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Bengal Dacoits and Tigers/Tiger Stories/A Thrilling Story

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A THRILLING STORY

One evening, in Assam, a young Englishman was driving along a lonely jungle road. He wished to visit a neighbouring Saheb; and though his servants had warned him that tigers had been frequently seen on that particular road, he had laughed at their fears and told them that the only tiger to be feared was a "man-eater", and that there were no "man-eating" tigers about that district. As usual in the mofussil of India, he was going out to dine and sleep, and his bearer had put up his clothes and his suit case was stowed into the dog-cart.

The road was a good one and considerably wide, for it was the main thoroughfare in the district and along it tea, jute and all other agricultural products were transported to the river for export to other districts of India and also to Europe. Nevertheless it was bordered on either side by dense jungle, and there were few villages in its vicinity. After sunset it was a road little frequented by villagers and it had the reputation of being tiger-haunted.

There was no moon and, as B. had not started much before sunset, darkness soon overtook him on the road. As he had no syce with him he got down to light the trap-lamps and jumped in and drove on again very cheerily. He was not far from where he must turn off the main road to the narrow one leading to his friend's estate, when the pony suddenly took fright at something and bolted. At first B. tried to pull the animal up; but its erect ears and wild snorting showed him that there was cause for alarm. He looked over his shoulder and in the dim starlight discerned the bulk of some animal in pursuit of them. An eerie feeling came over him and he wondered what was going to happen. He sat tight in his seat and let the pony race on. The chase continued and the pony began to show signs of collapse. It was evidently being overcome by fear and, in spite of all B.'s urging, could not keep up the pace, and the pursuing animal gained upon them. B. had just determined to leap from the cart when the pony tripped and fell and B. was shot out of the cart. He fell into the long grass on the side of the road, and had barely collected himself when a dark form sprang upon the pony.

The poor animal neighed with fear but kicked

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and fought its foe. B. rolled down the side of the road and began to crawl away through the jungle as fast as he could. Long grass and thorny brambles grew on either side of the road and as it was the dry season every movement of his made a crackling and rustling; and often he fancied he heard an animal in pursuit of him, or he would imagine he was about to meet one coming through the jungle towards him. He pressed on as fast as he could, sometimes crawling and sometimes walking, and at last he saw the glimmer of lights and came to some huts. He shouted to the inmates who came to his assistance.

When they discovered a Saheb in such a plight they were full of concern, helped him to their huts, gave him hot milk to drink and washed his wounds. His clothes were torn and his hands and knees bleeding from his flight through the thorny jungle. The sympathising villagers emptied a hut for him to rest in, and when morning came escorted him to the scene of his mishap.

The mangled remains of his poor pony told him that the wild animal had been a very famished tiger. B. returned to his own bungalow a wiser man, and told his servants that, had he taken their advice, he would not have suffered such an adventure or the loss of his pony. He rewarded the villagers for their kindness and hospitality and for a long time his escape was the talk of the district.

 

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