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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 386 pages of information about Tales of lonely trails.

Somewhere I read a strange remarkable story about monkeys and priests in the jungle of India.  An old order of priests had from time out of mind sent two of their comrades into the jungle to live with the monkeys, to tame them, feed them, study them, love them.  And these priests told an incredible story, yet one that haunted with its possibilities of truth.  After a long term of years in which one certain priest had lived with the monkeys and they had learned truly he meant them no harm and only loved them, at rare moments an old monkey would come to him and weep and weep in the most terrible and tragic manner.  This monkey wanted to tell something, but could not speak.  But the priest knew that the monkey was trying to tell him how once the monkey people had been human like him.  Only they had retrograded in the strange scale of evolution.  And the terrible weeping was for loss—­loss of physical stature, of speech, perhaps of soul.

What a profound and stunning idea!  Does evolution work backward?  Could nature in its relentless inscrutable design for the unattainable perfection have developed man only to start him backward toward the dim ages whence he sprang?  Who knows!  But every man can love wild animals.  Every man can study and try to understand the intelligence of his horse, the loyalty of his dog.  And every hunter can hunt less with his instinct, and more with an understanding of his needs, and a consideration for the beasts only the creator knows.

X

The last day of everything always comes.  Time, like the tide, waits for no man.  Anticipation is beautiful, but it is best and happiest to enjoy the present.  Live while we may!

On this last day of my hunt we were up almost before it was light enough to see.  The morning star shone radiant in the dark gray sky.  All the other stars seemed dimmed by its glory.  Silent as a grave was the forest.  I started a fire, chopped wood so vigorously that I awakened Nielsen who came forth like a burly cave-man; and I washed hands and face in the icy cold brook.  By the time breakfast was over the gold of the rising sun was tipping the highest pines on the ridges.

We started on foot, leaving the horses hobbled near camp.  All the hounds appeared fit.  Even Old Dan trotted along friskily.  Pyle, a neighbor of Haught’s, had come to take a hunt with us, bringing two dogs with him.  For this last day I had formulated a plan.  Edd and one of the boys were to take the hounds down on the east side of the great ridge that made the eastern wall of Dude Canyon.  R.C. was to climb out on this ridge, and take his position at the most advantageous point.  We had already chased half a dozen bears over this saddle, one of which was the big frosty-coated grizzly that Edd and Nielsen had shot at.  The rest of us hurried to the head of Dude Canyon.  Copple and I were to go down to the first promontories under the rim.  The others were to await developments and go where Haught thought best to send them.

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