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|Tarzan of the Apes||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
At the Mercy of the Jungle
|Page 6 of 7||
The girl heard the wooden rods groan beneath the impact; but they held, and the huge body dropped back to the ground below.
Again and again the lioness repeated these tactics, until finally the horrified prisoner within saw a portion of the lattice give way, and in an instant one great paw and the head of the animal were thrust within the room.
Slowly the powerful neck and shoulders spread the bars apart, and the lithe body protruded farther and farther into the room.
As in a trance, the girl rose, her hand upon her breast, wide eyes staring horror-stricken into the snarling face of the beast scarce ten feet from her. At her feet lay the prostrate form of the Negress. If she could but arouse her, their combined efforts might possibly avail to beat back the fierce and bloodthirsty intruder.
Jane stooped to grasp the black woman by the shoulder. Roughly she shook her.
"Esmeralda! Esmeralda!" she cried. "Help me, or we are lost."
Esmeralda opened her eyes. The first object they encountered was the dripping fangs of the hungry lioness.
With a horrified scream the poor woman rose to her hands and knees, and in this position scurried across the room, shrieking: "O Gaberelle! O Gaberelle!" at the top of her lungs.
Esmeralda weighed some two hundred and eighty pounds, and her extreme haste, added to her extreme corpulency, produced a most amazing result when Esmeralda elected to travel on all fours.
For a moment the lioness remained quiet with intense gaze directed upon the flitting Esmeralda, whose goal appeared to be the cupboard, into which she attempted to propel her huge bulk; but as the shelves were but nine or ten inches apart, she only succeeded in getting her head in; whereupon, with a final screech, which paled the jungle noises into insignificance, she fainted once again.
With the subsidence of Esmeralda the lioness renewed her efforts to wriggle her huge bulk through the weakening lattice.
The girl, standing pale and rigid against the farther wall, sought with ever-increasing terror for some loophole of escape. Suddenly her hand, tight-pressed against her bosom, felt the hard outline of the revolver that Clayton had left with her earlier in the day.
Quickly she snatched it from its hiding-place, and, leveling it full at the lioness's face, pulled the trigger.
There was a flash of flame, the roar of the discharge, and an answering roar of pain and anger from the beast.
Jane Porter saw the great form disappear from the window, and then she, too, fainted, the revolver falling at her side.
But Sabor was not killed. The bullet had but inflicted a painful wound in one of the great shoulders. It was the surprise at the blinding flash and the deafening roar that had caused her hasty but temporary retreat.
In another instant she was back at the lattice, and with renewed fury was clawing at the aperture, but with lessened effect, since the wounded member was almost useless.
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|Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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