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Bengal Dacoits and Tigers/Tiger Stories/A Burmese Monster

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A BURMESE MONSTER

Some years ago Government sent an engineer and party to explore and prospect in the forests of Burma. None returned. Their disappearance was a mystery.

The authorities decided to send another party to ascertain the fate of the first and continue the work. To induce volunteers, a handsome salary was offered; and at length an Englishman came forward. He asked for twice the number of native attendants that the first man had had. Government granted him his request and provided him with every facility procurable and he started.

He followed the course taken by his predecessor up a large river. He travelled in a big boat and his men in smaller ones. Here and there they came upon traces of the former party. They pushed on. Suddenly all indications of the missing ones ceased. He felt he had better stop and investigate. Tents were landed and pitched and the men began to prepare their evening meal.

As he sat in his tent reading, he heard loud shouts and some of his coolies rushed to him. They said that as they were cooking they saw a great black thing hanging from a tree above them. When they made a noise it disappeared. It was long and thick and black. The coolies were frightened out of their wits and refused to remain in that place. Argument was of no use; so the tents were taken down and the party moved on.

Another spot was selected and here they stayed peacefully for some days. Suddenly a man was missing. Then another and another! Each disappeared when alone. The coolies were frightened and uneasy. But this time the Sahib managed to control them. He himself was anxious and puzzled.

Next a coolie who had gone to the river to scour vessels after a meal disappeared. The plates and lotas were scattered about just as if he had been suddenly seized. The Englishman thought that a crocodile must have taken him off.

Soon after this incident the engineer was fishing in the river opposite to the camp, and he noticed two coolies coming to the river. They sat down at the ghat and began to scour their vessels. The murmur of their voices reached him.

Presently the boatman clutched his arm and

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pointed to the bank. He looked. One of the coolies was chasing a huge hairy monster. The other could not be seen.

The engineer soon crossed the river and joined the coolie, still in the chase after the strange creature. As usual, the Saheb carried a loaded revolver and as he ran he fired several shots at the animal. They had no effect on it. The beast ran on with heavy lumbering strides, covering the ground with great rapidity and only once glancing back over its shoulders with a horrible grin. He could not overtake it and it disappeared into the thick jungle. Its hair was so long that it completely covered the man it carried in its powerful arms. It was some kind of an orang-outang.

The mystery was now cleared up. The engineer returned. His task was accomplished. Later he wrote an account of this adventure and concluded with these words:—"Now when I see a great hairy spider I tremble! and the remembrance of that monstrous black form returns to me, and the hideous grin that thrilled me. Never can I forget it."