chunks of grass and earth in torment. He was quite the sorriest beast in India, for besides being half-blinded, his throat had been slit and
his underparts laid open as if with stilettos. Had the moon come out just then, you might have recognized him as Bagh's own father, but the chances are you wouldn’t.
Bagh. of course, had known his father from the moment of his first charge, by his voice and scent. The old tough, it appeared, hadn't gone far away, knowing his son pretty well. Lured by the sight and quite possibly the blandishments of the unattached flapper tigress just mentioned, he had ventured to return on her trail, and in so doing had come upon Bagh and—Waterloo.
BAGH DID NOT wait to ascertain the extent of the damage he had done, nor to settle any fine points of lordship. The old one might with luck recover, might even lord it again over that populous precinct of the wild; all that was nothing to Bagh now. In the past five minutes he had found out just what it was he had wanted all along, and it had nothing whatever to do with the loneliness of kingship. For the present, at least, it had to do with the fresh trail the tigress had left. During that last mad clinch of the two males, she had finished her repast, stretched leisurely, fastidiously washed her face, and with no more than a haughty glance at her two admirers, vanished.
She hadn’t gone far, however. Bagh came upon her within a hundred yards, sitting, full fed and cynical, beneath a chinar tree, carding her hair. She was. in fact, waiting for him, having known he was coming all along. She turned her low-browed, blackgold face and regarded him with cruel, inscrutable eyes. As she did so the first great drop of rain for ten full months, fell with an audible phlt on the parched ground between them, harbinger of better times ahead.
The female rose, stretched deliberately ; and insolently yawned in Bagh’s face. Then ! patting at him a flirtatious, playful paw, the sort that would have laid open his shoulder if he hadn’t dodged with unconcern, she bounded off through the tall grass, Bagh close behind.
Two weeks later, the pair of them, happily mated now, returned to the Sunderbund again from a honeymoon trip of a hundred miles or more into the high Terai Forest— the vast hunting ground that skirts the foothills of the Himalayas. And then it was that Bagh, beast of varied destiny, stepped, or more accurately pitched headlong, into another and final life. As he led his young mate along an old familiar game trail, the ground suddenly yawned beneath him, and Bagh fell into a deep tiger pit, cleverly constructed by native hunters.
For an hour thereafter, while his mate circled and circled the black pit, phosphoreyed with horror, Bagh leaped and roared and clawed, but it was no use. When the mist peeled off with the dawn breeze, men came and Bagh was meshed in many ropes, trussed up like a sack of grain and hung head down from bamboo poles.
Not long after that, a hissing, swearing black and amber demon, christened Rajah now instead of Bagh, he crouched in a narrow cage on board a ship, bound for a certain zoological garden across the sea. He arrived at his destination in good health and is safer and better off there than ever he was in his former lives—and so, too, are thousands of hill-dwelling Hindus.
On the day on which the side boards were lowered and Bagh first looked upon the new strange world of the northern zoo, his young mate in far-off India lay watching her wobbly-legged cub taking his first look at the daylight beyond her lair-mouth— Bagh’s son, just beginning to use his legs and destined one day to take his father’s place as the beautiful and terrible lord of the jungle.