The Tiger by Francis C. Woodworth

Such of my readers as have had an opportunity to look a little into natural history, are probably aware that the tiger belongs to the cat family. Many of its habits are very like those of the domestic cat. Did you ever see an old cat preparing to make a spring at a mouse or a bird? If you have, you have noticed that she crouches on the ground, and creeps stealthily along toward her victim, without making the least noise, until she is near enough, and then suddenly springs upon her prey. The tiger pursues the same course.

A British officer, who lived for awhile in India, where tigers abound, was returning, in the evening, to the house where he resided, after dining with another officer, when he was met by his servants, who were making a great noise, in order to frighten away a tiger which was known to be prowling about the neighborhood. Although he had been some years in India, the young officer had never seen a tiger, as it happened, except from a distance; and he determined he would gratify his curiosity, if possible, and have a good view of the animal. So he dismissed his servants, and seated himself opposite the jungle, where the tiger was supposed to be, and there looked out for the enemy. It was moonlight, and the ferocious beast soon discovered the officer. The latter could distinctly see all the motions of his savage foe. He approached so slowly as scarcely to make the least noise. Then, crouching down, he prepared to make the fatal spring at his victim. At this instant, however, the officer, taking off a bear skin cap which he wore, swung it in the air, and shouted as loudly as he could. This so frightened the tiger that he made off with himself, and was soon out of sight in the bushes.

A European gentleman, who has spent some time in Java, tells us a thrilling story about the adventure of a criminal with a tiger. The poor man was condemned, as is the custom in that country, to fight a large royal tiger, whose ferocity was raised to the highest point by want of food and artificial irritation. The only weapon allowed to the human combatant was a lance, with the point broken off. After wrapping a cloth round his left fist and arm, the man entered the arena with an air of undaunted calmness, and fixed a steady, menacing gaze upon the brute. The tiger sprang furiously upon his intended victim, who, with extraordinary boldness and rapidity, thrust his left fist into the gaping jaws, and at the same moment, with his keen, pointless dagger, ripped up the breast to the very heart. In less than a minute the tiger lay dead at his conqueror's feet. The criminal was forgiven.

Several years ago, an Englishman, by the name of Munro, was killed by a tiger in the East Indies. The particulars of this distressing scene are given by an eye-witness. "We went on shore," says the writer of the narrative, "to shoot deer, of which we saw innumerable tracks, as well as of tigers; notwithstanding which, we continued our diversion till near three o'clock, when, sitting down by the side of a jungle to refresh ourselves, a roar like thunder was heard, and an immense tiger seized on our unfortunate friend, and rushed again into the jungle, dragging him through the thickest bushes and trees, every thing giving way to his monstrous strength; a tigress accompanied his progress. The united agonies of horror, regret, and fear, rushed at once upon us. I fired on the tiger; he seemed agitated; my companion fired also, and, in a few minutes after this, our unfortunate friend came up to us bathed in blood. Every medical assistance was vain, and he expired in the space of twenty-four hours, having received such deep wounds from the teeth and claws of the animal, as rendered his recovery hopeless. A large fire, consisting of ten or twelve whole trees, was blazing by us at the time this accident took place, and ten or more natives were with us. The human mind can scarce form any idea of the scene of horror. We had hardly pushed our boat from that accursed shore, when the tigress made her appearance, almost raging mad, and remained on the sand, exhibiting signs of the utmost ferocity, all the while we continued in sight."

There is an account given of a small party who entered a cave, to seek shelter from a terrible storm, in South America. The storm raged with such violence, that they could not hear each other speak; the cedar-trees were struck down, and the torrents of rain rushed from the mountains. Suddenly a growling noise was heard at the end of the cave. They soon found, to their amazement and horror, that they had taken refuge in a tiger's cave, and that the growling proceeded from two young cubs. At this moment the Indians who attended them gave the alarm that a tiger was approaching. The Indians mounted a tree, and the party in the cave blocked up the mouth of it with a large and heavy stone, which fortunately lay near. A dreadful roar was heard, which was replied to by the growling of the two cubs, and the flaming eyes of a tremendous tiger were seen glowing with fury between the top of the stone and the rock just above it. The tiger attempted to remove the stone, but his prodigious strength was unequal to the attempt, and he howled more tremendously than before. Several of the party had leveled their muskets and pistols at the head of the tiger, through the narrow opening left by the stone; but the storm had damped the powder, and the pieces could not be discharged. The young cubs were then killed and thrust through the hole to the tiger on the outside, who, after turning them over and examining them, broke afresh into the wildest fury. The Indians discharged several arrows at the infuriated animal, but his thick skin repelled them. The storm ceased, and the thunder was heard only in the distance, but the tiger laid himself down at the mouth of the cave. In a short time a roar was heard near, which was answered by the tiger, who sprang up directly on his feet. The Indians in the tree gave a wild shriek, as a tigress bounded toward the cave. The howling of the two animals, after the tigress had examined her cubs, was truly terrible, and every one in the cavern gave himself over for lost. A powder-flask, containing their whole stock of gunpowder, had been upset in turning out the young cubs, so that they were reduced to despair. The tigress, after staring wildly at the stone at the opening of the cavern, sprang against it with all her force, and would probably have displaced it, had not the party joined together to hold it in its place. Suddenly the two tigers turned their heads toward the forest, and disappeared. The Indians descended the tree, and urged the party in the cave to take the opportunity of escaping, for that the tigers had ascended the heights to find another way into the cave. No time was to be lost; they hurried through the forest till they came to a wide chasm with a rushing stream below it. A bridge of reeds had been thrown across the chasm, and over this bridge they passed, but the tigers were close in pursuit. The last of the party who crossed the bridge cut the fastenings which tied it to the rock, and hoped by this means to secure safety, when the tigress rushed toward the chasm, made a spring, and fell down upon the pointed rocks below, and from thence into the torrent at the bottom. It was a fearful sight to see this ferocious animal for a moment in the air, without knowing whether she would be able to clear the chasm. The tiger paused not a moment, but making an amazing spring, reached the opposite side with his fore paws. As he clung to the rock, one of the party plunged his sword into the breast of the furious beast, while another struck him a blow on the head with the butt-end of his gun. The tiger let go his hold, and fell back into the abyss. This was a dreadful moment! for the man who struck the tiger on the head could not recover himself; he reeled over the edge of the fearful precipice, stretched out his hand in vain to seize hold of something with which to save himself, and then was precipitated into the horrid gulf below!

A novel exhibition was presented in the city of Boston, not long ago, which attracted the attention of every body, old and young. Herr Driesbach, the famous tamer of wild animals, made his appearance in an elegant sleigh, with his pet tiger by his side. In this manner he rode through the streets. The tiger, it is said, seemed to enjoy the sleighing mightily, and leaped upon his master, from time to time, licking his face, and showing other signs of excitement. Driesbach had to strike him several times, to keep him from making too enthusiastic demonstrations. After astonishing the citizens for a considerable time, Driesbach alighted at his hotel, with his tiger, and taking him into one of the apartments, invited gentlemen to walk in and be introduced, though there were very few who seemed willing to avail themselves of the privilege.