"Wouldn't the shikaris scare off the tiger when they put up the ring?"
"They were on elephants," His Majesty explained. "The tiger is accustomed to elephants. When it is full and drowsy and lazy it pays no attention to other creatures that live in the jungle."
Just then one of the attack elephants thrust its trunk forward. The ends of it quivered like fingers moving inside a mitten. The others stopped to test the air. The riders urged them forward. There was a roar. The elephants trumpeted and scurried back, colliding with each other.
"The tiger is there," His Majesty said.
The elephants moved forward again, more cautiously now. Again they trumpeted and jumped back, scattering. Two galloped off to the right, another to the left. The drivers hit them on the head with sticks and what appeared to be metal axes. They shouted encouragement and epithets. It was impossible to see the tiger in the tall grass, but every few minutes an elephant would bellow and charge off, indicating that it had come close to the tiger or vice versa.
Finally I got a glimpse of it. It stopped for a moment at the edge of the clearing, not more than 50 yards away. It was barely visible in the high grass. I could just see its faint outline, turned broadside as if it were looking in our direction. The King did not move, so I did not. Then the tiger was gone.
"Did you see it?" His Majesty asked.
I nodded and asked why he had not fired He said he wanted to see if it were male or female, large or small.
"It is a very large male," he added. "Please shoot when you see it again."
At that instant the tiger burst into the clearing to our right, did a somersault at the ring and vanished back into the high grass. Men up and down the line shouted and banged on pieces of metal and wood. It happened so fast that all I saw was a streak of orange moving at such speed that it was gone before the impression fully registered.