The Maharaja* was rather a weak and simple fellow. John Rand, the English Resident, was aware of his frailty.
Rand had been appointed as the Resident about six months back. He was an ambitious and reckless person who hated the Maharaja. He kept provoking the Maharaja to take such decisions as would, at some stage, enable him to charge that the Maharaja was incompetent to rule his state; he could then recommend his removal from the throne.
The Maharaja had his own private zoo behind his sprawling palace. Spread over an area of about three miles square the zoo had a large variety of birds and animals.
‘I have not seen any rare animals in your zoo? Your people should try crossbreeding,’ Rand said to the Maharaja during his first trip to the zoo.
‘Would that be a good idea? An animal that does not exist in nature may not survive in the zoo. Besides, it would be unnatural.’
‘When I was in Africa I saw many strange animals produced by crossbreeding. There was a tribal chief who would crossbreed all types of animals. If you wish I will put my man on this job, he is an animal lover.’
The Maharaja acquiesced to his persuasion. Rand set about the job with undue haste. He forbade people from visiting the zoo when the experiments in crossbreeding were being conducted. Even the Maharaja was denied access at such times.
About a year later he invited the Maharaja to visit the zoo. He was shown a couple of strange animals that had been bred by the Rand’s man. The Maharaja found nothing exciting in the crossbreeds; rather he felt that the poor animals looked ridiculous and pathetic.
‘You have to wait for at least one year more to see the astonishing results of these experiments.’
The Maharaja disliked these experiments but he felt helpless before the Resident; he had no option but to accept what Rand was doing.
A year or so passed away. One day Rand appeared before the Maharaja, full of exuberance. He presented an animal that partly looked like an ape.
‘What’s that? Looks like an ape or is it a bear? Did you cross an ape and a bear?’ the Maharaja said sharply; he was unwilling to hide his disgust.
‘Sir, no it is not that. It is the finest outcome of our experiments at crossbreeding.’
‘And what is that?’ asked Maharaja apprehensively.
‘It’s an offspring of a bear and a human.’
The Maharaja was stunned. He could not believe that Rand would do such a ghastly thing.
But before the Maharaja could even say word, the animal jumped and caught Rand by his neck. It had quietly managed to open the cage which the keepers had not cared to lock. The zookeepers were unaware but the animal had learnt to open the cage.
Its claws dug deep into Rand’s neck; he stood paralysed and with a great effort cried out for help.
The Maharaja remained seated on his throne, he was apparently shell-shocked; his guards kept waiting for the Maharaja’s order.
The animal slashed Rand’s neck and walked out of the palace.
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