Across the Zodiac eBook

Percy Greg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 587 pages of information about Across the Zodiac.
My bird, floundering forwards, flung me to the ground about two hundred yards from the jungle, fortunately at a greater distance from the dying but not yet utterly disabled prey.  Its companion now came forth and stood over the tortured creature, licking its sores till it expired.  By this time I had recovered the consciousness I had lost with the shock of my fall, and had ascertained that my gun was safe.  I had but time to prepare and level it when, leaving its dead companion, the brute turned and charged me almost as rapidly as an infuriated elephant.  I fired several times and assured, if only from my skill as a marksman, that some of the shots had hit it, was surprised to see that at each it was only checked for a moment and then resumed its charge.  It was so near now that I could aim with some confidence at the eye; and if, as I suspected, the previous shots had failed to pierce the hide, no other aim was likely to avail.  I levelled, therefore, as steadily as I could at its blazing eyeballs and fired three or four shots, still without doing more than arrest or rather slacken its charge, each shot provoking a fearful roar of rage and pain.  I fired my last within about twenty yards, and then, before I could draw my sword, was dashed to the ground with a violence that utterly stunned me.  When I recovered my senses Ergimo was kneeling beside me pouring down my throat the contents of a small phial; and as I lifted my head and looked around, I saw the enormous carcass from under which I had been dragged lying dead almost within reach of my hand.  One eye was pierced through the very centre, the other seriously injured.  But such is the creature’s tenacity of life, that, though three balls were actually in its brain, it had driven home its charge, though far too unconscious to make more than convulsive and feeble use of any of its formidable weapons.  When I fell it stood for perhaps a second, and then dropped senseless upon my lower limbs, which were not a little bruised by its weight.  That no bone was broken or dislocated by the shock, deadened though it must have been by the repeated pauses in the kargynda’s charge and by its final exhaustion, was more than I expected or could understand.  Before I rose to my feet, Ergimo had peremptorily insisted on the abandonment of the further excursion we had intended, declaring that he could not answer to his Sovereign, after so severe a lesson, for my exposure to any future peril.  The Campta had sent him to bring me into his presence for purposes which would not be fulfilled by producing a lifeless carcass, or a maimed and helpless invalid; and the discipline of the Court and central Administration allowed no excuse for disobedience to orders or failure in duty.  My protest was very quickly silenced.  On attempting to stand, I found myself so shaken, torn, and shattered that I could not again mount a caldecta or wield a weapon; and was carried back to Askinta on a sort of inclined litter placed upon the carriage which had conveyed our booty.

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Across the Zodiac from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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