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Diana And The Lions
by [?]

In the darkest hour before the dawn, Diana floated away from her Garden Tower and came down between the Lions on the Library Steps.

At first, she did not know they were Lions. She thought they were Cats, and so she was afraid. For she was very lightly clad; and (except in Egypt) Cats are terrible to undomesticated goddesses. Diana shivered as she strung her bow for defense. She felt that she was divine, but she knew that she had cold feet.

In truth, the Library Steps were wet and glistening, for there had been a shower after midnight. But now the gibbous moon was giving a silent imitation of an arc-light high in the western heaven. Her beams silver-plated the weird architecture of the shrines of Commerce which face the great Temple dedicated to the Three Muses of New York–Astor, Lenox, and Tilden.

But on the awful animals guarding the steps the light was florid, like a flush of sunburn discovered by the ablution of a warranted complexion cream. They were wonderfully pink, and Diana hastened to draw an arrow from her quiver, for it seemed to her as if her feline neighbors were beginning to glow with rage.

“Do not shoot,” said the ruddier one; “we are not angry, we are only blushing.” And he glanced at her costume.

Diana was astonished to hear a masculine voice utter such a modest sentiment. But being a woman, she knew that the first word does not count.

“Cats never blush,” she answered boldly, “no matter how big they are.”

“But we are not Cats,” they cried, ramping suddenly like crests on a millionaire’s note-paper. “We are Lions!”

Diana smiled at this, for now she felt safe, remembering that when a male begins to boast he is not dangerous.

“Roar a little for me, please,” she said, laying down her unconcealed weapon.

“Impossible,” said the Northern Lion, “a city ordinance forbids unnecessary noise.”

“Nonsense!” interrupted the Southern Lion. “Who would not break a law to oblige a lady?”

“Let us compromise,” said the Northern Lion, “and give her our reproduction of an automobile horn.”

“No,” said the Southern Lion, “we will give her our automatic record of a Book-Advertisement; it is louder.”

Then Diana trembled, indeed. But she bravely continued smiling, and said: “Thank you a thousand times for doing it once! And now please tell me what kind of Lions you are.”

“Literary Lions,” was their prompt and unanimous reply.

“Ah,” she cried, clapping her hands with a charming gesture, “how glad I am to meet you! I have been in New York more than twenty years and never seen any one like you before! Come and sit beside me and talk.”

The Lions looked at each other rather sheepishly, and glanced up and down the street, as if fearing the approach of a city ordinance. But there was no one in sight except Diana, so they shook their literary locks into a becoming disorder and sat on the steps with her, purring gently.

“Now tell me,” she said, “who you are.”

If she had been less beautiful they would have resented this. But, as it was, they looked sorry, and asked her if she had never read “Who’s Who in America”? She shook her head, and admitted that she had not read it all through.

“Well,” said her neighbor on the south, “this is rather an offhand soiree, and we may as well cut out proper names. But I will put you wise to the fact that I am the Magazine Lion. I got away from Roosevelt in Africa. He called me ‘Mucky,’ and I made tracks. Here he cannot hurt me, for they will never let that man do anything in good old New York, not even touch a Tiger.”

“And I,” said her neighbor on the north, “I am the Academic Lion, of whom you must have heard. My character is noted for its concealed sweetness, and my style leaves nothing to be hoped for. I am literally a man of letters, for I have seventeen degrees. Usually I look literary-lean and nobly dissatisfied, but yesterday I swallowed a British Female Novelist by accident, and that accounts for my inartistic air of cheerfulness. I won my splendid reputation by telling other Lions how they ought to have done their little tricks. But now, tired of that, I have gone into politics. This is my first public office.”