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"The Tech Rep" by James Michener Continued

"The sound he wanted to hear, the contented growl of a well-fed tiger picking its way home after a satisfactory feast, he did not hear that night, so at dawn he unfasten his knees, climbed down from the tree and slept for several hours in the shade, satisfied the tiger would be sleeping too. The bad time came in the afternoon, when he became aware of the insects that were exploring him. The heat was unbearable. Sweat ran in alleyways down his back like a flood leaving the city. He had no water and could not risk searching for any., because aloft he saw vultures Wheeling in for their share of the dead man, and this proved the tiger had left the scene and was wandering somewhere in the jungle.

Holt was convinced that the tiger, having eaten his fill, would not again attack the work party but would leave the jungle depths and come along this trail to the opening and cross it to follow the trail on the other side. He judged it would make its journey across the open space Shortly after midnight.

How did Holt know this? Wherever he was stationed, he made it a point to learn as much about the terrain and the people as possible. He had an insatiable curiosity, plus the capacity to absorb and digest evidence. From his first days in Sumatra, when the various communication centers and relays were being built, he had been fascinated by tigers, and although he had never shot one, he appreciated what would be required to do so. He was as certain of his opinions on tigers as he was on his judgement of radio tubes: IF YOU HAVE YOUR HIDEOUT HIGHER THAN TWELVE FEET, BRANCHES GET IN YOUR LINE OF SIGHT. LOWER, AND THE TIGER CAN CATCH YOU WHEN HE LEAPS AT THE LIGHT"

To be continued:

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