Bengal Dacoits and Tigers/Tiger Stories/An Assam Adventure
AN ASSAM ADVENTURE
Some years ago, an English baron came out to India to enjoy some tiger shooting. He received invitations to many Native States, and was having a right royal time. In the course of his wanderings he came to Assam. In those days, the jungles of Assam swarmed with tigers but a "man-eater" was very rarely known there.
Sir M. was in a small camp with just two or three other guns, and all were hopeful of "bagging" a tiger, for the roaring of the lords of the jungle could be heard almost every night. The tents had been pitched on the bank of a river and all round the camp and on the opposite bank was heavy jungle. Wild animals abounded in these jungles and the camp servants did not appreciate the site. No sooner had the Sahebs finished their dinner than the servants disappeared into their tents, and securing themselves within, as strongly as they could, devoutly hoped that the morning light would find them still alive and unharmed.
One evening Sir M. retired to his own tent immediately after dinner. He was very tired but as he was not sleepy, he made himself comfortable and settled down on a long-sleeved chair with a book. His tent was a small one, with a camp cot, a couple of chairs and a table. On the table stood a reading lamp. M. was soon absorbed in his book and did not notice how the hours fled. The camp became quiet and still. It was a dark close night and the door of his tent stood open, for he was a lover of air. He had read on for some time when his attention was drawn to a movement of his tent wall. It seemed to him as if some one or something was rubbing along the side. He put down his book and got on to his feet to see what it could be. As he was about to step forward the head of a tiger loomed in the doorway, the eyes gleaming brightly. Sir M. stood motionless with surprise and "Stripes" stepped into the tent. He was a fine specimen of a Royal Bengal tiger, and M. forgot everything in his admiration of the noble animal.
The table with the lamp upon it stood between Sir M. and the tiger, and each stood on either side of it gazing at each other. As the silent seconds passed, Sir M. realized that he was in danger and bethought him of his rifle which was almost within reach of his hand; but he dared not move and so continued gazing steadfastly at his visitor. The tiger too stood, surveying his vis-a-vis and then began to move round the table. The lamp either attracted or annoyed him and he raised his paw to the table. The weight of the huge paw tilted the table, the lamp toppled and fell with a crash. The terrified tiger gave a mighty roar, turned tail and fled.
The camp was aroused. Everyone shouted and rushed out into the night, armed with some weapon or other. Sir M. related to his brother guns what had happened and they all enjoyed a good laugh and rather envied him for the fine sight he had of such a superb specimen of the kings of the jungle.