“Good God,” Sergeant Major General whispered hoarsely, as the tiger growled, its jaws a hair’s breadth from his throat, its breath hot on his face! “Is this the end? Bill, old chap, there’s something I’ve always wanted to tell you. It’s not been easy for me to say. But damn it all, I can’t go into the great unknown without saying it just once. I – I –”
“Back, beast!” Kirk Bill commanded, in a ringing, commanding kind of voice. “Back, I say!”
The beast snarled and roared again, but took a step back. Sergeant Major General craned his head back to see what power it was that Kirk Bill wielded that could loosen death’s vice-like grip.
Kirk Bill held a slender, delicate chain in his hand, a golden chain, with a golden pendant. A golden pendant of a golden TIGER, with a single ruby for its glittering EYE.
“Good God!” said Sergeant Major General. “Lady Larchmoor’s necklace! How on earth – ?”
Kirk Bill advanced, holding the necklace before him like a talisman, which was fitting as indeed it WAS a talisman, as it turned out. Slowly, inch by inch, paw of death by paw of death, the tiger backed away, snarling, growling, but most importantly not ripping Sergeant Major General’s beating heart out of his body!
Sergeant Major General struggled to his feet, only slightly mauled. The tiger remained about three metres away, pacing, desperate to reach his prey but prevented from doing so by the mysterious magical aura of the magical mysterious talisman.
“I want you to wear this talisman, my dear friend,” said Kirk Bill quietly. “I do not think it will attack us now. Pandit!”
“I have a name, you know,” said the pandit.
“Yes yes,” said Kirk Bill, impatiently, “not now. Gather the horses. If we chase this tiger with the mystical magical talisman I believe it will be forced to retreat to its lair, and in its lair I believe we will find the answers to all our questions.”
“We were heading there anyway,” the pandit said, loudly.
The two men ignored him. “I’ve kind of forgotten what our questions are, to be honest,” Sergeant Major General admitted, readjusting his cravat.
“Lord Worzleham. Why was he killed? Who was the mysterious lady he met in a den of iniquity the night before he was murdered? Why were we set upon by thugs? Where is Lord Worlzeham’s lawyer? What IS this vast network of shadowy underworld figures that spans the globe, all connected by the eye of the tiger? Who controls it all??”
“Oh yes,” said Sergeant Major General. “You have such a knack for summing things up, old chap.”
The three men gathered their things and followed the thwarted beast into the night. Riding, indeed, in the footsteps of the TIGER.
TO BE CONTINUED