There were not many moments for regret, however, for this was “our busy day.” Suddenly a burst of frantic yelps from the red dog turned us off to the left and we heard him nearing the summit of the spur which we had just left. One of the other hunters was standing there and his crossbow twanged as the goral passed only a few yards from him, but the wicked little poisoned dart stuck quivering into a tree a few inches above the animal’s back.
The goral dashed over the ridge almost on top of the second hunter who was too surprised to shoot and only yelled that it was coming toward us on the cliff below. Hotenfa leaped from rock to rock, almost like a goat himself, and dashed through the bushes toward a jutting shelf which overhung the gorge.
We reached the rim at the same moment and saw a huge ram standing on a narrow ledge a hundred yards below. I fired instantly and the noble animal, with feet wide spread, and head thrown back, launched himself into space falling six hundred feet to the rocks beneath us.
As the goral leaped Hotenfa seemed suddenly to go insane. Yelling with joy, he threw his arms about my neck, rubbing my face with his and pounding me on the back until I thought he would throw us both off the cliff. I was utterly dumfounded but seized his three-barrel gun to unload it for in his excitement there was imminent danger that he would shoot either himself or me.
Then I realized what it was all about. We had both fired simultaneously and neither had heard the other’s shot. By mistake Hotenfa had discharged a load of buckshot and it was my bullet which had killed the goral but his joy was so great that I would not for anything have disillusioned him.
It was a half hour’s hard work to get to the place where the goral had fallen. The dogs were already there lying quietly beside the animal when we arrived. My bullet had entered the back just in front of the hind leg and ranged forward through the lungs flattening itself against the breast bone; the jacket had split, one piece tearing into the heart, so that the ram was probably dead before it struck the rocks.
I photographed the goral where it lay and after it had been eviscerated, and the hunters had performed their ceremonies to the God of the Hunt, I sent one of them back with it while Hotenfa and I worked toward the bottom of the canon in the hope of finding the other animals.
It was a delightfully warm day and Hotenfa told me in his vivid sign language that the gorals were likely to be asleep on the sunny side of the ravine; therefore we worked up the opposite slope.
It was the hardest kind of climbing and for two hours we plodded steadily upward, clinging by feet and hands to bushes and rocks, and were almost exhausted when we reached a small open patch of grass about two thirds of the way to the summit.
We rested for half an hour and, after a light tiffin, toiled on again. I had not gone thirty feet, and Hotenfa was still sitting down, when I saw him wave his arm excitedly and throw up his gun to shoot. I leaped down to his side just as he fired at a big female goral which was sound asleep in an open patch of grass on the mountain-side.