e nor’mous, very large; huge.
start’led, suddenly alarmed; surprised.
au’dible, that may be heard.
maj’esty, greatness; nobility.
increas’ing, growing larger.
* * * * *
There is, in the appearance of the lion, something both noble and imposing. Nature has given him wonderful strength and beauty.
His body, when full grown, is only about seven feet long and less than four feet high; but his large and shapely head, with its powerful jaws, his glaring eye, and long, flowing mane, give him an air of majesty that shows him worthy of the name—“King of Beasts.”
Yet we are told that a lion will not willingly attack man, unless first attacked himself or driven by hunger to forget his habits.
On meeting man suddenly, he will turn, retreat slowly for a short distance, and then run away.
The lion belongs to the cat family, and his teeth and claws are similar in form and action to those of the house cat.
His food is the flesh of animals; and so great is his appetite, that it must require several thousand other animals to supply one lion with food during his life-time.
His strength is so enormous that he can crush the skull of an ox with a single blow of his powerful paw, and then grasp it in his jaws and bound away.
Unless driven by hunger to bolder measures, he will hide in the bushes, or in the tall reeds along the banks of rivers, and spring suddenly upon the unlucky animal that chances to come near him.
Many lions have been captured, and their habits and appearance carefully studied. Although there is a difference in color—some being of a yellowish brown, others of a deep red, and a few silvery gray—the general form and appearance of all lions is the same.
The mane is of a dark brown, or of a dusky color, and the tail nearly three feet long, with a bunch of hair at the tip.
The lioness, or female lion, is smaller in every way than the male and has no mane.
It is in the night-time that the lion goes out from his den to seek for food, and his color is so dark and his movements so silent, that his presence is not known even at the distance of a few yards.
These dangerous beasts are no longer found in Europe, although they lived there in numbers many hundred years ago. It is only in the deserts and rocky hills of Asia and Africa that they are met with.
Those who have visited a menagerie, and have seen a lion within the limits of a narrow iron cage, can form no idea of the majesty of the brute when roaming about freely on his native soil.
The voice of the lion is loud and strong. It is likely to strike terror to the bravest heart.
“It consists,” says a well-known writer, “at times of a low, deep moaning, repeated five or six times, and ending in scarcely audible sighs; at other times, the forest is startled with loud, deep-toned, solemn roars, increasing in loudness to the third or fourth, and then dying away in sounds like distant thunder.”