Tera looked on proudly, but at last insisted on their returning home. With her strong teeth and sickle-like claws she tore off pieces of meat, and each little cub, seizing a piece savagely in his mouth, trotted after its mother, who led the way straight back to their lair.
After this, however, Tera had rather an anxious time, for, once having taught the cubs to wander forth, she could not keep them at home, and, as she had thoughtfully made her lair near a farm, the cubs amused themselves night after night by killing as many animals as they could find.
Wantonly destructive, the cubs gave way to their ferocious and bloodthirsty nature, and, as they grew stronger, they would sometimes kill three or four cows at a time—calves, pigs, anything, in fact, that came in their way.
Whether it was the meat diet or the freedom, Tera could never make out, but, certain it was, that very soon, instead of consulting their mother and depending on her for everything, the cubs grew fierce and savage, and snarled whenever she came near them.
Being able now to supply themselves with food, they no longer cared for the food their mother provided, and one night, when Tera had put up with it for some time, she quietly slipped off and left them to look out for themselves.
She forgot her children as easily as she had forgotten her husband, and in a very short time was comfortable and happy by herself.
Having no ties or cares, she wandered farther afield, and finally made her home in another jungle. It was, she concluded, a much better jungle than the other; but the very first day she took up her quarters in it there was a great disturbance.
From her hiding-place Tera peeped forth, and saw three or four huge elephants moving slowly towards her. The elephants were carrying curious things on their backs—something like boxes, and in these boxes were men with guns.
Now, Tera would always attack an elephant if it was alone. But she certainly did not like the idea of attacking three or four of them. So intent was she on watching the elephants slowly moving towards her, with their huge forms swaying heavily along, that it was with a sudden shock that she realized that something was behind her.
Turning her head with a swift movement—that only a tiger can make— she saw two other elephants, and at the same instant there was a blaze and a cloud of smoke. With a wild roar, Tera sprang full at the nearest elephant; her four paws, with their cruel claws, sank deeply into his skin, while her great, yellow head almost faced the head of a man.
There was a moment’s pause, and another blaze of fire, and then Tera, in spite of convulsive efforts, felt her grasp on the elephant loosening. Dazzled and bewildered, she suddenly found herself at the elephant’s feet. In a hazy manner she was conscious that something was touching her. Beyond this she knew nothing, for her muscular body was losing its strength, her yellow eyes were growing dim and misty, and her life blood was staining the jungle grass a deep crimson. For a few moments she lay perfectly still, and then, with a long-drawn, shuddering gasp, threw back her handsome head and died.