One day, as Sarita tended to the wash, Gemma played in the garden. She was a knight, you see, with a sword fashioned out of wood. Most formidable, she was, though I didn't quite know how formidable. As I sat in my study, I heard screaming from outside. I ran to see what the commotion was. Sarita called to me, wide-eyed with fear, Oh, Mr. Doyle, look- over there! The tiger had entered the garden and was making his way toward where our Gemma frolicked with her wooden sword. Beside me, our house servant, Raj, drew his blade so stealthily it seemed to simply appear in his hand by magic. But Sarita stayed his hand. If you run for him with your life, you will provoke the tiger, she advised. We must wait....I must tell you that it was the longest moment of my life. No one dared move. No one dared draw a breath. And all the while, Gemma played on, taking no notice until the great cat was upon her. She stood and faced him. They stared at one another as if each wondered what to make of the other, as if they sensed a kindred spirit. At last, Gemma placed her sword upon the ground. Dear tiger, she said. You may pass if you are peaceful. The tiger looked at the sword and back at Gemma and without a sound, it passed on, dissappearing into the jungle....The tiger had gone. He did not come around a gain. But I was a man possessed. The tiger had come too close, you see. I no longer felt safe. I hired the best tracker in Bombay. We hunted for days, tracking the tiger to the mountains there. We found him taking water from a small watering hole. He looked up but he did not charge. He took no notice of us at all but continued to drink. Sahib, let us go, the boy said. This tiger means you no harm. He was right, of course. But we had come all that way. The gun was in my hand. The tiger was before us. I took aim and shot it dead on the spot. I sold the tiger's skin for a fortune to a man in Bombay and he called me brave for it. But it was not courage that brought me to that; it was fear...But you, he says, smiling with a mix of sadness and pride, you faced the tiger and survived....The time has come for me to face my tiger, to look him in the eye and see which of us survives. - Mr. Doyle
Libba Bray