Would the lion never strike? What seemed a long period of time ended in a low, distant roar of sliding rock, quickly dying into the solemn stillness of the canyon.
I lay there for some moments slowly recovering, eyes on the far distant escarpments, now darkly red and repellent to me. When I got up my legs were still shaky and I had the strange, weak sensation of a long bed-ridden invalid. Three attempts were necessary before I could trust myself on the narrow strip of shelf. But once around it with the peril passed, I braced up and soon reached the turn in the wall.
After that the ascent out of the Bay was only a matter of work, which I gave with a will. Don did not evince any desire for more hunting that day. We reached the rim together, and after a short rest, I mounted my horse, and we turned for camp.
The sun had long slanted toward the western horizon when I saw the blue smoke of our camp-fire among the pines. The hounds rose up and barked as Don trotted in to the blaze, and my companions just sitting to a dinner, gave me a noisy greeting.
“Shore, we’d began to get worried,” said Jim. “We all had it comin’ to us to-day, and don’t you forget that.”
Dinner lasted for a long hour. Besides being half famished we all took time between bites to talk. I told my story first, expecting my friends to be overwhelmed, but they were not.
“It’s been the greatest day of lion hunting that I ever experienced,” declared Jones. “We ran bang into a nest of lions and they split. We all split and the hounds split. That tells the tale. We have nothing to show for our day’s toil. Six lions chased, rounded up, treed, holed, and one lion killed, and we haven’t even his skin to show. I did not go down but I helped Ranger and two of the pups chase a lion all over the lower end of the plateau. We treed him twice and I yelled for you fellows till my voice was gone.”
“Well,” said Emett, “I fell in with Sounder and Jude. They were hot on a trail which in a mile or two turned up this way. I came on them just at the edge of the pines where they had treed their game. I sat under that pine tree for five hours, fired all my shots to make you fellows come, yelled myself hoarse and then tried to tie up the lion alone. He jumped out and ran over the rim, where neither I nor the dogs could follow.”
“Shore, I win, three of a kind,” drawled Jim, as he got his pipe and carefully dusted the bowl. “When the stampede came, I got my hands on Moze and held him. I held Moze because just as the other hounds broke loose over to my right, I saw down into a little pocket where a fresh-killed deer lay half eaten. So I went down. I found two other carcasses layin’ there, fresh killed last night, flesh all gone, hide gone, bones crushed, skull split open. An’ damn me fellows, if that little pocket wasn’t all torn to pieces. The sage