The Son of Tarzan

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 133

her. He lashed his tail
against his tawny sides. He roared terribly; but, for an instant, he
remained where he stood--surprised into inaction, doubtless, by the
strange apparition that had sprung so unexpectedly from the jungle.

Other eyes were upon Meriem, too--eyes in which were no less surprise
than that reflected in the yellow-green orbs of the carnivore. A white
man, hiding in a thorn boma, half rose as the young girl leaped into
the clearing and dashed toward the kid. He saw Numa hesitate. He
raised his rifle and covered the beast's breast. The girl reached the
kid's side. Her knife flashed, and the little prisoner was free. With
a parting bleat it dashed off into the jungle. Then the girl turned to
retreat toward the safety of the tree from which she had dropped so
suddenly and unexpectedly into the surprised view of the lion, the kid
and the man.

As she turned the girl's face was turned toward the hunter. His eyes
went wide as he saw her features. He gave a little gasp of surprise;
but now the lion demanded all his attention--the baffled, angry beast
was charging. His breast was still covered by the motionless rifle.
The man could have fired and stopped the charge at once; but for some
reason, since he had seen the girl's face, he hesitated. Could it be
that he did not care to save her? Or, did he prefer, if possible, to
remain unseen by her? It must have been the latter cause which kept
the trigger finger of the steady hand from exerting the little pressure
that would have brought the great beast to at least a temporary pause.

Like an eagle the man watched the race for life the girl was making. A
second or two measured the time which the whole exciting event consumed
from the moment that the lion broke into his charge. Nor once did the
rifle sights fail to cover the broad breast of the tawny sire as the
lion's course took him a little to the man's left. Once, at the very
last moment, when escape seemed impossible, the hunter's finger
tightened ever so little upon the trigger, but almost coincidentally
the girl leaped for an over hanging branch and seized it. The lion
leaped too; but the nimble Meriem had swung herself beyond his reach
without a second or an inch to spare.

The man breathed a sigh of relief as he lowered his rifle.

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