The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter thirty-one. Interlude
caption: leopard in camp
medium: books
person: Archer
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: One night about nine o'clock Archer's quartermaster-havildar, passing the store, which stood across the path from the quarter-guard, noticed the three goats which had just come up as rations standing shivering and looking beyond him up the central path. Looking that way himself, he saw, only a few yards from him and right in the middle of the track, a leopard, crouched, intent on the shaking goats. He dashed into the shed, expecting at any moment claws in his back, untied the goats, swept one under one arm and two under the other, and crossed the track at a staggering run to the quarter-guard where he threw the goats into the lock-up and turned out the guard. When they reached the path, the leopard had disappeared. They hurried up the path, where presumably it had gone, but there wasn't a sign of it. They went on, searching about, until they came to the next crossroads, where a path led down to Archer's hut, just below the road, and up to another, I believe the Subedar's, a little above. There they stopped, debating.
text: At that moment the leopard walked very deliberately out of Archer's hut, pushing out under the door-curtain, mounted the steps to the road, looked at them once with a ghostly, green contempt, and vanished away up the moonlit path. When breath returned to them, they flung themselves down to the hut to see what had happened to Archer, and almost collided with him in the doorway.
text: He had been in bed, smoking a last cigarette under the mosquito-net before turning over, when the door-curtain was pushed aside and some big beast came quietly in and lay slowly down on the floor beside the bed.
text: " One of Miss Bower's dogs," thought Archer, sitting up. It wasn't quite dark in the hut, but he couldn't see the thing - it was too closely under the side of the bed. Then it occurred to him that Miss Bower's dogs had been sent away to Silchar.
text: (222) A village dog, then. He peered over the edge of the bed. The mosquito-net obscured the view, and it was very dim in the hut, but whatever it was didn't look quite like a village dog. It seemed a good deal bigger. It didn't look quite like a dog. A slight cold sweat began to break out on him. It was very large indeed; and it was not a dog.
text: It now seemed that the bed creaked at his every breath. His cigarette was burning shorter. It was almost down to his fingers. He daren't move. There was a piece of fluff in his throat. He couldn't help it. He couldn't control it.
text: He smothered a cough.
text: The leopard rose up by the side of the bed and sat there like a dog. It gave him the dirtiest look in its repertory and stalked out. It was not seen about the camp again.