"You see, the tiger is very fist." His Majesty seemed amused by my amazement. "Sometimes it jumps the ring and is gone. The cloth cannot hold the tiger if it wishes to escape. It can only surprise it into turning, as this fellow did. But even with the cloth there is seldom time for more than a snap shot. It is not so simple as one might think to shoot a tiger."
The ring elephants continued to quarter the circle, growing more disorganized each time they encountered the tiger. They were totally scattered now, bellowing and trumpeting first from one side of the ring and then the other. The riders matched the animals' noise, their shouts answered by the men on the outer circle of elephants. Natives were arriving from all over to watch. They filled the nearby branches like ornaments on a Christmas tree. An attendant on a half-grown elephant moved among the howdahs passing candy and soft drinks.
More than an hour passed before we again saw the tiger. Then as before, an orange streak flashed briefly through the grass. His Majesty leaned forward, as if not certain of what he had seen.
"Tigress," he said.
This explained the confusion of the elephants in the ring. They had put up not one, but two tigers. They were chasing first one, then the other, and sometimes both at once.
Suddenly the King pointed ahead and to his right. "It is there," he whispered. "Do you see it?"
I could see nothing but grass.
"There," he said again. The sun was on the horizon, and the light was failing fast. If there was a tiger, it was invisible to me.
"Please do not wait, Your Majesty," I said. "I cannot see the tiger."
His Majesty raised his rifle and fired. There was a snarl, then an angry hiss. A channel of grass quivered and was still.