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"The Tech Rep" by James Michener Continued

"Now hunger attacked, and thirst. Twice Holt felt as if he simply must leap out of the tree to seek water; he even tested his knees against the belt to see if he could break it. I judge from the scraps I picked up from Holt in later years that he must have been delirious part of the time, or at least assailed by sounds and images he could not control, but whatever precipitate action he might have contemplated was held in check by the snarling presents of the tiger. And so the night passed.

With dawn the tiger would present a clear target to the hunter, so he withdrew, and once more Holt methodically threaded his belt through his trouser loops, tucked his flashlight away, and climbed down to the hellish job that still faced him. All morning the man and the beast moved in purposeful circles, each trying to come upon the other in a position of advantage. Holt had two heavy bullets in his rifle. The tiger had two set of claws, made doubly perilous by the sharp flashes of pain that flashed down his left side. No sun penetrated the heavy cover of branch and vine beneath which they moved. Once Holt had to drop to his knees besides a leaf-filled stream to drink, for he was perishing, but he had taken only a few disciplined sips when he sensed there was movement behind him, and he had to get moving again.

At noon the humidity of the jungle became intolerable. Holt once asked me; HOW COULD A MAN WHO WAS DYING OF THIRST SWEAT SO MUCH? Twice in this period he seems to have been close to fainting, but the threat of what moved behind the leafy facade kept him alert."

To be continued:

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