Yes, the fierce brute was fairly in
the trap. The three hunters breathed freely.
But how was the affair to end?
Both door and window-shutter fitted strongly and
closely; and, although it was possible to glance through
the chinks, nothing could be seen inside-since,
both being shut, it was quite dark within.
Even could the lion have been seen,
there was no hole through which to thrust the muzzle
of a gun and fire at him. He was just as safe
as his captors; and, so long as the door remained
closed, they could do him no more harm than he could
They might leave him shut up, and
let him starve. He could live for a while upon
what the jackals had left, with the carcasses of the
two dogs, but that would not sustain him long, and
in the end he would have to give up and miserably
perish. After all, this did not seem so certain
to Von Bloom and his companions. Finding that
he was caged in earnest, the brute might attack the
door, and with his sharp claws and teeth manage to
cut his way through.
But the angry field-cornet had not
the slightest intention of leaving the lion such a
chance. He was determined to destroy the beast
before leaving the ground; and he now set to thinking
how this could be accomplished in the speediest and
most effectual manner.
At first he thought of cutting a hole
in the door with his knife, large enough to see through
and admit the barrel of his roer. Should
he not succeed in getting a view of the beast through
that one, he would make another in the window-shutter.
The two being on adjacent sides of the house, would
give him the command of the whole interior-for
the former dwelling of the field-cornet comprised
only a single apartment. During his residence
there, there had been two, thanks to a partition of
zebra-skins; but these had been removed, and all was
now in one room.
At first Von Bloom could think of
no other plan to get at the enemy, and yet this one
did not quite please him. It was safe enough,
and, if carried out, could only end in the death of
A hole in both door and window-shutter
would enable them to fire at the brute as many bullets
as they pleased, while they would be quite secure
from his attack. But the time that would
be required to cut these holes-that was
why the plan did not please the field-cornet.
He and his party had no time to spare: their
horses were weak with hunger, and a long journey lay
before them ere a morsel could be obtained. No,-the
time could not be spared for making a breach.
Some more expeditious mode of attack must be devised.
“Father,” said Hendrik,
“suppose we set the house on fire?”
Good. The suggestion was a good
one. Von Bloom cast his eyes up to the roof-a
sloping structure with long eaves. It consisted
of heavy beams of dry wood with rafters and laths,
and all covered over with a thatch of rushes, a foot
in thickness. It would make a tremendous blaze,
and the smoke would be likely enough to suffocate
the lion even before the blaze could get at him.
The suggestion of Hendrik was adopted. They
prepared to fire the house.
There was still a large quantity of
rubbish,-the collected firewood which the
locusts had not devoured. This would enable them
to carry out their purpose; and all three immediately
set about hauling it up, and piling it against the
One might almost have fancied that
the lion had fathomed their design; for, although
he had been for a long while quite silent, he now
commenced a fresh spell of roaring. Perhaps the
noise of the logs, striking against the door outside,
had set him at it; and, finding himself thus shut
up and baited, he had grown impatient. What he
had sought as a shelter had been turned into
a trap, and he was now anxious to get out of
it. This was evident by the demonstrations he
began to make. They could hear him rushing about-passing
from door to window-striking both with
his huge paws, and causing them to shake upon their
hinges-all the while uttering the most fiendish
Though not without some apprehensions,
the three continued their work. They had their
horses at hand, ready to be mounted in case the lion
might make his way through the fire. In fact,
they intended to take to their saddles-as
soon as the fire should be fairly under way-and
watch the conflagration from a safe distance.
They had dragged up all the bush and
dry wood, and had piled them in front of the door.
Swartboy had taken out his flint and steel, and was
about to strike, when a loud scratching was heard from
the inside, unlike anything that had yet reached their
ears. It was the rattling of the lion’s
claws against the wall, but it had an odd sound as
if the animal was struggling violently; at the same
time his voice seemed hoarse and smothered, and appeared
to come from a distance.
What was the brute doing?
They stood for a moment, looking anxiously
in each other’s faces. The scratching
continued-the hoarse growling at intervals-but
this ended at length; and then came a snort, followed
by a roar so loud and clear, that all three started
in airtight. They could not believe that trails
were between them and their dangerous enemy!
Again echoed that horrid cry.
Great Heaven! It proceeded no longer from the
inside-it came from above them! Was
the lion upon the roof? All three rushed backward
a step or two, and looked up. A sight was before
them that rendered them almost speechless with surprise
and terror. Above the funnel of the chimney
appeared the head of the lion; his glaring yellow
eyes and white teeth showing more fearful from contrast
with the black soot that begrimed him. He was
dragging his body up. One foot was already above
the capstone; and with this and his teeth he was widening
the aperture around him.
It was a terrible sight to behold-at
least to those below.
As already stated, they were
alarmed; and would have taken to their horses, had
they not perceived that the animal had stuck fast!
It was evident that this was the case,
but it was equally evident that in a few moments he
would succeed in clearing himself from the chimney.
His teeth and claws were hard at work, and the stones
and mortar were flying in all directions. The
funnel would soon be down below his broad chest, and
Von Bloom did not stay to think what
then. He and Hendrik, guns in hand, ran up near
the bottom of the wall. The chimney was but a
score of feet in height; the long roer was pointed
upward, reaching nearly half that distance.
The yager was also aimed. Both cracked together.
The lion’s eyes suddenly closed, his head shook
convulsively, his paw dropped loose over the capstone,
his jaws fell open, and blood trickled down his tongue.
In a few moments he was dead!
This was apparent to every one.
But Swartboy was not satisfied, until he had discharged
about a score of his arrows at the head of the animal,
causing it to assume the appearance of a porcupine.
So tightly had the huge beast wedged
himself, that even after death he still remained in
his singular situation.
Under other circumstances he would
have been dragged down for the sake of his skin.
But there was no time to spare for skinning him; and
without further delay, Von Bloom and his companions
mounted their horses and rode off.