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Chapter 48
Richard Parker was so named because of a clerical error. Apanther was terrorizing the Khulna district of Bangladesh, justoutside the Sundarbans. It had recently carried off a little girl.
All that was found of her was a tiny hand with a hennapattern on the palm and a few plastic bangles. She was theseventh person killed in two months by the marauder. And itwas growing bolder. The previous victim was a man who hadbeen attacked in broad daylight in his field. The beast draggedhim off into the forest, where it ate a good part of his head,the flesh off his right leg and all his innards. His corpse wasfound hanging in the fork of a tree. The villagers kept a watchnearby that night, hoping to surprise the panther and kill it,but it never appeared. The Forest Department hired aprofessional hunter. He set up a small, hidden platform in atree near a river where two of the attacks had taken place. Agoat was tied to a stake on the rivers bank. The hunter waitedseveral nights. He assumed the panther would be an old,wasted male with worn teeth, incapable of catching anythingmore difficult than a human. But it was a sleek tiger thatstepped into the open one night. A female with a single cub.
The goat bleated. Oddly, the cub, who looked to be aboutthree months old, paid little attention to the goat. It raced tothe waters edge, where it drank eagerly. Its mother followedsuit. Of hunger and thirst, thirst is the greater imperative. Onlyonce the tiger had quenched her thirst did she turn to thegoat to satisfy her hunger. The hunter had two rifles with him:
one wi............
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