As we entered the meadow the big red leading dog, trotted off by himself toward the rock wall above us, and in a few moments we heard his sharp yelps near the summit. Instantly the pack was off stringing out in a long line up the hillside.
We had nearly crossed the open slope and were standing on the edge of a deep gully when the dogs gave tongue and as soon as the hunters were sure they were coming in our direction we hurried to the bottom of the gorge and began the sharp ascent on the other side. It was almost straight up and before we had gone a hundred feet we were all gasping for breath and my legs seemed like bars of lead, but the staccato yelps of the dogs sounding closer and closer kept us going.
When we finally dropped on the summit of the hill I was absolutely done. I lay flat on my back for a few minutes and got to my knees just as the goral appeared on the opposite cliff. The sight of the magnificent animal bounding like rubber from ledges which his feet seemed hardly to touch down the face of a sheer wall, will remain in my memory as long as I live. He seemed the very spirit of the mountains, a thing born of peaks and crags, vibrant with the breath of the clouds. Selecting a spot which he must touch in the next flying leap, I waited until his body darkened the sights and then pulled the trigger.
The game little brute collapsed, then struggled to his feet, and with a tremendous leap landed on a projecting shelf of rock four yards below. Instantly I fired again and he sank down in a crumpled gray mass not two feet from the edge of the precipice which fell away in a dizzy drop of six hundred feet.
The dogs were on him long before we had worked our way down the canon and up to the shelf where he lay. He was a fine ram nearly as large as the first one I had killed. I wanted to rest the dogs for they were very tired from their two days of hunting, so I decided to return to camp with the men. On the way a second goral was started but it swung about the summit of the wooded ridge instead of coming in my direction, giving one of the hunters a shot with his crossbow, which he missed.
It was a beautiful day. Above us the sky was clear and blue but the clouds still lay thickly over the meadow and the camp was invisible. The billowy masses clung to the forest line, but from the slopes above them we could look far across the valley into the blue distance where the snow-covered summits of range after range of magnificent mountains lay shining in the sun like beaten silver. There was a strange fascination about those mountains, and I thrilled with the thought that for twelve long months I was free to roam where I willed and explore their hidden mysteries.
Both gorals were fine old rams with perfect horns. Their hair was thick and soft, pale olive-buff tipped with brownish, and the legs on the “cannon bones” were buff-yellow like the margins of the throat patches. Their color made them practically invisible against the rocks and when I killed the second goral my only distinct impression as he dashed down the face of the precipice, was of four yellowish legs entirely separated from a body which I could hardly see.