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24 Mar
Watched by Wild Animals

Posted by ploymeesin in Books & Reference | March 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

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While crossing another ice slope they were suddenly subjected to a severe bombardment. A number of large rock fragments crashed down the steep slope, bounding, hurtling, and ripping the air with terrific speed. The goats were directly in the path of the flying stones, which for a number of seconds bounded over them and struck among them. A small stone struck an old billy on the shoulder and knocked him sliding for some distance. When he regained his feet his shoulder appeared to be broken. Though making every effort to control himself, he continued to slide and presently tumbled into a crevasse. He caught with his good fore foot on the ice and clung for a second, made one desperate attempt to push himself back and almost succeeded, and then fell into the crevasse and disappeared.

A few of the flock watched him, but most of them stood with their heads up the slope facing the wildly bounding stones. None of them ran; there was no confusion, no panic. It was, perhaps, safer for the goats to stand still, thus presenting the smallest target for the flying stones, than to rush forward or to retreat in the midst of the bombardment, for the rocks were coming down both in front and behind them. At any rate, the goat is a wise fellow, and this flock probably had experienced rock fire before. When it was all over the bearded old leader started forward with the rest again following.

Until recently most goats lived in localities rarely visited either by Indians or by white hunters. As a result, when first shot at they were not excited and were slow to run away. This procrastination of the goat while under fire, together with his supremely crude outlines and slow, awkward actions, led most early hunters and trappers to call him a stupid animal. But he is not at all stupid. Evidence of his alertness and mental development is shown in his curiosity and in his ability to readjust himself promptly to new dangers.

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