Page:Sawdust & Spangles.djvu/240

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206
SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

the animal cages on the other. Imagine the scene! Several thousand terrorized and screaming men, women and children rushed wildly in all directions, the combustible tents and paraphernalia were in flames, and above all could be heard the roar of the terror-stricken animals, beating madly against their iron bars. Two of the largest dens had been placed together and the partition bars withdrawn, so as to form one big cage, wherein the lions and tigers were exercised by their keepers. The fire burned the woodwork so that this double cage came apart and liberated the ferocious animals. These lions and tigers escaped among the people and added a new element to the general pandemonium of terror. Words cannot convey an adequate idea of that awful moment.

As the tents and cages slowly burned out, total darkness came upon us. In the excitement, one of the men in the audience happened to jump on a crouching lion and yelled that he was in the clutches of the beast; however, the animal was as thoroughly frightened as the man. Some of the animals were loose all night, and one Royal Bengal tiger disappeared altogether. No trace whatever was found of his remains when the debris was examined,