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HOME > Classical Novels > Dorothy Dale in the West > CHAPTER XXI DOROTHY’S COURAGE
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 Not a sound did the prowling animal make, but its very silence seemed to add to the terrifying effect it had upon Dorothy Dale and her chum.  
As the feeble flames rose and fell, so the reflected glare of the eyes increased and decreased. The pitiless, unwinking displayed the intent of the beast.
For half a minute Dorothy was helpless, as was her chum. She had not partaken of Tavia’s panic before; she had really the idea that savage animals roamed these woods. But she must believe now!
However, to faint—to give up hope of escape—to helplessly await the closer approach of the beast whose eyes they saw, did not once enter Dorothy Dale’s mind.
She threw off Tavia’s clutching hands quickly, reached for some fuel, and threw it on the campfire. Almost at once the flames burst out and mounted higher. Their glare revealed193 the surroundings of the rude encampment, but nothing of the strange marauder but the glittering eyes was visible to the girls.
Dorothy was quite sure that while the fire burned brightly no wild animal would throw itself upon them. Wolves, she knew, were cowardly alone; only in the pack were they enough to attack man. As for its being a bear—those eyes never belonged to Bruin. He would not remain still so long.
The unwinking nature of their observation forced Dorothy to determine that the eyes belonged to a member of the cat tribe. A panther? No more terrible beast, she was sure, roamed the Colorado .
Somewhere, when she was much younger, Dorothy had seen a picture in a book of African adventure, in which a huge lion was shown leaping over a line of fires around a hunter’s camp to get at the cattle. Ordinarily, she was sure, the cat tribe was much afraid of the flames, but suppose this individual that was watching her and Tavia was particularly hungry?
Would the little blaze prevent the beast from leaping upon them? The same thought seemed to unlock the chains of Tavia’s speech, for she whispered:
“Throw on more wood, Dorothy. Make a big blaze.”
“But we haven’t so much wood,” objected Dorothy.
“Oh, do! Perhaps a big fire will drive it off.”
Dorothy recklessly heaped on more fuel. The flames leaped and crackled. But their light did not show the outlines of the enemy. It seemed to be in the deep shadow at the edge of the forest. Nothing showed of the creature but those terrible eyes.
“If we only had a gun,” whispered Dorothy, with .
“We’d be afraid to shoot at it,” Tavia.
“Not I! I’d try to make a bullseye.”
“Can’t we try to scare it off in some way?”
“Let’s scream—both together!” cried Dorothy Dale. “Now!”
If fear-inspired ever issued from feminine throats, the abandoned yell of Tavia was a . Nor was Dorothy far behind in the piercing quality of her cry.
It is doubtful if any mountain lion in all the wild places of the West could have equalled the quality of the girls’ yells. And——
“The nasty beast never so much as an eye!” Tavia gasped, .
Dorothy was as much amazed as her chum. There was something uncanny about the twinkling, spots. She had never heard of any creature with such unwinking eyes—save195 a serpent. And surely these eyes did not belong to any .
She threw more fuel on the fire. Again the flames leaped up. The heap of wood they had gathered was fast being diminished. Dorothy looked at her watch. Only half-past ten! The beast had been watching them—she was sure—for an hour.
Suppose it remained all night? They had not fuel enough to last until midnight at the reckless rate they were using it.
When it was all gone, and the fire died down—what then? The thought was really terrifying. If the blaze was what kept the beast at bay, once the fire was dead, the girls would be at the animal’s mercy.
Dorothy Dale did not lose her head and become , like Tavia. She knew something must be done. Tavia was absolutely helpless. After they had so uselessly screamed, she just sat hiding her eyes, and trembling.
Dorothy knew that i............
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