Shafts of golden sunshine shot down from these rifts, dispelling the shadows and gloom, moving in paths of gold through the forest glade, gleaming with brilliantly colored fire from the snow-wreathed pines.
The cloud rolled away and the sun shone hot. The trees began to drip. A mist of diamonds filled the air, rainbows curved through every glade and feathered patches of snow floated down.
A great bank of snow, sliding from the pine overhead almost buried the Navajo, to our infinite delight. We all sought the shelter of the tents, and sleep again claimed us.
I awoke about five o’clock. The sun was low, making crimson paths in the white aisles of the forest. A cold wind promised a frosty morning.
“To-morrow will be the day for lions,” exclaimed Jones.
While we hugged the fire, Navvy brought up the horses and gave them their oats. The hounds sought their shelter and the lions lay hidden in their beds of pine. The round red sun dropped out of sight beyond the trees, a pink glow suffused all the ridges; blue shadows gathered in the hollow, shaded purple and stole upward. A brief twilight succeeded to a dark, coldly starlit night.
Once again, when I had crawled into the warm hole of my sleeping bag, was I hailed from the other tent.
Emett called me twice, and as I answered, I heard Jones remonstrating in a low voice.
“Shore, Jones has got ’em!” yelled Jim. “He can’t keep it a secret no longer.”
“Hey, Jones,” I cried, “do you remember laughing at me?”
“No, I don’t,” growled Jones.
“Listen to this: Haw-haw! haw! haw! ho-ho! ho-ho! bueno! bueno!” and I wound up with a string of “hi! hi! hi! hi! hi!”
The hounds rose up in a body and began to yelp.
“Lie down, pups,” I called to them. “Nothing doing for you. It’s only Jones has got ’em.”
When we trooped out of the pines next morning, the sun, rising gloriously bright, had already taken off the keen edge of the frosty air, presaging a warm day. The white ridges glistened; the bunches of sage scintillated, and the cedars, tipped in snow, resembled trees with brilliant blossoms.
We lost no time riding for the mouth of Left Canyon, into which Jim had trailed the three lions. On the way the snow, as we had expected, began to thin out, and it failed altogether under the cedars, though there was enough on the branches to give us a drenching.
Jim reined in on the verge of a narrow gorge, and informed us the cave was below. Jones looked the ground over and said Jim had better take the hounds down while the rest of us remained above to await developments.
Jim went down on foot, calling the hounds and holding them close. We listened eagerly for him to yell or the pack to open up, but we were disappointed. In less than half an hour Jim came climbing out, with the information that the lions had left the cave, probably the evening after he had chased them there.