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Chapter 20: Heredity (continued)
He was gone--and Jane turned to walk across the clearing to the cabin.
Mr. Philander was the first to see her. It was dusk and Mr. Philander was very near sighted.
"Quickly, Esmeralda!" he cried. "Let us seek safety within; it is a lioness. Bless me!"
Esmeralda did not bother to verify Mr. Philander's vision. His tone was enough. She was within the cabin and had slammed and bolted the door before he had finished pronouncing her name. The "Bless me" was startled out of Mr. Philander by the discovery that Esmeralda, in the exuberance of her haste, had fastened him upon the same side of the door as was the close-approaching lioness.
He beat furiously upon the heavy portal.
"Esmeralda! Esmeralda!" he shrieked. "Let me in. I am being devoured by a lion."
Esmeralda thought that the noise upon the door was made by the lioness in her attempts to pursue her, so, after her custom, she fainted.
Mr. Philander cast a frightened glance behind him.
Horrors! The thing was quite close now. He tried to scramble up the side of the cabin, and succeeded in catching a fleeting hold upon the thatched roof.
For a moment he hung there, clawing with his feet like a cat on a clothesline, but presently a piece of the thatch came away, and Mr. Philander, preceding it, was precipitated upon his back.
At the instant he fell a remarkable item of natural history leaped to his mind. If one feigns death lions and lionesses are supposed to ignore one, according to Mr. Philander's faulty memory.
So Mr. Philander lay as he had fallen, frozen into the horrid semblance of death. As his arms and legs had been extended stiffly upward as he came to earth upon his back the attitude of death was anything but impressive.
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