Another kind of trap was more ingenious. It was on the plan of the twitch-up snare, common in New England. A young tree, very strong and flexible, is bent down till the upper end touches the ground. To this extremity is attached a stout cord, and fastened to a stake in the ground. A slip-noose is so arranged that the tiger thrusts his head through it in order to reach the meat with which the cord holding the tree is baited. As the animal pulls the cord he casts off the line holding the tree in its bent position. The slip-noose is tightened around his neck, the tree flies up into the air, carrying the tiger with it. Everything about the trap is made very strong, and there the savage marauder hangs till he chokes to death.
[Illustration: Captain Ringgold brought down another—Page 349]
The party moved on, and they had not gone ten rods before a cobra elevated his head. Felix claimed the right to fire first, and he killed him with one ball. A large python was Scott’s first prize; and, after a long walk, they came to a nest of tigers, as it seemed, for there were not less than five of them drinking at a brook. It appeared to be the only place in the vicinity where fresh water could be obtained. The first of the tigers was killed by Louis with a single shot, for he put the ball through the eye of the beast.
Captain Ringgold brought down another with three shots from his repeating rifle. Felix did not care for tigers; he was looking for snakes, and they came to the brook to drink. In a couple of hours he had half a dozen of his favorite game. He declared that he was following the blessed example of St. Patrick, and if he did not die too soon he would rid the world of all the snakes in it.
The five tigers lay dead by the brook; and, taking the advice of the coolies, the hunters returned into a thicket, where Felix killed another python. The party could see the brook. A pair of timid deer came next to drink; but they fled at the approach of what seemed to be a family of leopards, for two of them were evidently cubs. They were all shot; but the repeated reports of the rifles had probably scared off others, and no more beasts of any kind came.
“These men say you have killed more tigers and leopards than any party of hunters who ever came here,” said Sir Modava, who carried a rifle, but had not fired it once; and Lord Tremlyn’s weapon had not been discharged; for both preferred to leave the game for their friends.
It was a great hunt, and the Americans were correspondingly proud of their success. Louis and Felix had been trained in a shooting-gallery, and neither of them missed his aim; but the shooting had all been at short range. With the help of two coolies, all the game was carried to the steamer, where it was exhibited to the rest of the company. The tigers were all skinned by the coolies and the crew of the steamer, as were the leopards; but after Mrs. Blossom and the others had seen the snakes, they were fed out to the crocodiles. The coolies were abundantly rewarded, and seemed to worship their visitors. They presented to them four mango fish, golden-yellow in color, and exquisite in flavor.